Almost everything hit the fan a few days ago when the Raiders got dominated by the Colts. Big runs broke, safeties got beat and the Raiders gave up 40 points.
It was the latest memory we have of Derek Carr driving meaningless down the field while down more than two scores. He and the offense struggles in the red zone, turning it over and not finishing drives with touchdowns. Philip Rivers showed what he can do with a defense that can create turnovers paired with above average skill players and line. The only thing the team did right was establishing Jacobs early and firing their defensive coordinator after the game ended.
Now, the Raiders face an AFC West rival Chargers team down significant depth. Anram, Arnette, Lawson and Heath out mean the secondary is paper thin. Morrow is quietly only competent backer and he will sit. Ferrell missing the game hurts the rush and pass defense.
Both teams only got a few days rest. Yet, the Chargers will play hobbled Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Austin Ekler could play too. This team is playing better than when Vegas barely beat them on the road. Justin Herbert keeps improving and Joey Bosa won’t sit this game out. Los Angeles might not be playing for the playoffs but damn straight they want to eliminate the Raiders’ playoff chances.
Baker Mayfield and the Browns did not due us any favors when they lost to the Baltimore Ravens. There are four teams within a game for that last spot. The Raiders’ only chance to make the playoffs is by winning out. They got to beat the Bolts, Dolphins and Broncos. Based off last week’s performance, it is hard to see them winning this game let alone two more. However, this team is at home and desperate for success Year One in Vegas.
Rod Marinelli enters the fold at defensive coordinator. He is one of the most well respected coordinators ever but his d-line has been far from great this year. The defense he managed in Dallas last year died as the season went on. Marinelli’s opening press conference talked a lot about discipline but he should start with his own unit.
The good thing is, the Chargers o-line is far from perfect. Vegas should make a statement by attacking the line and young QB with more blitzes but that will be hard with limitations in the back end. How will the Raiders matchup with Williams and Allen? Even hobbled they have speed and size to embarrass the Raiders’ best DBs.
Offensively, the Raiders need to attack too. The Chargers can give up big plays and they struggle with the run. Vegas needs to come out strong with their identity. Run the ball and take shots deep. Find that sense of urgency again.
Controlling the clock is one way you keep Herbert out of rhythm. However, it doesn’t matter if the Raiders let the Chargers run all over them. That’s the discipline this team needs. Stopping the run and giving yourself a chance to make a play on the ball. Sure, the Raiders secondary might get beat by elite talent anyways but they can’t beat themselves by doing too much, getting out of position or getting penalties. Limiting those mental eras alone could help the Raiders win this game and save their season. At the very least they won’t lose it.
Ultimately, this division game at a weird time on weird day will come down to will. It’s cliche but true when both teams are tired and hate each other. Thus, the Raiders gotta be themselves but they also got to find ways to not kill themselves. Run the ball, take chances deep, stop the run and give yourself a chance to stop the pass is how the Raiders don’t lose this game or their playoff chances.