Although not a blowout loss like some had expected, Raiders definitely feel a little down lately more so than in the past when overcoming a loss.
This one was against a division rival in the Chargers, at home, on Monday Night Football, in front of a national audience, so it stings a bit more. However, the Raiders’ defense looked the best we have seen in years and that may be due to Richard Seymour and his 8 tackles and 2 sacks.
“We had them and they drove it right down on us,” Seymour said “As a defense, we can’t win games like that, but I’m encouraged by what I see.”
Encouraged is a good description. Raiders gave up 170 yards on 5 Darren Sproles kickoff returns, an average of 34 yards a pop. With how the defense played against a good Chargers offensive line, holding ground on special teams will only give them more field to work with and more of a chance to stop offenses.
Receiving and Speical Teams Corps Hurting
When Chaz Schilens and Johnnie Lee Higgins both return from injury, their presence could result in JaMarcus Russell doing better than 12-30 for 208 yards with a 40% completion rate. Despite the great pass to Louis Murphy for a 57-yard touchdown strike, he threw one interception and was throwing into coverage at times.
The offensive line gave Russell plenty of time to throw Monday night, so it is clearly his accuracy that remains his biggest issue combined with not looking-off receivers. With two rookies starting at receiver, it is understandable that finding an open man can be difficult.
The passing game will get Javon Walker back this week, who may even return punts with Johnnie Lee Higgins questionable for Sunday (shoulder sprain) and Nick Miller out 4-6 weeks (ankle fracture). Walker believes he still has plenty of football left, and tells anyone willing to listen that he is feeling more healthy now than he has in years. Cable was skeptical of playing Walker last week, but now he basically has no choice.
Here is your chance to prove you’re back to old form, 84. The Raiders could really use a veteran receiver right now, not to mention a little something in return for their $20 million dollar plus investment.
Arrowhead stadium is a loud one, and the Raiders managed to beat them there last year with Kiffin still as the head coach. They showed some coping ability last week in Baltimore, only to lose by fourteen, giving up 21 points in the 4th quarter. Both the Raiders and Chiefs lost their respective games due to an inability to close out games. One of these two will change that sad statistic on Sunday.
–AJ DeMello, TFDS Guest Contributor