By Ryan Leong
With a new head coach and general manager, no one predicted the Raiders would make the playoffs. At the same time, nobody predicted the team would lose four in a row giving up a franchise record 169 points in the process, either.
For a team that hasn’t had a winning season since 2002, the Raider Nation has grown beyond impatient. Many of the loyal fans knew this would be a transition year and that the team would likely not improve on last year’s 8-8 record. Other than trying to keep morale up, there isn’t much you can do for the remaining five games but continue to play hard.
Everyone knew it would be a big challenge for general manager Reggie McKenzie, who himself has never been a GM but was the director of player personnel for the Green Bay Packers. McKenzie hired Dennis Allen, who had never been a head coach. Allen hires Jason Tarver to be his defensive coordinator, replacing Chuck Bresnahan. Tarver had previous NFL credentials as an assistant and in 2011 was the co-defensive coordinator at Stanford. Prior to that, Tarver had spent 10 seasons as an assistant coach with the San Francisco 49ers in various capacities.
Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp had previously been the Raiders offensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008 and those teams struggled to score points. This team is no different, having scored only 79 points in the last four games.
Without improvement from the team over the final five games, there isn’t much of an alternative but to replace Tarver and Knapp. As for Allen, he was signed to a four-year contract so he deserves at least another year to prove his vision of the future for the franchise.
Running back Darren McFadden has never been healthy for an entire season and his lack of production this season has been one of the reasons for the stagnant offense. Although quarterback Carson Palmer has thrown for over 3,000 yards, his three wins are a glaring indication that his stats are meaningless. Many are saying that Terelle Pryor should finally see some playing time, since he does represent the future. Pryor also is the last link to the late Al Davis — Al picked Pryor in the 2011 supplemental draft.
So many players that have been signed to long-term contracts are still on the roster, namely Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly. These veterans haven’t performed and it’s time to trade them.
The Raiders are a team that is not going to the playoffs; that is a certainly having lost four straight to fall to 3-8. Losing is toxic and with a 12th season of mediocrity, the team is playing for pride. That involves playing as a team, which is difficult to do with a 53-man roster. Some have shown signs of lethargy while others are playing with intensity. It’s important the players collectively work towards winning two of their three remaining home games just so they feel better about themselves. The remaining opponents are the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, and Kansas City Chiefs. It’s unlikely they’ll beat Peyton Manning and the Broncos, but the Browns and Chiefs are winnable games.
Change is coming but it won’t happen overnight.
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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.