With a loss, the Las Vegas Raiders ended any scintilla of playoff talk with a 26-25 defeat. The Miami Dolphins made plays they had to. As a result, the Raiders will sit home again, watching the postseason. In a season filled with heartbreaking moments, this game perfectly summed up the 2020 season, in earnest.
Jon Gruden, throughout his second stay with the Raiders only displays brief flashes of innovative, aggressive playcalling. Yet, if you watched this game, you will see several disturbing trends that carried through to this game. First and foremost, why play for field goals in the red zone? In fourth and manageable, the Raiders settled for three when seven ends this game. By instructing Josh Jacobs to stop short of the endzone, the Raiders gave the Dolphins time on the clock. Regardless of how many seconds remained, Vegas needed to end this contest. All night long, the Raiders were outcoached and maneuvered by the Miami Dolphins. On third down, why is Jalen Richard seeing carries? Miami wasn’t fooled and adjusted. That’s what good teams do. Daniel Carlson kicked four field goals, three than thirty yards in length. In other words, red zone field goals lost this game. 1-5 in the red zone should fall completely on Jon Gruden.
In addition to Jon Gruden’s rather suspect playcalling, his choice of personnel continues to defy logic. Jason Witten receiving five targets, more than Ruggs, Edwards and Moreau combined speaks volumes. At his best, Witten should serve as a mentor, a sideline leader. Vulturing snaps hinders Foster Moreau’s maturation. Moreau gives the Raiders a second tight end to scare defenses. Instead, Witten provides an inability to get open.
The Las Vegas Raiders did not deserve to win this game. Atrocious playcalling and the mind-blowing nerve to run a Cover 2 when Miami needed a deep pass signals finality. This loss feels like the end of the season and a harbinger of needed change in Las Vegas. As constituted, something needs to give.