In the week leading up to the season opener, Richard Seymour said he was “blindsided,” by the trade from New England to Oakland. Last Sunday, being “blindsided” would have been better than what actually happened. In this game the Raiders knew exactly what was coming and were powerless to stop it.
Last Sunday was the worst home loss (38-0) in Raider HISTORY. And things were already out of hand when the Raiders first touched the ball.
On the first play of the game, newly appointed right tackle Khalif Barnes allowed a strip-sack on JaMarcus Russell. It didn’t help that Russell had the offense in the wrong formation in the first place. That play would set the dreary tone for the rest of the game.
It is understandable that having two rookie receivers starting can hurt team efficiency in terms of mental errors or an occasional dropped pass, but what can also hurt you is carelessness and lack of accuracy from the quarterback position.
Cable may be raving about Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy’s blocking abilities, but what about the dropped passes and inconsistency? Louis Murphy had 6 dropped balls going into the Jets game and had 2 more in the game. Darrius Heyward-Bey has four drops, 3 going into the Jets game and a dropped TD at the end of the game. It is surprising that DHB has fewer drops, since he was known for having the dropsies coming out of college and not Murphy.
Is that the kind of production that allows you to take vertical shots early? Tom Cable thinks so.
“Maybe I shouldn’t put the offense in that situation on the 10-yard line to start the game, you know, trying to throw four verticals,” Cable told Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune. “But I want to be more aggressive, I think that’s an important part of it.”
Aggressive? You cannot be aggressive if you are not successful at SOMETHING first.
Obviously, the Raiders are forcing plays that are just not there. Tom Cable is calling plays as if he has Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne out there to execute them. Even before the Raiders were down by 14 points, Cable was asking Russell to throw the football on first and second down despite the fact that Justin Fargas was averaging 8.3 yards a carry.
The Raiders defense is not at the level of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. They cannot bail you out when times get rough, but they have shown the ability to feed off of good energy from the offense and play well enough to win. Cable set the Raiders up to lose right off the bat with the strategy to be “aggresive,” on offense and “take shots down field”, regardless of the fact that he has 11 drops between his two starting receivers and a quarterback that has a 46% completion percentage.
I said a couple of weeks ago that the four games the Raiders would play before their bye week (NYG, PHI, NYJ & SD) would ulitmately decide their season. They would need to win two games out of the four to be at a mangeable 3-5, where not all hope is lost. After last week’s debacle, I wonder if the Raiders can put together one complete game this season.
The Raiders are forcing the pass when the run works, don’t have a linebacking corps to stuff the run, and have huge amounts of money tied up in some questionable players. Nothing is clicking and even getting players back such as Chaz Schilens and Robert Gallery probably won’t do much.
One thing Lane Kiffin had right was that the Raiders were a running team, and should limit Russell to about 15 pass attempts per game. Kiffin knew Russell would need to come along slowly. Now it is time for Cable to bite the bullet and get back to what works.
The next two games are winnable, and could put Oakland at 4-5 before they get to another ugly stretch of their schedule with upcoming games against the Bengals, Cowboys, Steelers, Broncos and Ravens.
If there are any left-over feelings or emotions about the loss to the Chargers on opening night, or about the Chargers having a 12 game win-streak (longest active streak in the NFL by one team over the other) over the Raiders, it’s time to let those feelings show.
Through seven games, the Raiders opponents have scored 177 points to their 62. That is a 115 point differential. Another loss would not be a far cry from how bad things really are in Oakland, much like they are in Cleveland, St. Louis, Tennessee and Washington.
Hard to believe that the 2006 Raiders averaged more points per game (10.5) than the Raiders of 2009 (8.9), but it’s true. At this point, Raider fans would probably just be happy seeing the Raiders compete in the rest of their games after four blowout losses.
–AJ DeMello, TFDS Guest Contributor