National Football League
Raiders show signs of regression
National Football League

Raiders show signs of regression

Published Dec. 16, 2013 11:57 p.m. ET

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 gains.

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.''

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 an interception.

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 games.

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 third quarter.

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.


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