Yesterday we saw the Las Vegas Raiders take what was easily their worst loss of the season, and one of the worst losses they’ve suffered in the Jon Gruden era.
Nothing was working for the Raiders, and their ineptitude was made even more painful by their constant mental errors and silly mistakes. Many times drives could have been kept alive by a heady play, only for the Raiders to screw up and ruin their chances of staying in the game. This year, the Raiders have been fairly disciplined overall, but not yesterday.
What’s worse is that this team was, rightly, beginning to garner respect in the media. However, as Raider Nation knows, anytime people start saying good things about them, they lay an egg and remind us of who they really are – an inconsistent team with terrible injury luck and without enough star power to get it done when it counts. Nobody could have predicted the Raiders would have trouble in an early East Coast game, except anyone who has ever watched them play.
So let’s go through each positional group and hand out some grades. I’ll give you a sneak peek- they’re not great.
Derek Carr was absolutely abysmal in this game. He’s been arguably a top-5 quarterback in the NFL this season, but something was just off yesterday. Raheem Morris’ defense, which has been terrible all year. Nevertheless, the Falcons’ defense pressured Carr all day long and forced him into committing four turnovers, including throwing a pick-six. The three fumbles were absolute drive-killers. The Raiders never had a chance with their quarterback playing like this. Eventually, Carr was benched for Nate Peterman, which is about as sad a statement as you can have about any signal-caller.
The Raiders running game never got going because the Raiders were behind early. Josh Jacobs ran for only 27 yards on seven carries, which is antithetical to any Jon Gruden game plan, but the Falcons’ fast linebackers and exemplary game plan shut down the Las Vegas rushing attack. Jacobs did catch three passes, but for only 17 yards, and lost a fumble. Devontae Booker was ineffective as well.
The tight ends will be part of this group, and to be honest, they had a decent day. Henry Ruggs III made a spectacular catch on fourth down, which led to a Raider field goal in the second quarter, and Hunter Renfrow caught seven passes for 76 yards. None of the receivers, or any Raiders for that matter, made it into the end zone, but the wideouts were hardly the problem.
We see here the crux of the Raiders’ problem today. Carr was under pressure all day, and that was primarily due to the struggles of right tackle Brandon Parker and the Falcons consistently sending pressure from his side. The rest of the offensive line just committed stupid penalties and got zero push in the run game. A terrible outing by this group by any measure.
This group giveth, and they taketh away. The front seven was able to get plenty of pressure on Matt Ryan as well as holding the Falcons rushing game in check for most of the game, but they ruined their efforts later on with costly roughing-the-passer penalties, giving the Falcons extra chances. Maxx Crosby is a beast, and Carl Nassib had an excellent game, but they played with too much abandon today.
This group actually had a pretty decent day. Nick Morrow was terrific with 10 solo tackles, a tackle for loss, two passes deflected, and a hit on Ryan. Nick Kwiatkoski was his normal stellar self, picking up a sack on Ryan along with six tackles, two for loss. Cory Littleton’s tackle on the game’s first play knocked Damon Arnette from the game, setting a bad tone for the Raiders to start. All in all, this was a step up for this unit from what we have seen this year.
It’s difficult to truly grade this unit because Arnette and Trayvon Mullen both got hurt during the game. Safety Johnathan Abram and Jeff Heath each played well in this matchup. Unfortunately, Isaiah Johnson and the rest of the Raiders’ backup corners got toasted by Ryan, particularly in the red zone. When Mullen was in the game, he played at a high level. The defense was on the field so much because of all the turnovers, so it isn’t surprising they were gassed and mentally checked out by the end.
There wasn’t much in the way of a return game, as the Falcons only punted once and kickoffs were usually touchbacks. Daniel Carlson was accurate as usual, but the Raiders’ field goal block unit led directly to a Falcons touchdown with a bogus roughing the kicker penalty when Dallin Leavitt was tossed into Younghoe Koo’s plant leg. Of course, the refs missed this like the desert misses the rain, and the Falcons promptly scored.
OVERALL TEAM GRADE: D
The defense tried their best, but the offense did them no favors, which is the opposite of what we usually see from the Raiders. The defense can build on this effort. The offense needs to go look in the mirror.
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*Top Photo: Associated Press/Brynn Anderson