Bye week's a good time for overhaul

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012 - 8:02 am

ALAMEDA – The bye comes at just the right time for the Raiders.

With the Raiders reeling following a 37-6 loss to Denver on Sunday that was their most lopsided in this series in a half-century, first-year coach Dennis Allen is looking to use this week off to fix the problems that have hurt his 1-3 team the first quarter of the season.

There are many issues, starting with a running game that has been shut down in three of the first four games, problems on third down on both sides of the ball, a nonexistent pass rush and a banged-up secondary that has struggled to stay with receivers.

"We've got a lot of work to do," Allen said Monday. "We've got a lot of areas that we've got to improve on. I think this bye week comes at a good time for us, gives us a chance as coaches to look at and evaluate what we're doing, who we're doing it with and come up with solutions that can help us get better and help us win some games."

Allen struggled to find anything positive from the first four games, hemming and hawing before praising the players' competitiveness during a fourth-quarter comeback against Pittsburgh for the team's only win.

The negatives have been much more plentiful, leading the coaching staff to re-evaluate everything to determine whether any scheme changes are needed, included whether to use less of the zone blocking system that hasn't clicked in the running game.

"We're going to evaluate everything," Allen said. "We're not going to stick our head in the sand. We're going to see what things we need to improve on and where we can get better, and there's a lot of things that go into that.

"And we're going to go from A to Z. We got a lot of getting better to do, and that's what we plan on doing."

Darren McFadden is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry, down significantly from the 5.3 yards per carry he averaged the past two years with Hue Jackson calling plays. McFadden has totaled just 88 yards in the three losses.

The lack of a consistent running game has contributed to the team converting just 27.5 percent of third downs, the lowest for the franchise since at least 1991.

But the bigger problems have been on defense, where the team is on pace for one of the worst years in franchise history after making an overhaul in scheme and personnel in the offseason.

The Raiders ditched the bump-and-run man coverage on the outside that had been a staple of Al Davis to utilize more zone defenses in a move praised by players in the offseason.

But the results haven't been there as Oakland has been unable to overcome injuries to starting cornerbacks Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer. The Raiders have allowed 125 points through four games, the most since giving up 140 in 1962, the year before Davis joined the franchise.

The Raiders have just three sacks and no interceptions and have allowed opponents to convert 53.3 percent of their third downs.

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Read more articles by Josh Dubow



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