NFL schedules dictate that each team receives one bye week per season. Defensive coordinators fortunate enough to face the Raiders practically steal another.
Whether it is Carson Palmer or Matt Leinart at quarterback, the Raiders present such a simple challenge that opposing staffs get what amounts to a bonus bye week. Oakland requires only brief preparation, and there is little need to be concerned about possible halftime adjustments.
The lack of creativity and absence of flexibility were evident again Sunday during a 17-6 loss to the Carolina Panthers. The offense made a few plays on talent but generally stalled. And, for the second week in a row, it failed to reach the end zone.
Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp gets -- and deserves -- most of the blame. It's his playbook. He calls most of the plays. His preferred rushing scheme -- the zone-blocking system -- stifles his most explosive player, running back Darren McFadden.
Knapp, though, is standing by his principles. He is simply using what he knows.
Head coach Dennis Allen has no such excuse -- unless he is simply committed to the man he chose to hire. And for at least one more game, that is Knapp.
Allen's coaching roots are on defense, and through 15 games this season, he has shown no aptitude for offense. What may be more troubling is his game management and comfort with outdated guidelines for conventional wisdom.
With 5:24 left and the Raiders
Rather than summon his most reliable scorer, kicker Sebastian Janikowski, for a 41-yard field goal and allow plenty of time to find a touchdown, Allen opted for Knapp and the backup quarterback. The play failed. Leinart's pass was deflected, essentially ending the game.
When Oakland got the ball back, the deficit had grown to 11. Carolina coach Ron Rivera, whose job is said to be in jeopardy, made the semi-bold choice of turning to his kicker and was rewarded with a clinching 51-yard field goal.
This is the second time in four games that Allen, at a crucial point, puzzlingly placed higher value on the playbook than the clock. He made a similar ill-fated decision in the Dec. 2 loss to Cleveland.
There was a time when this was the typical late-game call. But somewhere along the way, minds opened up, and some coaches realized that negotiating the clock can be more important than trusting your offensive coordinator and quarterback to concoct something marvelous.
"My though process was we needed a touchdown no matter what," Allen explained to reporters in Charlotte. "I thought since we had the opportunity, and we were down there ... we'd kicked the field goal a couple times down there, and I felt like we needed a touchdown. So I wanted to try and go for it and see if we (could) get it."
Nevermind that his kicker is considerably more reliable than his O.C. and backup QB.
Or that the Raiders would have had more than five minutes to make a play on either side of the ball -- Carolina's offense was sluggish and prone to errors -- if D.A. had not gone against the wisdom of, say, New England's Bill Belichick, a practical thinker who in such instances is not afraid to defy so-called convention.
Allen's job is, for now, safe. There is almost no chance that rookie general manager Reggie McKenzie will give a quick hook to his first consequential hire. D.A. should be able to coach as he sees fit, even if it's by a book with faded pages.
But his decision to pass on the easy points and allow plenty of time for the necessary second score is not atypical of defensive coordinators who become head coaches.
This mentality goes beyond what happened against Carolina on Sunday or against Cleveland 21 days earlier and directly to Allen's willingness to be flexible enough to consider what is practical, if not reflexive or instinctive.
I couldn't help but wonder if D.A.'s mindset influenced Leinart to throw the ball away on a 4th-and-12 play with 1:54 left. Trying to avoid the turnover usually is the right play. Young passers learn this until it becomes reflexive.
But it is the wrong option when it might be the last chance to score.
"You just can't do that," barked CBS analyst Steve Beuerlein, a former Raiders quarterback. "You're 4th down and 12, with the ballgame on the line inside the two-minute warning. You've got to give somebody a chance to make a play there. ... Who cares about the interception?"
One thing I know about Raiders managing partner Mark Davis is that he watches the clock like a hawk. He could not have been pleased with D.A.'s late-game call in the loss to Cleveland, and he probably was further dismayed by Allen's defense of his decision.
What Davis saw on Sunday had to set fire to his gut.