A pass intended for the Raiders' Denarius Moore, left, is broken up by the Browns' Sheldon Brown in the second quarter Sunday. Nhay V. Meyer San Jose Mercury News

At 3-9, it's time to bury this season

Published: Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 4C
Last Modified: Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 - 6:33 am

OAKLAND – The anticipation of what these Raiders might deliver in 2012 died last month, and now even the curiosity is gone.

With Oakland's latest exercise in tedium, a 20-17 loss to young and utterly defective Cleveland on a soggy Sunday at O.co Coliseum, there is nothing left to see this season.

It's not officially over, but the Raiders are officially eliminated from the postseason. It's not officially among the worst years in franchise history, but it's officially a losing season – and officially forgettable.

Rookie coach Dennis Allen might be spared by rookie general manager Reggie McKenzie. But Allen's status gets more tenuous, as it should, with each devastating defeat.

What's clear, with the losing streak at five and the record at 3-9, is it's time to bury this season. Time to close that book and start the research and homework for 2013.

Some positions should not require more than 10 seconds of contemplation. Consider the secondary, especially the cornerbacks. Find new ones. Period. Nnamdi Asomugha left in 2011. It just seems he has been gone for four years.

Consider running back Darren McFadden. This one is fairly simple. If offensive coordinator Greg Knapp is back, along with his zone blocking schemes, McFadden and the Raiders are better off apart. Even if Knapp goes, it still would be wise to see McFadden's value on the market.

Consider defensive tackles Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly. They have been great and remain good, when healthy and engaged. Seymour, in particular, has been neither this season, and the Raiders must decide if he is worth his salary. On a defense this porous, no player is worth $12 million.

Consider the starting wide receivers. Denarius Moore, terrific last season, has regressed appreciably. Darrius Heyward-Bey, improved last season, also has regressed. If they can't pull it together over the final four games, stick with the script that allows for more of rookies Juron Criner and Rod Streater. As of now, Oakland has no No. 1 wideout but a collection of No. 2s and 3s and 4s.

Consider the linebackers. Rolando McClain must go, and certainly will. Philip Wheeler represents good value and is worth bringing back at the right price. Rookie Miles Burris shows flashes of promise.

Consider, too, quarterback Carson Palmer, who on Sunday was as inconsistent as he has been for most of this season. He was betrayed by some of his receivers, who dropped perfectly good passes. All Raiders hope was crushed when Palmer short-armed a deep pass to Criner and was intercepted by Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown.

Palmer almost certainly will return, as he should. He's no longer elite, but he remains, for now, among the league's top 15 quarterbacks. In the right offense and with a talented supporting cast, he won't be the reason the Raiders lose.

No one is absolutely safe. No coach or player, with the possible exception of kicker Sebastian Janikowski, has done enough this season to be regarded as untouchable.

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