Raiders, Derek Carr paid price for switching out wrong coordinator last offseason

CARSON, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders ended the season with a 30-10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Here's a recap of the season and what's next:

Season grade: Below average. If we're taking preseason expectations into account -- the Raiders were a popular Super Bowl pick -- the grade should probably be lower. From 12-4 and a playoff appearance to 6-10 is no way to go about courting scorned fans in Oakland, or cultivating a base in Las Vegas.

Season in review: Perhaps never before did a Raiders season scream more for a do-over than this one. A 2-0 start highlighted by Marshawn Lynch getting "hyphy" with a dance on the Raiders' sideline was followed by a four-game losing streak from which Oakland never recovered. The Raiders still found themselves in a first-place tie at 6-6, but then followed with a four-game losing streak to end the season. The offense, under first-year coordinator Todd Downing, regressed from the No. 6 unit in the NFL under Bill Musgrave, to No. 19, averaging 50 yards less per game. And quarterback Derek Carr, who inked a then-record five-year, $125 million contract extension last summer after recovering from his broken right leg and right pinkie finger, was simply not the same player after suffering broken bones in his back in Week 4. The defense seemed to get on track after coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was replaced by John Pagano; a letup in the quality of opposition in Week 12 and the midseason addition of middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman helped, too. But it was all too little, too late as the Raiders' turnover differential slipped from a league-leading plus-16 in 2016 to minus-12 this season. That's Oakland's season in a nutshell.

Biggest play of season: With so much negativity and underperforming, let's go with Carr's 2-yard TD pass to Michael Crabtree against the Chiefs in Week 7 that tied the score with no time on the clock before Giorgio Tavecchio's PAT won it. It was the perfect end to a thrilling game, the fourth snap from inside the 10-yard line with less than 7 seconds to play.

He said it: "It sucked. It was not good enough and you can put it all on me. Don't you blame one coach, one player. It is all my fault." -- Carr, on the Raiders' showing in a 26-15 loss at Kansas City in Week 14.

Key offseason questions

Biggest draft need: So long as cornerback Gareon Conley and safety Obi Melifonwu return from their respective season-ending injuries, the Raiders will have, in essence, extra picks in the first and second rounds since the two contributed so little this season. And with the return of cornerbacks David Amerson and Sean Smith and free safety Reggie Nelson uncertain, the Raiders need to fortify their secondary come draft time. Again.

Free-agency target: The Raiders would be wise to get a tried and true receiver to complement Amari Cooper and Crabtree, both of whom had down years, and imagine if the Raiders pulled another Beast Mode-like trick, but this time with Megatron, and convinced Calvin Johnson to come out of retirement and make a trade with the Lions for his rights. Johnson helped coach up the Raiders' wideouts in organized team activities, after all. Then again, Jarvis Landry and Sammy Watkins should also be on the market. If Lynch decides to retire again, Oakland could look to Santa Clara for an every-down running back in Carlos Hyde, who could need a change of scenery from the 49ers as much as he needs to stay healthy.

Khalil Mack's payday: Mack will not repeat as the defensive player of the year but that does not mean the All-Pro edge rusher should give a discount to the team that drafted him No. 5 overall in 2014. Mack's scheduled contract extension should make him one of the top five, if not top three, highest-paid defensive players in the game. But who sets the market, Mack or the Rams' Aaron Donald?

Fixing the offense: Coach Jack Del Rio obviously made a mistake last offseason by switching out offensive coordinators and standing pat on defense. And it's a matter of time before Downing is shown the door, right? It would seem Carr needs a veteran mind at offensive coordinator, so here are a few names to chew on: Norv Turner, Tom Clements, Marc Trestman, Mike McCoy, John DeFilippo and Mike Tice.