Vegas Raiders

Have Fans Seen The Worst From The Ragamuffin Raiders?

Quick! Someone in the Las Vegas Raiders front office should get on the phone with Bret Hart. After all, “The Hitman” was billed as the “Excellence of Execution” during his pro wrestling glory days, and that’s a glaring omission in Silver and Black football.

Case in point: The Raiders’ inability to secure a forced fumble with no other player in sight during a disconcerting 25-20 loss at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday is the story of the 2022 Raiders. It was all there for the taking, but the team couldn’t execute.

Is it the Raiders’ players’ fault?

Team leaders Derek Carr, Davante Adams, and Duron Harmon all agree that player execution is lacking. The quarterback, wide receiver, and safety may have qualms about the scheme, but none have outwardly questioned it and instead harp on players doing their job. Man, it certainly looks like Las Vegas is doing a “job.” For my pro wrestling kinfolk, that means laying down for the three-count, by the way.

The latest laydown was a doozy. It was a new week of football for the Raiders, but the same old tiresome problems continued to fester. Josh McDaniels’ desert marauders lost to a Colts team that, by all appearances, went into full tank mode when they waived Frank Reich and replaced him with Jeff Saturday. The first-time NFL head coach installed first-time play caller Parks Frazier as offensive coordinator, and the game was billed by many as “one the Raiders can’t lose.” Unfortunately for Raider Nation, the sarcasm was lost among plenty of them.

This past Sunday’s loss at the hands of Matt Ryan, Jonathan Taylor, and the galloping Colts is a new low for this breed of Raiders. Instead of plundering the opposition, the Silver and Black have unabashedly ripped hope from the hands of a downtrodden fan base as loyal as Raider Nation is.

The execution has been non-existent in 2022

The Raiders’ loss on Sunday, which dropped them to 2-7 overall, was littered with WTF moments. From linebacker Darien Butler not falling on a forced fumble for a must-needed takeaway to Carr and tight end Foster Moreau not linking up on a potential go-ahead or game-winning touchdown on 3rd-and-7 in the waning moments of the fourth quarter, And the most egregious: 37-year-old Colts quarterback Matt Ryan, arthritic hips and all (I kid), galloping past a Raiders defense for a 39-yard scramble. That was the first lengthy run of Ryan’s career. No surprise that it came against a Las Vegas defensive unit that appeared to be jogging to catch up. Yikes!

Once again, execution was non-existent during the most critical of times. Ten weeks into the NFL season, that remains true for these haphazard Raiders.

Rail on McDaniels and Patrick Graham’s offensive and defensive play-calling, respectively, all you want. That’s warranted. But also rag on the player’s inability to do their job, too. Be an equal opportunity hater, not a stan. It would be one thing for all 11 players to execute the play call and have it fail. Then we could no doubt yell to the heavens about the play-calling like Ray “Dr. Death” Perez did at Raiders HQ in Alameda when the team announced it was heading to Nevada.

The Raiders’ defensive scheme is too complicated

The defense remained lax and vanilla, owing to Graham’s scheme being too complicated for the roster, and the offense lacked the testicular fortitude to rally for the touchdown. Six times the once-vaunted Raiders’ offense was given the ball in go-ahead or game-winning situations. Unfortunately, the team missed every opportunity. That 0-for-6 sure looks as disgusting as the defensive performances.

Raise your hand if you don’t think so. Now take that raised hand and sharply swing it down to slap your face. That’s the same sting the Raiders need across the board. And Carr’s breaking down in his postgame press conference beckons it.

Out of all the things he’s witnessed in his nine seasons at the helm of the Raiders’ offense, it was that defeat to the Colts that broke him. Fighting back tears, he paused as he provided his insight—that was a broken quarterback of a broken team.

Criticism of Derek Carr is warranted…

Criticism of Carr’s play is warranted, but questioning his dedication to the Silver and Black isn’t. He’s poured his heart and soul into this team, and he finally broke.

“I’m sorry for being emotional,” Carr said after a question about whether there’s a disconnect between what he’s trying to do and the new staff’s system. “I’m just pissed off by some of the things that a lot of us try and do, just to practice, what we put our bodies through just to sleep at night. For that to be the result of all that effort pisses me off. It pisses a lot of guys off. It’s hard to know what some guys are doing. Like I said, just to practice, what they’re putting in their body is just to sleep at night, just so we can be there for each other. I wish everybody in that room felt the same way about this place. As a leader that pisses me off, if I’m being honest.”

Perhaps we’ll never know what Carr was alluding to or which player or players he was referring to. McDaniels on Monday didn’t delve into a follow-up question regarding Carr’s comment either.

“I can’t speak to what he was referring to, specifically,” the Raiders head coach said. “But in my opinion, when you see us out there fighting and grinding and playing hard, and we’re right there at the end of the game. I don’t have any issue with the effort or competition that I saw on the field yesterday at all.”

Perhaps there is a disconnect after all.

*Top Photo: Sam Morris/Getty Images

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