Last week’s performance against San Diego was not good by any stretch. There was also no shortage of excuses to go around for the lack luster performance either. Missing personnel, injured specialists and lack of execution to name a few. This week in Miami we were unlucky enough to be treated to an all new bowl of “what the hell is happening out there”. Although the bowl was different, the flavor was the same.
This week’s debacle started eerily similar to last weeks. Opening drives were looking good (not great, but functioning and moving the chains). I was seeing tight ends finally get some action and check-down passes seemed comparatively minimal. Good blocking opened up a Touch Down run for Mike Goodson and for a second, there was a glimpse of hope and promise. I saw a unit of men playing with some conviction and purpose as Oakland took the lead. Then, (much like last week) it all went downhill from there.
Some of the notable differences for me this week were the failings on Defense. Poor tackling, ineffective blitzing and absolutely some of the worst corner play I have ever seen in my life. I mean Miami practically won that game with 2 offensive players. Reggie Bush and Hartline (whoever that guy is), both made their mark on our defense and lit it up. Not because either of them are supremely talented (although the argument could be made for Bush-but not by me). It was because our Defense was stinking up the field with a well below average performance across the board.
I knew going into this season that CB was a definite weakness on this team. I think I just didn’t know exactly how weak. As stated earlier in the year, my biggest fear is that other teams will recognize that weakness and exploit it to no end. Don’t worry, it gets worse. We have not even faced the quality of QB that this league has to offer yet this season. If you think Rivers and Tannehill put it on us, wait until we get to see what Manning, Ryan, Brees and Newton will do. Yeah, I even put the sophomore in that group. I didn’t even mention Flacco who is playing at another level this year. Ooh man this can be so ugly if it continues.
I love this team, as I am sure most of you do too. I am not calling for the firing of Gregg Knapp. I am not calling for the firing of Dennis Allen. I am not chastising our GM for making poor personnel decisions. I am not living in the past and complaining that past coaches were better or whining about what we had or could have been if we just kept (fill in the blank). I’m not going to say that our personnel are practically the same as last year. I’m not going to quote last year’s stats and complain about why we changed this scheme or that style of play calling. But what I will say is this. Great coaches have goals that include making adjustments to situations that dictate change.
Dennis Allen, Gregg Knapp and Jason Tarver have a huge mountain of doubt to overcome at this point. Is that mountain insurmountable? Absolutely not! Will the next few weeks provide me with a perspective on if they are capable of getting the job done at this level? 100% without a doubt! This is the turning point, where the great coaches separate themselves from the good ones. The point where great coaches make the required adjustments to put their teams in the best chance to win. So far we have not even seen that coming out of half time after two games. I mean if I knew #82 was going to get the ball on 3rd down and run a curl rout, then surely Tarver knew it. If I knew that we should be running at least ONCE on first down, the surely Knapp knew it. If I knew that we needed 7 yards for a first down and a 5 yard post was not going to be enough, then surely Allen knew it.
This will be the mark. This will be the deciding factor for the future. I’ve said before, that I don’t expect a Super Bowl or even a playoff berth that is not deep in some crazy wild card scenario this year. All I ask for is a winning record. But in order for that to happen, adjustments need to be made. Personnel and package adjustments, halftime game plan adjustments, and play calling adjustments (on both sides of the ball). There is enough film now to see what is working and what is not. What is being done well, and what needs to be worked on. What needs to be completely scrapped, and what needs to be reemphasized. The only thing that remains to be seen is if they can make the adjustments.
I understand that we are rebuilding. Many people want instant success, and I admittedly have been one of them from time to time. I have to remind myself that this process is probably going to take years given the state of the Franchise over the past decade. I don’t like that, but I have no choice but to accept it. That process means mistakes, and changes. I am talking mistakes and changes in all facets. I mean from players, to contracts, to schemes, to coaches. Is Reggie the right choice? Well it sure felt like it to Mark Davis when he interviewed him. Is Dennis Allen the right choice? Well it sure felt like it to Reggie when he interviewed him. Time will tell, not only with them, but the players and the rest of the coaches as well.
In the end, great coaches, players, teams and individuals show their ability to be great by how they respond to adversity in challenges. We now have some adverse situations in our midst. The response will dictate to me the direction we are going for not only this year, but the next decade. My expectations are not high, but more simple and straight forward. If it’s not working fix it. If it does not fit, then don't force it. If it needs adjusting, adjust it. If there is a problem, first recognize it, and then take the right steps to resolve it. All of this needs to be done with the FUTURE of this franchise in mind. No decision can be made in a vacuum and everything must hinge on the development of the future. Good coaches and teams are able to do this. Great coaches and teams are able to do this after getting punched in the mouth and with a foot on their neck. So which is it Oakland? Are you going to be good, or great? The fans want and deserve to know. We will find out in the next few weeks. We are patient, but we will no longer wait silently as the time for assessment is quickly passing.