Wow. What a way to lose a football game. After losing to the Los Angeles Chargers last week, the Raiders did their best impression of the Los Angeles Chargers and found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Jon Gruden got it wrong again… again
Let’s address Gruden’s late-game strategy. He got it half-right. Also, to be fair, kicker Daniel Carlson put him in a tough spot with the missed extra point. So, where did things go awry? Not having running back Josh Jacobs score on first and second down was absolutely the right call. The goal should have been to take as long as possible to score.
The problem is you have to punch it in on third and goal from six inches out. At least try! Essentially, the decision comes down to this question: Is an extra three to five points worth keeping an extra 35 seconds on the clock?
Had Carlson made the extra point, it would have been a no-brainer to bleed the clock and kick a field goal. Play prevent for 20 seconds, if you give up a big play and give up a field goal you still go to overtime, but with a two-point lead, this strategy leaves little margin for error.
Three possible scenarios
An alternative would be to try to score on third down and then go for two afterward. That could play out in three ways:
A: You score and get the two-point conversion to go up by seven with about a minute left. Now, the Dolphins have to go 75 yards in 60 seconds with no timeouts. If they are somehow successful, they now have to choose between kicking for overtime and letting the game come down to a two-point conversion.
B: You score but do not get the two. Now up by just five, this is similar to scenario A but in this case, a touchdown ends it.
C: Worst case scenario (aside from a turnover of course), you do not convert on third down. Now you can still bleed the clock and kick the field goal.
The madness has to stop
Gruden’s decision felt meek and cowardly and felt like playing not to lose. This is not the first time we have seen this from him either. His conservative late-game strategies have burned the Raiders too many times. The frustrating thing is that Gruden is capable of being aggressive in these situations.
We saw it early in the season with deep shots down the field with a lead against New Orleans or going for it on fourth down against Kansas City. Also, we could go on for days about how he progressively gets worse throughout the season in red-zone and third-down play calling, but this piece is long enough already.
Bottom line: For two years now, it seems that the later into the season we get, the safer Gruden tries to coach and it is not working. If he cannot get out of his own way soon, he should be on the hot seat.
The Raiders defensive coaching staff needs to go
Speaking of hot seats, it is time to clean house with the defensive staff this offseason. Defensive linemen are either not being held accountable for their assignments or they do not know what they are. We have been watching Maxx Crosby lose his containment all year and nothing has been done about it.
Tackling has been absolutely atrocious all season and it cost the Raiders last night. More dumb penalties on defense did not help either. Also, why are linebackers covering Mike Gesicki? Finally, Las Vegas was once again done in by a blown assignment in the secondary. It keeps happening again and again, with various players involved. At some point, all you can do is look at the coaching staff.
In all fairness, the defense did look better this week despite several injuries to key players. The problem is that the issues we saw last night have been visible all season if not longer. I get that this defense clearly lacks talent, but the coaches do not seem to be making an effort to maximize the potential of this group. Players who have not performed well will almost certainly be held accountable this offseason, but what about the coaches?
The Raiders must let Foster Moreau play!
What did Foster Moreau do this past offseason to get on Gruden’s bad side? He had a solid rookie campaign and looked like a good compliment to Darren Waller. Moreau was rewarded by seeing his role given to the ghost of Jason Witten. It makes no sense whatsoever.
There were several pass plays last designed for Witten that you just know Moreau could have gotten more out of. Also, the second-year tight end is by far the best blocking tight end that the Raiders have right now. Why is he not being used in crucial situations that call for the tight end to block?
The signing of Witten was always a head-scratcher, but you could justify him being a de facto tight ends coach that plays about five snaps per game. Making him an integral part of the offense is just baffling and totally unjustifiable. That signing had Gruden’s fingerprints all over it.
Bringing in a player past his prime at a position that was very solid (everybody sleeps on Carrier) and having him play a role far too big for him at this point in his career. It is eerily similar to when he had Amari Cooper take a backseat to Jordy Nelson.
Decisions like these are just part of the mounting evidence that Gruden might not be the savior that Raider Nation hoped he would be.
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Top Photo: The Las Vegas Raiders official website
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