NASHVILLE. Does anyone have extra thermometers, like 53 pieces?
Yeah, it’s time to take the temperature in the Las Vegas Raiders locker room after their last terrible, terrible, no good, very bad day, which was, well, nearly excellent day. Because really, coming so close to a heartbreaking 24-22 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, after trailing 24-10 at half, probably stings more than just defeat.
Contrast that with the fact that in Week 2, the house squandered a 20-0 lead in the first half to lose in overtime to the Arizona Cardinals. And be one step away from an epic comeback with the Los Angeles Chargers in the first game, just for the quarterback. Derek Carr to be fired in fourth place to essentially end the game.
The Raiders, as unlikely as it was last season, were a playoff team that had four straight wins and a 10-7 finish under interim coach Rich Bisaccia to make it to the playoffs.
Leaving Bisacci and general manager Mike Mayock and bringing in Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler should have been a refresh for the Raiders and owner Mark Davis. Oh, being a fly on the wall in McDaniels’ office after Sunday’s loss, a closed-door meeting with a visibly flustered Davis that delayed the coach’s appearance at the post-match press conference.
Davis called hiring McDaniels back in January “the next step.”
Instead, these Raiders are tripping over themselves even though they look like a team that is still in transition, not a team that has been tested in the playoffs. Sunday’s loss makes them the only NFL team to go 0-3, which, according to Sportzshala Stats & Information, means the fewest teams to lose their first three games of a season since 1959, when the Detroit Lions were the only 0-3. 3 team.
Consider: in three games, the Raiders have already used seven different combinations in the offensive line. Continuity? Chemistry? Comfort for Carr?
“These guys are working hard to make it happen,” Carr said after his O-line consisted of Colton Miller on the left tackle, practice team promoter Alex Bars on the left back, third-round rookie Dylan Parham stands in for a concussion Andre James in the center, Jermaine Elyumunor move to right back outside and rookie in round seven Thayer Munford Jr.. with the right grip.
“It’s tough… the more you’re around them, the more you understand, the more chemistry you have… time on the task will help them.”
However, Carr came close to criticizing the training habits of some teammates before stepping back.
“You struggle to get it right in practice, and if you don’t do it right in practice, then you can’t expect it to go right in the game,” he said. “We have to look at this, each person as an individual, and say, ‘OK, then I have to get better at this, this, and that.’
“I thought we had a good week, but there were certain areas where if something keeps popping up, you have to address it so it doesn’t become a problem in the game.”
Considered the elite player with six Super Bowl rings, McDaniels was about to elevate an already electric offense by adding the league’s best wide receiver to the Davante Adams. And after shining in the first game with 10 interceptions in 17 targets for 141 yards and a touchdown, he has since had a total of seven interceptions in 17 targets for 48 yards and two touchdowns.
However, against the Titans, something happened at halftime. Carr targeted Adams 3 of 3 in the first half, including a 5-yard touchdown, but only targeted him 2 of 6 in the second half, including 0 of 3 in the fourth quarter. On the other hand, the receiver Mac Hollins was a career day with eight catches for 158 yards and a TD.
Asked if he was more disappointed or angry about the defeat and the 0-3 start, Adams paused.
“Both,” he said, “it’s not the end of the world to be disappointed. I don’t think anyone here should be happy or content with defeat. Especially when you have people like us in this dressing room. And like I said from the beginning, just because we’re good on paper doesn’t mean we’ll be great as a team.
“Disappointing, if it’s okay if you do something about it.”
The Raiders are 0-3 for the first time since 2018. And only one NFL team since 2000 that started 0-3 has made it to the playoffs.
“I’m glad to see how we react,” said the tight end. Darren Waller, who had several costly falls, including one that was intercepted in the end zone, and who blamed the mistakes on a lack of fundamentals on his part. He was also the intended target for Carr’s two-point pass that would have leveled the game at 1:14 left.
On the Raiders’ defense, winger Max Crosby became a threat again, with a sack among his nine tackles (five solos), a QB hit, a forced fumble and a defensive pass. But even he couldn’t get him out of Las Vegas on his own.
“We So said Crosby, who currently has both bags of Raiders. like closing the world [in]we can take a lot of positive things out of this.
“You either sink or you swim.”
As McDaniels often said at training camp, the Raiders had to “learn” how to win. He has an extra.
“We need to learn how to play the full 60 minutes and earn the right to win,” said McDaniels, who is just 5:20 as head coach after starting 6-0 with the Denver Broncos in 2009. Guess who the Raiders will play next?
“This league requires a lot of mental toughness and nobody likes to lose. When we lose, it must hurt. We all feel like shit.”
So they measure the temperature.