The Las Vegas Raiders capped off the 2020 season by eeking out a victory over the Denver Broncos. The Silver and Black finish with a record of 8-8 and miss the playoffs for a fourth straight year.
What a Poetic Ending
To be clear, this is not about the blocked field goal but rather the Raiders’ last offensive drive. It was eerily familiar to 2019. Last season, they started the year out hot and then collapsed. In the finale, they played Denver. The game came down to a quarterback Derek Carr two-minute drill down by a touchdown. They then got in the end zone, but went for the game-winning two-point conversion and failed.
This year, Las Vegas once again fell apart after a strong start to the year. Once again, they found themselves down late in the last game to a sub-par Broncos team. And AGAIN, they score the touchdown and go for two for the win. This time, they convert to go 8-8 and avoid repeating last year’s 7-9 record.
This game is a perfect metaphor for this season. The Raiders are slightly better this year than the last, but it looks disturbingly familiar. Today’s result shows that while the Raiders have probably improved, it does not feel like it.
That Officiating… Woof.
This is not surprising. Officiating in the NFL has never been known for being that great. Raider Nation can certainly attest to that. This was another level of incompetence. The officiating crew totally lost control of the game. There was mismanagement of the play clock, not knowing who jumped offsides first, generally inconsistent penalties, just for starters.
Things got much worse as the game went on. There were assistant coaches getting into with opposing players while the officials did nothing. They also lost total control at the end of the game. Rather than stopping the clock and getting ahold of the situation and figuring out what happened, they just threw a flag. That was such a routine play too. Those maybe fumbles get picked up and run with all the time. It never gets called.
That was just an overall atrocious display of officiating. That has unfortunately become the norm. The NFL needs to do something to improve that area of the game.
The Raiders need to let Derek Carr air it out more
First, let’s acknowledge that ‘DC4’ did not have his best game. He threw two picks that were on him, and he missed some opportunities to take off and run. On the other hand, he showed once again that he can be the focal point of the offense and the Raiders can win that way.
Early on in the game, head coach Gruden seemed intent on feeding Josh Jacobs the rock. This made sense since that is how the Raiders beat Denver last time. However, it was clear that it was not going to work this time. Gruden was forced to put the Game in Carr’s hands and the quarterback made some big-time throws to get the offense going. Carr has shown time and time again this year that when he is allowed to just let it fly, good things happen.
Between the regression of the run-game and the addition of new receiving weapons, Gruden might want to think about adopting a more pass-first offense. Ball control and ground ‘n pound do not work when the defense gives up huge plays in the blink of an eye.
That wraps up the last Knee Jerk Reactions for this season. Thanks for reading! Feel free to follow me on Twitter @blackman_dalton
Top photo: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports