Just when you think the Las Vegas Raiders can’t sink any lower this season, Josh McDaniels says: “Hold my beer!”
After yesterday’s 25-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts who hired a head coach off the street, the tank is officially on in Las Vegas and it’s time to start thinking about the offseason if you haven’t already. Who knows if that means we’ll see some big sweeping changes in February/March, but this season has been outright unacceptable so Mark Davis has to make some moves or he’s continuing to allow it to happen and part of the problem.
WINNER: Holiday Shopping
Raider Nation, look at it this way. Last year, you lost a day of the week every week leading up to the holidays to get your shopping done because you were on pins and needles watching the Raiders make a playoff push. That probably meant you procrastinated all of your shopping so everything got there late, and you looked like an idiot to your significant others and cheap at your company party because you were empty-handed when the time came.
However, now there’s no hope for the Silver and Black to make a postseason push, so you get your Sundays back to go shopping and make sure your gifts arrive in time. Then you gain the respect back of your loved ones and coworkers ... if it’s not already too late that is.
LOSER: Josh McDaniels
A frequent flier on the loser’s list this season, especially lately. I mentioned this in my X-factors column last week, but losing to Jeff Saturday in his first game as an NFL or college coach should be considered a fireable offense for McDaniels, and I stand by that.
The Colts were very clearly more ready-to-play than the Raiders as Indianapolis jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter while Las Vegas took four drives to get their first, first down of the game. In less than one week on the job, Saturday proved to be a better motivator than McDaniels which is pretty pathetic.
But it does go beyond the head coach and extends to the rest of the staff. Despite all of their experience and Super Bowl rings, both McDaniels and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham got outcoached by a couple of guys who were in their first week at their new jobs.
On top of that, Derek Carr is talking about how some players aren’t buying in during his post-game press conference, which also falls on the coaching staff’s shoulders. It’s a mess right now in Vegas and it’s time to do some spring cleaning a little early this year.
WINNER: Rock Ya-Sin
Lost in yesterday’s debacle was that Ya-Sin played one of his best games as a Raider. He was targeted five times and allowed three completions for just 16 yards. The longest reception he surrendered was just six yards and he added a pass breakup to his stat line, earning his highest defensive (75.9) and coverage (76.4) grades from PFF of the season.
Ya-Sin’s coverage grade is good enough to rank seventh among cornerbacks for the week — pre-Monday Night Football — and yielding 5.3 yards per catch currently ranks eighth at the position. He was one of the team’s lone bright spots on what was a very dark afternoon, which has been a bit of a theme this season.
The impending free agent has only allowed 220 receiving yards all year and has yielded more than 40 yards in just three out of eight games he’s played in, topping out at 60 in the season opener. He’s also kept receivers under 20 yards in four contests and is one of the few players on the roster playing his way into a new contract in the offseason.
LOSER: Luke Masterson
Masterson was far from Las Vegas’ biggest issue on Sunday, but he did squander a pretty good opportunity to prove himself.
With Divine Deablo’s and Denzel Perryman’s injuries, and Blake Martinez’s retirement, Masterson got to make his first NFL start against the Colts but it went about as poorly as can be. He missed two tackles against the run which are currently tied for the most among linebackers in Week 10 and posted a 26.0 PFF run defense grade, tied — with teammate Jayon Brown — for the worst at the position.
In coverage, the Wake Forest product wasn’t much better. He was targeted twice and allowed completions on both passes for 25 yards — 12.5 yards per target — while missing another tackle, bringing his total up to three whiffs on the afternoon. That put him at a 35.2 coverage grade, currently fifth-worst at the position.
While yesterday was a day to forget for Masterson, unlike a lot of Raiders who were on the field, it should be far from his last opportunity to prove himself this season. He’s still part of the young core of players who deserve to get more playing time during the last eight weeks of the year. However, he did get off to a bad start and needs to string together strong performances from here on out.
WINNER: Sam Webb
Webb was another corner whose outing against the Colts got swept under the rug a bit. Indy’s game plan was clearly to go after him as he led Las Vegas in targets with 10 and no other player had more than five. That did lead to him surrendering the most yards in coverage on the team with 60, but his 7.5 yards per catch yielded was bested only by Ya-Sin in the Silver and Black’s defensive backfield.
The undrafted rookie finished the game as the team’s fourth highest-graded defender overall (69.0) and in coverage (67.1) while tieing for the most pass breakups (two) among all Week 10 cornerbacks across the league. Moving forward, he’ll want to cut down on the eight completions surrendered, but Sunday’s performance should prove to the coaching staff that he should get more reps to close out the campaign.
LOSER: Keelan Cole
Add Cole to the long list of players who fall into the “what the hell is he still doing out there?” category. While filling in at various points for Hunter Renfrow in the slot, Cole has been targeted 12 times this season but has only managed to haul in three passes for 42 yards. He’s even been less than stellar as a punt returner with six returns for 40 yards or 6.7 yards per attempt on the year.
Yesterday, it all kind of came to a head as the veteran wideout was thrown at twice and failed to come down with a catch, including a late drop that helped hold back the Raiders’ comeback efforts. That drop also brought his total up to two for the year, so he has almost as many drops as he does catches.
With Renfrow on injured reserve and the playoffs out of sight in Vegas, there is no reason a soon-to-be 30-year-old receiver on a one-year contract should be on the field. Instead, DJ Turner should be given a bigger opportunity and if yesterday’s abysmal performance from Cole doesn’t prove that to the coaching staff, I don’t know what will.
WINNER: Kolton Miller
The offensive line might have struggled as a whole against the Colts, but Miller graded out as one of the best offensive tackles in the entire league. His 87.1 overall PFF grade is currently the second-best at the position for the week, while his 87.2 mark as a run blocker is third and 82.5 in pass protection is seventh.
Miller’s overall and run-blocking grades were season-highs for him while his pass-blocking grade was his second-best and about half a point lower than his best performance. Sunday was also the fourth time in the last five weeks that he’s earned an overall mark of 74 or better, and the seventh time all season that he’s allowed just two pressures. The five-year veteran is one of the few players on the roster who’s pulling their weight.