No one on the Las Vegas Raiders deserves absolution from this mess the Silver and Black have found themselves in. Well, except maybe Daniel Carlson. Add in AJ Cole, too. Oh, and I forgot about Trent Sieg.
That special team’s battery of kicker, punter, and long snapper, in that order, has done its job admirably.
However, for the rest of the ragamuffin Raiders, basura effort equals basura results â€“ on both sides of the ball. The 2-6 overall record is a testament to that.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, do me a favor, will you?
Miss me when it comes to blaming one aspect of the Raiders’ game. Defense, offense, players, coaching, you name it, it all contributed to this faceplant of a season in head coach Josh McDaniels’ and general manager Davie Ziegler’s inaugural season as the new Raiders power structure. Every single aspect of the Raiders’ game needs to improve, from coaching to execution. Yet, the line has been drawn, sides have been chosen, and certain Raiders are getting absolved.
I have an acronym response to that: FOH.
Everyone on the Las Vegas Raiders shares blame…
Surely the Raiders’ lax defense deserves plenty of venom. But using that to excuse an offense that scored zero points in the second half of a 27-20 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday is absurd. Every part of the Las Vegas offense (except for Carlson, Cole, and Sieg) deserves the same amount of hate.
The Raiders’ defense failed to prevent the Jaguars from scoring points. And the Raiders’ offense failed to score any points. Tit for tat. Both can be true, and you don’t have to ask, “What about the defense?” or “What about the offense?” Both units couldn’t get the job done.
To elaborate, despite being rice paper strong for much of the game, the much-maligned Patrick Graham defense held firm and allowed the McDaniels offense to rally and score points. On the Raiders’ four fourth-quarter possessions, the offense went out there, failed, and told the NFL viewing world: “Nah, we’re good.”
#Raiders actually had the ball in the 4th quarter 4 times with a chance to tie or take the lead:
9 plays, punt
3 and out
Turnover on downs, 0 1st downs
Fumble, 0 1st downs
(20 plays, 48 yards, 3 1st downs, 0 points) https://t.co/6ukeTRaMrZ
— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) November 8, 2022
Let’s face facts, this team isn’t good.
Even the most obtuse follower of the Raiders knows the team is not good. Despite McDaniels’ statement that no drastic changes would be made and that his Raiders would stick to the plan he laid out in the second half of the season, Las Vegas did make a move earlier in the week, releasing safety Johnathan Abram and signing cornerback Sidney Jones IV. The former is a first-round flameout who was spirited and a willing tackler but didn’t provide a lick of coverage chops. The latter was a man-press corner who bounced around a bit before landing in Las Vegas.
Neither move is going to move the needle. While Abram, who saw his snap counts decrease recently, didn’t provide much coverage on the back end. The remaining safeties (Tre’von Moehrig and Duron Harmon) struggled as well. Jones is a worthwhile flier for a team lacking depth at cornerback.
But Abram’s arrival and departure signify the horrendous player assessment and development that’s been a Raiders tradition. Why is the Raiders’ defense historically bad?
Because the team drafts players like Abram and doesn’t get a quality return on investment (ROI).
Johnathan Abram was Mike Mitchell 2.0 for the Raiders.
Abram is basically Mike Mitchell 2.0, taken with the 27th overall pick in the 2019 draft. Like Missile Mike, Abram packed a wallop. But, to no surprise, he didn’t develop into a center fielder-type who could take the ball away when tasked with covering opposing receivers, tight ends, or halfbacks. The scouting job on Abram was pathetic, at best, and the Raiders’ previous regime and respective coaching staffs could do little to improve the Mississippi State enforcer.
“He’ll latch on with somebody else here and have an opportunity, and we’ll try to move forward here with our process,” McDaniels said during his mid-week press conference when asked about Abram.
The hard-hitting safety was one of many premium draft picks wasted by the Jon Gruden era. And that burden isn’t tied to Gruden’s waste alone. The Raiders’ inability to properly scout, draft, and develop players has scuttled their boat for many years. It isn’t exclusive for the new blood. Although they’d like to swing the pendulum and get quality ROI on draft selections moving forward.
Couple the bad drafting with the unbalanced spending habits of the previous regime and the current one, and it’s hard not to get the “you get what you pay for” vibe. Just peep this from Josh Dubow:
Per OTC, #Raiders rank 31st in cap space dedicated to OL, 31st for overall defense, 32nd for secondary and 28th for offense
— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) August 31, 2022
Josh Dubow nails it on the head regarding the Raiders’ issues.
The Big Dubowski’s tweet encompasses many of the Raiders’ issues in one neat, concise manner.
Let’s take it even further: The last time the Silver and Black had a top-10 defense in terms of points allowed was the 2002 and 2000 seasons.Â They were ranked sixth and ninth during that run, respectively. The defensive coordinator during those two years was Chuck Bresnahan. Not a paragon of sound defense, mind you. However, he was in charge of a defense that had drafted and developed players well (notable names include Charles Woodson, Eric Barton, Greg Biekert, Grady Jackson, Rod Coleman, and Darrell Russell) and infused that homegrown talent with veterans (notable names include Eric Allen, Tory James, William Thomas, and Bill Romanowski).
Al Davis got a good ROI on premium picks and buoyed them with aging veterans to give Chuck B a sound mix of youth and experience. And Big Al wasn’t afraid to spendâ€”on both sides of the ball. The previous and current Raiders regimes boast a lopsided salary flow that leans heavily towards offense: $86.06 plus million for offense, $61.62 plus million for defense (and just for kicks, $7.26 plus million for special teams).
People being “sensitive.”
So, when you see people being a little “sensitive” and quick to anger when defense is blamed but offense is absolved, that’s due in large part to the cap on spending. The offense is getting paid to be a sound group. The defense, however, is being held together by bubble gum and scotch tape.
Is it fair that the offense has to score on literally every drive? Nope.
Is it fair to rely on a defense that is missing top-tier talent like their offensive counterparts? Nope.
But one group is being handsomely compensatedâ€”grossly so. while the other is a haphazard collection of Dollar General and Dollar Tree misfits.
Again, you get what you pay for.
*Top Photo: Getty Images Pool