No one likes to experience a disappointing loss, but the best teams utilize the lessons from their failures to become better squads. After laying an egg against the New Orleans Saints in Week 8, the Raiders have an opportunity to improve after spending some time reviewing and reflecting on their performance.
After studying the game tape from the 24-0 loss, here are some thoughts and observations on how the Silver-and-Black can get back on track…
Whenever a team suffers an embarrassing loss, you wonder how the team will respond the next week. The Raiders were shut out for the first time since Nov. 30, 2014, in a 52-0 loss to the then-St.Louis Rams. And they could not get it going against a New Orleans Saints' squad who entered the game with a similar record.
Maybe the Raiders can chalk up the loss to simply having a bad day at the office, but Josh McDaniels and Co. will have to determine what went wrong for a team that appeared to find its identity in recent weeks. The coaching staff must quickly review their preparation leading up to the game and make adjustments to ensure the team is ready to bring their A game against the Jacksonville Jaguars to get back into the win column.
The players must also review and assess their preparation for last week's game and make the proper corrections to their preparation routines this week. Perhaps that means more film study or extra repetitions on the field or asking for the coaches to clarify any problems or questions regarding the scheme or playbook, the players should take accountability for their poor performance against the Saints and not allow that loss to carry over into the next game.
The NFL regular season is like a marathon with ups and downs of the season testing the competitive stamina and endurance of every participant. After dropping a game to an inferior opponent, the Raiders will have a chance to show their mental toughness and maturity in a potential bounce-back game against the Jaguars.
Back to the basics
After a disappointing loss in which the team did not play well in any phase, the coaching staff is likely to focus on the fundamentals to help the team get back on track. In the NFL, games are won by the teams who block, tackle, take the ball away and protect the ball better than their opponents. The Raiders need to focus on excelling in the basics to earn a win on the road against a Jaguars team that has seen recent struggles.
Defensively, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will likely focus on stopping the run after giving up 136 yards on the ground against the Saints. The combination of Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill successfully picking yards between the tackles could force the Raiders to spend more time working on their run fits in nine-on-seven and team drills this week. In addition, the spate of missed tackles in the game will likely lead to more tackling drills to ensure the defenders are utilizing proper form and taking proper angles to ball carriers.
With Kamara also finding success as a pass catcher, the Raiders' zone drops and man-to-man coverage need a little work as the defense hopes to tighten up the coverage in the coming weeks.
On offense, the lack of rhythm and limited touches amongst the stars could prompt McDaniels and his assistants to re-evaluate the offensive approach heading into the Jaguars game. Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs, Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow headline the unit and they must make their mark on the game for the Raiders to be at their best. Considering their collective talent and impact, the ball must be in their hands as much as possible to enhance the unit's chances of producing big plays and points.
With that in mind, the coaches could opt to simplify things to ensure everyone is able to play fast and free of mental clutter. In addition, a simplified game plan could enable Carr to focus on getting the ball to the team's top playmakers and letting them go to work on the perimeter. By putting the best players in the optimal positions to touch the ball and make plays, the Raiders can rely on their superior talents to lead them back into the winning column.
It begins and ends with the trenches
The offensive and defensive lines rarely grab the headlines, but the Raiders' success or failure is tied to their performance. When the team controls the point of attack, the team wins. Against the Saints, the Raiders' trench warriors were unable to control the game at any point. The offensive line struggled against the Saints' line movement and couldn't win their one-on-one battles when the opponent opted to play straight up. Without sufficient pass protection or running room, it was hard for the offense to sustain a drive or get into a rhythm for most of the game.
Defensively, the front seven's inability to create disruption or penetration enabled the Saints. Without forcing long-yardage situations on second and third downs, the Raiders were unable to rev up the pass rush against Andy Dalton. While some of the issues were execution errors or faulty play calls, the Raiders' talent along the line of scrimmage should have been able to win regardless of the call.
View director of photography Michael Clemens' top picks of black and white photos from the Raiders' Week 8 matchup against the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome.