No team is without flaws in the NFL, and even when they win, there are things they can work on and improve upon. However, when a 3-7 team deals a 43-6 loss, the blame is bountiful. While it would be easy to sit here and say that “everything” is a major concern for the Las Vegas Raiders right now, these are the three things that stand out the most.
Carr’s Inability to Secure the Ball
Derek Carr has had a fumbling issue practically his whole career. The lowest total he has ever had in a season was five. That was back in 2016 when he played behind arguably the best line he has had in his career. Coming into the Falcons game, he had eight fumbles and lost five. After Week 12, those numbers will climb to 11 and eight. Keep in mind his career-high in a full season is 12 and there are still six games left to play in 2020.
Taking care of the football is something Jon Gruden loves to preach. Carr has done a good job when it comes to interceptions this year. Nevertheless, his fumbles are starting to overshadow all of the solid play he has put forth. Quarterbacks are going to get hit at some point during the year. If he doesn’t want to be a detriment to his team going forward, he’s going to have to figure out how to hold on to the ball better.
The Raiders hot and cold running game
Everybody knows head coach Gruden loves to pound the rock. However, when your offensive tempo depends on the running game, not having consistency in that area can be troublesome. Josh Jacobs had a mere seven rushing attempts versus the Falcons, and no, that’s not a typo. For a guy that’s supposed to be the focal point of your offense, having single-attempts is extremely unacceptable.
The play calling surely didn’t help, but the major factor is that Jacobs was only able to record 27 yards in those seven attempts. This is the fifth time this year he has racked up 70 rush yards and he has only crossed the 100-yard mark twice. Of those five games, the Raiders are 1-4 with the lone win coming against the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Raiders are 5-1 in games in which Jacobs crosses that threshold with the lone loss coming against Buffalo when only had 71. As Jacobs goes so does the run game as evident in Sunday’s loss. The Raiders attempted only 14 rush plays all game resulting in a measly 40 yards. While the makeshift offensive lines are part of the problem, it’s up to Gruden to get this crucial part of the offense to be more consistent on a weekly basis.
Playing Up or Down to the Opponent
The Raiders aren’t the same team week in and week out. In a game where the Raiders would supposedly come out and attack the 31st ranked passing defense downfield, they settled for a lot of quick underneath throws early and often. They only started pushing the ball downfield after they fell behind.
Didn’t they draft Henry Ruggs III in the first round to stretch the field? Instead, it appeared that the Raiders were content to win by a score or two while nickel and diming their way down the field.
The Raiders have looked like a playoff team when they’ve squared off with the Kansas City Chiefs. However, the only other game in which you could make that same claim is the one against the Denver Broncos when they won 37-12. Good teams should beat up on bad teams not barely eke out wins or lose by 37 points.
The Raiders appear to go into games against presumed weaker opponents and mentally check out. The Falcons were playing much better football coming into this game. Missing Todd Gurley, Julio Jones, and being 3-7 appeared to allow the walls to come down resulting in a shocking loss. The NFL is filled with teams who are much better than their records would indicate. The Raiders need to start playing up to their talent level if they ever want to be a serious contender.
The margin error for the Raiders is slim moving forward
This is a game that should be a wake-up call for the Raiders. Sitting now at 6-5, the playoffs are starting to slip out of their grasp. Complete meltdowns like what happened Sunday cannot occur if you want to be a legitimate threat in the very packed and crowded AFC.
While perfect football isn’t required to finish strong down the stretch, much cleaner and crisper football is, and the Silver and Black have failed to seal the deal the last two weeks. Heading into Week 13, they can’t underestimate the 0-11 New York Jets.
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