This team is rebuilding. That isn't exactly news. But that doesn't mean the head coach of the rebuilding squad automatically gets a free pass even if the team plays poorly. Even in a rebuild, there must be progress.
Last season the Raiders finished 4-12. Though Mark Davis stayed true to his word that he would not intervene and make any football decisions, it was clear then that he was not the least bit happy about his Raiders losing. And that was year one. It was pretty clear then that another season like that would not be taken lightly.
"You can't blame it on the salary cap and all that," said Davis on November 18 of last year. "You have players and you coach ‘em and you play, you gotta be Raiders. I'm just saying right now I'm a little disappointed with the regression. . . I am patient but I want to see progress."
Davis said these words following the team's week 11 loss to the New Orleans Saints -- their third straight -- that dropped the Raiders to a 3-7 record. He held a small impromptu session with the media in the Raiders' locker room, and at that time it immediately became clear that not only was regression not an option but standing still meant shaky ground for those in charge.
The Raiders currently sit with the same amount of wins as they did last season which means standing still on shaky ground for Dennis Allen should they not be able to add at least one more notch in the win column in the final four games.
Another win for this team will be no easy task. The best chance they have is coming up this week when they travel to New York to face the Jets. After that, the Raiders final three games will be against the three division rivals -- Chiefs, Chargers, and Broncos.
The Jets put up an abysmal performance against the Dolphins last Sunday. Rookie starting quarterback Geno Smith has not thrown a touchdown pass since October 20 and he was so bad last week he was benched in favor of undrafted rookie, Matt Simms, who didn't fare much better.
Earlier in the season, the Jets somehow managed to beat the Patriots and Saints but they also got embarrassed in some losses. They were blown out 49-9 by the Bengals, could muster up just 6 points in a loss to the Steelers, and lost 38-13 to the Titans.
To lose to the Jets would be very bad. They are 5-7 on the season but have been just plain bad of late, losers of three straight while putting up a total of 20 points over those games including just three points in each of the last two weeks.
If the Raiders prove to be the cure for what ails the Jets, it would be another low point in a season with a few pretty low points already.
Of the Raiders final three games, the most winnable is against the Chargers. After all, the Raiders best win of the season came at home against the Chargers in week 5. While losing to the Chargers is never entirely acceptable, it would at least be a bit more understandable. The Chargers are a very formidable team with a Pro Bowl quarterback. Compare that to a reeling Jets team which has not scored more than a field goal the past two weeks with a struggling rookie at quarterback who hasn't thrown a TD pass in six weeks.
If the Raiders lose this week, it could mean they lose out the rest of the season -- a six-game losing streak. It would also mean losing 8 of the final 9 games to finish 4-12 -- exactly how they finished last season.
Not improving on last season's record while going on a losing streak down the stretch is usually a recipe for a head coach losing his job. Whether the Raiders win or lose this week could play a big part in that decision.