LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The general manager says the way the Raiders lost Sunday to the New Orleans Saints was somewhat peculiar.
“The game against New Orleans, in particular, I thought it was a little bit of an anomaly of how we played up to this point,” Dave Ziegler said Tuesday. “I mean, we’ve been competitive in every game. Every game has been tight.”
Close losses or a 24-0 defeat to the Saints, what does it matter? Losses are losses. The Raiders are 2-5. The league is full of teams with close losses. Take the Detroit Lions, with the NFL’s worst record at 1-6. Four of their losses have been by four points or fewer.
Bottom line: Good teams find ways to win close games. The Raiders and Lions are teams that can’t make clutch plays, plays that inevitably can turn close losses into victories. Whether it’s a critical stop by the defense on third down or a key block to get a timely first down on offense, teams like the Raiders just don’t make enough of them.
Coach Josh Daniels spoke Tuesday about his defense, ranked 25th in both points allowed and yards allowed after Sunday’s loss. He referred to putting in a “collective effort” as in “11 guys have to do their job the right way.”
He could say the same thing about the offense, which in some stretches has been good and in others has been ineffective.
“We’ve had stretches where we played very well together, and that’s what we need to get back to,” McDaniels said of both units.
As the Raiders head into Week 9 for a road game against the 2-6 Jacksonville Jaguars (10 a.m. Sunday, KLAS, Channel 8), one goal needs to be making plays when absolutely necessary. Who sheds a block on defense to make a third-down stop? Which player does his job on offense to keep a drive alive?
It’s the one major element that’s missing for the Raiders. Who steps up? Davante Adams has been OK, with 38 catches, five for touchdowns. And Maxx Crosby is among the league leaders in sacks with six. But making plays at important moments hasn’t been a pattern for the Raiders.
There’s probably not enough time to make a run this year. Twelve teams in the conference have better records than the Raiders. That’s too many teams ahead of them in the chase for playoff spots.
For Ziegler and McDaniels, then, it’s sticking to the process, typical coachspeak.
Ziegler will evaluate, see where the needs are.
“When you come in, in year one, what you’re doing from the beginning until the end, is evaluating,” the GM said. “And you’re figuring out what the fits are, what your strengths are as a team, what your needs are as a team going forward.
McDaniels will try to do the best with what he has, hopefully coach some players up, see who might develop into a more consistent performer.
“We’re hard at work and making sure that we try to eliminate some of those things and do better the things we didn’t do well enough,” he said.