Graney: Raiders need complete overhaul on offense as season spirals

Raiders coaching staff, Antonio Pierce are overmatched on offense | Ed Graney | Sports

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I hope you bet the under.

There is a bigger picture to this eyesore of a loss, this abysmal 3-0 defeat by the Raiders to Minnesota on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.

It’s a third straight setback for the club under interim coach Antonio Pierce and things are only getting worse offensively. The staff is overmatched on that side of the ball.

Bo Hardegree is a coordinator calling plays for the first time and it’s not working. Josh McDaniels left a bad offense upon being fired as head coach and it’s even more dreadful now.

The Raiders are 5-8 and going nowhere, meaning owner Mark Davis has four more games in which to evaluate Pierce and those under him. This can’t be the end result. It’s not good enough. This can’t be how the team moves forward.

What that means for Pierce is anyone’s guess. But even if he is retained — and that now seems like a long shot — a complete offensive overhaul must take place. That starts with the staff and likely includes the quarterback position as well.

A disaster

There is star power on this offense. These aren’t the Panthers. There are weapons at running back and wide receiver. There is Davante Adams, for heaven’s sake.

And yet the Raiders totaled 202 yards Sunday coming off a bye. They had two weeks to prepare for the Vikings and couldn’t score. They’re a disaster on offense right now.

“A poor performance that starts with myself, starts with the coordinator, the quarterback and so on,” Pierce said. “Just bad overall. We’ll evaluate everything going forward.”

He can begin with himself and Hardegree and whoever else has a say in the offensive game plan.

And then there is the question at quarterback.

You knew there would be days like this — well, maybe not this bad a day — when Pierce was named coach and immediately made rookie Aidan O’Connell the starter over veteran Jimmy Garoppolo. You knew there would be ups and downs.

It made sense to discover what the Raiders had in their fourth-round pick, to determine whether O’Connell could be the team’s quarterback of the future. It was the correct move.

Yet if the Raiders believed there was still ample opportunity to make a playoff run at halftime Sunday, they should have given serious consideration to inserting Garoppolo. Maybe he would have provided the needed spark. Maybe things would have been different with him. They absolutely couldn’t have been worse.

It’s possible if the Raiders followed the lead of the Vikings — who replaced starter Joshua Dobbs with Nick Mullens in the fourth quarter — they would have received solid enough play to win the game.

“It was the whole offense,” Pierce said. “It’s easy to point the finger at the quarterback and obviously we’ll look at that as we go forward. This was not one of our better performances. The whole football program will be (evaluated). Gotta win. This ain’t good enough. Got to win.”

The Raiders are 29th in the NFL in total offense. They’re 28th in scoring offense. And when you suffer injuries to the offensive line — tackle Kolton Miller (shoulder) was out Sunday and center Andre James left hurt — things really go south.

Running back Josh Jacobs (knee) was also lost in the second half. Wide receiver Hunter Renfrow had a costly fumble deep in Minnesota territory. O’Connell threw an interception late in the fourth quarter after the Vikings took their 3-0 lead.

Nothing went well for the Raiders.

A new low

It’s look-in-the-mirror time. It’s complete honesty time.

This hasn’t been a good offense all season and yet Sunday hit a new low. Whatever they’re coaching isn’t working. Ditto for whatever they’re calling.

They’re overmatched along the sidelines on that side of the ball.

It’s a short week. The Chargers visit Thursday.

Which means those evaluations better happen fast.

Ed Graney, a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing, can be reached at He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on X.

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