Before the late-season collapse, the Las Vegas Raiders were 6-3 after beating the Denver Broncos 37-12. In the first nine games, the Raiders’ offense was outstanding. Derek Carr was playing like a top 10 quarterback, and the running game was clicking. Las Vegas used a strong running game to control the clock to keep a porous defense off the field.
The Raiders beat the New Orleans Saints, won a cold-weather game against the Cleveland Browns, and had a 40-32 signature win on the road Against the Kansas City Chiefs. Many thought the Raiders’ defense was turning the corner after the Broncos game after holding Denver to just 12 points and forcing many turnovers.
What happened to the Raiders?
The next week at home against Kansas City, the Raiders lost a heartbreaker, 35-31, but it was reason to be optimistic after the loss. However, it went all downhill after that. The following week the Raiders played against the Atlanta Falcons, where they got blown out 43-6. The next week, Vegas won a game against the New York Jets they should have lost.
In week 14, the Indianapolis Colts came to Las Vegas and put a whipping on the Raiders. Las Vegas got dominated in that game physically and mentally. The next two weeks, the Raiders lost heartbreaking games to Los Angeles Chargers and the Miami Dolphins. The Raiders won their last game in Denver against the Broncos to go 8-8. After going 6-3, the Raiders finished the season 2-5, so what caused the Las Vegas’ late-season collapse.
The offense is their identity. Las Vegas averaged 139 yards in the first nine games, and for the rest of the season, they struggled to run, averaging only 92 yards rushing per game. Teams were stacking the box, and Josh Jacobs couldn’t get the running game going. Additionally, they were dealing with a lot of injuries to the offensive line, which ultimately led to the late-season collapse.
Covid and Injuries
COVID-19 and injuries played a big part in this franchise’s woes this year. Many went into COVID protocol, causing players to miss practice time and even some games. Trent Brown missed many games due to COVID and injuries.
He was a key cog on the offensive line but never could stay on the field. Every team had to deal with injuries and COVID as well, but it did play a part in the failures in Las Vegas.
Another critical factor in Las Vegas’ struggles was the red-zone offense. The Raiders left many points on the board, settling for just three-points in the red-zone often. Whether it was terrible play-calling by Jon Gruden or poor execution, the red-zone struggles hurt this organization significantly. This team must clean that up next season to become a complete offense.
Lastly, this defense was a disaster, giving up 29.9 points per game and didn’t get much pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Las Vegas spent a lot of money in the offseason to bring players like Cory Littleton, Nick Kwiatkoski, and Carl Nassib, but it didn’t work out, as Littleton and Nassib were very disappointing. However, Kwiatkoski had a solid season. Another player that was supposed to come in and be a factor was defensive tackle Maliek Collins. He did next to nothing for the defense, making the problem even worse.
The Raiders’ defense did a lot of things wrong, from blown coverages to miss tackles. The defense got so bad Gruden fired defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who was brought in to run the defense in 2018. After the firing, it was not much improvement under Rod Marinelli, but Littleton showed a little life at the end of the season. Las Vegas will need upgrades on defense to be a playoff team, and their big-money players have to step up if this franchise wants to make the playoffs in 2021.
Thanks for reading my article on the Las Vegas Raiders’ late-season collapse in 2020. For more great content follow me on Twitter @raiderway83.
Main Image Credit