SAN DIEGO -- Sure, the Oakland Raiders played hard and inspired in an eventual 26-13 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. But they also played sloppily and undisciplined and, bottom line, they lost. For the fifth straight game. And for the seventh time in eight games.
So, yeah, speculation continues to heat up about coach Dennis Allen’s job security, fairly or unfairly.
And with 18 players in their contract year and, thus, so much uncertainty hanging over who will return from a team that is 4-11 heading into a season finale against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, you have to wonder if it’s having an effect on the team.
“I can’t speak to what anybody else thinks or feels,” Allen said. “I can only speak to me. Every day we’re trying to win a football game. That’s what my focus is, that’s the only focus I can have. It would be selfish of me to think any other way.
“I’m doing everything I can to help this football team win a game.”
Allen still has two years remaining on his contract.
To a man, players in the Raiders’ locker room have said they like the roster, even if it is 1-7 since having a record of 3-4.
“I really like this group,” said receiver Rod Streater. “And I feel like, as time goes, as you stay together it’s only going to get better with the connection.”
Veteran free safety Charles Woodson agreed.
“Guys will still go out there and give everything they’ve got,” he said.
“It’s all about going out there and putting good things on film. It’s the last game of the season and everybody’s watching to see, you know, if this team’s going to lay down for the last game, being how the season’s gone up to this point. I think I speak for everybody when I say we’re going to go out there and have fun.
“Of course, it hasn’t gone the way we wanted it to go. But let’s go out there and have fun. It’s the last game, it’s at home, let’s just try to walk off that field with a ‘W.’”
And yet, the undercurrent of so many unknowns is a familiar refrain in Silver and Blackdom. Since Jon Gruden was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001, only Tom Cable has lasted more than two seasons as a Raiders head coach.
It’s a list that goes from Gruden to Bill Callahan to Norv Turner to Art Shell to Lane Kiffin to Cable to Hue Jackson to Allen, who is now 8-23 overall in two seasons. He's just 2-14 on the road.
While he may have lost a lot of games, Allen, it should be noted, has not lost the locker room.
Leave it to center Stefen Wisniewski, then, to offer a little perspective when asked if he was concerned ownership could make wholesale changes this offseason.
“It’s possible,” he said. “I really don’t know what they’re thinking. I mean, I’ve got another year here, so I’m going to show up to work. I don’t know who the [coach is] going to be, but whoever it is, I’ll support him and do my best to lead whatever players are still here.”