What is wrong with the Oakland Raiders offense and what can be done?

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 24: Quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders reacts after an incomplete pass during the first half of the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on November 24, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 24: Quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders reacts after an incomplete pass during the first half of the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on November 24, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Raiders are struggling on the offensive side of the ball, but what is really going wrong and what can be done to remedy the issues?

The seconds on the clock wound down as if in sync with the Oakland Raiders chances of making the playoffs. The Silver and Black just suffered their second consecutive 31-point loss, dropping their record to 6-6 and pushing them a step farther from making the playoffs.

Heads hung, players were visibly upset that the team had squandered such a good opportunity to prove that they belong in the conversation for the division lead.

Yet here we are, now two days removed from the one-sided loss, and no answers have surfaced for the questions about the offense and the identity of the team. The post-game press conference did nothing more than muddle the worries even more, making the future of the team as cloudy as a drunk man’s thoughts.

Quarterback Derek Carr, coming off arguably the worst performance of the season, seemed nonchalant, claiming that he was ‘efficient’ with the ball on Sunday. If efficient is throwing two horrible interceptions and not doing anything offensively until the game was already out of reach, I must have the wrong definition of efficient.

Want to talk about efficiency? How about Josh Jacobs who rushed for 104 yards on 17 carries. That average of 6.1 yards per attempt, that is efficiency. Yet, perhaps that is where we should look to see what exactly is going wrong for the Raiders.

Head coach Jon Gruden has admitted to wanting to utilize Jacobs and the running game in general to control the game. With a good running game team’s can control the clock, bully their opponent, and most importantly control the time of possession. Gruden has a back capable of doing just that for him, but as soon as the team starts to fall behind, he stops utilizing him.

Here are Jacobs’ splits in wins and losses this season. In victories, Jacobs is averaging 22.1 carries, 98.3 yards, and 1.2 touchdowns. In losses those tallies drop to 14.2 carries, 78.5 yards and 0 touchdowns. Quite a disparity, no?

Clearly, when losing, teams typically need to throw the ball to catch up. Running wastes precious time and does not typically lead to big chunk plays that are necessary when chasing a game. But, Gruden seems to abandon the run way too early when his team falls behind, even if it is only by a small margin.

Take the Jets game for example, Jacobs was not necessarily running well, but Gruden capped his attempts at 10 and stopped utilizing him as soon as the team fell behind, putting all the impetus on Carr to lead the comeback. In the last two weeks, that recipe has not led to any success and should be abandoned immediately.

Now let’s look at Carr and his role in the offense. First and foremost, Carr is not above criticism for the offensive woes like come claim he is. Excuses can be made, sure, like the wide receivers unit is deplorable and cold weather games and so on and so forth. But one thing remains through the excuses, the job isn’t getting done.

In situations where Carr needs to lead small comebacks, like one drive to win it type situations, he is quite good. But asking him to come back from 20-plus point deficits is not ideal for his play style. As Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu pointed out, Carr likes to take care of the ball and hit his check-downs to keep drives alive.

When he tries to push the ball downfield, apparently it is very telegraphed and easy to take advantage of for opposing defenses. At his core, Carr is a game manager.

Carr’s numbers are relatively similar in wins and losses this season with only one glaring disparity, interceptions. In wins Carr has thrown only one interception, in losses that number jumps to seven. That can be attributed to a number of factors, but one of the main reasons behind that difference is likely that Carr is coming from behind and forces throws that he normally wouldn’t.

Let’s not forget, the targets Carr has at his disposal are some of the worst he has ever had. Tyrell Williams got a huge contract this offseason and on Sunday was seen jogging through his routes. Hurt still? Maybe, but nothing excuses a lack of effort. That was incredibly telling and is something that will surely show up on tape for coaches to dissect.

By the way, he can be cut with no dead money this offseason.

The other options? Two wide outs that the team traded for this season in Zay Jones and Trevor Davis (who was released on Monday), a rookie in Hunter Renfrow who may be out for the season, second year receiver Marcel Ateman who has spent most of his time on the practice squad, and undrafted free agent Keelan Doss.

I get it, the options are by no means good and that could be a huge reason behind the lack of success on offense in recent weeks.

At one point in the fourth quarter on Sunday the only receiver with a reception was Jones, and it went for a meager eight yards. That will not cut it in the NFL and absconds Carr from some blame, as it is pretty easy to see that his targets aren’t creating any separation.

Darren Waller, on the other hand, has been a revelation and is very deserving of his contract extension. He is not the reason for the struggles and has honestly been the lone bright spot at times.

All in all, the Raiders offense has been concerning. In their last 10 quarters of play they have only managed one touchdown, 12 points in total. Something has to change in order for this team to get back on track.

Much of this falls on Gruden, who is failing to get the most out of what he has. Execution, that was what was preached early in the offseason, yet that is one of the biggest factors behind this anemic stretch for the offense. They are not executing. Take the crucial fourth and one play from Sunday for example.

Gruden got a little too cute and called a jet sweep to Davis (mind you Jacobs wasn’t even on the field) and Davis skipped a wide open hole and instead ran into the back of Foster Moreau, failing to pick up the one yard necessary to get the first.

Off the top, why is Davis the one getting the ball there? There are several players more deserving of that opportunity, Jacobs, Alec Ingold, even DeAndre Washington deserved the ball there over Davis. For putting the ball in Davis’ hands, Gruden deserves some criticism, but the play call should have worked, Davis just didn’t execute.

This is not just a coaching issue and it is not just an execution or players issue.

What works? Well, the running game with Jacobs running behind Ingold and the massive offensive line works pretty well. It is well documented, when given the chance to do so, Jacobs can carry the team to victory.

In addition, establishing the run helps Carr immensely. Running well creates shorter third downs, opens up play action, and keeps the opposing offense on the sideline. All things that bode well for Carr and the offense in general.

For now, with an opportunity at making the playoffs still within reach, the Raiders need to adjust on the fly and get back to the basics. Run the ball and don’t simply abandon it if the team falls behind by a score early. Put Carr in good positions and don’t ask him to do things he isn’t capable of.

If Gruden can get the offense back to the identity that helped get them to an impressive 6-4 record, this team can close out the season with four straight wins and hopefully earn a playoff berth.

Regardless of how this season wraps up, however, the offense needs a makeover this offseason. The entire receivers unit can go, minus Hunter Renfrow. Obviously Waller and Jacobs will be back, and hopefully the offensive line remains intact, but the receiving options need to be upgraded and a decision needs to be made about Carr.

His future with the franchise likely rests on this final stretch of the season.

Will Carr lead the team so the playoffs and secure his place as the starter in 2020 or will he flounder and find himself without a job this offseason? For the Raiders sake in 2019, let’s hope Carr turns it around and leads the team to success.

Next. Despite loss, Oakland Raiders still have a path to the sixth seed. dark