ST. LOUIS – The Raiders lost 52-0 on Sunday afternoon to the St. Louis Rams. There’s not much fun in that.
Nothing positive happened during that bludgeoning, where the Raiders got waxed in every phase. But we’ve got this weekly segment featuring three positives from each game, so I’ve had to scrounge for scraps on several occasions. This installment was derived from a barren wasteland.
Someone suggested I go high-concept and write the word “nothing” three times, or simply post a headline and a blank page. Not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent.
I've given it some thought during a four-hour delay at the St. Louis airport – ice storms are no fun – and I’ve come up with a plan. Here we go. Three positives from a game the Raiders lost 52-0:
1. Raiders back in line for No. 1 pick: The Raiders need young talent and lots of it. There’s nothing more valuable than the NFL draft’s top pick, whether you trade it to a team in love with Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and get multiple picks or select a guy you want most. Assuming, of course that you use it right.
The Raiders might have that chance. The Jacksonville Jaguars upset the New York Giants on Sunday and that, when combined with the Raiders’ loss, puts the Silver and Black back atop the draft board.
If the Raiders lose out, not something anyone in Alameda is hoping for, they’ll be in pole position for every round and be in prime position to upgrade this roster for 2015 and beyond. Assuming, of course, they draft well.
2. Carr stays healthy: Sunday’s game was over in the first half. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr played through the third quarter before getting pulled for veteran backup Matt Schaub.
Carr was upset at first, understandable given his all-experience-is-good-experience-even-when-you’re-getting-your-butt-kicked mindset. The Raiders made the right call there. What he’ll learn over the next four weeks is incredibly valuable, something that wouldn’t have happened had he gone down in a meaningless game.
3. Who’s a keeper?: The Raiders didn’t mine much gold from free agency, betting on older players that generally flamed out. They structured contracts well enough to get out of nearly all of them without negatively impacting the salary cap.
There are certain players from that crop you’d want to keep, and it’s players that work hard when the going gets really, really tough. There are guys on this team who lead, and never accept defeat.
Defensive end Justin Tuck and left tackle Donald Penn are guys you want to keep. Tuck found ways to make an impact on Sunday, and never stopped trying. He had two tackles for loss, a sack, a quarterback hit and a pass defensed on Sunday. Penn played his hardest until the end, and fared decently well against a dominant Rams defensive line.
After the game, both players talked to the press and delivered a strong message, as they did in promoting focus after last week’s win. During a youth movement, the Raiders will need savvy, productive veterans like Tuck, Penn and safety Charles Woodson to help pave the way to respectability.