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Raiders winners and losers in 20-9 defeat vs. Bears


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Different offensive line, same problems for the Las Vegas Raiders.

Coach Jon Gruden’s offense continued to struggle and had its lowest point output of the season in a 20-9 loss to the Bears on Sunday. Chicago stopped the Raiders’ run game and put solid pressure on quarterback Derek Carr, led by former Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack.

On defense, Las Vegas let Bears rookie QB Justin Fields off the hook, getting pressure on him early but allowing him to find a rhythm thanks to poorly timed penalties.

But as always, some Raiders fared better than others. Here are this week’s winners and losers after Las Vegas drops its second straight game, falling to 3-2 on the season.

Winners

Quinton Jefferson

The Raiders’ defense allowed 143 rushing yards on the day, but in a couple of key moments, defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson registered big stops on run plays to keep the Raiders’ scant chances of winning alive.

Jefferson had two run-stuffs on 3rd-and-short plays, a change in fortune after the Bears had been gashing the Raiders up the middle. When all seemed lost for Las Vegas, Jefferson was there. He also had help from massive, people-moving defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins. It was a good representation of the Raiders defense, which kept fighting when the offense simply didn’t give them much motivation to do so.

Johnathan Abram

The Raiders’ third-year safety made his impact early in the game, crushing Fields with a heavy-duty QB hit. The play left Fields checking his body for damage, taking his rib protector off during the game to make sure his midsection was intact, according to CBS.

Abram registered three hits on Fields on the day, pacing the Las Vegas defense. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley sent more blitzes than he has in past weeks, trying to knock Fields off his game. The rookie only tallied 111 passing yards, but he threw a touchdown and made just enough big plays to outscore the Raiders’ dysfunctioning offense.

Yannick Ngakoue

The Raiders speed-rushing defense end had two sacks, so he’s safely in this week’s winners column. He’s provided a pass-rushing punch that has changed the fortunes of the Raiders defense, along with his counterpart, defensive end Maxx Crosby. Plus, the sacks were Ngakoue’s first two of the season.

But it must be noted that Ngakoue had a very costly penalty in the first half. With the Raiders up 3-0, they were successfully impacting Fields’ play with pressure on the pocket. Ngakoue was called for a late hit on Fields on a 2nd-and-long, however. After that, Fields found a rhythm and the Bears marched down the field for their first touchdown of the day, taking a lead they would not relinquish.

Also, Crosby and Abram had costly penalties on that drive, too. It was that sort of day for the Raiders. But still, the Raiders’ primary problem continues to be Gruden’s offense.

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Losers

Jon Gruden

Jon Gruden’s offense was the toast of Las Vegas when the Raiders were 3-0. Now? It’s a completely different story. The Raiders have started slowly in all of their games this season, but lately, Gruden and Carr are struggling to find footing even as the game goes on.

One glaring issue is short-yardage situations. Down 7-3 to the Bears, Carr ran the ball himself on 3rd-and-short, getting slammed dangerously to the turf in the process. The play was more fit for a read-option QB, not Carr, and made little sense.

Gruden went for it on fourth down, too, but a Josh Jacobs run was stopped in its tracks at the Bears 27-yard line. Chicago took the ball, and all the momentum, and drove 73 yards in 16 plays to take a commanding 14-3 lead.

The Raiders moved rookie OT Alex Leatherwood to guard and inserted reserve OT Brandon Paker to take his place against Chicago, but the offensive line played as poorly as it had been before. Without a serviceable front line, it appears questionable that Gruden’s offense can function at all. And with Gruden calling shots on personnel, he’s got nobody to point the finger at but himself.

Alex Leatherwood/Brandon Parker

The Raiders new right side of the offense line faced a difficult challenge in Mack and a sack-happy Bears defense, but they had numerous breakdowns that left Carr hanging out to dry. Each player committed multiple costly penalties, as well.

Mack’s first sack against his former team came after he bowled into Leatherwood’s side, creating a path to Carr and leaving Leatherwood a mere spectator.

And on a failed 2-point conversion for the Raiders, Parker barely got a hand on Mack before he took Carr down again.

Parker’s incredible whiff was a poor representation of the Raiders in every way. How can that be their best option at right tackle? Parker’s lack of skill on that snap put Carr’s health, and Las Vegas’ season, in serious danger. It’s fortunate Mack and Carr are old friends. A dangerous missed block like that often leads to disaster.

Bryan Edwards

Even when there were plays to be had on offense, folly ensued. Wide receiver Bryan Edwards dropped a deep bomb from Carr that would have been good for a 60-yard gain.

Carr made a slick move in the pocket and delivered a skillful throw, but to no avail. The drop occurred on the Raiders’ first drive of the second half, right when the Raiders had a golden opportunity to change momentum. On a day when nothing went right for Las Vegas, the play was too fitting.

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