Oakland Raiders

Commentary: You can’t write off the Raiders after loss to otherworldly Chiefs team

Remember all that Raiders’ momentum coming out of last Monday’s win over the Broncos?

Well, forget all about it.

That win over Denver wasn’t a mirage or a fluke, but neither was Week 2’s 28-10 loss to the Chiefs.

Kansas City showed the Raiders the difference between good and great, Sunday, smacking the Raiders around and exerting their dominance in all three phases.

The Raiders had no answer to the Chiefs’ preposterously talented quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, and his never-ending stockpile of speedy receivers. The Raiders’ offense couldn’t get out of its own way and capitalize against Kansas City’s all-or-nothing defense, either. Kansas City ended up getting everything it wanted more than enough times to win.

Mahomes and the Chiefs were on a different level. At times, it looked like they were playing a different game.

As Ric Flair told us all: to be the man, you gotta beat the man. The Raiders merely teased him Sunday.

But don’t write off Jon Gruden’s team after one underwhelming game against an elite opponent.

Because while I know Raiders fans were feeling good heading into Week 2, I doubt anyone ever confused Gruden’s squad for an elite team.

Left in the wake of Mahomes’ 443-yard, four-touchdown performance is the fact that Oakland led Sunday’s game 10-0. Monday’s good times were rolling – Derek Carr was throwing darts, the defense was flying around, and Mahomes looked downright human. It looked like we had ourselves a ballgame.

That changed with perhaps the greatest quarter of quarterbacking I’ve ever seen. Mahomes and the Chiefs found another gear in the second frame of the game. The reigning MVP went for 278 yards and four touchdowns, beating both broken and strong coverages with a series of jaw-dropping, near-perfect, and nearly irreplicable throws.

The Raiders didn’t know what hit them. At the same time, their offense picked the worst possible time to stall.

After they went up 10-0, the Raiders punted on four straight possessions, running only 14 plays. By the time they had the ball again in the second half, they were down by the ultimate scoreline.

Gruden runs a possession offense – he wants to bleed out a defense via 75 paper cuts. That’s not going to change, week-to-week. Meanwhile, Oakland’s defense doesn’t have the players, particularly in the pass rush, to be anything more than a bend-but-don’t-break unit, trying to keep everything in front of them. When both are working well, my bet is that the Raiders can play with nearly everyone in the NFL.

But Sunday was not a fair fight. Paper cuts can’t stand up to a howitzer, and the Raiders’ keep-every-thing-in-front defense didn’t function when the Chiefs used their speed and Mahomes’ video-game arm to simply throw it over the defense’s head.

“We had a breakdown in one coverage,” Gruden said. “But a couple of those were just incredible throws and catches. … It’s a combination of a great young quarterback with a scheme that really suits him.”

But the Raiders should take solace in the fact that there’s only one Mahomes, only one Chiefs’ offense.

Add in the Raiders’ untimely offensive struggles – “we just lost our rhythm,” Gruden said – and Sunday might stand as bad as it gets for the Silver and Black in 2019.

The NFL schedule makers aren’t making it easy for them to bounce back, though. The Raiders will now head on the road for a five-game, two-continent road trip that features three playoff teams from last year, as well as the Vikings and Packers. Good teams, all of them.

Going into this season-defining stretch, I don’t think we’ve seen anything disqualifying from the Raiders.

They are what we thought they were. A capable offense and an always-in-question defense.

That’s not a slight. That can get you pretty far in this era’s NFL.

So while, yes, it’ll be hard to overlook that rapid-fire beatdown Sunday, it’s not outrageous to think that the Raiders – should they stay relatively healthy – can come back to the Coliseum after Halloween with two or three more wins and realistic playoff hopes in the second half of the season.

We’ve seen some quality in this team, enough to think that they’re better than last year’s 4-12 record.

Who knows? They might even be good.

Just not as good as Kansas City.

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