There is no sense of deja vu for head coach Dennis Allen, even as starting quarterback Matt Schaub struggled to operate the team's offense with throws that arrive late, short and often-ill-timed.
The growing perception around the Raiders is that Schaub can't throw successfully outside the numbers or deep downfield, giving defenders an opportunity to break hard on the ball and disrupt receivers.
Either that perception is not shared inside the building, or Allen isn't willing to admit to being worried with the regular-season opener fast approaching on Sept. 7 on the road against the New York Jets.
The day after a 31-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Allen was asked if he was concerned about what appeared to be a lack of arm strength from Schaub and said, "I haven't seen that, so I guess the answer to that question would be no."
Allen and offensive coordinator Greg Olson surely realize Schaub does not throw the ball with the authority of backup Derek Carr, the club's second-round draft pick out of Fresno State. Or even Matt McGloin, who completed 10 of 17 passes for 162 yards after coming in for Schaub against Green Bay while Carr was rested following a concussion.
When the Raiders traded for Schaub, it was with the knowledge that at his best, the 11-year veteran is a rhythm and timing passer who even when thriving in Houston did it without whistling fastballs into the secondary.
Schaub said after the Packers game the Raiders needed to be better across the board.
"We'd better be close to getting ready for the regular season closely," Schaub said. "We got off to a good start, which is what we need to do. We sort of stubbed our toe at times, especially in the second quarter. We just didn't execute. We need to be better than that."
The Raiders' offensive problems are much deeper than the throwing arm of the quarterback, Allen said.
"It'd be a lot easier if you could narrow it down to just one particular area," Allen said. "All positions are a factor. We've got to make sure we're precise on our routes. We've got to make plays in a contested environment. We've got to do a great job in protection and make the throws when we have an opportunity to make the throw."
Wide receiver James Jones, the intended receiver on 10 of Schaub's 27 passes, said, "I feel like we are getting better every time we take the field. We had a few opportunities we let slip away that really didn't have anything to do with their defense. I've been over there. That's a good team that expect will be a playoff team. It was a good challenge to go against a defense like that."
--Much had been made of the lack of a "wow" play by first-round draft pick Khalil Mack through two preseason starts.
On that front, things got better for the Raiders as Mack had two tackles for losses on running plays, intercepted a Matt Flynn screen pass and generated some pressure with his pass rush. He finished with five tackles playing into the second half.
"I'm getting more comfortable in my role," Mack said. "I stuck my head in there and made a few plays."
Allen sounded vindicated by Mack's performance.
"I saw progress from Game 1 to Game 2, and Game 3, I saw more progress, and I believe everyone else saw progress because it showed up on the stat sheet," Allen said. "I think sometimes what happens is, when there's all this hype around a certain player, the expectations become so high, we're very quick to get down on a guy because he's not sacking the quarterback on every single play or he's not stripping the ball or intercepting the ball every single play."
--Green Bay took the ball down the field and scored easily on its first possession, but the first-team Oakland defense played some decent football against the Packers offense and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
"I saw a group that really has the ability to play pretty good defense," Allen said. "The biggest thing on the first drive was our tackling was not up to our standard. But we went out and held 'em on three straight drives. I think Aaron Rodgers was 9 of 20 and any time you hold a player of that caliber to that you're doing some pretty good things."
Said defensive end LaMarr Woodley, who had a sack: "It was just guys being where they are supposed to be and not doing other people's jobs. Once we got on the same page we were able to make some plays. I feel good about our starting defense."
--The Raiders had two costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the first half, one by Sio Moore, the other to defensive tackle Antonio Smith. Smith's penalty came when he retaliated on a third-down play that gave the Packers another red-zone play that resulted in a touchdown.
"The unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, we've got to get those cleaned up," Allen said. "That is my responsibility, to get that corrected."
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Neiko Thorpe vs. Chimdi Chekwa at cornerback. Thorpe missed considerable practice time with a hamstring strain but returned to action against the Packers and graded out well. A 6-foot-1, 200-pound corner from Auburn, Thorpe last played for the Chiefs in 2012. He was waived last year and caught on with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. Chekwa is recovering from a knee injury and was playing as a starter in the nickel defense as an outside corner. A concussion to Tarell Brown, one of the two starters along with Carlos Rogers, further complicates matters.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--TE Kyle Auffray was waived by the Raiders Sunday (Aug. 24).
--T Emmett Cleary was waived by the Raiders Sunday (Aug. 24).
--LB Justin Cole was waived by the Raiders Sunday (Aug. 24).
--WR Mike Davis was waived by the Raiders Sunday (Aug. 24).
--DT Torell Troup was waived by the Raiders Sunday (Aug. 24).
--WR Rahsaan Vaughn was waived by the Raiders Sunday (Aug. 24).
--CB Jansen Watson was waived by the Raiders Sunday (Aug. 24).
--LB Sio Moore was removed from the field on a stretcher with a neck strain, but returned home with the team and coach Dennis Allen said there would be no further tests and there was not a serious injury.
--T Menelik Watson left the game with a hip flexor injury and was replaced by left guard Khalif Barnes at right tackle, with rookie Gabe Jackson moving in as the first-team left guard.
--LB Nick Roach left the game with a concussion and will be subject to the NFL protocol this week.
--CB Tarell Brown left the game with a concussion and will be subject to the NFL protocol this week.
--QB Derek Carr was cleared to play medically after a concussion last week, but coaches opted to sit him out. Carr is expected to play in the preseason finale against Seattle.
--RB Kory Sheets, who was competing for a roster spot as a reserve running back and kickoff return specialist, sustained a torn Achilles and will miss the entire season.
--K Sebastian Janikowski did not kick against Green Bay because of a right quad strain and may not face Seattle so the Raiders can have him healthy for Week 1 of the regular season.
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- Matt Schaub
- Oakland Raiders
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