I really just have one main thought for this past week :
This is like an accelerated version of 2001-2003 team when the Bill Callahan took over the team and the offense exploded and lead the league, but eventually crashed and burned and became the notoriously "dumbest team in America." This rise and fall and fall and then fall even harder all in eleven weeks.
Did Marshawn Lynch really dance on the sidelines in week 2 or was that a bizarre mirage and part of a fever dream? I can't tell anymore; my optimism is failing me and we still have five more weeks to go.
A bye week should be a significant advantage. It allows the team extra time to get healthy and so particularly the upfront players should be fresh; the pressure to prep and plan is eased and so there is additional time to get the preparation right and to ensure execution.
I felt like this game was going to give the true indication of what Coach Downing had and whether he could be an offensive coordinator long-term. I understand how a rookie OC can get overwhelmed during the season with short prep weeks and many things to deal with. With an extra week of prep, he had a chance to really set his offense how he wanted to. The result was not good and 2018 will likely see Derek Carr’s 4th offensive coordinator in 5 years.
Some Thoughts from the game
- Execution was flawed. Yes, New England takes away what you are good at but the offense looked like they were struggling to execute things that should have been en pointe by now.
- Timing between QB and WR’s seems off and it definitely looks like players are starting to press and force things. There’s pressure and the players seem more frustrated by it. Apathy is too strong a word, but it does feel like at times when something goes wrong the players react more like ‘oh well’ rather than ‘Dammit, gotta make that play.’
- Offensive Line play was significantly improved in both pass pro and run blocking. Bye week helped get sync’d and get healthy.
- Many of Derek Carr's fake handoffs from Shotgun are terrible and defenses rarely get fooled. And mostly it results in defenders getting a step ahead in their pass rush.
- That pass to Johnny Holton was underthrown; Holton had half a step on the CB and the ball was short by 3-4 yards. It would have been a very difficult catch particularly because Holton’s front arm can’t reach the ball so he’d need to body catch it and then it hits the shoulder pad. If the ball is out front, Holton catches it going away from the CB. That’s a ball that Derek Carr threw on the button last year and this year he’s been more erratic. This is an execution problem, not a play design problem or even a play calling problem.
- Obviously Seth Roberts had a terrible game; it was as close to a single-handed destruction of the team as is possible from the WR position. The drop on 3rd down ended a drive. The false start to get 1st-and-15 put the offense into passing mode and took Beast Mode out of the series. Then that ridiculous end of half play that killed all momentum and hope.
- Initially I thought the fumble was a punch-out, but in review, the Patriots defender just hits Seth’s arm and the ball comes out because the arm is away from his body.
- Poor ball security is something he is aware of :
And then during that play he is so careless with the ball even with two defenders swarming him.
- I don't know why Crabtree didn't get the PI call in the endzone. He was trying to play back to the ball and the CB just kept plowing into him (without getting his head turned). That was a standard DJ Hayden play and (imho) should have been called.
- Defense is terrible and they are desperate. They are really pressing and that’s never going to result in good things. That’s why often we see bad defenses get even worse as they are pressured and why it was so very smart of Belichick to run no huddle early in the game.
- How do you jump offsides coming off a timeout? Last week it was Denico and this time it's Mario Edwards. And that was a guard who never played Center before that drew that offsides.
- The base run defense did look very good at times. But as usual, at times they would give up a big run.
- And finally, there was a flash of hope as the Raiders offense did show some signs of life.
Oakland's running game was back on track, blockers were in sync and getting movement, play calls were using WR action to help get defenders moving, and the runners were running hard.
15 rushes, 87 yards, 5.8 avg
- Lynch, 9 for 61, 6.8 avg
- Jalen Richard, 4 for 19, 4.8 avg
- DeAndre Washington, 2 for 7, 3.5 avg
On a day when the passing game was inconsistent and the running game was showing the best it had all season, it was time to put it on the RB’s collective back. But it often felt that Coach Downing reluctantly ran the ball and was just biding his time until he could get back to throwing it. It certainly felt that he could have continued to run-run-run the ball down their throats until they stopped it.
This game should have been a repeat of the Denver 2016 game :
To be fair, though, in many cases, the actual passing play design was very good, but the execution failed. If the WRs had made the plays (and kept possession) then the RBs may very well had more opportunities.
It was a very disappointing game. Even though most of us knew that the Raiders were underdogs and that it was likely the Patriots would win, it really was difficult to watch this team play so poorly in so many facets. There is still a base of talent and ability and skill on this team, but it has been so muddled that now it is all hidden. Nearly every player on this team looks like a lesser version of his 2016 self and that is a strong indictment on this team.