Oakland Raiders: Losing Carr A Big Blow, Not Necessarily A Death Knell

Dec 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack (52) and outside linebacker Malcolm Smith (53) look on during the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack (52) and outside linebacker Malcolm Smith (53) look on during the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oakland Raiders suffered a big blow with the loss of their franchise quarterback – and yet, they still have the pieces in place to make some noise in the postseason.

Just in case you hadn’t heard, the Oakland Raiders are done. Finished. Kaput. They may as well go ahead and pack it in and give up their playoff spot since they won’t be doing much of anything with it anyway. Hey, they qualified for the postseason for the first time in fourteen years, so they’ve got that going for them.

But really, they should just put that feather in their collective caps and call it a day. That spot should go to a team that can actually do something with it.

That seems to be the common sentiment among many of the “experts” in the sports media, anyway. Thanks to Derek Carr‘s busted fibula, they believe that Oakland’s chances of winning this week at Denver, let alone a playoff game, have been flushed straight down the toilet.

The Raiders, long shots to make any sort of postseason run anyway, have seen their odds get even longer – especially, if you’re talking to the Vegas oddsmakers.

But here’s the funny thing – the Raiders, in actuality, have the pieces in place that make a playoff run quite possible. Even without Carr.

Think about it – what are the two things the “experts” pound every single year come playoff time? The pundit class, every stinking year, goes out of their way to say you can’t win playoff games without a strong defense and a stronger running game.

And if you take an honest look at how the Raiders are currently constructed – and how they’ve been playing of late – you couldn’t, with any sense of intellectual honesty, say they don’t have both components.

More from Las Vegas Raiders News

Yes, the electrifying offense and highlight reel plays grab all of the headlines and attention. It’s always great to see them drop thirty points a game on somebody. Watching Carr air out a long one to Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree is oftentimes, a thing of beauty. A work of art.

But this team is more than that. A whole lot more.

GM Reggie McKenzie built this team to play some serious bully ball. He built this team to go out and punch people in the mouth. This offensive line, arguably, the best in the league, has given up the fewest sacks in the NFL. And oh yeah, they’ve also anchored the league’s fifth best rushing attack.

With Matt McGloin under center, we probably aren’t going to see as many downfield bombs or highlight reel plays. But we know that we’re going to see an offensive line that will keep him clean, give him time, and blow open holes for the three headed beast that is Latavius Murray, Jalen Richard, and DeAndre Washington.

Oakland’s running game has come on strong over the last month of the season. Very, very strong. In the last four games, Murray, Richard, and Washington have gashed opponents for an average of 157 yards per game. That average is second only to Buffalo in the entire league.

Oakland’s highly effective ground game has allowed them to control the clock and dictate the pace of the game. It’s also compensated for Carr’s finger injury, which has limited his effectiveness, taking some of the offensive burden off of his shoulders – he didn’t have to do it all alone.

Oakland’s ground game has kept this offense rolling. We can and should expect more of the same.

On the other side of the ball, it seems to be the “common wisdom,” among some, that Oakland has a trash defense. At least, it is if you listen to people like John Middlekauff and other “experts” out there. And there is no question, that in the beginning of the season, they were trash. Oakland’s defense, through the first month or so of the season, was an absolute dumpster fire.

And while there are still some things that need to be cleaned up, as well as a few chinks in the armor here and there, this defense isn’t nearly as bad as some make it out to be.

This defense hasn’t allowed a team to roll up 400 yards of offense since week six. In point of fact, since that week six debacle against Kansas City, the Oakland defense has given up just 332 yards per game – which would make them the eighth best unit in the league by current averages.

Live Feed

New York Guardians set a foundation worth watching in 2021
New York Guardians set a foundation worth watching in 2021 /

Empire Writes Back

  • Guardians vs Wildcats: Odds, Weather, TV and MoreEmpire Writes Back
  • New York Guardians quarterback McGloin is a problemEmpire Writes Back
  • New York Guardians: Three takeaways from 27-0 loss at DCEmpire Writes Back
  • Matt McGloin becomes early poster boy for access XFL providesFanSided
  • Guardians at Defenders: Odds, Weather, TV and MoreEmpire Writes Back
  • But perhaps more importantly, since week six, Oakland’s defense has forced 19 turnovers. On the year, the Raiders have forced 29 turnovers (second best in the NFL) and lead the league in turnover differential with a plus 18.

    To many, it would seem that an improving defense that knows how to take the ball away would bode well for a team’s playoff chances.

    None of this is to say that the Raiders will definitely be hoisting the Lombardi trophy this season. They may not have been able to do it even with Carr at the helm. But this is to say that the Raiders still have plenty of pieces in place that can help them along the way.

    Many think with Carr out of the lineup that the Raiders are going to be a one and done playoff team. Perhaps. But looking at the makeup of the team, the fact that they have a powerful running game and – despite what many say – a pretty solid, ball hawking defensive unit, it wouldn’t be surprising if they weren’t.

    Next: Can We Stop With The Circular Firing Squad?

    Losing Carr is a big blow, to be sure. But it very well may not be the death knell many “experts” out there are claiming it to be.