PFF Recap: Grading the Oakland Raiders in Week 6

Reactions to PFF’s grades of the Oakland Raiders after their Week 6 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Oakland Raiders (4-2) had an opportunity to extend their lead in the AFC West against a visiting division opponent in the Kansas City Chiefs (3-2) on Sunday.

Instead of rising to the occasion, the Raiders fell into their own black hole.

Dropping the contest 26-10, Oakland’s offense put together their worst performance to date, closing the gap between the Raiders and the rest of the division.

In an effort to explain their Week 6 sorrows, we will take a closer look at how ProFootballFocus.com graded the Raiders’ individual efforts against Kansas City.

October 16, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Coliseum. The Chiefs defeated the Raiders 26-10. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

October 16, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Coliseum. The Chiefs defeated the Raiders 26-10. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Early Struggles Rattle Derek Carr at Home

Raiders third-year quarterback Derek Carr has previously noted that he allows his emotions to sometimes affect his play, especially against division opponents in front of his home crowd.

His emotions got the best of him on Sunday.

Carr, PFF’s top ranked quarterback prior to this Week 6 contest, fielded his worst performance this against Kansas City, and, as a result, the Raiders’ offense simply couldn’t get the job done.

Carr earned a 34.9 overall grade, pushing him down from No. 1 to No. 9 on PFF’s quarterback rankings this season.

After capping off a methodical, well-orchestrated drive with a beautiful touchdown pass to Andre Holmes to start the contest, Carr fell flat on his face.

Carr threw an ugly, ill-advised interception just two plays into his second drive, ultimately rattling both his and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s confidence enough to affect the two’s decision making for the duration of the game.

Musgrave simplified the offense in an effort to limit the turnovers and Carr simply couldn’t find his rhythm.

With Carr out of gas, the Raiders’ defense was forced onto the field early and often, a situation that obviously didn’t bode well for the Silver and Black.

The Raiders’ young, fiery quarterback lives and dies by his emotions, creating a significant disparity between his strong performances and his weak ones.

If Carr is going to superman dive over defenders for a first down and ignite the crowd doing so, he will also allow the pressure of the situation and an early interception bring him down.

He will need to find balance between the two extremes as he continues to progress in the league if he the Raiders are going to lean on him in bigger games down the road.

Everyone loves a drag racer, but the Raiders need a high-performing commuter if they are going to finish in the winner’s circle in 2016.

Oct 16, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper (89) carries the ball in front of Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Daniel Sorensen (49) during the second quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 16, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper (89) carries the ball in front of Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Daniel Sorensen (49) during the second quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Amari Cooper Hits His Stride

Raiders second-year receiver Amari Cooper got the best of fellow 2015 first-round pick Marcus Peters in their third face-off in two years, as Cooper hauled in a career-high 10 receptions for 129 yards.

Due to a combination of Carr’s inconsistent play and the Chiefs’ efforts to limit him in the second half, Cooper had just one reception after the first two quarters of play. However, the sophomore phenom maintained a high level of play despite the drop in targets.

PFF’s Kiernan Hogan highlighted that Cooper looked ‘unguardable’ en-route to his 88.0 overall grade, Oakland’s top offensive grade on the day.

“The Alabama product had a slow start to the 2016 season, but has 16 catches for 267 yards in the past two weeks, and has just two drops through the first six weeks of the season after dropping a league-worst 18 passes last year,” via Hogan.

In addition working through his drop problem, Cooper responded to the criticism surrounding his ability to catch passes on the sideline, as he effectively dragged his toes along the sideline on a 24-yard reception on 3rd and seven early in the contest.

Though the Raiders’ offense obviously sputtered against Kansas City, Cooper’s consistency in recent weeks will play a pivotal role in the Raiders’ ability to respond on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 7.

October 9, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders linebacker Perry Riley Jr. (54) forces a fumble by Oakland Raiders tight end Ryan O

Perry Riley Jr.’s Play Hints at Consistency

After putting together an outstanding performance in his Raider debut against the Chargers in Week 5, inside linebacker Perry Riley Jr. exceeded expectations, again.

The former Washington Redskins linebacker is finding new life in Oakland, now putting together back-to-back performances as the Raiders’ top graded defender (82.4).

Riley Jr. has earned an 88.6 overall grade on 82 defensive snaps this season, per PFF.com.

As rookie inside linebacker Corey James continues to work against an expected learning curve, veteran linebacker Malcolm Smith looks as if he too has returned to school.

Through 300 defensive snaps this season, Smith ranks 82nd among the 85 eligible linebackers with a 36.6 overall grade.

With his surrounding cast at linebacker failing to follow his lead, Riley Jr. could take on a lead role within Oakland’s defense despite being with the team for less than two weeks.

Sep 25, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Oakland Raiders center Rodney Hudson (61) prepares to snap the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders Remain Dominant in the Trenches

With Carr riding an emotional roller coaster and lead back Latavius Murray, the Raiders’ talented offense put together a forgetful performance.

Without reliable pressure along the edges and consistent play from their linebackers and safeties, the Raiders couldn’t contain the Chiefs’ rushing attack.

However, the Oakland’s inefficient, underwhelming play didn’t leak into the trenches.

Raiders center Rodney Hudson led the charge against his former team, earning the second best offensive grade (82.9) on the team.

His fellow offensive linemen followed suit.

Raiders left tackle Donald Penn (77.3) and offensive guards Gabe Jackson (78.4) and Kelechi Osemele (73.2) rounded out Oakland’s top offensive performers list, per PFF.com.

Oakland’s defensive line had similar success on the opposite side of the ball.

Veterans Dan Williams and Stacy McGee headlined the group with 79.6 and 79.5 overall grades, respectively.

Third-year defensive tackle Justin Ellis also joined the party, earning the Raiders’ fifth highest defensive grade (76.1).

With depth up front both offensively and defensively, the Raiders will continue to win the battle up front, giving Oakland’s offensive skill players and standup defenders the best opportunity to succeed.

It’s up to them to win the war.

Oct 16, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware (32) escapes Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (51) during the third quarter at Oakland Coliseum. The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Oakland Raiders 26-10. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Edge-Defenders Absent from Top Performers List

Raiders edge-rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, two standout players within Oakland’s front seven, took a backseat against Kansas City.

Mack and Irvin failed to earn strong enough individual grades to breach PFF’s list of the Raiders’ top five defenders.

Flashing early, Mack recorded a sack on the Chiefs’ first offensive drive, uprooting Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher with unmatched power and technique.

His early dominance proved to be just a flash in the pan.

The Chiefs’ successfully double-teamed Mack for a majority of the contest, as he failed to record a second sack and was unable to effectively hold the edge against the run.

Though he is known for his receiving ability, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce did just enough along the edge to keep the Raiders from forcing Kansas City’s ball carriers to cut inside, as he often down blocked Oakland’s primary edge-defender.

Opposite of Mack, Irvin fell victim to a similar strategy, forcing the Raiders’ struggling linebacking corps to take on offensive linemen and prevent the Chiefs’ ball carriers from finding space along the boundary.

Led by third-year running back Spencer Ware, the Chiefs’ rushing attack found said space.

Ware carried the ball 24 times for 131 yards and a touchdown, wearing down the Raiders’ incapable linebackers both in the center and, of course, along the edges of their defense.

Because of their respective abilities, opposing offensive coordinators will often create well-prepared game plans geared towards limiting Mack and Irvin’s impact. If Oakland is going to dig themselves out of their defensive hole, their dynamic duo and Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. to rise to the occasion and reclaim the driver’s seat on defense.

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