After falling to 0-6, the Oakland Raiders are off to their worst start in 52 years. Stretching back to last year, their losing streak is now at 12 games.
In a sense, what’s even worse is that interim head coach Tony Sparano has actually made a difference to this team. Unlike in past weeks, the Raiders were able to follow up one strong performance effort-wise with another. The team is playing hard, but it has become clear just how outclassed this Raiders roster is. There are no legitimate playmakers on offense and the defense literally has only two guys worth noting as having promising futures — Sio Moore and Khalil Mack.
There is still something to be said about the play calling on both sides of the ball. On offense, there has been an all-out refusal to run the ball to the outside, despite the fact that it’s the main strength of Darren McFadden’s game. Instead, they consistently run the ball right up the gut for little to no gain. On defense, the Raiders have refused to blitz like they did in 2013. After the defense was burned later in that season, Jason Tarver has gone to the polar opposite in his play calling. The Raiders are having just as much trouble getting to the quarterback with their front four, but are rarely getting help from blitzes this season.
Unless John Elway loses his mind and decides to trade Peyton Manning, there is no saving this team in 2014. A trade like the one the Jets made for Percy Harvin wouldn’t do much of anything to change matters. The problems run from the coaching staff through the roster and right up to the front office.
There are some promising pieces at important positions, but they are few and far between. Derek Carr has shown the ability to be a good NFL quarterback, but still has a lot of work left. Left guard Gabe Jackson is one of the few true bright spots; the rookie has had an impressive campaign and still has a lot of potential. On defense, Moore and Mack will be playing the outside backer positions in Oakland for years to come. However, not a single other position can be spoken for like that. Rookie corner T.J. Carrie has shown a lot of promise but may only ever be a good nickel corner.
This is going to be a long year for the Raiders and their fans and there’s but a handful of reasons to be optimistic for 2015. The biggest of which might be the solid chance that the Raiders will end up owning the number one pick for a second time in just seven years.