Oakland Raiders at Cleveland Browns: Recap


Another Sunday – another loss.  The narrative of the Oakland Raiders was more of the same against the Cleveland Browns and hope for even just one win on the season is quickly dwindling.

Looking ahead on the schedule, this last game against Cleveland and the Week 16 matchup versus the Buffalo Bills were the two most likely games for Oakland to win.  With the Browns game now in the books, the rest of the season looks bleak.

The Raiders were a mess once again, failing to execute in each phase of the game – offense, defense, special teams and coaching – all of it was bad.

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The game plan, particularly on offense, was most baffling.  Heading into the game, the Browns ranked last in the NFL in rush defense.  While the Raiders’ offense hasn’t exactly been a powerhouse running the football as of late, it would make sense to at least attempt to exploit the defense’s biggest weakness, right?  Well, Greg Olson disagrees.  Derek Carr attempted an astounding 54 passes in the game, by far a season-high for the team.

The most confusing part about this is that it’s not like the Raiders were getting blown out and were forced to throw all day.  And it’s not like the game was a shootout where each team was racing to 50 points.  This game was quite the opposite; a snoozer.  The score was only 9-6 at halftime and was the perfect type of game where the ground and pound should have been utilized.

Darren McFadden may not be the All-Pro we all had hoped he would become, but he has run hard these last few weeks.  McFadden received only 12 carries in the game and ran for 59 yards on those attempts.  That’s a 4.9 yards-per-carry average, which is more than respectable.  On a related note, Maurice Jones-Drew ran for just eight yards on six carries.

Back to Carr and his 54 attempted passes. He was solid for most of the day.  Carr ended up with 34 completions for 328 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.  The scariest play of the game took place early in the third quarter when a blown protection assignment led to Carr getting leveled by Paul Kruger on the blindside.  Kruger landed a free and clean shot on Carr and the ball came loose, but Oakland was able to recover.

Carr wasn’t perfect himself, but he fought until the very end.  Even on the last drive of the game in garbage time, Carr was hurrying his guys to the line and fighting to get the team into the endzone.

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On defense, the Raiders excelled in two areas that they have not all season – rush defense and third down conversions.  The front four was able to clog the middle while the linebackers set the edge and that combination contained the Browns’ ground attack for the entire game.  Cleveland was only able to gain 39 yards on 25 carries, which is a 1.6 yards-per-carry average.  The big bright spot for the defense was on third down conversions.  The Browns converted just two out of 12 attempts, a huge improvement compared to previous weeks.

The biggest area of struggle for the defense was in the secondary.  Jordan Cameron was wide open in the middle of the field on a handful of plays, and Andrew Hawkins looked like a Pro-Bowler.  Carlos Rogers, in particular, continues to be a weak spot, and it’s a matter of time before T.J. Carrie replaces him full-time in the lineup.

Khalil Mack, Sio Moore, Benson Mayowa and Justin Ellis were all bright spots for Oakland.  Mack and Moore each had two tackles for a loss, and Mayowa added one himself.  Ellis was a big reason why the run defense performed so well, often taking on two bodies up the middle.  Mayowa impressed throughout the game and on one play, made a tackle 50 yards downfield.

The most frustrating part of the entire game is the fact that this game was Oakland’s for the taking, and they could not take advantage of it.  If it’s not one thing for the Raiders, it’s another.  The rush defense finally held up and getting off the field on third down wasn’t a problem for the first time all season, but then Olson deploys his worst game plan of the year.

The Raiders travel to the Pacific Northwest next Sunday to take on the Seattle Seahawks.