Frustration mounts for struggling Raiders


Frustration mounts for struggling Raiders

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Coach Dennis Allen agrees with Oakland owner Mark Davis' assessment that the Raiders have regressed in recent weeks and he is going to do what it takes to turn the team around.

The Raiders (3-7) have lost three straight games following Sunday's 38-17 home loss to New Orleans that led to booing and early departures by the frustrated fans. Davis met in the locker room after the game with Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie and said he was embarrassed by the team's play and apologized to the fans.

``I'm right there with him,'' Allen said Monday. ``I'm frustrated. I'm disappointed. You know, you wake up this morning and your gut hurts. But, at the same time, when a man gets knocked down a man gets up and fights. And that's exactly what we intend to do. I understand his frustration; I can appreciate that. And let me tell you, there's nobody that's going to work any harder to get it corrected than I will.''

After a promising October post-bye stretch that included a last-second loss at previously unbeaten Atlanta and back-to-back wins over Jacksonville and Kansas City, the Raiders have fallen apart in November.

Oakland has allowed 135 points the past three games in losses to Tampa Bay, Baltimore and New Orleans and been outscored by 66 points in that span.

``When you lose, it hurts,'' Allen said. ``Rips your gut out. But a win turns everything around. A win makes everybody feel a lot better. And that's what we need to do. We need to come together as a football team and we need to all make a decision that we're going to do whatever it takes to win football games. And that's what we've got to do.''

That hasn't happened in this recent stretch.

Carson Palmer has thrown six interceptions in that span and the offense has struggled to finish off drives in the red zone. The injury-depleted defense has struggled against both the run and pass, allowing the most points in a three-game span for the franchise since 1961.

Allen and the players believe there is enough talent to win in Oakland despite injuries and a lack of depth on the roster and that the problems have been mostly about poor execution.

``You look across the board, it isn't the most talented teams that win in this league, it's the teams that consistently do everything right over and over and over again,'' defensive tackle Richard Seymour said. ``I think we've been inconsistent at times, offense, defense and special teams. So any time that happens, the record speaks for itself. It's been inconsistent play, from everybody, it isn't just one guy, it's everybody.''

This week's game has added significance since it's Palmer's first game against the Bengals since forcing a trade out of Cincinnati last year. Palmer threatened to retire rather than keep playing for the Bengals and was eventually traded midway through the 2011 season to Oakland.

``It's a big game,'' Palmer said. ``But it's obviously a much bigger game for our team. We have to get a win. We're going to fight, we're going to grind this week. We have a lot of room for improvement, a lot of areas we need to improve on.''

Palmer has had an up-and-down tenure in Oakland. He came off his couch midway through last season after starter Jason Campbell broke his collarbone and led the Raiders within one win of the playoffs.

Palmer has thrown for more than 300 yards in each of the three recent losses and is on pace for a Raiders-record 4,856 yards passing this season.

He is third in the NFL in yards passing but has also thrown 11 interceptions, including two that have been returned for touchdowns.

``I think consistency has been our biggest Achilles' heel,'' he said. ``We've put together great plays or a great quarter or a great half on every side of the ball. But consistently doing it. The teams that win consistently in this league play consistently well four quarters of the game. That's something we haven't done. That's something we need to continue to work on.''

NOTES: The 135 points allowed by Oakland the last three games are the fourth most since the merger and most for any team since 2008. ... Allen said he's hopeful that RBs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson (sprained right ankles), Seymour (hamstring) and safety Tyvon Branch (neck) are healthy enough to return to practice this week.


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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division


Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner and there is still a lot to be decided.

The Metropolitan Division is going to come right down to the wire as each team seemingly continues to win and put the pressure on the first place Capitals.

With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, the playoff matchups for the first round of the NHL playoffs are still up in the air with only five points separating the top four teams in the Metro. Washington is in good position with a four-point cushion between themselves and the second place Pittsburgh Penguins. With both teams meeting on April 1, however, the Caps are still a long way off from clinching the division and earning home ice in the first round.


