The Las Vegas Raiders in 2022: A season of hope that turned downright disastrous

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Jarrett Stidham (3) slides after running for yardage as Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Leo Chenal (54) defends during the second half at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas Sat Jan 7, 2023 (AP News photo)

by Marko Ukalovic

LAS VEGAS — It was a season that never was for the Las Vegas Raiders.

The team known for its slogans such as “Commitment to excellence” and “Just win baby” did that exact opposite during their 2022 tumultuous football campaign.

Out was Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock. In was new general manager David Ziegler and new head coach Josh McDaniels, both came from a winning culture and organization that is the New England Patriots.

Owner Mark Davis, wanted to mirror what the Patriots had done for the past two decades and that is have a team that contended for the Super Bowl. New free agents were brought in to help the defensive side of the ball such as Chandler Jones. Pairing him with All-Pro defensive end Maxx Crosby was supposed to give the Raiders a formidable pass rush.

Ziegler made the ultimate splash of the off season when he traded for All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams for two first round draft picks. He reunited Adams, who has always wanted to play for the silver and black, and his college quarterback from Fresno State, Derrek Carr.

The offseason brought hope to a franchise for the first time since the 2017 season where there were high expectations back then. This was the year the Raiders were supposed to compete with the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC West, but instead they finished 6-11, with almost half of those losses they blew a double-digit lead in the second half.

So, what went wrong for Las Vegas? I believe the biggest issue with Las Vegas was the coaching staff led by McDaniels. This was McDaniels second stint as a head coach after being an offensive coordinator for many years with New England.

McDaniels just did not have the ability to prepare this team to play for 60 minutes. The first evidence of this was in the second game of the season where Las Vegas led the Arizona Cardinals 23-7 in the second half. Not only did the Raiders not score any points in the second half, but they also allowed quarterback Kyler Murray to make an improbable comeback which the Cardinals eventually won in overtime.

They also had double digit leads on Kansas City, Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, only to fail to protect the lead and allow those team to make triumphant second half runs to come back and win the game.

A big factor of why the Raiders weren’t able to hold those second half leads was the conservative play calling and not utilizing the talents of Adams and running back Josh Jacobs.

When asked what kind of grade McDaniles think he should have given himself with all the second half failures during the season, the first-year head coach didn’t want to look in the mirror and decided not to point fingers.

“I’m not going to grade anybody. But look, I mean, we are what we are. I know there’s things I can do better and I’m going to evaluate myself first and do a better job of what I’m doing, what I’m responsible for. I’m going to try do that with our entire team,” McDaniels said.

The Raiders became the fourth team in NFL history to have a wide receiver to have with over 1,500 receiving yards and a running back rush for over 1,500 rushing yards in the same season. Quite a feat, which would be an occasion worth celebrating if not for the way they limped out of the playoff race.

The Raiders defense was a bent but not break outfit that kept the team in games all the way up till the end. The offense sputtered it chances in potential game winning drives. Many factors could be blamed on the play calling, the lack of quality of play from Carr toward the end of the season, the offense line that was inexperienced and would miss assignments that would result in sacks or interceptions of Carr.

Speaking of Carr, in case you wanted even more drama from this organization, he was benched for the final two games of the regular season. Carr decided to leave the team for good and the organization also feels the same way as they look for their next starting quarterback once the offseason begins.

Players such as Adams were visibly frustrated about the team’s lack of success this season.

“Sure, anytime you don’t make the playoffs, this is my third time not making the playoffs, so at the end of the day…I’m not here to put a label on, a title, as the most frustrating (season), but it’s always frustrating when you don’t win the whole thing. I’d love to have a shot at trying to get into it (the playoffs) than what we did this year,” Adams said.

