— The Sports Xchange —
The Raiders went from 12-4 and a trendy pick to be an AFC title contender to a crashing failure back to 6-10. And they were every bit that bad.
The collapse encompassed offense — most notably quarterback Derek Carr — defense and a knack for substituting mistakes for success they achieved in key moments of games the previous season.
The failure took its toll. Jack Del Rio, a coach of the year candidate in 2016, was informed he was fired shortly after he walked off the field after the last game. Owner Mark Davis was taking a big swing at bringing back Jon Gruden and wants the club to be competitive in its last year or two in Oakland before departing for Las Vegas.
The focal point is Carr, who received a five-year, $125 million contract and who had a knack for fourth-quarter comebacks in 2016 and then had issues with the most basic pass plays by the end of 2017.
Much remains to be sorted out, in particular the role of general manager Reggie McKenzie in any new regime. The Raiders’ financial structure and salary cap is in great shape in terms of personnel, but there have been a lot of misses in the draft and the roster needs both an athletic and attitude upgrade.
The matter is complicated by the Raiders’ lame-duck status in the town they called their home from 1960 to 1981 and then again from 1995 until the NFL approved a move to Las Vegas.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: The Raiders got about what they wanted out of Marshawn Lynch, as he gained 891 yards on 207 carries, having a strong second half of the season and scoring seven touchdowns. Lynch remains one of the NFL’s supreme tackle-breakers. He was about all they had offensively in the last third of the season.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Just about everything, but the biggest problem was an offense that dropped from scoring more than 26 points per game to 18.1 The explosiveness was gone from the passing game. The Raiders scored 17 or more points just six times. They won all six of those games.