Turnovers a hurdle Raiders’ offense can’t overcome

It has been a bittersweet past five weeks offensively for the

Oakland Raiders since Matt McGloin took over as quarterback.

They’re putting up nearly 370 yards a game and are scoring at a

higher pace than they have at any time since the start of the 2011

season. The numbers in the red zone have also gone up, a sign that

things might not be as bad in Oakland as they appear.

It’s one of the few bright spots Dennis Allen’s team can hold

onto as it prepares for the final two weeks of an 11th consecutive

non-winning season.

Yet all that progress has gone largely unnoticed because of the

Raiders’ turnover problems, an issue that has plagued the team all

year.

”We have to protect the football,” Allen said Friday. ”That’s

been a point of emphasis this week. We have moved the ball well and

we have scored a lot of points in the last few weeks but we have to

protect the football. We can’t put our defense in tough

situations.”

Oakland set a season-high for scoring and put up 461 yards of

offense but coughed up the ball seven times alone in last week’s

56-31 loss to Kansas City.

Five of the turnovers came from McGloin, the undrafted rookie

quarterback who threw a season-high four interceptions and lost a

bobbled shotgun snap while making just his fifth NFL start.

”I don’t think words are really necessary,” McGloin said. ”I

don’t need someone to tell me, `Hey, pick it up,’ or anything like

that. Everybody knows when they make mistakes. Everyone wants to be

perfect. And that’s something I do and everybody does is strive to

be the best that you can be.”

Since McGloin replaced Terrelle Pryor as Oakland’s starter, the

offensive production has increased significantly. The Raiders have

scored 24 or more points in three consecutive games for just the

second time in Allen’s two seasons with the team and are averaging

25.8 point over the past five.

During that same time, Oakland has turned the ball over 12 times

and lost four straight to fall to 4-10 – the same record the

Raiders had at this point a year ago.

It hasn’t all been McGloin’s fault.

The Raiders’ 28 overall turnovers are tied for fourth-most in

the NFL. It’s a stat that is even more painful considering Oakland

has only forced 19 of their own for a minus-nine ratio that is the

league’s fifth-worst.

The seven turnovers against Kansas City were the most by the

Raiders in about 15 years. The Raiders had six interceptions and a

lost fumble in a 27-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 6, 1998 –

Jon Gruden’s first season with the team.

”We’ve had self-inflicted errors that have killed this football

team and put our defense in bad position and it has hurt the

defense,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. ”It’s

unacceptable, the self-inflicted turnovers. We have to clean that

up.”

Notes: FS Charles Woodson was a full participant in practice and

is expected to play Sunday in San Diego. Woodson had been held out

of practice earlier in the week with sore ribs. … DT Vance Walker

(concussion) practiced for the first time this week and moved a

step closer toward being cleared to play but is still questionable.

… RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee) is out.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org