Andria’s Analysis this week takes a look at the Oakland Raiders’ third straight loss and forward to week 6’s contest with division rival LA Chargers.
Another week down in the NFL and another heartbreaking loss for the Oakland Raiders. This week, the visiting Baltimore Ravens made the home team look foolish for a third straight week. What did they do? They out-gamed the Raiders. How did they do it? They paid attention.
After a two-game skid, the Raiders had shown very little adjustment on either side of the ball. That does nothing for the team, but it makes it easy for their opponents to game plan against. Seeing the backup quarterback on the field would normally give any team pause, but EJ Manuel was far from mediocre in his first start in the Silver and Black. In fact, he was one of the very few bright spots in this game.
Manuel was using the single-look to get his team downfield. See a target, hit that target. It was fairly effective but he excelled when he went no-huddle and started stepping outside of the pocket. It seemed like he stepped away from Todd Downing’s play-calling, and whether it was or not, it worked well for the Raiders. Lucky for Oakland, Manuel is a solid option if the worst should happen yet again and Derek Carr has to miss anymore play time. That’s one box the Raiders can check off: Back-up QB.
Other than Manuel and the reliability of Michael Crabtree, the game was a comedy of errors. Coverage was blown consistently by Sean Smith, who’s become the sacrificial lamb for Raider Nation, and deservedly so. Jared Cook dropped balls, including a fumble returned by the Ravens for a touchdown. Marshawn Lynch was more active than he has been in the previous two weeks, but the run game was still ineffective. And Amari Cooper, largely through no fault of his own but purely play-calling, was absent of stats. All of these are things that left Raider Nation scratching their own heads and calling for someone else’s.
Any team will tell you that the season doesn’t matter at this moment, the next game is what is important right now. Looking forward to this Sunday, division rival LA Chargers will visit O.co in what, before the season began, seemed like a clash of titans. At this point, it seems more likely to be a battle to see who’s less terrible.
If the Raiders drop this game to the Chargers, recovery seems all but impossible. The offense was nearly on life support before Derek Carr suffered his injury, and he’ll be playing show-me football until that offense is back to the status that it was week 1.
In order to avoid a fourth straight loss, the offensive line needs to step up and protect their quarterback, be it, EJ Manuel or Derek Carr, if he’s able to return. Playing against the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram is nothing to take lightly. So if the line doesn’t hold the pocket and open up running lanes, the Chargers will take advantage and likely will succeed.
One of the advantages that the Raiders may have on LA will be John Pagano’s working knowledge of the team. If Pagano can predict and help coach Del Rio and Downing plan for the defensive attack and set up Norton’s defense to contain Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ ever depleted offense, the Raiders may have an opportunity to capitalize and pull out a win. One thing is certain: that win is the most important one to-date.