The last two weeks of football for the Las Vegas Raiders have been a grueling road trip. That travel distress was only surpassed by the debilitating losses Silver & Black suffered in Weeks 8 and 9 to the New Orleans Saints and Jacksonville Jaguars.
But unfortunately, Week 10 is a whole new week and the Raiders will meet the Indianapolis Colts at home within the confines of Allegiant Stadium. The incoming riders are as disjointed as the Silver & Black – but they’ve clinched another win and a draw at 3-5-1 – and if ever there was a game that tipped heavily in the Raiders’ favour, this is it But anyone who’s followed the Raiders long enough knows that no game is a gimmie.
Perhaps practicing in familiar facilities and home cooking is the antidote to the raiders’ woes. But according to offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi, the Raiders will continue to face a world of injuries if Las Vegas can’t match the always elusive consistency.
“I think every series you do out there and you try to have a set of pieces and you’re just trying to do the job to the best of your ability,” Lombardi said during his midweek media session. “Whether it’s pattern or execution, I think everything could have been a little bit better on Sunday in terms of the second half and only stringed together positive plays.”
The positive plays came in bunches in the first half against the Jaguars for the Raiders offense. That’s progress considering how Las Vegas’ offense performed against the Saints the week before. But in the second half in Jacksonville, the positivity evaporated and Las Vegas closed after scoring 20 points in the first half. The two halves were polar opposites, leaving only bitter disappointments for both Raiders and their fans.
Asked about that exactly, Lombardi went to the E-word: execution.
“As an attack, it takes 11 guys to do their job and do their job well,” he began. “So, I think just from a consistency standpoint, if everyone does their job well, that’s what we’re going to try to do. I can’t give a concrete example, but we just have to do better at stringing together positive plays consistently.”
Conquering consistency and execution is the Raiders’ focus – once again – and is a must against a Colts defense orchestrated by a familiar face: Gus Bradley. He captained the Raiders defense for the previous regime last season and will be on the opposing touchline to stop Josh McDaniels and Lombardi on offense. What Lombardi has said about the Raiders needing all 11 to do their job is something he admires about Bradley and his Colts defense.
“They don’t do a lot of things, but they’re all connected. They play all 11 connected because they play fast and come to football,” Lombardi said. I think you saw that in her performance against New England on Sunday.”
While the Colts lost the Week 9 matchup 26-3 to the Patriots, Lombardi’s point still stands in the Indianapolis defense. Despite the record, Bradley is endowed with top-notch players in the trenches, linebacker and secondary school. It’s enough to ruin Raiders day if Las Vegas doesn’t get to the point.
And regardless of the defense they’ll be up against, Las Vegas’ offense must execute even if the “rhythm” isn’t there. Why put that word in quotes? Let Lombardi explain:
“People talk about rhythm, I think as an attack, it’s our job to go out there and score every time we get the ball,” said Lombardi. “So regardless of when we have it, how long we have it, we have to go out there and string together positive plays and get points. We should do better. We need to do that better in the second half to keep scoring and going ahead and extending that lead because we just can’t expect to go out there and play 30 minutes of football. We were allowed to play soccer for 60 minutes.
“So if we had the ball nine times, ten times in the game; Whenever those times come we need to score and we will try to score on all 9 or 10 and that is the goal for us as an attack.
Making the most of opportunities — whether they’re plentiful or limited — is something Las Vegas isn’t very good at in 2022. Hence the 2-6 record.
While many point to coaching or intrigue, player execution remains one of the glaring omissions in Raiders football. Yes, play calling and in-game adjustments need improvement as well, but if you watch the tape, you’ll see multiple opportunities for improvement in all three phases (Offensive, Defense, and Special Teams) of the Raiders. Safety veteran Duron Harmon isn’t one to talk about coaching or plans. For him, it’s all about the players doing their job this Sunday: