The Raiders were held without a touchdown for the second straight week but unlike last week’s victory against the Chiefs, field goals were not enough against the Panthers who put the Raiders away, 17-6.
The Panthers’ team was not significantly better but, despite being called for 10 penalties for 97 yards they were able to capitalize on their red zone trips and their two TDs and a FG where the Raiders 0-2 in their two trips to the redzone.
The Raiders have now gone 2 full games without scoring a TD. But the ineptitude of the Raiders offense is much more than that. The Raiders have scored a number of touchdowns in garbage time this year and, in general, have not been able to score when it’s needed, trailing most of the teams they are playing throughout the game.
In fact, a review of the Raiders previous games showed that the last time the Raiders scored a TD that either put them into the lead or maintained a lead for them was on November 4th, when the Raiders played Tampa Bay – a game they eventually lost. That was now 7 weeks ago.
Pryor again doesn’t get meaning-full playing time.
The Raiders should be in full-blown play for the future mode at this time but if they are that future doesn’t include 2nd year QB Terrelle Pryor who again saw only a few snaps and threw only one pass. This was in a game in which starting QB Carson Palmer was injured early in the first half and left the game with pain in his ribs. He did not return.
I’ve said before that it certainly seems unlikely that Pryor is in the Raiders long term plans due to the lack of playing time he is able to get. The coaching staff’s praise of his improvement is hollow if he cannot get onto the field. Today he saw only a couple of snaps and threw only one pass, a 5 yard pass to Marcel Reece that he completed. He came off the field immediately after the pass and didn’t see the field again for the rest of the game.
The Raiders’ coaching staff has said good things about Pryor developing during his practices but if the team thought he was their future at QB, they would get him some playing time in this lost season and see what he could do.
Instead, they praise his dedication and improvement but limit what he does in games which sounds very much like a strategy to set up Pryor to be traded in the off-season. The Raiders are hoping that some team who liked Pryor coming out of the draft will hear that he’s committing himself in practices and sees him getting time during games and will pay more for him as a development QB. It seems likely the Raiders will be cutting their losses with him and recoup whatever they can.
Some young guys continuing to show up
If you’re looking for a positive to take from today’s game you can take a look at the Raiders defense which had a second strong showing this week. The Panthers offense is no juggernaut but the Raiders defense showed up well against Carolina, getting some pressure on Newton and forcing quite a few errant passes. Rookie Miles Burris again made a good impact and could have made more of an impact with a few more breaks.
Burris showed up fairly well in coverage and he also had a well-timed blitz in which he had a shot at taking Newton down for a safety in the endzone. Newton used his rare athleticism to escape Burris’ arm tackle but the play was a good one none-the-less. Burris also almost had an interception on a ball that Newton attempted to throw away and had some good tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage.
Burris’ best play was one in which he combined his skils with another young player, 2nd year CB Chimdi Chekwa. Chekwa, who was demoted to the practice squad after training camp this year and has only been on the active roster the last two games was able to make a play on a poorly thrown ball by Newton and deflected the pass. Burris was in position and was able to make a diving interception off the deflection.
Knapps offense continues to underwhelm
Other than some good plays on defense there was precious little to celebrate in the game. The offense, which has looked stagnant under QB Palmer got even worse under Matt Leinart. Leinart, who lacks both the arm strength and gun-slinger-mentality of Carson Palmer, relied on checkdown passes for the most part and the Raiders struggled to get first downs for most of his time on the field. He also badly misread zone coverage and threw an interception that was returned 25 yards to the Oakland 25 and helped to set up Carolina’s second TD.
For the game, the Raiders offense averaged only 3.2 yards a pass and only 2.1 yards per carry on 22 attempts. Matt Leinart, who throw all but 4 passes in the game, only averaged 3.6 yards per pass. Leinart had decent time to throw and was only sacked once and still wasn’t able or interested in going vertical. He completed exactly 50% of his 32 attempted passes.
For comparison the Panthers rushing per carry average (4.0) was higher than the Raiders passing per attempt average (3-9). Newton, who threw all of the Panthers 29 passes, ended up with a 5.9 per pass average.
Greg Knapp is responsible for the offense almost completely as Allen is a defensive minded head coach and has essentially turned the offense over to Greg Knapp. And yet, despite playing together for 16 weeks, now (including the bye) plus the preseason and the offseason, the Raiders offense looks worse and more out of sync now than when they started the season. Mark Davis used the word regression earlier this year to describe what he sees on the field and nowhere has that been more accurate than on offense.
With the last two weeks’ inability to score a touchdown, it says here that Allen must make the difficult decision to fire his friend Greg Knapp and bring in a better offensive coordinator in the offseason. The Raiders offense would be a good job, I think, for an offensive coordinator. While they don’t have any really elite players they have some key players on offense including an intriguing QB in Palmer, a young receiving corps that has some talent but struggle with inconsistency and a running back in Darren McFadden that can be among the best when healthy and in a scheme that fits him well.
In an earlier piece I put forward a prediction that Allen would let Knapp come back for another year but with the Raiders going two weeks and counting without a touchdown, Knapp’s job security is being put in further jeopardy.
The Raiders play their final game in San Diego next weekend against a Chargers team that has also been well below expectations this year. Coach Allen will look to go into his first full offseason with a win and then he and McKenzie will get together to discuss where they go from here as they attempt to turn the struggling franchise around.