The Browns haven’t established a winning streak or prevailed on the road since September 2011.
And they might not receive a better opportunity to end those trends than when they visit the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. The Raiders are in the midst of a four-game losing streak in which they have been outscored 169-79. This past weekend, they fell 34-10 on the road to the Cincinnati Bengals, one of three teams the Browns have defeated this season.
The Browns got over one hump Sunday by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time since Dec. 10, 2009. Now they’re looking to earn consecutive victories for the first time since last season, when they defeated the Indianapolis Colts on the road Sept. 18 — their last win away from Cleveland Browns Stadium — and the Miami Dolphins at home Sept. 25 in Pat Shurmur’s second and third games as an NFL head coach. They’re also aiming to snap a 12-game road losing streak, the longest active drought in the league, which coincidentally began last season with a 24-17 loss to the Raiders on Oct. 16 at O.co Coliseum.
Quarterback Colt McCoy started that game, and he might be back in the lineup Sunday if rookie Brandon Weeden is sidelined while recovering from the concussion he suffered in the fourth quarter against the Steelers. The Browns (3-8) should know more about Weeden’s status when they resume practice today.
Meanwhile, the Raiders (3-8) might receive some reinforcements. First-year coach Dennis Allen said he’s hopeful running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson (high ankle sprains) and defensive tackle Richard Seymour (hamstring) will return to practice today. Those players have sat out the past three games and watched their team go into a full-blown downward spiral.
Vic Tafur covers the Raiders for the San Francisco Chronicle. He discussed the team in the following question-and-answer session:
Q: The Raiders went 8-8 last season and were one win away from making the playoffs. What are the main causes of their regression?
A: “The depth was always an issue. When their starters haven’t played well, they can’t really replace guys. If a guy’s not doing well, you can’t try somebody else in his spot because there is nobody else. The defense has been pretty bad all year, especially up front. They’ve had a lot of problems with their D-line, which was supposed to be their strength going in. And I think the bigger issue has been the schemes. They haven’t adjusted well to their new coordinators — Greg Knapp on offense and Jason Tarver on defense. For whatever reason, the zone-blocking scheme didn’t work on offense, and the defense has been just as bad as it was last year if not worse.”
Q: With four double-digit losses in a row, has Allen lost the support of the locker room?
A: “Not yet. I think the bigger problem is the coordinators may have lost the locker room’s confidence. The coordinators both call the plays, so I think that could be an issue. But as far as Allen goes, I think most of the players are still listening to him. I think the one area where you can say he’s done well at is the penalties. They led the universe in penalties last year, and now they’re actually pretty decent in that category.”
Q: What’s the latest on McFadden, Goodson and Seymour?
A: “I don’t really know about Goodson or Seymour, but indications were that McFadden’s probably going to be back. He’s been running on the side the last week and a half or so. I don’t really know where Goodson stands. I know he’s out of the [walking] boot and moving around, but definitely behind McFadden. I’m not sure where Seymour stands. He and Goodson are definitely not as far as long as McFadden.”
Q: In which areas are the Raiders weakest?
A: “Up front on both sides of the ball. They got mauled last week by the Bengals. The Bengals only rushed four guys and they got a lot of pressure, and [Raiders quarterback] Carson [Palmer] didn’t have a lot of time to do much. Then they’ve also struggled with that zone-blocking scheme. The front line has been a big disappointment, especially Mike Brisiel, the guard from the [Houston Texans]. He was their big free-agent signing. He’s been pretty bad. And then on defense, they have no pass rush. They have 13 sacks this year and also they’re bad against the run. They’ve given up more than 200 yards rushing three times this year.”
Q: Which matchups should concern the Browns?
A: “When they’ve had success, it’s been Carson throwing the ball to Denarius Moore. He’s been inconsistent, but he can be a big, game-breaking receiver. He can make big plays down the field and he can pop long ones. I think he’s been their biggest weapon. Obviously McFadden isn’t the back he was last year. Last year’s version was pretty dangerous. This year’s version has not been, but if he can return to form, obviously he’s a game-breaker.”
Q: Allen recently said his staff has discussed finding a role for third-string quarterback and Ohio State product Terrelle Pryor. Do you think they’ll experiment with Pryor against the Browns?
A: “Probably not. He hasn’t been active all year long. I think they might be finally at the point where they’re willing to talk about maybe some goal-line packages, but he’s pretty far behind as far as being able to actually play quarterback for any long period of time. I can see them maybe giving him the ball in some packages here and there but probably not by this weekend.”
Read Vic Tafur’s coverage of the Raiders: www.sfgate.com/raiders. Follow him on Twitter: @VicTafur. Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com.browns.abj.