After two victories to start the season, the Las Vegas Raiders looked to continue their winning ways. Well, the New England Patriots entertained other ideas. In losing 36-20, the Raiders fall to 2-1. More importantly, the way the team lost should serve as a brutal wakeup call.
Early Defensive Execution
Granted, entering the season, questions arose about Paul Guenther littered the airwaves. Yet, to his credit, the Raiders started off well defensively. Tackling looked crisp, the pressure seemed to affect Cam Newton. Guenther, for at least the first thirty minutes, looked the part of a quality coordinator. Considering how poorly the previous years transpired, that remains high praise. Then, the third quarter began and the unit completely unraveled.
Two Safeties, Two Problems
As of this writing, Johnathan Abram and Erik Harris are the starting safeties. Regardless of what’s written here will change that. As a result, saying one needs to be immediately replaced should not matter. Since the game in Indianapolis, can you remember continuous quality plays from Erik Harris? This game encapsulated what his issues are. Harris takes sloppy, ineffectual pursuit angles. Additionally, he missed tackles and could not get home on blitzes. Meanwhile, Johnathan Abram plays injured. While you can respect that he continues to gut through a chipped clavicle, it’s affecting his game. Abram missed tackles in space, leading to big plays. Combined with his overaggressive nature sees him overpursue on blitzes. The backend of the secondary needs immediate help.
The New England Patriots adjusted after halftime, punching the Raiders in the mouth for the duration of the game. Surrendering 251 yards on the ground, extinguishes any chance of winning. New England lined up and dared the Raiders to stop the run. Las Vegas couldn’t. On a macro level, after three games, questioning why the team replaced Brentson Buckner as DL coach remains a valid question. With less talent, the team finished in the Top 10 versus the run.
While the score appears out of hand, the Raiders, for the most part, had ample opportunities in this game. From a missed field goal to multiple missed tackles, the team did not deserve to win this game. Do not start with the” they beat themselves”. If you allow 36 points, the opponent takes all the credit for the victory.
Good Stats, Mediocre Game
Diehards will tout Derek Carr statline as a reason that this loss doesn’t fall upon his shoulders. In part, they are correct. Yet, dig into the numbers a little deeper. Carr did find seven receivers with two-or-more catches. Darren Waller, after sixteen targets versus the Saints only saw four. In addition, Carr lost two fumbles, including one, recovered for a touchdown. Completing 75 percent of your passes means nothing when your elite tight end gets ignored and you can’t hold onto the ball.
The Raiders faced a team, on paper, that could hang with. For a half, they did. However, coaching and adjustments matter. The Patriots find a way to adjust and eliminate what doesn’t work. On top of that, the defense played well for a half before fatigue and offensive ineptitude swung the tide. Now, that does not excuse the missed tackles and blown coverage. At 2-1, the Raiders will regroup.