After the Raiders lost 37-6 Sunday to the Broncos, Oakland’s Richard Seymour was trying to be an optimist.
The Raiders veteran defensive lineman was hoping to point out that it was just one game in 16, and that even good teams look bad some weeks.
“One game won’t define us,” he told San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ann Killion.
Unfortunately for Seymour and the Raiders, however, the sample size is four games, or a quarter of the NFL season – and the report card isn’t good.
So far, the Raiders lost a mistake-filled (but possibly winnable) opener to the Chargers, 22-14; were blown away by the Dolphins in Miami, 35-13; won a 34-31 shootout over the Steelers; and then were crushed by the Broncos.
And, in losing to Denver Sunday, the Raiders continued to show that: 1) they can’t consistently run the ball well with Darren McFadden; 2) they can’t shut down opposing running games; and 3) are extremely vulnerable in the secondary.
In getting torched again through the air – Peyton Manning threw for three touchdowns and 338 yards in Denver Sunday – the Oakland defense fell to 31st in the NFL in allowing opposing quarterbacks to connect on 71.5 percent of all throws. The Raiders also rank near the bottom of the league in TD passes allowed (9), completions (108) and yards passing allowed per game (283).
In addition, Oakland ranks 28th in the league in total defense (411.5 yards allowed per game) and 28th in scoring defense (31.3 points allowed per game).
So, one game may not define the Raiders, but four games certainly do.
Winning games in 2012 is going to be difficult if the Raiders can’t stop anyone and can’t get their offense in sync.
“They outcoached us, they outplayed us, they beat us in every phase of the game,” said Raiders’ rookie head coach Dennis Allen.
In losing to the Broncos, the Raiders couldn’t get to Manning even once (zero sacks), couldn’t cover Denver’s receivers and imploded in the third quarter when the home team outscored the visitors 21-0 to break open what had been a 10-6 game at halftime.
Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer called Sunday’s loss “an old-fashioned butt whipping,” and it was an across-the-board failure.
The Broncos ran the ball (Willis McGahee had over 100 yards), didn’t have to punt once and converted 10-of-16 third-down opportunities while the Raiders converted just 1-of-12 third-down plays.
The Raiders’ offense couldn’t stay on the field, while their defense couldn’t get off.
Oakland’s defenders have now been torched by three straight quarterbacks: Miami rookie Ryan Tannehill, the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger and Manning. After losing both starting corners in the first two weeks of the season, Oakland’s secondary is a mess, with Green Bay castoff Pat Lee at one corner and former safety Michael Huff at another and Matt Giordano taking Huff’s spot.
Now, with a bye week coming up, the Raiders will try to regroup. After the bye week will be another challenge in Atlanta. The 4-0 Falcons can throw the ball efficiently with quarterback Matt Ryan and a set of deep-threat receivers.
“It’s hard to play against Peyton Manning no matter what,” Allen said of his makeshift secondary after Sunday’s loss. “But we’ve got the guys that we have, and that’s who we’ve got to go out and play with and we’ve got to play at an NFL level. And so we’re not going to use injuries as a crutch.”
After four games, however, the Raiders may need a crutch (or two). With three quarters of the season still to play, they appear to be limping.