The Oakland Raiders were 3-4 and on their way to respectability headed into their Week 9 game. The defense was better than expected, they had an exciting young quarterback and generally the team looked like it was headed in the right direction.
That was until the Philadelphia Eagles annihilated the Raiders—in Oakland—by the score 49-20. It’s one thing to lose at home to a superior team, it’s quite another to get blown out by a below-average squad, and that’s what the Raiders did on Sunday.
The loss was a much-needed wake-up call for the rebuilding Raiders. Just because the team has improved doesn’t mean it has arrived. The Raiders are very much still rebuilding, and Sunday’s embarrassing loss is the proof.
Trying to overcome over a decade of bad football is tough, and the fans tend to clamp onto every positive and ignore the negatives. Against the Eagles, there were no positives as the Raiders got pounded on offense, defense and special teams.
The players and coaching failed so badly they might as well have stayed home. It was so ugly, quarterback Nick Foles had a legitimate shot at an NFL-record eight touchdown passes in a game had the Eagles not pulled him and let off the gas in the fourth quarter.
The oft-cited stat about the Raiders having allowed only one explosive play headed into the game is now irrelevant because the Eagles had too many explosive plays to count. It’s as if the defense spent all week reading their press clippings and not focused on the Eagles—which is probably a first for a 3-4 team.
Oakland’s defense has performed with a group of misfits and two rookies over the first seven games, but the Eagles offense couldn’t have been much worse passing going against air. You might say Oakland’s defense made Foles look like Peyton Manning.
Foles was 22-of-28 for 406 yards with seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. This was a guy who wasn’t good enough to beat out Michael Vick and was making just his ninth career start, only one more than Oakland’s quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Speaking of Pryor, he may not have been the problem on Sunday, but he certainly wasn’t the solution. Philadelphia routinely forced Pryor to roll to his left, and he struggled to adjust. Oakland’s offensive line made it virtually impossible for Pryor to stand in the pocket, putting all the pressure on him to create big plays with his legs.
The ground game wouldn’t have been a bad idea. Running back Darren McFadden was supposed to be Oakland’s difference-maker on the ground, but he’s injured more often than he is effective. McFadden was sidelined against the Eagles with yet another injury, yielding to backup running back Rashad Jennings in the second quarter.
Jennings finished with 102 yards and a touchdown and—at this point—the Raiders would be smart to give him more carries and start to phase McFadden out of the offense. McFadden’s injuries and ineffectiveness too often forces the Raiders to abandon their game plan.
It’s also not like the wide receivers were a great help to Pryor, tipping two of his passes into the air that were eventually intercepted. Rod Steater’s 66-yard reception might have been a bright spot if the Raiders had been able to turn it into more than three points.
A 29-point blowout at home against an average team counts the same as a one-point loss to the best team in the league, but this loss was also an important one for the Raiders. Oakland’s young players are learning the hard way how quickly things in the NFL can change from week to week.
Sunday’s game against the Eagles will not be the first setback for a team that is still a year or more away from being a contender. The Raiders can only hope that all the veterans in their locker room can get things turned around. For the first time this season, the Raiders have to prove they can put a devastating home loss behind them.