There were many takeaways from Sunday’s defeat for the Las Vegas Raiders and offensive coordinator Mike Lombardi. The popular thing to do is pile on Derek Carr’s over-aggressiveness as well as the fact that he apparently has other weapons besides Davante Adams. Be that as it may, Lombardi and head coach Josh McDaniels have had their play selection come into question this week. In particular, deciding to forego the run game against the Los Angeles Chargers. While speaking to the media this week, Lombardi was asked to expand on that notion. Why did the Raiders abandon the run game?
Initially, a 3-3 game that seemed headed for your typical back-and-forth affair between these two AFC West rivals changed course. The Chargers scored two touchdowns in the second quarter, the game was quickly getting away from the Silver and Black. Needless to say, the first half wasn’t pretty for Lombardi and McDaniels. The offensive coordinator broke down the thought process and sequence of events that led to their play-calling in that game.
“I think if you look at the first drive of the game, we moved the ball down the field and got some points on the field goal. Obviously, we wish we would have got the ball in the end zone. And then the next time we got the football, we gave up a penalty, a hold, and then gave up a sack on third and long. The next series we were backed up and then we just didn’t convert on that third and short, which kind of stalled the drive. Next thing you know, you’re in a two-minute, last-shot opportunity at the end of the second quarter. We obviously didn’t have many plays in the first, and we had the turnover there on the interception.”
The Raiders and Mick Lombardi had to play catch up all Sunday long
The simplest answer as to why the Raiders gave up on the run was the scoreboard. The Chargers struck quickly and often. By halftime, it looked like the Raiders were two steps behind. Nevertheless, it wasn’t due to a lack of effort from Josh Jacobs.
No. 28 did his best to get the running offense going despite a lackluster offensive line. As Lombardi points out, the Raiders made some notable plays on the first drive. Jacobs had himself a couple of short-yardage gains during that drive, but other than that, no real big plays. The third quarter was a different story. Jacobs had a huge 18-yard run at the 5:19 mark, and on the prior play, he ran for seven yards before getting stopped by Kyle Van Noy. That play ended with a field goal for the Raiders. The Raiders’ inability to cash in opportunities for a touchdown obviously hindered the Raiders, putting a sense of urgency on them. If you’re behind in the fourth quarter, you’re going to throw it more. Regrettably, that translated into the team turning it over twice via interception.
“We just had a number of plays in the first half and based on the opportunities we had; we ran the ball [while being] backed up. But in terms of sample size in the first half, we didn’t really have enough plays or series to kind of establish what we wanted to. And then when we came out in the second half, obviously we’re down, and we tried to play football and get a good drive, which we did.”
Will Josh Jacobs get more carries early on this Sunday?
As Lombardi points out, their offense in the second half definitely got things going. A 180 from the first half, which should be credited to the adjustments he and McDaniels made. Looking ahead to Week 2, it’ll be interesting to see if the Raiders build off what they saw against the Chargers. Will Jacobs get more opportunities? More importantly, will he get them early and often?
*Top Photo: Dailymotion/Raiders