The Las Vegas Raiders did not make the best first impression on their new home city in 2020. After a promising 6-3 start that had them in the thick of the playoff race, they lost five of their last seven games. Details have since emerged of an ugly incident that occurred in the Allegiant Stadium locker room after the Raiders’ most painful loss of the season — an incident involving their best offensive player, Nelson Agholor.
The Raiders’ most deflating loss
If any game summed up the Las Vegas Raiders’ 2020 season, it was their Week 16 encounter with the Miami Dolphins.
The Raiders came into this game having lost four of their last five but were still very much in the playoff picture. If they could win their next two games, they would have an outside chance of reaching the playoffs as a wild card team. Late in the game, they seemed to have win number one secured.
With 19 seconds left, Daniel Carlson kicked a 22-yard field goal to give the Raiders a 25-23 lead. This left the Dolphins’ 37-year-old backup quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, little time to muster a response. But on one of the most memorable plays of the season, as seen above, Fitzpatrick threw a desperation pass to Mack Hollins.
Not only had the Raiders’ secondary completely blown the coverage, but Arden Key had blatantly yanked Fitzpatrick by his facemask. The pass went for 34 yards, and the additional 15 yards from the penalty put Miami in field goal range. Jason Sanders converted with six seconds left, giving the Dolphins the win and effectively ending the Raiders’ season.
Tension in the Raiders’ locker room
After the game, frustration understandably boiled over. According to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur (link behind paywall), wide receiver Nelson Agholor was the first to speak up.
If any Raider in the locker room had the right to say anything, it was Agholor. In this same game, he had given the Raiders a late lead with an 85-yard touchdown reception from Derek Carr. Agholor finished the day with five catches for 155 yards and a touchdown, a heroic performance that went completely to waste.
Agholor, according to those in the room, said his teammates were selfish and didn’t work hard enough, and that they had quit against the Dolphins as well as in the previous two losses. He said there was no accountability in the locker room, and on winning teams players play for one another and the coaches. The Raiders’ performance over the previous six games was unacceptable, and too many people within the team were just flat-out accepting it.
Agholor told his teammates that they sucked.
Then, according to witnesses, he was done and there was silence. [Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon] Gruden didn’t respond, and neither did any of the players.Vic Tafur, The Athletic
Finger-pointing all around, not just from Agholor
Unsurprisingly, Agholor is testing the free-agent waters this offseason. He is not the only one who has gone public with his criticism of the Raiders’ organization.
The day after the season concluded, linebacker Nicholas Morrow told the Mercury News, “We have to hold ourselves to a standard that’s acceptable for a professional football player and I think in some cases, to be honest, we lacked the accountability. The players, coaches, we all have to be more accountable to our jobs because we’re all connected together.”
General manager and former NFL reporter Mike Mayock admitted things could have gone better. “I was disappointed in the productivity of our rookies, I will be the first one to admit that,” he said.
Obviously, the Houston Texans aren’t the only team in the NFL with serious organizational problems.