This certainly isn’t the return to the sidelines Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden had expected or hoped for. Through three games, the Raiders remain winless, at the bottom of the AFC West and unable to hold a late lead.
That last part is what’s really hurt, though. So much so that it’s essentially summed up the 0-3 start for the Raiders. While the trade of Khalil Mack, and the fact he plays the position they’re struggling at most certainly stings, the fourth quarter woes stand out in a big way.
In two bits of info which Josh Dubow of the Associated Press revealed, it quickly became apparent that the fourth quarter is a breaking point for this Raiders team.
*Note: The Raiders have been outscored 37-3 in the fourth quarter, as the tweet above was posted prior to the team’s final field goal in Week 3.
The fact that Oakland has scored just three points in the fourth quarter, yet hasn’t trailed for the first three quarters of any game is incredible. It’s certainly disappointing and when diving deeper into the games, the team could (and probably should) easily be 2-1 or at least 1-2 at this point.
Raiders’ Fourth-Quarter Struggles
When looking at the first three games, here’s a breakdown of how the fourth-quarter offensive drives have gone:
Week 1 vs. Rams:
- Interception for touchdown
- End of game
Week 2 vs. Broncos:
- End of game
Week 3 vs. Dolphins:
- Field goal
In the opener, the Raiders had just one fourth-quarter drive go more than 35 yards, which came when they were down 33-13 on the final drive of the game. In Week 2, Oakland totaled 39 yards of offense in the final frame as the Broncos held the ball for nine minutes.
There was a lone bright spot in the most recent loss to the Dolphins, as the Raiders fell behind 21-17 and went on a 77-yard drive. Unfortunately, when they got inside the red zone, Derek Carr threw an interception on the nine-yard line with under three minutes remaining.
Fixing the Issues
There’s no simple way to fix this except for the obvious. The Raiders need to be the ones controlling the clock and dominating possession late in games. As mentioned above, the Broncos held the ball for nine minutes of the fourth quarter, basically leaving Gruden’s squad no room for error.
Interceptions late in drives from Carr also simply can’t happen, and in general, the Raiders need to keep their foot on the gas all the way through games. At times, this team looks like it has the potential to be solid across the board, but when they opt to turn on cruise control, the hot start is bound to cool off.