With his Raiders facing a fourth-and-1 at their 45-yard line early in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday, coach Jon Gruden didn’t hesitate to go for the first down.
The failure to convert set the tone for an ugly Raiders loss and illustrated the difficulty they’ve had getting their run game untracked the last two games, both losses.
Previously the strength of the offense, most notably during a three-game win streak in which they bullied opponents with 572 rushing yards and six touchdowns while averaging 5.1 yards per carry, the Raiders’ rushing attack has struggled the last two weeks, managing just 129 rushing yards. That includes the feeble 40 yards on 14 carries they produced in the 43-9 loss to the Falcons on Sunday.
The recent struggles raise questions on multiple levels. Have all the injuries along the Raiders’ offensive line finally caught up to them? Are opposing defenses getting a better feel for what they are doing? How healthy is star running back Josh Jacobs?
But perhaps the biggest question is, can the Raiders get their run-game groove back on over their last five games?