SPOKANE, August 24, 2014 — Despite winning last week, the Oakland Raiders’ starting unit has been a mess during the preseason, getting outscored by a combined 23-0. Flashes of excitement have been offset by the same awful play on both sides of the ball that has kept the Raiders out of the playoffs since the 2002 season.
The third preseason game is the one that most closely resembles the regular season, with starters often playing the first three quarters. Anybody looking for a ray of hope needs to see what happens when the Raiders travel on the road to play the Green Bay Packers. Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie was with Green Bay, and is now trying to turn the Raiders into “Packers West.”
With Dink and Dunk Dennis Allen coaching, the results have been abysmal. To paraphrase former Vikings coach Dennis Green, the Raiders are exactly who we thought they were.
The Packers received the ball first and soon faced third and seven at their own 30. After the Raiders jumped offside, Aaron Rodgers found his namesake at receiver for a 32-yard gain. Eddie Lacy did the rest, gashing the Raiders for gains of 12 and 17 yards before scoring from the one-yard line.
The Packers had such little respect for the Raiders that they tried the two-point conversion after every score. After just three minutes of football, Green Bay led led 8-0. These are the Raiders.
Oakland received a gift when Mason Crosby kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, giving Oakland the ball at their own 40. On third and two from the Packers 40, Maurice Jones-Drew broke free around the end, then went all the way for the touchdown to get Oakland within 8-7.
The defenses settled in as the Raiders tried to make a game of it. Yet those criticizing Dennis Allen and his West Coast Offense needed to look at only one play to sum up the reason the Raiders do not win. On third and 14 from the Oakland 33, Matt Schaub completed a pass to Darren McFadden.
The play lost two yards. Dink, dunk, punt. The Raiders even received the ball at the Packers 48 for their next drive, although making a first down would have been too much to ask.
At the end of the first quarter, the Raiders went into their typical self-destruction mode. Two consecutive unnecessary roughness penalties moved the Packers from their own 18 to midfield. The second quarter began with Rodgers completing a pass for 31 yards. On fourth and three from the Oakland 12, Packers coach Mike McCarthy showed how little respect anybody has for the Raiders. Bypassing the chip-chit field goal, Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson for the touchdown and the 14-7 Packers lead. The two-point try failed. The Raiders were not technically dead, but in reality, the game was over.
After the Raiders went three and out, the Packers took over at their own 30. Helped along by another defensive penalty on the Raiders, Green Bay faced third and five at the Oakland 30. Rodgers found Starks for a 23-yard gain. On third and goal from the eight, a running play was stopped. Yet unsportsmanlike conduct on the defense meant an automatic first and goal at the three. These are the Raiders.
On third and goal from the six, Rodgers threw the touchdown. Again Green Bay showed why nobody should respect the Raiders. Rodgers threw incomplete on the two-point conversion, but the Raiders were called for defensive pass interference. For the millionth time, these are the Raiders. Given a second chance, Green Bay converted to lead 22—7.
Despite being given gift field position all game, the Raiders were wasting opportunities. With 1:10 left in the half, Oakland had another chance to score but faced fourth and 10 at the Green Bay 26. Schaub was hut, fumbled, and saw the Packers return it to the Oakland 39. For the billionth time, these are the Raiders.
A lone bright spot came on the next play when a simple screen pass by Packers backup Matt Flynn resulted in an acrobatic interception by rookie first round draft pick Khalil Mack. While it was a great play by Mack, this is the same Flynn who played miserably for the Raiders last year after playing miserably elsewhere before parlaying one good game as a backup with Green Bay into a starting role. Now he is back to being a backup who plays poorly.
Oakland took over at the Packers 42 with 51 seconds left. With 10 seconds left the Raiders had moved to the Packers 32, but a penalty on the offense moved them back again to where they started. With four seconds left, Dennis Allen decided against bringing in Sebastian Janikowski for a 60-yard field goal. He actually allowed Schaub to throw the Hail Mary rather than a four-yard pass.
The ball did reach the end zone and fell harmlessly incomplete. Dennis Allen then did his imitation of a failed politician, politely saying that the team needed to do more. Allen is as inspiring as ear wax, and the play of his team over the last two plus years reflects that.
The Raiders trailed 22-7 at the half, and owner Mark Davis has every right to have his exceedingly patient outlook obliterated. Barring a miracle or nine, the coaching staff will be blown to kingdom come after another season of double-digit losses.
In the third quarter, the Raiders tried to make a game of it as Schaub moved Oakland from their 20 to a second and nine at the Packers 14. A perfectly thrown pass in the end zone to a wide open Marcel Reece was dropped. On the next play Schaub fired to the end zone to James Jones for the touchdown. However, the Packers challenged the call and it was reversed. Jones juggled the ball and gained full possession out of bounds.
On the next series, a simple running play by the Raiders meant a fumble, leading to a field goal and a 25-7 Packers lead. Green Bay would add one more touchdown for a 31-7 lead.
The only bright spot this preseason for the Silver and Black has been third string quarterback Matt McGloin. He threw two more touchdowns to make the final score look respectable. While McGloin has been throwing touchdowns against backup defenders, at least he has done something. The scoreboard said that the Raiders only lost 31-21, but in reality they got blown out again.
For those looking for something to be optimistic about, former Raiders coach Tom Cable won a Super Bowl last year. Of course he was with the Seattle Seahawks. When he coached the Raiders, he went 8-8. Dennis Allen could win eight games, but will need two or perhaps three years to do it. The Raider Nation has every right to be disgusted with another awful effort.