It goes without saying that the Raiders expected more from wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy this season, even though they are rookies learning on the fly.
The production is coming, Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid said Wednesday. It might arrive Sunday in the Raiders game against the Eagles.
"Right now, they're an inch off," Reid said in a conference call with Bay Area media. "You have a young quarterback and young receivers, and they're working their tails off just to get everything perfect. They're an inch off now, but that can change tomorrow."
That's what the Raiders are counting on. It can't come too soon, either. Through five games, Murphy and Heyward-Bey have combined for 14 receptions for 210 yards and one touchdown in the Raiders' last-ranked passing attack.
By comparison, other rookie receivers are thriving. Kenny Britt of the Titans has 19 catches for 289 yards, Percy Harvin of the Vikings is at 18 for 233 and two touchdowns, and the Steelers' Mike Wallace has 16 receptions for 246 yards and one touchdown.
Reid speaks from experience. He started former Cal standout DeSean Jackson 15 times last season and received 62 receptions for 912 yards and two touchdowns. This season, Eagles rookie receiver Jeremy Maclin has 12 catches for 187 yards and two touchdowns in four games.
Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said three things go into a receiver succeeding in the NFL from the outset: Confidence,
Heyward-Bey and Murphy don't lack for confidence, at least not outwardly. It's the timing and chemistry that appear to be lacking.
That falls upon quarterback JaMarcus Russell and the coaching staff.
"You never know what's the cause of us being off together," Russell said. "It's a team effort. If we can't (get on the same page), that's sometimes where you see the ball thrown away, or the ball thrown short or wide, or a guy sometimes might not be in the right spot.
"It's all of us. It's things that we can fix. That's what we continue to do each and every week when we come out here every day to practice."
Murphy said he and Heyward-Bey are putting in extra time and working hard to get over the proverbial hurdle.
"We're really working on our chemistry," Murphy said. "It doesn't happen overnight. "... The frustrating part for me is, we have everything we need. We've just got to put it together."
Heyward-Bey is under fire for more than his lack of production. The Raiders used the No. 7 pick in this year's NFL draft on Heyward-Bey thinking he was the most NFL-ready receiver, even though most draft evaluators rated the 49ers Michael Crabtree, Harvin and Maclin as better prospects.
On Monday, Cable said Heyward-Bey is getting open and that his slow start has little to do with teams clamping down on him.
"They're not taking him away," Cable said.
Murphy and Heyward-Bey are taking the blame for their dropped passes, inexact route-running and inconsistent play.
"We've just got to step up and make those plays," Heyward-Bey said. "There's no excuses. It's football. Sometimes you just have to catch them, and we understand that."
As Reid said, it's not going to be long before Murphy and Heyward-Bey realize their potential.
"Covered, non-covered, it doesn't matter," Murphy said. "I don't make any excuses. I have to catch the ball. That's my job. That's what I get paid to do. It's just frustrating because we're right there. We're right on the verge of something great."