The Oakland Raiders blew a 14-point lead in Week 4, along with a chance to keep pace with the rest of the teams in the AFC West. Now with division rival San Diego next on the schedule, they have a chance to make up some of that lost ground.
The Chargers rallied to stun the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday and even their record at 2-2 under first-year coach Mike McCoy, another significant step in the rebuilding project in San Diego.
Dating back to 2004 Oakland has dropped 15 of the last 18 meetings in the series between the two teams, including the last three meetings.
Here’s a quick look at some of the things to consider heading into what is shaping up to be a critical Week 5 showdown for both teams.
The three teams ahead of Oakland all won, while the Raiders let a winnable game against Washington get away. Being three games out of first place with the season only four games old has to be a bit alarming considering how well both the Broncos and Chiefs are playing. The Raiders play San Diego and Kansas City over the next two weeks and can put themselves right back in the mix with a pair of wins. Conversely, if Dennis Allen’s team doesn’t rebound from the loss to the Redskins, the situation in Oakland could get real dicey for the second-year head coach.
|Marcel Reece||Knee sprain|
|Stefen Wisniewski||Knee sprain|
The injuries to McFadden and Reece were major blows to the offense Sunday. Depending on how quickly they recover, the Raiders could be scrambling. Dennis Allen declined to get into much detail about either man’s status but it sounds like Reece might be closer to returning than McFadden. If Wisniewski is out for any length of time, it would be crippling to the offense. Andre Gurode, Wisniewski’s backup, has played left guard the past two weeks in place of Nix. If he’s needed to play center, it would really put the rest of the line in a bind.
What must improve
- Although it appears as if Terrelle Pryor will be back in the lineup against San Diego, if he’s not able to play there will be major pressure on Matt Flynn following his less-than-mediocre performance in the Week 4 loss to Washington. If Flynn is pressed into duty, he has to seriously improve his pocket presence. Far too often when the Redskins were closing in for a sack, Flynn simply stayed flat-footed and absorbed the hit. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson needs to incorporate more designed rollouts to get Flynn away from the pressure, since the pass protection is somewhat leaky. There is also the alternative of sitting Flynn if Pryor isn’t able to play and go with undrafted rookie Matt McGloin instead.
- Rashad Jennings put in yeoman’s work after Darren McFadden left the game with a hamstring injury, leading the team in both rushing yards and receptions. McFadden’s injury isn’t serious, according to Allen, who thinks the running back will be back before long. Regardless of who is carrying the rock, the running game has to get better if the Raiders are to have any chance of pulling out of the tailspin that they’re currently in.
- Sebastian Janikowski is normally about as close as you can get to a sure thing in the NFL, but after three missed field goals in four games, there’s a growing uneasiness surrounding Oakland’s kicking game. The biggest issue, which Allen alluded to following the loss to Washington, is the comfort level between Janikowski and first-year holder Marquette King. Considering how many problems the team has had scoring in the red zone, that’s an unnerving though.
- Oakland’s run defense began the game with a pretty solid plan to stop Washington running back Alfred Morris, but wore down as the game went on. Even after Morris was knocked from the game with sore ribs, backup Roy Helu kept pushing the piling and mounting up the yards. Whatever good plays the Raiders run defense did make were few and far between.
- First-round draft pick D.J. Hayden needs to get over the rookie butterflies and start making plays, or he can expect to get hammered by the media. Hayden somehow let Redskins’ wide receiver Pierre Garcon off the line of scrimmage without trying first to jam him, and Garcon scored the go-ahead touchdown on a quick slant in which Hayden didn’t even touch him.
- Terrelle Pryor was still suffering from concussion-like symptoms even after passing all the NFL-mandated tests, which is why coach Dennis Allen decided to hold Pryor out of the game. The hope is that he will be fully cleared to start against the Chargers, which would save Flynn the embarrassment of getting booed off the field at the Coliseum.