The Raiders’ season mercifully came to an end in Kansas City today as the Chiefs demolished Oakland 35-3. Despite the debacle, there were a few players on the Raider team worth mentioning who gave it their all under tough circumstances.
1) Gareon Conley
The Raiders’ first-round pick from a year ago cemented his status this year as a franchise cornerstone with some tremendous play, and this game was no exception. Conley had three tackles, two passes defensed and an interception on a day when the rest of the offense largely didn’t come to play. He is a true number one cornerback and the team should build a pass rush that can make his job a little easier.
2) Doug Martin
The Raider pass offense was mostly anemic, but the running game worked pretty well due to the efforts of Martin. He ran hard, trucking over Chief defenders, and hit 100 yards for the second week in a row. He was exactly what the Raiders needed when Marshawn Lynch went out this year, and it was a prescient move by the Raiders to sign him.
3) Jordy Nelson
As the season has gone on, Derek Carr’s connection with Nelson has gotten stronger. Nelson caught nine passes for 78 yards and was one of the few bright spots in the Raider passing attack. His solid play in the latter part of the season could earn him a return tour in the Silver and Black next year, and the WR corps needs all the help it can get.
4) Patrick Mahomes III
Love him or hate him, what Mahomes has done this year has been nothing short of spectacular. He threw his 50th touchdown pass today, and he’s put up one of the best quarterback seasons of all time, on part with anything Brady or Peyton ever did and better than Brett Favre. At this rate he will be one of the best quarterbacks of all time, up there with Marino, Brady, and Montana, but we shall see if he reaches those heights. His athleticism and rocket arm set him apart from the more mediocre quarterbacks in the league. He didn’t have one of his more prolific days today, passing for only 281 yards, but his body of work speaks for itself.
1) Derek Carr
Carr’s play this year has been improving week to week, and it seemed like he was headed back to his elite 2016 form. And then this game happened. I don’t necessarily think this performance was all on Carr; he was facing a highly motivated Chiefs team on the road and his offensive line did him no favors. But he absolutely has to do a better job of feeling nd avoiding pressure, because these strip-sacks are killers. I do think Carr is the long-term answer at QB for the Raiders but not everyone is convinced when there are games like this.
2) Raiders offensive line
Run blocking was not really the problem today as the Raiders rushed for 127 yards. But pass blocking was a disaster. The Chiefs recorded three sacks and were in Carr’s face all day long. This level of pass protection is totally unacceptable and would hamstring even the best quarterback. Tom Cable shouldn’t just be fired, he should be launched into the Sun.
3) Tahir Whitehead
Whitehead was, as he usually is, the Raiders’ leading tackler with nine. However, he dropped two gimme interceptions in the game. Would they have made a difference in the eventual outcome? Maybe or maybe not, but now we’ll never know, and dropped picks has been an issue for the defense all season. The Raiders need much better play from their defense across the board, particularly linebacker. They have the draft capital to get some really good defensive players this coming April. Whitehead is okay but he can be replaced.
4) The Steelers, again
Today the Steelers did what they had to do. They came out and beat the Bengals at home, albeit barely. And then the players all came out onto the field and watched the end of the Browns-Ravens game on the Jumbotron at Heinz Field with their fans, none of whom had left. The Browns were marching, almost in field goal range, down by two with two minutes left.
And then Baker Mayfield threw an interception to CJ Mosley, and the Browns lost, giving the Ravens the AFC North Division crown and almost slamming the door on the Steelers making the playoffs. Anyone who dislikes Pittsburgh as much as I do can relish the thought that the Steelers and all their fans got to experience that gut-wrenching moment of agony together as a family, and Browns fans can take solace in the fact that in their moment of loss, they screwed the Steelers out of a moment of delirious joy.