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Raiders-Titans: 5 things we learned from another Las Vegas loss

Las Vegas has dug itself a big hole with defeat to Tennessee.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Tennessee Titans
Derek Carr
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

This was the most anticipated Las Vegas Raiders’ season in recent memory, after a 2021 playoff appearance and huge offseason additions. Yet, three games into the season and it’s been a disaster, as they fell to 0-3 in a 24-22 loss at the Tennessee Titans.

Let’s look at keys to the game.

General ugliness:

Things are getting tight. ESPN reported Raiders’ owner Mark Davis had a long post-game meeting with new coach Josh McDaniels after the game. These things happen when teams don’t live up to early expectations.

It would be stunning if McDaniels is in danger of losing his job after this 0-3 start, but it is fair to mention that his NFL overall head-coaching record is now a paltry 11-20. He is 5-20 in his last 25 games after starting 6-0 with the Denver Broncos in 2009. McDaniels joins Art Shell (2006) and Jon Gruden (2018 to start 0-3 as a Raiders’ coach. What is equally as alarming is the the facts of how tough it is to make the playoffs after starting 0-3 in the NFL. Since 1970, only six teams have started 0-3 and made the playoffs. Yes, it’s early, but things are getting tough for the Raiders. Sure, each game has been close, But the truth is, the Raiders haven’t done enough to win in each phase of the game to win any of these games. McDaniels said Sunday, the Raiders haven’t found the right formula. Well, he better figure it out soon. Also, both Arizona and Tennessee came into their games against Las Vegas coming off blowout defeats. It’s not like the Raiders are playing a bunch of dominant teams. So, all of these factors make this start so bitter.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Tennessee Titans
Davante Adams
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Where is Adams?

After having 10 catches for 141 yards in his first game as a Raider, star wide receiver Davante Adams hasn’t made a huge impact, although he has scored a touchdown in each game. He had five catches for 36 yards Sunday after having two grabs for 12 yards last week. The Raiders need more from him. Yes, fellow starter Mack Hollins had a career game with eight catches for 158 yards, including a potential game-tying score with just over a minute left. But the Raiders need to revolve things more around Adams. Yes, like Darren Waller’s issues Sunday (three drops), third-down woes 1-for-12) and the overall red-zone issues (2-for-6), getting it figured out with Adams has to be a chief concern for McDaniels and his staff this week as the Raiders prepare for a Week 4 home game against the Denver Broncos.

Bad defensive start:

Yes, the Raiders held Tennessee scoreless in the second half (the Titans led 24-10 at the break), but the Titans were able to score touchdowns on their first three possessions of the game. That was the difference. Titans’ star running back Derrick Henry, who had a slow start in the first two games, had 85 yards rushing and 58 yards receiving. The Raiders’ defense fought, but thus far, Patrick Graham’s unit looks far from special.

New-look offensive line:

The Raiders started this game with their seventh offensive line look in three weeks. This time, it was left tackle Kolton Miller, left guard Alex Bars, center Dylan Parham, right guard Jermaine Eluemunor and right tackle Thayer Munford. Bars was elevated from the practice squad for the game and John Simpson and Lester Cotton were benched. This will change again as Andre James, who has missed two games with a concussion, should come back soon, moving Parham to a guard spot. It’s clear this unit remains a work in progress, which is less than ideal this deep into the season. The unit wasn’t awful Sunday as Carr was sacked just once.

Masterson starts: In an interesting development, undrafted free agent Luke Masterson started for the Raiders at linebacker. This is a kid who was a college safety at Wake Forest and he wasn’t considered a sure-thing to make the Las Vegas 53-man roster when training camp started by any stretch. Yes, he continued to flash at every chance and now he has an NFL start under his belt as the Raiders played their second straight game without Denzel Perryman, who is dealing with an ankle injury.