Three weeks into the 2023 season and the Las Vegas Raiders seem to make the same mistakes in every game.
There are problems on both sides of the ball and poor coaching by Josh McDaniels and his staff is helping. These things were all on display in a 23-18 home (kind of) loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night. Let’s look at some keys to the game.
Need more than Davante Adams:
Raiders’ star wide receiver Davante Adams was his brilliant self as he had 13 catches for 172 yards and he scored both of the Raiders’ touchdowns. But the Raiders need more than him. Nearly half of Jimmy Garoppolo’s targets went to Adams. He needs help or his big production will go to waste.
Remember, all that training camp baloney about this defense being ball magnets and that this year was going to be different when it comes to takeaways? Seems like a long time ago, right? The Raiders are still looking for their first defensive turnover. They are losing the turnover battle 7-0 this season.
Times #Raiders had 0 takeaways in 3 straight games in a season:— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) September 25, 2023
Weeks 14-17 2020, 4 straight
Weeks 14-17 2021, 4
Weeks 1-3 2023, 3
Weeks 3-5 2021, 3
Weeks 11-13 2014, 3
Tough night for offensive line:
The Raiders were the only team not to allow a sack in the first two weeks of the season. It was a different story Sunday night. Pittsburgh had four sacks and harassed Garoppolo all night. he got pummeled often. He was being evaluated for a concussion after the game.
Defense makes Pittsburgh offense look decent:
The Pittsburgh offense was dreadful in the first two weeks of the season as they led the NFL with 14 three and outs. Yet, Pittsburgh made some big plays and the offense helped beat the Raiders.
What was McDaniels thinking?
It seems like McDaniels has, at least, one baffling on-field decision every week. Sunday night, in prime time, McDaniels had America buzzing with a weird decision late in the game, McDaniels, who dropped to 18-30 as an NFL head coach, decided to kick a short field goal to cut the Steelers’ lead to 23-18 instead of going for it on fourth and four from the Steelers’ 8 with 2:25 remaining in the game in a one-score game. A minute earlier, he did the same thing but was bailed out by a Pittsburgh penalty. After the game, McDaniels stood by his odd decision, saying the Raiders needed multiple possessions. Again, it was a one-score game. The Raiders did get the ball deep in their own territory with 12 seconds left. It was a really strange call by a coach who often looks uncomfortable in making game decisions.
Run game struggles again:
Star running back Josh Jacobs still can’t get going. He had 62 yards on the ground on 17 carries against a Pittsburgh defense that was last in the NFL in rush defense in the first two weeks. Jacobs, who led the NFL in 1,653 rushing yards last season, has 108 yards on 45 carries for a 2.4 per carry average.
Where’s Hunter Renfrow, the tight ends and Tyree Wilson?
The same usage and production issues are happening. Slot receiver Hunter Renfrow continued to be an after thought. He had two catches for 17 yards and has three catches for 40 yards in thee games. The Raiders’ tight ends had no receptions, but rookie Michael Mayer did have a two-point conversion. The Raiders tight ends have four catches in three games. Last year, Darren Waller and Foster Moreau had 19 combined catches in three games. First-round pick, defensive end Tyree Wilson has been a no-show this season. He had no stats Sunday night. These are problems.
Jimmy’s picks piling up:
One of the reasons why Raiders coach Josh McDaniels brought Garoppolo to Las Vegas this offseason was his traits of not giving up the football. For the second straight week, though, Garoppolo threw multiple interceptions. He threw three picks against the Steelers. He has fsix picks on the season. It the most interceptions thrown by a Raiders’ quarterback through the first three games of the season since 1994.
Raiders have scored less than 20 points in each of their first three games with Jimmy Garoppolo. They did that five times total and never in back-to-back games in 2022 with Derek Carr.— Jason Cole (@JasonCole62) September 25, 2023
He is leading the NFL in interceptions. Garoppolo threw four interceptions in 11 games for San Francisco last season. Garoppolo’s season high for interceptions is 13, in 2019.
In the first quarter, on fourth and inches, the Raiders faked out the Steelers and Garoppolo hit Davante Adams for a long touchdown to take a 7-0 lead. It was a hell of a play McDaniels and a great execution on the field.
New season, same story:
It seems like the trend of visiting teams taking over Allegiant Stadium is continuing in the third season in which fans have been allowed in the stadium. There were nearly as many Steelers’ fans at the game as Raiders fans. In fact, the Raiders were booed when they hit the field for warm ups and Pittsburgh fans were very loud during the game. There are lot of team playing in Las Vegas this season that have fans bases that travel well. So, this issue may just be starting for this season.
Bad quarter for Peters:
Raiders’ cornerback Marcus Peters was burned for a touchdown by Calvin Austin to tie the game at 7-7 in the first quarter. On the next Raiders’ defensive drive, Peters, signed this year because he’s a ballhawk, dropped a sure Pick 6 on a pass Kenny Pickett threw right to him.
The Raiders entered the game with a streak of scoring on their last seven opening drives dating back to last season. It was the longest current streak in the NFL. Las Vegas, though, went three-and-out to start Sunday’s game.