Baby steps, I suppose. The Raiders actually looked like they had a functional offense today after being a dumpster fire for much of the year. There were a lot of guys who really stepped up and had good games. The Raiders lost, because of course they did, but a lot of the young guys on the team got to play and that will help the evaluation process going forward.
So who stepped up, and who should step down?
1) Derek Carr
For the last few weeks, there have been trade rumors swirling around Carr. Oh, he’s going to the Giants, oh he’s not the Raiders’ quarterback of the future. But today, Carr said, “Not so fast!” and had one of his best games as a Raider, showing everyone why he truly is a franchise QB.
Carr went 21/28 for 244 yards, three passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown. He didn’t throw a pick, nor did he fumble, nor did he get sacked. Despite the yardage being low, Carr did try deep passes with some frequency and didn’t resort to screens and dump-offs. Unlike other games where Carr takes the blame for the loss, today he did everything he could do and more.
2) Andrew Luck
Luck had roughly identical numbers to Carr. He went 22/31 for 239 yards and three touchdowns. Some of the passes he made were eye-popping throws, dropped right into the tightest windows, and they remind you just why he was the #1 overall pick and one of the best in the business. Luck seems fully recovered from the arm injury that plagued him for so long. He went to tight end Jack Doyle early and often against the Raiders, knowing that the Oakland defense can’t defend tight ends.
3) Marlon Mack
Mack absolutely wrecked the Raiders today. The Colts rushed for 222 total yards, and 132 of those were from Mack, who also pounded in two short-yardage touchdowns. Mack has been hurt a lot lately, and the Colts are far better with him than without him.
4) Raiders offensive line
For all the hand-wringing about the injuries to the Raider offensive line, they came to play today. They didn’t allow a single sack on Derek Carr, and they opened up enough holes in the run game that the Raiders were able to rush for 103 yards. The Colts don’t have the best defensive line in the world, but the line did their job today.
1) Raiders defensive line
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a defensive line do a worse job at both run defense and pass rushing in the same game. They didn’t lay a finger on Andrew Luck the whole game and got absolutely dominated at the point of attack, opening up huge lanes for Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines. Of the three first-rounders the Raiders have, they had better spent two of them on the defensive line.
2) Colts defense
They forced a three-and-out from the Raiders on the first drive but were absolutely worthless after that. The Raiders were able to go up and down the field at will, and the Colts also committed numerous offsides penalties on Derek Carr’s hard counts. That speaks to a real lack of discipline. In addition, the Colts’ offensive line got called for holding over and over, stalling their own drives. Just a horrid display all around.
3) Doug Martin
Up until the end, Martin was having a pretty good game. He had 73 yards rushing on only 14 carries. But on a pair of goal-line runs, he was stuffed, forcing Derek Carr to punch it in himself. And then after Oakland fell behind, Martin fumbled, basically ending the game for the Raiders. In a situation like that, ball security must be paramount, and his mistake stands out in a game that was relatively gaffe-free.
4) Bruce Irvin
Yes, this was a game in which the Raiders were throwing guys at the wall and seeing what sticks. But Irvin was in the game for well over a dozen snaps and didn’t record a single stat. No tackles, no nothing. He’s one of the veteran leaders on this team, and for the longest time he isn’t acting like it. I’d be shocked if he were back next year at this point. He’s adding nothing to the equation.