The Raiders left many questions needing to be answered at the end of 2022 than it did at the end of last season, where they won their final four games to make the playoffs with an interim head coach. Some of the key questions they will need to answer this offseason include:

If they are truly done with Carr at quarterback, do they bring another veteran to replace him? Will they be able to trade him and get something in return or just out right cut him and eat up those final years of his contract? Does Jarrett Stidham deserve a chance to be the number one QB? Do they go out and draft one and groom him to eventually be the new franchise quarterback?

Will they want to keep Jacobs and possibly have to overpay him to stay? Will Jacobs want to test the free agent waters and see if the best season of career can parlay into a big pay day?

Will the coaching staff stay intact, and does it deserve to be or do changes need to be made?

How much of a lease will Davis have McDaniels as the head coach in 2023?

Those are just some of the issues Las Vegas will have to deal with and it’s going to be a very steep mountain to climb in order to get the Raiders from being pretenders to contenders.

Las Vegas Raiders game wrap: Raiders Challenge Best Defense In Football But Lose In Overtime 37-34

Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams (17) reacts after scoring a 60-yard touchdown during the second half against the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Sun Jan 1, 2023 (AP News photo)

Raiders Challenge Best Defense In Football But Lose In Overtime 37-34

By Barbara Mason

It sure has been an interesting week for the Las Vegas Raiders (6-9) as they prepared to take on the San Francisco 49ers (11-4) at Allegiant Stadium. With two games left in the season there has been a changing of the guard if you will as Derek Carr was benched giving 26-yr-old Jarrett Stidham the nod for the final two games. This would be his first career start.

This was not all that surprising when you look back on the season; the losses mounting, the blown leads: so many games that they should have won. You could see the writing on the wall long before today’s game.

Since the emergence of wonder kid quarterback Brock Purdy San Francisco has looked invincible. Nothing could have prepared us for what we would see in this game.

You would expect some early adjustment with changes at the helm. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Jarrett Stidham commandeered his team downfield culminating in a 24 yard. pass to Darren Waller for the touchdown and the early 7-0 lead. San Francisco would answer at 7:06 to tie up the game. Brock Purdy would find Brandon Alyuk for a couple yards and the touchdown. The first quarter ended with a 20 yard Daniel Carlson Field Goal giving the Raiders a 10-7 lead after the first 15 minutes of play.

The 49ers would take the lead in the second quarter 14-10. Purdy would connect with George Kittle for 2 yards. The extra point was good and San Francisco would take their first lead of the game. When it looked as if the 49ers would take the lead into the half, Las Vegas struck again. With ten ticks left on the clock Stidham found Davante Adams for 4 yards and it was the Raiders that took the 17-14 lead into the locker room at halftime.

It had been a crazy and unlikely first half but the best was yet to come. Las Vegas would extend their lead in the third quarter. At 10:22 Stidham would throw his third touchdown pass of the game. He found Davante Adams for 60 yards giving the Raiders a 24-14 lead. At 5:22 SF running back Christian McCaffrey rushed for 14 yards and the touchdown pulling to within three points of Las Vegas.

San Francisco would tie up the game in the fourth quarter at 24. Robbie Gould kicked a 43 yards Field Goal. Gould would make a second kick at 6:44. This was a 24 yards Field goal giving the 49ers the lead 27-24 in a wild and wooly game. With the clock winding down, Las Vegas tied up the game again. Carlson made an amazing 57 yards Field Goal to knot it up at 27. The number one defense in football was being sorely tested by the Raiders.

The 49ers came right back taking the lead 34-27 with 2:17 left in this game. The Raiders were far from finished even with so little time left on the clock. Stidham would complete a pass to Adams for 45 yards which set up a one yard rush from Josh Jacobs to tie up the game at 34 with 1:11 left in the game. When it looked as if it would be a certain win for San Francisco Robbie Gould missed a 41 yard Field Goal and this game would go into overtime.

Las Vegas won the coin toss to start overtime. On the fourth play of the first possession Stidham tried to hit Adams but ended up throwing his second interception of the game setting San Francisco up deep in Raider territory. Robbie Gould would redeem himself kicking a 23 yard field goal giving the 49ers their ninth win in a row.

