KA1Z3R posted a great game summary, and it turned into a very revealing thread. It was the first thing I read upon my return to the internet. I was going to comment there, then I realized that I just watched the Oakland Raiders play football and I am jonesing to talk Raider football. Since people look at me weird when I debate football with myself, I think I'll type about it.
First, to beat on that dead horse, how the hell did I survive as a fan before the age of online enlightenment? While blissfully vacationing in the land where John Matuszak once famously and deftly yelled, "Hey you guys," I was reminded of those dark days before the Age of Information.
Despite being "away" I did manage to find a seat with a good view of the TV while dining out Saturday night. When I saw the score roll triumphantly across that bottom line declaring the Raiders had destroyed the Bears, I had the crazy notion that I may see a Raider highlight or two. Notion denied. What I saw was Urlacher limping, Peppers laying on the ground and Matt Forte pretending he was playing the '09 Raiders. Lame!
The Sunday newspaper wasn't much help either. Surprisingly, the three sentence summary didn't complete a mental picture for me and the box score didn't even have tackle stats. Screw 'em. I don't need the main stream media or their archaic ways. I read this site and watched the game and now my life is complete. And here is what is tickling my brain:
What excites me:
I loved that the coaches rotated him in with Henderson early. This is going to help keep Henderson motivated and it threw Veldheer straight into the fire. Peppers torched Veldheer and got to Cambell's faulty delivery to create a fumble, but other than that he did a good job of neutralizing Peppers. This puts him way ahead of where I'd thought he was. We are talking about a dude that was blocking minor league college players last year and all of a sudden was going toe to toe with one of the best defensive ends in the game.
He looked amazing. As KA1 pointed out, it was not like he was going against HoFers, but hell, we are talking about Stanford Routt and usually makes everyone look like an HoFer. He was perfect.
The Nickel Package:
The Raiders are generating incredible pressure with the D-lineman. All of Wimbley's 4 sacks came as a down lineman from the nickel. With Stanford Routt's play showing the potential for the Raiders to field 3 capable corners, this defense looks like it is going to be deadly when forcing teams to pass.
4 sacks will get you on this list every time, but equally as exciting was the admirable pass coverage on Greg Olson.
A QB that can complete them, an OC that calls them at the right time and lineman that can get out and block for them, the screen pass should be a good weapon this year and we still haven't seen McFadden catch one. I am excited to see him get out in space on a screen this year.
Power blocking scheme:
The thought of combining it with zone blocking intrigues me. Maybe it'll prove to be overly ambitious and prove that you get lineman that are good at one thing or another, but right now it was nice to see Gallery sweeping across the line to lay some lumber.
Our QB's got quite a thorough discussion in the post game thread. Here's why JC excited me: His timing and accuracy improved leaps and bounds from the Dallas game. He showed a solid pocket presence and nice mobility. He made solid reads. His stats would've been better had Louis Murphy not had a 3rd down pass go through his hands. Cartwright also had one fly through his hands. It was coming a little hot, but a drop is a drop.
It wasn't all roses for JC. He threw a horrible pick when was getting pressured and threw off his back foot and missed his mark by a good ten yards. That was an easy throw. Put it in front of Miller and it is a TD. He then missed Watkins near the goaline. The coverage was tighter on Watkins, but still a good throw and that's 6. He made the good list, because this passing game is work in progress and progress is what I saw. This same performance will land him on a not so pleasant list a few weeks from now.
The interior D line:
What the hell were we all worried about? John Henderson hardly played, Richard Seymour didn't play at all and they were rock solid. Tommy Kelly and Des Bryant looked rock solid in the middle. The Bears rushing success didn't come in the middle.
Sure he got badly burned for a TD, but it was on a scramble play and he was on an island. He gets a pass on that one. We are, after all, talking about a 7th round rookie going against a first team O and he held his own. Also, what D were the Raiders in on that 4th down play? It's 4th down, put two safeties back there.
Stevie "Ball Hawk" Brown:
The coaches admitted his switch to safety is going better than expected and as KA1 pointed out, Hiram Eugene may be in trouble. Both of his picks were of the cherry picking variety, but he hasn't made any mistakes and on his pick Saturday he did an excellent job of reading the ball and getting it at its highest point.
The play calling:
I like the play action plays and I liked the new fake short drop and then look long plays. Overall, it felt like a good mix of long and short passes with a good mix of inside and outside running. I am excited to see this offense when Campbell has all of his weapons on the field...everyone knock on wood.
What negatively excites me:
Edge Rush D:
It is easy to say that take away Forte's 89-yard run and they stuffed 'em, but that's not flying with me. First of all, you can't take away plays and that was a doozy and he wasn't even touched. That was way too reminiscent of last year. There was that lack of discipline the new Raiders weren't supposed to be playing. Sons broke down this play well in KA1's thread. Simply put, Wimbley bad, Ro bad, Huff bad.
Second of all, take that play away and they still didn't stuff them. The Bears had too much success on the edge (see two point conversion). I wonder if this development combined with Kelly and Bryant's solid play will find Seymour moving back out to DE more than he has been practicing.
The running game:
The Bears front 7 are no pushovers, but there was not much room for the RB's to maneuver in. In a game that saw the Raiders physically dominate the Bears, this is one area they didn't.
Gary Russell is not the person you'd want returning kicks by any stretch of the imagination. I had no problem with him returning kick last year and that was because his bowling ball frame allowed him to fall forward to the 16-yard line with 4 guys on him after he received no blocking. It looked similar this year. I really expected improvements in this area and maybe we still will. One things for certain, I haven't seen it yet.
Looks to be consistently a step late in pass coverage.
The Bears Long Snapping:
This pisses me off, because I now realize I should have honed this skill. I think I'd have a job waiting for me if I did.
What Neutrally Excites Me:
As Sons said, he looked very Morrisonesque on the big run play. He looks fluid and game fast though. He also displayed solid tackling skills. I am banking on him learning quickly from his mistakes, but as they say, "If wishes and buts were candies and nuts, we'd all have a merry Christmas."
The pressure applied by the defensive line:
It has been great. Don't get me wrong, but what worries me about this is that it very well may lead to a lack of creative pressure. Upon one viewing of the game, it didn't appear the Raiders blitzed often and when they did it was unsuccessful. Now, I'll take pressure from the D-line all day, but--as Raiders fans--we all know at some point we will likely be saying, "this team needs to blitz more," and I worry the preseason success of the d-line will keep the blitz packages in moth-balls.
The O-line penalties:
There were too many. I want to get into mid-season bitching form, but I'll let it slide in week 2 of the preseason.