The Raiders feel they contained Patrick Mahomes for three quarters in their previous Week 2 clash with the Kansas City Chiefs. They aren't altogether wrong. He failed to find the end zone except during a four-touchdown meteor shower in the second quarter that illustrated why he's the reigning MVP.
A similar outburst is prohibited if the Raiders are to succeed Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
"When he gets hot, he can really hurt you," Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. "We just have to keep the ball in front of us. We can't give up the vertical bombs. We just can't do it. We've got to work hard this week on preventing that. It was jaw-dropping the display he put on there for about six minutes, and we got to try and eliminate that obviously."
The Raiders haven't eliminated explosive plays against anybody. The Raiders have given up 55 explosive plays of at least 20 yards. That's the NFL's highest mark. A dozen of those have gone 40 yards more.
They have given up two or less in a game only twice. Those came against Chase Daniel and Ryan Finley. Everyone else has beat the Raiders deep regularly.
That's why the Raiders pass defense allows 266.8 yards per game. That's fifth-worst.
Mahomes, Matt Stafford and Aaron Rodgers topped 400 yards, but almost everyone has torched the Raiders through the air.
The Raiders still have six wins because the pass defense, in both rush and coverage, has proven opportunistic. That's how the Raiders win games.
They have at least two takeaways in every victory save one – they didn't create a turnover against Denver to start the season – so you can guess how the losses have gone.
They have one takeaway in five defeats, a fumble recovered in that Week 2 loss to the Chiefs.
They have zero in the other four, including Sunday's 34-3 embarrassment against the New York Jets. They made Sam Darnold look like Andrew Luck, allowing 315 passing yards without a takeaway and precious few incompletions.
The Jets had seven explosive pass plays, many of them thrown relatively short to receivers on slants and crossing patterns, at times on delayed routes. Darnold wasn't just chucking it deep. The Jets were taking chunks with well-timed passes and tons of speed. Here's a red flag that causes concern for the Raiders next week: The Chiefs can win some track meets and nobody has a better arm than Mahomes. He delivers strikes on time.
That spells trouble for a Raiders team working with some disadvantages. They have lost several linebackers and defensive backs this year and are lacking in chemistry and experience working together. That really showed up Sunday and could be an issue down the road.
"I think experience in the system is a problem at times," Gruden said. "I think communication is a problem sometimes. You know people don't just line up with a guy over there and over there. They motion, they shift, they come out four-wide, five-wide, empty-backfield sets.
"You've got to make adjustments. Some of these guys are learning the defense that haven't played together. I think it's a combination of that. You know we've lost linebackers, we've lost safeties, and we've lost our nickel back. And you don't have to be a genius but you're not going to be as good communicating and adjusting on the fly as you would be if you had some continuity there. So that was a challenge. It will be a challenge this week and we've got to respond to those challenges."