The Los Angeles Chargers just can’t win a close, easy game. That’s who they are.
They were back at it Sunday as they tried to screw up a 24-7 halftime lead over the Las Vegas Raiders. But the Raiders would have none of that as they made their fair share of silly mistakes losing a 24-17 game to fall to 1-3. Let’s look at some key aspects of the game:
The kid QB:
All eyes were on Raiders’ rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell, who started in place of Jimmy Garoppolo, who did not clear the NFL’s concussion protocol in time. The fourth-round pick certainly wasn’t as dominating as he was in the preseason, but he had his moments. He was comfortable, for the most part, and made some nice plays as the Raiders tried to get back into the game.
McDaniels on his decision to go with O’Connell: pic.twitter.com/HwNuMLqP6t— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) October 2, 2023
But he lost two fumbles, fumbled another and threw a bad interception at the goal line in the final minutes as the Raiders tried to tie the game. He was under constant pressure and he handled it fairly well. In the end, he completed 25 of 39 passes for 238 yards. It was a valiant effort. The Raiders should feel comfortable playing him again this season if Garoppolo can’t go. As for as the future, well, we’ll will just have to wait and see if the Raiders will be in position to add a top quarterback prospect in the draft.
Losses piling up for McDaniels:
Another week, another iffy coaching performance by Raiders coach Josh McDaniels. The team looked pretty unprepared at times. The Raiders have lost three straight games and they are 7-14 under McDaniels. The Raiders were 1-3 last season on their way to a 6-11 season. At this point last season, they Raiders were outscored by a total of 100-96. This seoans, the Raiders have been outscored by a total of 101-62. Thus, the defense is still bad and the offense has regressed badly. The Raiders haven’t scored more than 18 points this season. Going into this game, the Chargers, who were without standouts, safety Derwin James and pass-rusher Joey Bosa on Sunday, gave up, at least, 24 points in every game in 2023. It’s all just not good.
Getting Jacobs going:
Raiders’ running back Josh Jacobs is still not having the success he had last season, but he had his moments Sunday. He finished with 58 yards on 17 carries, but he did contribute with a team-high eight catches for 81 yards. So, any way Jacobs can contribute is a good thing. But, at some point soon, we’re going to need to see a dominating ground performance that we got used to last season when Jacobs led the NFL with 1,653 rushing yards. He has just 224 rushing yards this season.
The tight ends?
The Raiders haven’t gotten much production from the tight ends. Sunday, all they got was one 11-yard catch by Austin Hooper. Hooper and rookie Michael Mayer have combined for five catches. Though four games last season, former Las Vegas tight ends Darren Waller and Foster Moreau combined for 22 receptions.
Good and bad of defense:
In the first half, the Raiders gave up big chunk runs and had major tackling issues. The Raider’s defense did improve in the second half, but Chargers’ quarterback Justin Herbert made a big pass play to seal the game. Overall, the defense was still a liability Sunday.
Mack owned Miller:
Former Raiders’ star pass-rusher Khalil Mack had a monster game. He had six sacks and caused O’Connell to fumble three times (he lost two). Mack owned Raiders’ left tackle Kolton Miller all game long.
Mack has 15 sacks since joining the Chargers last season in a trade with the Bears. 10 of those sacks have come against the Raiders, who drafted him in the first round in 2014. After being the only team in the NFL not to allow a sack in the first two games of the season, they have allowed 11 sacks in the past two games.
Renfrow slips further down depth chart:
Rookie Tre Tucker started over former Pro Bowl slot receiver Hunter Renfrow. Renfrow, who is making big money, has been an afterthought this season.The coaching staff clearly doesn’t believe in him at this point. He had two catches for 12 yards and now has five catches for 52 yards in four games.
The Raiders had some bad penalties (they had nine flags for 80 yards) Sunday, but the worst was from defensive tackle Jerry Tillery. The former Chargers’ first-round draft pick was ejected from the game after a late hit on Chargers’ quarterback Justin Herbert. He was penalized 15 yards and it led to a Chargers’ touchdown.
Herbert avoided a Maxx Crosby sack and was out of bounds when Tillery tagged him in an obvious stupid decision. Crosby gestured “why” with his hands at his teammate. Most of the Chargers’ bench went after Tillery after hitting the star quarterback. Tillery had a late hit on Los Angeles Rams’ quarterback Baker Mayfield last season in the same building that led to a game-winning score by the Rams. Tillery will likely get a hefty fine by the NFL after Sunday’s bone-headed play.
Finally, a takeaway;
The Raiders got their first takeaway of the 2023 season in third quarter when Herbert sailed a pass that went right into the hands of Las Vegas safety Tre’von Moehrig for the second pick of his career. It’s been a long time coming. Moehrig dropped an interception in the end zone that would have saved a field goal earlier in the game. The Raiders entered this game losing the turnover battle 7-0 and now are losing it 10-1. Ugly.