The honeymoon is over in Raider Nation.
The cigar smoke has dissipated, as it’s back to reality for the Las Vegas Raiders, who looked lost offensively in a 20-13 setback in Miami against the AFC East-leading Dolphins.
Three takeaways Sunday’s loss at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida:
Aidan O’Connell has a long way to go
The rookie out of Purdue may have won the last two weeks against the Jersey Boys – the Giants and Jets – but on the road against a legitimate opponent, he looked every bit of a fourth-round NFL freshman.
O’Connell finished 24 of 41 for 271 yards and one touchdown, not necessarily bad numbers. But he threw three interceptions – and those are atrocious numbers. Coming into Sunday he’d thrown three interceptions in four games.
Over his last three games, he’s a combined 56 of 93 (60.2%) for 633 yards. In five appearances, he’s 90 for 145 (62%) for 946 yards.
Coach Antonio Pierce made his decision to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo, and that’s fine. But O’Connell has a ways to go.
If there is a positive to take from the game, it’s holding the Dolphins to 20 points. Remember, this is the same team that threw a 70-spot on the Broncos back in Week 3.
Miami had been held to 20 or less in just three of its previous nine games, as it came in averaging ranked No. 1 in the league with 31.7 points per game. The Dolphins were the only team averaging 30 or more points on the year.
Say what you want about the Raiders, the reason three of their six losses have been one-score games is because their defense has kept them in games.
Las Vegas has held five of its last seven opponents to 20 points or less. With four of its final six games at home, we can expect to see the defense do its job.
In addition to the three interceptions from O’Connell, efficiency needs to be a discussion this week, with the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs arriving in Las Vegas on a short week.
The Raiders were held without a first down in the second and third quarters.
“We’re learning how important a possession is,” O’Connell said. “Just how much you’ve got to be locked in on every play. Try to stay ahead of the sticks.”
The Raiders came into the game ranked 29th in the league in third-down conversion (33.1%).
Sunday they were worse.
Las Vegas was just 4 of 14 (29%) on third down. The Raiders also went 0-2 on fourth-down attempts and was 0 for 1 in the red zone.