After the Raiders lost Sunday night, I reviewed my in-game notes. This is commonplace, a tradition unlike any other if you will. Yet, somehow, during this process, I made a critical error: perusing social media. Now, the opinion is the gasoline that keeps the Twitter engine moving. Yet, reading the dozens of comments, a noticed a disturbing pattern. Instead of being upset, excoriating atrocious defensive play, many seemed..fine. Now, here’s my thing, feel how you want, but too many inconsistencies in that thinking exist.
Absolution for Poor Defense
By every metric and definition, the Raiders failed defensively, in just about every big moment last night. Save for one Trayvon Mullen pick, the defense did not show up consistently. The Chiefs tallied thirty-six first downs. However, if you read fans and some media, splitting two games with the defending champs show progress. ” The Raiders are a much better team since they can hang with the Chiefs”. Chuck Wepner knocked Muhammad Ali down in their fight once. Does he get participation cookies for that? The fact remains, the Raiders owned a three-point lead late and their defense collapsed, again. good teams figure a way to close the show. Despite making gigantic strides this season, some want to coddle last night’s results and spin this loss as a moral victory. Folks, a loss is a loss.
The Mahomes Excuse
Morning media wants to give the Raiders because they traded punches with arguably the game’s best quarterback. If you want to keep it real, Derek Carr outplayed Patrick Mahomes last night. Anyone that says differently is either biased or blind. Granted, I’ve been extremely critical of Carr during his career. Yet, last night and through this stretch, he’s played exceptionally. Nothing on this loss falls to him. He dealt with drops, and a bad coaching decision that we will discuss later. The Raiders beat the Chiefs in Kansas City earlier this year, Mahomes was the same quarterback then, too. Credit him for making excellent throws, but don’t wipe away the defensive ineptitude.
A Moment of Timidity
With a three-point lead and a fourth and four from the 38, the Raiders punted. If the defense showed you all night they could not stop the Chiefs, why entrust them now? All evening, Carr and the offense drove up and down the field. Tyrann Mathieu could not contain Darren Waller, why not go for it there? If the Raiders convert, that forces the Chiefs’ defense to remain on the field. If they don’t, and the Chiefs score, Vegas gets a last chance to score with time. Jon Gruden trusted his defense more than the offense. Ultimately, it cost his team.
“He’s Basically a Rookie”
For every positive play that Johnathan Abram makes, he either misses one. Granted, no one can question his heart and toughness, as film bears that out. However, poor tackling angles, outright whiffs, and costly penalties remain an issue. Last night, Abram hit an opponent out of bounds, resulting in fifteen free yeards. Kansas City does not need anyone to help them with spare yardage. On the touchdown pass to Kelce, Abram vacated his area, darting towards Mahomes. Make it make sense. If Mahomes runs for the first, the clock is in the Raiders’ favor. That lack of discipline allows Mahomes to find Kelce wide open in the end zone. As he continues to mature, Abram will be a vital part of this defense. Last night illustrated the distance between now and that point are. Pointing it out doesn’t make you a hater, just honest.
Spin around the TV and social media, the Raiders almost won. When is this mentality appreciated or acceptable? For all of the appropriate respect and reverence that Al Davis receives, do you think he would say that? Davis cared about winning, period. Almost is a realm that he never visited, but one that too many travel to. The Las Vegas Raiders had the chance to sweep the Chiefs, they did not. Let’s not raise participation trophies.