Tom Walsh received a rash of criticism for the way the Raiders offense performed under his guidance in 2006. Yet, even he might look askance at what this year's Raiders are doing when they have the ball.
There's no arguing that the Raiders were toothless under Walsh. In many ways, this year's Raiders offense is worse than Walsh's much-maligned one, which was part of a team that won only two games and set numerous team records for futility.
"It's hard to hang our hat on anything right now," passing game coordinator Ted Tollner said. "We know where we want to go, but we're not there."
The Raiders offense is last in the league in yards, passing yards and first downs per game and average time of possession. It also is 31st at 9.8 points per game, ahead of only the St. Louis Rams.
Those figures through five games are worse than those compiled by the 2006 Raiders through five games.
There is no shortage of reasons for the ineptitude, according to coach Tom Cable, who doubles as the play-caller.
"It's me getting them in better positions, if I can, and then whatever it is we call, we've got to execute, we've got to block it, we've got to run it better, we've got to throw it better, catch it better, run the route better," Cable said.
Few might have imagined the Raiders scoring only 29 points the past four games after posting 20 against the San Diego Chargers in the regular-season opener. Yet, that's the case.
The Raiders have totaled 16 points their past three games. That's tied for the third-worst figure for any three-game stretch in the franchise's 50-year history. The Raiders scored only 16 points in a three-game stretch last season under Cable, as well.
Through it all, Cable insists he is the best man to call the plays and that the offense will break out in time.
"I believe that," Cable said. "I see it."
If so, it hasn't been visible so far. The 49 points scored so far are the fewest the Raiders have scored in the first five games of a season in franchise history. Walsh's Raiders scored 50 the first five games.
Players cite dropped passes, penalties, missed blocks, injuries and mounting frustration as the primary culprits.
"(We) aren't happy with how we're playing on offense," tight end Zach Miller said. "So, guys are frustrated. They should be. But, as a team, we have to be able to work through that, and guys have to step up and be able to make plays and we have to improve. We're not going to win games the way we're playing on offense."
The only thing the Raiders have accomplished offensively is to remove the onus from Walsh and his late-season replacement, John Shoop.
That team worked with Aaron Brooks and Andrew Walter at quarterback, a disinterested Randy Moss at wide receiver and career backup LaMont Jordan at running back.
This year's Raiders are working with a quarterback, JaMarcus Russell, selected No. 1 in the 2007 NFL draft, a running back, Darren McFadden, taken at No. 4 in 2008 and a wide receiver, Darrius Heyward-Bey, picked seventh in this year's draft. Also, entering the season, Miller was one of the league's most productive tight ends.
Even so, not much has worked well. Russell is the league's worst-rated and most inaccurate passer. He has one touchdown pass.
Oakland is in the midst of four straight games with 166 yards or fewer on offense. No Raiders offense since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 went more than two straight games with fewer than 200 yards offense. The 2008 Cleveland Browns are the only other team with four or more straight games without reaching the 200-yard mark in the past 32 seasons.
Worse, the Raiders have accomplished the feat six times in the 13 games since Cable assumed play-calling duties from departed offensive coordinator Greg Knapp last season.
"We say we are not far on certain plays," Russell said, "but not far is not going to get us where we need to be."