After an up-and-down game for the Las Vegas Raiders’ passing offense in Week 1, it was imperative that the team rebound this past Sunday. Overall, it was up to quarterback Derek Carr to limit the turnovers after tossing three interceptions against the Los Angeles Chargers. After getting shredded by the Kansas City Chiefs in their opening game, the Cardinals appeared to be a perfect matchup. At least, everyone thought they were.
Derek Carr’s First Half
To say this game was a tale of two halves is putting it lightly. In the first half, namely the first quarter, the team appeared to be unstoppable on offense. With Mack Hollins making several big plays in the first quarter, the offense maintained the same explosiveness they showed last week. As the Raiders’ leading receiver, he showed off the big play potential that was discussed all offseason.
Both of Carr’s touchdown passes in this half were on easy plays where Josh McDaniels was able to put the offense in favorable positions through the use of formations. The first, a quick hitter to Davante Adams, is likely the easiest touchdown the receiver will ever score.
The second was another quick hitter on the goal line. This time, it was a fade route to mismatch nightmare Darren Waller. Singled up with a linebacker on the goal line, Waller will win that battle nine out of 10 times, and it is always a good option to just throw it in his direction. A dominant physical force, he should have had many more plays like this one.
Darren Waller rises for the @Raiders touchdown!
— NFL (@NFL) September 18, 2022
A Different Story In The Second Half For Derek Carr
Where do you start? After a completely dominant first half, the offense barely saw the field in the last two quarters and overtime. When they were on the field, the unit as a whole looked entirely unprepared and discombobulated.
On consecutive drives where the team went three and out, McDaniels was clearly playing conservatively. Instead of looking to create mismatches down the field, the Raiders opted to take safe throws that were much too short of the sticks.
The game would end in the hands of the offense as well. Nearly in field goal range for Daniel Carlson, the Raiders opted to keep throwing the ball. Despite an urgent audible to get into a play that got Adams wide open over the middle, Carr missed him and nearly threw an interception in the process. Subsequently, he would hit Renfrow short, who would then fumble, leading to a return touchdown.
Astonishingly, this passive play-calling seems to be an issue regardless of who the head coach is. Of course, this begs the question: is it on Carr? Is it possible with a 20-0 lead to start the second half that he doesn’t know how to play with the lead? After many years of losing and numerous come-from-behind wins, the urgency to score when playing with the lead is simply non-existent.
What Happened To Davante Adams?
The story on offense leaving this game is undoubtedly surrounding Adams’s usage. He had a massive Week 1 game where he had a whopping 17 targets that he turned into ten receptions for 141 yards and a touchdown. Clearly, Vegas wanted to get their new weapon involved.
This week, Adams saw a massive reduction in targets with seven. Still, this is a perfectly acceptable number of targets. They just couldn’t get the ball in his hands enough. He finished with just two receptions for 12 yards. He was essentially erased from the game despite the touchdown on the teams’ opening drive.
If the Raiders are going to win in 2022, these games from Adams absolutely cannot happen. Through a combination of McDaniels, Carr, and Adams himself, the team’s best player was invisible for nearly the entire game. Spreading the ball around is crucial, but Adams needs to be the focal point.
In Week 3, the Raiders will travel to Tennessee to play the Titans. In a match-up between 0-2 teams, Las Vegas has been decidedly more competitive in their two games. This is one the Raiders should win, and one they absolutely have to.
*Top Photo: Michael Owens/Getty Images