With the return of Jon Gruden and a crowd roaring with excitement, the Oakland Raiders crashed in the second half with a thud and lost 33-13 to the Los Angeles Rams in front of a national audience.
Although there were some positives out of the game, it was a disappointing start to a season that showed a lot of promise.
Oakland took the opening kickoff and promptly went 75 yards which ended in an electrifying touchdown run of 10 yards seeing Marshawn Lynch drag defenders over the goal line while offensive linemen pushed him. Little did everyone know that the Raiders would score only six points in the next 55 minutes of play.
The heavy dose of Lynch that was anticipated and promised never came about. Lynch only had four carries for 20 yards in the second half ending with 11 carries for 41 yards and a touchdown. He never touched the ball again after his last carry with 3:10 left in the third.
In the second half the relentless pass rush of the Rams seemed to finally wear down Carr and the Raiders. Carr seemed uncomfortable in the pocket and unwilling to throw the ball downfield. He looked more like Alex Smith with his constant check down passes to Jalen Richard and tight end Jared Cook who caught nine passes each. Cook had an all time Raider tight end record of 180 yards in receiving on 12 targets.
Starting wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Amari Cooper were not a factor with only seven targets combined. Cooper had one catch for nine yards and Nelson ended with three catches for 23 yards.
The two things that worried me most happened. The Raiders became a dink and dunk team and were unwilling to even try the deep ball and Derek Carr again struggled under the pressure of the pass rush.
The first half seemed to go as planned but the second half was horrible. Carr’s interceptions took the air out of the stadium and the Raiders.
The Rams refused to play most of their starters during the pre season and it showed. Todd Gurley only touched the ball five times in the first half, but after half time the Rams went to him often.
The star of the night on defense was ex Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead who was all over the field. He was fast to the ball and made some excellent tackles against the run.
The Raiders struggled getting pressure on Goff with the only bright spot being a forced fumble by Bruce Irvin, but even on that play Goff held onto the ball way too long. For the entire night, Irvin had one combined tackle and a forced fumble.
There was much excitement for the pass rush with rookies Arden Key, P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst but they didn’t do much all night against the pass. They did have their good moments against the run but Key was out of position at times giving up the corner way too easily.
The DB’s were also a mixed bag with the three starting receivers for the Rams ending up with 13 catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns. Throw in two long pass interference calls and they were very active and effective against the Raiders.
The Rams rushed for 140 yards for a 5.4 yards per carry average. It seemed in the second half the Raiders just wore down offensively and defensively.
I tweeted before the game that the Rams were an amazing 7-1 on the road last year and averaged 33 points a game. They scored 33 last night.
GRADE: C –
I think the defense sure wasn’t great, but it did have some good moments. In the first half they held the Rams to 10 points, but games are 60 minutes and the Rams looked rusty.
After the trade of Khalil Mack, the fans were really looking to move on and to have Gruden make a big opening statement, and he bombed. Some are blaming this all on Carr but the Raiders only gave Lynch the ball 11 times. Lynch needs at least 20 carries a game.
On the defensive side of the ball, new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther was just ok in his debut. He did get fooled when the Rams ran screens back to back, and he could not find a way to get to the QB. Part of the problem is they just don’t have the talent right now. The excitement over Irvin and Key rushing from the edges wore off quickly. Key did have a couple of good run stops but other than one QB hit he was held in check for the most part.
As I’ve said a million times, coaching is great and important but you must have the players. Guenther’s vaunted pass rush and Gruden’s offensive genius definitely made little difference.
Some will say they lost to a good team but that’s not going to cut it. Oakland scored only six points after their opening drive at home, and had a non-existent pass rush in the second half. On the plus side their schedule is one of the easiest in the league and they don’t see a playoff team until Kansas City in December. I do look for Gruden & Guenther to lick their wounds and make positive adjustments for a much stronger showing in Denver.