A second straight loss to a sub-.500 team has put a serious dent into whatever hopes the Oakland Raiders had of turning their season around.
There is still time, of course. First, coach Dennis Allen’s team needs to do something it hasn’t yet achieved: win a road game.
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s apparent regression over the past month has raised the question of whether undrafted backup Matt McGloin should be given a shot at running the offense. Barring injury, that’s not likely to happen, but it does illustrate the seriousness of the Raiders’ current situation.
Pryor gets another shot at turning the offense around in Week 11 when Oakland travels to Houston in an attempt to win on the road for the first time this year and only the second time under Allen’s watch.
Here are a few things to keep in mind heading into Week 11.
AFC West summary
The Kansas City Chiefs got a well-deserved break with the bye week, but now things get really interesting in the division. The Denver Broncos, coming off a 28-20 win over the Chargers, are one game back of Kansas City and can move into a tie for first place when the two teams meet Sunday night in Denver. They’ll get together again two weeks later at Arrowhead Stadium.
San Diego is somehow still in the Wild Card race, but not firmly. That’s what made the Raiders’ last two games so critical. Had they won both, or even split, they’d be in the mix for a potential playoff run.
As it is, Oakland will almost have to run the table and get plenty of outside help as well.
One of the few positives from Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants was that the Raiders emerged with no major injuries.
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s sore right knee was clearly affecting him in the game and limited his mobility. Pryor wore a thick black brace while he played but later admitted the knee was still bothering him.
The only other injury of note is running back Darren McFadden and his troublesome hamstring. Allen offered no update on McFadden during his press conference with reporters on Monday, so it will be Wednesday at the earliest before the team knows his availability.
What needs to improve
The passing game
Pryor is not the biggest problem the Raiders have right now, but his inability to get the ball downfield is definitely among the top two.
The passing game in general needs improving, and that goes for the quarterback, offensive line and the receivers. But until they can get opponents to respect the deep passes and force them to drop more people into coverage, the results for Oakland on offense aren’t likely to change much.
The Raiders have been a fairly well-disciplined team during Allen’s tenure, but things have gotten a little sloppy lately.
Penalties were a huge stumbling block in New York and prevented the team from building any sustained momentum. A lot was made out of the problems left tackle Khalif Barnes had, but he isn’t the only guilty player. It’s a team-wide issue and one that needs to be corrected.
One bad game against the run isn’t a huge cause for concern. However, it was the ease with which the Giants ran the ball that is most troubling. There were some missed tackles along the way, but the lion’s share of problems came up front, where New York controlled the line of scrimmage and opened huge holes.
That’s been unlike the Raiders for most of the season, so we’ll give them a pass there.
It’s an old story, but the pass protection has been just terrible. From a veteran like Barnes to a rookie like right tackle Menelik Watson, the work up front has left a lot to be desired and is a major reason Pryor has had problems staying in the pocket. Getting Jared Veldheer back would be a start, though it’s still uncertain when that will be.
*Any and all information and quotes in this or any report by Michael Wagaman were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.