After Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams, the NFL doesn’t think much of Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders. The 33-13 score indicates one of the best teams in the NFL blew out one of the worst. But if you saw the game, it was more of a sudden collapse by one of the least likely players the Raiders could get that from.
The Raiders are now rebuilding on defense so Gruden planned to control and win the game on offense. The offensive game plan was flawless with a mixture of runs to running back Marshawn Lynch and passes to tight end Jared Cook. And Carr executed it well, completing 20-24 passes for 199 yards and what should have been a touchdown in the first half.
But Carr, who has thrown so many dimes in the red zone over his career, started his collapse at the end of the first half in the red zone Monday night. With 4:51 left in the half, moving the ball at will and on the Rams’ 21 yard line, he threw the ball woefully short and it was picked off. The momentum would have been with the Raiders and they might have made a stop had they scored a TD but the Rams rode the momentum to a field goal, making the score 13-10. The halftime score could very well have been 20-7 instead of 13-10.
The defense that just lost super-duper star edge rusher Khalil Mack wasn’t too bad at the time either. Then came the second half and the Rams cashed in their first drive of the second half with a field goal to tie the game. The Raiders then went three and out with Carr getting sacked on his own 13 yard line and punter Johnny Townsend picks a bad time for a 35-yard punt. So the Rams take advantage of the short field and go up 20-13.
A little later, down 23-13, Carr seemed to be pulling himself back together and completed a 32-yard pass to Cook to get the Raiders to the Rams 40. Then Carr inexplicably threw floater toward his left sideline that was picked off. The Rams then turned that into a field goal and the score was 26-13. Then of course, there’s the pick-6 Carr threw the next time he had the ball to make the score 33-13.
Everyone around the league is talking about how bad the Raiders are but they were in the game against one of the best teams in the NFL on paper. The Rams may be better but it wasn’t about the better pulling away in the second half after taking the Raiders’ best punch. The Raiders never had a problem moving the ball on offense and even without Mack, the defense was pretty good until they had to go back and defend short fields on no rest due to the turnovers.
Carr actually picked the best defense the Raiders will face this year apart when he didn’t turn the ball over, going 29-40 for 303 yards with no TDs and three picks, including a pick-6. If not for a “bad throw”, “bad decision” and “miscommunication”, the NFL would be saying great things about the Carr and Raiders. Monday night’s collapse wasn’t even a case of the Rams making adjustments. They didn’t do much different in the second half than the first so Carr was not confused.
“To be honest, we did some of the same stuff but we executed better in the first half. They tried to do some things a little bit different, but nothing that mattered,” Carr said after the game. “They tried to put different looks for the run game, different looks for the pass game, but nothing that we didn’t prepare for. Some of the things that we did are going to be overlooked by the bad stuff and it sucks. That’s tough. We did a lot of good things, the score doesn’t really dictate what the game was. It’s just a bad feeling. It just sucks, man.”
It got ugly from the end of the first half to the end of the game and the final score was bad. But Raiders went toe to toe with one of the best teams in the NFL with Carr of all people giving it away. So there’s no reason for anyone to believe they are that bad of team. Gruden and Carr will learn from this and things will need to get better in a hurry.
Yeah, like next week in Denver.