Raiders

Raiders takeaways: What we learned in 40-33 loss to Kareem Hunt-less Chiefs

Raiders takeaways: What we learned in 40-33 loss to Kareem Hunt-less Chiefs

OAKLAND — The Kansas City Chiefs are one of the NFL’s elite teams. They score in bunches. They give yards in similar fashion, but they find ways to make big plays on defense.

Sounds like the Raiders’ worst nightmare.

That’s why oddsmakers gave the Silver and Black no shot. They started as 15-point underdogs at home, and the line only moved one point after Kareem Hunt got cut by the Chiefs.

The Raiders played Kansas City far tougher than that. They were down just three points late in the fourth quarter but couldn’t halt the Chiefs’ star-studded offense when they had to -- a third-down stop on that decisive drive was wasted by a Fadol Brown offsides call – and ended up on the wrong end of a 40-33 result.

The Raiders fought valiantly in this one, but they made too many mistakes along the way and couldn’t come all the way back.

Here are three quick takeaways from a close contest at the Coliseum:

Send Cook to the Pro Bowl

The Raiders don’t have many threats in the passing game. OK, let’s be more direct.

They have one. It’s tight end Jared Cook, and the whole world knows it. He’s seeing intense coverage despite moving all over the formation, but he still manages to make big plays.

That certainly was the case against Kansas City, when he had seven catches for 100 yards and one touchdown. He created consistent separation and kept the Raiders in the game with several big plays. He also drew attention from others to make easier catches, proving valuable in an honorable effort to catch the Chiefs.

Cook has never made a Pro Bowl. He certainly should this season, when he ranks near the top of all statistical categories for his position.

The honor wouldn’t hurt his bottom line, as he’s having a career year while steamrolling to unrestricted free agency at age 31. Keeping Cook would provide a reliable point of continuity as the Raiders remake their skill position ranks.

Can’t win while losing turnover battle

The statement above is true for most teams, but it’s absolute when discussing the Raiders this season. They don’t have enough talent or production to overcome huge gaffes, and each running back had one against the Chiefs.

Doug Martin, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington all coughed up the ball Sunday. The Chiefs scored 13 points off those turnovers, points the Raiders couldn’t spare against such a dominant opponent.

The Raiders won the turnover battle in both of their wins, which is zero coincidence.

Offering this Chiefs scoring machine more bites of the apple is poison, as it was for the Raiders in a game that was relatively close late.

Raiders have themselves a kicker

Daniel Carlson missed three field-goal attempts against Green Bay, including two in overtime, as a member of the Minnesota Vikings. He never wore purple again.

The Raiders are happy about that, because the rookie has been nails in silver and black. He has hit 9 of 10 field goals since donning the uniform in Week 8.

Carlson has made every attempt in the past four games, including a game-winner Nov. 18 against the Arizona Cardinals. He hit one straight and true from 50 yards out against the Chiefs, showing he’s on a roll from anywhere. He has a huge leg and is solidly accurate from near and far.

The Raiders planned to anoint Eddy Pineiro after signing him as an undrafted free agent, but Carlson will have a leg up on any competition if he keeps up this play.

Brian Billick says Mike Mayock has to get used to Jon Gruden cussing him out

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Brian Billick says Mike Mayock has to get used to Jon Gruden cussing him out

Raiders general manager Mike Mayock has never worked in an NFL front office, but that's not the only thing he will have to get used to, at least according to an ex-NFL head coach.

"On a daily basis, he has to get used to the fact that Jon's gonna come into the office and motherf--k him," Brian Billick told Bleacher Report's Mike Tanier. 

But Billick, a current NFL Network analyst who was a colleague of Mayock's while he was the outlet's draft expert, thinks Mayock will be able to hold his own in his relationship with Gruden. The Super Bowl-winning coach called Mayock "as good of an evaluator of talent as I have been around." 

"He does the work, he grinds the tape, he goes to workouts," Billick told Tanier. "He knows what talent is."

Gruden and Mayock's dynamic is unique, to say the least. Not only is Mayock a first-time executive, but the head coach ultimately has final say over the Raiders' personnel decisions. 

On top of that, the Silver and Black enter a critical offseason. After trading away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper last year, the Raiders are armed with three picks in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. They also have more salary-cap space than all but six teams, according to Over The Cap.

Yet success can't be expected overnight, according to Billick. Mayock will have to develop as an executive and surround himself with the right staff, Billick said, and that takes time.

"Putting that infrastructure around him, he's not had to do that before," Billick said. "How's the scouting department going to work? Who will do what? What's the interaction going to be?"

[RELATED: Why Raiders could try to sign star RB Bell in free agency]

He will have to learn on the job, but time is a luxury that Raiders fans in the Bay Area don't necessarily have. The team is in conversations to spend one final season at the Oakland Coliseum in 2019, but the Raiders intend to complete their move to Las Vegas in time for the 2020 season.

Gruden spoke about wanting to give Oakland fans "two of the best years of football that I can possibly help deliver" when he took the job last January.

The first was a 4-12 season highlighted by the trades of two former first-round picks. If the Raiders are going to improve upon that in 2019, Mayock will have to learn a lot very quickly. 

NFL free agency: Why Le'Veon Bell to Raiders could be perfect signing

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NFL free agency: Why Le'Veon Bell to Raiders could be perfect signing

Finally, Le'Veon Bell will get his wish and become a free agent

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert told local reporters the team will not place a franchise or transition tag on Bell this offseason. The two-time All-Pro running back sat out the entire 2018 season while in contract disputes with the team. 

"Le'Veon is still a great player," Colbert said. "We can't afford to use any other type of tags. Le'Veon will be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year."

Bell appeared to be pretty happy about the decision.

Bell declined to sign a franchise tender last year, turning down $14.5 million as he held out the entire season. 

Now that he will be a free agent, Bell certainly won't remain a Steeler. Could he join the Raiders, though? 

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller thinks he could be a good fit.

Bell certainly does fit all three phases for the Raiders -- need, money and big name. Let's start with need. 

The Raiders' top two running backs from last season -- Doug Martin and Marshawn Lynch -- are both unrestricted free agents. Both are also over 30 years old, and have nowhere near Bell's talent. And the team's third-leading rusher, Jalen Richard, is a restricted free agent. 

When Bell, who just turned 27, last played in 2017, he rushed for 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns. The Raiders' trio previously mentioned combined for fewer than 100 more yards rushing in 2018. Plus, Bell is a threat as a receiver as well -- he has 2,660 career receiving yards, too. 

[RELATED: Le'Veon Bell to Raiders? Oddsmakers like Jon Gruden and Co.'s chances]

Secondly, the money. Bell wants to get paid, and the Raiders have the cash to do so. They will have roughly $81 million in salary cap space this offseason, with plenty of holes to fill on the roster. 

Lastly, the star power. The Raiders could certainly use and Bell certainly has it. Year 1 of Jon Gruden's return didn't go as planned.

To turn things around and kick off their move to Vegas in 2020, Bell could be the perfect player as the new face of their franchise.