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Oakland Raiders Week 17 Takeaways

Although the end of the year has been disappointing, the Raiders can still look at their Week 17 and use these takeaways to look ahead to the playoffs.

Finishing at 12-4 and in the playoffs for the first time since 2002, the Oakland Raiders can definitely look back at this season in satisfaction. They made it. The monkey is off of their back. The pressure to make it to the playoffs is over! Once Derek Carr went down in Week 16, the rest of the season looked bleak, despite all the confidence the players and coaches expressed towards backup quarterback Matt McGloin. The way they played without Carr in the last game of the season against the rival Denver Broncos, it was pretty clear that the Raiders won’t win any playoff games

Oakland Raiders Week 17 Takeaways

The Impact of Derek Carr

The only good that really comes out of this injury is how much Derek Carr’s value is being put on display. Just in this one game, it’s obvious how important Carr is to the team’s win column. The Raiders have been outscored 35-6 since he left last week’s game against the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth quarter.

Based on the way the Raiders played the Broncos for the second time this year, and the vast difference of the outcome, it is obvious that Derek Carr is a top three MVP candidate. Tom Brady just set the record for the best touchdown to interception ratio of a season, a remarkable milestone especially since he is 39 years old. Brady missed four games to begin the season and is one of the MVP front-runners. So there is absolutely no argument that because Carr missed this last game, that he shouldn’t win MVP.

Carr has seven legit game winning drives. These are all games where he and the offense played well, but the defense struggled and forced Carr to have to win it in the fourth. His leadership and charisma have been on full display this season in several nationally televised games. In three prime-time games, the team lost only one, to the kryptonite Kansas City Chiefs. There are very few players more valuable to their team than Derek Carr. Carr won’t win the MVP because his stats aren’t on the level of the other two top candidates, Brady and Aaron Rodgers, but he is a top candidate this season and will be a favorite for next year.

Matt McGloin…Connor Cook…Michael Crabtree?

It’s fine to look ahead to next year since this one looks like it is pretty much over, but there is still a playoff game to play, and anything is possible. What we have seen though, is that the Raiders were not able to do anything effective in the passing game until the Denver Broncos started to play a softer, more prevent style defense later in the game. Second string backup quarterback Matt McGloin completed six of his 11 passes for just 21 yards before he was hit hard after a throw and knocked out of the game with some kind of shoulder injury. He was extremely unimpressive in the little time that he played. His biggest error was missing a wide open Amari Cooper who would have outraced everyone into the end zone. McGloin might not be ready for the first playoff game because of that injury. Even if he is healthy, he might not be the best choice to start the game.

The third string quarterback, the rookie from Michigan State, Connor Cook, was bad but not terrible. He turned the ball over twice. He fumbled because he wasn’t paying attention to taking care of the ball, and he overthrew a receiver (it wasn’t the first time) that resulted in an interception. However, he did make some decent throws that got the offense rolling.

The Raiders were able to score a touchdown late in the game, when Cook made a really nice pass to Amari Cooper for a 32 yard touchdown. It was a perfect throw by Cook and Cooper was able to finish it off with a great catch and run. If he can take care of the ball, Cook might be able to work some postseason magic. However, that is unlikely, especially with the fact that he would have to work this magic against the Houston Texans who ended the season with the number one ranked defense.

Connor Cook didn’t look terrible against a tough Broncos defense. His debut was against one of the hardest match-ups he could have possibly gone up against because of the implications of the game, the defense that he had to play against, and the rivalry and nastiness of a Broncos and Raiders game. There is less of the extra issues in this playoff game against the Texans, but it is still a great defense the Raiders will be playing. Figuring out McGloin’s situation and status should be the first priority.

If he can’t play, then there is no need for any argument about who should start against the Texans. If he is able to play, there might be a need for a little competition and reflection to decide who should be starting this game. And if McGloin isn’t able to play, the Raiders should definitely be signing a quarterback to back up Cook in case of injury. If Cook went down, the Raiders would have to put wide receiver Michael Crabtree out there as quarterback, and that wouldn’t lead to any sort of success.

Who’s Our Only Hope?

Again, the season looks over, but there is still a glimmer of hope that the Raiders can somehow rally behind their backup quarterbacks and make it to the Super Bowl. Only then would there be a chance for Derek Carr to come back and play this season. In the meantime, instead of looking on to far fetched hopes, someone needs to figure out how the Raiders can beat the Texans!

The formula against the Broncos didn’t work. The Raiders attempted to pound the ball down the field with their three running back committee and powerful offensive line, but it didn’t work. It didn’t work because the Broncos didn’t respect Cook’s or McGloin’s arm, especially after McGloin missed Cooper on that wide open touchdown pass. What the Raiders need is the defense to play to it’s full potential, but they’re too beat up as well. Rookie safety Karl Joseph has been out since the Buffalo Bills game, and his replacement, Nate Allen, left the Broncos game with what looked like a concussion. The Raiders have injuries on both the defensive and offensive lines.

With injuries high and morale low, the Raiders need their defensive franchise standout Khalil Mack more than ever. Mack had an impressive eight game stretch where he recorded at least one sack, which tied the NFL record for sack streaks. He ended the year with eleven sacks, an interception that he returned for a touchdown, and also was tied for second in both forced fumbles and fumble recoveries.

Mack and the defense closed out several games by stopping the opposing team’s offense from scoring on their last drive after Derek Carr made his game winning drive. That was a beautiful one-two punch that we saw many times at the end of close games. But the Raiders need the defense to play at an elite level for four quarters, not just one.

Although he hasn’t recorded a sack in the last three games, Khalil Mack is still getting pressure on the quarterback and stopping the run better than anyone. The Raiders need him to have a monster game against the Texans, and for the defense to step up and stop the Texans offense. If the Raiders defense can keep the game low scoring, the offense might have a chance to sneak out this win. The Broncos showed how easy it was to beat a Carr-less Raiders team already. Any chance for a Super Bowl run without their MVP is extremely slim.


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