OAKLAND — The Raiders’ season has gone from promising to bad to worse in the span of six weeks.
After losing on Sunday to the Los Angeles Chargers, 17-16, it felt like the home team had hit rock bottom. At least, that’s what I assume it means when you allow Philip Rivers to gloat his way off the field at the Coliseum.
Head coach Jack Del Rio offered no real answers, chalking it up to being “a typical NFL game” when one team made more plays than the other.
Last week, after the Baltimore Ravens punched his group in the mouth — Del Rio said the players were losing confidence. There were no such explanations last week.
Quarterback Derek Carr doesn’t deserve the blame for the loss, although it doesn’t look good for him in the box score — where he threw a pair of interceptions. His first pass attempt back from a one-week hiatus from a broken bone in his back was picked off due to a miscommunication with the receiver.
The Chargers didn’t do anything with it, but the miscue ate at Carr.
“I’m not going to lie to you, I’m really frustrated,” the QB said afterward. “We work too hard for that kind of stuff to happen. That’s an easy catch, that’s an easy play — if I do the right thing. If our players do the right thing. What I’m trying to say is that it should be an easy play and it was a turnover.”
The problem was in the details, Carr insisted — before allowing himself to be the one to take ownership of the team’s struggles and its way forward.
““At the end of the day, it’s my fault. It’s not my players fault, it’s not my teammates fault,” he said.
Carr might want to take the blame, but it’s not all on him.
The defense was worn down and again couldn’t come up with a crucial stop in the final minutes of the game. Let’s talk about the plays that weren’t made in crunch time; not the picks that were thrown at the beginning of each half, leading to zero points.
The Chargers’ offensive game play was simple: Swing the ball to the back to the running back or tight end to counter the Raiders’ pressure. Melvin Gordon and Hunter Henry combined for 14 catches as Oakland tried several coverage plans that mostly fell flat.
And the most damning part is when it fell. The Raiders allowed Rivers to convert three times on third-and-long. Gordon’s first score came on fourth and goal.
“That’s what I thought was the difference in this game,” Del Rio admitted.
And it had nothing to do with the quarterback.
It’s going to take a full-team shakeup to get these Raiders to fulfill their preseason expectations. Their problems aren’t easily pinned on one player like Carr.
But he’s the only one who has the potential to save them.
Contact Examiner Sports Editor Jacob C. Palmer at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @jacobc_palmer.