Raiders

Raiders takeaways: What we learned from 34-14 blowout loss vs. Vikings

Raiders takeaways: What we learned from 34-14 blowout loss vs. Vikings

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MINNEAPOLIS – The Raiders started a prolonged stretch of road games with a thud, getting beat in every facet on Sunday by the Minnesota Vikings.

It’s hard to find an area to glean positivity or progress from a 34-14loss to the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium, with the entire team struggling to establish a productive rhythm.

The run game was inconsistent. Derek Carr’s accuracy was off. The seemingly improved Raiders rushing defense got gashed by excellent Vikings back Dalvin Cook.

Here are three takeaways from the Raiders’ second-straight loss. As you’d expect, none of them are flattering:

Poor showing kills early-season optimism

The Raiders entered this season with lofty expectations, and held them close after beating Denver and playing Kansas City tough for three of four quarters. The Minnesota Vikings seemed like a beatable team, one that could help the Raiders start a season-defining stretch off right.

The Silver and Black couldn’t even compete. They got beat in every phase in a game they were never in, without quarterback pressure from the defensive line or protection from the offensive front.

The team’s glaring lack of receiver speed and poor protection prevents many deep-shot opportunities, so the Vikings sold out to stop Josh Jacobs in this one.

This is the first of five straight games away from Oakland, all against legitimate division title contenders from the NFC North and AFC South.

The Raiders left U.S. Bank Stadium exposed, showing a lack of linebacker depth and serious problems at free safety. The pass rush had a terrible day, unable to affect the quarterback in any way. Kirk Cousins will pick a defense apart when comfortable and supported by a dynamic run game the Raiders couldn’t stop.

The offense isn’t consistent enough to sustain long drives or dynamic enough to score quickly. That unit has scored just two touchdowns in the last seven quarters, which isn’t nearly enough to compete with the defense stumbling.

All of those problems against the Vikings will be issues in the next four games, all against good teams. Similar showing against the Colts, Bears, Packers and Texans quickly could put the season in dire straits.

Derek Carr looks off

The Raiders quarterback didn’t have his best day. He was inaccurate at times, including a key first-half interception that led to a Vikings touchdown.

Carr’s pass sailed high of tight end Foster Moreau, giving Harrison Smith an easy interception. The signal-caller was under pressure most of the day but not on that throw, which didn’t go his way.

The Vikings had four sacks on the day and the Raiders couldn’t establish a steady pocket. Carr finished the game with 242 yards on 27-of-34passing and an average of 7.1 yards per attempt.

The Raiders didn’t work deep portions of the field, and didn’t get much from lateral passes looking for a big catch and run. Carr normally has great touch, but he seemed off in this game. That impacted the offensive consistency, which missed several opportunities to get back in this game.

[RELATED: Gap between Raiders, Chiefs could widen if KC lands Ramsey]

Penalties play role in rough start

The Raiders could’ve started Sunday’s game with a three-and-out. A holding call on Gareon Conley on third down kept defenders on the field. An encroachment call also gave Minnesota a free first down, and the Vikings finished the drive with Adam Thielen’s 35-yard touchdown catch.

That was a huge early swing, and the Raiders didn’t respond to it well. The offense went three and out, and the defense extended the second Vikings series with a roughing the passer call on third down. Minnesota worked out another touchdown, leaving the Raiders down two scores in a flash.

Carr’s interception gave Minnesota a short field and the Vikings went up 21-0 a short while later, effectively putting this game to bed in the first half. The Raiders can’t afford to give away free opportunities and expect to win games. They did that too often, too early in this game to stand a puncher’s chance.

Boo birds chirp as Derek Carr, Raiders offense continues downward slide

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USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES

Boo birds chirp as Derek Carr, Raiders offense continues downward slide

OAKLAND – The Raiders offense was humming to start Sunday’s game against Tennessee. They found end zones on three of four first-half drives, and entered the break tied with the Titans.

Then the wheels came off. The offense never scored during a disastrous second half featuring four punts, a lost fumble and a turnover on downs following a fourth-and-goal throwaway. Things never got better in another terrible result ending with a 42-21 loss to the Titans at Oakland Coliseum.

The tide turned in the third quarter, after consecutive, fruitless three-and-outs. After the second one, boo birds came out. They were chirping a bit before that, but voiced displeasure in unison. Fans were frustrated with the offense and seemed bothered most by Derek Carr’s play in particular at that point.

They didn’t like the optics of Carr tossing a pass out of bounds on fourth down, even with time winding down and the game out of reach.

Home fans have booed Carr before. They can be short-tempered, especially when things aren’t going right.

Carr put the boos in perspective, and therefore didn’t take them personally after a third-straight blowout loss.

“It’s happened before. You play here long enough and that will occur,” Carr said. “We have a rowdy group and that’s why we love them. They’re passionate, and they just want to win. It’s just like family. Even when they’re mad at you, they still want to hug you. They still want you to do well. I understand that frustration. I think I showed some emotion, too. I don’t think anything of it. It has happened for six years.”

