By Merlin Edwards III
It is quite astonishing how often old sayings can be applied to everyday life. When someone has the personality that the glass is, in fact, half full, they truly are optimists and see the best in everything and everyone. In this election year it sure would help if a lot of people put the shoe on the other foot to see other perspectives. Well, the Raiders and their fans got a full dose of the saying "when it rains, it pours," after taking a beating against the Kansas City Chiefs.
While it was quite literally pouring down rain on the field, it was raining even harder on the Raiders players. After a great drive to start off the game with a touchdown, the offense looked worse than it has all season. They went no-huddle in their first drive while driving right down the field and scoring with ease. It seemed to be a good sign for the game to come. Boy, were Raiders fans wrong. Once the ball was in the endzone the first time, they were only able to score one more field goal in the first half which completed their scoring for the day. The running game was extremely stagnant and could not be relied on. Carr was forced to throw the ball a ton in the rain which he actually had moderate success with, but the offense goes how Carr goes and he did not have a good game. It was a game where fullback Jamaze Olawale should have been utilized as a ground and pound back and he didn't even get one carry! Teams do just get outplayed sometimes and Andy Reid is now 16-2 coming off of a bye, but there is just no excuse to get beat down like that at home. Raining or not, Andy Reid or not, bad defense or not, that is a game that could have been won if the offense showed up at all.
The Oakland defense was not good either. There is something going on with this scheme that is not working for the personnel that the Raiders have. Ken Norton Jr. is a great motivator, but it may be proving that he is in over his head with scheming against other top notch coordinators. Don't get me wrong, the players are to blame too; not filling the right gaps, not communicating and bad spacing will always end up bad for a defense. At the same clip, there is NO WAY that Kahlil Mack should be lined up against a wide receiver on the outside, which happened twice last Sunday. This defense needs utilize its players correctly. Whether that is going to 4-3 looks or blitzing more, it is something the coaches need to be creative with. There is too much talent to squander it. The entire team needs to use the long road trip (staying in Florida for 2 weeks) to get themselves together and become closer as a family before coming back home to a very tough stretch.
The game against the Jacksonville Jaguars this Sunday is not going to be an easy one. Black Bortles and the weapons he has, is nothing to underestimate. They have small, fast receivers just like all of the teams who have torched the Raiders in the passing game. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are both great players who can speed past anybody in our secondary. And that's not even mentioning the young speedster Denard Robinson. In this case, this could actually work well for the Raiders. Against an Alex Smith ran offense in the Chiefs, the key was to shut down the short and intermediate routes. The Raiders couldn't do that at all which is why they got beat down. Against the Jaguars, however, that is exactly what this defense needs to do. They cannot let the Jags throw over the top and get big chunks of yardage. That is their bread and butter and will keep attacking over the top until it works. Keep these small receivers in front and stop them for short gains and it will frustrate that offense. They don't have much of a running game so look for the Raiders to actually be able to hold them back a little on the ground. This can also be a Kahlil Mack breakout game. Bortles loves to sit back in the pocket like a statue and wait for his quick receivers to finish their long developing routes. Mack must take advantage of how long he holds the ball and get him on the ground. If the defense plays like they have recently, though, this will end up being a shootout, which isn't the worst thing for this Raiders offense.
Derek Carr is showing (sans last week) that he can be an elite QB in the NFL and this week, he needs to take another step forward. The defense hasn't been reliable and has consistently given up a ton of yards and points. The Jags defense isn't great though. Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper should have a field day with this secondary and both should end up with a touchdown. This could be the game where we get a top notch performance from both receivers in the same game for the first time all year. The running game needs to have some production. Even if only to keep the defense guessing. If any of the 4 backs they have can get going, the Raiders could win handily.
This will not be an easy game for the Silver and Black, but they should be able to win in yet another, nail biter of a game at the end. Carr will lead the team at the end of the game for a touchdown to lead the game and the Raiders win a close one.
My Prediction: Raiders 35, Jaguars 32