The most disappointing aspect of yesterday's loss to the New York Jets easily was that this was one of the most winnable games on their entire schedule. The schedule this year has very few teams that you look at and think the Raiders have a good chance with, but this was one of them.
Unfortunately, the East Coast curse lives on after the Raiders failed to win a game that was within their reach for almost the whole way. It actually shouldn't have been very close but key mistakes by the Jets quarterback Geno Smith several times kept the Raiders within striking distance.
Being within striking distance doesn't exactly matter though if you are refusing to actually strike! Talk about vanilla playcalling, I understand protecting the rookie but that was borderline ridiculous. In the beginning of the game the short passes and runs to gain confidence for Derek Carr was exactly what was needed, but after they stopped working it just became banging their head against the wall.
I realize the Jets have a superb run defense, but even if it wasn't working they still needed to keep trying. They only ran the ball 15 times in this game and they had Carr throw it 32 times, how on earth is that the appropriate split with a rookie QB in their first game? The Jets defense was extremely impressive with their tackling but not so much that the Raiders should have quit running altogether.
Maurice Jones-Drew was especially bottled up, he only had one solid run in the whole game. The Raiders were lucky that he didn't get injured when he got clotheslined in the backfield by Quinton Coples which resulted in a very strange fumble that was kicked in the air and caught by Derek Carr. After that it wasn't surprising to see the Raiders limit his carries but they have other running backs too, Latavius Murray being one and he never even got a carry at all in this game.
Derek Carr was clearly flustered for much of the game but it was a good sign that even after the beating he took he was able to lead a late touchdown drive. Really, the type of struggles that he had in this game should be expected. He was a rookie in his first NFL game playing against a coach that is a guru of blitzing, it was clearly not meant to be a good day.
Carr's statline actually was pretty respectable with 20 of 32 passes for 151 yards, 2 TD's and no turnovers. That didn't tell the whole story though, it didn't even really tell half of it. Derek was uncomfortable the entire game and was unable to get into any rhythm at all until it was too late. Well, he had a short field touchdown drive that he was in rhythm for in the 1st quarter but outside of that it was pretty ugly.
Again though, despite the rough outing for Carr he was still able to put that aside and lead a nice scoring drive in the 4th quarter. If the football fates didn't despise the Raiders so much maybe he even could have had a chance to win after an onside kick attempt but of course the streak of failing at those since 2008 continued.
The star of that touchdown drive was all on James Jones though, what a spectacular touchdown catch that was! He was known for those acrobatic grabs in Green Bay, I have seen countless of them, but it was truly special seeing him do that in the Silver and Black. The throw was ok, but the catch was one of the best the opening week had to offer.
As for the defense, how about the play of Sio Moore?! Man, what a steal he was in the 3rd round of last year's draft. He said he was the best linebacker in last year's class and he looked every bit of that yesterday. He finished the game with 11 tackles, 1 sack and 2 forced fumbles. One of those forced fumbles was inside the Raiders own 5 yard line and kept a sure touchdown from happening for the Jets.
Another player that impressed yesterday was Charles Woodson. That wily old vet still has it! His diving interception that set up the Raiders first touchdown was perfectly read and executed. It is amazing seeing a 37 year old out there still playing a such a high level. The Raiders are lucky to have had him still want to be a part of this team.
The defense actually played pretty well as a whole in this game. They gave up a lot of yards but it was a bend but don't break sort of game for them. They were on the field a ton and gave up quite a few long drives but they kept the Raiders in this game and did enough to win. It was the offense that failed in this one.
The loss without a doubt is on the coaching staff and in turn on the offense. Derek Carr was thrown to the wolves without even a stick to fight them off with. He was outmatched, outwitted and outplayed by the Jets' defense. The playcalling rightfully started vanilla, but it stayed that way throughout the whole game.
Hopefully the Raiders will unleash Derek for the next game against the Houston Texans a little bit more, but once again that is an extremely aggressive defense. It is unlikely that Dennis Allen is going to change up his strategy that much with the rookie going up against J.J. Watt and the Texans defense, though at least they will be without Jadeveon Clowney who tore his meniscus and will be out several weeks.
The offensive line needs to take a long look at their game tape against the Jets and get their act together. It is important for them to block for any quarterback but they especially can not allow themselves to be manhandled again with a rookie behind them. They need to do better at seeing the blitzes, even if Carr doesn't call them out for them, and they need to open up some holes for the running backs.
Pretty much every aspect of the team needs to play better outside of MAYBE the linebackers. It is sad but right now I have trouble believing they will. Strap on your helmets people, this season could be a ton of bricks falling down on our heads. It is just game one but there wasn't much going on to turn up the optimism.