Raiders take disappointing finish into offseason
The players packed up their lockers, coach Hue Jackson summed up
the season and the Oakland Raiders spent the day saying goodbyes
instead of preparing for the playoffs.
A day after wrapping up a disappointing 8-8 season with a 38-26
loss to San Diego that cost them the AFC West title, the Raiders go
into an offseason that promises plenty of change.
The team plans to hire a general manager to help fill the void
left by the death of longtime owner Al Davis last October, could
change defensive coordinators and defensive scheme and must make
additions to the roster if Oakland is going to improve on two
straight .500 seasons.
”That’s not good enough,” Jackson said. ”That’s not
acceptable to me, I don’t want it to be acceptable to our players.
I don’t want it to be acceptable to our organization. I didn’t sign
up for that. So I’m disappointed.”
This was not what the Raiders were expecting when they started
the season 7-4 and seemed to be rolling behind quarterback Carson
Palmer, their key midseason acquisition.
But four losses in the final five games spoiled the season and
raised more questions about the decision to trade for Palmer when
starter Jason Campbell broke his collarbone.
Oakland gave up a 2012 first-round pick to get Palmer, leaving
them with picks in just the fifth and sixth rounds until
compensatory picks are doled out. The Raiders also are without a
2013 second-rounder because of the deal.
Palmer played well at times, reviving the deep-threat passing
game that the Raiders have been seeking. He averaged 8.39 yards per
pass – the fifth-best mark ever on the Raiders – and showed signs
of being the elite quarterback he had been in Cincinnati earlier in
But he also threw 16 interceptions and struggled to get the
Raiders into the end zone at times, playing a role in their failed
”I always feel like when you don’t win the quarterback can
always play better and I can definitely play better,” he said.
”It stinks to sit here and say next year, what are we going to do
next year. You have to let this one settle in, look back at this
entire season, find out why it didn’t work out and why you didn’t
win game when you had chances and look to the future.”
There were a few positives to build on for the Raiders this
season, including Darrius Heyward-Bey’s emergence as a legitimate
NFL receiver with 64 catches for 975 yards, the discovery of
big-play rookie receiver Denarius Moore and the potential from a
young left side of the offensive line anchored by second-year
tackle Jared Veldheer and rookie guard Stefen Wisniewski.
But the negatives proved to be too big a hurdle to overcome,
most notably injuries that sidelined Campbell for the last 10 games
and star running back Darren McFadden for the final nine.
”I would have loved to have seen this team healthy. I think it
was a special team healthy,” punter Shane Lechler said. ”I’m
confident in the direction we’re going. There’s going to be
changes, I’m sure, like there always is, every year, no matter
what. But I’m pretty sure there will be some personnel changes that
need to be made.”
The major task for next season will be reducing penalties and
improving the defense.
The team committed 163 penalties for 1,358 yards, setting
records in both categories. The defense was perhaps the worst in
Raiders history. Oakland was unable to stop the run, had a
propensity for allowing big plays in the passing game and was
unable to generate pressure on the quarterback in key moments.
The most glaring problems came up in a second-half collapse in
Week 2 at Buffalo when the Raiders allowed five touchdowns on five
drives, a blown 13-point fourth-quarter lead to Detroit when they
gave up a 98-yard game-winning drive in the final minutes and a
99-yard drive to San Diego that sealed their fate in the season
”We cannot look at what we’ve done on defense and say it’s good
enough, or say it’s even close to being good enough,” Jackson
said. ”It’s not, and my players know that. We have to improve by
leaps and bounds, and we’re going to.”
While those moments stand out, the season-long numbers were
truly staggering. The Raiders had franchise worsts in touchdown
passes allowed (31), yards per carry (5.1), yards passing (4,262)
and total yards (6,201), while giving up the third-most points
(433) in team history.
Oakland joined this year’s Tampa Bay team as two of the four
teams to allow at least 30 TD passes and 5.0 yards per carry in a
season, a distinction achieved previously by only the 1950
Baltimore Colts and 1952 Dallas Texans. The Raiders also became the
sixth team since the 1970 merger to allow at least 2,000 yards
rushing and 4,000 yards passing in a season.
Numbers like that indicate that major changes could be coming on
the defensive side of the ball, starting with a possible change at
coordinator from Chuck Bresnahan. Jackson said he would address his
”I know some people are going to try to blame Chuck, some
people are going to try to blame Hue but, at the end of the day,
we’re the ones on the field,” safety Michael Huff said.
”Regardless of the defense that’s called, we got to line up and
play and execute. I don’t want anybody going out there and trying
to blame the coaches because it’s on us.”