Raiders lose yet again

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 28: Jacoby Ford  of the Oakland Raiders is congratulated by fan after he scored a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 28, 2010 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Well the game couldn’t have started better for the Raiders today as Jacoby Ford took the opening kickoff 101 yards for his second kickoff return for a touchdown this year. The Raiders kept it tight for a while when Gradkowski hit a 44 yard pass to Jacoby Ford for his first receiving touchdown of the year. That gave the Raiders a 14-10 lead. Miami would hit one more field goal before the half and the Raiders would take the lead into halftime at 14-13.

At that point, to me, it looked like Miami was giving it all they had and the Raiders were leaving much to be desired. I thought that was a good thing because that meant the Dolphins could not play any better but the Raiders were definitely capable of picking up the pieces and putting together a nice second half of football. But that was not to be.

Other than Jacoby Ford, the Raiders’ offense was flat for the entire game. They never got above 16 yards on the ground and this team is not built to pass the ball to victory. If the Raiders continue the path they are on with their ground game, it could end up being the biggest turnaround of a rushing attack in the history of the NFL. Before the bye week, Oakland was explosive on the ground, but since then, they have been absolutely pathetic.

And the play calling is not helping either. I think it would be helpful if Hue Jackson went back to his offensive team and asked them what they are comfortable doing again, because I’m seeing a lot of Darren McFadden up the middle for no gain. Clearly when the ground game doesn’t come into play for Oakland, neither quarterback can be effective running this offense. McFadden ended the game with eight carries for two yards.

Perhaps one of the biggest flaws as far as the defense is concerned today is that they were not able to get off the field on third down. The Dolphins held the ball for 41:38 and converted 47 percent of their third downs. Although the defense started off holding the Dolphins rushing attack to minimal gains, the Raiders were horrible on defense against the Dolphins passing game right from the get go. The Dolphins attacked rookie cornerback Walter McFadden all day and his teammate Nnamdi Asomugha was not at 100 percent today. That was very evident as he was continuously beat on passes and eventually left the game for most of the second half of play.

Tom Cable laid part of the blame at the feet of the pass rush, “We didn’t get to the QB enough. We brought pressure a number of times, but we didn’t get there enough. We’ve got to get more out of our base pass rush to start with.”

The Raiders were not getting enough out of their base pass rush on those third down conversions and eventually became predictable about their third down blitzing…the motto was to bring the house and try to force arid throws from Chad Henne, but Henne played at a high level today.

“We played hard and all that, we just didn’t play very good” said Cable following the loss. “When you get beat up on the line of scrimmage like that, really on both sides, you put yourself in a tough position in this league.”

And get beat they did. While Bruce Gradkowski wasn’t horrible on the day, he didn’t bring that spark to the huddle that Tom Cable is so fond of either. But Cable would not lay the blame at the feet of the offense today saying, “The biggest thing is we didn’t have the ball very much, so we aren’t able to say ‘oh it’s this or it’s that’ because the defense wasn’t able to get off the field on third downs.”

Gradkowski threw two interceptions and nearly a third that was miraculously saved by the player of the day, Jacoby Ford. At the end of the day you could say it was the Miami Dolphins 33 and Jacoby Ford 17 as Ford was responsible for setting up the Raiders lone field goal as well as the only two touchdowns of the day. Ford was the leading rusher with his one carry for 13 yards, he was the leading receiver with his four catches for 108 yards and he was good on that one kickoff return for 101 yards.

The Raiders were one game over five hundred going into the bye week, but they are 0-2 coming out of it. It leaves a lot of Raiders’ faithful wondering why the regression occurred over a bye week where it looked initially like the Raiders were about to get healthy and make a playoff run late in the season. But now Raider Nation is left scratching their heads and wondering why they can’t have 11 Jacoby’s Ford’s on offense. In the words of once great Raiders’ head coach Tom Flores following the latest letdown, “The Raiders have to raise their game; they have to go higher, because they are not playing like any elite team right now.”

Key injuries in the game included Kamerion Wimbley, Zach Miller, and Bruce Gradkowski. Of those three, Wimbley may be the only one who can suit up against the San Diego Chargers next week. Miller now has a fibula injury and was unable to return to the contest and Bruce Gradkowski reinjured that shoulder that has been bothering him all season.

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