Finding some silver linings from Sunday night’s abysmal performance
One of the most memorable post-game speeches I was ever given back in the day was my coach walked into the locker room and just said: “Well fellas, that was an ass-kicking…see you on Monday.”
I’d imagine Rich Bisaccia’s message to the Las Vegas Raiders after last night’s game was pretty similar. There’s no dancing around it, the Kansas City Chiefs dominated the Raiders in just about every facet of the game, hence why the scoreboard looked the way it did.
Las Vegas has plenty of blame to go around and no one in the building is absolved from Sunday’s drubbing, but there were a few silver linings that should give the team and fans some hope down the final stretch of the season. Granted, there certainly was more bad than good for the Silver and Black.
WINNER: Maxx Crosby
We need to get some positivity going here so we’ll start for the Raiders’ best source for good vibes this season, Maxx Crosby.
While it might have felt like Crosby was struggling to win as a pass rusher because he didn’t have a sack, that couldn’t be further for the case. He registered 13 pressures and earned a 92.3 pass-rush grade from Pro Football Focus, both of which lead all edge defenders for the week heading into Monday Night Football. He’s also the only defensive player to crack double-digit pressures in Week 10, so far.
The problem was the Chiefs’ game plan. Kansas City threw several double-teams at Crosby, and Patrick Mahomes went from getting rid of the ball in less than 2.5 seconds on 48.2 percent of his dropbacks in Weeks 1-9 to 56.0 percent on Sunday. It’s hard to hit home when you’re constantly having to beat two blockers or the ball is out quickly.
The emerging superstar was impressive against the run, too. His 86.8 run defense grade is also the best among EDGEs, and he registered two defensive stops – currently tied for the seventh most – and had an average depth of tackle of -0.5 yards – tied for fifth-most.
For what it’s worth, Crosby hasn’t had a game where he’s received an overall PFF grade below 70, which is an amazing feat. In a year that’s lacked consistency for the Silver and Black, the three-year veteran has been a consistent bright spot.
LOSER: Johnathan Abram
For the second week in a row, Johnathan Abram lands on the loser’s list.
Mahomes completed 70 percent of his passes for 406 yards and five touchdowns, so several Raiders’ defenders are to blame, but Abram was the biggest culprit. He had the lowest overall grade (30.3) and second-lowest coverage grade (28.2) on the team, granted, he faced some stiff competition for those “honors”.
The defensive back was targeted nine times and allowed all nine to go for completions, racking up a whopping 127 receiving yards and two touchdowns allowed for a perfect 158.3 passer rating when thrown at. For comparison’s sake, he had allowed 150 receiving yards and one score on the season heading into the game.
Abram lost at the catch point for the second week in a row to give up a long touchdown pass, only this time it was less defensible. Darrel Williams, a running back listed at 5’11”, was able to go up and get a 50/50 ball over the safety and celebrated by mocking the safety’s height. By the way, Williams is listed as an inch shorter than Abram…
It’s becoming obvious that opponents have realized they can spread the Raiders’ defense out to isolate and get some one-on-one matchups against the third-year veteran. That means either the team will have to reduce his playing time or his ball skills have to improve. Las Vegas can’t afford to have someone out there who has allowed 13 catches on 13 targets like Abram has over the last two weeks.
WINNER: Bryan Edwards
Bryan Edwards has to be having one of the weirdest seasons of any wide receiver in NFL history. There are moments where he looks like a ghost and can’t be seen on the field, only to come out of the shadows and make a big play in some clutch situations. However, yesterday was undoubtedly his most consistent performance.
The wideout managed to pull the Raiders within a field goal with an impressive 37-yard touchdown grab on the team’s opening possession of the second half. He also had catches of 27 and 24 yards for a total of three grabs and 88 yards, to go along with drawing one pass interference penalty. That’s by far his most productive out in regulation as a Raider.
What might be most encouraging about Edward’s performance was his ability to make plays down the field. He had an average depth of target of 19.0 yards, all three of his catches were at least 14 yards down the field and two were 18 yards or more, with the long touchdown being caught 26 yards past the line of scrimmage.
A receiver that can make plays down the field is something the Raiders have been looking for over the last couple of weeks. While the South Carolina product may not be the wideout everyone thought would be the solution to that issue, his ability to stretch the field will be key for the offense’s success moving forward.
