Derek Carr, Jon Gruden
As I mentioned, the Raiders were in range of points several times in this game. Especially in the first half. And they came away with three points. That’s unacceptable.
The first series lasted five plays and ended with Carr throwing wide and incomplete to Jared Cook out right. Gruden made his best call of the game on the next play, with the fake punt that gave the offense new life. But he squandered it by twice calling for the jet sweep, the first time for two yards and the second time on fourth and goal from the one-yard-line for no gain and a turnover on downs. No points.
The following drive, they would get their only points of the first half by moving the ball 32 yards and connecting on a 46-yard field goal.
Their next drive was looking like their most promising. No fake punts, no great field position, just moving the ball down the field and into scoring position. On third and six, Carr dropped back to pass and was sacked. That’s not his fault. What is his fault was not securing the ball and fumbling it. It was recovered by the Chargers and returned 24 yards to put THEM in scoring range. And score they did, driving for a field goal to tie it at 3-3. That’s at least a 6-point swing.
Come the end of the third quarter, down 17-3, the Raiders would mount a drive again, highlighted by a fantastic play from Carr to freeze the safety and find Jared Cook up the seam for a 31-yard pass. It set the Raiders up at the 13-yard-line. A touchdown here would pull the Raiders within a score. But on third and nine, Carr threw for LaFell on the left side and right to Casey Hayward. It was pure luck for Carr that Hayward didn’t pick it off. He had both hands on it, but that’s why he’s a corner and not a receiver and the Raiders could at least add a field goal instead.
Down 20-6 with just over seven minutes remaining, the Chargers were giving the Raiders the underneath stuff so they would run clock. Credit to the Raiders for taking it. They drove down the field with completions of 15, 15, 20, and 12 yards. That set up the game deciding play. In 4th and five the Raiders either convert and keep their hopes alive, or fail and ball game. They set up for a screen attempt to Jalen Richard, Derek Carr got the snap, saw pressure from Melvin Ingram and threw the ball into the turf.
We ran a poll as to what Derek Carr should have done in that instance and the overwhelming response was “Anything but that.” And that is correct. Anything would have been a better choice. Taking a sack, throwing a pick, throwing incomplete, coming up short, anything. Anything but simply giving up on the play, which is exactly what Carr did. He gave up. Gruden deserves plenty of blame for the play – which he took – because it was his play and it led to Carr having very little options. As Carr said, the play was designed to go to Richard, Richard was covered, and that’s it. A crucial play like that should never be so simple and easily disrupted. It was truly pathetic.
Kolton Miller, Brandon Parker, Kelechi Osemele
If I included position coaches in this series, Tom Cable would absolutely be a mainstay and certainly make the list this week. While Carr was having plenty of his own issues, his offensive line was making his job harder than it had to be. Carr was sacked four times.
The first one came early in the second quarter. The Raiders were up 3-0 and knocking on the door to score again. Then Melvin Ingram used Osemele as a revolving door and sacked Carr who fumbled it. It was picked up by Corey Liuget and returned 24 yards and led to a field goal to tie it at 3-3.
When the Raiders got the ball back, on second down both Osemele and Parker were embarrassed and gave up a sandwich sack on Carr for a loss of ten. It led to a three-and-out. It gave the Chargers the ball back with 3:33 left in the second quarter and they drove for a touchdown.
Suddenly down 17-3 early in the third quarter after three straight Chargers scoring drives, the Raiders needed to mount something. They mounted a five-play drive that ended with Miller giving up the sack on Carr.
The final sack was given up by Gabe Jackson to put the Raiders in 3rd and 17. A 12-yard catch by Jalen Richard set up the 4th and five for the game. And Ingram blew by Parker to close fast on Carr, leading to his ‘Don’t hurt me!’ throw into the turf.
You may have noticed a name missing from the group of Baller linebackers. It’s Whitehead. As it often is. While the others were doing work, he was getting worked.
On the Chargers’ first scoring drive, he and Karl Joseph missed tackle to give up the first down on fourth and one. The following drive, the Chargers were in third and one and Whitehead gave up a 3-yard catch. They would get the touchdown off this conversion.
On the Chargers final scoring drive, he was out of position on the first two plays resulting in a 7-yard catch and a 10-yard run. He led the team in tackles and not one of them was a stop inside 3 yards or impact play.
Gareon Conley, Reggie Nelson
Daryl Worley and Karl Joseph both gave up big catches too, but they offset those with some nice plays as well. The same can’t be said for Conley and Nelson. The most glaring transgression was the biggest play of the game. On the Chargers’ first drive of the second half, Rivers found Melvin Gordon out right in space. Conley was the first line of defense. He whiffed on Gordon. Nelson was the next line and he whiffed as well and Gordon was gone 66 yards for the score to put the Chargers up 17-3.
Conley would also give up catches of 6, 23, and 18 yards in the game.
He had two penalties on returns and gave up a tackle for loss. Failing in his two primary jobs.