Carr’s final line looks pretty nice. He completed 25-of-34 passes for 263 yards, two touchdowns and no picks, good for a 115.2 passer rating. The outcome and second-half fade didn’t feel quite as good, but the Raiders were proud of their quarterback’s effort in a third consecutive blowout loss.

“I think he played really well today, Carr did, given what’s going on around him,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. “I think there’s a big story there. At least we recognize it. We’re really proud of the way he’s competing and performing with all the moving pieces.”

Gruden’s referring to the offensive injuries piling up over the last few weeks, with a list of key players sidelined for Sunday’s game. Running back Josh Jacobs finally succumbed to a shoulder injury after playing through it since Week 7. Right tackle Trent Brown is down with a pectoral injury. Receiver Hunter Renfrow is down another game at least with rib injuries and a punctured lung. Foster Moreau suffered a knee injury in this one and might be done for the year. That’s another huge blow to the offense, and it’s surely impacting execution and an ability to sustain drives.

Carr didn’t want to hear that and didn’t want injury setbacks to excuse poor play.

“This game is next man up,” Carr said. “Nobody cares about our situation. Nobody cares who is playing. Nobody cares who has been here, who has not been here. The people who have played this position, played that. I have learned that in my six years. Nobody cares. We didn’t win the football game and it is what it is.”

The Raiders haven’t won since Nov. 17, when they beat the Bengals at home. They have been outscored 116-33 since. It sure seems like the Raiders have run out of gas down the stretch, unable to perform to earlier levels due to attrition and lack of execution. They can look good in spurts – take the first half versus Tennessee for example – but can’t sustain it.

The Raiders have struggled on both sides of the ball and have hit a rough patch they might not leave before the season’s out.

“We’re a tight football team that is competing hard,” Gruden said. “We’re missing some of the players that helped us win those three straight games. The Golden State Warriors are going through a similar process. It’s not as easy to win when you’re not playing with your frontline guys. It works out for the development of some young players, but it’s on me. It’s my responsibility to fix it and it certainly doesn’t look good the last few weeks.”

Raiders shocked, searching for answers after yet another ugly loss

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USATSI

Raiders shocked, searching for answers after yet another ugly loss

OAKLAND -- In the NFL, things can turn in an instance. 

Three weeks ago, the Raiders were the darlings of the NFL, having used a three-game winning streak to catapult themselves into the AFC playoff picture. They were headed on the road to face a Jets team that has a myriad of issues. A 7-4 record and a date with the Chiefs to decide the AFC West was in their sites. 

Things didn't go according to plan. 

The Raiders were ripped limb from limb by the Jets, and then headed to Kansas City where the Chiefs bullied them all around a freezing Arrowhead Stadium to drop Oakland to 6-6. 

So the Raiders returned home, needing a win Sunday against the Titans to stop the bleeding and keep realistic playoff dreams alive. Instead, the Raiders were torched by Ryan Tannehill as the Titans strolled to a 42-21 win at the Coliseum. 

A third straight dud has left the Raiders stunned and searching for answers. 

"That's how things happen in this league," guard Richie Incognito said. "We got home after the big road test, we got the three in a row, in my opinion, we probably weren't playing our best ball during that three-week stretch but we were winning. Then we take the trip over to New York and get exposed, went to Kansas City and they jumped on us and then today. I'm pretty shocked that we are in this position." 

The losses have been deflating and embarrassing. It hasn't been death by 1,000 cuts, but three gigantic gashes that have left the Raiders bleeding out hoping for a miracle to snag an AFC playoff spot that appeared to be theirs three weeks ago. 

The Raiders are banged up and missing bodies. Of that, there is no doubt. Josh Jacobs didn't play Sunday and neither did right tackle Trent Brown. Starting safeties Johnathan Abram and Karl Joseph are done for the season. Middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict hasn't been allowed out of the principal's office since a Week 4 hit against the Colts that the NFL deemed a season-ender.

Eventually, it's too much to overcome. It's too much to ask guys who just came in off the street to be meaningful contributors to a playoff run. 

But no one wants to hear excuses. 

"It comes with the territory," linebacker Tahir Whitehead said of the injuries. "It comes with the game. We've had a lot of adversity this season, but you have to go in there with that next man mentality. No matter what. No one cares what you have to go through during the week. No one cares how many injuries and as much as it matters as far as getting guys ready ... no one gives a s--t."

A once-promising season has been nuked by a non-competitive streak that has seen the Raiders outscored 116-33 and look helpless in the process. The defense has been dissected every way possible and the offense has lacked a punch that would strike fear into any creature with even a faint pulse. 

[RELATED: Jacobs 'in tears' when Raiders made him inactive vs. Titans]

The Raiders might be searching for answers, but they are unlikely to find any that will appease their desperate minds. 

There will be no magic elixir to save the Raiders from the disappointing reality of letting a golden playoff opportunity slip away. 

Coach Jon Gruden can't scheme the Raiders healthy or make them more talented. They simply are what they are. 

But no one wants to hear excuses for laying an egg with the season on the line. That's inexcusable.