Instant Replay: Raiders miss opportunity in sloppy effort against Chiefs

Instant Replay: Raiders miss opportunity in sloppy effort against Chiefs


OAKLAND – The Raiders entered Sunday’s game alone atop the AFC West.

They had pole position with four wins in five tries and Denver’s loss to San Diego on Thursday night.

They weren’t on top for long. The Kansas City Chiefs took care of that.

Chiefs dominated the biggest game in Oakland since 2011, beating the Raiders 26-10 at a waterlogged Oakland Coliseum and muddied waters in the AFC West.

The Raiders and Broncos are locked at 4-2, with the Chiefs (3-2) even in the loss column. San Diego sits at 2-4.

This loss isn’t the end of the world. It certainly counts as a missed opportunity to get a leg up on the competition.

It also showed the Raiders can’t survive without an offense speeding at maximum warp.

The Raiders defense struggled yet again. They allowed 408 total yards, including 185 on the ground. Those totals aren’t unusual, though they weren’t accompanied by takeaways essential to winning early on.

The offense struggled without Latavius Murray and an on-target Derek Carr. The Raiders quarterback occasionally and uncharacteristically struggled with accuracy in a rain-soaked environment, which slowed an attack that got shut out in the second half.

Carr finished 22-of-34 passing for 226 yards, one touchdown and a lost fumble. The run game wasn’t great, averaging just 3.8 yards per carry. Amari Cooper was the Raiders best player on Sunday, with 10 catches for 129 yards.

A terrible finish belied a hot start.

Jalen Richard started the game with a 50-yard kickoff return. Carr and Cooper marched right downfield. Andre Holmes scored shortly after.

It was mostly downhill from there.

The Chiefs were virtually unstoppable on offense, with a dynamic run game and a short-passing attack that worked well. Their defense made just enough stops early on and grated on the Raiders attack long enough to slow things down when the Silver and Black needed to score in a hurry.

The Raiders were down only two scores entering the fourth quarter, though there was little to suggest a comeback was imminent.

It never materialized, tightening up this division and making Chiefs head coach Andy Reid 16-2 coming off a bye.

Slippin’ and a slidin’: The first half was played with a heavy dose of rain that saturated the playing surface and had an impact on the game. Raiders players especially were slipping on the turf, and it was likely a factor in missed field goals for both sides and a missed extra point by Kansas City.

Quarterback Derek Carr threw an uncharacteristically bad interception in the first half that led to a Kansas City touchdown.

Oakland Coliseum staff removed the tarp just before game time but the middle of the field, which was exposed longer to facilitate pre-game warmups, was particularly messy.

Sitting it out: The Raiders got tight end Clive Walford back after a week out with a knee injury. They preferred to keep inside linebacker Malcolm Smith on ice another week, but he was active and entered the game in the second quarter.

The Raiders were thin at offensive tackle, with Menelik Watson, Vadal Alexander and Matt McCants inactive with injury. Cornerbacks Antonio Hamilton and Dexter McDonald, quarterback Connor Cook and running back Latavius Murray were inactive. So was former Raiders linebacker Sio Moore, who signed with the Chiefs earlier this practice week, was also inactive.

What’s next: The Raiders will spend a week-plus in central Florida, bookend by games at Jacksonville and Tampa Bay. That road trip could bring home a bounty, assuming the Raiders stay focus and healthy to beat inferior teams.

Quarterback drafted by Jon Gruden in 2008 signs with Raiders


Quarterback drafted by Jon Gruden in 2008 signs with Raiders

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden had a hand in drafting Josh Johnson a decade ago. The agile quarterback and Oakland native was a Tampa Bay’s fifth-round pick in 2008, Gruden’s last year as Buccaneers coach.

The pair will reunite in Johnson’s hometown. The well-traveled quarterback signed with the Raiders on Monday, the team announced.

Johnson will compete with Connor Cook to backup starter Derek Carr, and brings a veteran’s influence to the position group. It likely spells the end of EJ Manuel’s short tenure in silver and black. The strong-armed former first-round pick, who started one game last season, remains a free agent after a year with the Raiders.

This move should make Marshawn Lynch happy. He and Johnson are extremely close and together run the Family First Foundation, a charitable organization that does significant work for East Bay kids. Johnson and Lynch also played football together at Oakland Tech High.

Johnson has played 10 NFL teams prior to this Raiders stop, but hasn’t played in a regular-season game for some time.

Raiders well equipped to 'slam the ball with a beast'


Raiders well equipped to 'slam the ball with a beast'

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden needed specific tools to run his running game. He wanted blocking tight ends and a bruising fullback, relics of a bygone offensive era.

“If Marshawn Lynch is the feature back, I think it’d be nice if we serviced him with a fullback,” Gruden said at the combine. … You need a blocking tight end if you’re going to slam the ball with a beast. So, those are two things that I’m looking for.”

Gruden said he wanted to import some old-school elements to help run with brute force.

Enter free-agent fullback Kyle Smith and tight end Derek Carrier. Welcome back, Lee Smith.

Then, on Sunday, Raiders made another vital move in this old school effort. They cut Marshawn Lynch a $1 million check.

The Oakland native’s roster bonus came due and the Raiders had no problem paying it, the clearest sign Lynch will be the Raiders feature back in 2018.

He’ll have a great chance to thrive in that role. The Raiders have a hulking, expensive offensive line (that still needs a right tackle). They have new ancillary blocking elements, and the centerpiece remains in place.

That last part was expected in recent weeks. The coaching staff, offensive line coach Tom Cable especially, wanted Lynch back. NFL Network confirmed those facts, stating Lynch will be around in 2018.

That was the case, even with Doug Martin’s addition. The former Tampa Bay back is expected to be a backup bruiser, someone who might put DeAndre Washington or (less likely) Jalen Richard’s job in jeopardy.

The Raiders can cut Lynch without a cap hit. Lynch is scheduled to make $6 million in salary and bonuses, with another $2 million available in incentives. The Raiders should hope to pay those; it would mean Lynch is running well.

The Raiders have given him a great opportunity to do so. They have solid blocking and a coach in Cable who helped him succeed during dominant days in Seattle.

Lynch proved he’s still got it in 2017’s second half, with 70 percent of his 891 rushing yards in the final eight games. He struggled early on, and upset some fans by helping the opposition during a scuffle with Kansas City. That mitigated a PR bump the Raiders looked for when signing a popular Oakland native just months after committing to Las Vegas long-term.

Jack Del Rio and staff grew tired of what they perceived as leeway given to Lynch unavailable to others, and probably wouldn’t have kept him on if still gainfully employed.

Gruden seems committed to Lynch this season, though nothing is ever 100 percent with an enigmatic rusher who doesn’t make private thoughts public.

His elusive, rough-and-tumble rushing style fits well with what Gruden wants, though he demands commitment to the team and sport. Sports Illustrated relayed a story of Gruden saying he needed a “full-time Lynch.”

If he gets that, the Raiders run game should thrive.