Raiders

The Raiders Are Not A Playoff Team & More Knee-Jerk Reactions

Wow, that game was on drugs. It was a wild rollercoaster ride with an ending that defied all logic and reason. The Las Vegas Raiders somehow stole (or had given to them) a win from the New England Patriots to keep their playoff hopes alive. Here are three quick knee-jerk reactions to this past Sunday’s game.

The Raiders are NOT a Playoff Team

Despite allowing Baker Mayfield to take a tire iron to Las Vegas’ playoff hopes the week prior, those dreams were reignited in the first half against New England. The Raiders looked like they were starting to move the ball well and were playing solid defense. Some folks may have even been starting to talk themselves into believing that this team could win out and find a backdoor into the playoffs.

Unfortunately, there was still a whole half of football left to be played. Like clockwork, the Raiders blew another double-digit lead. At this point, this is just who they are. No lead is safe for them. The Raiders somehow ended up with the win regardless, but it’s hard to feel very good about it.

That was just not playoff-caliber football. Playoff teams don’t shoot themselves in the foot over and over with dumb penalties. Also, when they get big leads, they bury teams. They don’t let guys like Mac Jones and Baker Mayfield engineer comebacks. After that game, there is no reason to believe that the Raiders can rattle off three more wins against the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, and Kansas City Chiefs. Even if they did and things worked out and they got in, what would it matter? Las Vegas has no business in the playoffs whatsoever. You can’t win championships playing this brand of football.

The Coaching Staff is the Problem

When it comes to blowing leads, the coaching staff deserves the bulk of the blame. If it happens once or twice, you could blame the players for not finishing. That is not what is happening here. Granted, the players are not helping themselves, but neither are the coaches. In every facet of the game, the Raiders coaches get so overly conservative with the lead that it makes the margin for error for the players razor-thin.

Offensively, Josh McDaniels loves to probe opposing defenses early in the game by showing a multitude of different looks and plays. Once they get a lead, his playbook shrinks down to microscopic proportions. Situationally, they stop trying long kicks and go for it on fourth-and-short. McDaniels almost always opts for field position rather than going for the jugular. Defensively, Patrick Graham starts out very aggressive, hunting three-and-outs. However, once they get a lead, he is content to just sit back and play “bend but don’t break” defense.

This style of play can work. In fact, it’s probably the most optimal way to play with a lead. That being said, it only works if you execute. On offense, you can’t afford mistakes that take you off schedule. On defense, someone has to eventually make a play, or you are just delaying the inevitable. The problem for the Raiders is that it is hard to avoid miscues when everyone is learning a new offense. Also, the defense doesn’t have enough playmakers to just sit back and wait. At some point, McDaniels and company might build a team that can execute his vision. But right now, he and his staff are doing the current roster a disservice by not adjusting to help make them successful.

Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow are on the Hot Seat

It may seem crazy, and it may be a rush to judgment given that both just returned from injured reserve, but something seems off. Waller did make some nice plays, including a touchdown grab. However, he still doesn’t look comfortable in this offense. He had his second pass break-up of the season in this game, where he, once again, reached back for a ball that was intended for Davante Adams. He just looks a little lost out there.

At least there is evidence that Waller exists. There is not much of that for Renfrow. He had just one catch on three targets. Mack Hollins and Keelan Cole both seem more integral to the passing game at this point. Also, there was at least one occasion where Renfrow appeared to be in the wrong spot.

It seems like both of these guys are having a tough time adjusting to this offense. One has to wonder if that had something to do with them both being out for almost two months with seemingly innocuous injuries. It is also worth noting that both men received huge contracts in the offseason. They have three games to show that they can live up to those deals. If not, it wouldn’t be the most shocking thing to hear that they end up getting shopped this offseason.

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*Top Photo: NBC Sports/Boston

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