Even before the Raiders lost to the Browns 20-17 Sunday, Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie said he knew this season was going to be a rough one.
Speaking to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle this past week, McKenzie says the Raiders were heavy on salaries and light on talent.
“I knew where the talent level was, and I knew we didn’t have depth to lose players, not one, because I knew it was going to be a drop-off,” McKenzie told Tafur. “That’s without a doubt. But to be where we are now, at 3-8, (is) disappointing.
“I know the fans are not happy, I’m not happy, the coaches, the players are not happy.”
And now, they’re even less happy with Sunday’s loss, a fifth straight setback that drops them to 3-9 and officially – as if there were any hope left, anyway – eliminates them from any playoff possibilities.
On display once again Sunday was the Raiders biggest weakness, a defense that gives up yards and big plays in bunches.
Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden completed 25-of-36 throws for a career-high 364 yards and a TD and the Browns – who also entered the game just 3-8 – got healthy in Oakland, rolling for 475 yards in total offense.
Weeden’s favorite target was rookie Josh Gordon, who caught six balls for 116 yards and put Cleveland up 10-0 in the second quarter with a 44-yard catch-and-run.
After going into the half up 10-3, the Browns added a Phil Dawson field goal to extend their lead to 13-3.
At that point, the Raiders jumped back into it with Carson Palmer hitting Rod Streater – the phenom of the summer exhibition season – on a 64-yard bomb to cut the Cleveland lead to just three points.
Cleveland responded, however, by grinding out a 14-play, six-minute drive, starting at its own 6, that culminated with Trent Richardson bursting over left tackle for a touchdown to give the Browns a 20-10 lead.
Oakland was able to come back on a late 17-yard TD pass from Palmer to tight end Brandon Myers with six seconds remaining in the game to get back within three points, but the Raiders’ last chance, an onside kick, was recovered by Cleveland, which ran out the clock and celebrated the end of a 12-game road losing streak.
After a winless November, the Raiders are now off to an 0-for-1 December, and the prospects for a victory this week appear small, as they’ll have to prepare to face the Broncos – who have clinched the AFC West championship – Thursday night at O.co Coliseum.
Though the Raiders’ running game again was stagnant, Palmer and his receivers put up some big numbers in the passing game.
Palmer hit 34-of-54 throws for 351 yards and two TDs, and Myers caught 14 of those passes for 130 yards.
McKenzie, though frustrated by his team’s lack of success, says he’s going to continue evaluating the players and coaches on the roster and seeing what they do over the remaining four games.
He still has work to do, and he wants to see who's ready to stick around and be part of the solution.
“Who really wants to play, who really wants to be a Raider, who’s going to play Raider football,” McKenzie told Tafur of what he wants to see. “I’m talking each and every one of us, coaches and players.”