Three things you need to know from Raiders’ 27-10 loss to Washington

Three things you need to know from Raiders’ 27-10 loss to Washington

LANDOVER, Md. – Three things you need to know about the Raiders’ 27-10 loss to the Washington football club:

1. Raiders eat ‘humble pie’

The Silver and Black were riding high after two dominant showings to start the season. That produced positive press clippings claiming the Raiders might have the league’s best offense and a real shot to win the AFC.

Everything went wrong against Washington, as the Raiders got outplayed and outcoached in every phase.

“This was one of those games that will wake you up,” edge rusher Khalil Mack said. “They served us some humble pie.”

The Raiders were honest about the fact they got their butts kicked. They gave credit to Washington, and admitted they didn’t play up to their high standard.

The hope is that it’s an aberration, not the start of a trend. The Raiders remained confident even in defeat, knowing they must play better to beat a tough Denver team on the road next week.

2. Third-down disaster

The Raiders offense faced 11 third downs on Sunday. They didn’t convert a single one. True story. That seems impossible given the level of offensive talent, but Oakland never earned a first down. That stat, more than any other in the box score, explains just how bad things got for a normally dynamic unit.

Head coach Jack Del Rio was beside himself looking at that stat. Derek Carr said that was the main problem with his unit.

“That’s not good. It sucked,” Carr said. “Getting off on third down, for a defense it gives them life. For the other offense, it’s joyful. It really is. We did not do a good job executing on third down, obviously. That just sucked. There’s no other word for it.”

It’s safe to call that stat an outlier. The Raiders converted 54 percent of their third downs over the first two games, before laying an egg in the nation’s capital.

3. Bullied up front

The Raiders might have the best offensive line in football. The front five didn’t play like that on Sunday night. Typically steady guys had an off night. Donald Penn was penalized. Marshall Newhouse struggled in pass protection. Even Kelechi Osemele was off. The Raiders struggled on the ground, and didn’t give Carr much time to get going. He was sacked four times on the night.

The offensive line makes the Raiders offense go. When it’s not right, the attack stalls out. Other teams will use this game film against the Raiders. That’s why the line has to get right in a hurry and put a bad day in the rearview.

“We have to keep practicing and get things fixed because people will watch this tape,” Osemele said. “We’ll go back to the drawing board and be more prepared next time.”

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.