The Khalil Mack void still lingers over the Oakland Raiders, but the real issue actually has nothing to do with him at all.
Jon Gruden’s return signified a seemingly inevitable reversion to the 2016 Oakland Raiders — all offense, all 60 minutes.
In some ways, this has been the outcome.
Oakland (0-3) has held the ball more often in all three games so far, increasing their time-of-possession differential from 3:02 to 5:52 to a massive 17:02. This is reflected in several of their offensive statistics, where they rank sixth in total yards (1,202), yards per game (400.7), passing yards (906) and passing yards per game (302). Their ground numbers are not as elite, but are still respectable at 16th overall in rushing yards (296) and rushing yards per game (98.7).
All that yardage has translated in just 17.3 points per game, good for 28th overall.
That leaves them in the company of the Giants, who haven’t given Eli Manning time to blink, let alone survey the field, The Bills, who maybe-but-probably-haven’t figured out their quarterback situation yet, and the Titans, who have had to play Blaine Gabbert at quarterback in consecutive weeks.
The Raiders also have five turnovers on the season, all interceptions, and just one takeaway. Their minus-4 turnover differential is tied for worst in the NFL with the Lions.
What this means is that the offense isn’t finishing long drives with touchdowns while also giving the ball away far too often. This puts far more pressure on an already-average defense, which now has to figure out how to replace one of the best players in football.
The onus falls completely on Derek Carr’s shoulder pads, as it usually does for every great quarterback. In this case the load is intensified, not necessarily at his doing, but the organization’s decision-making. Their choice to trade Mack instead of paying him shifted more attention to the player they did give big money to, being Carr.
He’s not leading his team to touchdowns as often as he should and he’s turning the ball over.
The Raiders could easily be 2-1 right now. They lead almost the entirety of the Denver game. And In Miami they blew a 4th-and-1 from the 1-yard line in the first quarter, along with a late interception deep in Dolphin territory late in the fourth quarter, trailing 21-17.
Oakland has incrementally improved their gameplay each week, but they are still getting in their own way too often.
Maybe a return home Sunday against Cleveland (1-1-1) will yield better results.