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There's Got to be a Morning After

What are you challenging? 
What are you challenging? Everything!

The direct aftermath of the Raiders game on Sunday found me feeling ways of horrible that I haven't felt since bread only came unsliced. While the Raiders started this season off like they have the previous seven, with a loss, this one was worse, because this team was supposed to be different.

It wasn't so much that they lost, but the way they lost it. It was Deja-Vu all over again.

But in the wise words of some dudes from the Bay Area, "I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend." Click the link and listen to the song. Take some deep breathes or go shoot Randy Moss pictures in the face. Do whatever it is you need to do to gain a little perspective.

After watching the game again and reminding myself why I told myself before the game, "If they get blown out, I'll be disappointed, but still be willing to wipe the slate clean for Week Two. This is a young team and I expect them to improve as the season goes."

Well, they certainly made the improving part easy on themselves.

Flushed with the adrenaline pumping action of a live game, it is hard to watch the action objectively. Hell, a game like Sunday's, it is hard to do much, but contain oneself from destroying things. Here is what I am using to help talk me off the ledge. There are a couple of things that are bothering me even more, so I'll throw those in in-between the some positive reminders in a compliment sandwich kind of way.

The Rationalizations:

  • The Titans played great. I honestly don't think there was a team in football they would have lost at home to yesterday. They and their fans were jacked and ready for that game. They have the best and most unique rushing attack in the league and a great D-line. They essentially returned their entire team and it was a team that ended last season as hot as any team.
  • While we all want the Raiders competing with anyone and everyone, this was a tough task for a young team the very first week of the season.
  • Jason Campbell had a rough game. He should have. He was under intense pressure and it was his first game with a new offense. I also saw some good things from Jason. Some crisply thrown and accurate passes. Instances of him using his feet to pick-up yards. His pick probably wasn't his fault and is the exact kind of thing you expect to change as chemistry builds. While there are certainly reasons to be concerned, there are reasons to be hopeful. The passing game is probably the biggest area in which I am willing revert to virgin judgment as I watch Week Two.
  • Veld seemed late on the snap a few times. Mario was beat off the snap a few times--including Jason's fumble. Knowing when the ball is snapped is supposed to be the O-lineman's advantage. Mario has to play better, but the inconsistency at Center did him no favors.
  • Seriously, Jason, learn how to slide. A Redskin fan told me that JC couldn't slide and he was right. It's not that hard and I have no understanding how a professional QB would struggle with it. Hell, every baseball player can do it and as Jon Kruk once said, "...I'm not an athlete. I'm a baseball player."

What is still pissing me off:

  • The Coaching: This one needs sub bullet points:
  • The use of Nnam: With the disappearance of Kenny Britt, the Titans only have one WR that can hurt you. Nate Washington helped set the tone early and none of his 3 catches were against Nnam. Why wasn't Nnam shadowing him? We were lead to believe this was going to be the case this season. Yet all game Nnam stayed on his right side.
  • Jared Veldheer: It's not that I am blaming him and actually I think he did well blocking. What pisses me off is the coaches put him in this position. It became obvious that Veld could have benefited by getting some extra game work at Center in the last pre-season game. Second, they should have waited to start him until Week Two. This was as hostile an environment as a Raider Center is going to face. The crowd was loud and the D-line is awesome. A more veteran presence would have been nice. Welcome to the NFL Jared Veldheer.
  • The play calling: It has been much discussed here. When you get beat like the Raiders did, it can always be better. One thing I'd like to add and one thing that pissed me off is the 4th down play near the end of the game. Campbell completed a pass to JLH who came up short of the line of gain. What gets me about this is, DHB had 1-on-1 coverage on the outside. This would have been a great time to throw him a fade and let him try and go up and beat an over-matched corner. It was the perfect time for it. Give him the experience, see what he has and if it works it builds his confidence. This should have been the first option on that play. Instead Campbell never even looked at him.
  • Level of preparation: The team was not crisp. They looked out of sync, penalty riddled and generally just not ready to go. With the level of turnover, some of this was to be expected, but not that much.
  • Injuries: Ouch! Robert Gallery (hamstring), Yamon Figurs (stinger), Hiram Eugene (lower leg), Michael Huff (knee) and Richard Seymour (hamstring). The most concerning to me from watching the game was Gallery. He was in pursuit of an INT return and dove/fell clutching his hammy. If a hammy hurts bad enough to clutch, this is not a good sign. My guess is, he is going to be out for 3 weeks. I hope I am wrong and I hope all the others are minor.

The Good

  • The interior D-line. I was impressed. Seymour was dominant while he was in. Tommy Kelly and John Henderson were solid. Although they took turns getting pushed aside on successive plays that led to the CJ TD to go up 31-6. Other than that, they more than held their own. Alford even got some PT and didn't get exploited.
  • Darren McFadden: We all noticed his running and catching and I have nothing else to add to that. I will say he looked solid blocking as well and had a nice blitz pick-up
  • O-line run blocking: It was much better than I thought it would be.
  • The starting LB's: While they certainly didn't play a perfect game. I saw enough that I am hopeful. Wimbley and Groves covered a lot of ground and they were all relentless. They weren't horrible in pass coverage. McClain got sealed off a couple of times, but he also made a couple of nice tackles near the line of scrimmage and was good in pursuit. Ricky Brown was in for Groves on the Ringer TD and over ran the play and got sealed off. Brown was generous to give a shining example of why it is good to have new LB's.
  • Marcel Reece: He continues to improve his blocking. He had a nice blitz pick-up and a couple of instances of providing some good lead blocks for DMC. While he is not de-cleating guys, he is doing enough.