GREEN BAY, Wis. -– Raiders fullback Marcel Reece sent out a tweet late Friday night that may have seemed cryptic unless you watched a 31-21 loss to the host Green Bay Packers.
It contained just three words: “Sorry…never again!”
Reece seemed to apologize for dropping a sure touchdown. He evaded coverage, found himself alone in the end zone and yet had Matt Schaub’s pass clank clumsily off his hands.
The moment was as embarrassing as it was unexpected from such a dynamic skill player.
It also shows just how broken the Raiders passing game is right now. Even the easy stuff seems hard.
“We’ve got to improve ourselves as a passing game, and that’s a full-team effort,” Dennis Allen said. “That’s not about one individual.”
Despite that fact, starting quarterback Matt Schaub is taking some heat after another uneven performance where he couldn’t get the offense moving. The Raiders gained just 86 yards in the first half, when the first unit played exclusively, a total that includes a 40-yard touchdown run by Maurice Jones-Drew on their first possession.
The Raiders punted on the next five drives -- a streak snapped by Schaub’s lost fumble. He was 13-for-27 passing for 110 yards. Sure, some passes were dropped. Reece wasn’t the only offender. Pass protection struggled in spurts. All around, the Raiders weren’t good enough.
That was against the Packers, but this isn’t a one-game thing. Schaub has a 55.1 passer rating this preseason. He hasn’t thrown a passing touchdown yet, though he had a pair that could’ve been and weren’t.
That’s certainly not the preseason start the Raiders hoped for out of a veteran quarterback acquired to provide offensive stability. A relative lack of arm strength has become a cause for concern, especially compared to cannon-armed backups Derek Carr and Matt McGloin. Veteran savvy should balance the scales, but that assumes receivers carry no negative effect. Drops and a general lack of separation have been problematic for pass catchers, creating uncertainty at both ends of the air attack.
Allen said the passing game needs work before the regular season. The offense has just two weeks to get it right.
“We’d better be close to being ready for the regular season,” Schaub said. “We got off to a good start, but we stubbed our toe a few times there, especially in the second quarter. We just didn’t execute. We need to be better than that.”
That’s true for Schaub and those around him.
“There are different guys taking turns in situations where things just didn’t go right,” Schaub said. “On the road against a tough team, you need to have all 11 guys doing what they’re supposed to do. That’s something we need to take a look at. We were in position to make plays. We just need to finish.”
“When you don’t get the job done as a team, everyone needs to do a little self-reflection and find ways to be better.”
They have to find ways on the practice field. Starters typically don’t play much in the preseason finale, and Thursday’s exhibition against Seattle should be no exception.
[RELATED: Raiders RB Sheets says he's out for season]
Allen remains confident they can play far better in the regular season.
“We’ve got a good group of guys who are working hard in there,” he said. “Really, it comes down to, in a couple instances, a little bit of focus and concentration. We’ve got to continue to work and take advantage of our opportunities.”