The Oakland Raiders finally got their first victory of the season last Thursday, but they following it up with another new low. Even with 10 days of rest, the Raiders were blown out and shut out by the St. Louis Rams, 52-0.
Lately, every loss seems to define the era of losing that has persisted in Oakland since 2002. A reaming by the Rams is just the latest example, but it’s perhaps the most complete example yet.
The Raiders just can’t seem to find rock bottom. Every time it seems like they might finally be turning a corner, they figure out a way to make the mere thought foolish.
It was so bad Sunday that the Raiders benched rookie starting quarterback Derek Carr in favor of veteran Matt Schaub in the second half. As you might expect, it didn’t make a difference. The two combined for three interceptions, two fumbles and six sacks.
The offensive line surely didn’t help. Rams defensive end Chris Long pushed around right tackle Menelik Watson before he left with an injury. Robert Quinn had three sacks going against left tackle Donald Penn. Left guard Gabe Jackson got his second reception of the season on a deflection—it was that bad.
|Oakland's Running? Game|
Without running back Latavius Murray due to a concussion, Oakland’s putrid and historically bad running game returned. Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcel Reece averaged exactly three yards per carry on 20 attempts.
Oakland’s coaching staff persisted on using McFadden and Jones-Drew despite Reece’s success last week, but it’s not as if Reece helped himself Sunday. Reece lost a fumble at the end of a nice run, finished with just 12 yards on four attempts and false-started on 4th-and-1 down, 21-0, in the second quarter.
The defense was just as bad as the offense until the Rams let up with an insurmountable lead. Oakland’s defense allowed big play after big play to Rams running back Tre Mason—including an 89-yard touchdown run and a 35-yard touchdown pass.
The Rams forced the Raiders to tackle, and they failed miserably. It was not unlike the game in London against the Miami Dolphins that got head coach Dennis Allen fired or other blowouts over the past few years.
To make it a complete meltdown in all three phases, the special teams also played terribly. George Atkinson III—just elevated from the practice squad to return kicks—muffed two kickoffs, and the refs threw a flag on him for an illegal block above the waist on a punt return. On that punt return, linebacker Ray Ray Armstrong ran into punt returner T.J. Carrie.
With the loss and the Jacksonville Jaguars win, the Raiders are now the league’s only one-win team and therefore are in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 overall pick. That’s a good thing because it will take at least one franchise-altering player to drag the Raiders out of their current black hole.
Owner Mark Davis has to be weighing what other moves he can make to change his team’s fortunes. If he fires general manager Reggie McKenzie, he has to replace him with someone better. That could be tough to do now that Oakland has a well-earned reputation as a place where careers of players, coaches and front office executives go to die.
It’s at the point where the Raiders might be willing to trade for San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh. The team is so in need of direction that it might send a valuable draft pick to its cross-town rival just for someone respectable.
The Raiders fans deserve more than loss after loss without at least some explanation from the team’s leadership on the state of the franchise. McKenzie has assembled a team that is now 1-11 and headed nowhere fast, but he has remained silent. He even declined to discuss why head coach Dennis Allen didn’t work out when introducing interim head coach Tony Sparano two months ago.
You know it's bad when your interim head coach is getting a hug and a “God bless you” from Marty Schottenheimer, who as the head coach of the San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs so relished beating the Raiders that he had “Raider week” marked on the calendar. No one seemed to hate the Raiders more than Schottenheimer, and now even he feels sorry for the struggling team with a struggling interim head coach.
That mirrors what it’s like to walk around with a Raiders logo these days. No one razzes you or gives you a first bump anymore. Rivals are now looking at their foes with their Raiders gear on like their puppy just died because they can only imagine what it feels like to lose 52-0, be 1-11 on the season and 54-134 since 2003.
It’s like Groundhog Day for the Raider Nation, but unlike Bill Murray, the Raiders haven’t seemed to learn a thing in the 12 years they've been stuck in a nightmare. I got you, baby.