ALAMEDA — After an offseason overhaul that brought on board veteran players with playoff pedigrees, the Oakland Raiders were optimistic for a turnaround after back-to-back four-win seasons.
After just two games, that optimism has quickly turned to frustration and disbelief as the Raiders have been physically dominated in losing to the New York Jets and Houston Texans.
With a trip to New England this week to face the Patriots followed by a “home” game in England against Miami, the Raiders (0-2) need to fix things quickly or the season could spiral out of control.
“We're two weeks into the season. At the same time, you don't want to bury your head in the sand,” coach Dennis Allen said Monday. “We've got to get better. We need to do it fast.”
The disappointment is already mounting with veteran safety Charles Woodson sounding off after the game, saying he was embarrassed by the team's play and that the performance in the 30-14 loss to Houston “sucked.”
“I think that's something that is spoken out of frustration,” Allen said. “When you watch Charles Woodson play in that game and the effort that he gave in that game and the passion in which he played in that game, it's a tough pill to swallow. When you go out there and don't perform like you're capable of performing. He gave everything he had in that game and we have to get more guys playing like that.”
The biggest issues have been on run defense, where the Raiders have allowed an NFL-worst 400 yards rushing in just two weeks. They have been gashed by long runs from Chris Ivory in the opener and Arian Foster on Sunday and have consistently been beaten at the line of scrimmage despite the additions of Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Antonio Smith in the offseason.
The problems were especially bad at the start of the game when Foster had 12 carries for 76 yards on the first two drives as the Texans took a 14-0 lead.
“You can't allow a team to just run the football down the field on you,” Allen said. “That has to change. Like I told the players today, run defense is a mentality. Run defense is about lining up across from somebody, hitting them in the mouth, knocking them back, getting off a block, and making a play. That's what run defense is all about. Until we get to that point, where we understand that, then we're not going to be very good at run defense.”
Despite plenty of reasons for pessimism, the Raiders believe the problems are fixable. Tuck said they might have underestimated how difficult it was for the defense to gel after starting the season with eight new starters.
Tuck said the major issue has been inconsistency, where one player might miss an assignment that turns into a big play.
“We're not that far off,” Tuck said. “I know with the way we played yesterday it looks like we're a long way off. There are so many little things that happened in that game that could have changed the course of the game completely. Four or five plays. And that's the frustrating part about it. And it all comes back to like I said earlier, being consistent.”
NOTES: LB Sio Moore (ankle) and WR Rod Streater (hip) had MRIs on Monday but there was no update on their status. … Allen had no update on the status of LB Nick Roach, who has been out since suffering a concussion in a preseason game Aug. 22.