Hot start, Lackluster finish: What’s new for the Raiders?
As the Raiders sit back and watch their division rival Kansas City Chiefs go to the super bowl for the second year in a row, the same question for the Raiders exists: What now?
Despite big anticipations surrounding the team and a brand new stadium to welcome the Raiders in the Las Vegas desert, the outcome remained the same: A hot start gave way to a disappointing finish. Yes they beat the Chiefs, the Browns and the Saints, but they also lost to Falcons, the Patriots and barely beat the New York Jets.
Here is a look at the good and the bad before offering a verdict.
For one, the Raiders got a brand new stadium, that sits beautiful in the Las Vegas Desert. The interior offers sparkling views of the Las Vegas strip, as well as an all black interior that looks evil, hence the nickname “The Death Star”. However, they stunk up the place, going 2-6 at home, and 6-2 on the road. In their case, home field advantage didn’t exist, it was a disadvantage.
While the offense wasn’t perfect, they looked pretty good. Derek Carr threw for a career high 4,103 yards, Darren Waller racked up 1,000 yards receiving and Josh Jacobs rushed for 1,000 yards. Overall, the offense was one of the bright spots for the Raiders.
The defense was once again, a weak point for this Raiders team. For one, no clear leader exists on the Raiders’ defense. And two, communications doesn’t seem to be a strong suit for the team, as the Raiders often found themselves scratching their heads after blowing late game leads due to their defense. For example, there were three games that the Raiders should have won:
- The game against the Chiefs where they were leading with less than a minute to go
- The game against the Los Angeles Chargers where a blown coverage assignment led to an overtime loss,
- The ridiculous Miami Dolphins game where the Raiders had a 99.99% win probability and managed to lose with 23 seconds left to go!
All those games have one thing in common: blown coverages. The Raiders’ secondary allowed teams time and time again to slip through the secondary and gash them. No matter how many points an offense scores, if the defense has more leaks than Playboi Carti the team won’t win many games. If the Raiders win those games, they’re not the division champions, but they would’ve at least found themselves a seat at the playoff table. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t get it done.
As the Raiders relax this season, and prepare for the next, they need to spend some time watching film and working with the defensive unit to make sure everyone is on the same page. If not, the defense will have the same problems, and it’s clear that simply firing the defensive coordinator doesn’t fix the problem. The offense can only do so much, but they aren’t supposed to make up for a bad defense.
The best teams complement a solid offense with a lockdown defense and if one is off, then the other will crumble. If the defense doesn’t get it together, expect the exact same season and possibly for some jobs to be on the line.