EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Coach Dennis Allen's expectation in the past few weeks -- whether the Oakland Raiders’ quarterback was Matt Schaub or Derek Carr -- was better execution from the entire offense.
One of the reasons the Raiders boldly named Carr, a second-round pick, as the starter was the way the offense executed with him behind center in the preseason and training camp.
However, when the bright lights of Week 1 came on, Carr and his offense lacked that same energy, cohesion and spark. The result was a sluggish 19-14 loss -- the game was not that close -- to the New York Jets.
“It should have been a rat kill,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said.
The Raiders, hoping that change would create better bottom-line results, are 0-1 and have now lost nine straight games dating back to last season. Oakland had just 158 total yards of offense -- 73 of which came on the team’s final drive. It was Oakland’s lowest offensive output since 2009. Yes, that was the JaMarcus Russell era.
The question for the Raiders is if Sunday’s lethargic offensive output was a sign of things to come or if it was simply a slow start for an offense being led by a talented, yet green, quarterback?
It's probably the latter. The Raiders did not lose this game because Carr was awful. Allen said Carr predictably made some mistakes, but he didn’t think the game was too big for the Fresno State product.
“The key is finding a quarterback you trust,” Oakland receiver Rod Streater said. “I have found that in Derek. We have to help him.”
Precisely. The Oakland offense will have to get better as a unit. Carr will grow. But his offense has to elevate with him.
The Raiders were clearly cautious with Carr. The game plan was for him to throw short passes against a smart, strong New York defense. Until the Raiders’ last drive -- essentially a garbage time outing that ended in a nifty 30-yard touchdown pass from Carr to new veteran receiver James Jones -- to make it a one-touchdown game in the final moments, Carr threw just one pass for more than 15 yards.
Expect the Raiders’ game plan to remain conservative as Carr gains more experience, especially against a quick Houston defensive front at home next Sunday. Carr started out well as he got the ball out quickly and he was thriving as he completed his first eight passes.
Yet, as the Jets’ defense stiffened, Carr became inconsistent. His teammates didn’t help.
Spanning the second through fourth quarters, the Raiders went more than half the game without getting into Jets' territory. The Raiders’ run game -- which is supposed to kick start the offense this season -- was nonexistent. New starting running back Maurice Jones-Drew had 11 yards on nine carries. Fellow veteran Darren McFadden had 15 yards on four carries. The Raiders ended up with 25 yards of rushing offense.
Ryan chided new Oakland guard, and former Jets player Austin Howard, for saying this week he thought the Raiders could push the Jets around a bit. The only pushing was being done by the Jets.
“I thought they won the line of scrimmage battle,” Allen said. “We’ve just got to be able to execute and do better.”
It starts with Oakland’s veterans on offense helping their rookie quarterback more than they did Sunday.