Oakland Raiders: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Week 8 Loss

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Oct 26, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo (51) recovers a fumble by Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns beat the Raiders 23-13. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Ugly

There is a lot that was incredibly ugly in Sunday’s loss, and much of that fell at the feet of coaches as well as veteran players that were supposed to bring stability and experience to this team.

The ugly began early for the Raiders. After moving 43 yards in four plays – including 23 yards in two carries by Darren McFadden – Tony Sparano and Greg Olson decided to open up the playbook on the very first series of the game. On first and 10 in Cleveland territory, a Wildcat pass play from Darren McFadden to Derek Carr failed. After a four yard loss by Maurice Jones-Drew  and an uninspired short pass play to James Jones, the Raiders faced 4th down from the Cleveland 39…in range for a long but make-able Janikowski field goal.  The field goal team trotted out onto the field with new holder Matt Schaub, then promptly shifted at the line – Schaub back deep in a shotgun set, Jamize Olawale and Janikowski split wide. The play was doomed from the start.  The snap from long-snapper Jon Condo was mishandled by Schaub, who picked it up and immediately lofted a deep pass for Mychal Rivera – a very poorly thrown one that sailed past Rivera and instead landed in the hands of the Browns’ Tashaun Gipson, who returned it 35 yards to the Raider 48 yard line, giving Brian Hoyer and the Browns offense a short field. Hoyer only needed to complete one pass to put the Browns in field goal range, and Billy Cundiff gave them the 3-0 lead with just under 10 minutes remaining in the 1st quarter. While at first many Raider fans may have been excited to see Sparano and Olson add a few wrinkles in, the results of two trick plays were 2 pass attempts for no completions and an interception. If that’s what they have up their sleeve, I think most Raider fans would prefer to see them stick with vanilla.

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  • Of course the offense would turn the ball over while running vanilla plays, as well. Early in the 3rd quarter, as he was winding up to throw, Derek Carr was strip sacked by the Brown’s Paul Kruger, who slapped the ball from Carr’s hand just before he began his forward motion. The fumble was recovered by Stefen Wisniewski, but was a foreshadowing of bad things to come. Later in the 3rd, the Raiders had 2nd and 6 at the Cleveland 29 yard line when Darren McFadden broke into the secondary for 9 yards. Browns safety Donte Whitner, making the tackle, punched the ball out of McFadden’s hands with his helmet and  the ball flew straight forward into the arms of Browns cornerback Joe Haden. Haden returned the loose ball 34 yards to the Browns 47-yard line, and the Browns scored four plays later to take a 16-6 lead. The play was, at least, a 10 point turnaround. Oakland were in easy field goal range for Janikowski to tie the game, and had plenty of opportunity to even score a touchdown on that possession to take a 13-9 lead.  Later, still trailing 16-6 with the ball backed up at his own 14 yard line, Derek Carr stepped up to avoid pressure and ran into the back of guard Austin Howard, losing the ball in a play reminiscent of Mark Sanchez’s infamous “butt-fumble.” Barkevious Mingo recovered the loose ball at the Raider 9 yard line, and Ben Tate ran the ball into the end zone two plays later to go ahead 23-6 with about 2:30 left to go. A late Raider touchdown would be too little, too late.

    A really great effort by the defense, a solid day from Darren McFadden and a decent passing performance from Derek Carr was wasted away by turnovers. If this team is ever going to win, it cannot turn the ball over in key situations. Turnovers took six to ten potential points off the board for the Raiders, and the Browns scored 17 points from turnovers…a 23 to 27 point turnaround. That’s not going to beat anyone, not even Cleveland.