Midseason Report: Oakland Raiders
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- You knew this was going to be a rebuilding year for the Oakland Raiders and, before Sunday's embarrassing 49-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland was playing above expectations. Indeed, after a 4-12 season last year, the Raiders had a chance to win their fourth game at this year's midway points.
Alas, the Eagles and Nick Foles, who threw a record-tying seven touchdowns, had different plans and it makes you wonder if these are indeed the same old Raiders who have not been to the playoffs since 2002, let alone had a winning season since that Super Bowl campaign. The difference, at least on the surface, is this team has been in every game save two -- at Denver and against the Eagles.
But the NFL is a results-oriented business and at the midway point, the Raiders sit at 3-5.
GRADING THE OAKLAND RAIDERS
|Quarterbacks||Terrelle Pryor has been a revelation under center in terms of keeping Oakland relevant and in games, leading the team in rushing (485 yards, including an NFL-record 93-yard TD run) while completing 61.1 percent of his passes for 1,437 yards and five touchdowns. His mechanics, though, still need refining, as evidenced by his nine interceptions.|
|Running Backs||Darren McFadden is hurt again ... and the sun sets in the West. To be fair, the Raiders' offensive line has done the running backs few favors, but Rashad Jennings has seemingly run harder, though he has less burst than McFadden, who is averaging 3.6 yards per carry. Fullback Marcel Reece, though, remains under-utilized as a matchup nightmare.|
|Wide Receivers||Denarius Moore is on pace for a 1,026-yard receiving season while Rod Streater is on pace to catch 56 passes. Jacoby Ford, Andre Holmes, Brice Butler and Juron Criner have combined for 22 receptions. More consistency is needed from this unit as it seems like big plays come only when Pryor scrambles, right?|
|Tight Ends||Quick, name the Raiders' tight ends. Too late. A staple of past Raiders teams, tight ends were always the QB's security blanket. But pass-catching Mychal Rivera (16 catches, one TD), run-blocking Jeron Mastrud and special teams player Nick Kasa have offered little.|
|Offensive Line||If we could offer an "E" for effort, it would go here. Injuries have decimated the oft-makeshift O-line and position coach Tony Sparano has done the best he can with duct tape and instruction. Still, Pryor's mobility has helped cover some of the unit's warts, even as the group begins to heal.|
|Defensive Line||Before Sunday's meltdown against Philadelphia, the Raiders' D-line had been a pleasant surprise, with Pat Sims and Vance Walker assuming their roles as run stoppers and Lamarr Houston transforming himself into a legit edge rusher with his team-leading four sacks.|
|Linebackers||Another pleasant surprise, Nick Roach has taken the leadership reigns in the middle while racking up a team-best 57 tackles. Weakside linebacker Kevin Burnett has 56 tackles, and rookie Sio Moore has 2.5 sacks. In fact, 5.5 of the team's 23 sacks have come from the linebackers.|
|Secondary||Maybe too high of a grade considering the way Oakland was torched by the Eagles? Perhaps, but Charles Woodson has been better than the Raiders could have hoped for as both a player and a mentor to a young unit that has accounted for all five of the team's interceptions. First-round pick D.J. Hayden has struggled mightily at times.|
|Special Teams||Even in the darkest of years, the Raiders' specialists were a bright spot. Placekicker Sebastian Janikowski seems to have climbed out of his early-season funk as he has already missed more field goals this season (four) than all of last season (three). New punter Marquette King has a booming leg but needs touch and consistency. Taiwan Jones was playing gunner as well as anyone in the league.|
|Coaching||Dennis Allen, who is from the Dan Reeves coaching tree, seems to have the players buying what he's selling, and that's half the battle. Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver was looking like a genius before the Philadelphia blowout and offensive coordinator Greg Olson has adjusted the offense to fit Pryor's skill set, but seemingly needs more play calls to get McFadden into space. The grade would be higher were it not for the team looking so over-confident and getting caught flat-footed by the Eagles.|
Oakland Raiders, Darren McFadden, Kevin Burnett, Charles Woodson, Sebastian Janikowski, Jacoby Ford, Marcel reece, Dennis Allen, Taiwan Jones, Denarius Moore, Terrelle Pryor, Juron Criner, Marquette King, Nick Roach, Vance Walker, D.J. Hayden, Rashad Jennings, Mychal Rivera, Brice Butler, Andre Holmes, Jeron Mastrud, 2013 NFL Midseason Report, 2013 NFL Midseason Report AFC, Larmarr Houston, 2013 NFL Midseason Report AFC West