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What Raiders , Rams players and coaches are saying ahead of week one match-up

For the third straight week the Oakland Raiders scored on their opening drive. They generated and held a lead for three quarters of football. But , another fourth quarter collapse robbed the Raiders of victory yet again.Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is either turning water to wine for 3 quarters on defense or the team loses their glass slipper way too early. Thru three quarters the defense is rock solid. Late additions Clinton McDonald and Jonathan Hankins have been an improvement at the point of attack. Arden Key is learning on the job and getting closer and closer to finishing in the backfield. Gareon Conley got tested deep twice, he was 50/50 but the best thing was he didnít give up a touchdown. Reggie Nelson was running all over the box and was a tackling machine.At about three minutes left in the third, the clock struck midnight for the Raiders defense. The Dolphins trailed 17-7 with 2:58 seconds left to go in the third quarter, from there they would go on to score three touchdowns in their next four possessions. In a lightning quick 4 minutes and 45 seconds of offensive possessions and8 plays, the Dolphins would shift gears and run away with the game.On paper, the defense blew a total of four plays for 196 yards and 3 touchdowns and it cost them the game. Opponents have now scored on a jet sweep in three straight games against the Raiders and the Dolphins even used some razzle dazzle to supplement a stalled offense. Through 3 games they have averaged playing less than ten minutes in the first half.By the beginning of the fourth quarter this team goes belly up. Raiders have been outscored 37-3 in fourth quarters in 2018. But why? Weíve heard excuses altitude, heat, travel/early start etc. etc. The only possible reason I can offer is teams have identified that by going max protect the Raiders impotent pass rush will not pressure their quarterback. This allows for an opportunity to punish the safeties for a lack of modern NFL velocity. But the defense rarely is on the field longer than 20 minutes before it all falls apart. Against the Dolphins it really came down to trick plays, turnovers, and being 2/5 40% inside the redzone. Can you be elite and not score?Points win football games, not statistics and the 2018 Raiders are a painful reminder of that fact. In his first season back on the sidelines, head coach Jon Gruden has his offense gaining the sixth most yards per game in the league (400.7), sixth in passing (302 yards per game), tied for 16th in rushing averaging (98 yards per game), and eighth in third down conversion (44.4%). Averaging 17.3 points per game awards the Raiders with the 28th best scoring offense in the league. ďWe are fighting, I think if you watch the tape you will see a lot of great competitiveness. You will see some guys giving you everything that they have,Ē said Gruden.Nobody has given up. The players are banding even closer together and searching within instead of blaming others.Many have seen the early returns and know penalties and mistakes prevent them from being a great offense.ďI think when you throw for 80% in basically three games for almost 1000 yards, that is as good as I've ever been associated with,Ē said Gruden speaking about Carrís performance thus far. Carr has been stellar under center Seth Roberts Jersey , rolling out, calling audibles, and lethally accurate until he gets inside the opponents 20 yard line. Itís been an interesting turn of events over the course of the past few years. In 2016 Carr came out swan diving out of bounds, calling audibles, ripping 50-yard frozen ropes in the Pro Bowl, and clutch comebacks. So far this season, when the team needs Carr to execute most heís pressing. Carr is an excitable man and an excitable player. What makes this season more upside down is Carrís outstanding 76.6 completion percentage, especially when compared to only having 2 TDís vs 5 Interceptions.Itís not just the fact that Carr has thrown 5 interceptions but he has thrown some passes that look like he was hand throwing skeet at shotgun league. There may never be a good time to throw an interception, but two of the five have been the result of aggressively attacking man-to-man coverage in the end zone. Goal line interceptions are back breakers. The main scoring threat has been running back Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is getting more comfortable in this offense and has been finding more and more room to run. Donít get it twisted though, Beastmode has been running through some faces too. He leads the team with three rushing touchdowns and has been a rallying point. Against the Dolphins Lynch ran the ball 19 times for 64 yards of pure tough running and scored the games first touchdown.AC/DC power outageOne week Amari Cooper and Carr are perfect together for the first time ever. The next week Cooper is quitting on routes where he has a step, dropping easy passes, not getting to where the play is designed. It was just really bizarre to see these two be on the same team and totally not on the same page. Cooper is in a contract year, if he doesnít produce there isnít a guarantee he will be extended a fifth-year option, and he definitely ainít coming anywhere near OBJís money with his disappearing acts. Cooper is a strange case of not enough personality at a prima donna position. Me guys donít allow themselves to fail, me guys donít ever not get theirís or the whole world hears about it. In order for Cooper to reach his full potential heís going to need to pound his chest and let people know to throw him the damn ball!Final ThoughtsThe Miami Dolphins were allowed to hang around in this football game until they got their opportunity to strike. Fourth quarters continue to be scenes from Chuckyís House of Horrors. Carr must find the magic fountain of clutch, and figure out how to hit pay-dirt and keep revisiting. The defense looks good enough to get off the field on third downs but not good enough when the defecation hits the rotary oscillator. No team should be giving up 21 points in 4:45 seconds spread out through 18 minutes of football. Guenther is going to need to find a way to take R. Nelson out of the defense in single high looks. When Nelson is back there teams are calling max protect, throwing deep, and either scoring or getting a penalty leading to a score.One last nugget some may confuse with hate. Jordy Nelson had a helluva game. He was over 100 yards receiving before everyone had taken their seats. Football is a game of inches. It always has been and it always will be. There has been lots of talk about whether Nelson has lost a step and whether he can still run. In the NFL the difference in losing a step usually equates to losing potentially a tenth of a second off your 40 time. While it may not appear to be a big deal go back and look at the 66-yard reception where Nelson was caught from behind, an additional step of speed gets him into the end zone and puts his team up 14-0 on the road Authentic Donald Penn Jersey , and perhaps that reinforces the confidence and we have a different outcome.Follow Phil on twitter @PhilRobinsonNFLIn one half of football with Bears, Khalil Mack destroys Packers, takes Raiders soul We arenít even a half of football into Khalil Mackís career with the Chicago Bears and he has already proven he is worth every penny of what the Bears paid him.He came in on second down on the first series and immediately pushed right tackle Brian Bulaga back to crash the pocket. The next play, Bulaga held him, but the pass fell incomplete on third down and the Bears declined it to force the punt.Later on, Mack got more pressure on the outside, which forced Aaron Rodgers to step up and he was sacked by inside pressure (imagine that) and left the game with an apparent knee injury and was carted off the field.Eliminating the best player in the game who happens to be in your division? Thatís a big win.A few plays later, he created a sack for Roquan Smith.Mack wasnít going to be just the guy creating sacks for other though. The first drive with DeShone Kizer in for Rodgers ended like this:Mack got around the edge again and Kizer ran right to him, but taking the gimme sack wasnít enough. He ripped the ball out of Kizerís arms for the literal take-away.As a Raiders fan, you got used to seeing this kind of incredible play. Though it seems a lot of Raiders fans conveniently forgot that over the past week. If they were watching tonight, they got a rude reminder. And so did Jon Gruden.That takeaway was reminiscent of the pick six he had at point blank range against Cam Newton and the Panthers in 2016. Oh speaking of pick six... HE HAD ONE OF THOSE TOO!I canít wait to see what the second half of just this game brings. The Packers are up 17-0. Donít tell me Mack canít be a one-man wrecking crew. Screw your supposed 7 other players you could sign instead.I know, I know, ďmove onĒ right? Well, as long as Khalil Mack continues to...well, be Khalil Mack, he is not going to let the Raiders move on. We are 30 minutes into a long time Mack will remind the Raiders and Jon Gruden of just how stupid they were to trade him.Follow @LeviDamien

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