Oakland Raiders: The Good, Bad and Ugly from the First 4 Games of the Season

Steven Slivka@@StevenSlivkaCorrespondent IIIOctober 5, 2012

Oakland Raiders: The Good, Bad and Ugly from the First 4 Games of the Season

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    After four weeks, the Oakland Raiders have left us with more questions than answers as they slouch into their bye week.

    The Raiders have been nothing short of a disappointment this season, and the new regime in Oakland hasn't made them any better.

    The defense is awful, Darren McFadden is awful and the team is one rally away from being 0-4. But despite all of the bad things that have plagued the Raiders so far, there are still a few gems to discuss.

    Sebastian Janikowski remains the most consistent player on the team, and tight end Brandon Myers has solidified himself as a great target for Carson Palmer.

    But with that being said, the Raiders are still one of the worst teams in the league; And with a showdown with the Atlanta Falcons awaiting them in Week 6, the bye week couldn't have come any sooner.

    Let's take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly for Oakland through the first four games of the year.

The Good: Carson Palmer

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    To the surprise of many, Carson Palmer has been one of the few bright spots for the Raiders through the first quarter of the season.

    Palmer hasn't really been able to throw the deep ball so far, but that's really out of his control since offensive coordinator Greg Knapp hasn't let him explore with his wide receivers. But to Palmer's credit, he has thrown five touchdowns to just two interceptions (one of which wasn't his fault when Denarius Moore slipped in the outfield).

    He currently ranks eighth in the NFL with 99 completions and is 11th in yards, sitting ahead of Aaron Rodgers, Matt Schaub and Philip Rivers.

    Palmer hasn't had the consistent health from his wide receivers to establish a true rhythm, and he'll have to do more to extend the field if the Raiders want to be relevant for the rest of the season.

    So far he has cut the turnovers down and has completed at least 70 percent of his passes in half of his games. If only he had some help.

The Bad: Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour

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    Where is the pressure from Oakland's two best defensive linemen? Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour have been about as relevant as the WNBA. Too much? No way.

    Oakland is 31st in the league in sacks and has racked up a total of three in four games. The Seattle Seahawks sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times alone in the first half two weeks ago.

    So far, the only thing Kelly has done is run his mouth and collect costly penalties. And Seymour? Exactly. He hasn't even done anything to really write about.

    The Raiders are 22nd against the run because they're doing a horrible job of closing any gaps and disrupting runners at the line of scrimmage. They're also 26th in the league against the pass and haven't gotten any pressure on any quarterback they've faced.

    It all starts with their two biggest weapons up front.

The Ugly: Darren McFadden

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    It was only two weeks ago when Run DMC had his breakout performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers to help him get his season back on track.

    With the exception of that game where he rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown, McFadden has a combined 88 rushing yards in his three other games. It's hard to get anything going offensively when the nucleus of your team is being completely shut down.

    He busted out a 64-yarder against the Steelers, but his longest run in the three other games you may ask? Eight yards.

    Oakland is dead last in the league in rushing, which is astonishing since the team has one of the greatest running backs in the NFL in its backfield. I don't want to say McFadden has a case of the "Chris Johnsons," but their numbers are very similar.

    Blame it on the blocking schemes or just the way the team is using him, but as long as McFadden continues to struggle, the more losses the Raiders will pile up.

The Good: Philip Wheeler

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    The dreadlocked linebacker has made his presence known immediately in Oakland since coming over from the Indianapolis Colts.

    Philip Wheeler has been the most productive defensive player for the Raiders this season and continues to impress as each week passes. Wheeler's best performance of the year came against the Steelers in Week 3 when he recorded 11 tackles and forced two fumbles in Oakland's 34-31 victory.

    He is tied for sixth in the AFC with 34 tackles, and has more than Ray Lewis, A.J. Hawk and Karlos Dansby.

    If it wasn't for Wheeler, who knows where the Raiders' defense would be at this point.

The Bad: The Wide Receiving Corps

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    Oakland's receiving corps has been decimated with injuries this season. Jacoby Ford was put on injured reserve without even playing a game and Darrius Heyward-Bey was knocked unconscious by Pittsburgh's Ryan Mundy in Week 3.

    Before leaving the game against the Steelers, Heyward-Bey only had 98 yards on nine catches on the year, a severe disappointment to where everyone thought he'd be before the season started.

    Denarius Moore is slowly making his presence known after returning from a lingering hamstring injury, and tight end Brandon Myers has been Carson Palmer's most consistent target this season.

    But Oakland just isn't very deep at wide receiver, and with Darren McFadden struggling mightily this season, the pressure is on Palmer to make the best of the situation. 

The Ugly: The Defensive Unit as a Whole

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    Wasn't Dennis Allen supposed to be the first defensive-minded coach to come to Oakland since John Madden? Wasn't he supposed to be able to figure out his former team, the Denver Broncos, in Week 4?

    The Raiders are giving up nearly 26 points a game, and have allowed at least 30 points in three of their four contests. Not to mention they got blown out in two of their three losses. Oakland made Reggie Bush look like a Pro Bowl running back and let Willis McGahee average nearly six yards per carry.

    And that's just the run defense.

    The Raiders have given up 822 yards and seven touchdowns through the air in their last two games. A shocking number for any team, let alone once that was supposed to have a rejuvenated defense.

    In Madden's first year in Oakland, the Raiders were near the top of every defensive category. As for Allen, well, the numbers speak for themselves. And as for defensive coordinator Jason Tarver? He's right there with Allen.

    Oakland is the only team in the NFL without an interception, and has given up the fifth-most points in the league. There's a reason the Raiders are sitting at an ugly 1-3 record.