Raiders takeaways: What we learned in deflating 42-21 loss to Titans


Raiders takeaways: What we learned in deflating 42-21 loss to Titans


OAKLAND – The Raiders had a chance to establish solid position for a playoff spot Sunday afternoon. A victory over the Tennessee Titans here at Oakland Coliseum would’ve put them ever-so-close to the AFC’s No. 6 seed, earning a tiebreaker over the Titans while nipping at the Pittsburgh Steelers' heels.

That didn’t happen. The Raiders got waxed 42-21, a result that should remove the playoffs from Raider Nation’s field of vision. The Raiders now sit at 6-7, as Tennessee improves to 8-5.

The postseason is pipe dream at best now, with this season likely wrapping with the regular-season finale. Postseason dreams were dashed with this three-game losing streak that brought the Silver and Black below .500 for the first time since Week 8.

Expectations were raised during a three-game home winning streak that elevated the Raiders to 6-4, but they came have come crashing back to earth. This team is in the midst of a roster rebuild, not ready to compete on a full-time basis.

That was evident against Tennessee, who seems like a legitimate postseason contender. Here are three takeaways from the game that served as the beginning of this season’s end:

Raiders have hit the wall

The Silver and Black played meaningful games in the month of December. That’s a rarity in itself for a team with one playoff berth since 2002. It’s also a step in the right direction for a team that was 4-12 last year and in the midst of a roster rebuild. There were moments last month where this team seemed a bit ahead of schedule, possibly competing for a wild-card spot just a year removed from a full roster teardown.

That might have been fool’s gold. The Raiders were competitive for a long time but have hit the wall, and hit it hard. All of the personnel setbacks, from Antonio Brown on forward, have worn on this team. All the travel, including a five-game road trip, has worn on this team.

The Raiders have now lost three straight by a combined score of 116-33.

The impact of the trying season didn't show up immediately, but is rearing its ugly head down the stretch. The Raiders simply don’t have anything left. Oakland's reliance on rookies was like walking a tight rope. When they started getting hurt, the Raiders started to fade away.

They have the "want-to" but not much else, making it possible they finish on an extended losing streak.

Defense running on fumes

The Titans have been taking yards in chunks over the past six games, ever since Ryan Tannehill took over as starting quarterback. That move sparked the passing game and balanced an attack focused heavily on Derrick Henry’s powerful rushing.

This was a bad matchup for the Raiders to begin with, and the matchup was as lopsided as it looked on paper. The Titans had 552 total yards in this one and averaged 9.4 per play, carving the Raiders defense with one explosive play after another.

The Silver and Black have given up 116 points in the last three games – there are two pick-sixes in that stretch off the defense's ledger – but clearly are limping down the stretch. They survived earlier excessive yardage totals with opportunistic plays and takeaways. Those pivotal plays haven’t been as frequent, and teams are finishing drives.

The Raiders defense looks gassed after living on adrenaline most of the season to weather so many setbacks. The Raiders don’t have enough on defense, especially in the secondary, to thrive against a competent attack. They clearly miss Karl Joseph. They really could use Vontaze Burfict. They need the pass-rush flashed during a three-game home winning streak that has been missing from recent proceedings.

The Raiders always were at least a year away from fielding a good defense. Expectations went up after reaching 6-4, even as the talent level continued to dwindle. This performance wasn’t for lack of effort. The unit is left with a skeleton crew full of new additions, battle-worn veterans and rookies who clearly don’t have a lot left. This performance wasn’t for lack of effort.

Raiders experience life without Jacobs

Josh Jacobs entered Sunday questionable to play the Titans, with his playing status decided during shortly before kickoff. News wasn’t what the Raiders wanted. The dynamic, powerful rusher was unavailable, missing his first game this season despite suffering a fractured shoulder back in Week 7.

[RELATED: Big-man INT: Watch Hurst rumble 55 yards after picking Tannehill]

The NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year frontrunner has been the team’s best offensive player this season, and the Raiders certainly missed him on Sunday. That isn’t meant to insult DeAndre Washington, who was the lead back without Jacobs in the fray.

Washington actually had a Jacobs-esque 14-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, bowling over defenders on his way to the end zone. Washington finished with 53 yards on 14 carries, and Jalen Richard offered support with seven carries for 28 yards. Those two combined for 61 yards receiving as well.

That isn’t terrible, but there’s no doubting the Raiders sorely missed Jacobs in a game with tons of scoring and a need to keep the ball away from the suddenly-explosive Titans offense.

2020 Senior Bowl: Ten risers who Raiders should target in NFL draft

2020 Senior Bowl: Ten risers who Raiders should target in NFL draft

Like 27 other teams, some members of the Raiders have spent the week in Mobile trying to get a feel for a talented crop of NFL draft prospects at the Reese's Senior Bowl.

