Pass Offense: You almost have to grade on a curve here, as the first three quarters were solid if not great, capped by a dismal fourth quarter. Derek Carr finished the day 31-48-283, with 2 TDs and 3 INT. Amari Cooper led the receiving corps with 4 catches for 69 yards and no touchdowns, though Michael Crabtree had a 25-yard TD catch. The scoring drive to open the game was well-constructed and executed, but the offense kept stalling after that.
Carr spread the ball around (11 receivers total) and made some nice throws in the first three quarters, but suddenly got a case of happy feet as Chefs DC Bob Sutton changed up pressure packages on him, resulting in three ugly interceptions, including a pick-six by former Raider Tyvon Branch. The icing on the cake was on the Raiders’ final offensive drive, forced to pass, as linebacker Frank Zombo stormed through for two consecutive sacks. In the first 11 games, the offensive line gave up just 14 sacks; today they surrendered four to Kansas City, even without Justin Houston.
Rush Offense: Latavius Murray gained 86 yards on 20 carries, with a long of 35 yards, and scored a touchdown, though his two fumbles didn’t help the cause. With Taiwan Jones injured, there doesn’t seem to be much halfback depth beyond Murray, as Roy Helu had no carries (but did have a nice 15-yard catch-and-run late in the game). Fullbacks Jamize Olawale and Marcel Reece continue to produce on the rare plays they get used, which just makes you wonder why they don’t get used more. The Raiders really do have an abundance of offensive weapons, so it’s hard to use all of them every game, but using the fullbacks and tight ends more would force defenses to single-cover either Cooper or Crabtree more often than not.
Pass Defense: The defense put pressure on Alex Smith (16-22-162-2-0) all day. Smith still has not thrown an interception since Week 3 in Green Bay, but the Raiders sacked him four times, including two from Khalil Mack. Charles Woodson forced and recovered a fumble from Travis Kelce with a textbook rip at a critical point in the game, and Woodson recovered another fumble by Jeremy Maclin, forced by Malcolm Smith. Maclin made up for his lost fumble later in the game however, notching 95 yards and 2 TDs in 9 receptions. This was due as much to field position from Derek Carr’s interceptions as a failure on the part of the defense.
Rush Defense: Run defense was respectable with Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware combining for 61 yards on 16 carries. Alex Smith broke off a 19-yard run on a crucial go-ahead drive, but totaled 23 yards on 5 runs.
Special Teams: Maybe it’s the prolonged absence of Taiwan Jones, but whatever the case, coverage for this unit remains mediocre at best. Jeremy Ross at least gives some consistency to the return game, but the rest of the unit doesn’t open holes for him, so his averages are average at best. Chiefs returner Frankie Hammond had a 29-yard punt return late in the game to give his team better field position. Sebastian Janikowski had an off day, to put it kindly, missing one of his three extra points, as well as clanking his lone (40-yard) field goal attempt off the post. Twelve games in, and aside from some decent punting by Marquette King, and not giving too many long returns, the special teams unit just does not add any value to the offense’s starting field position. Which is, you know, a fairly significant part of their job.
Coaching: Yet another one that’s tough to hang entirely on the coaches. The defensive plan actually worked pretty well for the most part, as Ken Norton, Jr.’s defense played fast and aggressive, pressuring Alex Smith and forcing turnovers. Bill Musgrave’s offense, however, seemed one step behind Chiefs DC Bob Sutton’s aggressive defense, especially in the final quarter, as Sutton clearly noticed something either with Carr or his protection, and was able to exploit it.
The bigger picture, though, is that the team as a whole believes in the philosophy and system that Jack Del Rio is implementing, and continue to play hard, if not always well. As their playoff hopes fade, the goal for the final four games is to shore up inconsistencies, and play hard enough to be in all of them right up to the end. After the horrific last few seasons they’ve had, to end the season at 7-9 or 8-8 would show real progress, especially with budding superstars like Carr, Cooper, and Mack improving throughout the season.