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2020 Raiders a tale of failure



The year 2020 has been such a bizarre year for the country, we been hit with a major pandemic that the reality tv star turned president failed to keep under control, most sports were limited and had no fans in the stands which was awful for the Silver and Black as 2020 was the inaugural season of the new Las Vegas Raiders in such a beautiful new stadium had to go empty on game days. No fans in the new Allegiant Stadium was strange to watch with no crowd, some NFL teams had some fans but owner Mark Davis said if all can't go then nobody should go including himself. 
Still, 2020 was thought to be the season the Raiders would finally make the playoffs and show off their new weapons in the 2019 draft and 2020 draft plus the money the team spent on defense it just appeared that the team was finally done rebuilding and everything was set for this team to take the big stage. Las Vegas Raiders had a bunch of prime time games and they even kicked off the new season by beating Carolina Panther and then the big one in the first game in Vegas in front of no fans the Raiders beat the New Orleans Saints in week two. Raiders were 2-0 and suddenly everyone in the media to fans started to think this team could possibly be for real and were destined for the playoffs. Why wouldn't you think that as Raiders had such a dynamite offense and QB Derek Carr who came into the season "Pissed off" and wanted to be respected was playing at a high level with all his weapons. Carr no longer just had Jared Cook to throw to, now he had guys like Nelson Agholor and first round pick Henry Ruggs, plus Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow, throw in Josh Jacobs in the backfield this team seemed unstoppable for the first 2 games. The Raiders then went into New England and got embarrassed by a bad Patriots team and then they got destroyed by the Buffalo Bills. Suddenly Raiders were 2-2 and the buzz was starting to die, especially considering the next game Raiders had to go into Kansas City where QB Derek Carr has never won a game but Raiders and Carr shocked the world when they went into Arrowhead and defeated the defending Superbowl champs. Raiders were back to being the hottest team in the NFL. Everyone erased the back to back bad games Raiders had before the big win in KC. 
Bad move...
Raiders were not consistent at all in 2019 and they proved that again in 2020 despite all the overpaid free agents in free agency and all their high draft picks from the year prior this team could not string together more than three consecutive wins the entire season. Derek Carr once again started to fall apart in the second half of the season and the corona virus seemed to hang over the Las Vegas Raiders team all season as well. Lot's of games Raiders were missing key starters and that probably hurt them but would have it changed their current record with 2 games to go sitting at 7-7, probably not. After all Raiders didn't just lose these games they were demolished. Plus the teams they lost against were not great teams at all. In fact their toughest stretch of games were in the first half of the season which gave fans hope Raiders could easily get to 10-6 or even 11-5 but it didn't matter if was Buffalo Bills or a 3 win team like Atlanta Falcons, where the season went off the tracks and hopes for playoffs were gone. It was the same as last season, nothing did change. Raiders were 6-4 and then fell apart and now with 2 games left the question is will they end up with the same record 7-9 or can they get to 9-7 and at least say they won 2 more games than last year? Even if Raiders went 9-7 it means nothing. Derek Carr wanted to be respected this season and he did do some good things like finally using his legs in games but still it was the same Derek Carr that made dumb mistakes and couldn't feel any pressure. Derek Carr is averaging 1 fumble per game. Raiders defense is a complete mess and the high paid free agents like Carl Nassib wouldn't start for any team in the NFL right now. Raiders can't get pressure on defense and the secondary is the worst in the NFL. Even the fan favorite Jonathan Abram has been awful in coverage and tackling. Raiders brought in big time linebackers for the first time and that didn't work out very well at all as Corey Littleton brought nothing to the table. 
Now here we sit in the same situation as last season, Raiders have 2 meaningless games left one that was actually flexed for prime time when people thought maybe the game would have playoff implications for both teams. One thing we did get to see in 2020 though is Marcus Mariota as the QB of the Raiders. Last week Derek Carr pulled his groin in the 1st quarter against the LA Chargers and Mariota was rushed into battle. It was fun to watch as Raiders had a scrambling QB that improvised most of the game, although Raiders would go on to lose that game it did feel like a fresh of breath air with that type of QB under center. Mariota was another highly paid free agent in the offseason that was brought in just to push Derek Carr but Mariota was awful in training camp and was never fully healthy with a bad shoulder and elbow. Coaches did not trust Mariota at all, in fact he wasn't even activated most of the season due to injuries and was even put on IR in September. Mariota showed a new style for this team that they never had before like the run-pass option plays,plus Mariota  rushed for a game-high 88 yards on nine carries picking up big first downs with his legs. It wouldn't be enough since Chargers would get the ball last in overtime and everyone knew that meant it was over as Raiders defense couldn't even stop an 0-11 Jets team. Raiders would end up beating the Jets only due to Jets for some strange reason bringing a blitz when all they had to do is protect the endzone for a victory. Back to last weeks game though, as Derek Carr watched from the sidelines as Mariota did things head coach Jon Gruden (perhaps another overly paid employee) has begged for.  Surely, Derek Carr was not going to let Mariota play the last 2 games after seeing what was happening. Carr got some good news he did not tear his groin, since then he has been on a mission to be under center against Miami on Saturday night.  Some call it toughness, some call it being scared coaches like too much of what they see Mariota type QB can do for this team. 2020 has been a disaster for the Raiders, they fired the Paul Guenther with only 3 games left on the schedule due to being in charge of the worst defense perhaps in the NFL. But everyone knows that was not going to change anything and the former DC was just a scapegoat by Jon Gruden. The defense has been terrible all season but lot's of teams don't have a great defense in 2020. The Chiefs defense scares nobody yet they have an elite QB that can improvise and utilize the run-pass option. Raiders offense just stalled out and couldn't get points in the redzone again plus the 2019 Josh Jacobs never showed up in 2020 despite making the pro bowl for some strange reason. Jacobs only had 1 good game all season so far.  So now the question is this, what do the Raiders do to build back better? First off they got to fix this defense, then they will need to make a decision on offense. Do you give Carr one last chance since it's his last season and did show some signs of improvement early on or do you go get another QB that fits the system better.  The other question is for the ownership and that is was Jon Gruden really worth that big pay check since he has not got this team back to being a true contender and is in charge of getting this offense to be explosive all season and not just for half the season. Whatever the case may be one thing is for certain. Someone has to Make Raiders Great Again..

The draft selections have not equaled wins just yet but maybe, just maybe Raiders need 1 more year with a revamped defense and a quality defense coordinator. The offense has talent but it's all about putting that talent together and being consistent.