3 Takeaways from Raiders' Week 14 Loss
The Las Vegas Raiders were floundering heading into Week 14, having lost four of their past five. However, a win over the rival Kansas City Chiefs would have changed everything. With a victory, Las Vegas would have moved to 7-6 and back into the playoff race. And another Raiders success would have added a positive entry on interim coach Rich Bisaccia's resume.
But the Raiders didn't win. They lost in embarrassing fashion to a Chiefs team that has owned the AFC West for a half-decade. Las Vegas is now facing a must-win game on the road against the Cleveland Browns in Week 15. Lose that, and the Raiders' playoff dreams are dead. They may already be.
In the broader scope, Sunday's lack of preparedness suggests that Bisaccia isn't suited to being the head coach long term. The Raiders will likely be searching for a new coach in the offseason, and other substantial changes could also be on the horizon.
Above all else, Sunday's loss showed that this team isn't ready to compete with the AFC's elite teams. Here's what else we learned during the Raiders' 48-9 loss in Week 14.
Poking the Dragon Is Not a Good Idea
After last week's loss to the Washington Football Team, running back Josh Jacobs lamented Las Vegas' lack of energy and constant slow starts. The Raiders came into Sunday's game with plenty of juice, but they did so in foolish fashion.
For whatever reason, Las Vegas decided to hold its pregame meeting at midfield and on the Chiefs' logo. That brought a chorus of boos from the Arrowhead crowd and did not sit well with the opposition.
"You definitely don't want people coming into your stadium and trying to disrespect things that you've kind of built," Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said, per NFL.com's Jelani Scott. "And so, for us, just gave us a little bit more motivation to go out there and win against a really good football team that we have a rivalry against that usually is a tough football game."
Teams with championship aspirations don't need extra motivation. Providing the Chiefs with some was a terrible decision. From the opening whistle to the final play, all of the energy and momentum belonged with the Chiefs—who did not encounter a tough football game this time around.
The Offensive Line Needs to Be Revamped Again
The Chiefs defense dominated on Sunday, notching one interception and four forced fumbles. However, the Raiders' woebegone offensive line was equally responsible for the lopsided affair.
Derek Carr was sacked four times and faced constant pressure throughout the game. While the Raiders abandoned the run quickly, there was little running room when they did stick to the ground. Jacobs had only 24 yards on nine carries, while the Raiders averaged 3.7 yards per carry as a team.
In the offseason, Las Vegas made several changes along the line—decisions that now seem ill-advised. It traded center Rodney Hudson, right guard Gabe Jackson and right tackle Trent Brown. It also took former Alabama tackle Alex Leatherwood, considered by most to be a second-round pick, 17th overall.
Leatherwood has been a borderline disaster. Now at guard, he had been responsible for 13 penalties and five sacks allowed coming into Sunday, according to Pro Football Focus.
Even in a wide-open pass-first era, NFL games are still won in the trenches. Against an aggressive defense like Kansas City's, the Raiders aren't going to win there often.
The Mike Mayock Experiment Needs to End
When the Raiders hired Mike Mayock to be their general manager out of an analyst position, fans had reasons to be skeptical. Yes, Mayock is a former player, but being a broadcaster and a draft analyst is not the same thing as being a seasoned football executive.
Under Mayock and coach Jon Gruden, the Raiders have made several curious roster and draft decisions. Those choices have too often failed to pay off.
2019 fourth overall pick Clelin Ferrell has been a bust—he has just 7.5 sacks in three seasons—while Leatherwood has been a big part of the problem along the offensive line. 2020 first-round picks Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette are both off of the team, though for off-field incidents not necessarily controllable by the team.
Ruggs was released after his arrest for driving under the influence resulting in death and reckless driving. Arnette was released after video surfaced of him making death threats while holding a firearm.
The on-field product in Las Vegas hasn't been good enough, as the Raiders rank 31st in points allowed and only 18th in scoring. Considering Mayock has played a huge role in constructing this roster, the blame has to fall on him.
Sunday's blowout loss was further proof that Mayock doesn't know how to build a team capable of competing in the AFC West. With Gruden already out the door, Mayock should soon follow.