KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Raiders' season ended with a whimper. They didn't play spoiler Sunday by beating the Kansas City Chiefs. They didn’t finish strong like they’d hoped.
The Silver and Black were worked 35-3 at Arrowhead Stadium, where they have struggled mightily in recent seasons.
This one wasn’t competitive. The Raiders turned over the ball on their first four drives, and were down 21-0 in less than 21 game minutes. The paragraphs above were written then, with no worry over whether they’d hold true at game’s end.
[BAY]All Things Silver and Black: Oakland Raiders 2018-2019 Season Highlights
The Raiders finished the season at 4-12, equal to the worst campaign of coach Jon Gruden’s career.
This game featured a few individual bright spots, but it brought a proper end to a disappointing season that started with high hopes before turning into a full-scale roster rebuild.
Here are three takeaways after Sunday’s loss:
Raiders nowhere close to catching KC: The Chiefs are the AFC West’s gold standard. They have won three straight division titles, while the Raiders are mired in last place and in the midst of a full-scale rebuild. The Raiders have lost eight of their last nine games to Kansas City, and must do so eventually to start consistently competing for playoff positions. The Chiefs are vastly superior, especially with Pat Mahomes at quarterback. That was clear on Sunday evening, where a talent chasm was on full display.
Gruden has a major project ahead, one that must include several quality drafts and free-agent signings, to leapfrog the Chiefs and L.A. Chargers and rate among a talented division’s best teams. The Raiders finished 1-5 in the division, and improving that mark will be the first sign of progress reconstructing the franchise.
Raiders draft pick remains high: The Silver and Black acquired two 2019 first-round draft picks by trading Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. Those selections have lost serious value. The Bears and Cowboys won their division, meaning those picks will be in the 20s at best.
The Raiders will have a high pick, however, thanks to their own disappointing season. Their loss to Kansas City, combined with other results across the NFL, locked the Raiders into the No. 4 overall selection.
That’s high enough to draft a premium defensive player, even without a deep quarterback class and a possible early run on pass rushers.
That also means the Raiders would have the No. 35 overall pick. By rule, teams with equal record flop positions every other round. The first round tiebreaker is determined by strength of schedule.
Derek Carr’s no-interception streak snapped: Raiders quarterback threw 322 consecutive passes without an interception. Only three quarterbacks in NFL history went that long without a pick. Carr’s streak didn’t go any further after tight end Jared Cook stopped running a route when he was targeted, resulting in Chiefs safety Daniel Sorenson’s pick 6.
While Carr has had three picks dropped during the streak, the one that counts wasn’t his fault. The ball was in the air when Cook’s route stopped.
Sunday’s next interception, however, was on Carr. He didn’t see Reggie Ragland sit on Jordy Nelson’s route, and the linebacker cut it off and rumbled well downfield on the return.
Picks weren’t Carr’s only issue with ball security. He held onto the ball a smidge too long and left tackle Kolton Miller got beat off the edge, allowing Justin Houston to strip sack the ball away.
Carr had a few positive milestones on Sunday, exceeding 4,000 passing yards for the first time in his career and broke the record for most completions in quarterback’s first five seasons.
A rough finish to the year -- Carr never plays well at Arrowhead Stadium -- doesn’t change the fact the signal caller run Jon Gruden’s offense well, especially as the year wore on. Another offseason in the system, and some upgrades at receiver, should help Carr take another positive step in 2019.