Minnesota Vikings vs. Oakland Raiders: Oakland Grades, Notes and Quotes

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistNovember 16, 2015

Minnesota Vikings vs. Oakland Raiders: Oakland Grades, Notes and Quotes

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    The Oakland Raiders stepped onto the field unprepared to battle a buzzsaw and a brick wall in a demoralizing 30-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

    After every loss, critics look to point the finger. On Sunday, Raider Nation should look no further than a slow start from a sleepwalking offense and a defensive coordinator who must re-establish his once-dominant run defense.

    Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater came into the game with the same amount of touchdown passes as the Vikings tallied in the win column: six. Oakland should have expected the NFL’s leading rusher to help carry his team to victory along with a suffocating defenseand that’s exactly what happened. 

    Oakland contained Peterson in the first half, holding him under 50 yards, but Minnesota remained true to its identity. The Vikings controlled the clock and limited the Raiders offense to two possessions in the third quarter. Peterson choked the life out of a possible Raiders comeback with 154 rushing yards in the second half.

    Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. failed to counter the Vikings' grind-it-out ground attack, and the Raiders offense couldn’t establish a rhythm. 

    Quarterback Derek Carr racked up 302 passing yards but uncharacteristically turned the ball over in critical moments—once deep in Oakland territory, and once in the red zone, courtesy of Vikings cornerback Terence Newman.

    Oakland struggled to hang with a well-coached defense that made a concerted effort to safeguard against splash plays from an electric offense. 

Position Grades for Raiders

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
    Running backsC-
    Wide ReceiversC
    Tight Ends/H-BackC
    Offensive LineC-
    Defensive LineC+
    Defensive BacksA-
    Special TeamsC-

    Quarterback: Carr’s box-score stats don't look too shabby against the No. 6 pass defense, but his mistakes negate the production. An early interception led to a field goal. The late fourth-quarter interception, in the red zone, put the nail in the proverbial coffin.

    Running Backs: The Raiders needed a balanced effort on offense to keep the Vikings off-guard. Unfortunately, Minnesota held Latavius Murray under 50 rushing yards. Oakland opted to supplement the rushing attack with fullback Jamize Olawale, who recorded a couple of strong runs but only accumulated 24 yards on the ground. 

    Wide Receiver: The Vikings successfully kept wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper under wraps in terms of big plays. Neither receiver consistently challenged the defense deep downfield. Minnesota’s secondary kept the action in front and challenged the passing lanes with aggression.

    Tight Ends: Mychal Rivera recorded three out of six catches in hurry-up mode as the Vikings set up prevent defense. Rookie Clive Walford made an early appearance in the end zone, but he faded as a non-factor thereafter.

    Offensive Line: The offensive line lost battles in the trenches. Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen overpowered left tackle Donald Penn for a sack. Oakland’s ground attack certainly missed Rodney Hudson opening lanes in the middle. 

    Defensive Line: Typically, the pass rush pales in comparison to the run defense in performance, but the Raiders defensive line successfully converted pocket pressure into four sacks. Unfortunately, Peterson ran wild in the second half as the engine that kept the Vikings offense on the field.

    Linebackers: Vikings tight end Rhett Ellison caught an early touchdown pass, and Kyle Rudolph dropped another. Curtis Lofton recorded a sack, and Malcolm Smith remained active from sideline to sideline with nine tackles. However, the second level of the Raiders front seven failed to plug the gaps of a porous defensive line in the final 30 minutes of the game. 

    Defensive Backs: It’s difficult to determine whether the Raiders secondary put forth a solid effort or if the Vikings passing offense continued to sputter. As previously mentioned, Bridgewater’s arm hasn’t led the Vikings to many victories. None of the Vikings receivers recorded more than two catches. 

    However, safety Nate Allen whiffed on a tackle that allowed a 37-yard reception for wideout Stefon Diggs in the fourth quarter. Secondly, cornerback D.J. Hayden’s pass-interference penalty put the Vikings in scoring position on the first drive.

    Special Teams: Cornerback Keith McGill tipped a field goal in the fourth quarter to keep the Raiders alive. On the other hand, Oakland lost track of lane responsibility on Cordarrelle Patterson’s kickoff return, which hurt the Raiders' momentum going into halftime.


    Where should we start here?

    How about cornerback T.J. Carrie still returning punts? What about the explicable conservative play-calling to end the first half? Then, there’s Norton’s inability to make adjustments to the defense, which leads to mismatch halves on the defensive side of the ball.

    The coaching decision to hold running back Roy Helu Jr. inactive deserves questioning when the Raiders needed a dynamic short-yardage target.

    The Vikings run defense struggles to contain the edge, which serves as the perfect opportunity to bounce run plays outside. The Raiders could’ve exploited that weakness with speed. Strangely, Taiwan Jones didn’t touch the ball once as a ball-carrier.

    The Raiders coaching staff as a group failed to take advantage of matchups, continued to find solace in giving up their possessions before halftime and struggled to make counter-adjustments for the second half. 

Derek Carr Throws Two Interceptions

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    For the first time this season, Carr threw multiple interceptions in a contest. Both interceptions came at a high cost.

    Play-by-play commentator Ronde Barber pointed out Carr’s inability to dissect zone coverage, which led to an interception at the Raiders 35-yard line in the first quarter.

    Carr threw a jump-ball pass to Andre Holmes (6’5”), but Newman (5’10”) tipped the pass and forced the second interception.

    The Raiders moved the ball through the air, but the Vikings denied receivers opportunities to advance the ball after the catch in most situations.

Revolving Door at Backup Running Back

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    On Sunday, the Raiders opted to use Olawale as the No. 2 running back. He recorded five carries for 24 yards and amassed 59 total yards from scrimmage. 

    He played well in a small role, but the Raiders failed to do their homework on the opposing run defense. According to Pro Football Focus, the Vikings defensive ends grade below average in rush defense. Still, Murray ran sparingly toward the outside, and Jones didn’t record a carry.

    Olawale's contributions didn’t affect the outcome in the grand scheme. 

    The offensive line took the field without Hudson with the second-best overall defensive tackle, Joseph, plugging the middle.

    How's it possible that Olawale, who runs between the guards, emerged as the best offensive weapon to spark the rushing attack? That speaks to poor coaching decisions or lack of depth at the running back position.

Del Rio Talks About Squib Kick

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    In a postgame press conference, head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t elaborate beyond the obvious on kicker Sebastian Janikowski’s squib kick that led to a touchdown.

    “Anytime it goes all the way back for a touchdown, it wasn't executed the way you wanted,” said Del Rio.

    Some speculated that wind might have been a factor in the decision to squib kick. However, San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami refutes those claims with his recollection of the man with the iron leg via Twitter.

    It’s very possible that Del Rio tried to play it safe with the wind, but Patterson burned him on the touchdown return. The Raiders gained steam with a touchdown pass to Holmes, but Patterson's touchdown immediately flipped momentum back in the Vikings' favor.

Derek Carr on Tony Bergstrom

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Bergstrom isn't Hudson by any stretch of the imagination, but Carr expressed satisfactory approval for the backup center in terms of pass protection at the postgame press conference.

    Carr isn’t the type to throw his teammates under the bus. Bergstrom didn’t allow an absurd number of sacks, but the ground attack needs Hudson back in the lineup. Murray cannot overcompensate for average to below-average run-blocking up front.

    Without an effective rushing attack, opposing defenses may opt to play zone coverage to heavily focus on containing the deep ball and long receptions. 

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

    All statistics are provided by Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football Focus and Team Rankings unless otherwise noted. 

    Oakland Raiders Week 10 play-by-play and statistics courtesy of NFL.com.


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