Greetings, Raider fans! It is I, RaiderDamus, the prince of prognostication, the sayer of sooths, the count of clairvoyance, and the master of my domain. Last week, just as I predicted, Oakland held on against a late-charging Pittsburgh team who was just good enough to put up a ton of garbage-time points against a prevent defense when the game was all but over. That's some Mike Leach bullshit right there, and I'm not surprised Jason Tarver was crankier than a three-legged cat trying to bury a turd in a marble floor.
But on to this week! Anyone who has paid attention to my posting history here knows that I am a huge Oregon Ducks honk and a Chip Kelly fan. His innovative offense, revolutionary tempo (both in games and practice) and total aversion to punting is very attractive to any college football fan who doesn't suck at the teat of the Big Ten. Kelly's attack changed a mediocre Pac-10 team which had previously been lodged in a 70-year period of mostly futility and whose high points were a Rose Bowl shellacking by Penn State and getting jobbed out of a BCS title game with Miami (a game they would have lost by 30 points) into a team which went to four straight BCS bowls and won the last two, including a Rose Bowl.
So when Chip Kelly was hired away by Philadelphia, I was intrigued. He had Mike Vick, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, and Jeremy Maclin. This was gonna be great! Chip Kelly was going to set the NFL on fire just to watch it burn and then pee on the ashes, laughing maniacally. Unfortunately for Kelly, Jeremy Maclin's ACL decided it didn't want to play ball, and Mike Vick remembered he is old. Furthermore, Kelly didn't bring one of the things that made him successful in college- a defense. Much like Steve Spurrier, Kelly didn't have anything whatsoever to do with the defense in college, leaving that noise to Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Allioti, who took advantage of the recruiting advantage Kelly brought to the team and started plugging better players into his scheme- turning it from a middling unit into one of the finest in the country. The Eagles as currently constructed have very little in the way of a defensive scheme or talent and in order for Kelly's scheme to work it's important for the defense to be at least "good".
Kelly's teams almost always lose the time of possession battle, choosing to score in under three minutes, so the opposing team routinely has upwards of 38 minutes of game time with the ball in their hands. If Kelly's team doesn't have a good defense, NFL teams will turn those 38+ minutes into plodding drives ending in touchdowns, limiting the effectiveness of the tempo offense. In order to have success in the future, Kelly will have to rebuild his defense from the tire-fire it has been this year and last year and has been ever since Jim Johnson passed away.
Injuries are also disastrous for the Eagles this year. In college Kelly could overcome injuries due to the humongous rosters and quality depth. In the NFL he's limited to 53 just like everyone else. Mike Vick is probably the ideal quarterback for his system, but he can't stay healthy. Nick Foles isn't injury prone, despite his recent concussion, but he can't run. Kelly says he doesn't need a running QB for his system to work, but that simply isn't true. If the defense does not respect the QB's running ability, the inside zone read will not work because the defense will crash to the middle every time. If memory serves, Kelly's teams at Oregon ran the inside zone read some 40% of the time so I'd say it's a pretty important part of the system.
So at this point until Kelly actually builds the roster the way he needs it to be (assuming he is given a long enough leash) I don't think the Eagles offense is more than Oakland can handle. What about the Raiders offense vs. the Eagles defense? As far as I can tell, Oakland has two plays on offense.
1. Darren McFadden runs into the offensive guard and falls down.
2. The offensive line plays bullfighter with the defensive line and Terrelle Pryor runs for his life until he pulls some magic play out of his ass.
Occasionally, #2 will result in something really great, like a (gasp!) completed pass or a scramble for a first down. I'm sure it took Greg Olson AGES to come up with this extensive playbook. I'm fairly certain my five year old son could come up with a more effective playbook with a purple crayon and a bottle of Benadryl.
That being said, I somehow think this game will be the one where Terrelle Pryor has a great passing day. I have yet to see any evidence that Philadelphia employs anyone who could reasonably be called a "cornerback". The linebackers leave quite a bit to be desired as well. Philly's strength is their defensive line, but against an Oakland o-line which is improving and getting healthy that strength may be mitigated. This game isn't really a good matchup for the Eagles, as their Achilles' heel this year has been teams who run the ball, drain clock, and occasionally score. The Raiders are good at one and a half of those things. They try to run the ball, they can usually drain clock, and they rarely score unless it's the first couple of drives. Against a battered and bruised Eagles team, that may be just enough.
Raiders win, 19-16.