It’s hard to believe the Oakland Raiders returned 16 of 22 starters on offense and defense from a 2011 squad that went 8-8. The Raiders lost 27 percent of their starters from a year ago and are now on pace for 27 percent of the wins, too. The Raiders failed to capitalize on an opportunity to climb back to .500 and fell to the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers 42-32 to move to 3-5 on the season.
The Raiders are pretenders and are not even contenders in the weak AFC West. It was suspected but not a certainty until Oakland’s defense allowed the "Muscle Hamster," Doug Martin, to infest O.co Coliseum by compiling 272 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns.
Who should carry the ball for the Raiders if both McFadden and Goodson are out?
Oakland’s defense wasn’t the only problem against the Bucs, nor was it the only problem this season. The running game continued to sputter, and Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson both left the game with what appeared to be ankle sprains. The Raiders were left with only the passing game to move the ball, which was probably this team’s only option even if McFadden and Goodson were healthy because the offensive line has repeatedly failed to open up running lanes.
Carson Palmer proved again to be a tease by producing the majority of his yards and touchdowns when the Raiders were trailing and then making key mistakes when the game was close. Palmer threw three interceptions, and two were probably communication errors with the wide receiver. It’s inexcusable for Palmer and his receivers to not be getting better at this stage of the season and for Palmer to recklessly throw balls into coverage.
The offensive line, considered to be one of the surprise groups in 2011, has been one of the worst units in 2012, and that poor play continued against the Bucs. The more time passes, the more 2011 looks like an anomaly. The offensive line has been equally poor blocking for the run and pass and despite the effort that is put in to correct the issues. The poor blocking resulted in 22 yards rushing on 11 carries with a couple of holding penalties that negated nice gains.
The defense was considered the issue in 2011 and is still an issue in 2012 despite a few glimpses of what the defense can be with different players. The linebackers and safeties have missed tackles and failed to shed blockers to make a play. The defensive line has been routinely pushed around when teams really want to run the football and commit to doing it in the second half.
The Bucs were committed to the run and eventually exploded in the second half. Martin has an ability to bounce off one tackler and then take it the distance, and the Raiders found out the hard way what happens when the defensive line, linebackers and secondary all make mistakes in unison.
The coverage has been an issue, too, and the Raiders had to devote four players to cover Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. The safeties have often taken poor angles to the ball or otherwise whiffed on their coverage assignments. The starting cornerbacks are injury replacements who wouldn’t start for just about any other team.
The Raiders are a very flawed football team that plays undisciplined, inept football on a week-to-week basis and are lucky enough to have faced two of the worst teams in the league in the first half and a Pittsburgh Steelers team without its best defensive player.
Through seven games, it’s clear that Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen will have to turn over a large portion of the roster for this team to become anything more than mediocre. The glimpses of greatness show what happens when the players execute as a team, but there are far too many breakdowns from week to week.
The 2012 Oakland Raiders have now revealed their true character. They have trouble executing even the most simple of plays, and that makes the job of the coaches that much more difficult. The Raiders are a bad football team right now and have a long way to go before even becoming an average football team capable of beating teams like the Bucs at home.