The Oakland Raiders are a team in transition, but despite the roster turnover, there was an expectation that the team would still have a respectable record. After four games, it’s clear the Raiders are a team that will be lucky to manage a handful of wins.
The Raiders were walloped by the Denver Broncos 37-6 and didn’t manage an offensive touchdown or force a single punt on defense. It was a team loss, and that’s not a good thing. The offense, defense and special teams all played poorly.
The closest you can come to a positive was a couple solid tackles by Taiwan Jones in punt coverage and a below-average number of penalties. In fact, the Raiders can’t even point to penalties or turnovers for the reason for their ineptitude.
The offense is the most glaring of the failures in Oakland. Darren McFadden and Carson Palmer were supposed to join forces and score enough points to cover for a poor defense, but that’s happened just once in four games.
Which side of the ball has been worse this season?
There’s something wrong when one of the best running backs in the NFL is held to 2.6 yards per carry, and it’s hard not to look at the coaching and the scheme. For the last two years, McFadden has been an elite runner when healthy, behind an offensive line not too dissimilar to the one he runs behind now.
Head coach Dennis Allen needs to hold offensive coordinator Greg Knapp accountable for the poor performance of a unit that was supposed to be the backbone of the team in 2012. Perhaps, Allen will suggest that Knapp back away from some of his zone-blocking principles if the scheme doesn’t put the Raiders in the best position to succeed.
At this point, making a case for the zone scheme will be tough for Knapp to do. The scheme is obviously not putting the players in the best position to be successful if the offense is 1-12 on third downs and can’t score a single touchdown. It’s the type of performance you would expect from an offense devoid of talent that was also playing a great defense.
On several occasions, the Raiders had 4th-and-short situations, and Allen chose to give the ball back to Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense. Allen had more confidence in a defense that forced zero punts than the offense that converted one third down. That says something about Allen’s lack of confidence in the offense.
The defense has actually been worse. Manning had 328 passing yards with three touchdowns and completed 78 percent of his passes by going 30-of-38. Oakland couldn’t put any pressure on Manning as they didn’t sack him once. The banged-up secondary couldn’t cover long enough to keep Manning from completing just about every attempt. It was a level of futility that is actually rare.
Once Manning had all the fun, he handed it off to Willis McGahee who gained 112 yards on 19 carries and Ronnie Hillman who added 31 more yards on 10 carries. Oakland’s defense proved that they were equally inept at stopping the run as they were the pass.
You would hope the special teams would at least be solid, but one of Shane Lechler’s seven punts was deflected and traveled only a few yards. The coaching staff had no answer for the Broncos in any phase of the game and was simply outclassed.
The third quarter was particularly devastating for the Raiders, which is becoming a disturbing trend. The Raiders got the ball to start the second half, but it was the Broncos who scored three touchdowns in the third quarter. Oakland’s offense went three-and-out four times in the third quarter alone and gave the ball back to an offense the Raiders couldn’t stop.
The Raiders have not trailed by more than four points at the half this season but have allowed 53 total points in the third quarter (6, 14, 14, 21) and scored just 10 points. Such poor third quarters show that the coaching staff is struggling to make adjustments at halftime.
It was a complete thrashing at the hands of a division rival. Oakland’s coaching staff will have a lot to try and correct during the bye week. After the bye, the Raiders face the Atlanta Falcons on the road, so things get harder before they get easier. Raiders fans hoping for the best in 2012 might want to start bracing for the worst.