For the Oakland Raiders, the focus has already turned to the future. With six straight losses, all that's left for the Raiders (3-10) to play for in the final three weeks is pride, draft position and the opportunity to evaluate some of the younger players on the roster.
Coach Dennis Allen has already gotten increased playing time from young receivers like Rod Streater and Juron Criner, cornerback Phillip Adams and defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi. Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie want to get a more detailed look at third-string quarterback Terrelle Pryor and rookie offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom in the final three weeks.
"All of us, as competitors, we want to win. That's what it's all about,'' Allen said.
"But I also understand, and I've got a big-picture view of what I want this football team to look like.
Reggie and I have talked about it. We knew what we were dealing with when we came here. We knew we had some depth issues on the roster, and we couldn't sustain a lot of injuries. We've sustained a few injuries in some spots. We all want to win, and I understand that. And I want to win now, but I'm looking at the long-term future of this team. We've got to prepare for the future.''
Streater is coming off his best game as a pro, catching four passes for 100 yards even besting his top single-game yardage mark from two years at Temple.
Streater signed with Oakland as an undrafted free agent and has been one of the brightest developments this season with 28 catches for 429 yards and three touchdowns. ``Experience is definitely valuable,'' Streater said.
"A lot of things you can't just teach. You got to kind of go out there and experience the good and the bad. Getting that experience will be good for me next year.'' Criner, a fifth-round pick, has 15 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown and has gotten increased playing time in recent weeks. Adams has gotten more time at cornerback the past few weeks and has interceptions the past two games, while Bilukidi is part of the defensive line rotation.
Allen said he would look at possibly starting Bergstrom as the organization figures out which players will be part of the future. ``It's going to take time,'' Allen said. ``It doesn't happen with one decision. It's an accumulation of decisions made over time that gets everything to be exactly how you want it.''
The most interesting case is Pryor, the former Ohio State star who has no official plays in two seasons as a pro. Pryor got on the field once as a rookie and committed a false start before his only play. He was inactive the first 11 games before dressing the past two weeks without playing. While Carson Palmer will remain a starter barring injury, Allen does want to give Pryor some playing time down the stretch.
"We've got a package of plays that we've had up and available the last couple of weeks to get Terrelle in the game,'' he said. "I think at some point we'll get him in the game and have a package of plays for him to run.''
Allen is getting backing in this difficult year from an unusual spot: the AFC West rival Denver Broncos.
Allen was defensive coordinator in Denver last season and is still highly thought of in that locker room.
After the Broncos' latest win over the Raiders, some of Allen's old players said they believed he was still the right person to get the Raiders turned around.
"Once they get their personnel that they want, that coach Allen wants, things will start working out. It starts from the top,'' cornerback Champ Bailey said. "He did some good things for us. He did some good things here. I have to give him a lot of credit. He earned that job. He deserves it. He's a good football mind.''
Allen helped Denver win the AFC West last season and knock out Pittsburgh in the wild-card round before getting the Raiders job.
His defense in Oakland has not been nearly as good. The Raiders are last in the league in points allowed per game (30.9) and fifth worst in yards per game (390.2) and are on pace to allow the most points ever in a season in franchise history. ``It's just his first year,'' Denver linebacker Von Miller said.
"I'm sure they'll get it cooking. For us we got it clicking with coach Allen. He's a great coach. I'm sure the wins will start coming soon.''
Notes: Allen will leave the team to attend his father's funeral on Monday. He will decide when he returns whether to reinstate LB Rolando McClain from his two-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. Allen said he has not talked with McClain since the suspension was issued Nov. 30. ... Allen said RB Darren McFadden was walking without pain a day after re-injuring his sprained right ankle that sidelined him for four weeks. ... X-rays on CB Michael Huff's injured wrist were negative. He also was undergoing an MRI but Allen did not believe the injury was serious.