Red Alerts For The Raiders Ahead Of Week 10

The Las Vegas Raiders came out of the bye week and gave a game away to the New York Giants. Credit must be given where credit is due. The Giants came out and played well, but mistakes and missed opportunities were the stories on Sunday.

Biggest Concern For Week 10

A very familiar problem that has plagued the Raiders for years is scoring in the red zone. Under former head coach Jon Gruden, the Raiders have been near the bottom-third of the league in red zone touchdown production three years in a row.

The Raiders converted only one out of six red zone opportunities against the sixth-ranked red zone defense: a Giants team that’s only allowed 19 touchdowns on 37 attempts and a 51.4% conversion. A scoring deficiency in the red zone is a wonderful way to lose winnable games and start unrest in the locker room.

It is simply unacceptable. The Raiders have endured just about everything you could think of thrown at them. Most recently, losing both 2020 first-round draft picks in a week.

Right On Cue…

For the fifth year in a row, the Raiders have come out of the bye and lost. The last time they won a game coming out of the bye? That was in 2016 under Jack Del Rio. Having an extra week off never seems to bode well for the Silver and Black. The Raiders have gotten off to sizzling starts these past seasons, but after the bye week, they are 8-17 after the break. In 2019, they went 3-11, and in 2020, 5-6. What will the future hold for 2021?

In the land of positivity, filled with rainbows and sunshine, the Raiders have shown improvement in their post-break record. Should they show even a one-game improvement over last season and go 6-3 down the stretch, they would stand a decent chance of making the postseason.

In the land of harsh reality, this is the jump-off point for the seasonal decline. The offense is desperately missing an elite quarterback in the later months of the season and someone capable in the red zone. Not being able to score inside the 20 has been a problem for years, one which Carr does carry a healthy amount of blame.

Carr’s passing struggles in the red zone aren’t limited exclusively to this season alone. However, as of now, there are only three quarterbacks with a lower passer rating in the red zone and that is not elite.

Where is Marcus Mariota?

Marcus Mariota was the highest-paid backup in the league last season and is still near the top again this season. Mariota was held out of free agency for as long as possible for a reason. We can all speculate as to what that reasoning is, considering Gruden is no longer around to ask.

A football team is comprised of 53 of the best players the coaching staff thought could help them win football games. Using only 22 players is an archaic and simplistic approach bordering on laziness. Mariota has a skillset uniquely tailored to short-yardage situations.

No mobile quarterback has ever successfully operated a run/pass option offense in the red zone and scored before, right? Mariota isn’t the field general that Carr is. However, when the play falls apart, there isn’t anyone better equipped. On this team, anyway.

Carr wants to catch a touchdown pass, but he can’t throw it to himself. For a little razzle-dazzle, Mariota needs to enter the fray. Unfamiliarity is an effective change of pace for an offense struggling in the red zone.

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*Top Photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images

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