Sunday was a long day of anticipation that culminated in a game that started off with a 2nd play interception and then got worse from there. It has been a while since the Raiders team looked so thoroughly outmatched in so many ways. Maybe the London game that cost Dennis Allen his job, maybe the Rams 52-0 whipping, even some of those KC games.
It's puzzling just because the team looked like it was starting to come together. Losing is not the surprise, but it was that the offense looked so anemic. The defense was surprisingly resilient at times and made some big plays, but could never really put enough together to sway the momentum of the game.
Credit the Washington staff and players, though. They came to play and let it be known on prime time that they were unquestionably the better team on that field that night.
The season is far from over, though, and while week two against the Jets may have made the team appear better than they were, this game may make the team look worse than they are. Last year's week two beating by the Falcons came as a surprise to many and had some fans panicking, but on balance, it was a good experience for the team and as close to a "quality loss" as you could have.
This team is still quite talented and very good, but in this NFL, the team has to bring their best game mentally, physically, and preparedness-ly. If the team goes on a winning streak, we can look at this game as the wake-up call game.
Here are some odds and ends thoughts from my game review :
- Derek Carr's interception 2nd play of the game set the tone. Derek tried to throw the Aaron Rodgers' outside corner throw v a two safety shell. It was a great play by the safety, ranging and leaping and 1st of two big plays of the game where the WAS player outleapt the OAK player (Doctson's TD over Amerson was the other)
- Derek looked one side and came back to the other. Did he misread the coverage from half-field or did he think he was eye-manipulating the safety more than he was or did he just think he could hit that small window?
Here's what he was looking at
- Was Derek over-excited for prime time? He seemed to force things (like 1st int) and then a little tight on some other throws early
- Washington Linebackers were very aggressive shooting run gaps. Had a 3rd-and-2 and handed off to Marshawn Lynch. Interior line got great movement and created a bubble, but then (a) LB were shooting into the gap inside and (b) Lee Smith got snatch/shed to the ground.
- DE #94 Preston Smith and DT #98 Matt Ioannidis had great games.
- Ioannidis (2016 5th round DT from Temple) in particular consistently made Gabe Jackson look weak
- And Ryan Kerrigan, too. And their secondary
- Had some nice or solid offensive plays early on, but either mistake or penalty would put the team in a hole they couldn't climb out of. Like at the end of the first quarter, down 7-0, there was a little sigh of relief when Derek Carr completed a pass to Amari Cooper for a 1st down. It seemed like maybe the offense could get going. But then it was called back by a Seth Roberts hold. And on the next play, Amari dropped a perfect pass that would have been a 1st down. Morale buster.
- The way the WAS defense played reminded me of the recent KC games. Where the outside receivers are bracketed and the LBs rally up on underneath throws. Nothing ever seemed really open. Big lack of any "clutch" or key plays. In the first half, there were opportunities for the offense to make an important play to convert a first down, but just never did for one reason or another.
- Hard to do misdirection when the main play is not effective. You have to be successful to force their defense to overplay / overpursue and then misdirection plays can work.
- I want to find some kind of excuse for this OL like the turf was giving out on them or something, but did not really see that. They just got beat. And it wasn't really exotic pressure packages or stunts. Just straight rushes that compressed the pocket. Generally, multiple OL were being beaten so can't just blame Marshall Newhouse or Gabe Jackson. It was that entire group.
- Defense, like Offense, looked outprepped. WAS had answers for most of OAK's blitzes. Clever one is to get the RB to release instead of pick up the blitzer. That's how Thompson got a few of those big catches.
- WAS OL was en pointe. They had everything picked up. They were communicating and mentally perfect and were executing like madmen.
- Pat Kirwan says count on one loss for every rookie starter. That's 3rd-and-19 was right at Gareon Conley and Nick Morrow. Conley was 10 yds off coverage and bailing hard on the snap; then he was watching the QB so he was very late reacting to the screen. Morrow played the blocker and was forcing the runner outside, though it seemed like he could have possibly shed the block and attacked the ball carrier.
- Earlier in the game, WAS ran a 3rd-and-long screen and had some success (though short of the 1st), but was called back on offensive Pass Interference. WAS HC Jay Gruden had to have noticed that and prepped that play for later
- 2014 was the year Raiders' D couldn't defend the WR screen (remember London?). But since then they've been improving and very good at it. This is a regression and counts of tackling CB.
- If Raiders don't get a muffed punt and a Cory James forced fumble, this game would have been even uglier.
- There was a screen play where the Defense reads it right and WAS still gains 6 or 7 yards.
- In the first half, the defense forced 4 punts and the two scores they surrendered were both after Derek Carr ints. Though neither of those was a "short field."
- Coach Todd Downing has to dig and try to figure out what went wrong. There were definitely a lot of execution problems and it's hard to do much when base execution fails. If you go 3-and-out, there's not much time to set up any "creative" plays.
- Humility is a good thing to learn early in the season. Now the team has to come together and build on this.
- It's just one game. If the team wins big over Denver, we can forget it and move on.