Throughout the entire 2020 NFL season, the Las Vegas Raiders veer against the grain. While a majority of the teams in the NFL shifted towards becoming pass-heavy teams, the Raiders prioritized the run. By using Josh Jacobs and a talented offensive line, Vegas sets up the pass beautifully. However, against the Falcons on Sunday, Jacobs and Devontae Booker combined for 12 total rushes for 33 yards.
Everything about this game felt wrong from the beginning. The Raiders initial scripted plays seemed ventured from the status quo. Yes, the Raiders knew that Atlanta’s pass defense struggled all season. In addition, exploiting it was the key to victory. Yet, they seemed far too excited to start throwing the ball. The entire rhythm was off and if anyone is looking to cast blame for this loss, the playcaller is a good place to look.
Jon Gruden has always been a mischievous and crafty coach, but he may have outcoached himself against the Falcons. By now every team knows the Raiders run-first style and there is a chance Gruden wanted to flip the script and move away from that style to give Derek Carr a chance to air it out, which did not go well.
On one positive note, it was good to see some routes and plays designed for Henry Ruggs. However, if the team has more success using him as a decoy, perhaps that is the route they must continue to take, for now.
The problem with going away from a run-first strategy is how well the Raiders run the ball. Why get creative when the tried and true method has been so successful?
While Gruden does deserve blame, so does Carr. Following an incredible performance against the Chiefs, Carr severely disappointed, not so much with his throws, but with his ball security. A major factor in the Raiders’ early-season losses came from Carr’s inability to hold the ball tight while standing in the pocket. Throughout the season, it began to feel as though he had gotten his troubles under control, but Sunday against Atlanta, Carr’s butterfingers reared their ugly head once more. In the pocket, Carr would lose three fumbles and throw an interception and never truly looked comfortable. It was a very similar feeling to the Jets game last year.
It may be easy to try and look past this and focus on the next week, but at least for a day or two, the Raiders must sit down and piece together what happened. Good teams do not get blown out by teams who are performing noticeably worse than them. This Sunday? The winless Jets await.