Oakland Raiders vs. Chicago Bears: Oakland Grades, Notes and Quotes

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2015

Oakland Raiders vs. Chicago Bears: Oakland Grades, Notes and Quotes

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    It’s the same old Oakland Raiders, right? Wrong. The old Raiders would have had their doors blown off by this 0-3 Chicago Bears team. The Raiders are improved, but they have one glaring weakness that prevented them from sealing this victory.

    The Raiders were one play away from extending their win streak. The defense lined up on 4th-and-5 on Chicago’s 25-yard line with one minute and 30 seconds left but failed to make a stop. The Bears had two timeouts remaining, and a turnover on downs could have been the curtain call.

    Instead, the Raiders allowed the Bears to march down the field in 12 plays, which resulted in a game-winning field goal from Robbie Gould.

    Overall, this became a seesaw matchup that required 60 minutes of dedication and one final clutch play.

    What were the turning factors? How did the Raiders perform individually, and what did they have to say about the loss?

Position Grades for Raiders

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    Head coach Jack Del Rio
    Head coach Jack Del RioDavid Banks/Getty Images
    Running backsC+
    Wide ReceiversB-
    Tight EndsD
    Offensive LineC-
    Defensive LineB
    Defensive BacksC-
    Special TeamsA

    Don’t blame quarterback Derek Carr for the play-calling or the interception that bounced off running back Latavius Murray’s pads.

    Carr put together another solid performance pertaining to what he could control on the field. Carr went 20/33 for 196 yards and two touchdown passes.

    Murray made two costly errors that either killed a thriving offensive drive or put the Bears in position to score on a short field.

    Backup running back Roy Helu provided a small bright spot with a receiving touchdown and some positive runs late in the game.

    The offensive line didn’t provide Murray much room to stretch his legs and burst for chunks of yardage. The men in the trenches also allowed two sacks.

    The defensive line tried their best to apply pressure to minimize weaknesses in pass coverage on the back end. Khalil Mack, Aldon Smith and Justin Tuck each notched a sack on the day.

    The Raiders linebackers played great downhill football. The run defense held Bears running back Matt Forte under 100 rushing yards (91). However, when it comes to pass coverage the linebacker corps became a huge liability, which in part factored into the loss.

    Oakland’s defensive backs failed to provide much resistance outside of another leaping interception from safety Charles Woodson.

    On the final drive, Bears wide receiver Marquess Wilson gouged the Raiders secondary for four catches and 36 yards to help put the Bears in field-goal range.

    The Raiders coaching staff as whole deserves a big fat F highlighted in red for multiple reasons.

    On the Raiders' final offensive drive, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave became more conservative as he approached the red zone. He opted to run the ball on four consecutive downs before Sebastian Janikowski's field-goal kick.

    Musgrave seemed content with settling for a field goal instead of attempting to score a touchdown.

    Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. knew tight end Martellus Bennett would receive a lot of targets without wideout Alshon Jeffery active, but they couldn’t stop him.

    Special teams coordinator Brad Seely must change his personnel on punt return duties.

    Cornerback T.J. Carrie suffered an injury on a punt return. The coaching staff followed that poor decision with another questionable move in using wide receiver Amari Cooper as the backup punt returner. 

Ken Norton Still Hasn't Solved Tight End Issues

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    Tight end Martellus Bennett
    Tight end Martellus BennettDavid Banks/Getty Images

    Norton talked about the poor tight end coverage in a press conference after Thursday’s practice.

    Unfortunately, the defense yielded the same poor results in covering Bennett. He registered 11 catches for 83 yards as Cutler’s go-to receiver.

    In the fourth consecutive week of tight end terror for the Raiders defense, one has to wonder if Norton will ever figure this out.

    Every NFL team knows it’s a weakness by now. Until Norton finds a solution, it’s going to present itself as an Achilles’ heel week after week.

Latavius Murray Commits Two Costly Turnovers

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    Derek Carr handing off to Latavius Murray
    Derek Carr handing off to Latavius MurrayCharles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    A team wins together and loses together, but Murray contributed a fair portion to the loss.

