Editor's note: Insider Scott Bair is in London with the Raiders. Stay logged on to CSNBayArea.com all week for comprehensive coverage of the Silver and Black
BAGSHOT, England – Coaches often call the NFL regular season a marathon, not a sprint. That’s not necessarily true. A slow start can be a death sentence.
Since the AFL-NFL merger, one team has started 0-4 and made the playoffs. That was the 1992 San Diego Chargers, who finished 11-1 to qualify for the postseason.
A loss on Sunday and the Raiders face those odds. They’re 0-3 heading into Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins at London’s Wembley Stadium, knowing full well how vital this game is to their season.
Receiver James Jones understands its importance full well. The Raiders have blown their margin for error and have to turn the season around right now.
“To me, it's a must win,” Jones told CSN Bay Area on Friday. “We got a lot of vets on the team and we know the percentages. You never know how the season is going to turn out, but when you go 0-4 it's hard to make the playoffs. This is a tough league to win in, so to me it's a must win. We’ve got go out here play our best game. We need to go back home 1-3 before the bye week.”
Odds of getting the season back on track are already tough. Just three teams have made the playoffs after starting 0-3.
The Raiders are focused on simpler goals, and just want to win one game before thinking about the daunting slate out of the bye week that features six 2013 playoff teams. They are hungry for a win, but can’t fall victim to pressing for one.
“What it comes down to is guys understanding what their responsibility is, and really taking pride in going out and doing your job on every single play,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “When guys do that, you begin to have some success. When you have success it builds confidence and things kind of grow from there.
“There’s really no special formula. It’s really about guys going out and executing their job, and when they do, they find they have success and they build confidence.”