By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
OAKLAND — At 0-2, the Oakland Raiders finds themselves quickly swimming upstream this year.
OK, you can say that it’s early in the NFL season and half the League is 1-1 or 0-2 but for the Raiders, it feels like they’re 0-4.
David Carr has played steady in his first two career starts, but has shown at times to be wild with the passes. Carr has thrown for 414 yards and three touchdowns, with two interceptions, one of which came while getting hit on the throw.
The running game has been non-existent in two games, averaging a pedestrian 63 yards rushing per game, 31st in the League ahead of the Jacksonville Jaguars (44.5 rushing yards per game).
Running backs Maurice Jones-Drew (9 carries, 11 rushing yards,1.2 yards per carry, 0 TDs) and Darren McFadden (16 carries, 52 carries, 3.3 yards per carry, 1 TD) need to get it going and take some of the pressure off of Carr. MJD underwent a procedure on his broken right hand last week and didn’t suit up Sunday.
Monday the team added former San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Brown to an already questionable receiving corps, that includes James Jones, Rod Streater, Denarius Moore, and Andre Holmes.
Brown caught 41 passes for 472 yards and a touchdown for San Diego last season, after missing 2012 with a broken ankle.
Jones leads the team with 12 catches, for 146 yards receiving, and two touchdowns, but 112 of those yards came in the team’s home opener, a 30-14 loss to the Houston Texans.
Defensively, the team is not good, ranking 32nd in most categories most notably, against the run. Oakland has given up 100 yards on the ground in back-to-back weeks, and have gotten manhandled upfront.
The expected strength of the team with key veteran additions such as defensive end Justin Tuck, linebacker LaMarr Woodley, cornerbacks Terrell Brown and Carlos Rogers, it looks like Father Time has finally caught up with them.
“We suck…I’m embarrased,” veteran safety Charles Woodson said after Sunday’s 30-14 loss to the visiting Houston Texans.
Oakland’s play needs to improve, according to Raiders head coach, Dennis Allen, whose job is clearly on the hot seat as he sports an 8-26 record.
“Well, we need to go out and prove it on the field,” Allen said Wednesday during his weekly press conference.
“Like I said the other day, the talk is cheap. We’ve got to go out and play well. I think we’ve got more talent on this football team and we need to go out there and play like it on Sunday.”
The team will have another opportunity to get their first win of the season Sunday, when Oakland travels to Foxborough to take on the 1-1 New England Patriots, led by Tom Brady and mastermind head coach, Bill Belichick.
Belichick (per CSNCalifornia.com Raiders Insider, Scott Bair) expects to see a different Raiders team than the one he saw tape on against Houston.
“Based on the comments that I’ve seen out of there and the leadership that they have on that team, the veterans that they have on that team, I’m sure that we’ll come in here and we won’t see the team we saw against Houston last week,” Belichick said.
“That’s what we’re getting ready for – we’re getting ready for their best game. I don’t think the Houston game was probably it.”
New England is coming off a comfortable victory Sunday, 30-7, in Minnesota. The Patriots defense abused former Brady understudy, Matt Cassell, intercepting the Vikings quarterback four times and sacking him six times, that prompted the home crowd to chant “Teddy!” “Teddy!” in hopes to see rookie backup quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater.
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower and defensive end Chandler Jones each recorded two sacks.
Oakland, who currently sport the longest losing streak in the League (eight consecutive games dating back to November of last year), is going to have its work cut out for them Sunday against a Patriots team that were 9-0 at home last season, including the playoffs.
New England has won the past three straight games against the Silver and Black, who have dropped 12 of 13 on the road.
Catch the game on CBS at 10 a.m.
Players to Watch:
Oakland: Quarterback Derek Carr. Carr will need to make smart decisions with the football, especially with former All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis lurking in the secondary. Carr completed 27 of 42 passes for 263 yards and a touchdown, but with two interceptions in Sunday’s loss to Houston.
New England: Running back Stevan Ridley. Ridley ran through the Vikings defense, carrying the ball 25 times for 101 yards and a touchdown. Ridley only had 21 yards rushing on eight carries in the Patriots 33-20 loss in Miami in Week 1.