The Oakland Raiders are in for a tough second season under young head coach Dennis Allen. They lost talent that they could ill afford to lose this past offseason because of salary cap issues and free agency. Two big losses were Richard Seymour and Tommie Kelly, whom were part of the defensive line last year, one of the few bright spots on for the Raiders last year. At linebacker they released troubled star and former first-round pick Rolando McClain.
To combat those issues, they brought in cheap veterans to fill out their roster, such as Alex Barron, a left backup tackle that is now being thrown into starting due to the injury to Jared Veldheer. They also brought in Josh Cribbs, who is a better return man than receiver on offense, and re-signed Khalif Barnes to play the right tackle spot. Along with those guys, they brought in Justin Hunter and Pat Sims to replace Seymour and Kelly. They resigned Andre Carter and signed Kaluka Maiava at linebacker. In the secondary, they brought in Mike Jenkins, and after years of playing for the Green Bay Packers, former cornerback and now safety Charles Woodson. Woodson is also the only player on the Raiders team that was voted into the top 100 players of the NFL by ESPN this past year. Couple that with the rookie draft pick of D.J. Hayden in the first-round, and the Raiders have a surprising pass defense this year.
The biggest change is at the quarterback position where Matt Flynn, acquired in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks, now takes over in the steed of Carson Palmer, who was traded to the Arizona Cardinals. He has two career starts in the NFL, impressive when he had the chance, but also taking 12 sacks in those two games.
So how do the Raiders stack up this year? Here is the breakdown of each game this season.
They start the year off at Indianapolis Colts, where Andrew Luck shows why he was the number one overall draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Raiders play a tough one, but lose 17-27. Week two Jacksonville Jaguars come calling, and the Raiders answer the bell. The much improved secondary of the Raiders has two picks and one touchdown as the Raiders win 21-17.
The Raiders head into Denver, to take on the Denver Broncos, and they lose decisively. Flynn has trouble staying upright and takes five sacks, even though the Broncos will be without star Von Miller because he will be suspended, and Flynn can’t take advantage of a porous Broncos secondary. 14-34. The Washington Redskins visit in week four, and the Raiders just can’t seem to stop the duel running attack of Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris. They give up 200 yards rushing and lose 31-20.
The Raiders go into San Diego Chargers where Phillip Rivers throws three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. It’s still not enough, as Flynn has trouble again taking sacks and has three turnovers himself, two fumbles and one interception. Raiders lose a close one 24-27. A visit to Arrowhead Stadium comes in week six, and the Raiders lose to the surprising Kansas City Chiefs 17-23.
Two home games against Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles in weeks seven and eight, but still no wins. 13-24 Steelers. 27-31 Eagles. At New York Giants then Houston Texans, the Raiders look defeated in both games, losing big in both. 14-28 Giants. 17-30 Texans.
On the season, the Raiders sit at 1-9 heading into week 11. Raiders finally scrap the vertical pass game that Flynn can’t manage because he gets sacked too much and/or doesn’t have the arm strength to throw deep. They start backup Terrell Pryor and try a power run game duel threat offense.
Home against the Tennessee Titans and the Raiders run for 200 yards and their second victory of the season 24-20. At Dallas Cowboys they lose a close one 28-27. They visit the New York Jets and pull out another win 23-16.
A home game against the Chiefs in week 15 and the Raiders win 23-21. At San Diego the Raiders win 24-10. They have now won four out of five. The Raiders crash back to reality in week 17 as the Broncos, in Oakland Coliseum, win 13-42.
The Raiders finish the season at 5-11, but have hope for the future with Pryor as their quarterback and their new offensive strategy in place.