Thursday, September 11, 2008

Oakland Raiders: Sifting through the debris

The Raider Nation was poised to start the season off right and the Network Associates Coliseum was sold out ready for action. The building was in a word electric and the Nation was behind the team; what we saw was awful.

The Raiders took a 41 – 14 beat down at the hands of the Broncos. It can be broken down into three parts, the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

QB JaMarcus Russell was 17-of-26 for 180 yards with a 111.1 passer rating and didn’t throw and interception.

Justin Fargas had 18 attempts for 97 yards, a 5.4 yards per carry average and a long 42 yard run. Darren McFadden had nine attempts for 46 yards, a 5.1 yards per carry average. The Raiders had success running the ball as a team rushed for 150 yards with a five yards per carry average.

Johnnie Lee Higgins had six kickoff returns for 154 yards, with a 25.7 yard average per return and a 58 yard return providing the offense with excellent field position.

Zach Miller had four receptions for 34 yards, with an 8.5 YPC average, his longest was 21 yards.
Justin Griffith had three receptions for 39 yards, with a 13 YPC average, his longest was 24 yards.
Ashlie Lelie had three receptions for 37 yards, with a 12.3 YPC average, and a touchdown, his longest was 22 yards.
Chaz Schilens had two receptions for 29 yards, with a 14.5 YPC average, his longest was 19 yards.

The Raiders claimed OT James Marten off waivers from the Cowboys; He is in his second year, a 2007 third round draft choice from Boston College, Another young player to develop.

The Bad

Russell’s lone turnover; the fumble on the screen pass to McFadden. The turnover wasn’t as bad as the time it happened. The Raiders answering the Broncos first score and tying the game would’ve been huge and would’ve helped to get the crowd into the game.

Guard/ Tackle Paul McQuistan went down and left the game with an injury; it appears that he is out for the season with a knee injury on an already thin offensive line.

The Raiders defense looked lost and on their heels the entire game. The secondary appeared to be trying to do too much instead of everyone handling their assignments. Unfortunately it isn’t anything new.

The Raiders committed 10 penalties for 100 yards.

The Ugly

The defensive had trouble slowing down the Broncos offense minus Brandon Marshall and never did. In the infamous words of Joe Namath the Raiders defense was ‘struggling’.

The overall poor play of the veteran players on the team and the lack of leadership shown. The Defense was in a word awful; the worst thing was that the unit looked as if they were lost and a step behind from the outset.

The Broncos offensive game plan clearly was to isolate rookie WR Eddie Royal on newly acquired CB DeAngelo Hall and he got owned. This matchup was simply a mismatch as the rookie embarrassed the veteran.

No one expected DeAngelo Hall to endorse Royal’s rookie of the week bid but with his poor play he signed off on it. Hall sits firmly on the hot seat, but he is not alone. He is a veteran that knows he needs to redeem himself.

The Defense was devoid of a pass rush, again. The Defensive Coordinator or Al again decided to not blitz at all. The defense spent the entire evening waiting to see what would happen as oppose to dictating to the offense what will happen.

Derrick Burgess left the game with an injury and with him went any chance of getting to the passer. Free Agent DE Kalimba Edwards was a game day scratch who could’ve helped rush the passer.

WR Ronald Curry not helping out his young QB and dropping two catchable passes that would’ve been huge plays for the team. There isn’t a receiver that can say he never drops a pass but both were unacceptable.

The continued absence of WR Javon Walker is disappointing and has him on the hotseat as well.

The best WR in training camp was Todd Watkins and the disappointing thing was that he was inactive in a game he could’ve helped to provide a spark to the offense.

It has been said for years that cornerbacks play on an island and that they’ve short memories. I believe this the case in regards to DeAngelo Hall because the entire defense needs to have a huge bounce back game.

Game one is over and the team has the best remedy for putting this game behind them; game two in Kansas City. The Raiders need to forget about the monday night debacle. The focus needs to be on playing night and day better and winning the game against the Chiefs.

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