I was less than a month ago we watched footage of Jimmy Garoppolo and Davante Adams leave the field in Denver feeling a joyful relief for a 17-16 win over the Broncos. The feeling then was that it wasn’t pretty, but it was a win. And that’s what matters.
That was a fleeting emotion.
Now three games later, and the Raiders have not experienced that again. Well, they’ve experienced the ‘not pretty’ part, but none of them have been accompanied by a W.
After dropping their third straight, this time to division rival Chargers in front of a Raiders’ heavy crowd in Los Angeles, the frustration began to boil over for the team’s top players. Namely Adams, who sounds a lot different now than he did after pulling out that win to open the season.
“We’re shooting ourselves in the foot a lot. I don’t even know what to say. We just got to play better,” said Adams.
“We’re better than the way we’re playing. We got a pretty talented roster. So, it’s frustrating being in the games and obviously not being able to finish them. . . It’s just the hurting yourself thing. Obviously we got the plays and we show flashes of being able to do it.
“We’ll go down and march down and have a good drive and Aidan [O’Connell] will throw a dime on third down, fourth down, whatever it is and it’s just one play. At the end we did all that work and three-yard-line and whatever we were and we have another hiccup. So, it’s just a matter of putting it together. It doesn’t matter about having a solid dive up until; you got to finish it off. And that’s where we’re lacking right now.”
Adams is talking about the fact despite the Raiders struggling much of the day, they were still within a score late. Then they converted a fourth down play to put themselves in first and goal inside the five, and Asante Samuel Jr intercepted Aidan O’Connell to make it all for naught.
Along with the interception, O’Connell fumbled three times, two recovered by the Chargers. So, turnovers played a big part in the Chargers taking a 24-7 lead which the Raiders had to then try and claw back from.
“It’s frustrating. I’m tired of losing. Just keeping it 100. Tired of f–king losing man,” said a visibly frustrated Josh Jacobs.
“[Being right there] makes it worse. Five to six plays, you do them right, it’s the difference in the outcome of the game. But at the same time, I’m tired of saying five to six plays different in the outcome of the game. It’s time to do that s–t.”
Jacobs railed about the same self inflicted wounds as Adams spoke of. About undisciplined football. About not doing the little things right.
One thing they could have been referring to was the penalties. The Raiders were penalzed nine times for 80 yards. One of which was a truly stupid late hit out of bounds by Jerry Tillery that got him ejected from the game.
That particular play had star edge rusher Maxx Crosby throwing up his arms at his teammate, no doubt wondering what in the world he was thinking there. Keeping in mind the Crosby had a dumb penalty last week when he pulled a Steelers player off the pile — something he should know is going to draw a personal foul penalty.
There’s plenty to be upset about if you’re one of the handful of Raiders players who are pulling their weight on this 1-3 team. And honestly, for all their belief that this team is more talented than their play suggests, these are rantings from players on a team that is not good enough to be able to afford to make mistakes. There is just no room for it. Some teams can make up for a few penalties and mistakes here and there.
Adams sees the problem as a lack of urgency and aggressiveness.
“We got to do things earlier in the game and be more urgent to put ourselves in better positions so we don’t have to scramble at the end of games,” said Adams.
“You dictate to them. You make them adjust to what you’re doing. And I feel like there’s too much sitting back and watching and maybe hoping somebody else will do something or whatever.”
The lack of aggressiveness was what became the subject of the Raiders Week three loss to the Steelers. When they were in fourth and four from the eight-yard-line down eight points with 2:25 left in the game and opted to kick the field instead of go for it.
That game felt, in some ways, a lot like this one. An overall ugly game for the Raiders that they still somehow pulled to within one score only to squander it when they were on the doorstep.
Losing is always frustrating. But losing like this is really wearing thin with the Raiders top players. We’ll see if it changes anything.