You may have not been acquainted with Stidham prior to this game but he sure made an impact and very nearly came away with an amazing win. Stidham finished with 365 passing yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Davante Adams had 153 receiving yards. Stidham found six different receivers; all of them for at least 19 plus yards. It was probably the best game Las Vegas had played this season.

Brock Purdy finished with 284 passing yards and two touchdowns . He had one interception. The San Francisco running game was all about Christian McCaffrey with 121 Yds.

Las Vegas will finish the season next Sunday taking on the Kansas City Chiefs. There will be no post-season for the Raiders but all eyes will be on Stidham next week. If the Raiders see another game like today’s game, the Raiders just may have a real diamond in the rough for next season. Kickoff Is January 8th but the time is still TBD.

Las Vegas Raiders podcast with Tony Renteria: Franco tribute motivated Steelers win that ended Raiders post season hopes

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14) scores during the second half of an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders in Pittsburgh on Sat Dec 24, 2022 (AP News photo)

On the Las Vegas Raiders podcast with Tony R:

#1 Above the topic of the Pittsburgh Steelers pulling out a miracle win against the Las Vegas Raiders in Pittsburgh on Saturday the tribute before the ball game for former Steelers star Franco Harris who ran back a deflected pass from former quarterback Terry Bradshaw during the 1972 AFC Championship for the immaculate reception for the win over the Raiders seemed to have motivated the Steelers before the game.

#2 The Raiders had the lead for most of the game Tony and it all started with in the first quarter when wide receiver Hunter Renfrow caught a 14 yard pass from quarterback Derek Carr for a touchdown making it 7-0.

#3 The Raiders Daniel Carlson rounded out all the scoring they would get for the rest of Sunday night with five seconds left with field goal in the second quarter. In the second half who would think leading by a touchdown going into the half this would be an end to the Raiders post season hopes?

#4 Talking about that second half what was badly needed for the Raiders who were shutout for two quarters in the third and fourth quarters.

#5 Tony, the Raiders will play their last two regular season games for pride now they take on the red hot San Francisco 49ers who have won eight straight games. Can the Raiders defense get past the 49ers O line and put pressure on 49er quarterback Brock Purdy?

Join Tony for the Raiders podcasts Tuesdays at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Los Vegas Raiders podcast with Rich Perez: Is Josh McDaniels losing the team; Question on the Raiders focus in letting games get away

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Tyson Campbell (32) gets a hand on the football to break up an intended pass for the Las Vegas Raiders Devante Adams (17) on Sun Nov 6, 2022 in Jacksonville (AP News photo)

On the Raiders podcast with Rich:

#1 With the Las Vegas Raiders latest loss dropping them to 3-6 they’re playoff hopes looked dashed short of a miracle.

#2 One of the reasons why the Raiders playoff hopes look dimmer and dimmer is just the amount of blown plays and mistake they have made particularly in in their last two road games in New Orleans and Jacksonville.

#3 During training camp first year head coach Josh McDaniels tried to explain to his players the ways of how not to lose. It might be possible that the players forgot that early lesson McDaniels tried to lay down.

#4 The Raiders wide receiver Devante Adams said the Raiders strayed away from what worked earlier in game but the Raiders just couldn’t get any offense going in the second half and quarterback Derek Carr saying serious internal discussions needed to take place.

#5 Those serious discussions that Carr was talking about has to take place and get solved soon enough as the Raiders prepare for Indianapolis Colts for this Sunday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The Colts have lost three in a row the Raiders hope to push to extend that losing streak this Sunday.

