It's a disaster a week for the Raiders. Suddenly, they're back to Square One.
Here's the weekly toll:
Week 1 vs. Tennessee: 17 penalties, 173 yards.
Week 2 vs. Cincinnati: poor passing (103 net yards).
Week 3 vs. Denver: total meltdown all departments (31-10).
Week 4 vs. San Diego: pass coverage (no name receivers star).
Week 5 vs. Chicago: run defense (another 200 yards allowed).
Week 6 vs. Cleveland: 19 penalties, 128 yards.
"We've been in situations where if we do get penalized, we've been fortunate
enough to overcome them in the past," coach Bill Callahan said. "But not to this
extent and not to this length.
"The mental ones are the ones that are concerning to me, not only on the offensive
side of the ball but defensively. When you continually jump offsides and line up in the
neutral zone ..."
Callahan went on to say such penalties were correctable. But they have not been
corrected as the Raiders have opened the season 0-4 on the road and 2-0 at home.
"We're beating ourselves," he said, adding, "I take the blame for the mere fact it's
an issue of discipline."
"We're not good enough to overcome (the penalties)," quarterback Rich Gannon said.
The Raiders are simply this: they are a coughing, sputtering engine as they prepare
for their second Monday night appearance of the season against a division opponent.
That opponent just happens to be Kansas City, at 6-0 the only remaining AFC team
without a loss.
Maybe what the Raiders need is just such a challenge.
"Will the level of competition elevate our game?" Callahan asked rhetorically.
"It should have happened the last two weeks. There's no excuse."
NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES
--The Raiders reported only one new injury in keeping with their policy not to
provide injury updates until the league-mandated Wednesday deadline. The one
new injury that was obvious was to LG Frank Middleton, because he had to be
removed from the game on a cart.
-- LG Frank Middleton injured a quad muscle but the Raiders either aren't sure
or aren't saying how badly. All Callahan would say was "it doesn't look very promising."
-- Replacement LG Matt Stinchcomb drew Callahan's praise, saying he was "outstanding."
-- RT Lincoln Kennedy (calf) was close to being able to play in Cleveland but
was declared inactive at the last moment. That means he could be ready to return
this week after missing three games.
-- RT Langston Walker started for Kennedy again and had mixed success against
Browns' LDE Courtney Brown.
-- RG Mo Collins (knee) also made the trip but could not answer the call after
warmups. Unlike Kennedy, his injury seems to be worsening.
-- RG Brad Badger started for Collins and aside from two false start penalties,
his performance was "very good" according to Callahan.
-- RDT John Parrella (groin) missed his first start in two years with Oakland
and his status this week is and will remain a mystery until the team's Wednesday
-- RDT Rod Coleman started for Parrella and made only one tackle, an assist.
-- WR Jerry Porter (hernia) may finally be ready to play after missing five straight
-- SLB Bill Romanowski (concussion) remains out indefinitely. He has missed three
-- RB Charlie Garner was expected to be a bigger factor in the Raiders' passing
game in Cleveland after catching just three in the previous three weeks combined
-- and he was. He had nine receptions for 51 yards to go with nine carries from
scrimmage for 28 yards.
-- Rookie RB Justin Fargas showed some promise in his most extensive action
of the season -- six carries for 33 yards. He still has more yardage on his one
breakaway run in Week 2 (53 yards) than he does in his other 15 carries combined
-- WR Alvis Whitted has now carried the ball twice on end arounds -- for gains
of 16 and 10 yards. Of his six catches this year, two have been for 36 and 32 yards,
the second and fourth longest pass plays the team has had this year.
-- QB Rich Gannon's average completion only gained 7.9 yards Sunday, the lowest
such figure he has compiled in 77 Oakland starts.
-- WR Jerry Rice made two catches for 19 yards. Twice before as a Raider he has
had only two receptions, but this was the least yardage he has gained in one game.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "When you are struggling, you guys aren't the only ones who
know we're struggling. The referees know we're struggling too, so they aren't going
to give you any breaks. They are going to make you work for it. That's just how it
goes in the NFL." -- WR Tim Brown.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
REPORT CARD VS. BROWNS
PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus -- The good news was there weren't any turnovers.
The bad news was there wasn't much pizzazz. No passes were thrown in the direction
of Tim Brown or Jerry Rice in the first half and they finished with four combined catches
for 33 yards. Alvis Whitted had a 32-yard catch but the next longest gain through the air
was 14 yards. The fact that Rich Gannon was throwing a lot of five-yard patterns doesn't
compute when the fact he was only sacked once is taken into account. The Raiders
were more than conservative, they were downright reactionary.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- With their three biggest linemen (Mo Collins, Lincoln
Kennedy and Frank Middleton) out of the game, any ideas of pushing the Browns
into Lake Erie went by the boards. Rookie Justin Fargas showed some ability to hit
the corners, but the Raiders didn't push the issue. Some of the team's best gains
were negated by penalties.
PASS DEFENSE: B -- This was probably the team's best effort all year. Tim
Couch averaged barely four yards an attempt and there were no pickups longer
than 17 yards. A Phillip Buchanon interception was negated by an offsides penalty.
RUSH DEFENSE: D -- Another paltry effort, only this time against a less than
stellar opposing rusher. William Green had 145 yards on 26 carries. The Raiders
were gutted inside with John Parrella sidelined and Dana Stubblefield, injured himself,
had to carry on alongside pass rush specialist Rod Coleman. There were no startlingly
long gains, just a steady diet of 6-to-10 yarders.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C minus -- For a change, the coverage units got better than they
gave. There was one major bust. On a fake field goal, Cleveland's Phil Dawson ran
14 yards for a first down leading to the Browns' only touchdown. The Raiders were
playing for the block and got suckered. Shane Lechler had his lowest average of the
year (46.2) and for the first time all year his opponent, Chris Gardocki, had a higher
average (46.5). The Raiders had no field goal attempts.
COACHING: D-minus -- Coach Bill Callahan said it himself, he is responsible
for a team that displays a lack of discipline and commits penalty upon penalty.
At one point there were five in a row. When it comes to knowing what they want
to do, the Raiders look lost at the moment.