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.

Raiders restructure Rodney Hudson's contract to create 2020 cap space

Raiders restructure Rodney Hudson's contract to create 2020 cap space

The Raiders took on a bit more salary in free agency than they were legally allowed, but restructured center Rodney Hudson’s massive contract to get back under the NFL salary cap.

The team’s cap and contracts people got creative with the deal, obtained by ESPN on Wednesday morning, to provide relief in 2020 and push increased cap hits down the road where they have more flexibility.

The Raiders converted $11.6 million of Hudson’s base salary into a signing bonus, freeing up $9.28 in cap space for 2020. His cap hits will go up $2.32 million in subsequent seasons, which includes two voidable years at the end of the deal to spread out his cap hits.

The Silver and Black had to do that now to get Carl Nassib’s deal in while staying under the cap. He’s set to make $25 million over three years, with a $7.75 million cap hit in 2020, per OverTheCap.com.

After factoring in the Nassib deal, the Hudson restructure and some other small additions, OTC reports the Raiders have $5.214 million in cap space. They might have to make another cap adjustment down the road, with $9.408 million required to pay their draft picks as currently slotted. They won’t have to make that move until later in the spring and summer, when they start signing draft picks.

[RELATED: Ranking Raiders' offensive players ahead of 2020 NFL draft]

The Raiders own the Nos. 12 and 19 overall selections, with three third-round picks and one each in the fourth and fifth rounds.

Hudson signed a long-term contract extension last season worth $33.7 million over three years, with $24.4 million guaranteed. Moving money around helps the Raiders stay right with the cap without hurting future standing and keeping all the talent the Raiders currently employ.

NFL mock draft 2020: First-round pick projections at start of April

NFL mock draft 2020: First-round pick projections at start of April

It's officially April which means #MockSZN is coming to an end.

For the past three months, NBC Sports Bay Area's Dalton Johnson and Josh Schrock have been rifling off a number of possible scenarios as they fall in love and out of love with a number of top draft prospects.

Tee Higgins has been riding a roller-coaster, Mekhi Becton a rocket ship while Laviski Shenault and Grant Delpit have bottomed out.

A few things remain the same from when we started: Joe Burrow will be a Bengal and Chase Young should be looking for real estate in the nation's capital unless Washington is overwhelmed with a trade offer.

Justin Herbert is rising and the coronavirus pandemic could see Tua Tagovailoa slide with in-person physicals impossible to perform.

The Raiders are looking for an elite wide receiver and a plug-and-play defensive back. The 49ers traded DeForest Buckner to move up to No. 13 and add to a team chomping at the bit to return to the Super Bowl.

The 2020 NFL Draft is weeks away. Who will be the next face of your franchise?

CLICK FOR LATEST 2020 MOCK DRAFT