As I just told them in there, I’m very disappointed in that this is one game we didn’t perform the way we wanted to.
~Tom Cable after the game
Those were the first words out of Tom Cable’s mouth when he addressed the media Sunday afternoon, and although there’s no doubt he was being honest, it’s a good bet that those words were severely understated. The Raiders, underdogs to most objective prognosticators, looked more like the Art Shell team of 2006 and nothing like the team that some have pegged to win the AFC West this year.While the team that showed up in Tennessee for Sunday’s game wasn’t as pathetic as those 2006 Raiders, they weren’t going to make any non-believers think that the team had turned any corner — in other words, many will say this is just the same ol’ Raiders. Only time will tell, but one loss does not make a season. However, it could be a sign of things to come.
I missed most of training camp this year, so I have yet to mention some of the troubling issues surrounding this team. After this loss, I think it’s time to start asking a few of the questions I’ve been asking myself for the last few weeks.
Does anyone on the coaching staff see that Jason Campbell telegraphs his passes AND his snap count?
On more than one occasion, seasoned reporters have also noticed, out loud, that the fifth-year signal caller stares down his receivers from the time he drops back to pass. He did it throughout the preseason and he was true to form on Sunday. On his interception throw, not only did he throw it behind Zach Miller, but he never took his eyes off of the trusty tight end…which may be why the safety was in the right spot for the errant throw.
Getting a quarterback to stop telegraphing his passes is more difficult than teaching him not to tip off the snap count. If you saw the game on Sunday, or any of the preseason games Campbell was in, you noticed that defenders perfectly timed the count to get pressure in the pocket. What you may not have noticed is that Campbell rocks back slightly just before the snap. The movement is probably so natural to Campbell that he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. The slight move also pulls his shoulders up a bit and that’s when defenders rush. This is no excuse for the offensive line, but this also doesn’t help them protect their quarterback.
How did Yamon Figurs make this team?
This fourth-year pro wasn’t very good in the preseason as a return man and didn’t outplay most of the receivers in camp. Even if you make the argument that Figurs is an upgrade over Johnnie Lee Higgins, isn’t it the lack of return yardage and fumbles that put the Raiders’ very own draft pick in the doghouse to begin with? Cutting Figurs could have made room on the roster for rookie Stevie Brown, who by the way, played very well during the preseason.
Langston Walker and the same Cooper Carlisle are the answer to the offensive line woes from 2009? Really?
At one time, like when Walker left for the Buffalo Bills, I would have endorsed the decision to use Walker as the starting right tackle. Is it me or doesn’t he look to have lost about three steps to his game? While the highlight sack of the day was on the left side (and I’ll get to that in about 30 seconds), most of the pressure leaked through the turnstiles on the right side of the line. Both Walker and Carlisle may be good guys in the locker room, but neither has been the same dominant force they may have been in 2008. For those of you that just stepped out of your hot tub time machine, it’s 2010 already.
What’s going on with Mario Henderson?
Henderson can be a force. He’s shown it plenty in his short career, but lately he seems to be a little unfocused. Sunday, after not picking up the blitz and allowing a sack on Campbell, he stood on the field looking into the stands while the fumbled football lay merely inches from his monster-sized foot. Even after the Titans defender recovered the ball and banged into his leg, he stood looking into the stands. It wasn’t until the defender stood up and began running that Henderson broke out of his daydream.
Is it really good idea to start a rookie left tackle from a Div II school at center for his first game as a pro?
Make no mistake about it, Jared Veldheer could be very good someday. The question is where will he be good? I question the wisdom in replacing Samson Satele as the starting center, even though the Raiders could use an upgrade over the veteran. In fact, if you are going to undergo such a massive rebuilding mode on the offensive line, why not put Veldheer at right tackle next to fellow rookie Bruce Campbell at right guard? Veldheer was responsible for two false starts and two fumbles on the day. Welcome to the NFL rookie.
So where does the season go from here?
You’d like to think that it couldn’t get any worse, and since it is just week one, that’s probably the right attitude. What happened Sunday may be the worst performance you’ll see all season by the Raiders, but only if this is the type of team that many have grown to believe they are.
There were some bright spots on Sunday.
Darren McFadden opened eyes on Sunday as he was able to not only execute the plays he was supposed to, but make plays that he hasn’t since joining the silver and black. For a running back, he needs to be able to create runs that didn’t appear to be available on the play. McFadden finally showed that he has the ability to make a move in the hole and get a few extra yards as a feature back.
It wasn’t surprising to see Sebastian Janikowski struggle a bit on opening day. Even though he did, he always seems to get better as the season progresses. One guy who didn’t struggle was his kicking partner in crime, Shane Lechler. Lechler routinely accounts for keeping points off the board by his ability to change field position with every punt.
It’s difficult to not be down on the defense — they did allow 38 points on the day. This defense should get better much faster than the Raiders’ offense will, with players such as Richard Seymour and Nnamdi Asomugha on the field.
Cable promised after the game, “You can’t sit around and feel bad about it or be shocked about it. You really have to deal with it, and this was unexpected, but we’ll fix it and we’ll get it right here pretty quick.”
If they don’t fix enough of those problems before their Sunday game with the Rams, Raider Nation could be in for another long season.
Hiram Eugene (lower leg), Robert Gallery (hamstring), Richard Seymour (hamstring), Yamon Figurs (stinger), and Michael Huff (knee), did not finish the game on Sunday.