With that yet another loss in a tight game, the Las Vegas Raiders have officially been eliminated from playoff contention. Here are three knee-jerk reactions to their 37-34 overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
New quarterback, same result for the Raiders
The Jarrett Stidham era got off to a solid start. He played well, and the offense had a strong game against the NFL’s best defense. Stidham did things that we have never seen Derek Carr do consistently. The play-calling looked completely different, as if there were plays that Carr was not trusted to run. It was fun to watch.
Despite all that, the game played out like many of the others this year had with Carr at the helm. The Raiders got out to a double-digit lead in the third quarter, and then they just stopped. The offense sputtered on three consecutive drives. In that same span, the defense let San Francisco move the ball at will. Brock Purdy and Co. clawed their way back into the game. In the end, Las Vegas made one mistake too many and let another win slip through their fingers.
At some point, it stops being the players. When the same thing happens in the exact same situation over and over again, the blame is obvious. With a double-digit lead, the Raiders players do not suddenly start playing poorly. This falls squarely on the coaching staff. The game against the 49ers this past week once again proves that.
Patrick Graham is not the answer on defense
At this point, I think that we can finally say that talent is not the Raiders’ problem on defense. Could they use a little help in the secondary? Sure. Another solid piece or two in the front seven? Maybe. Regardless, this is the most talent Las Vegas has had on that side of the ball in maybe a decade. We have seen flashes of this almost every week, where the defense is shutting opposing teams down for significant portions of games.
Unfortunately, this unit has struggled at the most important moments. We saw it two weeks ago against the Steelers, and we saw it again this past week against the Niners. The Raiders had just tied the game up and appeared headed for overtime with just over a minute left in the game. The Raiders let the San Francisco 49ers march 52 yards on just six plays. Luckily, they were bailed out by a missed field goal by Robbie Gould. Nevertheless, this is a concerning trend.
Pretty much every time that the Raiders have been in a situation like this, they have let opposing offenses tear them apart. That is just poor coaching. Remember a few weeks ago when Baker Mayfield said he was shocked that the Raiders came out in press coverage on the last play of the game? Patrick Graham just doesn’t know what he is doing in those situations.
Jarrett Stidham deserves a shot to compete for QB1 next season
Stidham looked really good against the 49ers. Sure, he made a few mistakes, but he generally seemed to have a strong command of the offense. He looked more comfortable in his first start than Carr had all year. Stidham’s contract expires after this season, so the Raiders will have to make a decision on whether or not to bring him back.
Whatever they decide there, the Raiders will almost certainly bring in someone else. They could be in position to draft a quarterback, trade for one, or sign a veteran. Expect the brain trust of McDaniels and Dave Ziegler to cast a wide net to get the right guy to play the game’s most important position.
No matter who they bring in from outside, Stidham has shown that he deserves to at least be in the conversation. Remember, that was his first career start, and he was up against the best defense in the league. More than likely, Stidham won’t cost much to bring back. Also, whoever else they bring in will likely have a much smaller cap hit than Carr. The Raiders would be foolish to not at least give him a shot to compete for the job.
*Top Photo: John Locher/AP