The Oakland Raiders offense put up just 14 points Sunday against the Buffalo Bills (seven of those points when the game was out of reach) in a must-win football game. Oakland is ranked just No. 19 (21.1 points per game) in scoring despite the additions of tight end Jared Cook and running back Marshawn Lynch.
In the five losses this season, the Raiders have put up just 13.4 points per game making the offensive unit the main culprit when it comes to the disappointing 3-5 start.
Moreover, coach Jack Del Rio decided to promote offensive coordinator Todd Downing instead of keeping former OC Bill Musgrave in the offseason. As such, Del Rio has been criticized heavily about the offense. And the mounting NFL record 8 games this season without an interception recorded has drawn much criticism as well.
Following the loss to the Bills, Del Rio told Raider Nation how he wanted to change the attitude of the entire team.
“Again, that goes back to that whole mojo discussion,” Del Rio said Monday. “Part of it is you know, how we play defensively, to let it rip. Probably overly cautious, trying too hard not to do things as opposed to just playing and let it rip. I know what a Raiders football team that I envisioned having. We’re not playing like that – what my vision is.”
Del Rio’s vision for the future, which involves letting it rip, is not the offense that Downing called against Buffalo. According to Austin Gayle of Pro Football Focus, Carr attempted 11 fewer passes down the field in Sunday’s loss compared to the Thursday night win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7.
#Raiders' Derek Carr attempted just 13 passes (26.5%) of 10+ air yards against BUF in W8.— Austin Gayle (@AustinGayle_PFF) October 30, 2017
He attempted 24 such passes (48%) against KC.
The late realization is worrisome for two reasons. Either Del Rio is way behind the eight ball in noticing what works for the offense, and that has made 2017 a lost season, or he is too stubborn to tell Downing to change his game plan mid-season. Or even better, mid-game if it is not working.
If the Raiders do ‘let it rip’ and bring more blitzes on defense, it might just exacerbate the poor coverage in the secondary as Sean Smith, Dexter McDonald and Reggie Nelson will be left on islands resulting in even more head scratching defensive plays.
Lastly, Del Rio is telling the media and the fan base that the offense, or the defense for that matter, isn’t working. Yet, he has not given any explanation on what he can change to help the on-field product except for the usually non-meaningful post game talk.
It doesn’t do any good for Del Rio to point out something isn’t working. Most of Raider Nation can already see that. But can he figure out how to fix the team and get back it on track?
Owner Mark Davis signed Del Rio to a four-year extension in February despite 2016 being his first winning season as a head coach since 2007. If he can’t find an answer, it will become one of the most disappointing Raiders’ season this century, based on expectations.