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Gordon: Raiders squandering all-time greatness of Davante Adams

Updated October 5, 2023 - 9:02 am

In due time, Davante Adams will be cloaked in gold and cast in bronze, sent to reside eternally among football’s greatest ghosts. But right now, he’s stuck in a spinning silver and black cycle of almosts, what-ifs and take-a-look-at-the-tapes.

Nearing 31 and still a defensive back’s nightmare, the All-Pro receiver is perched atop the peak of his powers.

It’s a real shame the Raiders are wasting his all-time greatness.

Mired in a valley of perpetual ineptitude, the Raiders are 7-14 since acquiring Adams from the Green Bay Packers, against whom he’ll play Monday and see on their sideline the stability that eludes him in Las Vegas. His statistics in those 21 games underscore his dominance and yield averages that rival or top his production the previous five years in Titletown: 133 receptions, 1,913 yards and 17 touchdowns from four starting quarterbacks.

But statistical exploits don’t fulfill Adams, whose frustration seeped Sunday into another news conference conducted in front of his locker after yet another game — a 24-17 loss to the rival Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium — the Raiders squandered situationally.

“Everybody can definitely tap into another gear, and we’ve just got to do that before it’s must-win, every game,” he said stoically, his shoulder still stinging from a hit he sustained while attempting to catch an errant pass in the first quarter.

“That’s the stuff we’re trying to stay away from. I just don’t think we’re being urgent enough right now.”

‘A great team player’

Adams is an embodiment of urgency, evidenced in the sustenance of his pass-catching capabilities. The cachet he’s earned within the locker room is the byproduct of a decade’s worth of steely preparation and play.

He abides by a personal standard of excellence.

“That’s my job,” he said Sunday. “That’s why I get paid the way I do … and I accept that burden. It’s not even a burden to me. That’s what makes this exciting for me, to have an opportunity to finish a game and be a big piece as to why that thing came together.”

And yet he’s outpacing an operational staff that hasn’t cultivated the continuity required to win consistently. That turned over most of the roster in two years time and can’t alleviate the burden Adams dutifully embraces. Instead, he’s left to buoy a predictable offense that ranks 25th in scoring average (15.5), 32nd in rushing (65.3 yards), 26th in time of possession (27:39) and 30th in turnovers (2.5).

Flags remain problematic; the Raiders cede the fourth-most penalty yards per game (66.8)

So, too, do the critical decisions of coach Josh McDaniels, such as:

— Rolled rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell out against the Chargers on first-and-goal at the 3-yard line instead of running the ball in the face of a seven-point deficit.

— Marred a 13-catch, 172-yard, two-touchdown outing from Adams by electing for a field goal while trailing the Pittsburgh Steelers by eight points late in the fourth quarter on a fourth-and-5 at the opposing 8-yard line.

— Allowed Adams to run deep late in the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills amid a four-touchdown deficit and enduring a needless hit that triggered an evaluation for a concussion.

Said McDaniels on Monday of Adams: “A tough son of a gun and what a great team player.”

Still time for a turnaround

Regardless if the Raiders win or lose.

Beatable, though, on Monday are the Packers, who bring to Allegiant Stadium a 2-2 record after a change at quarterback. Games against the struggling New England Patriots and Chicago Bears follow, suggesting there’s still time for a turnaround.

“We just got to be able to start the game and play for 60 minutes the right way,” McDaniels said. “What we need to do is do it for the entirety of the game and see what the outcome is.”

Contact Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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