That was a textbook-blown game. After a fantastic start, the Las Vegas Raiders somehow found a way to lose to the Arizona Cardinals, 29-23, in overtime. That result leaves the Silver and Black winless and reeling two games into the regular season.
Good Enough Isn’t Enough
Sunday’s game was a microcosm of most Raiders games in the past few years. Actually, this has been happening for much of the Derek Carr era. Most games go one of two ways:
- The Raiders fall behind early after a disastrous start and then claw their way back resulting in a nail-biting finish. Example: Last week versus the Los Angeles Chargers.
- The Raiders start the game off great, only to allow their opponents to work their way back into the game resulting in a nail-biting finish. Example: This week versus the Cardinals.
The two results above have become all too familiar. The Raiders have been unable to put four quarters together on a consistent basis for a while now. We saw this last year as well, but the problem runs deeper than that. 2016 and 2017 were very similar to what we have seen of late. The common denominator is… Carr. The thing is, more often than not, games like this week’s end with Carr leading a game-winning drive and all is forgotten. The issue with that is that things happen, as they did against the Cardinals. It should not have to be this way. There is no reason why the Raiders could not have dropped 30 or more on the Cardinals and waltzed to a victory.
Hunter Renfrow Has a Problem
It is officially time to sound the alarm bells. Renfrow clearly has some ball security issues. He coughed up the football twice this week, with both coming on the final drive of the game. While the first was saved by Foster Moreau, the second proved costly. Just as the Raiders appeared to be entering Daniel Carlson’s game-winning field goal territory, Renfrow’s fumble was scooped up by Byron Murphy and returned for a game-winning touchdown for the Cardinals.
Coming into this week, Renfrow already had a fumble on the year from last week’s game against the Chargers, which he recovered himself. Last season, he put the ball on the ground six times, including one in the playoffs. Between last year and this year, Renfrow has had nine fumbles in 20 games. That is a problem for someone who only touches the ball about 10 times a game. The fatal fumble this week was a result of a big hit on a somewhat smaller player, and Renfrow actually looked shaken up after the play. While he has been terrific for the Raiders, there is a reason why his size concerned people before the draft.
Running Quarterbacks Are a Problem
The only reason this game even got to overtime was because of Kyler Murray’s ability to extend plays with his feet. While the Raiders’ defense remained disciplined, they were perhaps too much so as Murray had ample time and space to make plays. This happened several times in crucial situations where a stop would have won the Raiders the game.
After last week’s game, this is nothing new. Justin Herbert killed the Raiders in Week 1 by extending plays with his legs. At some point, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has to find a way to combat this. Whether it is having a spy or giving defenders more freedom to go after the quarterback, something has to change. Last week, it was only a minor problem. This week, it arguably cost the Raiders the game.
*Top Photo: AP Photo/Rick Scuteri