The Senior Bowl was vital to the Raiders' draft success last year, and there are a number of participants this year who can help the Raiders fill their litany of holes.

With three days of practice in the books, a handful of prospects stood out from the rest and it's a group the Raiders should have high on their draft board come April.

Here are 10 risers from the week of practice.

Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

I've written extensively about Herbert and why I believe he should be the Raiders quarterback of the future if Jon Gruden wishes to move on from Derek Carr.

Herbert has all the physical tools. He's mobile and has a rocket arm, but was inconsistent at Oregon, but showed scouts exactly what they wanted to see in Mobile.

He was accurate and on time in 1-on-1s, 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s, being named the Practice Player of the Week. NFL scouts have questions about his leadership which he can help put to rest Saturday by commanding the huddle in the game. 

Van Jefferson, WR, Florida

In a talented group of wide receivers, Jefferson stood at the top of the class.

The 6-foot-2, 196-pound receiver is a polished route-runner with good hands and burst off the line. 

He made a number of impressive catches and showed good footwork throughout the week.

Jason Strowbridge, DL, North Carolina

He entered the week as a Day 3 guy, but Strowbridge might have moved up to Day 2 with his showing in Mobile. 

The North Carolina product showed great quickness and hand usage during drills. He can play inside and outside and could be a nice addition to the Raiders' pass rush rotation. 

K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State

I mentioned Hill earlier in the week as a guy the Raiders should target, and he didn't disappoint.

The Ohio State product had a down senior season but he's a good route-runner who creates separation well and has great hands. He'd fit nicely as Gruden looks to "let it fly" more.

Troy Pride Jr., CB, Notre Dame

Pride came into the week needing to impress after a subpar final season in South Bend.

The 5-foot-11 cornerback locked down everyone that went against him this week. He has incredible speed and should be a Day 2 pick.

Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

Have I mentioned this wide receiver class is deep? It's silly.

The Baylor product caught just about everything in his zip code this week. He high-pointed the ball well, was quick out of his breaks and showed impressive catch radius.

For a team that needs at least three receivers, the Raiders have to be loving this draft.

Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State

Harrison is more of a run-stopping linebacker, but he showed he can cover as well this week.

He was constantly around the ball and made plays like this:

If the Raiders don't go LB with one of their first-round picks, Harrison is a guy they should grab on Day 2.

Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton

Yes, I know the Raiders already have Darren Waller, who is a budding star and Foster Moreau was a touchdown magnet during his rookie season.

But in the offensive age of football where the more weapons you have the better, Trautman is an intriguing piece.

He's 6-foot-5 and fit right in with Division I talent despite being from an FCS program, showing great skill as both a receiver and a blocker.

Davon Hamilton, DL, Ohio State

A fringe Day 2 prospect entering the week, Hamilton showed great power and quickness against his peers. He showed some secondary moves and was able to re-establish the line of scrimmage.

Certainly, a guy who could help the Raiders upfront.

[RELATED: Raiders should follow NFL draft blueprint, raid LSU-Clemson]

Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne

I've done so much talking about the versatility of Clemson star Isaiah Simmons that it would be negligent for me not to bring up Dugger to close this risers piece.

He was one of the most dominant players on the practice field in Mobile, showing good body control, footwork and play-making ability.

Dugger could have a hybrid LB/S role in the NFL much like Simmons, and would be a big help to a Raiders defense that is lacking play makers.

Raiders sign cornerback Nevin Lawson to one-year contract extension


Raiders sign cornerback Nevin Lawson to one-year contract extension

The Raiders officially became property of Las Vegas on Wednesday, and the Silver and Black made their first official move as Sin City residents Thursday. 

The team announced they signed cornerback Nevin Lawson to a one-year contract extension. After joining the Raiders last offseason, Lawson made five starts and played in 11 games for the Raiders, seeing a bulk of his time in the latter stages of the season when Daryl Worley and Lamarcus Joyner were banged up. 

Lawson will enter next season serving a one-game suspension. The Utah State product was ejected late in the Raiders' Week 17 loss to the Denver Broncos and was given a punishment for using his helmet as a weapon.

[RELATED: Raiders can fill many holes with Senior Bowl prospects]

After opening the season 6-4, the Raiders, overcome by injuries and lack of talent, limped to a 1-5 finish to end the season at 7-9.

With the litany of issues the Silver and Black faced in 2019, 7-9 should be viewed as a good record for a team that relied on a dynamic rookie class.

There are a lot of reasons for the Raiders to believe the future is bright, and they hope Lawson is a part of it.