Raiders Sure Looked Like They Missed Mack vs. Rams

In season-opening loss to the Rams Monday night, Raiders' pass rush was anemic and replacements for Mack couldn't fill his role

One thing was painfully evident Monday night in the Raiders’ 33-13 loss to the Los Angeles Rams: Oakland had no pass rush.

Bruce Irvin got to Rams quarterback Jared Goff early in the game with a strip sack. For the rest of the night, the Raiders had no sacks and just two hits on Goff. As Kevin Patra of NFL.com wrote, “The third-year quarterback could have knitted a sweater while completing passes he had so much time in the pocket.”

The Raiders’ variety of problems was on full display on national TV Monday night. Carr, after a hot start, struggled, throwing three interceptions. Oakland didn’t run the ball. The linebacking crew couldn’t stop Rams running back Todd Gurley. And, that pass rush was awful.

After the game, head coach Jon Gruden simply said his team “wasn’t good enough tonight.”

There was a cure available for the lack of pass rush, however. Like, maybe, Gruden shouldn’t have traded away defensive end Khalil Mack, the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and the best player on the roster. The Raiders tried to fill Mack’s shoes with a combination of players, including rookies Arden Key, Maurice Hurst and P.J. Hall, but they obviously weren’t up to it in Game 1 against a strong Rams team. They may grow – they have potential – but it’s not the kind of potential that screams Pro Football Hall of Fame, where Mack will be inducted.

Wrote Mark Maske of the Washington Post: “The absence of Mack … was glaring.”

In his debut with the Bears Sunday, Mack had a huge day with three tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery and an interception for a touchdown.

The Raiders, in justifying the trade, said they couldn’t pay Mack what he wanted. Gruden also said – with no basis in fact – that Mack didn’t want to be a Raider anymore. Oakland also treasures the two first-round picks it received from the Bears for Mack.

But, Monday night, the two draft picks couldn’t rush Goff, and the money the Raiders saved on Mack didn’t help them buy a sack or two, either.

Wrote Maske: “The Raiders can try to justify the trade by maintaining they couldn’t afford to pay both Mack and Carr. They can envision using the first-rounders that they’ll receive from the Bears to attempt to bolster their roster by the time they move to Vegas. But they’ll have to cash in on those draft choices. They’ll have to try to find a pass rusher who can change a game like Mack can.

“In the meantime, Gruden must attempt to win with a roster that is old and lacking. The early returns Monday were not particularly promising. Things might not get better in the foreseeable future. And every time that Mack plays well for the Bears, the Raiders’ decision to trade him looks much worse.”

The Raiders will try to rebound this Sunday when they travel to Denver to take on the Broncos. Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m. Mack, meanwhile, will be easy to watch. He and the Bears will be on Monday night football against the Seahawks.

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