A year ago, the Raiders built a 12-4 record on the foundation of great play by Derek Carr, the offensive line and a defense that often bent but didn’t break with many games on the line.
Oakland also feasted on turnovers while limiting its own giveaways. The Raiders finished tied for the NFL lead, with a plus-16 mark, tied with the Chiefs in 2016. The Raiders defense had 16 interceptions and 14 fumble recoveries while throwing just seven picks and fumbling the ball away seven times.
This season, the Raiders find themselves 3-5 because that turnover ratio has turned around completely.
After giving the ball away four times Sunday in a 34-14 loss to the Bills in Buffalo, the Raiders are 28th in the NFL with a minus-6 differential. The Raiders have yet to intercept a pass while recovering five fumbles. Meanwhile, Oakland has been intercepted seven times and lost four fumbles.
If the Raiders hope to turn their season around over their final eight games, that will have to change. Head coach Jack Del Rio said that losing the turnover battle to the Bills, 4-0, was a killer. The Raiders actually outgained the Bills 367 yards to 331.
“The biggest detriment, or factor, was minus-four in turnovers,” Del Rio told reporters. “We end up with a bunch of yards, but other than the first drive, it was largely ineffective with the lost turnovers.”
Second-year running back DeAndre Washington fumbled away the ball on one run that was returned for a touchdown, the turning point of Sunday’s Oakland loss.
Said Washington: “We know we’ve got a great offense, so when we’re not able to put plays together and finish drives, it’s definitely frustrating. We’ve got to dust ourselves off and have a great second half to the season.”
The fact the Raiders are the only team in the league without an interception certainly bothers the defense, which took pride last season in forcing turnovers.
“It bugs us every day,” said cornerback T.J. Carrie recently. “There will be weeks when we have lots of turnovers in practice. You practice how you play so in the game you expect those plays to be made. We expect to make them. It’s been a downer for us, but it also fires us up, knowing what’s expected. We’re looking like a bad turnover team right now, but we know we can get better.”
The Raiders will get their next opportunity Sunday night in Miami against the Dolphins. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m.