LONDON -- The Raiders have fallen well below their personal expectations, even after the Khalil Mack trade. Nobody saw 1-4 in their future, with little to show from four close contests to start the season.
The record gets heavier with each passing loss, weighing the season down before it began.
Players desperately want to do something positive, go on a little winning streak and feel competitive in the league again. That can start Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks here at London's Wembley Stadium, only if the Raiders play smart and under control.
It's even more difficult with good game tape out there made rotten by big plays allowed on defense and some major offensive miscues.
The danger here is guys start playing hero ball, trying to win games themselves or for a great, if improbable play when an easier one's available. The instinct's natural after the Raiders fell a play or too short of beating Denver and Miami.
Derek Carr has been the flag bearer in that battle. The franchise quarterback played good football but made some critical mistakes trying to reward his unit with score after compiling steady yards. An NFL worst eight interceptions are chief among them. Three picks came in the end zone.
"I really believe that he's a competitive guy and thinks he can make a lot of plays and a lot of throws," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "I just needs to get a feel for what throws he can make in this system."
Carr is working with his fourth play caller and third new scheme working into his fifth season. That's rough on anyone, but it's not an excuse.
Carr must be smarter under pressure, and quiet his gunslinger tendencies at times and avoid unnecessary risk.
"I think it's a comfort level in the system. I'll say that. And it's a matter of sometimes pressing," Olson said. "But, for us right now, certainly trying to get him to calm down and play in a more relaxed type of mode so that he doesn't feel like he has to press to make plays. When you look at some of the turnovers he's had this year, he's been pressing, trying to make a play. Again, we like that part of about him and that he wants to make every play. Just making better decisions moving forward."
Carr isn't the only trying too hard. It's also happening on defense, where the entire unit must be in lock step lest plays go awry. Defenders can press for turnovers when sound tackles will do, especially when they're down on the scoreboard or in the overall standings.
Paul Guenther is trying to coach against that style of play.
"Absolutely. I think I told them during the Cleveland game, ‘there are no 14-point plays in football (when they were down 14 points), so just play one snap at a time, do your job, be where you are supposed to be in your area because, like I told you the margin of error is very thin," Guenther said. "If we don't have guys in the right spots, that's where we kind of have breakdowns.
"That's really the thing we are trying to eliminate. It's hard, really to emulate in a practice, by putting this coverage or this pressure against this play and you know that's going to happen. That's what you try to do as coaches. Try to work them ahead and say hey this is a tough snap in practice. The more tough snaps you can put them through in practice, the less in games where it's going to be a stress."
There will be stressful times ahead for this team, starting Sunday in London against the Seattle Seahawks. This starts a stretch against beatable competition, where the Raiders could claw back towards .500. If, of course, they bounce back from this tough stretch right.
"Through adversity, you see what guys are made of. That goes for coaches and players," middle linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "This is a time to come closer, not to stretch further apart. This is a time to believe in what we have in this locker room. You have to believe in yourself and then show it on Sunday, but not get down on ourselves if things go immediately right. Defenses will get beat, and give up some big plays, but you need the mentality that you'll get it on the next play. That confidence has to be there. It's a hard-nosed attitude that can get you through the tough times."