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Raiders Film Room: Oakland can’t finish

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Warning: If you felt sick to your stomach yesterday watching yet another implosion from the Oakland Raiders, you might want to stop reading/watching now. The following images are alarming and could cause Raiders fans great discomfort.

Another game, another blown lead. More miscues on offense and even more gaffes on defense, especially in the 4th quarter. The narrative seems to be writing itself for the Raiders this season. Derek Carr says the team needs to “finish better” which is obvious, but its not only the 4th quarter, but finishing scoring drives as well.

Red zone dysfunction

Points have been left on the field in all 3 games, but no more apparent than against the Dolphins on Sunday. Carr and company seem to be out of sync as opposing defenses tighten up. Here are a few plays where the offense sputters in the red zone.

Carr has great protection here and is able to get through all of his reads. You see at the top of the screen both Nelson and Bryant run what is called a “whip route” which means they sell the slant route before breaking down and returning to the sideline.

Notice Carr sees 2 men against 1 and instead of getting it to a playmaker for at least a few yards, he elects to throw it away. This is a head scratcher and emblematic of Carr’s performance issues inside the 20 yard line.

This concept to Jared Cook actually worked (or almost) later in the game. Carr fakes the dive to Lynch, pulls it but is unable to connect with Cook. Carr hears the footsteps of the defensive end coming after him and you see it speed up his play clock.

Carr was defiant when asked if the hits rattle him but this play shows he’d rather not buy time out of the pocket. Raiders have to settle on a field goal this drive.

Late in the game when the Raiders appear to be driving downfield and finally have a scoring opportunity in the 4th quarter this happens. Carr explained after the game that he saw Bryant in 1-on-1 coverage and decided to throw it up.

A few things don’t register here: 1) Carr and Gruden sang Xavien Howard’s praises all week and called him the best corner they’ve seen so far... so why would Carr turn around and throw it to his 3rd WR with Howard in coverage at this crucial moment in the game? 2) Bryant’s effort on this play is poor. He immediately turns backwards looking for a fade ball letting Howard know well in advance the route he’s running. Bryant doesn’t attempt a jab step or head fake inside to create separation. Not going to cut it in the NFL.

Side note: notice TJ Clemmings who came in after right tackle Donald Penn suffered a concussion. He attempts to cut block Robert Quinn who doesn’t miss a step and body slams Carr as soon as he lets go of the ball. Tom Cable should stop teaching this technique because it got Carr hit multiple times on Sunday.

Not all is lost however, Gruden finally discovered a goal-line back on the Raiders roster. Fans and reporters alike wondered why Lynch didn’t get the ball on the 4th and goal rushing attempt from earlier in the game. That play to Keith Smith with only a few inches was the biggest gaffe in this game and should the Raiders have pounded it with Lynch or simply kicked a field goal, Carr wouldn’t have felt the need to force the ball to Bryant later in the game.

Yes Gruden, it really is that easy: just had the ball to Lynch on the goal-line. I thought we all learned from Pete Carrol on this one?

Defense collapses

After almost a full 3 quarters of fantastic play from the defense, Rashaan Melvin collides with Danny Amendola and has to exit the game. Conley had to switch from Right Cornerback to Left Cornerback and it all started to fall apart.

Conley needs to get his head around here. It’s not an easy thing to do but this is the NFL and thats how you play corner at a high level. Parker’s big reception sets up Miami for what’s about to come next.

If you think this looks familiar that’s because Tod Gurley scored on this EXACT same play during the Week 1 matchup agains the Rams. This time instead of Arden Key missing his assignment, its Shilique Calhoun who doesn’t get his hands on any blockers. The right tackle cut blocks Tahir Whitehead and the TE blocks out Reggie Nelson for an easy score.

Later in the 4th quarter, the Dolphins resort to some trickeration in order to further embarrass the defense. Sure it’s a trick play but not sure how many times this play needs to be run on national television before the defense takes it away. I guess it won’t be the Raiders who stop it.

At this point if you’re still reading you’re a glutton for punishment. This is when Raiders fans started to leave the Dolphins stadium and retreat to the air conditioning in their cars. Heat is not an excuse for playing this poorly and letting yet another Jet Sweep go to the house.

Not sure how how it’s possible but somehow Conley, Whitehead, Gilchrist, and Lee all fit outside the running lane. Simple math will tell you 4 guys forcing the run inside to NO ONE will give up a big gain like this.

Conclusion

Carr and Gruden still learning each other’s tendencies and how to score in the red zone. This may be an ongoing bump in the road all season.

Jordy Nelson had a big game in the first half. After the Dolphins adjusted the offense wasn’t able to get it done. Cooper’s drops late in the game especially hurt.

Paul Guenther’s unit played 3 quarters of high level defense only to look like a JV team in the 4th quarter.

Miami enjoys a great home-field advantage; wearing their white jersey’s and sitting in the shade while Oakland wore black and sat in the sun. This could be an excuse for another 4th quarter collapse but eventually a team runs out of excuses before the book is out on them.

Guenther should probably figure out how to stop Jet sweep before Raiders play Tyreek Hill.