Raiders show signs of regression
The defense allowed Jamaal Charles repeatedly to take short
passes and run untouched down the field for scores. The offense
kept giving the ball away no matter who played quarterback. Even
the special teams had its share of miscues.
It all added up to a 56-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on
Sunday that might not have been the most lopsided of the season for
the Oakland Raiders but was possibly the most distressing.
With every facet of the team struggling in a fourth straight
loss, it’s making it tougher to make the case that the Raiders
(4-10) are making progress in year two under coach Dennis Allen and
general manager Reggie McKenzie.
”We’re not in the blame game. We’re not in the pointing fingers
game. That’s for everybody else to do,” Allen said Monday. ”Our
job is to come together as a group, coaches and players. We’re in
the solution business, not in the creating problem business. And
that’s what we’ve got to go work to do.”
The biggest problems of late have been on a defense that was the
strength of this team the first half of the season. The Raiders
allowed the most points in franchise history to the Chiefs with
much of the damage coming on short passes that turned into big
Charles scored on three screen passes that covered 49, 39 and 16
yards to go along with a 71-yard score on a downfield pass. That
was part of a 195-yard receiving day that was the best for a
running back in 14 years.
In all, Alex Smith completed 17 of 20 passes for 287 yards but
223 of those yards came after the catch, according to Pro Football
Focus, as the Raiders were never in position to make plays.
”We’ve got to recognize that those things are coming,” Allen
said. ”We’ve got to do a great job of tackling in space. That’s an
area that we’ve got to work to improve on, because we can’t let
screens behind the line of scrimmage go for big gains like
That has become a disturbing trend in recent weeks as the
Raiders have been picked apart by Nick Foles, Ryan Fitzpatrick,
Geno Smith and Alex Smith while allowing a league-high 34.7 points
per game the past seven weeks.
”It’s very concerning and it’s frustrating because at times
we’ve played really good defense,” Allen said. ”We’ve played
outstanding defense at times this year.”
While the offense scored a season-high 31 points, the play
wasn’t much better than the defense with Matt McGloin throwing four
interceptions and losing a fumble and Terrelle Pryor also throwing
McGloin started and played 65 snaps, while Pryor got in for 15
in a seemingly haphazard rotation aimed at catching the defense
off-guard. On one drive, the Raiders went from McGloin to Pryor and
back to McGloin. It paid off in a touchdown but the offense found
little rhythm for most of the game.
McGloin won the job by playing mostly mistake free in his first
start against Houston but has been careless with the ball of late
with seven interceptions and one lost fumble the past four
He has done well at avoiding sacks, taking just five in five
starts with only Peyton Manning getting sacked fewer times per
dropback. He also leads the NFL with 15 pass plays of at least 25
yards since becoming the starter, which is a big reason why he will
start again this week despite the turnovers.
”Matt’s our starting quarterback,” Allen said. ”I think he’s
earned that right and he’s gone in and played well. He didn’t play
well (Sunday). He made some mistakes. … It’s tough to learn from
those rookie mistakes and those young mistakes.”
Even the special teams got into the problems, allowing a 50-yard
kickoff return to open the game and then having Taiwan Jones lose a
fumble on a kickoff return with Oakland trailing 42-31 late in the
NOTES: RB Darren McFadden is expected back at practice Wednesday
after missing the past two games with an ankle injury. … S
Charles Woodson (ribs), TE Jeron Mastrud (wrist) and LB Miles
Burris (ankle) all suffered minor injuries in the game.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org