The Raiders didn’t spent much time sulking after Sunday’s loss to Kansas City. The secondary in particular was engaged in spirited dialogue following a game decided by big plays, all in a short span.
Veteran slot cornerback Lamarcus Joyner spoke to several before leaving the locker room, including Trayvon Mullen, Curtis Riley and Keisean Nixon about where things went awry against the NFL’s scariest offense.
The team captain’s antennae have been up since the loss became official, curious to see how the Raiders would respond to the season’s first on-field setback. He knows you can learn a lot about team character and chemistry after things don’t go right.
Joyner was happy to see the group processing the loss in the locker room, not wallowing in an emotional reaction. That continued as the night wore on.
“The guys that I called up last night were already watching the film,” Joyner said. “Guys are excited. They are encouraged despite the loss that we suffered. I think it shows how good of a team we are to say that we had some success against the best offense in the league and look at it as a positive.
"When you can honestly say that you defeated yourself, that’s always encouraging.”
The Raiders are skewing younger, with impact rookies across the depth chart. The team’s leadership will have to help this group working through disappointments without losing sight of the need to steadily progress.
“They have to assume a huge leadership role right now and I know they will,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “I plan on us having a heck of a week of practice. We have a great challenge, it doesn’t get any easier.”
The Raiders start a prolonged road trip Sunday in Minnesota, a playoff contender in the NFC North. They’ll have to recover quickly to compete with the Vikings, and Joyner has an idea how to do that.
He believes the Raiders functioned well in man coverage, and that his fellow defensive backs are ready for the challenge of covering receivers straight up.
“Me and my guys are running a mile every day after practice, man,” Joyner said. “We are going to get our cardio together and we’re going to go get after people.”
The Raiders are trying to solve problems, attempting to tighten up pass defense as they have in the run game.
“That young defensive line and out linebackers do a good job of getting to the ball,” Joyner said. “That’s good and we as a secondary know that we have to master our technique knowing we can hang our hat on the guys up front stopping the run. Now the games are going to be on us.”
That may be an exaggeration. The Chiefs exposed a few problem spots, even in a game where the Raiders weren't expected to win. They need better from the passing attack and receivers not named Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller. The pass rush has to get better, and the secondary must shore up the back.
The early response to Sunday’s setback has been encouraging in its business-like approach.
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“Everyone is positive, and I love it,” Joyner said. “That’s what you need. You have to have a short-term memory, especially as a defensive back. My job is to get right back at it, even after you give up a catch or a big play. The mindset we have in moving forward quickly, learning from our mistakes while preparing for the Minnesota Vikings is a good sign.
"That has been phenomenal.”