The Oakland Raiders' offense seemed to go from runaway freight train to rusted-out steam locomotive in the span of a few weeks.
Offensive coordinator Todd Downing earned praise as his offense averaged 35.5 points per game in the first two contests to open the season. Since then, however, the axel has fallen off. In four straight losses, the Raiders have averaged 13.25 points per game and haven't scored more than 17 points in any contest.
"I don't think there's a single guy that can look back over the last few weeks and say, 'You know what, I'm really pleased with how I've played over the last three weeks,' or, 'Called the last three weeks' or, 'Coached my position the last three weeks,'" Downing said on Tuesday, via the Associated Press. "We all own this together. There's no one guy that is going to save it or break it or anything in between."
A Raiders offense boasting Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Marshawn Lynch and a highly paid offensive line ranks a mediocre 17th by Football Outsiders' metrics. Oakland sits 30th in the NFL in total yards, 27th in passing yards, 24th in rushing, 21st in third-down conversion rate and 18th in scoring.
Carr missed one game during the four-game skid. That game was the only time Oakland breached the 17-point mark during the losing streak. With Cooper looking like the ghost of Braylon Edwards, the Raiders' passing game has been restricted to ineffective dump-offs and no-shot deep heaves.
Downing pointed to the lack of plays run over the past few weeks as one reason the Raiders are struggling. A few drive-extending plays here or there would have pushed that play count forward. The coordinator believes those plays will soon be converted.
"When you look at the tape, you can see that we're so close on so many things," Downing said. "I know that sounds cliché and I know that sounds like someone sitting up here ... [with] rose-colored glasses, but it's the truth. We know that we're just this close to making a couple more plays each game and being able to come out on top and feeling like we put together a good product."
Hosting the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football, Downing and his offensive weapons must turn "this close" into points, or risk sinking further into the black hole.