ALAMEDA — Mistakes are part of football. It doesn’t matter whether a team is really good, or really bad.
The now 1-11 Oakland Raiders, though, can’t afford any, whether they’re mental, fundamental or lackadaisical.
But the mistakes they made were bad, according to wide receiver James Jones:
“It’s bad, especially this last week. This last week it was bad. I think it’s probably the worst we’ve been in along time. Like I said, at this point in the year, that’s on everybody. That’s on me. That’s on coach. That’s on everybody. We have to get better than that, and as a leader of this ball club and of the receivers room, we have to get better.”
Oakland was blown out Sunday at the St. Louis Rams 52-0 in the worst franchise loss since the AFL-NFL merger. Every phase of the game was out of sync and out of rhythm on the heels of a big division win against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Raiders had extra time to prepare since their win came on a Thursday, and the team practiced even on Thanksgiving.
There’s evidence, according to defensive end Justin Tuck, that some players in the locker room put too much energy thinking about the win, though he wouldn’t say one way or the other:
“I would like to say no, but obviously what we put on film suggests otherwise. I don’t know if that’s the direct component to why we played that bad. But, obviously, I think we might have. To be factual about it, I don’t really know.”
“We’ve had games where we didn’t play well in spurts, but we found a time in the game where we made our own spurt. That didn’t happen Sunday. They really played with more passion, more energy than we did all game. The game of football is funny, man. It’s one of the only sports where you can go from having that high of winning the game against Kansas City to the low of losing a game like that on Sunday.”
Two division foes, the Chiefs and Broncos, make up half of the Raiders’ remaining schedule, with the 49ers and Bills completing the year. All teams are 7-5 or better on the season, and both division games are on the road. It’s not looking great for the Raiders to win another one.
Of 12 games Oakland has played this season, only one opponent, the New York Jets, have been eliminated from the playoffs. All others are firmly in the hunt or leading the way. But the Raiders wont use that as an excuse; it could even be a positive sign for the organization.
Paging Reggie McKenzie
Oakland’s general manager, Reggie McKenzie, has been absent from media availability since the Week 4 firing of former head coach Dennis Allen. The fans want an explanation, though really, what can McKenzie say?
The number of bona fide playmakers on the Raiders’ roster — fewer with every passing week — is one thing McKenzie is being asked to answer for.
At the time Allen was let go, owner Mark Davis told about 20 members of the media that McKenzie would be the team’s general manager next season.
McKenzie, though, has yet to appear in front of the media to say his piece. This could be a sign that he is safe, not attempting to save face for future employment opportunities.
The Raiders’ struggles make them the clear favorite to hold the top draft pick, and they have more salary cap room entering free agency than any other team in league history.
But performances like the one Sunday are screwing shut the lid of his coffin as Oakland’s general manager at increasing pace. And major improvement over the next four weeks may be the only thing left to save him.