Through three coaching staffs, hundreds of players and countless opponents, the Oakland Raiders have been unable to solve their East Coast hex.
With the Raiders having lost their last 13 games in the Eastern time zone, coach Dennis Allen decided this offseason that it was time to change things up.
Instead of leaving town after practice on Friday for the season opener against the New York Jets, Allen changed the usual schedule and will have the team depart for the East Coast on Thursday morning. That will give the Raiders a chance to practice in New Jersey on Friday and to have more time to acclimate to the three-hour time change before the early kickoff Sunday.
"In my mind, the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result," Allen said. "To me, it's something different, it's trying something new. We're trying to find every small little advantage we can that will give us an opportunity to play well and we'll see how it goes."
The fact that the first East Coast trip came in the season opener made the schedule change a bit easier. The Raiders were still able to have three practices this week at their facility in Alameda before leaving town.
Allen said he has no plans to make this the schedule on Oakland's next two East Coast trips: to New England later this month and Cleveland in October.
But if the Raiders can win their first game back East since Bruce Gradkowski led a fourth-quarter comeback in Pittsburgh on Dec. 6, 2009, he might change his mind.
The Raiders have dropped 13 straight games in the East since then, losing by an average of more than 14 points a game. Eight of those losses have come in Allen's first two seasons as coach in Oakland.
"It's probably more of a fluke, but being here the past nine years with the Raiders, you do see a little sluggishness, even in pregame warm-ups," long snapper Jon Condo said. "But that happens sometimes out here in Oakland on the West Coast, so it's hard to explain if it's because we're on the East Coast or not."
Condo said he tries to make sure he does not nap on the plane flights so he can get to bed at a decent hour when the team gets East. Staying hydrated for the long flights is also important.
Offensive lineman Khalif Barnes, in his sixth season with the Raiders, downplays the impact on the body clock and playing field of changing time zones, saying it has little impact on how the team has played.
"Everybody in this league has to deal with something, whether it's East Coast teams coming to us, we go to them, playing in the hot weather," he said. "There's a bunch of stuff that people go through. I don't want to use any excuses for it. We have to play well to win the game."
Allen said another benefit of spending an extra day on the road this week is that it allows more time for players to bond. The team will arrive in New Jersey late Thursday afternoon, giving players a chance to go out for dinner with teammates before meetings and practice on Friday morning.
Allen said he did something similar as an assistant in New Orleans in 2008 when the Saints went to Indianapolis for a few days because of Hurricane Gustav before their opener against Tampa Bay.
"It almost makes you spend a little more time with your teammates to get to know them," said safety Usama Young, who was also part of that Saints team with Allen. "It's week one and we have a lot of new guys here. With all the new pieces that we added to our team, it's good we do get to spend some extra time together before our first game."
NOTES: MLB Nick Roach (concussion) was back at practice on a limited basis but has not yet been cleared to play in the game. ... TE David Ausberry was able to participate fully in practice and could be ready to play Sunday for the first time since knee surgery early last month. ... CB Chimdi Chekwa (knee) remains sidelined and rookie TC Carrie will likely play in his place in nickel formations.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL