By Ryan Leong
The Oakland Raiders are 0-2 for the first time since 2007 season, Lane Kiffin’s first year as the head coach. They are not scoring points on offense and the defense is getting torched.
Cornerback Ron Bartell was injured in the opener with a fractured shoulder blade and on Sunday, the team lost Shawntae Spencer to a foot injury in their loss at Miami. As a result, the team had six free agent players come in for a workout on Tuesday.
Four of them are cornerbacks: Darius Butler, Cletis Gordon, Antwaun Molden and Kevin Thomas. It’s likely you’ve never heard of any of them unless you’re a football insider, and the impact they’d have on the team is questionable.
One time 49er defensive end and Cal alum Andre Carter had a workout with the team on Tuesday. Carter is recovering from a torn quadriceps that ended his season with the New England Patriots last year. He recorded 10 sacks last year and with that kind of production, the Patriots are hopeful he’ll return to play with them.
The 33-year old Carter was drafted out of California in 2001. He spent the first five years of his career with the 49ers and then the next five years with the Redskins before signing with New England in 2011.
As for new head coach Dennis Allen, he’s already having to answer some tough questions as to why the team has been outgained in rushing yardage, 295-68.
“We’ve got to do a better job of creating some movement up front,” Allen said on Monday. “We’ve got to get some lanes to run in. We’ve got to get a better feel for what we’re trying to do in the run game and we’ve got to execute. And that’s what it really boils down to, the execution of the plays.”
The stats don’t lie, despite Allen giving answers to reporters that the Raiders are ready to play the Steelers. In the first two games, it’s painfully obvious the Raiders are not prepared. The defense is shoddy at best. Reggie Bush had two spectacular scoring runs, but much of that was poor tackling by Oakland. Bush had 172 of Miami’s 263 rushing yards. The Raiders’ running game is averaging only 2.0 yards per carry so far this season.
So many comparisons have been made between Bush and Oakland’s Darren McFadden. So far, McFadden has only 54 yards rushing in two games. His longest run has been 11 yards. Quarterback Carson Palmer has 670 yards in two games, so he’s averaging over 300 yards per game, but the team is winless. For instance, late in the second quarter at Miami, Palmer failed to score a touchdown on 1st and goal from the 7-yard line and the Raiders settled for a field goal. In the second half of that game, the Raiders were outscored 28-7.
Oakland’s offensive coordinator Greg Knapp’s playbook hasn’t fooled anyone and his conservative coaching schemes are doing little to strike fear into any opponent.
On the depth chart, tight end Brandon Myers and McFadden are the primary receivers even though Denarius Moore has the potential to be a game changer on offense. With Jacoby Ford likely out for the season with the injury to the Lisfranc joint in his left foot, the Raiders need Darrius Heyward-Bey and Derek Hagan to help with the offense immediately
Right tackle Khalif Barnes injured his groin in Week Two and will be on the shelf for some time. Willie Smith will be his replacement for Sunday’s game.
Oakland only has two sacks and has forced zero turnovers. Here’s more bad news: The Raiders opponents for the next three games and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, and Atlanta Falcons, so an 0-5 is a definite possibility.
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Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.