Las Vegas Raiders have had a season to forget in 2021

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 14: Derek Carr #4 of the Las Vegas Raiders stands on the field during warmups before a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium on November 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 14: Derek Carr #4 of the Las Vegas Raiders stands on the field during warmups before a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium on November 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

It has been a wild, wild year for Kansas City’s old foe, the Las Vegas Raiders. A season that at one point seemed full and promise for the black and silver, has instead quickly spiraled into a season to forget.

It really has been a spectacular decline for the Raiders. A combination of insane off-field incidents and poor on-field performances have combined to doom their season. Las Vegas may still be in the hunt for the playoffs – they are currently 10th in the AFC playoff standings – but even if they do reach the postseason, it will still be a season of what could have been.

Things started off well for the Raiders, but it wouldn’t last. They started the season 3-0 thanks to wins over Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Miami, but that hot start would be the pinnacle of their season. After Week 3, everything imploded.

The Las Vegas Raiders have had a season everyone will want to forget.

It began with head coach Jon Gruden. The Raiders’ head coach handed in his resignation after it was revealed he had made racist, misogynistic, and homophobic comments in emails, revealed during an investigation by the league into the Washington Football Team. Gruden was supposed to bring the Raiders back to relevancy and lead them to the Super Bowl when he signed a mega 10-year, $10 million contract in 2018, but instead, he quit after less than four years and left the team in even worse shape than when he got there.

Despite the turmoil of losing their head coach in such a high-profile manner, the Raiders were still able to perform well on the field. Special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia was appointed as interim head coach after week four, and Las Vegas went on to win their next two games and improve to 5-2. But then, things got worse. As if one high-profile off-field incident wasn’t enough, the Raiders were hit with two more.

Wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was released after he was charged with DUI after being involved in a deadly high-speed crash while more than two times over the legal drink driving limit. Less than a week later, Las Vegas cut cornerback Damon Arnette after he reportedly made threats while brandishing a weapon in a video posted on social media.

In less than a month the Raiders had lost their head coach and two former first-round draft picks after three separate shocking off-field incidents.

On the field, things began to fall apart too. Since starting off 5-2, the Raiders have only won one of their last five games, struggling as they slipped to 6-6.

An embarrassing Week 9 loss to the New York Giants was followed up by an even more humbling 41-14 thrashing by Kansas City a week later and a 32-13 defeat against Cincinnati. A huge 36-33 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day provided a ray of hope, but it was followed up with a demoralizing 15-17 loss at home to Washington.

Their poor run of form leaves the Raiders on the outside of the playoff race looking in. Las Vegas is currently 10th in the AFC’s playoff standings and faces a tough challenge in reaching the postseason.

To make things even more difficult, the Raiders are battling injury concerns. Star tight end Darren Waller missed the game against Washington, and both he and line-backer Denzel Perryman missed practice and are in doubt for this week’s game against the Chiefs. Las Vegas has also lost running back Kenyan Drake to a season-ending ankle injury.

While the playoffs are still a possibility, this will be a season Las Vegas want to forget in a hurry. It has been an awful, awful year for the Raiders, one that will be remembered not for the performances on the field, but for the incidents off it. And for Raider Nation, it will also be a season of what could have been.

The Raiders have plenty of talent to compete, and a bunch of players who’ve had strong seasons in 2021. Derek Carr is second in the league in passing yards (3,663), while Hunter Renfrow is on track to have over 1,000 receiving yards. Defensively, Denzel Perryman is third in the league in tackles, while Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby have had solid years, too.

How different could their season have been if they hadn’t lost their head coach four weeks into the season and if they still had Ruggs and Arnette? We’ll never know.

Las Vegas is a proud organization that has had its reputation besmirched by off-field incidents that have seen a season that was so full of potential instead go down the drain. What was supposed to be a breakthrough season has instead become a heartbreaker, one that Raiders fans will want to forger.

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