Give the Raiders SOME credit

Sep 12, 2010; Nashville, TN, USA; Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (21), left, and Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young (10) embrace during the game at LP Field. The Titans defeated the Raiders 38-13. Photo via Newscom

Let’s give some credit to the Raiders’ coaching staff. After all, the first mistake the Raiders made was taking the ball first. When the Titans differed after winning the coin toss, the Raiders should have put their defense on the field. This solves two problems right off the bat, for one—it gives you an opportunity to make adjustments on offense coming right out of the locker room after halftime. And number two—it puts what many consider to be your better unit on the field first to set the tone for the game.

Instead the Raiders offense came out onto the field, went three-and-out, looked sloppy, and got the Tennessee crowd involved in the game early. Note to all current and future coaches (no matter what level), when on the road, kick the ball. Let your defense set the early tone. I only hope the Raiders coaches somehow receive this message.

Positive news came on the Titans first play on offense. Despite a 20 yard QB option keeper run by Vince Young, the Raiders learned that Rolando McClain is faster than the Titans QB, who appeared to be off to the races before the rookie middle linebacker chased him down from behind. Let’s give some credit to Rolando McClain for getting his wheels on and not quitting when he was behind, which is more than we can say for the Raiders’ offensive tackles. McClain had a good day and he showed why some people are considering him the preseason favorite for defensive rookie of the year.

Following the Kamerion Wimbley strip sack and the first (a low blow on the QB) of three personal fouls called on the dirty playing Tennessee Titans, there was a play where the Raiders lined up in a shotgun-four wide receiver set. Only there were not four wide receivers on the field; instead it was Louis Murphy, Darren McFadden, Marcel Reece, and Yamon Figurs. The throw went to Figurs who caught it, spun, and fought for extra yardage. I have an issue with this particular play, which was in the time frame of the first 20 scripted plays generally written down in advance by the offensive coordinator.

My problem is the personnel. You see, I can’t figure out why the ball went to Figurs and not Darrius Heyward-Bey. Why not try to get DHB started early? Why are Figurs and Reece are even on the field in this set? The only thing the Raiders’ offense confused with this set was the fans. Just two plays later the Raiders lined up in a shotgun-four wide receiver set that included McFadden, DHB, Murphy, and Johnnie Lee Higgins…and suddenly everything made sense again. But Campbell didn’t even allow the play to develop—he just rifled it out to McFadden, his outlet, almost as soon as the ball was snapped. There wasn’t even any pressure on that play if you can believe that. Let’s give Hue Jackson some credit for making us scratch our heads early in the contest.

Remember that early Tyvon Branch penalty, the pass interference against Justin Gage? Yeah, the big run where he missed a tackle and Chris Johnson was clocked at 22 miles-per-hour top speed was not the only bad play by Branch on that day. But I have to give him credit for coming out on his twitter and personally apologizing to Raider Nation. That shows a lot of character that he was concerned about the Raider Nation rather than just himself or his teammates.

Following that P.I. by Branch, on the very next play, Stanford Routt froze to help in run support. There was only one problem—there was no run. It was a play action fake and Nate Washington just ran right by Routt, who decided it was a better idea to compensate for somebody else’s job than handle his own business. Routt deserves full credit for this six points and the look on his face afterword says it all. It looked like the face of a man who had just realized that the guy behind him on the depth chart is really not that far behind him. It was the type of play that you don’t even want to turn around and face your teammates after, so give Routt some credit for being able to face his teammates after the play.

During the game, did you find yourself wondering where the big blue spot on Darren McFadden’s helmet came from? It happened in the first quarter after a hit by Titans’ safety Chris Hope. Both guys got low and smashed helmet-to-helmet. But if I was going to put money on it, I’d guess that Hope had a headache the next day. You don’t get war marks like that from soft contact. After McFadden’s big day (6 catches for 55 yards and a TD, 18 carries for 95 yards) you can bet he was feeling good. Let’s give some credit to Darren McFadden for giving Raider Nation a glimpse of what they thought they were getting when the Raiders took him fourth overall in the 2008 NFL Draft.

Let’s give some credit to the Oakland Raiders’ run defense. For 38 rushing plays, they gave up an average of only 3.5 yards per carry. That is far better than their predecessor defenses. Chris Johnson actually started off with eight carries for 15 yards. And sure they gave up some first down runs by Vince Young, but Jason Campbell actually outran Vince Young if you look at the stats. Aside from the one long gainer from Chris Johnson, the rushing defense really put in some work on this day and they do deserve some credit, I don’t care what the analysts say. And this just in, Michael Huff can actually tackle…sometimes.

Anybody know who Kenny Britt is? Not after Nnamdi Asomugha shadowed him all over the field on Sunday. I bet Britt came out of this game wondering what happened to Vince Young’s fortitude. Young would not test Asomugha all day long. He was probably told not to by Mike Heimerdinger but who could blame either of them. Let’s give credit to Asomugha for proving his Planet is greater than Derelle Revis’ tiny island. Revis had at least one P.I. called against him, and I haven’t analyzed that tape, that’s just from watching about an hour of the Jets-Ravens game. And credit the Jets’ special teams coach for figuring out that WR Braylon Edwards can jump over the top of the offensive line on field goals. The raiders should take a page out of that notebook; did y’all see that $&!*?

And finally, let’s give some credit to the Raiders’ offensive line. If it weren’t for their efforts on Sunday, the Raiders might have…no, I’m not even going to go there.

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