LOSER: 3rd Down production
All you have to do is look at the scoreboard to see that Las Vegas’ defense and offense were terrible yesterday, but the bigger issue was they had little to no success when it mattered most, on the money downs.
Defensively, the Raiders allowed the Chiefs to convert on nine of their 15 third downs, a 60 percent conversation rate. While yes, the Chiefs came into the game with the highest success rate third down in the NFL this season, they still only held an average of about 52.4 percent. So, the Raiders let them convert at a rate about eight percent higher than normal.
To make matters worse, Kansas City was three of three on third downs as well. Granted, one of those conversations was on a fake punt, but every time they went for it on fourth down, they got it and ended up scoring a touchdown on the drive. The bottom line, Las Vegas’ defense – and special teams – has to do a better job of getting off the field.
On the other side of the ball, it might have even been worse.
The Silver and Black went one for nine on third down with the lone conversion coming on a third and one during their first possession of the game, which still ended in a punt. Now, the Raiders did get one other first on third down via a pass interference penalty, but that doesn’t count since they didn’t actually convert it and two of ten would still be pathetic.
To make matters worse, the offense also tried to go for it on fourth down in Kansas City territory during the first possession, to take an early lead, but a false start by Alex Leatherwood wiped away that opportunity. It might not show up on the stat sheet, but I’d consider that to be 0-1 on fourth downs outside of garbage time.
Third and fourth downs are called the money downs for a reason. It’s what separates the good and the great teams, and one squad yesterday was clearly more effective in those situations than the other.
WINNER: Cory Littleton
After surrendering 41 points and only forcing two punts, defensive “winners” are hard to come by this week for the Silver and Black. However, Cory Littleton is more than deserving of the recognition.
Littleton might have played his best game as a Raider this weekend as he earned an 84.4 overall grade from PFF, which is the highest mark he’s earned with the team by nearly nine points. Also, his 84.2 coverage grade currently ranks fifth at his position in Week 10.
The 2020 free agent signing did allow four completions on six targets but bottled those catches up for just 18 yards and a 70.1 passer rating when targeted. His 4.5 yards per reception allowed currently ranks 11th among linebackers who were targeted at least once this week, and his passer rating allowed ranks tied for 12th.
What might be most encouraging about Littleton’s performance is his tackling. He recorded three stops in coverage – tied for the third-most among linebackers – and didn’t miss a tackle for the third week in a row. Overall, his missed tackle percentage has been nearly cut in half from last season, going from 15.4 percent in 2020 to 8.1 percent in 2021.
This is exactly what the Raiders had hoped for when they signed him last offseason, a good coverage linebacker who is a sure tackler, so it’s encouraging to see him play up to expectations.
LOSER: Brandon Facyson
Similar to Abram, it was pretty obvious part of the Chiefs’ game plan was to attack Brandon Facyson.
Facyson was the only Raider to register a lower coverage grade than Abram, by 0.1 points with a 28.1 mark – and the former was targeted eight times, one fewer than the latter. Of those eight throws, Facyson allowed six to go for completions for a total of 103 yards, two touchdowns and a near-perfect 156.3 passer rating.
For perspective, his 17.2 yards per reception allowed currently ranks 75th out of 89 corners that took at least 12 snaps in coverage this weekend. He also managed to miss a tackle for the third time in as many weeks.
The good news is this game was a bit of an aberration for the mid-season acquisition. Before Sunday, he had only allowed 11 completions on 20 targets for 128 yards, one touchdown and a 70.4 passer rating. So hopefully, yesterday was just an off night and not a sign of what’s to come moving forward.
Also, Trayvon Mullen should return soon so help is on the way for the Raiders secondary as a whole.
BONUS LOSER: Raiders’ coaching staff
Any time a team gets dominated in all three phases of the game like Las Vegas did, the coaching staff has to shoulder a lot of the blame. Bisaccia, Gus Bradley and Greg Olson have all received a good amount of praise for the majority of the year, but these last two weeks have been miserably bad.
All three are currently interviewing/auditioning to stick around in 2022 but if things don’t turn around quickly, all three could be looking for a new job in January.