By Steve Corkran
Sunday, September 30th, 2012 at 5:39 pm in Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders get a week off on the heels of their 37-6 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Good thing, too, because the Raiders need all the time they can get for self reflection.
That’s typically what teams do during the bye week, anyway. The Raiders aren’t going to like much of what they see when they look in the figurative mirror, either.
Their performance Sunday against the Broncos was a microcosm for the first quarter of the Raiders season, in which they won only one game.
Here’s what the Raiders are going to see:
1. A defense that can’t get off the field or keep opponents out of the end zone on a consistent basis.
The Raiders allowed 125 points their first four games. That’s more than any Raiders team allowed during the first four games of a season during the Al Davis era.
2. A rushing attack that is all but toothless despite a running back, Darren McFadden, that many consider the best in the NFL.
On Sunday, McFadden rushed for 34 yards on 13 carries, for a 2.8-yard average. So far, he has rushed for 201 yards on 57 carries (3.4).
However, if you take away the 64-yarder he had against the Pittsburgh Steelers, McFadden is averaging a paltry 2.4.
It’s not just McFadden, either. Mike Goodson hasn’t done much running the ball, either. And second-year back Taiwan Jones hasn’t run the ball at all this season — he was part of a botched exchange on a reverse in the regular-season opener.
3. A defense that can’t generate consistent pressure on the quarterback.
The Raiders have three sacks through four games this season. The reasons are many. However, it’s apparent that the Raiders can’t rely upon getting consistent pressure with a four-man rush.
Signing veteran end Andre Carter figures to help, even if his arrival isn’t a panacea. Playing against quarterbacks not named Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning also works in the Raiders favor.
Getting back starting cornerbacks Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer also would allow the Raiders to blitz more, without fear of backup cornerbacks breaking down in coverage.
4. An offense capable of moving the ball but unable to cash in touchdowns on a regular basis.
Through four games, the Raiders have scored only 68 yards, with half of those coming against the Steelers.
Again, the problems are many in this regard. The inability to run the ball well, the lack of a go-to receiver, perhaps play-calling, you name it.
– On the bright side, the Raiders committed only five penalties for 41 yards. That’s in keeping with their disciplined ways the first three games.
The Raiders stand at 19 penalties for 143 yards through four games. Very impressive. Penalties aren’t a hot topic around here, in a negative light, for the first time in many, many years.
Hey, it’s a nice start.
– General manager Reggie McKenzie and Allen are working hard in an attempt to overhaul the 53-man roster. One thing they have learned, for sure, is that positive change doesn’t happen overnight.
Outside linebacker Philip Wheeler is the only new player that is playing at a very high level game in, game out.
Right guard Mike Brisiel, right offensive tackle Willie Smith and others such as cornerbacks Bartell, Spencer and Pat Lee and Goodson either haven’t played enough to provide an accuate gauge into their long-term value or haven’t played well enough to make a marked difference in the overall picture.
So it is that McKenzie and Allen will spend inordinate time this week taking more hard looks at the roster and seeing what they can do about upgrading the talent level.
They no doubt will be careful about making any knee-jerk responses to one game. That would be easy to do after such a thorough thrashing against the Broncos.
Right now, it’s about perspective. The Raiders are in rebuilding mode, regardless what they say publicly. Teams going through such a process experience growing pains that sometimes manifest themselves in the form of lopsided games.