On Monday Night Football, the Las Vegas Raiders were poised to shock the Kansas City Chiefs. Unfortunately, due to a string of unlucky incidents, they were unable to pull it off. Quite a few players and coaches let the Raiders down throughout the game, and if they had performed better, the team may now be 2-3 rather than 1-4.
Raiders HC Josh McDaniels is confusing
I tend to think that the McDaniels saga has thus far been a disaster. The Raiders needed to win in order to maintain their position in the AFC West championship chase. McDaniels came into the game with an aggressive mindset, as the Raiders went up 14-0 early in the second quarter.
The Raiders’ defense got a stop and gave the offense a chance to go up three scores. Josh Jacobs had two consecutive big runs, which put the Raiders in a great position to score. When they had a fourth and one, McDaniels decided to attempt a field goal rather than go for it to prolong their drive. This baffled me since Jacobs appeared unstoppable and McDaniels didn’t trust him in a position requiring only a few yards. Because of this, the Chiefs were able to regain control of the game before halftime, stopping the Raiders’ momentum.
The Raiders’ inconsistent offensive struggles again reappeared in the second half, as the third quarter ended without a score. The game’s last offensive series was when the biggest puzzle appeared. Another fourth and short situation arose as the Raiders attempted to extend their series in order to move closer to field goal range to possibly win the game. At that time, Jacobs was averaging seven yards per rush at that time, but instead of handing him the ball, they tried a home run play, which didn’t work.
In this game, McDaniels did manage to achieve some offensive balance as the Raiders amassed 223 passing yards and 155 rushing yards. But the Raiders have suffered as a result of his failure to make the right play call in critical circumstances.
Where is Darren Waller?
Waller got a big extension this offseason to secure his near future with the Raiders, but he hasn’t lived up to the big money he received. In a game where they needed him to show up, he didn’t. Waller was playing a lot more in-line tight end to help neutralize the Chiefs’ defensive line. He recorded zero receptions for a whopping zero yards before leaving the game.
He was doubtful of returning at the time of halftime, and when he emerged from the tunnel for the second half in street clothes, he remained out for the duration of the match. You can’t hold Waller responsible for the injury. At the same time, given his inconsistent play this season, owner Mark Davis is surely thinking if extending him was the correct move.
The Raiders red zone defense continues to be a weaknessÂ
Up until four minutes remained in the second quarter, the Raiders’ defense maintained a shutout; but, after that, their real red zone defense emerged. In the second quarter, Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes made contact for their first of four touchdowns, which started the onslaught.
For the remainder of the game, the Chiefs went a perfect three for three in the red zone. The fact that Kelce was the recipient of every touchdown was infuriating. I understand that he is difficult to guard, but it was discouraging to see how they couldn’t adjust their game plan to fester him in the red zone.
The Raiders let Kelce do anything he wanted in the red zone despite the fact that he was the one player you couldn’t let beat you there due to him being the only true weapon they had for those situations. Despite only ranking 17th in red zone trips allowed, the Raiders’ red zone defense is now rated 32nd in terms of red zone touchdowns and red zone percentage. Patrick Graham needs to come up with a strategy to stop teams in the red zone since whatever he has been doing hasn’t worked.
*Top Photo: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports