Raiders

Raiders takeaways: What we learned in 35-3 season finale loss to Chiefs

Raiders takeaways: What we learned in 35-3 season finale loss to Chiefs

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Raiders' season ended with a whimper. They didn't play spoiler Sunday by beating the Chiefs. They didn’t finish strong like they’d hoped.

The Silver and Black were worked 35-3 at Arrowhead Stadium, where they have struggled mightily in recent seasons.

This game wasn’t competitive. The Raiders turned over the ball on their first four drives, and were down 21-0 in less than 21 game minutes. The paragraphs above were written then, with no worry over whether they’d hold true at game’s end.

The Raiders finished the season at 4-12, equal to the worst campaign of coach Jon Gruden’s 12-year career.

This game featured a few individual bright spots, but it brought a proper end to a disappointing season that started with high hopes before turning into a full-scale roster rebuild.

Here are three takeaways after Sunday’s loss to playoff-bound Kansas City (12-4):

Nowhere close to catching KC

The Chiefs are the AFC West’s gold standard. They have won three consecutive division titles, while the Raiders are mired in last place and in the midst of a full-scale rebuild. The Raiders have lost eight of their last nine games to Kansas City, and they must reverse that trend to start consistently competing for playoff positions. The Chiefs are vastly superior, especially with Pat Mahomes at quarterback. That was clear Sunday, when a talent chasm was on full display.

Gruden has a major project ahead, one that must include several quality drafts and free-agent signings, to leapfrog the Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers and rate among a talented division’s best teams. The Raiders finished 1-5 in the division, and improving that mark will be the first sign of progress in reconstructing the franchise.

Draft pick remains high

The Silver and Black acquired two 2019 first-round draft picks by trading Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. Those selections have lost serious value. The Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys won their respective divisions, meaning those picks will be in the 20s at best.

The Raiders will have a high pick, however, thanks to their own disappointing season. Their loss to Kansas City, combined with other results across the NFL, locked the Raiders into the No. 4 overall selection. That’s high enough to draft a premium defensive player, even without a deep quarterback class and a possible early run on pass rushers.

That also means the Raiders would have the No. 35 overall pick. By rule, teams with equal record flop positions every other round. The first-round tiebreaker is determined by strength of schedule.

Derek Carr’s no-interception streak snapped

The Raiders quarterback threw 322 consecutive passes without an interception. Only three quarterbacks in NFL history have gone that long without a pick.

Carr’s streak didn’t go any further, though, after tight end Jared Cook stopped running a route when he was targeted, resulting in Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen's pick-six.

While Carr has had three picks dropped during the streak, the one that counts wasn't his fault. The ball was in the air when Cook’s route halted.

The next interception, however, was on Carr. He didn’t see Reggie Ragland sit on Jordy Nelson’s route, and the Kansas City linebacker cut it off and rumbled well downfield on the return.

[RELATED: Raiders' 2019 opponents finalized]

Picks weren't Carr’s only issue with ball security. He held onto the ball a smidge too long, and rookie left tackle Kolton Miller was beat off the edge, allowing Justin Houston in for a strip-sack.

Carr had a few positive milestones Sunday, exceeding 4,000 passing yards for the first time in his career and breaking the NFL record for most completions in a quarterback’s first five seasons.

A rough finish to the year -- Carr never plays well at Arrowhead Stadium -- doesn’t change the fact that the signal-caller run Gruden’s offense well, especially as the year progressed. Another offseason in the system, and some upgrades at receiver, should help Carr take another positive step in 2019.

NFL rumors: Raiders-Packers to play Week 3 preseason game in Winnipeg

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NFL rumors: Raiders-Packers to play Week 3 preseason game in Winnipeg

Buckle up, Winnipeg, Jon Gruden and the Raiders are coming to town.

It was reported in March that the Raiders were looking to play one of their four preseason games in Canada and now it appears they have found a site for that game.

The Raiders will play the Green Bay Packers in Winnipeg for their third preseason game, Jeff Hamilton of the Winnipeg Free Press reported Friday.

The Raiders have been looking to move one of their preseason games for some time, to mitigate some of the increased rent from their 2019 lease with Oakland Coliseum, and have honed on playing north of the border. The rent amount will decrease with a game off the schedule, a clause that was written into a new lease agreement with a revenue that is expected to host the Raiders one more season before the team is scheduled to relocate to Las Vegas in 2020.

It makes sense to play the Green Bay Packers in Canada, considering their close proximity to the country.

The Raiders originally looked at Regina’s Mosaic Stadium, home of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. That deal proved difficult, and the Raiders moved on to other Canadian options. Winnipeg was the best fit, and a formal deal seems to be in the cards.

The Raiders or Packers have not made a formal announcement, despite being less than three months from the game.

Oakland began Phase Three of its offseason program Tuesday when organized team activities began in Alameda.

[RELATED: Undrafted rookie WR drawing rave reviews from Gruden, Carr]

Derek Carr vs. Aaron Rodgers in a "dress rehearsal game" isn't bad NFL treat for the fine folks of Winnipeg. Enjoy.

Raiders undrafted WR drawing rave reviews from Jon Gruden, Derek Carr

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Raiders undrafted WR drawing rave reviews from Jon Gruden, Derek Carr

The Raiders revamped their wide receiving corps this offseason, bringing in Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, J.J. Nelson, Ryan Grant and fifth-round draft pick Hunter Renfrow to help quarterback Derek Carr. 

Brown, Williams and Renfrow will get a lot of attention during organized team activities and minicamp, but there's another receiver who has impressed both head coach Jon Gruden and Carr early on in his NFL career.

Keelan Doss signed with the Raiders after going undrafted out of the University of California-Davis and has the size, ball skills and awareness to make it as a receiver in the NFL.

Gruden likes what he has seen from Doss so far.

"Yeah, we coached Doss in the Senior Bowl and really liked him," Gruden said Tuesday after the first day of OTAs. "I think he's smart. He's athletic and he's got size and I think he's going to be able to compete on special teams, as well. Plus he's from Alameda, so we had to get Doss."

It's a long road for an undrafted rookie to make it to the NFL and stick in the league, but Carr believes Doss is different than a lot of the undrafted rookies he's seen come through Oakland.

"Yeah, I think Keelan is going to be a good player," Carr said. "Obviously, he's a rookie, right? He's got a long way to go. But just watching him you can tell -- he works his tail off and it means something to him. We've had other guys come in here, I've seen undrafted free agents come in here and they are just like, 'Man, I'm in the NFL.' And they are posting pictures of them jogging in a jersey, but they don't really like football. You know? They don't really care. They are just trying to, I guess, show that they have a little influence, that they are a professional football player, when really they haven't made the team yet, so their not, you know? He is not that at all. He is someone, man he doesn't want this to just be a one-time stop. He wants to make a career out of this. And hopefully man, he works his tail off and he does make a career out of it. 

"But that's just the initial reaction I've gotten from him is that it means something to him. And you can win with that."

Doss had a productive career at UC-Davis, finishing his collegiate run with 321 catches for 4,069 yards and 28 touchdowns.

He was expected to be a fourth- or fifth-round draft pick, but a pectoral injury at the combine hurt his training for the 40-yard dash.

Doss impressed during his time at the Senior Bowl, drawing comparisons to a star AFC West receiver.

"The player he reminds of is Keenan Allen," Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy told NBC Sports Bay Area's Scott Bair. "That’s really high praise. You don’t just throw player comparisons out there. It’s rare with NFL teams. Everything has to line up, and I really feel like he’s a good comp for Keenan Allen. How he went undrafted, it really surprised me. We’re not privy to medical info, and he has some injuries dating back to high school, so I don’t know it that scared teams off. Outside of that, the Raiders got a steal.

The 6-foot-2, 211-pound receiver knows how to get open, can win in the red zone and is a polished route-runner. Perhaps the Keenan Allen comparison checks out.

[RELATED: New Raiders receiver Williams 'a technician' downfield]

While Doss has a long road ahead of him to make the 53-man roster, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him make the team over some of the other receivers the club brought in this offseason and possibly contribute in 2019.