    A short pass from Carr bounced off Murray's chest and into the hands of outside linebacker Pernell McPhee. The Bears kicked a field goal on the ensuing possession.

    In the fourth quarter, Murray fumbled in Bears territory to cut off a productive drive with the Raiders in the lead 17-16.

    Both turnovers proved costly, considering Chicago’s two-point victory.

    Murray hasn't shown a pattern of miscues, but this certainly goes down as one of his worst performances.

Amari Cooper Shut out in Second Half

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    Amari Cooper makes a catch in the first half
    Amari Cooper makes a catch in the first halfDavid Banks/Getty Images

    Cooper made a veteran-like grab in the back of the end zone in the second quarter to propel the Raiders to a 7-6 lead. He caught four passes for 49 yards in the first half, and then his production came to a screeching halt.

    The rookie wideout didn’t record a single catch in the second half. His production dropoff is a result of either a long stretch of conservative play-calling or Chicago finding a way to slow him down.

    Wide receiver Michael Crabtree became the focal point of the passing attack in the second half. Cooper became a non-factor in a sluggish Raiders offense which scored just six points after halftime. 

T.J. Carrie Exits Second Quarter with Chest Injury

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    CB T.J. Carrie
    CB T.J. CarrieUncredited/Associated Press

    The idea of T.J. Carrie returning punts should raise eyebrows when he’s by far the best defender in coverage of the cornerbacks on the roster.

    That fact didn’t stop the coaching staff from penciling him in as the primary punt returner, and it bit the Raiders in the end.

    Carrie left Sunday’s game with a chest injury in the first play of the second quarter. He didn’t return, which becomes a cause for concern.

    According to CSN Bay Area reporter Fallon Smith, Carrie wore a sling on his left arm after the game.

    Without Carrie, the Raiders struggled to make a stop on the Bears' final drive. Wilson caught four passes for 36 yards to move Chicago within field-goal range for the win.

Latavius Murray: It Starts with Turnovers

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    Latavius Murray tackling Pernell McPhee
    Latavius Murray tackling Pernell McPheeJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    According to CSNBayArea.com reporter writer Scott Bair, Murray owned his portion of the blame for the loss:

    It starts with turnovers. I was at the root of two of those. It’s hard to win like that. Me having those two turnovers hurt us a lot. We gave ourselves a chance, but we have to find a way to win these tight games. I’ll play better and keep my head up going back to work this week.

    Murray’s errors, particularly the fumble in Bears territory, shifted the momentum. The coaching staff opted to substitute Helu in for Murray on the final offensive drive likely due to ball security concerns.

    Oakland’s starting running back played well in the first three weeks. His miscues can be attributed to temporary mental errors.

    Prior to Week 4, Murray caught 11 passes for 68 yards without a drop. He’ll experience better days, but in no way should anyone consider him a poor receiver out of the backfield or fumble-prone. 

Roy Helu: We Could've Stopped Them

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    No. 26 Roy Helu
    No. 26 Roy HeluJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Helu chose to focus on the final drive in his analysis of the loss, per Bair:

    “It’s not [Murray’s] fault that we lost,” Helu said. “We had a fourth down we could’ve stopped them on during that game-winning drive. I could’ve gotten the three yards we needed on 3rd down there at the end of the game when we settled for a field goal.”

    The Raiders put the ball in Helu’s hands with a conservative style of play-calling as the offense ventured into Bears territory.

    It’s expected that players put the onus on themselves to play better, but Helu made a poignant statement.

    The Raiders failed to stop the Bears offense on one particular play that could have sealed a victory. Oakland pushed Chicago to 4th-and-5, and Cutler completed a pass to Bennett for the escape.

    Football is a game of inches and crucial plays. The Bears made one more crucial play than the Raiders for the victory in Week 4.

    Follow Maurice Moton on Twitter for news, updates and intriguing discussion about the Oakland Raiders.

    All statistics are provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com and Pro Football Focus unless otherwise noted.

    Week 4 statistics and play-by-play analysis provided by NFL.com.


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