Off the heels of their win yesterday, the Oakland Raiders still have work to do. Granted, winning soothes the mood, but to get into the playoffs requires a change in mindset. With four games to play, the Raiders need to jump into the playoff mindset right now. Their regular season ended when weeks ago. To quote Apollo Creed in Rocky 3, “there is no tomorrow”. From here on out, the Raiders cannot rest. Here are three necessities for the Raiders, if they possess postseason aspirations.
Everything the Raiders attempt to execute on the field requires near perfection, from now until the final gun. For example, proper pursuit angles on passes by defenders become more important. Reggie Nelson consistently arrives late and takes atrocious pursuit toward the ball. Nelson’s days as Raider are winding down. His mind seems willing but the explosion ended. Habitually late, Nelson allows more big plays than he prevents. Late on a pass in December means the difference between a 9-yard gain and a 39-yard chunk.
Todd Downing remains under fire for what many label as conservative, flawed playcalling that hurts the Raiders in key situations. However, the team sits at .500 despite lackluster office. Reports surfaced last week that the team will move on from Downing at season’s end. Under those circumstances, Downing needs to impress his future employers. With that said, why not throw caution to the wind and test defenses vertically? In the last four games of the season, Downing needs to scheme for the talent he has, not the players that he wants.
Play for Jobs
As the respective primes of Derek Carr and Khalil Mack begin, the talent around them needs to rise to their level of play. Whether Denico Autry continues his strong play or Johnny Holton stop carrying the ball like a loaf of bread, change must occur. Eventually, rosters begin to turn over. Reggie McKenzie fancies himself a tinkerer and builder of franchises. Therefore, players on low-cost, short-term contracts need to understand how temporary their stay in Oakland could be. Names like T.J. Carrie could cash in with strong play. For the same reason, struggling end up in releases or playing somewhere else.
With so much on the line, the Oakland Raiders can punch their ticket. Yet, they cannot forget what worked in their six wins. In reality, no one in the AFC West ran away with the division. Why not the Raiders?