By Ryan Leong
With a new general manager, new head coach and coaching staff, it was to be expected this would be a transitional year for the Oakland Raiders.
Transitional is a nice way of saying “a losing record.” Granted, it’s early in the season, but 1-3 is a pretty big hole to dig out from. The Raiders failed in nearly every category on the score sheet and got blown out Sunday by the Denver Broncos 37-6.
The numbers don’t lie. The Broncos shut out the Raiders in the second half, outscoring them 27-0.
The Raiders just didn’t move the football. Without first downs leading to touchdowns, you aren’t going to win games, period. A week after Darren McFadden seemingly had found his stride at running back by rushing for 113 yards on 18 carries including a 64-yard scoring run in Week Three, he regressed. The zone blocking defense failed to open up holes for McFadden to break through. This week he had 13 carries for a whopping 34 yards — a measly 2.8 yards a carry. Mike Goodson ran the ball three times for 22 yards — a nice 7.3 yard average, but not with any significant yardage or touchdowns.
Eight different receivers caught passes, but a telling sign is that fullback Marcel Reece led the way with five catches for 54 yards. His longest gain was for 31 yards. It’s nice that he shows versatility in that area, but it exposes the glaring problem that the Raiders lack a true wide receiver. Denarius Moore had four receptions for 71 yards including a 37-yard gain. A late open field tackle prevented him from scoring a second quarter touchdown which might have changed the complexion of the game. Instead, the Raiders settled for one of two Sebastian Janikowski field goals. Scoring six points a game will likely guarantee a loss, and that’s what the Raiders got. Grade F
Peyton Manning threw for 338 yards on 30-of-38 passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions. That’s a major fail! Manning carved up the Raiders defense like a butcher in a meat market. He did whatever he wanted, and more, on offense. He threw two of those TDs during a 21-0 third quarter. Running back Willis McGahee had 112 yards rushing and a touchdown on 19 carries. Manning threw the ball to eight different receivers.
The Raiders were outscored 27-0 in the second half. Head coach Dennis Allen, in his return to Denver where he served as defensive coordinator in 2011, was simply over-matched by his former boss John Fox in every facet of the game. It’s like he was hit by a runaway train and didn’t know it. Coach Allen always stresses execution and doing a better job, but he obviously didn’t do that here and the bye week for the Raiders couldn’t have come at a better time. This team needs to take a good, long, hard look in the mirror and do some soul searching. Grade D-
The Raiders are pretty consistent in this area. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski is Mr. Automatic when it comes to field goals – -he made both of his two attempts. One of Shane Lechler’s punts was deflected as tight end Brandon Myers simply didn’t do a good enough job on protection for Lechler. That deflection set up Willis McGahee’s two-yard scoring run. Other than that, Lechler got plenty of exercise punting the ball seven times. That is another bad sign, indicating you’re failing on too many drives and not getting into field goal range. Grade C-
Carson Palmer continues to resurrect the image of Jeff George. He had decent numbers for the day, 19-of-34, passing for 202 yards. He didn’t throw any touchdowns nor was he intercepted. He did get sacked three times and had a quarterback rating of 73.4. But a quarterback is like a pitcher. The win-loss record falls on his shoulders and this season, his record is 1-3. Padding your numbers means nothing without wins, and for now, Palmer is proving he can’t win games for the Raiders. Granted it’s not all his fault, but games start and end with your quarterback. Give Palmer credit for at least taking responsibility by saying he didn’t play well enough — that goes for him and the 52 other players on the roster. Grade D
Thankfully, the Raiders’ bye week has arrived. That means hopefully the Raiders will figure out what the heck they’re doing wrong. In two weeks, they travel to Atlanta to take on the 4-0 Falcons, led by star quarterback Matt Ryan. If the Raiders don’t make some adjustments and get some injured players back and healthy, that could be a real ugly result. For now, maybe Raiders fans can enjoy the bye week by going outside on a Sunday afternoon instead of being cooped up watching football. Or, watch a DVD of the glory days narrated by the late James Facenda. The way the Silver and Black are playing, the greatness of the Raiders isn’t in its future, but rather its glorious past.
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Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.