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Raiders week 1 Ballers & Busters vs Rams: Part two

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Laying out the Busters for the Raiders 2018 season opening loss to the Rams.

Los Angeles Rams v Oakland Raiders Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images


Derek Carr

What we keep hearing is the Raiders made a game of this and looked competitive through three quarters. I don’t see it that way. I think the game went south well before that.

On the first play of the second quarter, Carr found Jared Cook for a 28-yard reception. That put Carr at 9 of 10 passing for 117 yards and the Raiders were in first and goal at the 10. That looks great. But it’s what happened after that which does not look great.

That drive stalled with a 3-yard toss on third and goal at the 9 and the Raiders settled for a field goal. The next drive looked promising as well. Then Carr went back to his hot hand tight end one too many times. Cook was winning mismatches over the middle, but this time went deep and was well covered. It may have been find had Carr led Cook on the pass, but the pass was short and picked off in the end zone.

Carr regrouped and led the Raiders on a scoring drive to end the first half. And once they came out for the second half, it was a completely different game for Carr.

His 20 for 24 for 199 yards and one interception is pretty good numbers. But the only stats that really matter as far as Derek Carr’s day is concerned are the ones he put up from the start of the third quarter until the 2:00 minute mark of the fourth quarter. In that stretch, Carr’s numbers were abysmal. He went 0-3 in the third quarter. Those three passes came in succession. They were a short ball thrown at the feet of Amari Cooper, a long pass thrown nowhere near Derek Carrier and nearly picked off, and a broken play in which he threw it away. By the time the 4th quarter started, the Raiders 13-10 lead had become a 20-13 deficit.

From the start of the third quarter until the 2-minute mark of the 4th quarter, Carr went 6 of 13 for 61 yards, no TD’s and 2 interceptions. The reason the 2-minute mark is important is because that’s when he threw his third interception of the day which was a pick six to put the Rams up 33-13. Everything after that it was garbage time stats.

All of his picks were costly. But the second one was the more ridiculous. It was the first drive of the fourth quarter with the Raiders down 23-13. Carr had just completed a 23-yard pass to Jared Cook. He then rushed to the line in a no-huddle and promptly threw the most inexplicable pass I’ve ever seen him make. He looked right, then middle, then quickly turned left and tossed a lob right into the arms of linebacker Cory Littleton. The Rams would dive for a field goal, pretty much ending it there.

Jon Gruden

Before the game began the head scratchers started. Tank Carradine was inactive for the game. He was supposed to be the starter, replacing Khalil Mack at the defensive end spot after Gruden shipped him to Chicago last week.

Even Mack to Carradine is a considerable step down, it was the best the Raiders had, so of course he didn’t play by coach’s decision. The result was the worst pass rushing team in the league over the opening weekend with just 5 pressures, 2 QB hits, and one sack. We now know what the Raiders pass rush looks like without Mack. It’s just about non-existent.

Marshawn Lynch is easily the best back on this team. And yet for some reason, he saw just 11 carries, which looked a lot like the mistakes of the last coaching staff in underutilizing him. Also looking a lot like the last coaching game plan was going play action just twice the entire game.

The Rams made adjustments at halftime. The Raiders did not. Jared Cook was the only thing the team had going for it in the first half. It took until the 8:40 mark of the 4th quarter before Cook saw a pass in the second half. Not that they should be forcing it to him, but once Cook was no longer a factor, no one was. And on a team that’s offense is supposed to be its strength.

Then there were the penalties. Of which the Raiders had 11 for 155 yards. What’s strange is ten of those penalties for 145 yards came in the first half when they were playing better. I don’t even know what to think about that. Gruden wanted classic Raiders, and there’s nothing more classic Raiders than racking up penalties.

Reggie Nelson

I’ve seen Reggie Nelson play a few bad games. This one was up there. He gave up an 11-yard catch to lead out the Rams first touchdown drive. On the Rams second scoring drive, he was blocked on an end around for a first down. Their next touchdown drive came at the end of the third quarter. On that drive Nelson gave up a 17-yard catch and the touchdown from 8 yards out. On their final scoring drive of the game, Nelson was blocked on a 23-yard run and a 10-yard from from the 19-yard line to set up first and goal at the 9-yard-line. They would convert the field goal to go up 26-13. His performance could usher Karl Joseph back into the lineup. Or maybe give Erik Harris a shot.

Kelechi Osemele

I’m not sure this new slimmed down version of Osemele is the best thing. He was going against Aaron Donald, which is not an easy task. But Osemele was an All Pro a couple years ago too. You wouldn’t have known it by the way Aaron Donald manhandled him on a play late in the first quarter. Donald literally threw him to the turf and sprinted for Derek Carr, hitting him low. The Raiders caught a lucky break because first of all Carr was not hurt and second of all Donald was called for roughing the passer to give them a first down.

Two the team’s 10 penalties in the first half were by Osemele on the final drive of the second quarter. Jared Cook bailed the Raiders out with some strong running after the catch on the first penalty. The second one was on third and 1 and ended the Raiders drive.

Rashaan Melvin, Gareon Conley

This is one of those times when a second look shows their performance wasn’t quite as good as originally thought. Though, I will say, it wasn’t entirely fair to ask them to cover receivers when there was no pass rush to speak of. See the man a few spots up in the Busters for the blame there.

Melvin started the day with a pass defended to end the Rams first drive. It went downhill from there. The next drive, he gave up a 19-yard catch that set up the game tying touchdown. The next drive he started by being called for pass interference for 37 yards.

To begin the second half, it was Conley’s turn in the ringer. He gave up a 23-yard catch which was the biggest play on the opening drive leading to a field goal. Two drives later, the Rams went for a touchdown. There were three plays on the drive and two went through Conley for 17 yards and 30 yards.

The final scoring drive was made possible by Melvin giving up a 10-yard catch on third and 7.

Arden Key

There was very little of any pressure in this game. Key did get a hit on Goff in the game, though Goff still got the pass away. It was one of just two QB hits for the Raiders. The other was the Irvin strip sack.

Key said after the game that he was nervous for his first game action. And why wouldn’t he be. He was supposed to just be a third down rusher and ended up playing more snaps than Irvin.

The third round rookie has raw talent but lacks discipline. He also doesn’t play the run well. The Rams first touchdown was Todd Gurley going 19 yards on an end around to his side. That’s his play to make and he ran right by it.

Early in the second quarter, he had a bead on Jared Goff, but Goff got him with the old pump fake. Key leapt in the air like a defender in basketball late to cover the three ball. And Goff sidestepped him like Steph, Key flew by and Goff popped a 10-yarder. Key can’t leave his feet there. He’s long enough he doesn’t have to.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Rams broke a blitz on the right side with a screen to the left. Key was the best chance the Raiders had to stop it and he looked lost out there trying to find the ball carrier. The screen went for 17 yards to start out a scoring drive.

He’ll have better days.

Jalen Richard

Games can turn on one play a lot. Both the plays you make and the plays you don’t make. Richard could have turned this game and blew it. The Rams had just scored the go-ahead touchdown to take a 20-13 lead. On the very first play of the ensuing drive, Richard got inside and had rolling plains of open field in front of him. Carr put it on him and he dropped it. Just flat dropped it. Take a look:

We’ll never know what he could have done with that much open field, but he is a dangerous runner, so it seemed like a big play was a strong possibility. They went three-and-out instead. And the next two possessions ended with interceptions. Sad trombone.

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