NASHVILLE -- Anyone out there have a few extra thermometers, like 53 of them?
Yeah, it's time to take the temperature of the Las Vegas Raiders' locker room after their latest terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day that was, well, almost a great day. Because really, coming so close Sunday in a heartbreaking 24-22 loss at the Tennessee Titans, after trailing 24-10 at the half, probably stings more than simply getting blown out.
Compare it to blowing a 20-0 halftime lead at home in Week 2 to lose in overtime to the Arizona Cardinals. And being one drive away from an epic comeback at the Los Angeles Chargers in the opener, only for quarterback Derek Carr to get strip-sacked on fourth down to essentially end the game.
The Raiders, as unlikely as it was last season, were a playoff team, one that ran off four straight white-knuckle wins to finish 10-7 under an interim coach in Rich Bisaccia to force their way into the postseason.
Letting Bisaccia and general manager Mike Mayock go and bringing in Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler was supposed to be an upgrade for the Raiders and owner Mark Davis. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in McDaniels' office after Sunday's loss, a closed-door meeting with an obviously perturbed Davis that delayed the coach's appearance for his postgame presser.
A "next step," Davis called the McDaniels hire back in January.
Instead, these Raiders are tripping over themselves while looking like a team still in transition, rather than a playoff-tested outfit. Sunday's loss makes them the only NFL team with an 0-3 record, which, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, marks the fewest teams to lose their first three games of a season since 1959, when the Detroit Lions were the only 0-3 team.
Consider: Through three games, the Raiders have already used seven different combinations on the offensive line. Continuity? Chemistry? Comfortability for Carr?
"Those guys are working hard to do it," Carr said after his O-line consisted of Kolton Miller at left tackle, practice squad promotee Alex Bars at left guard, rookie third-rounder Dylan Parham replacing the concussed Andre James at center, Jermaine Eluemunor moving in to right guard from the outside, and seventh-round rookie Thayer Munford Jr. at right tackle.
"It's hard ... the more you are around them, the more you understand, the more chemistry you have ... time on task will help them."
Still, Carr came close to criticizing the practice habits of certain teammates before walking it back.
"You try your best to do it the right way in practice and if you don't do it right in practice, then you can't expect it to go right in the game," he said. "We've got to look at that, each man as an individual and say, 'OK then, I've got to get better at this, this, and this.'
"I thought we had a good week, but there were certain areas that if something just keeps showing up, then you've got to address it so it doesn't become a problem in a game."
McDaniels, seen as an elite playcaller with six Super Bowl rings, was going to elevate an already electric offense that added the best receiver in the league in Davante Adams. And after Adams shined in the opener with 10 catches, on 17 targets, for 141 yards and a touchdown, he has had a combined seven catches, on 17 targets, for 48 yards and two TDs since.
Against the Titans, though, something happened at halftime. Carr was 3-for-3 targeting Adams in the first half, including a 5-yard TD, but was just 2-for-6 targeting him in the second half, including 0-for-3 in the fourth quarter. On the flip side, receiver Mack Hollins had a career day with eight catches for 158 yards and a TD.
Asked if he was more frustrated or angry with the loss and 0-3 start, Adams paused.
"Both," he said, "It's not the end of the world to be frustrated. I don't think anybody in here should be happy or content with losing. Especially when you have the type of men we have in this locker room. And like I've said from the very beginning -- just because we're good on paper doesn't mean we're going to be great as a team.
"Frustration if OK, as long as you do something about it."
The Raiders are 0-3 for the first time since 2018. And only one NFL team since 2000 that has started 0-3 rebounded to make the playoffs.
"I'm excited to see how we respond," said tight end Darren Waller, who had a pair of costly drops, including one that was intercepted in the end zone, and blamed a lack of fundamentals on his part for the miscues. He was also the intended target on Carr's 2-point attempt pass that would have tied the game with 1:14 left.
Defensively for the Raiders, edge rusher Maxx Crosby was again a menace, with a sack among his nine tackles (five solo), a QB hit, a forced fumble and a pass defensed. But not even he could single-handedly pull it out for Las Vegas.
"We're so close," said Crosby, who has both of the Raiders' sacks thus far. "We're doing a lot of good things but we're just not finishing, getting the win ... even though it's hard right now, it seems like the world's closing [in], we have a lot of positive things to take from it.
"You're either going to sink or swim."
As McDaniels said often in training camp, the Raiders had to "learn" how to win. He has an addendum.
"We're going to have to learn how play a full 60 minutes and earn the right to win," said McDaniels, who is just 5-20 as a head coach after starting 6-0 with the Denver Broncos in 2009. Guess who the Raiders play next?
"This league requires a lot of mental toughness, and nobody likes losing. It should hurt when we lose. We all feel s---ty."
Temperature taken, then.