To read my Monday Raiders column click here.
Love Derek Carr. He could be a star in the making, if not one already.
I’m not super impressed with the Raiders like others appear to be. They play far too many close games for an “elite” team. The real contenders dispose of their garbage opponents. The Panthers, especially without Kuechly, aren’t a tough opponent for a good team playing at home. The Raiders have won a disproportionate number of games with high risk 4th quarter play. While I personally enjoy that style of gutsy play, it typically turns on a team eventually. You can’t keep winning like this in the long haul. They will die by that sword eventually in the post season. I applaud their progress but the defense is soft (where the heck is Aldon Smith!) and their offense too erratic, as you’d expect from a younger group.
The Panthers are obviously having a down year, but still had won 3 out of their last 4, and only Atlanta beat them badly. While it took a lot of grit to shake off that 25-pt turnaround I can understand acknowledging they shouldn’t have let it get there. But the Raiders were in fact mopping the floor with Carolina before that freak injury to Carr turned it around briefly. I agree that the lack of a consistent running game and the defense’s liabilities could be problematic down the stretch and certainly in the playoffs. I think the lack of consistent running is why the offense too often sputters until Carr makes a big play. But I do like the way they’ve adjusted the last two games by using short passes to the RBs to get them out where they make plays. Honestly, they’re so much better than I expected it’s hard for me to pick too many nits!
They are a great story even if they don’t go all the way. On the plus side, there appear to be no great teams in the game today. For an emerging young team, this could be just the right moment to burst on to the scene and open their window of opportunity.
How they play down the stretch with road games against Denver, KC and SD will tell the story. If the playoffs started right now, with Gronk hurt and the Patriots defense looking shaky against the pass, I am not going to be surprised by anything. I think that the Raiders defense is too big a liability to go far in the playoffs, but then again, if the opposing team doesn’t get two scores of cushion late in the 4th look the hell out. The Raiders defense only has to play just well enough to give DC a chance.
I love it all. Win- win some more,win ugly,win late..just win. How many crappy Raider teams since they came back? 2002..yea! One season long lost to memory and emotions. Winning is a good emotion maker.
The Warriors? Wasn’t it in the late Don Nelson years we thought back to back wins was a “sign”..and it turned into a burned out sign. Leaky neon.
Now 11 wins in a row..ho hum. Its not like 27 wins in a row,sniff.
Carr, Brady and Prescott are the MVP front runners right now, and deservedly so for where their respective teams are in the standings and the role each plays in that. Which is to say huge in all cases. There isn’t a single win this year that Carr didn’t just flat out make great plays.
I also think some earlier columns written by Lowell come into play. Heading into the season Lowell correctly stated that Carr had some flat 4th quarters that led to losses last year. Asked and answered- so far, so good. He’s been great in the 4th quarter.
but I also want to return to Lowell’s recent column about Jack Del Rio and whether he’s “state-of-the-art.” Lowell says yes as a people manager and instiller of culture and yesterday was great evidence of that. That stretch of 25 unanswered points would have knocked most teams down and out, but the way this team came back on both sides of the ball was an extraordinary example of mental toughness and resiliency. Big credit to JDR, he’s changed the culture in Oakland completely and for the better.
Finer point on DC’s 4th quarter numbers this year from CSN Bay Area: “Carr’s fourth quarter numbers are excellent, with a 121.3 passer rating in that period, which jumps to 128.0 if the game’s within seven points. He has 946 yards, nine touchdowns and an interception in the fourth quarter, averaging 9.2 yards per attempt.”
I love that sly Hayward smile he gives on the field.
When asked about the 4th down spot that was short for the other team? “I think the referee’s were correct and spotted the ball properly”..great sarcasm.
Lowell Cohn has been covering Bay Area sports for more than 30 years and he’s never run out of things to say.