While not yet mathematically eliminated from being able to get to the playoffs, the Raiders’ season effectively ended today with a 55-20 loss in Baltimore.
The Raiders fell to 3-6 on the season and again struggled to create any stops on defense and have any continuity on offense. Continuing with the status quo at this point would be a mistake – the status quo is not working.
Until now it made sense to see if the team could improve with their core group of players. Now that the season will not end in a playoff bid, it’s time to look to the future.
The Raiders were almost completely inept in every phase of the field. The defense gave up 41 points, Special teams chipped in by allowing Jacoby Jones to return a 105 yard kickoff and they allowed the Ravens punter Sam Kock to run untouched for a 7 yard TD on a fake field goal. The Raiders, as a team, allowed more than 50 points for the first time since 1981. They were also penalized 10 times for 105 yards.
In the fourth quarter Allen made a couple of good decisions by having some of the younger, developmental players get into the game and get some experience. Allen had Tony Bergstrom come in midway through the fourth quarter and took Willie Smith’s place at right guard.
The Raiders also used a lot of Jeremy Stewart at running back which may bode well for his future with the team. They hardly used Taiwan Jones at all, which does not bode well for his.
Moving forward, Allen should use the rest of the season to develop their young players because they aren’t going anywhere close to the post season. From here on out the Raiders should do several things:
- Plug Bergstrom into the line: I don’t care where. Replace Smith at RT? Sure. Maybe put him in at LG where veteran Cooper Carlisle is struggling. Fine. Hey, we could even put him in at RG where highly touted free agent Mike Brisiel is struggling. Absolutely. But Bergstrom, who was taken in the 3rd round with the Raiders highest selection this year, needs to see playing time now so he can be prepared for next year.
- Activate the rookies: Second year player Terrelle Pryor (QB) and rookies Lucas Nix (G), Christo Bilukidi (DT) and Jack Crawford (DE) should all be active on Sundays. The team needs to see what they have in those players and get them valuable playing time.
- Work in backups: Same theme, here, the Raiders should get the backups involved for development and evaluation. This would include more rotations in with Aaron Curry - who ended the day with more personal fouls (2) than tackles (1) – cornerback Brandian Ross, wide receiver Juron Criner and linebacker Keenan Clayton.
If the Raiders do this it will be a short-term loss but it will set the team up for a longer-term gain. And the Raiders need all the long-term gains they can get right now.
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