Long before the Las Vegas Raiders embarked on the bye week, the team talked candidly about execution — specifically, the lack of it — was the pesky thorn in the team’s side. It needed to be extracted and the two-week bye would be ample time to fix what ails the team.
Interim head coach Antonio Pierce even emphatically noted the time for talk was over. It was time to do and prove the Silver & Black could go from out of whack to synergized well-oiled machine.
After four quarters of football at home against the visiting Minnesota Vikings, it’s quite clear that only the Raiders defense used to the two-week prep to get steady. The offense, not so much. There’s not much else you can use to describe a 3-0 shutout at the hands of the visiting Vikings. It was a contest that didn’t see points on the scoreboard until there was 1:58 left in the game — a 36-yard field goal by Minnesota kicker Greg Joseph.
“No excuse there, it is shocking,” Pierce said somberly in his post game press conference. “Plenty of time to prepare for the opponent. We knew what they did, nothing new. Just, again, poor coaching, poor performance by the players. Starts with myself.”
One has to wonder what the offense did during the bye week leading up to Sunday’s game, but the results are what they are. In fact, the closest Las Vegas got to the end zone was with 10:11 left in the third quarter. Rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell hooked up with slot receiver Hunter Renfrow and the shifty pass catcher took the ball 38 yards to the Minnesota 11-yard line. A short pass, a penalty, and a Renfrow fumble later, that drive was quelled and not even a field goal from the Raiders.
And here’s where the broken record part comes in — specifically to the “E” word.
“I think just a lack of execution,” O’Connell said at the podium when asked what happened with the Raiders offense today after having two weeks to prepare. “I point to myself, I got to do a better job of executing in the run game, in the pass game, and making sure we have a good play going when I hike the football. You can put it on me, I got to execute better.”
“I don’t know if it was anything to do with that,” O’Connell added when asked if there was any lessons he learned from the bye week considering it looked like a struggle for the Raiders to get any rhythm. “I think it was just a lack of execution and I think they’re a really good defense too, really good defensive coordinator. They made it difficult for us to do our normal stuff, so kudos to them for playing a good game.
Kudos to O’Connell for taking the brunt of the blame — quarterback’s get the majority of the praise and the blame, for better or worse — but as Pierce noted, this kind of deflating defeat isn’t on one person. It’s on the entire team.
“No, poor performance coaching. Starts with myself, starts with the coordinator, quarterback, and so on. Just bad overall,” Pierce said. “The whole football program. Our whole program, everybody. Got to win, it isn’t good enough. So, got to win.”
Granted, the visiting Vikings had the same two-week hiatus to prepare for the trip to Las Vegas and had a similar lackadaisical offensive performance. But in the most dire of moments, Minnesota turned the keys of the offense over to Nick Mullens and the he got the team in position to kick the go-ahead and eventual game-winning field goal.
“It’s difficult, I always want to communicate and be honest, and I just said at this point in time, I want to give Nick a chance to get in there,” Minnesota head coach Kevin O’Connell said. “Nick’s got a great feel for our offense and when I was able to call it for him, and kind of communicate with him a little bit, he went out there and executed.”
Ah, the “E” word again. Fortunately for the Vikings, they executed in real time. Unfortunately, the Raiders can’t do the same.
Let’s hit the quick slants as fast as the Raiders offense went on and off the field:
—Here’s an awful stat for both offenses: Raiders punter AJ Cole III had eight boots for 433 yards (a career-long bomb of 83 yards) while Vikings punter Ryan Wright had eight punts for 383 yards (a long of 59). Both specialists had more punting yards than offensive output. In fact, Cole’s total yardage equals the total yards both teams had offensively combined — 433.
—Aidan O’Connell finished 21 of 32 for 171 yards with an ill-timed interception on the Raiders’ ensuring drive after the Vikings went up 3-0. He absorbed four sacks and had his head spinning against the Brian Flores-led Minnesota defense.
—Raiders running back Josh Jacobs was corralled producing 34 yards on 13 carries. Veteran tailback Ameer Abdullah had one carry for 12 yards. In total, Las Vegas generated 56 yards on 17 carries.
—Davante Adams led the Raiders pass catchers with seven receptions for 53 yards. Renfrow followed with three catches for 46 yards. Adams reportedly left the locker room area before media access. Considering what happened, what could he have said after that debacle?
—Maxx Crosby continues to be a terrorizing pass rusher with two sacks, three tackles for loss and 10 tackles total. Robert Spillane was equally effective with a sack, two stops for loss, and 10 total tackles.
Quote of Note
“Sucks. It sucks. We do this all year. I train all year, I put everything I have into this game. Now it’s basically we have to win every single game and pray to God everything goes in our favor to even have a chance to make the playoffs. So, it’s just super frustrating. But at the end of the day, you got to show up again tomorrow and get better. That’s exactly what I’m going to do, and I know these guys are going to do the same.” —Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby when asked how frustrating the loss was