Andria’s Analysis takes a look at Week 4’s heartbreaking game loss and, more importantly, QB loss. Plus a preview of Week 5 with new field general EJ Manuel.
You’ve probably heard that the season is 25% in the books. After their first 2-0 start since 2002, the Raiders have dropped two straight when suffered a heartbreaking loss to division rival Denver Broncos in game 4. There were several times throughout the game that it looked like the team could pull ahead, save for a few poor decisions by whoever was calling plays. Raider Nation held their breath more during that game than they have since week 16 of the 2016 season.
Then the unthinkable happened. The situation that stopped the Raiders in their tracks last year and effectively derailed any chance they had to fulfill a destiny that was widely believed to be in their path. Derek Carr went down with an injury.
It was heartbreaking again, but not as much as it was last year. That may seem a horrible thing to say, but it was clear at that point that Carr needed a break (no pun intended). On the field, he looked like a deer in the headlights. More McGloin trepidation than Carr confidence. He hasn’t been passing effectively out of the pocket, his run game has been non-existent, and to top it all off, who’s calling the plays? He doesn’t look like the Carr that earned a record-setting contract in the offseason.
Running Game: MIA
A couple of questions were answered Sunday but even more emerged. Not the least of which leaves so many asking why the running game is all but completely absent from the Raiders backfield. The offseason saw one of the biggest contract signings in Raiders history, when Marshawn Lynch signed with his hometown franchise to assumingly help the Raiders bring home another Lombardi and hopefully bring a ring home himself.
The Raiders may thrive in a Power I formation with a strong fullback and three running backs that have been at the very least overachievers. They have the personnel to pull it off. With a perfectly capable fullback in Jamize Olawale as a lead blocker, it seems that the Beast would thrive behind that line with a big, physical blocker leading the way. Olawale is more than talented enough to be that blocker and lead Lynch to the promised land.
In addition to the strong legs of veteran back Lynch, the two young running backs in Richard and Washington are battling for carries and yardage. Why not give it to them? These are two capable backs who have already cut the mustard and shown that they’re worthy of the opportunities.
What the H&$%L is wrong with Amari Cooper?
AC/DC means much more to Raider fans than just a classic 70s rock band. Some of the connections from Derek Carr to Amari Cooper have proven to be nothing short of legendary. This season has yet to see one of those legendary connections. There was a beautiful catch in preseason; unfortunately, that doesn’t count. Watching Carr loft a pass in Coop’s direction doesn’t have the same response from the crowd that it once did. Instead of nervous anticipation, it’s anxious apprehension. Will he make it this time? Or is this another tick in the drop column?
It’s a valid concern, considering Cooper leads the league in drops after Sunday’s game. The call for stickum was loud. The call will go unheeded, but I imagine it will come up again.
Looking forward to the Murder
Sunday will be an easier contest than the previous two games as the Raiders host an ailing Baltimore Ravens team in what promises to be a little bit of a break for the defense. Against Joe Flacco, the Raiders have been successful every time behind Derek Carr. The only problem this weekend: the team will be behind EJ Manuel this time. If he lives up to his apparent potential, his arm and legs could bring the Raiders to victory.
Let’s remember a few things about EJ Manuel. This is a man who was a first-round draft pick. He’s a good scrambler and has the ability to stretch plays. He’s a good striker, as he demonstrated Sunday against Denver when he threw a couple of bullet passes and a floater that was ultimately picked off; that wasn’t on him since he was passing to Amari Cooper at the time. It’s anyone’s guess where the responsibility lies.
Regardless of the numbers on paper, Manuel showed poise and professionalism in most aspects, save for his clock management. He’s probably had his talking-to by the coaches at this point, so that isn’t likely to recur. Knowing that he’s got wheels and can run a play if he can manage the play calling to force linebackers out of coverage, the Raiders have a prime opportunity to run points up on the Ravens.