Rich Perez is filling in for Tony Renteria for this Tuesday’s Raiders podcast at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Las Vegas Raiders podcast with Rich Perez: Cardinals score OT TD to defeat Raiders 29-23; Arizona’s Murphy returns 59 yard fumble

Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams takes a leap of joy after scoring a first half touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Sun Sep 18, 2022 (Las Vegas Review Journal photo)

On the Raiders podcast with Rich Perez:

#1 The Arizona Cardinals (1-1) scored the game winning touchdown in overtime when linebacker Isaiah Simmons knocked the ball out of the hands of the Las Vegas Raiders (0-2) wide receiver Hunter Renfrow to be picked up by cornerback Bryon Murphy for a 59 yard return in overtime.

#2 There was even doubt if Murphy’s touchdown was legit officials checked to see if Murphy let go of the ball before he crossed the goal line. After further review the video officials ruled that Murphy did hold onto the ball long enough to score the game winning touchdown.

#3 The Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray was credited for keeping them in the game throwing 31 for 49 for 277 yards, for one touchdown and one interception.

#4 The Cardinals were down at the half by 20 points but were able to come back and win the contest by six points in the end and it was Murray who just keep working his receivers, running backs and keeping the ball taking it to the Raiders.

#5 The loss was the Raiders second loss against no wins and the Raiders go back to the drawing board against the Tennessee Titans who lost a close game Sun Sep 11 to the New York Giants and are in Buffalo for Monday Night Football Sep 19th. The Raiders will make the trip to Tennessee Sun Sep 25th. How do you see the Raiders matching up with the Titans who have two games in less than seven days?

Rich Perez does the Raiders podcasts following all home and away games at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Aces Win First Ever Championship Beating the Sun 78-71

Holding up the WNBA Finals Championship Trophy loud and proud is the Las Vegas Aces A’ja Wilson (in sunglasses). As the Aces defeat the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut in game 4 on Sun Sep 18, 2022 (AP News photo)

Aces Win First Ever Championship Beating the Sun 78-71

By Barbara Mason

The Las Vegas Aces (3-1) took the championship series against the Connecticut Sun (1-3) going in game four Sunday afternoon at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut 78-71 on Sunday. To review the Aces won game one barely squeaking past the Sun 67-64. They went onto win game two 85-71 to take a 2-0 series lead. The Sun came roaring back in game three and trounced the Aces 105-76.

Game four turned into a very close game much like the first game of this series. Vegas had a four point lead after the first quarter and at the half led by two points 30-28.

After three quarters the Aces led by four points 53-49. The Sun were unable to stifle the Las Vegas offense as they did in game three. The Aces were able to hold onto the lead in fact extend their lead in the fourth quarter. The final was 78-71 and the Las Vegas Aces had won their first WNBA Championship.

The Aces held off several rallies by the Sun. Both of these teams were looking for a first time championship trophy but it was Las Vegas that prevailed.

Between the coaching excellence of Becky Hammond and the starting line-up of super stars, that made all the difference. While the Aces tore through offensive records this season it was the defense that Hammond set her sites on.

She wanted to see some improvement and that’s what we all saw. Vast improvement on the defensive side of the ball for the Aces was one of the turning points in this game. Defense is the strength of the Connecticut Sun in fact it was what got the Sun past the Sky in the playoffs but they couldn’t handle the offensive excellence of Las Vegas.

The starting line-up for the Aces was excellent in this game. A’Ja Wilson finished with 14 rebounds and 11 points. The high score for Las Vegas was Chelsea Gray with 20 points. Kelsey Plum came away with 15 and Jackie Young with 13. Off the bench Riquna Williams had 17 points in 22 minutes in a brilliant performance. Both Plum and Williams made key shots in the final minute of the game to put the Sun away.

Sun Deny Las Vegas A Win In Game Three 105-76

Sun Deny Las Vegas A Win In Game Three 105-76

Connecticut Sun’s Alyssa Thomas reacts during the first half in Game 3 of a WNBA basketball final playoff series against the Las Vegas Aces, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Uncasville, Conn.

