In one of the most bizarre outcomes you’ll ever see, the Las Vegas Raiders dropped a Week 2 matchup to the Arizona Cardinals in overtime. The Raiders seemed to have this one in the bag as they were up 20-0 at halftime. Unfortunately, in what can only be described as an implosion, they ended up losing 29-23. This might be a game that haunts them later on in the season come playoff time.
While it undoubtedly stunned the fans watching around the country, it could wreak havoc in the locker room if it’s not addressed quickly. Also, putting one in the win column on Sunday would help big time. However, for now, we’ll focus on the game at hand. While there are quite a few aspects to be worried about, there are three in particular that are more glaring than others.
Discipline and Fundamentals
Throughout the preseason, the Raiders were praised for their lack of penalties. They looked like a new version of Raiders football that was a stark contrast to what fans had grown accustomed to. The old ways appeared to creep back in against the Cardinals. The Raiders were tagged for 10 penalties totaling 68 yards.
While the numbers might not be super egregious, the timing and location of the penalties are what’s the most head-scratching. While the offense is new, a professional team shouldn’t be tagged for illegal formation penalties. Especially when you’ve been in camp longer than any other team. The defense had their own issues with dirty laundry as well.
Roderic Teamer’s holding call kept the final drive of regulation alive for the Cardinals. They also committed other defensive holds, extending drives that could have ended sooner. The other issue that appeared to plague the defense was missed tackles. Constantly, it looked as if the Arizona ball carrier was stopped in his tracks, only to slip away in the end. Some more time on the small details of the game might be needed in order to address the issues that have arisen.
Where is Raiders DE Chandler Jones?
When Chandler Jones was brought in to play opposite Maxx Crosby, there was a lot of hype about the new duo. It seemed like the addition of the four-time Pro Bowler would give the Raiders one of the most lethal pass-rush duos. Unfortunately, however, Jones has yet to record a sack or make any significant impact in the box score.
As it currently sits, Jones only has five tackles, one for loss, one quarterback hit, and four pressures, according to Pro Football Reference. So far, the early return on investment has been a loss for Las Vegas. The season is quite young still and Jones could find his stride throughout the midseason, but as of right now, the front office might want to put Jones on a few milk cartons to find out where he’s gone.
A tale of two halves
Anything can happen in the NFL any week. There were two other games that ended in unlikely comebacks in Week 2. Even Week 1 had some very odd and strange scenarios play out. However, if you consider yourself a playoff team or Super Bowl contender, you have to put teams away you have gained big leads on.
If this article was written solely based on the first half, it’d be fairly bare bones outside of a couple of nit-picky things. The offense drove the ball with ease. The defense did not give an inch and the coaching was practically flawless. Then came the second half.
Rife with questionable coaching decisions, bad execution, and poor discipline, it’s not that hard to see how they ended up losing after all. Closing out teams and games is an art, yes, but something they have to figure out quickly. Give teams even a slight opening and they’ll bust that door down like the Kool-Aid man.
Don’t hit the panic button yet
After the horrific collapse of the Raiders, it’s easy to feel like all is lost. Several analysts have even begun to count the Raiders out. Yet, there are still 15 games to play. No team is mathematically eliminated. Not all hope is or should be lost.
While it is a cliche, it is true that it is not so much about how you start as it is about how you finish. The 2021 Raiders showed that. The growing pains are real. They might not be totally gone just yet. However, this team still has a way to bounce back and end up playing come playoff time. It all starts against the Titans in a few days. They’ll have to put that one in the win column to start the climb out of the hole they’ve dug.
*Top Photo: Official Raiders YouTube Channel