This was supposed to be a get-right game for the Las Vegas Raiders as they try to climb back into the AFC playoff race.
Yet, it ended up be an alarming loss in a season that is in real danger of slipping away from a team that had major post-season aspirations. Let’s look at five keys to the Raiders’ stunning and embarrassing 24-0 loss to a meager and injured New Orleans Saints team on Sunday:
All the bad things:
There’s so much bad going on. The Raiders, who are 0-4 on the road this season, completely imploded on offense after playing so well the last three weeks. After scoring 99 points in the past three games, the Las Vegas offense was shutout Sunday for the first time since 2014, Derek Carr’s rookie season. And it came against a New Orleans ‘ defense that was allowing 28 points a game, the second worst in the NFL. The Raiders couldn’t do anything. Carr was bad. The offensive line was worse and Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow combined for two catches for nine yards. The Raiders’ offense didn’t enter New Orleans territory until 3:14 minutes remained in the game. It was an utter disaster. First-year Las Vegas coach Josh McDaniels apologized to Raiders fans after the game. He also reportedly had a close-door meeting with Las Vegas owner Mark Davis, the second time that has happened this season.
McDaniels apologizes to Raiders fans pic.twitter.com/oQfPGqJU66— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) October 30, 2022
Davis had to be fuming to see this performance against former Raiders coach Dennis Allen, who Davis did not like. McDaniels, who is just 13-22 as an NFL head coach, has not been impressive this season and he made some strange play calls in this game, including a silly failed fake-punt attempt in the second quarter, The Raiders in last place in the AFC West and digging a big hole for themselves. Yes, the upcoming schedule remains easy, but the Raiders were supposed to beat the Saints. This team is in a bad way.
Trade Josh Jacobs?
The Raiders began a six-game stretch last week against the Houston Texans knowing they would face six straight beatable opponents. Now that they were embarrassed by one of those opponents and sit at 2-5, do they start a fire sale? The NFL trade deadline is 1 p.m. PT Tuesday. The Raiders traded defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins to Dallas last week. But that wasn’t necessarily a sign of a sell off. They just wanted to get younger at that spot. But would the Raiders make some of their top players available in the next two days? Could they be open to dealing running back Josh Jacobs. He had just 43 yards rushing Sunday, but he had 140-plus rushing yards in the past three games and has 676 rushing yards this season. He is a free agent after the season and he could be attractive in the open market. Teams like the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams could be fits for Jacobs if the Raiders make him available. Is it likely? Who knows, but after starts like this season and games like Sunday, these topics are relevant.
Too much Alvin Kamara:
During the week, Saints’ standout running back Alvin Kamara was reminded that Allen used to coach the Raiders. He said the Saints would kick the Raiders butts for their coach. He lived up to his words. Kamara toyed with the Raiders, scoring three touchdowns Sunday. He had no scores this season going into the game. This game will be remembered for the Raiders’ awful offensive performance. But the defense didn’t do much, either.
TDx3 for Alvin Kamara today.#Saints take a 24-0 lead over the #Raiders pic.twitter.com/jbw5PYDssZ— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 30, 2022
Offensive line struggles:
The Raiders rolled out the same offensive line for the third straight week. The alignment was Kolton Miller at left tackle, rookie Dylan Parham at left guard, Andre James at center, Alex Bars at right tackle and Jermaine Eluemunor at right tackle. But rookie Thayer Munford replaced Eluemunor in the second quarter. The unit had a bad day in pass protection. Carr was sacked four times and under constant pressure. He was hit nine times. This unit usually run blocks well, but it struggles in the passing game too much. But with so many variations tried, it seems like it is what it is. The unit is likely going to have its ups and downs all season.
Moehrig over Abram:
Last week, veteran safety Duron Harmon started over second-year safety Tre’von Moehrig. The youngster did play 75 percent of the snaps, though. This week, Moehrig started over Johnathan Abram with Harmon starting in the other spot. So, Harmon, 31, and who is on a one-year contract, is the only safety who is set in stone as a primary player.
There have been reports that Abram has been shopped. With Tuesday’s trade deadline looming, perhaps the Raiders will move him. Interestingly, the Raiders also played some 4-3 looks in base Sunday with newly signed Blake Martinez plays as the third linebacker. So, Martinez was getting Abram’s snaps in some ways. Patrick Graham’s unit is very much a work in progress.