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The Morning After: Raiders flat performance falls squarely on Jon Gruden’s shoulders

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

It’s amazing how quickly good feelings from a win can go away. The positivity from last week’s win against the Cleveland Browns has already disappeared with this loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, quickly dissolving back into the negativity that had preceded the Raiders lone victory. It isn’t just that the Raiders lost, it’s that they played so badly in a huge game for them.

This was a divisional rivalry that could have gotten the Raiders out of the AFC West cellar with a victory, and Oakland just completely whiffed on even making the game competitive. It wasn’t just a loss, it was an implosion. That is on Jon Gruden not having his team ready for this game, he needs to make sure the team is better prepared and motivated for such an important game.

Once again though, a horrible decision by Derek Carr in the end zone directly affected the outcome of the game. It was with a minute left in the 3rd quarter, the score was 20-3 and the Raiders had 1st and goal at the 1 yard line when Carr threw another absolutely ridiculous interception. Let’s just repeat that for a second, it was 1st and goal from the 1!

Not only was it an awful call to even throw the ball there instead of run Marshawn Lynch, but there was absolutely no reason to force a throw into traffic in the middle of the end zone anyway. It was just plain stupid and unforgivable of Carr, there was no chance he was going to complete that pass to Derek Carrier and he threw it directly to Melvin Ingram like Ingram was the intended target.

How many times do we have to say this anyway, run Marshawn Lynch in that situation every single time. Lynch is the most violent runner of the past decade, you give him the first opportunity to score from the goal line. This shouldn’t have to even be said. Don’t be cute, don’t be creative, just hand the ball off to Beastmode and let him dominate the defense even if they know it’s coming. If he gets stopped then MAYBE try something else, but don’t throw the damn ball on 1st and goal from the 1 when you have Marshawn Lynch.

If the Raiders score a touchdown there the game is 20-10 going into the 4th quarter and all of the momentum would have been on Oakland’s side. Who knows what happens after that? The game was fully in reach if Carr doesn’t throw the bonehead interception. It’s ok to throw the ball away in order to live to fight another day, but Carr consistently makes these horrible decisions instead.

Then to make matters worse, once the offense got the ball back after the Chargers scored another touchdown they showed absolutely no urgency in trying to come back from the 26-3 deficit. The 9 play touchdown drive would have been beautiful if it had happened any time before the 4th quarter, but it was agony to watch the team walk to the line like they had all the time in the world.

They weren’t likely to come back anyway, but that doesn’t mean you don’t still do everything you can in trying to make the improbable happen. There was just under 10 minutes left in the game for the Raiders to get 23 points, and they took 4:31 off the clock on the one slow moving drive. There was no fire, no rhythm, no anything of what you actually would want to see from your favorite team in that situation.

The one bright spot to point out in the whole game was that Daryl Worley looked really good at times coming back from suspension. He had 8 tackles in the game and at least two of them were on third down plays where he came up with the stop when nobody else was going to be able to. There is a reason that he played 77% of the snaps despite only having 3 practices since preseason ended, and hopefully he continues to show that type of play going forward.

A semi-bright spot was the play of Martavis Bryant who had 3 receptions for 91 yards, however that’s only simi-bright because of his extremely costly fumble in the 2nd quarter. The Raiders needed to respond to the Chargers touchdown that took the lead 10-3, but Bryant’s fumble led to another LA touchdown and the Raiders never were really in the game again after that.

Still, it’s great to see him continuing to get comfortable in the Raiders offense and to put his impressive speed on display. He is showing what the Raiders saw in him to trade a 3rd rounder for him, he just needs to clean it up a little more and secure the ball much better than he did on that fumble.

There is no excuse for such a lackluster offense in such a big game for the Raiders though, Jon Gruden absolutely has to do better than this. This clearly looks like a lost season already at 1-4, but that doesn’t excuse having such a flat, uninspired offense like they showed against the Chargers. There is no excuse for the offense to play like they did yesterday, and that is on Jon Gruden to make sure the team isn’t flat like that.

That’s the most frustrating part of the whole thing. Gruden is a master motivator (maybe) and instead of showing up for a big game like this the team just completely folded. Where is the fire that Chucky is supposed to have if it isn’t showing up in an AFC West rivalry game to get out of the cellar of the division? Losing is one thing, but losing with no heart is another and this was the latter.

Next up is Seattle in London, a game that seemed a lot more winnable a week ago. Still, a win against the Seahawks before facing the Colts at home and the 49ers in Santa Clara could put them right back on track to getting this season respectable at least. Right now even hoping for a .500 season is hard to do, but a win against Seattle could reinvigorate the team and the fanbase.

Sadly, it’s awfully hard to be optimistic going forward after flopping like they did against the Chargers in such a big opportunity for them. If the Raiders continue to play with as little heart as they showed yesterday then there’s a much better chance that Oakland would be battling for the top pick in the draft rather than being anywhere near 8-8 when the season ends.