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