Raiders struggle in first year of new regime

Associated Press Modified: November 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm •  Published: November 20, 2012
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But Allen said he firmly believes the talent is there to be better than they've shown.

"When you look at it the other way around that's an excuse, that's a crutch to say you can't get it done," Allen said. "I don't believe in that. I believe that we have professional football players and I believe we can win games in the National Football League. That's what we get paid to do, that's our job. I'm not going to use anything as a crutch to say that's the reason why."

While the lack of talented depth is a legitimate excuse, some of the problems in Oakland were self-inflicted.

The Raiders had developed into one of the NFL's better offenses in two seasons with Hue Jackson running that side of the ball, ranking 10th in the league in scoring and first in rushing over that span.

With a full season from Carson Palmer and a healthy Darren McFadden, that should have only improved this season despite the decision to fire Jackson as head coach and bring in a new offense under coordinator Greg Knapp.

Oakland switched to a zone blocking system and West Coast offense that were not ideal fits for Palmer or McFadden. After a slow start, Davis had the coaches seek McFadden's input about the running game and more power blocking schemes were added.

But the Raiders have fallen to 22nd in the league in scoring, averaging 3.2 fewer points per game, and are second-to-last in rushing with a drop of more than 62 yards per game.

The changes on defense were more necessary after Oakland had franchise worsts last season defensively in touchdown passes allowed (31), yards per carry (5.1), yards passing (4,262) and total yards (6,201), while giving up the third-most points (433) in team history.

After years of running Al Davis' preferred system of bump-and-run coverage on the outside, Allen and coordinator Jason Tarver implemented a more varied defense that the players immediately embraced.

But somehow the defense has gotten worse, allowing five more points per game, recording less than half as many sacks per game, and allowing opponents to increase their completion percentage from 53.9 to 66.8.

Oakland has allowed 135 points during the three-game skid, the fourth most since the merger in three games and most for the franchise since 1961.

"It definitely hurts," defensive back Michael Huff said. "From Day 1, I've looked forward to playing in this defense. I've been the one that said, let's be a top five, 10 defense, when we play all together. But for some reason, things haven't gone right. We'll play in spurts and we'll be great here and there. But when we're bad, we're real bad. We're horrible."

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