We’ve asked five writers to answer 5 burning questions on the Oakland Raiders after their first four games.
The Raiders are coming off a 24-14 loss to the Washington Redskins in which Matt Flynn was sacked seven times and had two turnovers. Terrelle Pryor’s had a strong start, but he missed Sunday’s game with lingering concussion symptoms.
The Raiders are 1-3 at the quarter pole, and the same five writers from our preseason roundtable are sharing their wisdom once more.
Here are the 5 questions, and the responses by our writers.
1. Flynn’s debacle against Washington made it clear wins will be hard to come by without Pryor. I found Sunday’s offense hard to watch, your thoughts?
Alvin Chandra: It was tough to watch, at least now we know Matt Flynn is not the answer, but maybe Josh Freeman is.
Robert Carter: It was inexcusable. Flynn’s time in Oakland is over, and he deserved his demotion behind Matt McGloin on the depth chart.
Brian Banifatemi: That game was definitely hard to watch. The toughest thing for me was watching it while knowing they could’ve walked away with a win if Pryor was in.
Lorenzo Siemann: It was a sad day for all those who believed in Flynn. The Raiders couldn’t get anything going against what is by far the worst defense in the NFL.
Rui Thomas: Flynn’s hopes of becoming an NFL starter ended on Sunday. We saw a quarterback with physical limitations who needed to make smart decisions, and he did not. At least there’s nothing wrong with holding a clipboard.
2. Conventional wisdom said the 2013 rookie draft class would shine on a weak roster. Menelik Watson’s injury cost him a shot at left tackle, while Sio Moore and D.J. Hayden have made little impact. Should fans just be patient?
Alvin Chandra: Yes. It’s not easy transitioning to NFL cornerback; Hayden needs a full season to develop. Moore and Watson have been unlucky with injuries, but they’ve shown flashes.
Robert Carter: Of course, they were considered raw talents out of college and these rookies are just four games into their NFL careers.
Brian Banifatemi: Fans should be patient, it’s early and I don’t think any of these players were truly expected to come in and make a forceful impact.
Lorenzo Siemann: You always have to be patient with rookies. The defense is playing well without Pro Bowl seasons from Hayden and Moore. Watson will win a starting job on this porous offensive line when he’s healthy.
Rui Thomas: Yes, they should be patient. Raider fans have waited over 10 years for a playoff berth — so that shouldn’t present much of a challenge.
3. Robert Griffith III tweeted this before his first ever game at the Oakland Coliseum. “Ever played football on a baseball infield? Yea me neither but blessed to have the opportunity”
The 49ers are permanently leaving the city of San Francisco next year for a new venue an hour away, but at least it wasn’t built while dinosaurs still roamed the earth. Isn’t it time for everyone to get serious about the stadium issue?
Alvin Chandra: It’s way past time. I have an outlandish idea to start a trust fund and beg Raider fans for donations, but the latest news on investors in Coliseum City sounds encouraging.
Robert Carter: This should be at the forefront for the A’s and the Raiders, and this recent news on Colony Capital’s involvement will have their owners salivating. Sunlight may be on the horizon.
Brian Banifatemi: Definitely time to address the stadium issue. It’s been ignored for way too long.
Lorenzo Siemann: Everybody would welcome a new stadium, but right now the Raiders should be focused on trying to win football games.
Rui Thomas: No. Age discrimination is wrong. Let’s tear down Wrigley Field too while we’re at it.
4. Dennis Allen looks more confident to me in this his second season. What’s your take on the Raiders’ 41-year-old head coach?
Alvin Chandra: I’m very impressed. Allen’s poise and demeanor are perfect, and the Raiders have played with more zest, purpose, and hunger this season.
Robert Carter: It’s only his second year as a head coach at any level, which isn’t like being a coordinator; it’s more like being a CEO. I have a rule of thumb: Coaches not named Lane Kiffin get three to four seasons to build a team around their philosophies.
Brian Banifatemi: He’s knowledgeable, and slowly but surely Allen’s getting a feel for this team, and gaining confidence as its head coach.
Lorenzo Siemann: He seems more confident, but the Raiders are still 1-3, and they’re not contenders. That being said, if Allen gets comfortable, the Raiders’ future could be bright.
Rui Thomas: Every first-time NFL head coach must learn on the job, so 2012 was a trial by fire, but he now has valuable experience under his belt. Players seem to like him and respect his football intellect.
5. With nine new starters, many predicted this defense would be atrocious. Three of Oakland’s four games have come against 2012 playoff teams, but it’s still in the top half of the league for fewest points allowed, total yards, rushing yards and most sacks. Why is this defense exceeding expectations?
Alvin Chandra: This defense has more talent than last year, especially the secondary. Having corners capable of man coverage lets the safeties creep up to help the pass rush and stop the run.
Robert Carter: Denver’s the only elite offense they’ve faced, but the Raiders’ 11 sacks are almost half of last year’s total. It’s not as bright as it looked initially, but it’s better than last year.
Brian Banifatemi: They’re all working together and playing to their potential. The defensive line has looked way better than people expected and I tip my hat to them.
Lorenzo Siemann: The front office finally replaced those players taking plays off with inspired defenders. High-energy defenses are often successful. That is what we are seeing here.
Rui Thomas: It starts on top. You have leaders like Charles Woodson buying in and coordinator Jason Tarver blitzes frequently, which all players love to do. There’s unfamiliarity in the unit, but the free agent additions are all talented, if not stars.