Editor's note: Insider Scott Bair is in London with the Raiders; stay logged on to CSNCalifornia.com all week for comprehensive coverage of the Silver and Black
LONDON – The Raiders are hungry for their first win, starving in fact. The Silver and Black are 0-3 heading into Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium, a disappointing fact considering the team’s high hopes heading into the season.
Brutal travel to New York, New England and the United Kingdom was considered the toughest part of this early slate, which featured relatively beatable teams. The Raiders were expected to compete with the Jets and Texans, though they were only competitive against the Patriots last week.
There was confidence to glean from the Patriots loss, especially after disastrous efforts to start they season, but it hasn’t changed the Raiders record. Another loss to a Dolphins team in relative disarray, regardless of the score, would be catastrophic to morale and the fortunes of this coaching staff.
Head coach Dennis Allen’s job security has been called into question after a rough start, and owner Mark Davis could change course during a Week 5 bye. The players don’t want that to happen. They also don’t want to dash playoff hopes this early in the year. While the postseason wasn’t a realistic expectation on the outside, the influx of new veterans continues to dream big. At 0-4, those hopes would be dashed.
That puts strain on this effort the Raiders can’t allow to impact the outcome.
“We’ll be fine if we just relax and play our game,” running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. “In these situations, pressing doesn’t help. In Week 1, we had a tough opponent and we tried to do much and it hurt us. I think you saw last week how much better we played because we simplified things and trusted that every man would do their job.”
The Dolphins aren’t going to roll over because the Raiders need a pick-me-up. They’re 3.5-point favorites despite a two-game losing streak and a tenuous situation at quarterback.
“You learn how hard it is to win in this league and you learn how hard it is to get that first one,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “That’s what I’m learning right now, how much it really takes to get one win. Hopefully we’ll get it this week. Hopefully we can get it this week, that’s obviously the plan. We definitely need to get it and hit this bye week. 75 percent of our season is still out there. We’re focused on this one and hopefully we get this one.”
The Raiders can and have hurt themselves by trying to do too much. Context can add pressure the Raiders don’t need, so they have to tune it all out and execute.
“We have to play with a sense of urgency, but you can’t out-think yourself and do things you wouldn’t normally do,” center Stefen Wisniewski said. “You have to trust that, if we play to the best of our abilities and eliminate mistakes, we’re going to go out and earn that win.”
That won’t be easy, especially after a disappointing start to the season.
“We’re frustrated that we’re 0-3,” Jones-Drew said. “There’s no doubt about that, but I like our effort and that we continue to fight. We just have to finish better. We have to take the positives with the negatives. We’re frustrated, but we’re going to use that as motivation to get better each week and turn this thing around.”