Just as I have done every Sunday of this football season, I went to Buffalo Wild Wings to support my Raiders. I have been very upbeat about them at times and a harsh critic at others. I maintain that I don't expect them to win every game, but I do expect them to put forth a hell of an effort to put themselves in the best position to win. If they play their best and get beat by a better team, I can deal with that. What I can't deal with, however, is a lack of effort and poor execution.
All of us wanted the Raiders to win today although there were some (maybe many) who figured that it wouldn't come to fruition. I honestly expected a win today and saw no real reason why it wouldn't happen. I studied the match ups and although we were without Richard Seymour on defense, the Colts were without Austin Collie on offense. With our 4th ranked rushing offense against their 28th ranked rush defense, I felt pretty confident of our chances.
In order for the Raiders to win this game, they HAVE to take advantage of the the Colts soft run defense and run the ball down their throats and pass when necessary, just like in the San Diego game. (Week 16 Crystal Ball: Raiders vs. Colts)
What I didn't figure on was the coaching staff hamstringing us. I really shouldn't be mad because I knew that the coaching staff was looking to throw the ball because Tom Cable said it earlier last week. I hoped that it was just a tactic to throw off the Colts. Boy was I wrong. Jason Campbell didn't commit a single turn over today (Yippee) but he threw the ball 42 freakin' times and we only ran the ball 20 times between 4 players. Why in the hell did the offensive staff render Darren McFadden virtually ineffective by only giving him 11 touches in the run game? How do expect to win by negating our best offensive weapon? Darren McFadden had 11 carries for 45 yards and Micheal Bush had 3 for 19. We are a RUNNING TEAM FIRST! How do you not exploit a match up of us averaging 149.7 rush yards to the colts giving up 135.8? I don't understand that logic. We only rushed for a total of 80 yards while the Colts rushed for 191. WTF?
This is similar to the same thing that happened in the losses we suffered at the hands of the Steelers (D. Mac: 10 attempts for 14 yards) and the Dolphins (D.Mac: 8 attempts for 2 yards). It is a proven fact (do the math for yourself if you don't believe me) that McFadden averages 20.5 attempts / game when we win and 15.4 / game when we lose. If we are truly a running team (which we are) you can't expect to win when your best offensive player is hampered by poor play calling and not putting the ball in his hands.
You also cant expect to beat the Colts (or any decent team for that matter) when your offense does not score a single touchdown until 5:00 or less minutes left in the 4th quarter and you're down 2 scores. Janikowski scored 13 points on Field Goals and an extra point to the rest of the offense scoring 6. If it weren't for that kick-off return for a TD on special teams, we probably would have gotten blown out.
The defense didn't do much better. Although they did pick off Peyton Manning twice, the also gave up 3 passing TD's and 1 Rushing TD. As I stated in my previous blog,
On defense, don't blitz Peyton too much because he is very good at find the open man. Rush 4 and keep a linebacker in zone coverage over the short middle and blanket the receivers. (Week 16 Crystal Ball: Raiders vs. Colts)
And that's just what Peyton did. He didn't to do it all game however, because our inept run defense (ranked 26th before the game) let Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai run with relative ease. They got so scared of the half backs rushing for 1st downs in the last moments of the game that they let Peyton pull a Ben Roethlisberger and break off a big run to seal the game.
I praise Tom Cable for his leadership and motivation for erasing the defeatist attitude and getting rid of locker room cancers but he is simply not the head coach to get us to the next level. And for all of his bluster and big talk of "building a bully" on offense, and getting our run game back on track (for the most part), Hue Jackson has not proven to me that he is a very good offensive coordinator and certainly not good enough to even be mentioned as an NFL head coaching candidate. Least anyone forgets, we PROMOTED him to offensive coordinator just this year from being a quarterback coach in Baltimore. He has had offensive coordinator roles before back in Washington and Atlanta and all were 1 year stints followed by a lesser role the following year with another team. If you are good offensive coordinator in the NFL, you don't get demoted...you get PROMOTED.
Although the coaching staff deserves the majority of the blame in this loss, they are not by themselves. Jason Campbell is NOT the QB of the Future for us either. Time and time again, he missed wide open short passes or under threw a receiver to the point where they couldn't catch the ball and run for extra yardage. I do believe in consistency at the QB and major coaching positions (Head Coach, Offensive and Defensive Coordinators) but I also believe in competency. Right now, we have neither. After we go beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead next week, there needs to be some SERIOUS evaluations and changes made in the off season to get us to the play-offs next year.
This was a hard game to watch. My only solace will be that we go undefeated in our division (even though we won't get to the play-offs or win the AFC West Title....which sucks by the way.)