Oh, do the Raiders ever need a good home stand. They’ve been away from Oakland three of their first four games this season including the past two weeks in Washington and Denver — both demoralizing losses.
“Looking back, we’ve played three of four on the road,” Jack Del Rio said Friday. “It’s good to be home this week. I’m fired up about it.”
The Raiders completely fell apart in Washington. Derek Carr was sacked four times, his receivers were dropping passes left and right, and the offensive line couldn’t open up running lanes. In Denver it was much of the same. And in both cases, they hit their ceiling at 10 points. They’re lost.
They need to find their compass again. Find that spark that made them the kind of team they were last season that could never be counted out.
Part of their sense of direction and never-say-die attitude last season came from Derek Carr. Barring some minor miracle, they won’t have him this week after suffering a fracture in his back last week in Denver.
It’s hard enough expecting EJ Manuel to step in and get this offense going. Doing it in a friendly environment in Oakland will help out a great deal.
The initial diagnosis and time frame for Carr’s absence was 2-6 weeks. All indications are that he’s well ahead of schedule. He could return as early as next week when the Chargers come to town. If not, perhaps the following week when the Raiders welcome the Chiefs.
But whether it’s Manuel still standing in or a probably-still-not-quite-himself Carr, not having to go on the road and battle crowd noise on top of everything else will be of great help.
Even after all of they’ve been through the past two weeks, the Raiders are still 2-2. Finding their groove again won’t be like flicking a switch. It could take a few games. Though they will need to whittle that to two because the third game of the home stand will be against arguably the best team in football.
Sunday they welcome the Ravens who are in the exact same boat, but are probably even worse off. The starters have scored all of 9 points the past two weeks. While the defense has surrendered 70. That’s the kind of team the Raiders need to cut their teeth on.
Then it’s the Chargers, who are winless through four weeks. These are games that are very winnable, whether it’s EJ Manuel or Derek Carr under center. The Raiders’ defense kept them in the game in Denver, so we know they’re up to the task.
It’s the ideal situation for the Raiders to put together another set of back-to-back wins. I mean being 4-2, after three weeks at home, with the likelihood of Carr being back before facing the Chiefs? You can’t ask for better than that.
These Raiders need to heal. Both their wounded pride and Carr’s wounded back. The timing of this three-game home stand really couldn’t be better for that to happen.