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Oakland Raiders Have Lessons to Learn in Final Four Games

Published by Bleacher Report on Tue, 08 Dec 2015

The Oakland Raiders have four games to learn some valuable lessons and make strides as a developing roster.The Silver and Black dropped four of its last five contests against solid competition, falling victim to critical errors of any upstart NFL team.With three of the last four games against plus .500 clubs, its important to continue the learning process in preparation for the future.Head coach Jack Del Rio should allow the team to play loose, considering the drop-off in pressure for a postseason push. Its time to experiment and allow ample playing time for potential playmakers. Rookies and new starters should have their skill sets on full display.On a macro level, there are two specific objectives to address as a team.Learning to Close GamesThe inability to finish games on a strong note after building a lead became evident early in the season. The issue extended beyond losing leads and affected the Raiders' win-loss record, per Associated Press writer Josh Dubow.Those two statistics tell the entire story about the Raiders' tendencies in the clutch. This team possesses the capability to gain a lead, but lacks the killer instinct to put opponents away or sustain productivity in critical situations. Thats a widespread problem, unspecific to the offense or defense.No one can knock the Raiders for blinking when going toe-to-toe with established rosters guided by top-notch coaching in early development. However, Oakland must acquire and build on a winning mentality.Months ago, safety Charles Woodson spoke about the culture shift in Oakland during an interview with NFL Networkvia NFL.com.As a total team I think the last couple of years that I've been here I don't know if everybody felt like we were going to go into the games and win the games. So this year is definitely a different atmosphere, a different team, different coaching staff, everything is different this year and I really believe that everybody on this team feels like when we go into the game on we're going to come out victorious.Mentally, the Raiders know they have the talent to win games, but that mindset has to translate to the field through execution for 60 minutes.Finding Different Ways to WinGood teams have a go-to recipe for winning football games.Great teams can manipulate their game plan to achieve success in a variety of ways. Playoff teams also excel in multiple facets of the game.When the Raiders passing offense struggles in the slightest fashion, the entire team takes a fall. Kansas City Star columnist Sam Mellinger highlighted a key takeaway from Sunday's matchup.A bad day from quarterback Derek Carr favors the opposition. The Raiders dont have a strong point on the defensive side of the ball or a supportive ground attack to help their young quarterback through rough patches.Latavius Murray ranks as the No. 4 running back in rushing yards, but his run style and workload limits his productivity late in games. He offers solid contributions early when fresh, but hes not a closer in the clutch at the moment.Oakland ranks No. 22 in the turnover margin, per Team Rankings. On Sunday, the Raiders played a winning hand for most of the contest, but surrendered the ball too many times to survive the Kansas City Chiefs late surge.The Chiefs rank No. 2 in turnover margin, and theyve been rewarded with a string of victories for protecting the footballwithout their star running back Jamaal Charles or a flashy offense.Finally, Oakland ranks No. 25 in red-zone touchdowns allowed, surrendering 2.1 per contest. Opposing offenses see green once they venture inside the Raiders 20-yard line.On Sunday, the Chiefs capitalized on turnovers and cashed in on all four red-zone trips with touchdowns.Oakland aided Kansas City with exceptional field position, but the defense failed to limit scores to field goals.The heavy emphasis on the passing offense to deliver puts insurmountable pressure on Carr to deliver victories every week.Del Rio told reportershis quarterback "tried to do too much," in reference to the interceptions.On Sunday, Carr made poor decisions, but hes stuck with the idea of overcompensating for a mediocre rushing offense and subpar red-zone defense.As a result, Carr will engineer game-winning drives, but he will also make critical errors in crushing losses. Oakland should evaluate the talent on the roster to put more playmakers in a position to guide the team to victory.The Raiders have lost several games as a team. Now, they must find alternative ways to win as a team.FollowMauriceMotonon Twitterfor news, updates and intriguing discussion about the Oakland Raiders.All statistics are provided byPro-Football-Reference.com,Pro Football FocusandTeam Rankings,unless otherwise noted.
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