Contrary to popular belief, the Raiders did lock in the first pick in the draft. Over the next six games, the Raiders will face four teams with losing records. All these teams possess flaws and are certainly beatable. If the Raiders can win these four games and surprise the Ravens or Chargers, the team will sit at 6-6. However, with the Chiefs (twice), Steelers, Bengals, and Broncos still looming on the schedule, the Raiders must make a choice with how they want to approach the season.
Before Oakland can start looking forward to the future, they must, for once, look to the past. More specifically, the Raiders must review their last game against the Chargers. After playing flat and trailing by two touchdowns at the half, one would expect a certain fiery coach to bring his team out of the locker room with passion. But, while it is not clear what Jon Gruden said in the locker room, the team came out flat. Also at some point, Gruden needs to answer fo halving Marshawn Lynch’s carries (6 to 3 first/second half). As the game progressed, the Raiders’ passion and drive continued to be absent. Moreover, their drives remained fruitless as the Chargers continued to score.
While the offense stuttered and stalled, the defense showed moments of intensity. The Raiders upped the pressure to at least slow down the Chargers. Unfortunately, the offense could not possess the ball long enough to get the defense a real break. In addition, it may not help that the Raiders defense lacks top talent.
Nevertheless, the Raiders defense is not the issue here. Only recording 10 points against a team that ran prevent defense for almost half of the game is embarrassing. Surely, Gruden must have felt the intensity slipping out of the Raiders play going in to the half, but seemed to be quite indifferent, as shown by his play calling. The Raiders did not even start running a no huddle offense almost until the game felt out of reach.
When good teams have a rough first half of a game, they tend to come back with a tweaked gameplan. Most experts believe that is the Patriots came back from a Super Bowl record 25-point deficit to win Super Bowl 51. Speaking of Super Bowl miscues, what type of team sees and acclaims the talent Marshawn Lynch has, and decides not to give him the ball from their opponents’ own 1-yard line? If this was Gruden’s idea of “tweaking” the offense to try to mix things up, it could not have come at a worse time. That is one of the few situations where the coach must go with what he knows will work. Meanwhile, Gruden must not try to outsmart the defense, everyone has already seen that does not work. While that missed touchdown did not have determined the outcome of the game, the playcalling did.