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) pressures Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns beat the Raiders 23-13. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Bad

There was a lot of bad to go with the ugly for the Raiders on Sunday, most of it on offense. The Raider offense, despite being on the field for nearly 35 minutes, running 81 plays, and gaining 387 yards (81 more yards than Cleveland), managed only 13 points and the sole touchdown of the game came too late for it to matter. While the offense did pick up 19 first downs in the game, they converted less than 32% of their 3rd down attempts, failing to convert on 13 of 19 3rd down attempts and punting 7 times. Derek Carr completed a high percentage of his 3rd down pass attempts: excluding the garbage time final drive, he was 9/13 on 3rd downs.  But of those completed passes on 3rd down, only five went for first down yardage, the other four came up short, all four in situations where the Raiders needed 10 or more yards to convert. The Raiders faced 3rd down and 6 or more yards to go 11 times in the game, overall.  The Raiders also struggled to convert shorter-yardage 3rd downs: a key 3rd & 1 run early in the 2nd quarter by Jamize Olawale was stuffed by the Browns near midfield, forcing the Raiders to punt while trailing 6-0. When the Raider offense faced 3rd downs with five yards or less to go, they were even more impotent: the Raiders converted only three of eight such opportunities, with Derek Carr completing 3 of 7 passes.

The Raiders coaching staff again failed to use the run, although they did a much better job of it than in previous games. Darren McFadden, who started the game carrying the ball 4 times for 31 yards, disappeared from the offense in the second quarter, and a key 3rd and 1 run was handled by fullback Jamize Olawale, rather than letting him lead block for McFadden or another tailback.  Maurice Jones-Drew, who has struggled all year, was the primary back for much of the second quarter and managed 7 yards on 3 carries – he would finish the game with 6 carries for 8 yards. The Raiders also attempted two passes on 3rd and 1, going 1 for 2.  Of course, Sparano went back to the run in the 3rd quarter only to have it blow up in his face when McFadden fumbled for the first time this year, and the 16-6 score in the 4th quarter forced him to abandon the run at that point. The most telling statistic in the run game is the running on first down: in the Raiders’ first nine first-down plays, they ran six times for 41 yards; in their last 22 first-down plays, they ran three times for eight yards. Carr was sacked twice on first-down plays, and completed 11 of 18 attempts (not counting two spikes on 1st downs).  Not a single first down run play resulted in a loss of yardage, meanwhile three first-down pass plays did.

The Raider offensive line looked worse against the Browns than they had perhaps all year: Derek Carr was sacked three times, nearly doubling his season total, and his late fumble came on a play where he likely would have been sacked, as well. Carr was facing pressure all day from the Browns defense, especially Barkevious Mingo and Paul Kruger, which led to him having to check down on 3rd down plays, throw without being set, and overall struggle to complete key passes.  The offensive line also failed to get a push when the Raiders really needed it on the 3rd down run by Olawale. It was definitely not their finest day as a unit.

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  • Defensively, the Raiders had perhaps their best game of the season, but it was not without its problems. With DJ Hayden back in the lineup and getting some time as the third cornerback behind Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown, the Raiders allowed Brian Hoyer to complete 69% of his passes for 275 yards at 9.2 yards per attempt. The Raider secondary allowed 13 pass plays of 10 yards or more, and DJ Hayden was picked and completely taken out of position on Hoyer’s only TD pass of the game. Further confusing things with the defense was the absence of rookie cornerback TJ Carrie, who has been the most consistent and quality Raider cornerback over the past few weeks. Carrie handled punt return duties, but hardly saw the field as a cornerback, with most of his snaps going to Hayden. If the Raider defense is going to improve against the pass, Jason Tarver may think about putting his best performing defensive back on the field.