What’s black and white and ugly all over?
So far, it’s the Raiders’ stat sheet on third-down conversions.
While limping out to a 1-3 start this season, the Raiders offense has been unable to sustain drives and control the football because of consistent problems converting third-down plays. Defensively, the team is having just as many problems from stopping opponents on third down.
Oakland ranks 30th in the NFL in third-down conversions, getting first downs on just 14 of 51 third-down plays – a woeful 27.5 percent average.
On defense, the Raiders rank 32nd in the league, allowing opponents to convert 32-of-60 third-down plays, a 53.3 percent success rate.
If the Raiders hope to have more success when they come out of this week’s bye – beginning with their Oct. 14 matchup with the Falcons in Atlanta – they’ll need to be more efficient on offense and come up with some big plays on defense to get off the field.
This week, those areas have been part of the emphasis of the Raiders coaching staff.
“That’s been a big focus for us this week,” head coach Dennis Allen told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “We have to convert on third down and get off the field on third down defensively.”
Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, in fact, said he thought the offense had made some improvements in that area, as well as two others that need improvement.
“We have shown to our offensive players out studies on our run game, on our third downs and the red zone,” Knapp told McDonald.
Quarterback Carson Palmer said the bye week has given the players and coaching staff a chance for some deeper analysis of what’s gone wrong.
“It’s been really good to get everybody on the same page and see why certain things we do well work and why certain things that we didn’t do well didn’t work and how we can make adjustments,” Palmer told Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group. “It’s been a good week.”
Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, meanwhile, said: “We’ve got to force longer third downs and then we’ve got to execute on third down.”
In their last loss, 37-6 to the Broncos in Denver, that was hardly the case. The Broncos converted 10 of 16 times on third down against the Raiders defense.
Though officially the Raiders players are off Thursday to Sunday, with a scheduled return to practice Monday, many players have continued to come in to the team’s training facility to work.
Palmer, for one, is part of that group trying to find some answers – and solutions – to the Raiders’ problems.
“You can say, “I’m going to Vegas and party for four days,’ but that’s not what this team is about,” he told reporters Thursday. “Most of the guys are sticking around and are going to come in and work out.”