Oakland Raiders Week 12 Primer: Free Fall

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Nov 22, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell (35) signals after a first down during the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Ford Field. The Lions won 18-13. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports


Like most Raiders fans I confidently thought they would win this game. Detroit has some aging talent, but outside of Ansah and his impact many times is negligible, the Lions simply lack high-end talent. The overwhelming cause of what occurred in Detroit was self-inflicted. Derek Carr was erratic at times, the gameplan was not inspiring, and the playcalling was worse.

For as dynamic as Derek Carr has been this season, he has at times been erratic. This is not out of the norm for young quarterbacks, but he had several throws that were truly poor. The worst one was when he had Crabtree running a post route in the slot and he under threw the ball when he had an easy touchdown if he put the ball beyond Crabtree and let him run under it. To be fair to Carr, there were several miscues with receivers and Cooper also contributed with a pair of drops and a statistical no show.

However, that then has to make people wonder what the gameplan was for this game. Consistent with every underwhelming performance this season, the gameplan against the Lions was run based and massively ineffective. It boggles the mind that 10 games into the season the Raiders are still at times holding to the bizarre notion that they can successfully be a “run first team”. Yes they are best when Murray gets over 19 carries in a game, but that is because in games where they jump out to a lead, they use the running game to milk the clock.

On too many series the Raiders ran the ball on both first and second down. Even the consistent use of running plays on first down is enough to make defensive playcalling easier. Another bizarre playcalling trend has been the lack of outside runs. This does not necessarily mean toss plays, but utilizing Latavius Murray on off tackle runs has been highly successful especially against the Jets. In this offense the wide receiver screens are used to stretch out a defense horizontally, but there were not many of those either.

To me, I have to ask why Musgrave did not continue to go with things that worked. For instance, Walford was hit on a skinny post in the slot, and picked up a first down running an out from the slot. Why was he not more involved? Where was Andre Holmes blowing up the shorter slot corners deep? Why did the Raiders not run three verticals from a bunch set after the long Seth Roberts reception? Similar to the other low scoring losses, I have to scratch my head and wonder why Musgrave did not continue to exploit the best matchups.

For anyone who has read my columns regularly this year, I am learning I have a love-hate relationship with Bill Musgrave. He has games where he is truly brilliant, and others where it seems he is more interested in making the game short than he is actually scoring point. The problem is, this is not a conservative offense and this defense performs best when the offense is firing on all cylinders.

Next: Week 12 Primer: Taking on Tennessee