It’s was another devastating week for the Las Vegas Raiders and their fanbase as the team could not stop the hot Indianapolis Colts, losing 44-27 at Allegiant Stadium. After the Raiders’ defense looked flat uninspired, the team cut ties with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther three hours after the loss. The Colts dominated this game from start to finish, aside from a minor Raiders run in the first half, it wasn’t particularly close. With their playoff hopes dwindling, the Raiders must now win three-straight and get help from other AFC teams to taste postseason for just the second time in 18 years.
The Raiders Offensive Line
The Raiders returned their star right tackle Trent Brown and it showed. The offensive line played their best game in a month, and Derek Carr had a clean pocket most of the afternoon. Giving Carr a clean pocket, is the only the Raiders can succeed, as with most teams, protecting the quarterback is priority number 1. The Raiders got away from the run game a bit, due to game flow, but the run blocking was better as well. Having a healthy offensive line gives them more depth there and maybe one of the things that helps them finish with a successful season.
I was critical of Carr during the game, however we are back to the point where perfection shouldn’t be required to win football games. The Raiders cannot stop anyone on defense, making every offensive drive important in every single game. There was also two turnovers, a Renfrow Fumble and a tipped interception that should have been caught that made this game a blowout. Carr had a good first half and made some great throws, keeping the Raiders in the game. Finishing with over 300 yards again and 3 scores, the Raiders should be able to win games like this. Carr has struggled recently, but Sunday wasn’t one of them. The Reason I put him here, is he has gotten some heat lately for his play, and he deserves credit when he plays well. Most quarterbacks would come out of Sundays game with a win, but the Raiders supporting cast let Derek Carr down on Sunday.
A New Voice On Defense
Getting a new defensive coordinator in there could help. The reason I have it here, is maybe, just maybe the Raiders come out with fire and passion with the change. The defense has looked flat and unmotivated for a month now, and it’s getting worse and not better. Sometimes, a young team needs to see their leader go, for them to realize that the play is unacceptable. We’ve seen it all over the NFL this year, with teams playing better with interim coaches, and hopefully, that is what we see the next 3 weeks from the Raiders.
Agholor being in the okay category isn’t 100 percent on him, his play this season has exceeded all expectations. The problem for me is the lack of targets for the young WR’s in general. Agholor had 1 drop in this game, but put up a 5 catch 100 yards, and a score stat-line. That is great, and he is helping this team day in and day out. However, the Raiders invested heavily in the WR position this draft in Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards. The issue? Neither guy has put a stamp on this offense. Whether that’s on coaching or a lack of off-season for youthful WRs, they need to get more involved. The Raiders could have used that draft capital elsewhere, and been fine with the veteran WR’s they have on the roster. The bottom line: long term the young wideouts need to be more involved.
Raiders Defensive Line
The defensive line hasn’t progressed at all this season. It’s not lost on me that they just didn’t address this issue as much as they should have. Adding Nassib and Collins in the off-season felt like lateral moves and have proven to be downgrades. The Raiders defensive line could have changed this game, Rivers was playing on one foot and they produced 1 qb pressure in 60 minutes. An embarrassing performance, that got the coordinator fired. Not only was the pass-rush virtually non-existent, the run defense was absolutely pitiful. It begins with the line, even though the db’s and lb’s didn’t help. The Raiders line, can’t get off blocks and often times the effort just doesn’t look like it is there. Giving up 200 yards rushing every week, is not going to win you football games. The Raiders now have Rod Marinelli as the DC, maybe that will help these guys play with some fire.
As always, I don’t like to single guys out in this article. However, the lack of discipline on a weekly basis from Abram is alarming for the Raiders. Abram goes for the big hit too often and misses the basic tackles, along with that his coverage has put the Raiders in losing position too often. Basic technique issues and missing assignments in the Raiders cover 4 has plagued Abram. The worst part of it all, is the dumb penalties, like the one Abram got hitting Pascal late. There is no reason for it, and it hinders an already struggling defense. The good thing with all of this, Abram is young and seems to care deeply about this football team. He should be able to fix all of these issues, and long-term that’s the hope.
Gruden doesn’t get a pass from me on his shortcomings and the firing of Paul Guenther three weeks late doesn’t save them. The team has once again played flat for a month with the playoffs in reach. Two seasons in a row, December has been nothing short of an abomination. This is directly on Gruden and he knows that. The only positive thing out of this is the Raiders have three winnable games and a chance to salvage it. Gruden is a good coach and needs to show it in the next three weeks. Injuries and excuses aside, the Raiders are good enough to win the next three games and they very much should.
The playoff hopes for the Raiders with a win over Indianapolis would have been 67 percent, with the loss it dropped all the way down to 27%. Even though they need some help, winning out gives the Raiders a pretty decent chance at making the playoffs. Some will say they don’t deserve it anyway, but as Raider fans know, this hasn’t happened often lately. As long as hope is alive, it will be discussed.