Posted by NFL Editor and ANG football writer Jerry McDonald
Having given up nine touchdowns and eight field goal attempts in 49 possessions, the Raiders are better defensively than most thought they’d be.
Random bye week notes at the quarter turn:
The reason they’re 1-3 is the offense – with eight touchdowns and 11 field goal attempts in 48 possessions – has been the opposite. Oakland may look like a 30-point per game team on paper, but the fact is the Raiders have yet to score more than 20.
Since he’s a smallish linebacker who doesn’t look good coming off the team bus, Jamie Winborn probably is not destined to be a Raider. But the 49er in exile would sure look nice in coverage, particularly on those plays where Derrick Gibson has responsibilities against the pass.
Gibson can do some good things near the line of scrimmage. But when Gibson is in space, he’s so far from receivers he may as well be in outer space.
I’ve given the Raiders their share of abuse when it comes to finding young talent, but through four games it appears they’ve found at least two gems – linebacker Kirk Morrison and return specialist Chris Carr.
Coach Norv Turner is reluctant to call Morrison a starter for reasons beyond comprehension, but he’s certainly performing like one and could be a dark horse candidate for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Carr is a fearless kickoff and punt returner destined to break a few big ones before the season is over. Credit the coaching staff for not pulling the rug out when Carr had the early fumble against Kansas City.
Second-year defensive end Tommy Kelly, an undrafted free agent, is another find who has built on a solid rookie season.
All the whining about the poor Raiders and penalties would seem a lot more valid if they didn’t have six pre-snap penalties against Dallas. A seventh was declined. That’s right, six times they managed to screw something up before the ball was snapped.
Exactly how are the officials to blame for that?
Perhaps the best course of action is to embrace the penalties and root for the Raiders to break the record. They’re on pace shatter all existing standards for penalties much in the way Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds made the home run records of Babe Ruth and Roger Maris look puny by comparison.
Yes, the Raiders should be looking for Randy Moss in the red zone more often for touchdowns. But overall, Moss is on pace to catch around 80 passes for 1,800 yards, figures the club would have gladly accepted at the time of the trade.
For Stanford Routt to give way to Fabian Washington on defense is one thing. But for a second-round draft pick with world class track skills to be left out of the mix on special teams is strange, to say the least. Routt suited up but never entered the game against Dallas.
Turner believes spreading the ball around will help the Raiders improve their atrocious 28.6 percent rate (14-for-49) at converting third down. But you wonder if quarterback Kerry Collins simply needs to find someone he really trusts in that situation. He developed that with Ronald Curry last season and it brought him out of a slump.
You wonder if the Raiders realized they were going to get this much good football out of defensive end Bobby Hamilton when they signed him last year.