Offensive line fails miserably against Titans

Oakland Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell (top) is sacked by Tennessee Titans defensive end Derrick Morgan (bottom) during the first half of their NFL football game at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee September 12, 2010. REUTERS/M. J. Masotti Jr. (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The excitement that had been building around the new look Oakland Raiders offense abruptly abated as the offense resembled the 2009 edition as the Raiders were blown out by the Tennessee Titans. The center of the offensive failure was the offensive line’s ineptitude, as there weren’t running lanes until late in the game, and Jason Campbell spent most of the game running for his life.

From the opening drive, the line appeared greatly out of sync. The second play of the game was a delay of game because they could not get the protections together. In the second drive, the offensive line’s complete meltdown nearly cost them the chance to capitalize on an early turnover. Campbell was sacked for a loss of seven yards on first down, and he was sacked again on third down and it had appeared that the Raiders were facing a fourth down and were knocked out of field goal range. They were given a second chance when the Titans were flagged for sacking Campbell at his knees. Their second chance was again derailed when Langston Walker was called for a false start on third down. The following play saw rookie center Jared Veldheer snap the ball over Jason Campbell’s head. Campbell averted disaster by picking up the ball and scrambling for a yard.

On the following drive, after the Titans had taken the lead on a touchdown, McFadden had ran for a first down when offensive line disaster struck again. Jacob Ford blew by left tackle Mario Henderson to force a strip sack of Campbell. Michael Griffin picked up the ball and sprinted into the end zone for what appeared to be a touchdown as the Raiders watched thinking the play was over. Upon further review, the touchdown was called back because Henderson’s leg happened to touch Griffin whilst he was on the ground. The defense held the Titans to a field goal.

By the close of the first quarter, the Raiders offense was completely out of sync because the offensive line could not get out of their own way. In the second drive of the second quarter Mario Henderson was called for a false start on a second and ten. The following play Campbell was strip sacked a second time. This time Marcel Reece saved the turnover, but it was an eight yard loss, giving the offensive line a -13 yards for the drive.

As the Raiders tried to put together a drive to answer after Chris Johnson’s 76 yard touchdown run, and pull something together to keep it a game, the offensive line once again scored a failure. This time it was all on Jared Velhdeer. A miscommunication with Campbell forced a delay of game penalty. The ensuring play Veldheer skipped the snap to Campbell who made a heroic play to get it near a receiver for an incomplete pass, but that was for naught as Veldheer was also called for a  The Raiders had to settle for a 30 yard field goal, and the rout was on 24-6.

On the opening drive of the third quarter Mario Henderson had his second false start of the game. That was followed up by a premature snap that forced Jason Campbell to take a knee because there was no way a play could develop. The following drive, Campbell was under pressure and he thew an interception.

The first drive of the fourth quarter saw the Raiders score their first touchdown. However, Cooper Carlisle got his induction into the keystone cops with his own false start penalty. To cap the game, as the Raiders are trying to move the ball and at least make it look respectable, they line could not get nearly enough push for a quarterback sneak.

Jared Veldheer looked like he was playing center for the first time. Considering he was drafted as a tackle and not shifted until center until training camp, there was a good reason that he looked out of place. During the preseason he spent only had a few snaps at center in the first and second games. He started the third game, and didn’t play at all in the fourth game. This is where Cable’s caution in not playing the starters at all in the final game came back to bite him. Veldheer needed the additional reps to get ready to start at an entirely new position.

Mario Henderson had what was probably his worst game as a pro. On the reviewed strip sack, Henderson did not even get a hand on the rusher, nor did he even make a move for the ball once it was on the ground. It was sheer stupid luck that he was responsible for Griffin not getting the touchdown.

So far the Oakland Raiders “new look” offense looks all too familiar as the line was a sieve. Left guard Robert Gallery left the game due to injury, which is a concern as he is the Raiders best lineman. Gallery missed nine games due to injury a year ago.

The Raiders are going to need to do better at protecting Jason Campbell and opening holes for their backs if they hope to win their home opener next week. They have not won their home debut since 2004 when they beat the Buffalo Bills in the second week of the season. If the line does not step up, it will be a long season for the Oakland Raiiders.

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About Patrick A. Patterson, Senior Writer

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