When this season is officially over, the Raiders will have to make some decisions.
One of the big ones will be about the job status of offensive coordinator Todd Downing.
In Oakland’s 26-15 loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City Sunday, the up-and-down Oakland offense plummeted into one of its down modes. The Raiders couldn’t score a point until the fourth quarter and looked totally flat in a must-win game. The Raiders gave up on their running game early – a running game that seemed to be gathering momentum in recent weeks – and quarterback Derek Carr looked out of sync.
The result was a loss the Raiders couldn’t afford, a fall out of a first-place tie in the AFC West and a 6-7 record with just three games to go in a season that started with such high hopes but now looks like a waste.
Carr told Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com that the Oakland offense simply did not execute.
“It sucked,” said Carr. “Wasn’t good enough and you put it all on me. Don’t blame one coach, one player, it’s all my fault. There’s no easy way to go through this one. This one sucked.”
Of course, it’s the quarterback who gets the blame or credit in the NFL. That’s the way it is.
But 13 games into the 2017 season, it’s also obvious that the Raiders did major damage to their offense in the offseason by showing Bill Musgrave the door and replacing him with Downing. The Raiders had a running game, a solid power-blocking scheme and a deep passing game in 2016 and were the league’s sixth-best offense. Under Downing, Oakland’s zone-blocking scheme and its running attack have been inconsistent, and Carr no longer seems to be the swashbuckling QB he was in 2016, when he could take over games and launched himself into the race for league MVP.
As Gutierrez noted, former Raiders coach Tom Flores – who now works on the team’s radio broadcasts – even questioned the way the offense was playing early in Sunday’s game.
“They’re playing losing football right now,” Flores said on the air, according to Gutierrez. “They’re doing nothing. They’re dinking … 1-yard route, for crying out loud. Very listless performance on offense … looks like they haven’t even practiced.”
While head coach Jack Del Rio could almost do no wrong in his first two seasons in Oakland, this year has been hugely disappointing. The decision to elevate Downing, the former quarterbacks coach, was supposed to put even more energy into the offense. Instead, it did just the opposite.
This offseason, it will be a surprise if Del Rio fails to again make a change at offensive coordinator in hopes of recapturing the magic of 2016.
Meanwhile, the Raiders will try to get back in the win column by hosting the Cowboys at the Oakland Coliseum. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m.