The Raiders’ proclivity for starting slowly proved too much to overcome

The Raiders' proclivity for starting slowly proved too much to overcome

Sure, quarterback Derek Carr has an idea why the Raiders’ offence has been stuck in neutral and occasionally sliding backwards to begin games. No, he’s not going to reveal it to the public. “I’ll do that privately,” Carr said after the Raiders dropped 28-14 to the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night, after falling down 21-0.

The Raiders’ proclivity for starting slowly proved too much to overcome

“I don’t have to do anything in front of a microphone. That’s not my way of doing things.” Neither team appeared to want to be owned in such a dominant manner in the first quarter of the game. Consider: This season, Las Vegas has only scored five points in the first quarter, two of which came on a safety by cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. As a result, with a minus-23 first-quarter point differential, the Raiders are lowest in the NFL. And the Raiders are still undefeated at 3-1. They’d be unblemished if they got out to a faster start against the Chargers. For starters, the Raiders are unable to establish a running game. Whether it’s Josh Jacobs, who missed Weeks 2 and 3 due to an ankle injury, Peyton Barber, who ran for a career-high 111 yards in Week 3, or (gulp) Hall of Famer and Jacobs mentor Marcus Allen, who last donned Silver and Black in 1992, in the backfield, it doesn’t matter. Indeed, it hasn’t mattered who you think is running the ball, as awful as the reconfigured offensive line has been at run blocking. And guess who bears the price when the offence becomes so one-dimensional? Carr, who is on pace to be sacked 51 times for the first time in his career.

“We knew he’d get shook once we hit him a few times.” And as you can see from [Christian Covington’s] sack, he was curled up into a ball before we ever got back there. Great player… but we know that once you put pressure on him, he kind of shuts down.” Joey Bosa of the Chargers was the one who said that. Carr resurrected himself in the third quarter, orchestrating two scoring drives and completing nine of his first ten passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns while the Raiders defence stayed firm. Early in the fourth quarter, he was driving for a possible game-tying touchdown when Covington broke through for a six-yard sack on third-and-3. However, it was the bad start that contributed to the disappointing outcome. The Raiders managed 51 yards of offence and 53 yards of penalties in the first half, their lowest first-half production since Jon Gruden returned as coach in 2018. In the first half, the Raiders just had one first down, their lowest total since 2015. While it was the first time the Raiders have gone four consecutive drives without a first down since Gruden’s return, the previous time they had three consecutive three-and-outs to start a game was in Week 4 of the 2017 season. Yes, Washington’s colossal downfall. It all starts up front, on the offensive line, just like it did that fateful night.

“There have been a lot of moving factors,” Gruden explained. “I mean, we’ve had a lot of different running backs and offensive lineman.” We anticipated we’d have a youthful front line to begin the season, but we lost a few of guards. It hasn’t been simple. “We brought in a few new players who we didn’t have during training camp.” As a result, it’s a work in progress that isn’t easy. Running the football is a difficult task in this competition. And we’ll keep working on it and getting better at it.” According to Pro Football Focus, the projected starting offensive line of left tackle Kolton Miller, who has yet to give up a sack; left guard Richie Incognito, who is on injured reserve and has not even practised since injuring his right calf in a joint practise with the Los Angeles Rams on Aug. 19; centre Andre James, right guard Denzelle Good — who tore the ACL in his left knee in the season opener — and right tackle Ale Leatherwood, the team’s first And they’re unlikely to ever do so. Instead, John Simpson has started in place of Incognito, and Jermaine Eluemunor has taken over for Good, though Eluemunor was shaken up against the Chargers and traded reps with Jordan Simmons at times. “There are obvious things we need to accomplish,” Gruden explained. “We need to improve our pass protection early in games.” It’s been a variety of things in the past, including unintentional shotgun snaps. Without a doubt, I need to call some better plays. “At some point early in the game, I have to get our running game rolling.” But, let’s be honest, we haven’t done well in the early stages of games, and that needs to change.”

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