Oakland Raiders Look Like the NFL's Worst Team
by Trevor Whenham - 10/03/2006
The Oakland Raiders are bad. Really, really bad. They have a real shot at being historically bad. They are 0-3, 0-3 against the spread, and they haven't posted a win in their last nine regular season games. They were AFC Champions in 2002, which isn't that long ago, but they have posted an ugly 13-38 record and sent two head coaches onto the scrap heap since then.
The Raiders were shut out by San Diego in their first game and blown out by Baltimore in week two, but they truly hit their low point last week in their loss to the lowly Cleveland Browns. Losing to the Browns is one thing, but getting out to a 21-3 lead before crumbling and giving up three unanswered touchdowns to lose 24-21 is another thing entirely. They showed a real lack of will, skill and effort as they failed to score in the last 34 minutes of the game. Cleveland scored at the end of the second quarter and then did it twice more in the third to complete the comeback.
The Raiders haven't won or covered yet, but will they be worth a bet at some point this season? Let's not beat around the bush - the answer is absolutely no. They will probably win a game or two during the year, but only because it is almost as hard to go 0-16 as it is to go 16-0. However, if they do win they will certainly not do it as the favorite or by planning, and it is more than risky to try to predict when that will happen.
How bad are the Raiders? Cleveland was winless and lethargic coming into the game, yet they opened as one-point favorites, and that line widened to three points by kickoff. San Francisco is the opponent this week. They were completely crushed and humiliated in a 41-0 loss against the Chiefs last week, yet they are favored by more than a field goal against the Raiders. Unless something changes dramatically, the Oakland will not be favored all season, nor will they deserve to be. Here's a look at five reasons why the Raiders are destined for a miserable season:
Quarterback - The Raiders passed on drafting Jay Cutler and Matt Leinart this year, taking safety Michael Huff instead. The team obviously saw something in their quarterbacks that we haven't seen yet. Andrew Walter is completing 38 percent of his passes, with one TD and four picks. The good news is that he will soon be able to go back to the bench in favor of the starter. The bad news is that that starter is Aaron Brooks. Brooks has been equally awful, with just six completed passes in the two games he has started. The passing game has been bad and there is no reason to believe it will change. It's not entirely their fault, however - the O-line has been incredibly porous. The QBs have been sacked 19 times in just three games, which is by far the highest per game average in the league. Even David Carr, the NFL's doormat, is only going down less than four times per game.
Randy Moss - Moss, obviously one of the most talented receivers in the league, has seven catches for 84 yards on the season. He finally got his first touchdown against Cleveland, but that five-yard catch was his only reception in the game. The team is underutilizing Moss' talent to an almost criminal extent. More important to the future of the team, however, is Moss' behavior. He's not exactly a model citizen at the best of times, so if this kind of thing continues -- which it will because the quarterbacks don't have the capacity to get the ball to him consistently -- then Mt. Randy is going to erupt. He'll spout off to anyone who will listen to him and create a scene that could be a distraction for a good team. For this team it could be the last straw that completely tears them apart.
Running game - LaMont Jordan was brought to the Raiders with great fanfare, but he just isn't getting it done. In his first two games he rushed 29 times for 55 yards. That's not even two yards per carry. On the surface, the 128 yards on 20 carries against Cleveland would look like a huge improvement, and it is, but a closer look causes reasons for real concern. Jordan scored in the first half on an impressive 59-yard scamper. When the team was struggling in the second half, however, he also struggled. He carried eight times for 26 yards - just over three yards per carry. You may want to give the Browns' defense credit for that, but when they played the Bengals Rudi Johnson ran 14 times for 87 yards and two touchdowns in the second half, so this isn't a run defense that toughens up as the game winds down. When the passing game is as bad as it is, a good running game is essential for wins. Jordan hasn't shown he can handle that pressure this year.
Art Shell - I won't waste many words on head coach Art Shell. Shell has not once looked like he wants to be an NFL coach this season, and he has done nothing to prove that he should be one. He certainly won't help the team win.
Schedule - The Raiders do not have a particularly friendly schedule. They have a potentially winnable game against the Niners this week, but between then and the end of November they run into Denver twice, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Kansas City and San Diego. Cincinnati and the surprising Jets are on the schedule, too. Not a lot of games there to help a struggling team get their confidence back.