Many times on Sundays in the NFL games are decided by which team makes more mistakes. The Raiders had a tough challenge of playing the now 5-1 Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Oakland played far from mistake-free football and it cost them a disappointing loss during their long road trek.
Let’s take a look at the mistakes, blown coverages, and missed opportunities that played a factor in the one sided defeat.
Blown coverages on defense
It didn’t take the Raiders long before they made their first mistake on defense. Exactly 6 plays into Green Bay’s first possession Aaron Rodgers hooks up with Jimmy Graham for a 29 yard pass. The Raiders are playing a version of Cover 1: their favorite 3rd and long defense. Instead of your typical Cover 1, the Raiders are using their two linebackers to jump inside breaking routes from the inside most receivers towards the top of the screen.
Usually Paul Guenther will blitz both linebackers and instead ask the defensive ends to execute this coverage. The problem however is that the pass rush never gets home and Jimmy Graham uncovers late in the down allowing for an easy throw and catch.
Here’s the end zone angle of this play to highlight how long Rodgers had to throw. Maurice Hurst and Clelin Ferrel execute a twist inside while the defensive ends are on a contain rush. The coverage the Raiders are in only works when the pass rush gets home. The Raiders have been torched in this coverage so far this season and it should be scrapped until the pass rush improves.
If this play looks familiar it’s because it’s the exact play Eric Ebron scored on the Raiders defense at the end of the Colts game. It happened against the same coverage call. Colts QB Jacoby Brissett also extended that play by getting out of the pocket. I wonder how many times this needs to happen before Guenther deletes it from the playbook?
After the Derek Carr fumble at the end of the 1st half, the Packers take the field with only a couple minutes to score. They did so in short fashion against another blown coverage. This time CB Daryl Worley and S Erik Harris are to blame.
The Raiders are in their standard 1st and 10 call with half field coverage to the receiver strength and quarters coverage away. Everyone except Daryl Worley that is. The Raiders CB is executing what is called a trap coverage where he will play inside of the number 1 receiver and look for an out breaking route.
The problem here is that Erik Harris is jumping that very out breaking route meaning no one is over the top of number 1. Because trap coverage is almost always a blitz coverage in the NFL, it seems like Worley is to blame on this one. Either way, the secondary isn’t on the same page going against one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
Then in the second half the Raiders really need to make an impact. Instead they allow a 59 yard reception on the very first play. Karl Joseph is the deep safety on this cover 1 call. The point of cover 1 is to have a safety deep in the middle of the field so the corners can play outside leverage on their man. Gareon Conley was the front office scapegoat for this game but he’s in good shape on this play. On the outside shoulder of the receiver he’s ready in case the receiver breaks to the corner.
But instead of Joseph staying inside of the receiver, he’s trying too hard to make a play and figures because the receiver has stemmed his route all the way to the middle of the field he must be breaking towards the corner. Joseph guesses wrong and hangs Conley out to dry on this one.
Missed opportunities on offense
The defense didn’t do the offense any favors and they had to respond by scoring at every opportunity in what was looking like a shootout. The Raiders had a chance to go up at the end of the first half when this happens. Deja vu for Raiders fans as Carr fumbles out of the end zone on this play causing a turnover.
The Carr fumble wound up causing a 14-point swing in this game because the Packers went right down the field and scored. This was the beginning of the end.
The Raiders did have chances to score in the second half. They were knocking on the door for another touchdown down 35-17 with over 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter. 4th and 1 and the Raiders stop trying to be cute and call a run play. Josh Jacobs is usually money in these situations but an unblocked defender takes a shot at his legs causing him to spin and lose momentum over the pile.
Jumping over the pile is fun to watch, but you can’t make someone miss while in midair. The Raiders need another goal line run for Jacobs as a change-up otherwise defenses will continue to sell out to stop the leap. This ended up being a turnover on downs.
Just 8 plays later the the Raiders got the ball back and again had a chance to score. The play call is smart but the execution was not. The double post is designed to clear out the middle of the field allowing for a wide open (in theory) Darren Waller.
Foster Moreau is running the clear-out and he gets jammed at the line of scrimmage causing the play design to fall apart. Derek Carr should realize this and find another option like Josh Jacobs out of the back-field or Trevor Davis running the drag. But instead of seeing the field, Carr tosses a jump ball up for Waller and the safety who is on Moreau steps in the throwing lane.
The problem on offense isn’t the play calling. The Raiders were moving the ball well all game. But when it came time for players to make plays, they didn’t step up to the challenge. Carr deserves all the blame he is taking for his performance.
The defense does not have the same issue. The play calling on defense has been mediocre all year. You can point to a lack of pass rush as the primary problem for the coverage breaking down but that’s on Guenther to design pressures to mitigate the lack of rush. So far the Raiders have been smoked while attempting blitzes and Guenther could be out of ideas. if the defense doesn’t improve don’t be surprised if Gruden moves on from the defensive coordinator.