Josh Jacobs opened up a bit of a Pandora’s box on Sunday by implying the Raiders are guilty of sometimes sleepwalking through the early part of football games.
Jacobs expressed frustration after Sunday’s 17-15 loss to the Washington Football Team that the Raiders wait too long to get going every week.
Among the criticisms he leveled, Jacobs said the Raiders “coast a little too much.”
By Monday afternoon, Raiders interim head coach Rich Bisaccia was well aware of his running back’s complaints.
“I certainly respect Josh’s thoughts. I’m not really sure what coast means, to be honest with you,” Bisaccia said. “We didn’t get off to a great start on offense. He is entitled to his opinion. We’d all like to start faster. We’d all like to finish a lot faster than we have as well. We’ll see what the future brings in those two categories.”
All that said, whether it’s not coming out aggressively enough or lacking a sense of urgency, clearly something has been amiss in the sluggish manner in which the Raiders start games.
The stats back it up, as well.
The Raiders are averaging the 18th fewest first-quarter points in the NFL at 3.5, and their 42 first-quarter points are their fewest of any quarter. They are averaging 6.0 points in the second quarter, 6.5 in the third and 5.6 in the fourth.
The Raiders have been outscored 72-42 this year in first quarters.
Their 24 first-quarter first downs also are by far their fewest. To put that in perspective, they have 43 first downs in the second quarter, 36 in the third and 45 in the fourth.
Their 44.8 percent first-quarter possession share is 29th in the league, and over their last three games that share drops to 35.4.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, meanwhile, has compiled an 83.9 first-quarter quarterback rating, which is his lowest rating of any quarter. Carr has a 100.5 QBR in the second quarter QBR, 106.9 i the third and 93.4 in the fourth.
Carr expressed frustration over the slow starts on Sunday, as well as the Raiders’ inability to covert more drives into touchdowns rather than field goals. Coming up with explanations for the why, though, has been a season-long issue.
The slow starts have directly contributed to all six of the Raiders’ losses and made some of their wins much harder than they should have been.
“It’s frustrating,” said Carr. “I wish I could stand up here and break down the whole thing. Put the film on and we break down each little detail that matters. Each play has its own story, each play, each series.”
While it’s been a point of emphasis all year, the Raiders simply have not been able to get to the bottom of the problem. At least not in a way that has provided consistent answers.
“I don’t really know if it’s one particular thing,’ Bisaccia said. “We try to do different things in practice to try to get us going a little bit faster earlier.”
With five games remaining in the season and the 6-6 Raiders’ playoff aspirations likely resting on their ability to get to 11 or 10 wins, the Raiders are running out of time trying to figure out a solution.
“We gotta figure that out,” said wide receiver Hunter Renfrow. “Because it feels like it, right? It seems like the end of the game, when we’ve got to have it, we go down the field and get it for the most part. We just have to look internally.”