Read and comprehend this:
Criticizing Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten about the defense.
Read it one more time.
There’s a bevy of ramblings across the Twitterverse regarding the Raiders signal caller. It’s a broad spectrum of emotion — good, bad and ugly. But the prevailing notion of defense when Carr’s name is brought up with critique is: â€œWhat about the defense!?”
What about it?
We all knew the defense would be the Raiders weak link heading into the 2019 campaign. (Full disclosure: My disdain for Oakland’s defensive coordinator Paul Guenther knows no bounds).
â€œWe’ve got to play better, and we’re going to play better,” Raiders head honcho Jon Gruden said. â€œThere will be changes. There will be changes. What happened yesterday will not happen again. I can’t allow it to happen.”
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â€œYou gotta force a three-and-out, and we weren’t able to do that yesterday, from the jump. Very, very concerned about it. We’re going to make some changes and get it right.”
Sure, Oakland did its best in free agency and the draft to address its dilapidated defense, but when you really look at it, Gruden’s side of the ball got as much attention was further along in its development. Turns out, injuries led to â€œmoving parts” (as Gruden refers to it) and the offense is as stagnant as the defense.
And therein lies the point: The defense was always going to struggle, but what wasn’t expected was the offense grinding to a halt.
â€œWe got home after the big road test, we got three in a row,” Raiders mauling guard Richie Incognito said that â€œIn my opinion, we probably weren’t playing our best ball during those, but we’re still winning. And then we take the trip to New York and get exposed, went to Kansas City and they jumped on us, and then today. I’m pretty shocked that we’re in this position.”
Last Sunday, it was a shootout between Oakland and Tennessee but the score was knotted up at 21 at halftime. Carr and the offense generated a whopping zero points from that point on in a disheartening 42-21 defeat. Without phenomenal rookie running back Josh Jacobs, this game was going to ride on Carr’s arm, brains and legs. There were shining moments, but they were fleeting. Whether by Gruden’s design or not, the signal-caller orchestrated an offense rescinded to taking the checkdown dump off option. At times, it worked (Jalen Richard found open space). At times, it didn’t (DeAndre Washington getting upended immediately for a loss).
The boo birds fluttered into the Coliseum and settled in.
â€œIt’s happened before. You play here long enough and that will occur,” Carr said after the game. â€œWe have a rowdy group and that’s why we love them. They’re passionate, and they just want to win. It’s just like family. Even when they’re mad at you, they still want to hug you. They still want you to do well. I understand that frustration. I think I showed some emotion, too. I don’t think anything of it. It has happened for six years.”
And then came that terrible-for-optics moment when the Raiders offense was truly FUBAR on that 4th-and-goal play on the 1. Carr dropped back, looked around, scrambled right, didn’t find anyone open and fired the pigskin out of bounds. The proverbial white flag.
It was a play that former Raiders-turned-media were talking about after Sunday’s debacle. Gone was the facade of Raider homer. The shill became real.
Game out of reach? Yes.
Score there truly make a difference? Debatable.
Example of the true state of the 2019 Raiders? Emphatic, Yes.
There’s one more game in the Coliseum and Gruden beckoned fans to show up in force. Raider Nation is a prideful and loyal group. They’ll be there.
Will the Raiders show up?
Or will the unthinkable happen: A loss in the last game in Oakland — ever?
We know what the defense has to offer. Three-straight stinkers tells us all we need to know.
â€œOnce is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”
However, if the offense continues to stink up the joint too (the only touchdown the Raiders have scored in the second half during their consecutive losses is a garbage time score with more than 30 seconds left against the AFC West dominant Kansas City Chiefs, then …
*Editor’s note: Ray threw it away on 4th-and-goal at the 1 and couldn’t finish this piece.