The Oakland Raiders had a chance to win the AFC West title and earn a bye in the playoffs with a win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Unfortunately, the team simply did not come ready to play and were blown out of the water by Denver. And the responsibility for that falls more on Jack Del Rio and his coaches than the absence of Derek Carr from the lineup.
From the very first drive, the Raiders simply did not look like they wanted to be there. Missed tackles and penalties plagued Oakland early and often but that’s not what was most painful about the loss. It wasn’t the fact that Denver out played Oakland, it’s that they physically dominated the Raiders all over the field.
Remember how the Raiders ran the same run play at Denver ten times in a row during the Sunday night game? They dominated Denver in the trenches and won the game with ease. It was the exact opposite on Sunday as the Raiders loss the battle at the line of scrimmage, and basically everywhere else for that matter.
In fact, you could easily argue that punter Marquette King had the best day of anyone wearing a Raiders uniform and even he didn’t have his best performance.
You could live with an offense that struggled without Derek Carr, but it was more than that. We saw a team that never looked like their heads were in the game. There were mental errors all over the field and a distinct lack of fire. No one stepped up to the challenge to help pick up the slack. No one looked motivated to be a difference maker. The team sleep walked through most of the game and that’s on the coaches for not having them fired up and ready to go.
It’s not just that Oakland lost, it’s how they lost.
From all appearances, Oakland looked like a team that was not mentally prepared for this game. They looked timid and unsure of themselves while the Broncos looked like they wanted the win more even though they had nothing to play for.
It’s understandable that losing a leader like Derek Carr would be a difficult thing to bounce back from but Jack Del Rio and his coaching staff needs to have this team in a much better mental state come the first round of the playoffs if they don’t want to suffer back to back blowouts.