The Oakland Raiders had a fairly up and down season in 2014, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Raiders shocked many of the experts by selecting Terrelle Pryor as their starting quarterback coming out of the preseason. Pryor then ran with opportunity to start and looked like a sure-fire candidate to be talked about for most improved player, but then he suffered an injury and the offense could never regain any of their consistency. So, what else played a major part in the offensive failures during the season?
The first major problem for the Raiders’ offense was injuries, particularly along the offensive line. The first big injury occurred to the Raiders’ best offensive lineman, Jared Veldheer. Then his potential bookend at right tackle, rookie Menlik Watson was limited to just five games. The injuries sapped an already thin unit and they struggled throughout the season, as they gave up 44 sacks on the season. The running game was held in check for the most part due to the line unable to create consistent push and they were saved by the mobility of Pryor in the early part of the year.
The Raiders’ running game also took a hit with another down year for their supposed number one back, Darren McFadden. McFadden was limited to 10 games with various injuries throughout the season. He ran for a total of 379 yards, with a career low 3.3 yards per carry.
The Raiders’ backup running back Rashad Jennings step up admirably with 733 yards with a 4.5 yards per carry average, but he did not have the same impact that the Raiders expected to get from McFadden. It would seem probable that this will be the final straw for McFadden, unless he comes back on a short term, low money deal.
The other major problem was the inconsistency of the quarterback play. The Raiders’ started with Pryor, who beat out Matt Flynn in preseason, and he looked to be the right decision for the first part of the season. Pryor was looking much improved as a passer, which combined with his ability to move in the pocket and pick up big chunks of yards with his legs.
As the season went on, Pryor’s progression began to take a major step back. His accuracy and decision making regressed with his mechanics through the second half of the season, as turnovers began to pile up in bunches. He also dealt with some injuries during the season, as well. The poor play and injuries opened the door for undrafted rookie Matt McGloin to take the reigns of the offense.
McGloin’s season had similar trajectory to Pryor’s, as he started off hot before cooling off considerably. McGloin threw for three touchdowns passes in first career start. He would throw for at least two touchdowns in half of his starts, but much like Pryor, he struggled with ball security.
McGloin had at least one interception in five of his six starts, including five in his final two games combined. Neither quarterback could make a case that they deserve to be given the starting position next year, but McGloin deserves another look with his flashes of promise in his rookie season. Meanwhile, Pryor’s days in Oakland look to be numbered.
Mental mistakes plagued the Raiders’ offense, as well. A lot of the times, the Raiders were their own worst enemies, as they would kill drives with silly penalties or costly turnovers. Oakland was near the top of the league in both penalties against and giveaways. Too often, these mistakes killed drives or took away any of the momentum that the offense might have had. This is the one area that the Raiders can make noticeable improvements without any major overhauls to the depth chart.
The Oakland offense was a roller coaster ride for most of the year, as both young quarterbacks had initial flashes of greatness before crashing back to Earth. It was not just the fault of the quarterbacks, as the blame can be placed on a multitude of issues. There is no simple fix and both Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen will have their hands full trying to put this offense in position to take the next step forward.