To cap off what was probably the worst week in the history of the organization, the Las Vegas Raiders were upset by a 2-6 New York Giants team that will be watching the postseason this year.
It did feel like the Raiders “outplayed” the Giants as they won the yardage advantage 403 to 245, but New York generated three turnovers to Las Vegas’ one and the latter couldn’t get anything going in the Red Zone. With that, there’s plenty of blame to go around for the Silver and Black, but there are some silver linings as a few players stood out in a positive light yesterday, too.
WINNER: Andre James
Yesterday was by far the best game of Andre James’ career.
Not only did he earn the highest overall PFF grade (83.1) for the Raiders, but he’s also PFF’s highest-graded center for the week, pre-Monday Night Football.
Run blocking has been James’ biggest issue so far but against the Giants, he was paving the way for Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake & Co. to rush for 117 yards and 5.9 yards per carry. The third-year pro earned an 88.3 grade as a run blocker which currently leads all centers by over 10 points. A dramatic improvement seeing as he hadn’t cracked the 60-mark in his career until Week 7 of this season.
James got the job done as a pass blocker, too. He registered a 70.1 grade in pass protection and pitched a shutout, allowing zero pressures all game for the second game in a row.
The UCLA product has now posted career-high grades in back-to-back weeks and what might be most impressive is those performances came against some top-tier defensive tackles. Against the Eagles, Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave couldn’t beat James, and yesterday, Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence didn’t have any success against him either.
Hopefully, that’s a sign of what’s to come moving forward.
LOSER: Derek Carr
Even Derek Carr admitted he wasn’t at his best on Sunday and it was an all-time bad performance for him. Sam Darnold (41.6), Tyrod Taylor (41.1) and Jordan Love (30.0) are currently the only quarterbacks to earn a lower PFF grade than Carr (43.9), and this was Carr’s lowest single-game grade since Week 16 of 2017.
PFF credited him with three turnover-worthy plays, which is tied for the most among quarterbacks and is the most he’s had all season. Coming into the game, he had six in seven games.
Carr’s accuracy was uncharacteristically off as well. He recorded a season-low 68.2 adjusted completion percentage that was about three percent lower than his previous worst in 2020 and ranks 23rd out of 27 qualifying quarterbacks for the week.
Between two turnovers that led to 10 points for the Giants and missing a wide-open Darren Waller for a touchdown, Carr was responsible for a 14-point difference on the scoreboard in a seven-point game.
In fairness to him, this was an unprecedented, emotional and difficult week for the Raiders’ captain where football seemed secondary to everything else that was going on. Plus, it was the first game he was playing without one of the offense’s top weapons, so there’s no reason to panic, but there’s also no doubt that Carr needs to turn things around quickly.
WINNER: Josh Jacobs
Josh Jacobs’ performance against the Giants was one of the most encouraging elements of the game for Las Vegas. He looked healthy for the first time all season and was running a lot smoother which was most evident when he was making his cuts. He was able to cover a lot of ground laterally and bounce runs to the outside for some chunk plays on the ground.
On the day, Jacobs forced five missed tackles, a season-best for him, and currently sits as tied for the third-most among running backs this week. He also reached season-highs in rushing yards and yards per attempt with 76 and 5.8, respectively. For comparison’s sake, those figures are 23 and 1.0 yards greater than his previous highs on the campaign.
The three-year pro came into the game with four runs of 10 yards or more in his previous five games but was able to double his season total with four in New York alone. It was clear the bye week did him a lot of good as this was by far the most explosive he’s looked all season.
Especially if the passing game is going to dip a bit, the Raiders are going to need to lean on Jacobs for the remainder of the season. So, it’s a good sign to see him heal up and at least start to return to his old form.
LOSER: Red-Zone Offense
As mentioned above, one of Las Vegas’ biggest issues yesterday was scoring in the Red Zone. They took six trips inside the 20 and only put the ball in the endzone once, while also missing a chip-shot field goal and coughing the ball up on a fumble to end the game down there as well. That’s 28 points left on the board right there.
What’s frustrating is this was somewhat unprecedented. The Raiders came into the week scoring touchdowns on about 61.5 percent of their Red Zone possessions, which ranked 17th so about average for the league. However, a 16.7 percent success rate on Sunday now has them down to 53.1 percent and 27th in the NFL, an over eight percent and ten spot decrease in just one week.
To make things more maddening, Las Vegas only punted twice all game and both came in the first half, but they only had 16 total points to show for it and only managed to put three on the board in the second half. Why? Turnovers and Red Zone woes.
The offense was so bad they become the first team since 2000 to attempt two field goals inside the 10-yard line when losing by 4-6 points in the second frame, per the Associated Press’ Josh Dubow.
Bisaccia lost a little faith in his offense yesterday. https://t.co/LPEC4ngi0J— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) November 8, 2021
The good news is I think this is a very easily solved problem. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson seemed to get a little too cute in the scoring area and got away from running the ball like they have been doing in recent weeks. So the problem should have a simple fix but of course, that’s always easier said than done.
WINNER: John Simpson
The interior of the Raiders’ offensive line is starting to come together at the midway point of the season. As mentioned above, James has been playing his best ball as of late, and so has left guard John Simpson.
Simpson was a mauler in the run game yesterday. He had at least one play where he had a pancake against Lawrence, his former college teammate, and he earned a 77.8 run-blocking grade from PFF, which currently ranks 10th among all guards for the week.
The latter would have been a season-best for him, but an 81.4 mark against the Eagles set the bar a little higher. In other words, the 2020 fourth-round pick is another player who has started to figure it out recently.
Now, Simpson did struggle a bit as a pass protector - 2 pressures allowed and a 56.3 grade there - but the team will take that and can win with that if he can move defenders the way he did on Sunday. The Raiders averaged a season-high 5.9 yards per attempt on the ground, 1.8 yards higher than their previous best, and their left guard was a big reason why.
LOSER: Johnathan Abram
On multiple occasions, I’ve talked about how much better Johnathan Abram has been playing this season. However, he took a step back on Sunday.
Abram’s performance was similar to his outings from last season as the boxscore made him look better than he really was. The 2019 first-round pick finished second on the team with eight total tackles, however, he also missed two and had an average depth of tackle of 6.3 yards past the line of scrimmage against the run. So, the stat sheet is a little misleading and he really didn’t make any impact plays.
In coverage, Abram was slightly worse. He allowed four completions on all four targets thrown his way for 44 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown where he got turned around a bit and lost at the catch point to Evan Engram. That was the Giants' only offensive touchdown of the game.
Also, the defensive back’s 152.1 passer rating when targeted is currently the second-worst among safeties this week, and he was thrown at once every 5.5 coverage snaps which is the eighth-highest rate at his position.
The good news is this was Abram’s worst game of the season and it still doesn’t even compare to some of his abysmal performance from a year ago. So, he’s still trending in the right direction but Sunday was certainly a slight dip in that linear projection.