By Barbara Mason

After a close game Sunday followed by domination in game two on Tuesday the Las Vegas Aces lead the Connecticut Sun 2-0 in the WNBA finals. Thursday night they were looking to take game three and win their first ever WNBA title it was not to be as the Sun upended the Aces 105-76 in Connecticut.

Mid-way through the first quarter the Aces seemed to have the game in control. With five minutes left in the first quarter, the Sun went to work. By the end of the quarter Connecticut had a 34-19 lead. The Sun had gone on a 25-4 run and this turned out to be the highest scoring quarter in NBA playoff history.

The Sun went into the second quarter with the same energy and at the half they led 53-42. Connecticut had led by as much as 23 at one point in the quarter. Kelsey Plum launched a 41-foot three point shot at the buzzer making this game much more manageable for Las Vegas.

The Sun were shooting at a blistering 60% in the first half. They had been shooting an average of 68 points per game so 53 after two quarters was an amazing stat for Connecticut. The Sun defense was disturbing the Aces timing. They had been suffocating Las Vegas taking the paint away from them.

The Aces had a lot of work to do but finished the half on a great note cutting a 23 point deficit to 11 at the half. Las Vegas needed some second half adjustments. The Aces would need a lot of energy to catch the Sun in this game.

Another question would be the ability of the Sun to continue the same defensive pressure that they had in the first half. That question was answered as the second half got underway. The Sun continued to control the game in the third quarter maintaining their double digit lead throughout most of it. As the quarter expired the Aces trailed by eight points 77-69. Las Vegas had made up some ground and it would come down to the final quarter.

The fourth quarter belonged to the Sun. Every time the Aces challenged, Connecticut had the answer and refused to back down. The final was 105-76 in favor of Connecticut.

The high score for the Aces was Jackie Young with 22 points. Every starter for the Sun shot in double digits with the high coming from Jonquel Jones with 20 points followed by Dewanna Bonner with 18. The aggressive offense and defense was just too hot tonight for Las Vegas to handle.

Game four will be played in Connecticut on Sunday with tipoff at 1:00 PM televised on ESPN. Las Vegas will try and turn the table on the Suns defense and an offense that was equally impressive in game three.

Aces one win from WNBA championship, beat Sun, 85-71

Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson (22) in front of Connecticut Sun center Jonquel Jones (35) during a WNBA game on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo Credit: Sports Radio Service/Shawn McCullough)

By Shawn McCullough

LAS VEGAS–The Aces took a commanding two games to zero lead in the best of five WNBA Finals with an 85-71 win over the Connecticut Sun at Michelob Ultra Arena.

“I don’t see any banners, I don’t see any balloons,” said Aces head coach Becky Hammon. “We haven’t won anything yet.”

WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson led all scoring with 26 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Aces.

“We aren’t’ done yet and we have things to take care of,” said Wilson on going up 2-0 in the series.

Wilson has averaged 25 points per game so far in the WNBA Finals.

“She is so explosive right now,” said Sun head coach Curt Miller. “It has been really impressive.”

Guard Courtney Williams led the Sun with 18 points, while center Jonquel Jones added 16 and pulled down 11 rebounds.

Aces Chelsea Gray scored 21 points, while Kelsey Plum added 20.

“Chelsea Gray is one of the smartest basketball players,” said Hammon. “Her IQ is ridiculous.”

Gray also dished out eight assists.

“What sets me apart is my willingness to be great,” said Gray. “I want to make others better.”

The Aces and the Sun will play game three of the best of five series on Thursday in Connecticut.

“We have another opportunity,” said Jones. “We are going home in front of our fans.”

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot 51.6% from the field.
Las Vegas went just 6 for 26 from three-point range.
The Aces got just 11 points off the bench.

Game Starters:

C – 41 Kia Stokes
F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

None.

