Raiders head coach Dennis Allen has plenty of work to do. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
After four weeks, the Oakland Raiders are a mess.
At 1-3, they’re coming off a 37-6 thrashing in Denver, their defense has given up 31 points or more in three straight games and the running game – supposedly the team’s strength with Darren McFadden – is stuck in neutral.
Now with a bye week, the Raiders get some time to work on problems and plug some leaks.
First-year head coach Dennis Allen says the bye week has come at the perfect time because, “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
But the prospects of a quick turnaround and rapid improvement over the remaining 12 games are remote.
As ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson noted in his AFC West Blog Monday, the Raiders – with little depth, holes in the defense and coming off numerous roster changes – were due for a rough start.
Wrote Williamson: “I don’t think the Raiders’ record is a shock. Whether fans liked it or not, this was going to be a rebuilding year in Oakland.”
And, he added: “It might get worse before it gets better and I don’t see any quick fixes here.”
Though the organization might be on the right track with new GM Reggie McKenzie, Allen and new owner Mark Davis, the turnaround may be long and gradual rather than quick.
The team just missed a playoff spot in 2011, stumbling to 8-8, but several high-priced players were ejected from the roster as McKenzie cleaned house.
Now the team has a defense that hasn’t had much of a pass rush, pass defense or run defense – a triple crown of ineptitude – and has allowed 125 points through four games, the most the franchise has given up over the first four games of a season since 1962.
Opponents are completing 71.5 percent of their passes against the Raiders – which would be an NFL record over an entire season.
Allen, however, is noted as a smart, focused and energetic coach who isn’t going to sit still and watch his team spiral downward. Over this bye week, he says he and his coaching staff are going to evaluate everything, including schemes – like the much-criticized zone blocking scheme of the offensive line – while preparing for Game No. 5 against the Falcons in Atlanta on Oct. 14.
“We’re going to evaluate everything,” Allen told reporters Monday. “We’re not going to stick our head in the sand. We’re going to evaluate everything and see what things we need to improve on and where we can get better, and there’s a lot of things that go into that. And we’re going to go from A to Z.”
The Raiders, however, can’t bring in impact players at this point. Their starting cornerbacks are lost, wide receiver Jacoby Ford and linebacker Aaron Curry are hurt and the roster is almost half-filled with players who weren’t with the team in 2011.
For Allen and his coaching staff, there won’t be any magic fixes. The staff isn’t going to stop working, though. They believe they can play better.
“I think this bye week comes at a good time for us, gives us a chance as coaches to look at and evaluate what we’re doing, who we’re doing it with and come up with solutions that can help us get better and help us win some games,” Allen told the media.
If nothing else, the head coach is an optimist.