Week 7 was supposed to be the turning point for the season, the resonant win that was supposed to be the anchor for the strong second half run, the big moment that marked the point where the confusion of the early season was cast aside. It all hinged on the game at Buffalo, though. And as they say, “Momentum is only as good as your latest game.”
This loss at Buffalo negates much of the goodwill gained by that last win and puts the overall success of the season in sincere jeopardy. 3-5 is not “out of it”, but 3-5 is a pretty deep hole and the possibilities of playoffs are fading. In fact at this point (or perhaps we hit that point earlier), there is not playoffs for this team; it’s just try to win next week.
Perhaps the worst part about the loss to Buffalo is the way it happened. The Raiders were playing very well in the first half and even though the score was tied, there was reason to feel confident. The defense was playing very well and the offense was flashing its potential. But mistake after mistake and bad play after bad play and things just unraveled for this team and again this year, it seems like the team just didn’t have the fortitude for it. They just couldn’t make a play when they needed it.
Here are a few thoughts about the game :
- The weather was terrible and may have affected Derek Carr a little bit. For instance, that deep fade-stop throw to Michael Crabtree on the opening drive that was completed; I think that was underthrown much farther than intended (perhaps wet ball, perhaps wind) and if the CB was not completed lost, it would have been a dangerous throw.
- Derek Carr did take a few shots downfield. One time, he attacked the Cover 2 shell to Amari Cooper down the right sideline and the defense knocked the ball away. Another time, he had a single safety and went deep to Michael Crabtree (who had a 1/2step) and overthrew it in the endzone.
- I didn’t mind much of the underneath throws especially in the first half. It seemed like they were using it as replacement for the running game. Perhaps didn’t trust RBs to just line up and run. Being efficient in those plays could force the defense to adjust out of their deep coverages which then creates deep opportunities. That’s if the score is close or if the Raiders are ahead. Once the Bills took the lead and then as they extended it, they had no reason to come out of “deep protection”/umbrella coverage.
- I think the Offense would have driven down for at least a field goal before the end of the half if not for Washington’s fumble.
- The first play was a play fake, QB bootleg, and a throw to the TE dragging behind the line of scrimmage. This exact play went for big yardage against KC but was well defended against Buffalo.
- The Empty backfield was effective once, but now the weaknesses of it are showing up, particularly the fact that there is no blocking for blitzes or potential blitzes. If the protection call isn’t right, there’s no extra blocker to make it right.
- Defenses have adjusted to what the Raiders were successful with early this year and now I wonder if Coach Downing is able to adjust to that adjustment. Not every play can be successful, but each play has a reason for being called. Sometimes it’s setting things up, sometimes it’s to see what the defense is doing, sometimes it’s to set up field position. I generally had that feeling last season, but this season, the play calling feels more haphazard, more like “I wonder if this will work...” I know there’s more to it and that the coaches are doing a lot of preparation, but it does feel very disjointed right now, which is especially surprising given the extra preparation time coming off the Thursday Night game.
- That Illegal block by Shalom Luani on Jamize Olawale’s huge punt return was devastating. Olawale got to the 15 yardline and instead the Raiders took it at their own 19. It was like a 66 yard penalty. AND, it helped setup the field position battle that forced the Raiders to start at their own 1 yardline on the fateful fumble-6 drive
- The defense played well enough for a win. They held Buffalo to 7 points in the first half. And kept McCoy to 8 rushes for 31 yards, 3.9 avg.
- The defense started off the 2nd half by forcing a 3-and-out and it looked like the Raiders were getting momentum back. But that’s what Jalen Richard fumbled the return. The defense then held strong and forced a field goal. The next drive, the defense held for another field goal, despite good field position due to an interception.
- The defense could not do much in the 4th quarter where they surrendered 2 TDs.
- Cory James had himself a nice game. He’s starting to look very instinctive against the run and breaking on the underneath throws to make tackles. He’s also playing against releasing offensive linemen much better. Biggest thing is that he’s playing much faster and that may owe to natural growth as well as mentoring from NaVorro Bowman.
- Tyrod Taylor was giving the pass rushers fits all day. In fact, they looked extremely focused on rush lane discipline and “mush rush”-ing him at times. You could see things like once Taylor made an initial “break” move, Mario Edwards or Denico Autry would disengage his rush and flow to protect against a scramble. More than once Taylor made a feint inside that pulled the edge rusher in and allowed Taylor to step back and re-set to throw. The TD to Andre Holmes, for instance.
- It’s not all over yet, but the team overall has to start playing better for it to mean anything.