Metropolitan Division
1. Washington (93 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
W1. Philadelphia (88 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

2. Pittsburgh (89 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
3. Columbus (89 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

Atlantic Division
1. Tampa Bay (106 points, 74 GP, 45 ROW)
W2. New Jersey (82 points, 73 GP, 32 ROW)

2. Boston (100 points, 72 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Toronto (95 points, 74 GP, 37 ROW)

Still in the hunt:
Florida (81points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)


Washington has won only one out of four games against the Philadelphia Flyers this season. That's not an ideal first-round matchup for Washington, but there is still time for the Flyers to climb and overtake Columbus or Pittsburgh in the standings..

What seems unlikely to happen is for New Jersey or Florida to pass Philadelphia. While things remain close near the top of the standings, there seems to be a growing divide between the top-four teams in the Metropolitan Division and the two teams battling for the final remaining spot in the playoffs.

The Flyers may be in fourth place in the division, but they still boast a healthy six-point lead over the Devils who sit in the second wild card.

If we assume New Jersey and Florida will not be able to climb to any postseason position, but the second wild card, that makes the three most likely candidates to face Washington in the first round Pittsburgh, Columbus and Philadelphia.

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Need to Know: Redskins likely to return at least 16 of their 22 starters from last year

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Need to Know: Redskins likely to return at least 16 of their 22 starters from last year

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 23, 34 days before the NFL draft.  

Stability at the top of the depth chart

A Redskins defense that ranked 27th in total defense and was dead last against the run is likely to return nine or 10 of the players who were the primary starters in 2017. The Washington defense, which was 16th overall and 27th running the ball, will certainly return seven starters and could have eight the same as last year.

I’m sure that this will alarm many Redskins fans, but it shouldn’t. Before getting into that, let’s look at the changes.

On defense, the nine starters who are assured of returning are DE Stacy McGee, DL Jonathan Allen, OLB Preston Smith, OLB Ryan Kerrigan, ILB Zach Brown, ILB Mason Foster, CB Josh Norman, S Montae Nicholson, and S D.J. Swearinger.

As of right now, a tenth returning starter has to be penciled in at nose tackle. Yes, if the season started today it would be Ziggy Hood at nose tackle again. More on that in a minute.

The only starting spot that is certain to turn over is the cornerback opposite Norman. Even though Bashaud Breeland’s contract agreement with the Panthers fell through due to a failed physical, he is much more likely to land on another NFL team than he is to return to the Redskins.

It is impossible to think that the Redskins will not do something to address the nose tackle position, whether it’s in the draft or in free agency. Then again, it’s impossible to believe they have run the 3-4 defense since 2010 without coming up with a long-term solution at the nose.

On offense, the seven starters certain to return are WR Josh Doctson, WR Jamison Crowder, OT Trent Williams, C Chase Roullier, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses, and TE Jordan Reed. RB Samaje Perine could be an eighth returning starter depending on if the Redskins take a running back early in the draft.

The new starters will be QB Alex Smith, WR Paul Richardson, and someone at left guard.

Having between 16 and 18 returning starters from a team that went 7-9 in 2017 may not be enough turnover for some fans. That’s not a completely unreasonable point of view. However, there is such thing as having too much churn in your starting lineup and some stability for the Redskins may be a good thing this year.

They had five new starters on defense last year and a new defensive coordinator. They also had a new coordinator on offense along with two new wide receivers and, by midseason, changes in the starters at running back and center. This is not counting all of the on-the-fly changes that had to be made due to injuries.

Continuing to make changes in the starting lineup is not always a recipe for success. Sometimes you just need to pick a group of players and, to the extent that you can in the free agency-salary cap world of the NFL, stick with them. Sure, you have to address weakness like nose tackle and possibly running back and fill holes created by free agency departures. However, it is often better to give a player time to acclimate to a system and, especially with a rookie, time to learn the fine points of the game.

Tearing things down and starting over again after a mediocre season is a recipe for, well, more mediocre seasons.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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In response to a tweet about this article that said that the Redskins led the league in losing important players in injuries:


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 25
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 127
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 171

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