London Calling: flailing Oakland Raiders face a must-win already

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Dennis Allen

After appearing to send the Patriots to overtime while on the road with a game-tying touchdown, the play was called back for holding. The next play was what any Raiders game-ending interception would be like- bobbled off of their own receivers’ hands and into the mitts of a 325 pound defensive tackle.

After Charles Woodson noted that his new team “sucks” after losing to the Texans, he probably couldn’t muster any change on those emotions after their defense held Tom Brady in check all day. It’s a little early for Woodson to panic, but maybe London Fletcher was on to something before the season started when he called out Woodson for going to Oakland to receive one last pay day.

Quarterback Derek Carr isn’t losing games for the Raiders, heck, he may actually be one of their better players, but he still doesn’t have an NFL win through three weeks. The pressure is on in Oakland, and it’s coming down on head coach Dennis Allen.

This is Allen’s third season with the Raiders and he carries a combined record of 8-27 heading into a matchup with the Dolphins across the pond this Sunday. This could be a blessing for the Raiders- maybe they truly just need to get away. Maybe a game against the Dolphins on a neutral site can calm their nerves. Maybe someone will step up and become a leader as a young team embarks on a journey that can’t be easy.

The Raiders don’t travel well, heck, they haven’t won on the east coast since 2009. A problem when you consider they are one of the few west-coast teams. They head to London feeling uneasy with people calling for their coaches head and their all-time great veteran defender acting as if he’s mailed it in.

York Giants & Miami Dolphins Training Session

For this road trip, a trip into unchartered waters away from the die-hard fans that make up the United States, the pressure will be off. Plus, 0-3 teams tend to have a reason to pull out all the stops, and feel loose out on the field. They’ve already entered the territory of playing with nothing to lose, but is Allen the guy to lead that charge?

After all, he’s the only one in the room who could not make it back with the team after another loss, especially against a team with plenty of their own problems.

There’s been speculation that Ryan Tannehill is about to be benched, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Carr outplays Tannehill this Sunday. Carr may be too inexperienced to change the culture in Oakland, but he must step up and play one of his first great games. He’s shown potential in an un-ideal situation, but to be great with the Raiders, maturing fast is a must. No quarterback in recent memory has been able to do so in the black hole, but Carr is another shot in the dark.

Allen has gone all-in with the rookie quarterback, but it’s on him to get this team in a room and remind them about coming together as a team when times are tough. Or, he needs to build a leader out of someone in that locker room. Someone who won’t come out and say what Woodson said. To save his job, Allen must finally pull out all the stops in Wembley Stadium, with or without any support from the dysfunctional front office.

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