Aces Win Game One In Championship Series Over Relentless Suns 67-64

Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson (22) posts up for a shot over Connecticut Sun center Brionna Jones during the first half in Game 1 of a WNBA basketball final playoff series Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP News photo)

Aces Win Game One In Championship Series Over Relentless Suns 67-64

By Barbara Mason

Sunday afternoon the Las Vegas Aces defeated the Connecticut Sun 67-64 at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas to take a 1-0 series lead in their quest for their first championship. They will played the upset-minded Sun who mounted a 4th quarter rally beating the defending champion Chicago Sky 72-63 in game five of their series last Thursday.

The Aces have inarguably the best starting lineup in the WNBA and in her first year as head coach the team boasts the incomparable leadership of Becky Hammond.

The Sun took on the likes of A’ja Wilson (WNBA MVP for a second year), Kelsey Plum (all-time leading scorer in division I history) and finally Jackie Young ( the league’s most improved player). They have an invaluable host of players that will support them throughout this series.

Game 1 Sunday recap: Las Vegas got off to a quick start and at one time the Aces held a 12 point lead but the Sun kept plugging away and at the half had taken a 38-34 lead in an unexpected turnaround. The Sun won the second quarter 21-9 in a punishing effort.

The Sun continued to battle and held the lead through most of the third quarter. In the final three minutes of the quarter the Aces began to turn it around and led after three 55-53.

The Sun came into this game with upset on their mind and they were sure playing like it trailing in the fourth quarter but within striking distance. With under three minutes left in the game Las Vegas created a little distance leading 58-66. With 34 seconds left on the clock, the Aces held a slim 67-64 lead. That advantage would hold and Las Vegas had won the first game of the series.

Much of the success in this game went to the Aces defense fighting throughout the game against a tenacious Sun squad. Alyssa Thomas finished with 19 points for the Sun and Jonquel Jones had 15 but Connecticut came up just short in a hard fought battle that went right down to the wire.

A’ja Wilson finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds another double double for her. Chelsea Gray had 21 points and Jackie Young had 11. It was a slow night for Kelsey Plum who only had six points but look for her to pick things up throughout the series.

Game Two will be in Las Vegas on Tuesday with tipoff at 6:00 PM on ESPN.

Aces advance to WNBA Finals with win over Storm, 97-92

SEATTLE, WA – SEPTEMBER 6: Chelsea Gray #12 of the Las Vegas Aces handles the ball during the game against the Seattle Storm on September 6, 2022 at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

By Shawn McCullough

The Aces closed out the best of five semifinal series with a 97-92 win over the Storm in Seattle.

“Tough, gritty win on our part,” said head coach Becky Hammon. “We are thrilled to be going back to the Finals and I’m pumped for our girls.”

Las Vegas guard Chelsea Gray took control of the game, scoring 31 points and dishing out 10 assists.

“I’m going into my shots like I practice them,” said Gray.

Gray went 4 for 8 from three-point range.

“She [Gray] is the head of our snake,” said Aces forward A’ja Wilson. “I have never seen anyone dictate the game like that.”

Wilson contributed with 23 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.

“You have to beat the best to be the best,” said Wilson. “We are playing some really good teams.”

Storm forward Breanna Stewart scored a game high 42 points in the loss.

“Stewy was unbelievable tonight,” said Hammon.

Seattle guard Sue Bird played the final game of her 21-year career in Seattle, scoring eight points and dishing out eight assists.

“She had a fairytale career,” said Hammon. “He thumbprint on the game is forever etched in.”

The Aces will return to the WNBA Finals after losing the best of five series in 2020, three games to none, to the Seattle Storm.

The Aces will play either the Chicago Sky or the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA Finals.  That series is currently tied at two with game five on Thursday in Chicago.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

The Aces shot 56.3% from the field.
Las Vegas went 10 for 22 from three-point range.
Riquna Williams scored 6 points, the only points coming from the bench.
A’ja Wilson played all 45 minutes of the game.

Game Starters:

C – 41 Kia Stokes
F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 0 Jackie Young
G – 10 Kelsey Plum
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

None.