The Oakland Raiders had a tall task ahead of them on Sunday, and after four quarters, there were more questions than answers.
Three games into the season and it already feels like an eternity for the Oakland Raiders. What started out as a promising Monday night victory to start the season has turned into back to back disappointments. An offense that seemed to be able to move the ball at will on the ground and through the air one week, and a playbook that was supposed to be opened up to 'let it fly' seems to have been left in the locker room.
In a disappointing outing on the first stop of a five-game road trip, the Raiders were beaten 34-14 by the Minnesota Vikings. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr's stat line doesn't tell the full story of the game, statistically, the numbers were there 27 of 34 for 242 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, but in a game that the Raiders were already down 21-7 in the 2nd quarter we were unable to finish drives and add to the scoreboard.
I'm sure looking back on this game, Carr will tell you that a few plays that he wishes he could have back, and surely he's going to get to work this way to make sure they don't happen, but this isn't a quarterback issue, this is a team issue. The time of possession battle was almost equal, the Raiders held on to the ball for three minutes and four seconds less than the Vikings, and had 14 first downs through the air to the Vikings eight.
The area in which the Raiders had the most difficulty was on the ground, as the Raiders rushed for a total of 88 yards with a 4.4 yard per average and three first downs, which could be attributed to predictable inside the tackle runs vs. a stacked base defense.
As a team, the Raiders gave up 34 points to the Vikings, and defensively, the team allowed the Vikings to drive over 70 yards and score three times. A 3rd and 9 play that ended in a defensive holding, a 3rd and 18 that ended with a roughing the passer, and a Derek Carr interception all led to scoring drives.
Looking back on the mistakes and missteps is frustrating, but its an opportunity to learn. The Raiders gave up 211 yards on the ground on 38 attempts including three scores in the red zone.
Losing isn't fun, and writing about losing isn't fun. Being critical of the team that I have been around since infancy isn't fun, especially when I know that this team is better than what we have seen the past two weeks!
My opinion is that we need to get Josh Jacobs more involved, the kid has the ability to be a star in this league and hopefully he's healthy again because he is a phenomenal player. Darren Waller needs to keep getting the rock, Tyrell Williams needs to get more looks, JJ Nelson needs to see more time and I'd LOVE to see Derek Carr air it out. I am still a HUGE believer in Carr and truly feel that he has the tools to take this team to where we need it.
Offensively, I want to see the same fire in Carr's eyes that Raider Nation saw Monday night against the Broncos. I want to see the ball going for over five yards per carry on the ground, and I want to see the playbook wide open and players rushing to the line of scrimmage preparing to score at will.
Last season, Derek attacked the Colts secondary and went 21 of 28 for 244 yards and three touchdowns. This is what we need to see again.
Defensively, I would like to see players put in better positions to make plays and not do too much, stop the run, know assignments and make plays. This week the defense needs to be flying around, making tackles, getting in the back field, creating turnovers and disrupt the Colt's offense.
It's Week 4, the Raiders are 1-2, the only team in the division with a winning record is the Chiefs. The AFC West is still wide open and available for the Raiders to take it. It's far from over, and a win on Sunday puts the team right back in the game.