This is beginning to feel all too familiar: death, taxes, and the Las Vegas Raiders falling apart in November.
After another lackluster performance, there is just no hope. The body language during that game said it all. This team has given up. The defense played with fire for a while. Ultimately, the lack of help from the offense caused them to be beaten into submission. The Raiders look devoid of leadership, and that starts with Derek Carr.
At this point in his career, the Raiders are his team. So when he says that this team is “different” from those that fell apart the last two seasons, it doesn’t matter unless he is different. His play has dropped off, and more importantly, his body language has become awful. He’s not on the sidelines rallying the troops, but he’s often sitting alone, stewing. At this point, the Raiders are falling behind in the playoff hunt. They could still fight their way back, but they would probably need to go at least 5-2 down the stretch to have a chance. That means Carr has to show a kind of fight late in that season that we have yet to see from him.
The Offense Stinks
t’s bad. Just plain bad. Pretty much everywhere. It starts with the pathetic play calling where it doesn’t even look like they are trying to move the ball. Part of that is on Greg Olson, but it’s also on Carr to check into the right play. His play has not been good enough. Since losing Henry Ruggs III, Carr looks like he doesn’t know what to do. Some of it is that corners and safeties are falling off deep routes more often because they don’t respect them right now. That’s on Carr to find a way to stretch the field. Taking the underneath stuff is not working. This offensive line is not good enough for the screen game. Also, they aren’t good enough for a run-first offense.
At the end of the day, the Raiders’ offense isn’t that different from the one that started the season strong. Replacing Ruggs with DeSean Jackson shouldn’t make this much of a difference. The main difference is the lack of explosive plays. Sure, losing Ruggs makes getting those plays harder, but the Raiders appear to not even be trying to generate them now. They have to be more aggressive and more creative, especially in the red zone. That game was lost the minute the Raiders went three and out after the fumble allowed them to star inside the Bengals’ 20.
Penalties Are Again An Issue
It’s not that the Raiders are committing a litany of penalties. The ones that they make are just back-breaking. 15-yard penalties on third down when the defense is about to get off the field are momentum killers. Turning third and short into third and long offense doesn’t help either.
Some of the calls were definitely “Raiders only” calls that never get called on anyone else. At some point, the Raiders have to do something about it from a coaching standpoint. You have to tell players that they can’t expect to get away with anything. Also, it makes it hard when the opponent has been penalized once all game. I don’t understand how that’s possible, but it’s nothing new. The Raiders have to find a way to rise above it. The great Raiders teams of the ’70s and ’80s found a way. And that was back when the late Al Davis was feuding with the commissioner of the league.
*Top Photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images