Three things you need to know from Raiders’ 17-16 loss to the Chargers

Three things you need to know from Raiders’ 17-16 loss to the Chargers

OAKLAND – Here are three things you need to know from the Raiders’ 17-16 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6 on Sunday:

Raiders season already circling drain: The Oakland Raiders are the AFC West’s worst. They’re in last place after six games.

Wrap your head around that.

A team expected to contend for an AFC title is floundering at 2-4, unable to stop what could be a season-defining skid.

They’ve lost four straight, including the last two at home, with the first-place Kansas City Chiefs coming to town Thursday night. They’ve lost as many games in a month as they dropped all last season.

The margin for error might be nil, or darn close to it. Every game is up in the air now, and the Raiders must act quickly or get left in the dust.

“There’s pressure every game. We work in a pressure business,” cornerback David Amerson said. “It’s now or never, if we’re being completely honest. With how tough our division is, and how tough our remaining schedule is, we have to turn it on, man.”

Frustration mounting on offense: The Raiders scored 70 points in the regular season’s first two weeks. They’ve tallied 53 in the last four. That’s right. The vaunted Raiders attack is averaging 13.1 points per game during a disastrous losing streak that has their season on life support.

They aren’t explosive passing downfield. They can’t run consistently. They’ve struggled to sustain drives, stay on schedule and execute well on third down.

You name it, it’s gone wrong.

That’s unexpected from an offensive seemingly loaded at the skill positions and on the offensive line. That was true before Jared Cook, Cordarrelle Patterson and Marshawn Lynch were acquired. This unit was supposed to be elite. It’s the opposite under first-year play caller Todd Downing.

It must be more efficient for the Raiders to be competitive, and it’s something the Raiders continue working on even as losses pile high.

Derek Carr says its little details. Donald Penn says the Raiders are close to things going right. Close doesn’t cut it. They know that. That’s why the temperature’s rising on offense, and frustration’s starting to set in.

“Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us in this world; not even us,” tight end Jared Cook said. “We have to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and find a way to fix this thing.”

Performing under pressure a 2016 trait: There’s so much continuity from last year’s roster to this one that it’s logical to assume it should share some signature traits.

Coming through in the clutch defined last year’s squad, with so many fourth-quarter comebacks and timely takeaways to win games. This year’s Raiders haven’t been able to do that. Not at all.

The Raiders had 30 takeaways last season. The defense has just three in six games, with two more coming on special teams. The offense hasn’t been able to close games. They had a chance up two with six minutes left, and went three and out.

They had a chance to stop the Chargers early on the game-deciding drive, but never put up much resistance.

Last year’s Raiders won close games, with nine victories by seven points or less. This year’s Raiders have lost the two close games they’ve played.

“This was a typical NFL game,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “They’re usually close. Comes down to the end. Which team makes plays? We had our chances. You get your chances and you have to live with the results. Didn’t make enough plays today.”

Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?


Does Gruden see Lynch, Crabtree on Raiders in 2018?

Jon Gruden doesn’t love offseason restrictions on player-coach interaction. They weren’t so strict when Gruden last coached nine years ago, but the new collective bargaining agreement prevents the new Raiders head coach from extended contact with his players at this stage in the NFL’s downtime.

He has, however, run into several Raiders stopping by the team’s Alameda complex.

Count running back Marshawn Lynch and receiver Michael Crabtree among them. Conversations with those talented, yet mercurial players will be key as Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie decide how best to use the salary cap.

Both guys have a long history of NFL production. Both guys are getting up there in age, and have some drawbacks. Both guys can be cut without a salary cap hit.

Gruden had nice things to say about both guys in a Wednesday interview with the Bay Area News Group.

He was asked directly if Lynch will be on the 2018 roster.

“I don’t know,” Gruden said. “I bumped into him. Some of these players that live locally do come to the facility to get a workout, see the trainer. I’ve been downstairs and met several guys. I have talked to Marshawn briefly. We’ll see. We’ll keep everybody posted. Right now, he’s our leading ball carrier. He’s our back, and we’re counting on him. Hopefully we get an opportunity to work together. That’s a man that has a lot of respect in this league as a player and I certainly have respect for him also.”

Lynch started slow but finished strong, and was the team’s best skill player in the season’s second half. He’s contracted to make up to $6 million in 2018.

Crabtree came up later in a discussion of what he likes on the roster.

“I got to bump into Crabtree,” Gruden said. “Hopefully we can get the best out of Crabtree and his career.”

Crabtree is coming off a down year following two stellar seasons in Oakland. He had just 58 catches for 618 yards – he still had eight touchdowns – but his targets and snaps decreased the last two weeks. He seemed at odds with the previous coaching staff, a group that was dismissed at season’s end.

Crabtree is set to make $7 million next season, though none of it is guaranteed.

Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders


Gruden meeting reinforces T.J. Carrie's desire to remain with Raiders

PALO ALTO – Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie became a father on Super Bowl Sunday. Newborn son Elijah Carrie has been the sole focus these last few weeks, as T.J. learns on the job how to be a dad.

Pardon him if he hasn’t thought much about impending free agency. The 2014 seventh-round pick turned full-time starter has a rookie deal expiring soon, with a raise on the horizon following his best season as a pro.

That’ll come in March. Early February, however, has kept him otherwise engaged.

“I’ve been so busy with my little one, and I haven’t been getting any sleep,” Carrie said Thursday. “Learning how to be a dad has been so engulfing that I haven’t delved into the details of what free agency will mean to me.”

Soul searching wasn’t required to realize his dream scenario. The East Bay native wants to stay in Oakland, with a Raiders team he loved as a kid.

“My intention is to be here,” Carrie said. “I’m a Bay Area guy, a hometown kid. I couldn’t see myself being anywhere else. This is a passion for me. I dreamed about playing for the Raiders for such a long time. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to play there for four years, I want to finish (with the Raiders).”

Carrie wants to work with a new Raiders regime. He visited the team’s Alameda complex on Wednesday and met with new head coach Jon Gruden and defensive assistants. The interaction left Carrie wanting more, furthering his belief that be belongs in Silver and Black.

“Coach Gruden is very energetic,” Carrie said. “He’s a coach that likes to have fun but it a very business oriented guy. There are a lot of things, I imagine, that are going to change, just from the way he has done things. It’s going to be different, but I embrace it. It’ll be very challenging entering into a new regime, but there are a lot of positive factors involved with it.”

The Raiders don’t have many cornerbacks under contract come mid-March. They released David Amerson, and could do the same with Sean Smith later this offseason. Gareon Conley should start at one spot, but everything else is wide-open entering free agency and the draft.

Carrie could find value on the open market after recording 70 tackles and nine passes defensed in 16 starts. He’ll explore his options further next month, before free agency begins in earnest March 14.

“I know March is really when it starts to go down,” Carrie said. “My son will be a little older then, so I can focus more on free agency and make some more decisions.”