Behind Enemy Lines: Two-win Cardinals host one-win Raiders
If there’s an NFL team having a more painful year than the Arizona Cardinals, the Oakland Raiders would probably be the top candidate.
Oakland prepares for a Week 11 visit to State Farm Stadium on Sunday with just one win to the Cardinals’ two.
Under first-year coach Jon Gruden, the Raiders began the year trading away one of the year’s premier pass-rushers in Khalil Mack. They doubled down on dealing talent by trading receiver Amari Cooper two weeks back. And a week ago, the team released veteran defensive end Bruce Irvin.
It’s a full-blown rebuild for Oakland, which has scored more than 20 points just twice this season.
Here’s what’s going on in Raiders Nation as the team prepares to face the 2-7 Cardinals, who found a few positive building blocks in a 26-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Saturday, November 17
• PFF: Raiders QB Derek Carr more than merely accurate (RaidersWire.com)
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr can deliver the football with the best of them, according to Pro Football Focus. Oakland’s fifth-year signal caller has thrown a catchable ball 79 percent of the time this season, good for third-best in the NFL.
• Biggest Stories for the Oakland Raiders during Week 11 (RaidersWire.com)
It was another busy week for the Oakland Raiders, despite their 1-8 record. They promoted two receivers to the active roster and were forced to cancel two practices due to the air quality in California. It was quite the week for Oakland. Here are the top stories from each day this week:
Friday, November 16
• 3 Raiders To Watch In Week 11 vs Cardinals (RaidersWire.com)
Oakland is being forced to play some young players, and at the very least, that should make these games somewhat intriguing as the Raiders try to evaluate their young talent. With that in mind, here are three players to watch in the Raiders’ Week 11 matchup with the Cardinals.
• Raiders CB Gareon Conley flawless on 3rd down in 2018 (RaidersWire.com)
In a season full of negatives, some of the brightest spots on the Raiders’ roster have been their young players and how they have grown. One of which is cornerback Gareon Conley, who has certainly had his ups and downs this season. Like many other (young) players on the Raiders’ roster, Conley was the subject of trade rumors last month. Then, he was benched in favor of veterans Leon Hall and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
• Raiders cancel practice due to air quality in Oakland (RaidersWire.com)
Due to the poor air quality in Oakland, the Raiders have canceled their final practice of the week. Instead, they will have a walkthrough, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The Raiders canceled practice yesterday as well as the fires in California continue to decrease the air quality in the state.
Thursday, November 15
• How are opposing offenses attacking the Raiders’ defense? (RaidersWire.com)
Teams are having tremendous success throwing to the right side of the field against the Raiders. While a lot of the Raiders’ opponent’s passing touchdowns have come from the left side, teams are completing an absurd rate of their passes on the right side of the field.
• Can Marcell Ateman boost depleted Raiders’ receiving corps? (Mercury News)
With receivers Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant questionable against the Cardinals, rookie Marcell Ateman will finally get his chance to shine.
• Which Raider player deserves to make the Pro Bowl in 2018? (RaidersWire.com)
The Raiders have had as dreadful of a 2018 season as the Cardinals. They don’t have a sure Pro Bowl lock like Patrick Peterson and their pickings are slim without Khalil Mack in the fold anymore.
Wednesday, November 14
• Raiders in driver’s seat for No. 1 draft pick (is that a good thing?) (ESPN NFL Nation)
As it stands now, the current draft order has the Raiders going first, followed by the San Francisco 49ers, the New York Giants, the Cardinals and the New York Jets.
The trick, then?
“We have to nail those picks,” Raiders owner Mark Davis told ESPN.com recently.
“If you’re building, you have to build through the draft. You have to do it with your own players.”
• Assessing latest `What the heck was that?’ decision from Raiders’ Derek Carr (The Mercury News)
Deliberately throwing an incomplete pass on fourth-and-5 against the Los Angeles Chargers isn’t the first time Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has had his decision-making called into question this season.
On at least four other occasions during key moments in Raiders losses, Carr made plays which brought scrutiny and questioned his judgment.
• Raiders promote WR Saeed Blacknall to active roster (RaidersWire.com)
Blacknall was signed by the Raiders as an undrafted free agent from Penn State. However, he did not make Oakland’s initial 53-man roster. Once he cleared waivers, the Raiders stashed him on the practice squad for the rest of the season.
• Derek Carr still a good sport despite rocky 2018 season for Raiders (RaidersWire.com)
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has been nominated by his team for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. The award had its inaugural year in 2014, and this is Carr’s third time being Oakland’s representative to the NFL.
Carr hopes to join former Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson as a recipient of the award. Players are first nominated by their team’s media relations department, and a panel of former players will select eight finalists, according to the Raiders’ official website.
• Raiders QB Derek Carr approaching most losses ever in first 5 seasons (RaidersWire.com)
Most of the time, it’s a good thing to set records in the NFL. However, Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr is getting dangerously close to a setting a record no quarterback wants to be associated with.
Carr is sitting at 42 losses as a starting quarterback in his NFL career. Through five seasons, that is the fourth-most losses of all-time by a starting quarterback. Carr’s brother, David, holds the record for the most losses through the first five seasons of a career (53)
Tuesday, November 13
“I talk to Mark after every game and these are unpleasant conversations. It’s tough, man, we want to win. We want to win. We also want to do right by this organization and some of these decisions have been really tough, but I want to deliver for him and his family, certainly, and this organization and right now, it’s tough. But it’s great to have him support me and I appreciate it. But I feel the same way he does — I just want to win.”
Making things tougher for Gruden to win is the injury bug. Again.
Receivers Martavis Bryant and Jordy Nelson both suffered knee injuries against the Chargers, with Bryant suffering an injury to his posterior cruciate ligament that might keep him out “for some time,” Gruden said, while Nelson’s knee is being further evaluated. It was described as a quadriceps injury Sunday.
• Raiders mailbag: ‘Is Carr gonna be the QB in Vegas?’ (The Mercury News)
Yes, I think Derek Carr will be the Raiders’ quarterback when they move to Vegas for the 2020 season. My guess is teams will call with trade offers this coming offseason, but Gruden will stick with his guy for another season and into the move. Gruden has said it himself: if Carr doesn’t play up to his potential, Gruden considers that his own failure. He’s the supposed quarterback whisperer, after all. And I don’t think Gruden would want to admit his own massive failure just one or two years into the job.
• Martavis Bryant, Jordy Nelson Injuries Decimate Raiders WR Corps (NBCBayArea.com)
The Silver and Black rolled into a Week 6 game against Seattle with Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant featured in the pattern.
It’s possible, maybe even likely, that none of those guys are available for next week’s game at Arizona.
• Raiders offense falls to 30th in the NFL, averaging 16.3 PPG (RaidersWire.com)
The only teams worse than the Raiders are the Bills and the Cardinals, both of which have made quarterback changes and are ushering in rookie passers.
Over the last three games, the Raiders are averaging just 12.3 points per game. Injuries have obviously played a factor (Marshawn Lynch, Donald Penn, etc.) but the team just hasn’t played that well.
Part of the reason for their scoring woes has been their struggles in the red zone. They are converting their red zone trips into touchdowns just 42 percent of the time, 29th in the NFL. That will need to improve if the Raiders want to become even an average offense.
• Raiders RB Jalen Richard continues to impressive in the passing game (RaidersWire.com)
While a lot of Richard’s receptions come when the Raiders are in a hurry-up situation, the team would be wise to use him earlier in games and more frequently. He’s averaging 8.3 yards per reception, and with a catch percentage that high, it is way more efficient to throw him the ball, rather than hand it off to Doug Martin.