These are the only to winless teams in the NFL with 0-4 records, what can they do to fix things?
The AFC West sent three teams to the playoffs last year. That should be the last thought on the minds of the Oakland Raiders. The first “W” is always the toughest, and the Raiders have their sights on week 5 against the San Diego Chargers. These rivals split their meetings last season, both winning by double digits at home. This Sunday will be played in the Bay. where the Silver & Black is 0-2 so far. San Diego is 1-1 on the road, losing week 1 in Arizona.
From afar, absolutely nothing is going right for the Raiders offensively. Well, a couple guys named James Jones and Darren McFadden are doing what they can with their opportunities. Jones, the former Packers receiver, is averaging around 5 grabs for 70 yards, scoring in every other game. McFadden is clearly better than Maurice Jones-Drew right now, and Run DMC has nearly 60 yards on average with very little wiggle room. It hurts that rookie quarterback Derek Carr is out with a sprained knee, but backup Matt McGloin played at a high level in the preseason and he did gain starting experience a year ago.
The 3-1 Bolts are containing offense this season, so this will be a challenge but these games are usually close and they’ve gotten a pair of wins against them the last few seasons. You know things aren’t going your way when your coach has been on the hot seat and it’s only week 5. The defense seems to hold their own for two quarters. By no means are they an upper tier unit, as they give up big plays on the ground and through the air. They can rush to the quarterback like they showed against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Combine that fact with the struggling Chargers ground game, as their tandem of Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead is sidelined, the offense has to find a way to move the ball.
If you watched the debut of Blake Bortles starting, the Jacksonville Jaguars got blown out again but the rookie completed 29-37. It was a pair of mistakes that dug him in, as the Jags have yet to establish a run game to even give them a fighter’s chance. You could say that S.D. is stout, but injuries eventual make their presence felt and their front-7 has been hit. The Raiders need to mix up the play-calling, but they better take shots downfield early. Yes, Eric Weddle is an All-Pro safety, and Brandon Flowers is still a good cornerback, but this isn’t a shutdown secondary and the linebackers are beatable through the air. The Raiders just need to start giving their players a chance to play, rather than be conservative, especially when they have nothing left to lose.
Why not feature the trio of Jones, McFadden, and fullback Marcel Reese? Reese is an excellent blocker and safety valve for any of his so-so signal callers. He can also hit a hole and surprise a defense by breaking off a run for a chunk of yards. Reese should be the change-of-pace back if they really want to limit DMC’s touches to keep him healthy as possible. Their receiving core may be young, but they can play. Andre Holmes is the man that needs to play across from Jones, the 6’4 target used his body late last season to make plays and that’s what he’s continued to do in 2014. Last week in London, Jones and Holmes combined for nearly 160 yards. Defenses are going to play the Raiders receivers straight up, that’s when they have to switch things up by utilizing their tight ends to pass protect. The receivers are getting open, the line isn’t holding up and the tight ends aren’t producing through the air. However, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to play some dual-tight end sets and experiment with Mychal Rivera and Brian Leonhardt, who caught a touchdown in week 4.