This was an emotionally draining night. The Las Vegas Raiders starting quarterback Derek Carr went down. Then, they saw backup quarterback Marcus Mariota rally the team in his debut with the Raiders. Then, they saw their defense squander yet another game in a 30-27 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
The end result was the Raiders’ fourth loss in the past five weeks. Yes, the Raiders were scrappy on Thursday, but the bottom line is the playoffs are but a dream and this their second straight late-season collapse.
Raiders’ coach Jon Gruden said after the game that Carr’s injury is “significant” although he doesn’t think it is a groin tear. Still, it appears Carr’s season may be over with the Raiders’ playoff chances being so slim. Another tough December injury for Carr during a playoff push ... how brutal.
Mariota deserves endless heaps of praise. This is a guy who looked lost last year with the Tennessee Titans. He was awful in training camp with the Raiders and he was even the No. 3 quarterback for several weeks this season. But when he got the chance, Mariota shined on Thursday. He rarely practices and he showed a lot of grit and ability. If Mariota plays well in the final two games, he will get notice in free agency if the Raiders let him get there.
Defense is a disaster:
The move from Paul Guenther to Rod Marinelli didn’t change much. The Raiders were simply looking for a spark under Marinelli. It didn’t happen. Sure, the Raiders played solid on run support for most of the game. But they couldn’t do anything against the Chargers’ passing game. It was the same old stuff as the Raiders allowed 40 more points for the ninth time this season.
Gruden’s play calling:
Gruden seems to pull back and get conservative at times this season. He made some questionable decisions late in both halves and in overtime. The Raiders should have won this game in OT, but the offense stalled at the goal line like it has so much the past two seasons. Gruden is now 18-28 in his return to the Raiders with back-to-back late-season collapses. He is very, very likely safe, but if this wasn’t Gruden and Mark Davis, he might be on the hot seat.
Herbert is a problem:
Justin Hebert has sliced the Raiders apart in two games. And he will play them another 20-25 times. Patrick Mahomes and Herbert in the same division? That could spell trouble for the Raiders.