The Raiders’ opener was an ugly afair in several ways as the team lost to the Chargers in Oakland, 22-14.
The Raiders had to deal with some injuries, choosing to sit both WR Denarius Moore and C Stefen Wisniewski, both of whom had been sidelined for large portions of camp, in favor of Rod Streater and Alex Parsons, respectively.
The game started poorly with Taiwan Jones fumbling the opening kickoff. He was able to salvage the play by scooping up the bouncing ball but was only able to get to the 14 before being tackled.
Special Teams is still very much a work in progress for the Raiders after being very weak in the preseason. The team gave up a huge punt return early in the 2nd quarter that got nullified by a blocking in the back penalty to only make it a 4 yard return. Still, if not for that penalty the team would have given up a huge play due to poor gap protection.
The special teams debacle continued when Pro Bowl long snapper Jon Condo went out after a hit to the helmet and didn’t return. Backup Travis Goethel struggled with multiple snaps bouncing to Lechler. Furthermore, the special teams line let a blocker in for a blocked punt – the first punt of Lechler’s blocked since 2006.
In the first half, the Raiders moved methodically down the field, mostly on the skills of McFadden who both ran and received the ball well. However, DHB also showed this his work is being rewarded when he snagged a 13 yard pass – a pass he likely wouldn’t have caught a year ago. He came out of his route, positioned well to receive the ball, jumped and caught it at it’s apex and caught it well with his hands. He then go both feet down even while being hit by the defensive back for a good reception.
The Raiders defense was good against the run, poor against the pass. New Raiders CB Ron Bartell gave up a big play on a 46 throw and catch from Rivers to Meachem. Meachem made an amazing stretch and dive to get his hands on the ball but Bartell was clearly trailing as well. The Raiders run defense showed that it had improved dramatically, however, holding the Chargers to only 32 yards rushing on 20 attempts, a 1.6 yard per carry average.
The Raiders also showed good a solid red zone defense that bent but didn’t break and mulitple times they stiffened in the end zone to limit the Chargers to field goals.
Discipline continued to be an issue for the team. Tommy Kelly had one play in which he bull rushed the center well before the snap where no one else even jumped. He drew an encroachment penalty for that play. The very next play SS Tyvon Branch clearly held his man. Kelly added another blatant offsides in the same drive, this penalty also . Allen eventually sat him on the drive putting rookie Christo Bilukidi in instead in order to stem the flow of penalties.
In his defense, Kelly came back in after being sat on that drive and seemed to settle down. He made some nice plays in the game including both knifing into the backfield for negative loss and some good side to side plays as well.
In terms of what went right for the Raiders, it can be summed up in by one name: Darren McFadden. McFadden was almost the only offensive weapon for the team. He ended with ? rushing and set a personal best in terms of receiving with 13 receptions for 86 yards.
Palmer had a solid but unspectacular game. His end stats didn’t tell the story as it looks more respectable than it was. The TD the Raiders had was at the very end of the game and the Chargers had backed off a bit at that point.
Darren McFadden – He was practically the Raiders entire offense. He had by far the most targets in the game with 18. The rest of the team had only 28 targets.
Miles Burris – the rookie was thrust into a starting role due to a knee injury sustained by last year’s starter, Aaron Curry. He did very well, though, several times making open field tackles or knifing through the offensive line for backfield stops.
Raiders run defense – the run defense eschewed it’s previous habit of allowing big plays to kill them. They ended allowing the Chargers only 32 yards rushing.
-Special Teams – multiple muffed punts – some due to bad snaps but one due to terrible blocking letting an unblocked rusher through. Also, there was the fumble on the opening kickoff, the punt return that luckily got nullified by a penalty. Just a terrible performance all around by basically the entire unit.
-Tommy Kelly – The veteran DT continued to be a penalty magnet and single-handedly helped the Chargers keep plays alive by getting both an encroachment and an offsides call, both on 3rd down.
-Taiwan Jones – the 2nd year speedster dropped the opening kickoff although he recovered it then, on his first run of the game – a reverse – he dropped the pass from FB Reece and although he ended up recovering up the damage was done for a 25 yard loss.
-Raiders pass defense – the team did very well against the run but Rivers seemed to be able to complete his passes at will. He ended with 24 of 33 throwing for 231 yards and a 102.0 QB rating.
-Rod Streater – He redeemed himself a bit with a TD and 2 point conversion at the end of the game but he struggled throughout the game with being unable to come down with the ball and was generally ineffective in his first start.