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

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Oct 26, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck (91) sacks Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns won 23-13. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

Of course it wasn’t all bad in the Raiders most recent loss. There were quite a few positive takeaways from the game, and that may give the team something to build on before a string of very tough matchups ahead.

Oakland’s defense played by far its best game of the year against the Browns on Sunday. The Raiders had come into the game allowing an average of 375.8 yards per game, including a deplorable 145.3 yards per game on the ground, with much of that coming right up the middle at replacement middle linebacker Miles Burris. On Sunday against the Browns, the Raiders allowed just 39 yards on 24 rushing attempts. Exploiting the fact that the Browns were playing without their starting center, the Raider interior defensive line, along with Miles Burris and Sio Moore, simply exploded everything Ben Tate and the Browns attempted to do in the running game. Khalil Mack and Benson Mayowa – starting in place of injured LaMarr Houston – set the edge and refused any gains on the exterior.  The Browns had six rushing plays that resulted in negative yards. This put the Browns in a lot of holes on 3rd down, which the Raiders – despite the aforementioned struggles in the passing game – shut down almost completely: the Browns converted only 2 of 12 3rd-down attempts in the game.

While the Raiders only managed one sack in the game – a key sack on a 3rd down play by Justin Tuck – they put good pressure on Brian Hoyer, especially from the edges where Khalil Mack and Benson Mayowa got off the edge well throughout the game. Had Raider defensive backs been able to cover receivers a bit longer, the game might have turned into a sack-fest for the Raider front seven. The Raider defense will face some tough tests in the weeks to come, but if they can play at this level in those weeks and the offense can find any kind of spark, there’s a chance the Raiders could steal some games from highly favored teams.

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  • Also, there were some sparks of good on the offensive side. The key fumble notwithstanding, Darren McFadden contributed in a big way to the Raider offense, averaging over 4.9 yards per carry rushing and catching 4 passes for 26 yards. Mychal Rivera had perhaps his best game as a pro, catching 7 passes for 83 yards, including a clutch 22 yarder in traffic where he made a spectacular juggling catch. Kenbrell Thompkins and Andre Holmes made some solid contributions as well, and James Jones was his usual reliable self. There weren’t any really noticeable drops from Raider receivers this week, an improvement over past weeks.

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  • And we’ve perhaps seen the floor for Derek Carr, who was harassed all day, often too conservative in key situations, and committed a really bad fumble in a bad part of the field late in the game. In what was in many ways the worst day of his pro career, he completed 63% of his passes for 328 yards and did not throw an interception. The play-calling fell short, as Greg Olson continues to try to make the screen game happen despite overwhelming evidence that it will not happen, and Carr didn’t do enough to carry the offense despite throwing over 50 passes.

    The Raiders have been beaten many times this year by other teams. On Sunday in Cleveland, the Raiders beat themselves with turnovers and dumb miscues. This team has a lot of potential, but is not a good enough team to overcome three turnovers and lack of execution on third downs, there is absolutely no way this team will ever win if it can’t get those things right.  Let’s hope they figure it ou.