In yet another pathetic performance, the Oakland Raiders were blasted by the New Orleans Saints at the Coliseum 38-17. There is no shame in losing to a perennial playoff team like the Saints. However, there is shame in the manner in which the Raiders did lose.
I saw a lack of emotion, a lack of consistency and the same levels of dysfunction that have plagued this franchise for the better part of the last 20 years.
Understand, New Orleans is a potent offensive team, but the Raiders didn't even require it to beat them with the offense. Two turnovers, including another Carson Palmer pick-six and a crushing interception off the hands of Brandon Myers in the end zone, all but pushed the game out of reach early. A third just made the game worse.
Oakland was sloppy in all three phases, and making matters worse, head coach Dennis Allen did not seem to be able to foster much in the way of an attitude adjustment.
Ironically, the Raiders may have run the ball the best they have overall in 2012. But even that silver lining comes with the reality that offensive coordinator Greg Knapp strangely went away from it in the first half after Marcel Reece established the ability to pound the ball on New Orleans.
There was no pressure on Drew Brees, and the run defense was again nonexistent. Add it up, and you have another crushing blowout.
In 1981, the Baltimore Colts allowed an NFL-record 533 points defensively. The 2012 Oakland Raiders are officially chasing that mark. Over 16 games, that's an average of 33.3 points per game. In the last three Raider games, they have allowed 135 points, an average of 45 a game. That is bad on any level, and there is nothing I have seen to suggest it will slow down.
So recapping the five keys I had for victory, it is apparent that Oakland is bad enough to lose the rest of their games and finish 3-13.
Keep It Clean
That didn't happen. Two first-half interceptions that essentially cost the Raiders 14 direct points were a harbinger of bad things to come. Add four penalties and three sacks allowed, and well, you have a team that just got pounded at home.
30 Minutes or Less, You Lose
Maybe I should've said 60 minutes or less. The Raiders had the time-of-possession advantage and were still destroyed. Even if New Orleans never stepped foot on the field, the score was just 10-7. Why the Raiders got away from running the ball in the first half, I'll never know. They had to play keep-away and instead tried to out-slug the potent and much more efficient Saints. And of course, it cost them royally.
Don't Play It Safe Defensively
I thought the Raiders needed to throw everything—the kitchen sink, a radiator, anchor and manhole cover—at the Saints offense defensively. Didn't happen. The Raiders largely rushed four and dropped seven. And as to be expected, Drew Brees ate them up. I can only recall four blitzes. One led to an incompletion as Philip Wheeler planted Brees.
But on a 3rd-and-13 with the score just 14-7, Oakland rushed four and Brees had more than enough time to find Lance Moore for a killer touchdown with 57 seconds left in the first half. That was the dagger, and the Raiders really didn't do much the rest of the game.
It was a pathetic lack of variety by Jason Tarver, a guy who was supposed to be smart and aggressive. That is telling to me.
Empty the Bag of Tricks
At 3-6 and basically out of the playoff picture, logic would say you play like you have nothing to lose. Instead, the Raiders stuck to the same things they have in the first nine games. There was nothing new or exciting or different or novel that the Saints saw. And as the game went on, they just got more and more aggressive knowing the Raiders had no tricks or adjustments. It was just awful to watch.
Don't Put It All on Carson Palmer's Shoulders
Palmer will get a lot of criticism. Some of it will be deserved. But when receivers drop passes that lead to interceptions, defenders can't tackle or cover and special teams allow 80-yard kickoff returns, it is too much of a handicap for a quarterback to overcome.
Let's be clear: Palmer is not worth the price Hue Jackson gave up. But he is surrounded by an inferior cast. Plain and simple. The Raiders are in the running to be the worst defense in NFL history in terms of points allowed. How many quarterbacks can overcome that? Believe me, I'm not making excuses for Palmer. Like Howard Cosell once mused, I'm just telling it like it is.
So now, the Raiders are 3-7. Next week: a cross-country trip to Cincinnati and a Carson Palmer reunion with the Bengals. They will be a big underdog in that game and likely will be short-handed again. Like 2003 through 2009, it's already time to start getting mock drafts ready.
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