Well, 24 hours later, the Oakland Raiders didn’t stick to the winning gameplan. Derek Carr wasn’t the man, and while his offensive line gave him protection from Aaron Donald, he was under pressure from his injury demons all night. Amari Cooper was nowhere to be found, Jon Gruden inexplicably stopped giving Marshawn Lynch the ball, and after a great start, the defensive line was nowhere to be seen in the second half. What are my takeaways from week one? Keep reading, weary raiders.
Oakland Raiders Observations: Week One
1. The Game Is Sixty Minutes Long
If the game had ended at halftime, the Raiders would be the talk of the town. They shut down Todd Gurley and Jared Goff, Aaron Donald was nowhere to be seen, and Derek Carr looked as sharp as a thumbtack. If the Raiders had repeated their success from the first half, number four would’ve had 400 yards, and nobody would be talking about the Khalil Mack trade anymore.
Sadly, that’s not what happened. The Los Angeles Rams made some brilliant adjustments, the Raiders did, and the team looked gassed in the third quarter. It’s like they were flying and someone clipped their wings. The Raiders can’t play half a game of football and expect to be lights out. They’ve gotta play sixty minutes, and they didn’t even play 31 on Monday night.
2. Missed Opportunities
How many missed opportunities did this team have? Other than Jordy Nelson and Amari Cooper running wide open far down the field while Carr checked off to Jalen Richard, this team had chance after chance to make huge plays… and they just didn’t.
Dropped interceptions, blown sacks, broken tackles, I mean, the Raiders struggled because they didn’t finish plays. On at least four occasions, the Raiders had chances to pick off Jared Goff, and on one occasion, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie just didn’t turn his head around, the ball hit him in the back, and because he wasn’t looking, it was pass interference.
What about that play where Arden Key leapt into the air, Goff double-clutched, and threw it deep for a completion? That should’ve been a sack. The same thing happened to P.J. Hall, who bit on a fake screen when he was alone in the backfield with Goff. It’s funny, the Raiders would love to have a quarterback who shows as much poise under pressure as Goff, and they certainly didn’t on Monday night.
3. Failure to Adjust
At halftime, the Los Angeles Rams adjusted to everything that the Oakland Raiders were doing well. They took away Jared Cook, they started incorporating more screens and crossing routes, and they completely eradicated whatever pass rush Oakland had. How did the Raiders respond?
Well, to be blunt, they had success in the first half with a screwdriver, but McVay swapped out screws for nails, and Gruden never reached for his hammer. The old “definition of insanity” says that you’re only insane if you try to do the same thing over and over, expecting different results, and last night, the Raiders drove me crazy.
How many times, especially in the second half, did Derek Carr dump it off to Jalen Richard? Jalen Richard had more targets than Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, and Seth Robertscombined. Why Gruden and Guenther didn’t adjust to anything the Rams did in the third quarter, we’ll never know. However, it is one of the most damning reasons the Raiders start this season 0-1. Sadly, they weren’t the biggest culprit.
4. Carr Collapse
As maybe the biggest Derek Carr apologist in the world, I was disgusted by how he played last night. In the first half, he looked incredible. He was sharp, he was decisive, and the interception he threw was a decent one. Whatever the Rams did at halftime? Might be the blueprint teams use against Derek Carr for the rest of his career.
Seriously, after halftime, Dr. JekCarr went away and Mr. Hike came out. He didn’t push the ball deep at all, he looked completely lost, and he threw two of the worst passes of his career… which unfortunately, I’ve linked to below.
This is where things started to get bad. Carr wasn’t under any pressure at all, but he panicked and threw this ball away. He could’ve taken off with the ball and picked up the first on his feet or pushed the ball downfield, but instead, like he did far too often last year, he just gave up on teh play.
Clean pocket throwaway pic.twitter.com/OOEnPJKsvs
— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) September 11, 2018
This pick… this pick might be the worst pass I’ve ever seen Derek Carr throw. Clearly, he doesn’t think this ball is going to be complete, but he just lazily lofts this out there and it’s intercepted, essentially ending the game for good.
— YourSports (@YourSports) September 11, 2018
Having said that, everyone has bad games. This game was bad, and it’s hard not to blame Derek Carr, almost completely. Simply put, this can’t happen again. I know the Raider Nation is sick of hearing it, but when the Raiders traded Khalil Mack, that put more pressure on Carr to be the man, and tonight, he wasn’t.
The Raiders lost because the offense couldn’t move the ball in the second half, and a large part of that is due to Carr’s bad play. I said earlier this week that the Raiders would win or lose on Carr’s arm, and tonight… it just didn’t happen.
5. A Silver (and Black) Lining
How about Jared Cook? Nine catches for 180 yards? That’s impressive. He showed bursts of speed and physicality that the Raiders have been missing in that offense for years. Hopefully Amari Cooper decides to make the trip to Denver next week and Carr decides, hey, maybe I’ll throw it to someone other than Jalen Richard.
Oh well, onto the Donkeys. 1-1 isn’t a bad start!