Raiders

Three quick takeaways from Raiders' 28-20 loss to Dolphins

Three quick takeaways from Raiders' 28-20 loss to Dolphins

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The Raiders held a halftime lead for the third time in three weeks. They let yet another one slip.

That put the Silver and Black in a bind. They aren’t adept getting out of chokeholds.

That, above all else, is why the Raiders haven’t won.

The Silver and Black remain winless after Sunday’s 28-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.

The Raiders just can’t close, on offense or defense. They are better than 0-3 suggests, but that doesn’t matter at this point. A season that suffered a blow before its start with the Khalil Mack trade still has the Raiders stumbling through three games -- and their season heading downhill fast.

Can they turn things around? Time will tell on that front, but a prolonged winning streak is required to ignite the season. Right now, the Raiders can’t even get the car to start.

Here are three quick takeaways from Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins.

Raiders still can’t finish

The Raiders have struggled mightily to close out games, albeit against tough competition. The offense slowed as Sunday's game wore on, and the defense got beat on a pass from receiver (!!!) Albert Wilson to Jakeem Hunt as the Dolphins took a fourth-quarter lead.

Derek Carr and the Raiders' offense had plenty of time to snatch it back, but the team’s signal-caller threw an interception in the end zone. Two plays later, Albert Wilson took a shovel pass 74 yards to put the Dolphins up two scores with two minutes remaining.

The 2016 Raiders had the fourth-quarter magic, which worked out well in a 12-4 season. That is long gone. They start hot and clearly have solid game plans, but they have struggled to make adjustments late in games, and haven’t executed well enough down the stretch to earn a victory.

As long as this is the case, the Raiders will struggle. Their fans, in turn, will have their hearts broken far too often.

Struggling to break through

The Raiders' offense can move the football. The Silver and Black racks up yards with the best of them but has had trouble crossing the goal line this season. That has been problematic each week, and the trend continued against the Dolphins.

The Raiders could’ve gone up big in the first half, but they only scored one touchdown despite being in the red zone three times. That kept the game close, and a Marshawn Lynch TD run put the team up two scores late in the third quarter. It could’ve been a blowout by then, if the Raiders converted on proper chances. Instead, the Dolphins raged back, took a fourth-quarter lead and sustained it.

The Raiders didn’t exceed 20 points in either of the first two games for the same reasons, and the team needs work inside the 20-yard line to operate at maximum efficiency. It cost the Raiders on this day, and put them in an uncomfortable yet familiar position with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Hey, Jordy

Jordy Nelson had 53 receiving yards through two games. Then he exceeded that on one catch.

Nelson went 61 yards on the game’s second play to set up the Raiders’ first score. He hit another long one later in the game, all while in a matchup that Jon Gruden exploited on several occasions.

This comes after Jared Cook was the primary target in Week 1 and Amari Cooper went off in Week 2.

Nelson had six catches for 173 yards in this game.

Nelson is growing accustomed to a new quarterback and offensive scheme after a decade in Green Bay, but he found a rhythm early against Miami and made a few big plays. It shows he can be a weapon in the passing game, and should force defenses to play honest with Cooper and Cook. That will be a long-term positive for an Oakland offense with plenty of weapons.

Foster Moreau defends Raiders' 2019 rookie class, claps back on Twitter

Foster Moreau defends Raiders' 2019 rookie class, claps back on Twitter

Oh, the disrespect. 

The Raiders' 2019 draft class was one of the best in recent seasons, in all of the NFL. Running back Josh Jacobs was an Offensive Rookie of the Year finalist, and defensive end Maxx Crosby was up for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Apparently that doesn't mean much to NFL.com's Gennaro Filice and Nick Shook. 

The duo of writers gave the Silver and Black's rookie class an A- grade, but ranked them as just the seventh-best in the NFL. That didn't sit well with Raiders rookie tight end Foster Moreau. 

As Moreau's tweet shows, the Raiders' rookie class finished first in rushing yards, first in receptions, first in yards from scrimmage, first in scrimmage TDs and first in sacks. Case closed. 

Moreau himself had 21 receptions for 174 yards and caught five TDs in 13 games. The fourth-round draft pick's rookie year was cut short with a knee injury. Before his injury, he impressed coaches as a run blocker, pass protector and receiver.

On offense, Jacobs led the way. Many believe he was snubbed as Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray was voted as Offensive Rookie of the Year. Jacobs broke almost every Raiders rookie rushing record, most of which were previously held by Marcus Allen. The Alabama product averaged 4.8 yards per carry and had 1,1150 rushing yards despite missing three of the last four games with a fractured shoulder.

Hunter Renfrow, selected in the fifth round of the draft, had the second-most receiving yards by a Raiders receiver this season, despite also missing three games to injury. Renfrow finished the 2019 season with 49 receptions for 605 yards and four touchdowns. 

Crosby, a steal out of the fourth round, totaled 10 sacks -- the second-most by any rookie throughout the league. He led the Raiders in sacks and tackles for loss (19), 9.5 more than fellow rookie teammate Clelin Ferrell. 

[RELATED: How Raiders' 2019 rookies are laying bedrock for success]

Ferrell, the No. 4 pick in last year's draft, vowed to return a completely different player. Safety Johnathan Abram, the No. 27 pick from last year, will be back and healthy in 2020.

The Raiders had a three-win improvement this past season. With a great rookie season behind them, the 2019 draft class can take the Raiders to new heights as they move to Las Vegas.

Why reported Darius Slay trade from Lions makes sense for Raiders

Why reported Darius Slay trade from Lions makes sense for Raiders

The Raiders were on the verge of the playoffs this past season, but their passing game took yet another step back. Besides the emergence of rookie Trayvon Mullen, the Silver and Black have plenty of question marks at cornerback as they move to Las Vegas. 

There could be help available, though. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday that the Detroit Lions have talked to multiple teams regarding a trade for their Pro Bowl cornerback, Darius Slay. 

Between need, their slew of draft picks and available cap space, the Raiders could be a perfect fit for a trade with the Lions. Let's start with how Slay would fit in the defense. 

Mullen is expected to man one side of the defensive backfield at cornerback, while the other side is a bit of a mystery. Daryl Worley is a free agent this offseason, but Nevin Lawson, Nick Nelson, Keisean Nixon and Isaiah Johnson all are options. None are Slay, though. Not even close. 

Slay, 29, made his third straight Pro Bowl this last season. He also was a First Team All-Pro in 2017 when he led the NFL with eight interceptions and 26 passes defensed. Since 2014, Slay has recorded at least two interceptions and 13 passes defensed every season. 

Per advanced analytics site Pro Football Focus, Slay has been the fifth-best cornerback in the game since 2014. 

The Raiders also have the draft picks to get a deal done. They own two first-round picks -- Nos. 12 and 19 -- this April, as well as three in the third round, one in the fourth and one in the seventh. They have plenty of leverage to make a move. 

Las Vegas also lands right in the middle of current available salary-cap space going into next season. According to Spotrac, the Raiders have slightly over $51.5 million in salary-cap space. Slay, who has a $13.4 million cap hit in 2020, wants a new contract as he's set to hit free agency after this upcoming season. 

[RELATED: Ex-Raider Nnamdi Asomugha talks about his life on Broadway]

He likely would cost more than a few extra pennies, but it's clear Slay still can be a solid corner in a division where everyone is chasing QB Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. 

The Raiders could target a cornerback early in the draft. That's not out of the question at all. If the Lions are taking calls on Slay like Schefter reported, Raiders general manager Mike Mayock would be wise to listen.