GREEN BAY, Wisc. – It would seem that there’s only so much longer that Raiders coach Dennis Allen can keep up the pretense about his team’s lingering issues not being such a big deal. More evidence to the contrary mounted Friday night with yet another shaky performance.
For the third straight game, the Raiders defense struggled out of the gate and the offense struggled, period, as the Green Bay Packers cruised to a 31-21 victory at Lambeau Field.
“It was a good opportunity for us to measure ourselves to see exactly where we’re at,” Allen said. “We’re obviously not there yet as a football team. We’re going to continue to work. We’re going to get there.”
If so, one has to wonder how long it’s going to take at this rate.
“We better be close to being ready for the regular season here shortly,” quarterback Matt Schaub said.
The regular season starts Sept. 7. The Raiders play one more exhibition game, Thursday night against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
Allen and Schaub said they aren’t sure how much, if any, the starters are going to play that game. Therefore, the Packers game might have been the last game action for Schaub and the other front-line players until they play the New York Jets in the opener.
Friday’s loss goes away once the regular season starts. It’s unknown how long it’s going to take for the Raiders to get back projected starters Sio Moore, Nick Roach and Tarell Brown from the injuries they suffered Friday.
Moore’s injury appears to be the most serious of the three, given he left field on a stretcher after he hurt his neck early in the second quarter. He later got transported to a nearby hospital for further evaluation.
“It’s always a scary situation, especially when a player says (it’s his) neck,” Raiders safety Charles Woodson said. “You hear them say it on the field. I’ve seen it a couple times, and it never gets any easier. I don’t think anyone wants to play after that.”
Roach and Brown left the game with concussions in the first half and never returned.
Allen said Moore was diagnosed with a neck strain. Moore was released from the hospital and rejoined the team after the game. Allen said he assumed that Moore was cleared to fly home with the team.
The Raiders matched the Packers through the first four drives, with each team scoring a touchdown on their first possession and then punting on their three successive series.
The Packers superior offensive talent prevailed from there, as quarterback Aaron Rodgers punctuated back-to-back scoring drives with touchdown passes.
Oakland’s offense misfired for most of the night with the starters on the field. The Raiders netted 60 yards on their first five drives. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew accounted for 40 of those on his touchdown run in the first quarter.
Schaub completed his first three passes. He spent the rest of the first half trying to find a rhythm that never arrived.
Schaub completed 5 of 11 passes for 17 yards on his first six drives. It wasn’t until the Packers starters exited that Schaub moved the ball with much consistency.
“We’ve got to improve ourselves in the passing game,” Allen said. “That’s a full-time team effort. That’s not about one individual.”
Schaub agreed. He said it’s imperative that everyone look within and find a way to get better.
There were some positives for the Raiders, Allen said. In particular, rookie linebacker Khalil Mack turned in his best outing after two so-so showings.
Mack recorded an interception of Matt Flynn in the second quarter. He also generated pressure on Rodgers a few times and notched five tackles.
“I’ve been saying all along that he’s going to be a factor for us and he’s going to be an explosive player for us, and we saw some of that (Friday),” Allen said.
Mack said it’s a matter of being patient and remaining confident.
“I’m getting comfortable in my role,” Mack said. “I stuck my head in there and made a few plays.”
But the overall team concerns remain, even as the season nears and time to fix the problems dwindles.
So does the unbridled optimism.
“We’re ready to take a jump,” Woodson said. “I feel really good about what we did, especially defensively.”
– The Raiders committed seven penalties for 54 yards in the first half, when the starters dominated the playing time. Through three games, they have been penalized 29 times for 243 yards.
– Raiders running back Kory Sheets suffered an Achilles injury midway through the third quarter on a play on which he fumbled. He was helped from the field. Right offensive tackle Menelik Watson left the game with a hip flexor.
– Rookie quarterback Derek Carr (concussion) and fullback Marcel Reece (foot) suited up and warmed up before the game. Reece played, while Carr watched.
– Matt McGloin connected with receiver Brice Butler for 19- and 28-yard touchdowns late in the game. They also hooked up for a 19-yard touchdown against the Lions in the previous game.
– Kicker Sebastian Janikowski didn’t play because of a sore right quadriceps. Kevin Goessling replaced Janikowski.
– Janikowski, defensive tackle Justin Ellis, offensive tackle Matt McCants, guard Lucas Nix, defensive tackle Justin Ellis, cornerbacks Taiwan Jones, DJ Hayden and Chimdi Chekwa and tight ends David Ausberry and Nick Kasa were scratched from the lineup before the game.
– For 15 players, this marked their final game with the Raiders. The first mandatory roster cutdown is Tuesday. Teams are obligated to pare their rosters to no more than 75 players by Tuesday afternoon. The deadline for teams to set their 53-man roster is Aug. 30.