No moral victories or silver linings, nothing of redeeming value. The Raiders on Sunday so thoroughly embarrassed themselves that the team photo for the day should be 45 clown suits, all of them empty.

The Oakland roster that showed up in Miami was not a team ready to play but a joke willing to be played.

And the Dolphins, considered by some the worst team in the NFL, laughed and laughed until the merciful intervention of the clock spared the Raiders further indignity.

After bending over and taking a 35-13 spanking from a team of such little promise, Oakland's season is on high alert. A year of radical transition is threatening to deliver four months of sheer futility.

The Dolphins, after all, looked like one of the likeliest wins on the schedule, with a new coaching staff, a rookie quarterback, a hollow secondary and one of the least imposing receiving corps in the NFL. There might not be a more pessimistic fan base.

But the Raiders were an elixir, energizing fans at Sun Life Stadium and making the Dolphins look like a well-coached, highly skilled contender.

Most disappointing, the Oakland defense that has been dreadful for years but was respectable in the season opener last Monday completely vanished in the second half, when the Raiders were outscored 28-3.


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Miami running back Reggie Bush (26 carries, 172 yards, two touchdowns) rambled as he did in his USC heyday. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who threw three interceptions in his pro debut last week, performed like a polished pro. A receiver named Brian Hartline (nine catches, 111 yards) could not be covered.

"The way we started in the first half, I didn't foresee 35 at the end of the game," Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly conceded to reporters in Miami.

The Raiders offense that scored one touchdown last Monday against San Diego did no better against Miami. The running game sputtered for the second consecutive week. Darren McFadden (11 carries, 22 yards) already misses the schemes of former coach Hue Jackson.

Oakland's first-year general manager, Reggie McKenzie, knew he was inheriting quite the mess, but he got an unsightly glimpse at how deeply his personnel department has to dig. They'll scan the waiver wire again this week, and probably find someone at least the equal of what they have.

Rookie coach Dennis Allen, in his first two attempts to distinguish himself, has brought nothing to indicate his team is ready to be a force. And after getting a good look at Jim Harbaugh's work with the 49ers last year, we in the Bay Area know what's possible in Year One of a new regime.

Allen, the NFL's youngest head coach, wants to vindicate his G.M. for making the risky, but not surprising, move of hiring him as Jackson's replacement. After four games in the preseason and two in the regular season, the optimists are scratching their heads and the skeptics are screaming at the skies.

They all have memories. They realize this is starting to look a bit like 2007 -- the last year the Raiders hired a fresh-faced young coach and opened with back-to-back losses.

The '07 team won its next two games, then lost six in a row and finished 4-12. The coach, Lane Kiffin, was fired four games into 2008, and the Raiders didn't see .500 until 2010, when former owner Al Davis hired Jackson to run the offense under then-head coach Tom Cable.

Well, the Raiders on Sunday looked like a team that might need three or four seasons before rising to mediocrity. And Allen didn't duck the truth, not that he could have.

"I'm going to say we've got to execute better," he said in his postgame news conference. "We've got to coach better. We've got to play better. We've got to learn how to finish in all phases of the game."

It's an accurate, unflinching assessment that puts the Raiders no closer to a solution. With a roster short on talent and coaches demonstrating no ingenuity, it is evident the Raiders are long on challenges.

They'll need a personnel makeover, which won't come this year.

They'll need an offensive revival, and there is nothing to suggest it will come this year.

They'll need epiphanies among some of the coaches, and those simply can't be predicted.

Unless you're a fan of racking up passing yardage between the 20s, the Raiders on Sunday left little about which any interested observer can have even a speck of faith.

There will be growth. There will be change. The "New Era of Excellence" as described by the team's PR department, is very much in its embryonic stages. There will, eventually, be measurable progress.

But right now, after this forgettable effort, everything points toward regression.

Contact Monte Poole at mpoole@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/1montepoole.