Same old problems plague Raiders

BY foxsports • November 8, 2011

With two consecutive losses to division rivals, a penalty count that's quickly approaching triple digits and a run defense that is among the worst in the NFL, Raiders coach Hue Jackson has a long list of issues that need fixing.

He doesn't have much time to get them corrected, either.

Oakland has a short work week in preparation for Thursday's night game in San Diego. It's a game that will either solidify the Raiders' first-place standing in the AFC West or drop them farther into a tailspin that began shortly after the death of team owner Al Davis.

''We've got some work to do, we've got some growing to do,'' Jackson said Monday. ''Our guys are excited because they know we are 4-4 and still in the thick of this thing. What we need to do is get a win.''

The Raiders seemed to have a firm grasp on things Sunday when they built a 24-14 lead over Denver midway through the third quarter before the Broncos scored 24 unanswered points to win 38-24.

The meltdown in front of a sellout crowd at the Oakland Coliseum followed on the heels of the Raiders' 28-0 loss to Kansas City.

In both games, Oakland struggled defending the run while racking up penalties - 10 against the Chiefs and a season-high 15 in the loss to Denver.

Overall, the Raiders' 84 penalties are an NFL-high and 14 more than any other team in the league has.

''Some of 'em are just bonehead mistakes that we need to clean up,'' defensive tackle Richard Seymour said. ''We need to eliminate bad football, and that's part of the bad football side of it. You won't win a lot of games (and be) where you want to be at the end of the year if we continue to do this.''

More concerning was Denver's ability to run the ball.

The Broncos rushed for 298 yards, 163 from running back Willis McGahee and 117 from quarterback Tim Tebow who had runs of 32, 19, 12 and 12 while running the option.

That kept Oakland's defense on the field and fueled Denver's comeback. The Raiders also dropped to 29th in the NFL defending the run and are giving up an AFC-worst 5.2 yards a carry.

Jackson had vowed to correct both problems earlier this season yet found himself answering the same questions he did back then.

''I didn't solve it,'' Jackson said. ''Very confident teams don't make those kind of mistakes at key times. In the heat of battle there's a good decision and a bad decision. Those are thing we have to continue to harp on, myself to the coaches, the coaches to the players, to get better at.''

Jackson, who said he long ago reached his boiling point with the two issues, wouldn't rule out making changes to the team's lineup to correct the problems. But with a roster full of injured or limping players, Jackson's options are admittedly limited.

''Right now we're not the healthiest football team so I'm sitting them down to play who?'' Jackson said. ''I'm going to continue to just make it an emphasis for this football team that we've got to do better. It might be Game 16 when it's fixed, I don't know. But I know I'm not going to back down from it and we're going to keep working at it.''

Jackson also addressed the top of the Raiders' locker room chemistry, which some have questioned after the recent acquisitions of quarterback Carson Palmer, wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and linebacker Aaron Curry.

The subject took on added significance after Sunday's game when wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and tight end Kevin Boss played sparingly. Heyward-Bey did not talk to reporters following the game, and Boss said Monday he was surprised at his lack of playing time.

''I've got a lot of confidence in myself and feel like I can help this team but, you know, that's something I can't do when I'm not playing,'' Boss said. ''But I think that things will work (themselves) out and I feel confident that I'll get back out there and continue to do what I've done in the past, and that's make plays and be a solid tight end.''

Jackson said he talked to the players before the game and that everyone was aware of their role going into Sunday.

''Do I think some players walked out of here yesterday feeling like they could have made more of a difference in the game? Probably so,'' Jackson said. ''When you lose, everybody has a reason why you lost. But when you look at it, that's not why we lost. We lost because of penalties. We lost because we didn't do a good enough job of taking care of the ball, and we didn't stop the run.''

Notes: Running back Darren McFadden did not take part in Monday's walkthrough practice and is questionable to play in San Diego. ... Center Samson Satele attended practice but did not work out with the team.



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