What a game! The Oakland Raiders were firing on all cylinders, an unstoppable force! Then I woke up from my slumber and the wonderful dream of the Raiders opener turned into the real life nightmare that was yesterday's game.
It pains me to say that this was the most disappointing, embarrassing opener I have witnessed in all my years as a Raiders fan. There isn't much worse of a statement to be made than that after this past decade plus of failure. This is as bad as it gets for the opening game to a new season with a new coach.
This game was so bad. How bad was it? The Raiders didn't even have a single play in Bengals territory until the 4th quarter when they were down 33-0. That's not even a joke, that is dead serious. The incompetency all around is just too hard to stomach, this is not how the season was suppose to start.
Don't get me wrong here, the Cincinnati Bengals are a very tough team. They are likely a playoff team in a very tough AFC North division, and they have been for several years now. Still, it isn't that the Raiders lost in this game. It is how they lost in this game, which is in every facet of it. This was the most embarrassing season opener in the dark days era, and it isn't even close.
If this is the product that is going to be on the field in 2015 then it is going to be another very long torturous season. No pass rush at all, seam plays open all day long for the Bengals, zero production from the offense and injuries galore. If we had scripted the worst possible situation for the Raiders to be in after just one game this would be it.
It is only one game in and the Raiders have injuries to two of their most important players with Derek Carr's hand injury and Charles Woodson's shoulder injury. Both of these injuries were completely preventable with common sense which is the worst part. Carr's injury he needs to know not to stiff arm a guy with his throwing hand, and Charles Woodson should not have been anywhere near the field at the end of a blow out game.
Injuries happen in football and who knows, maybe Woodson's injury would have happened eventually no matter what. Still, having the moral leader and all-time great player still playing at the end of this game was a monstrous injustice by the coaching staff. There is absolutely no reason to have your 39 year old leader of the secondary still out there at that time of that game.
Those weren't even the only major players injured in the game either, they also had injuries to starting Safety Nate Allen (knee) and starting Defensive Tackle Justin "Jelly" Ellis. After making it through the preseason relatively unharmed, outside of losing Menelik Watson, the Raiders lost 4 (4!) starter players in the opener to injuries. We don't even know yet how severe any of those injuries are but they all look like they could shelf the players for the foreseeable future.
Let's take a moment to mourn here for a second because this is really, really bad. The Bengals torched the Raiders secondary throughout the game with their TE Tyler Eifert down the seams, this is the guy that you want your Safeties to cover. Now realize that both of the Raiders starting Safeties went down with possibly major injuries and the back ups are inexperienced and not as good as the starters that just got burned repeatedly. Ouch.
My biggest complaint of the whole game for the coaching staff, outside of having Charles Woodson still in the game at the end in a blowout loss, is their 4th and 1 play after Derek Carr's injury. The Raiders were only down 10-0 and they weren't even at midfield yet and their starting QB just got hurt. There is absolutely no excuse to go for it, you punt the ball and play field position.
The fact that they went for it there was over aggressive and desperate and the following easy touchdown made the score 17-0. Beyond that, it was completely demoralizing and combined with the sight of the starting QB heading to the locker room was essentially game ending. It was one of the worst opening day coaching decisions ever, and that is not hyperbole.
What makes it so bad isn't just that they went for it, it is HOW they went for it. Everybody knew it was going to be a run, the damn starting QB wasn't even on the field. Then they don't even try to run it outside, they run up the middle right into the strength of the Bengals defense. It was so absurdly unimaginative, it was almost like a bad April Fool's joke.
The only chance at success was to surprise with a pass there from back up QB Matt McGloin, but even that was a tiny percentage chance of success. There is absolutely no question they should have just punted it like every single other coach would have done in that circumstance. The whole situation is still just mind boggling.
Speaking of McGloin, he took over the QB duties from Derek Carr in the 2nd quarter and squandered any opportunities when the game was still even somewhat possible to make respectable. He threw an ugly over throw interception down the seam into triple coverage on the Raiders first drive of the 2nd half and then followed it up a couple drives later with an embarrassing fumble while trying to do way too much.
It might be harsh on McGloin since the game was pretty much out of reach already before he even was in the game, but there is no way I am about to give him any type of positive credit for his garbage time stats. His final numbers were respectable on paper, but he played against a prevent defense that was just going through the motions when he accumulated them.
If Matt McGloin has to start any games for the injured Derek Carr then he will need to play much better than he did when given the chance this Sunday. He will have practice reps with the first team which will help and hopefully a refocused team to lead onto the field too. I am not one that has no faith in McGloin, but I also am not one excited that he might get to be the temporary starter.
As for the defense, where was Khalil Mack yesterday? Did he even suit up, because he didn't make a single noteworthy play. He had an absurdly dominant preseason and looked set to turn the NFL world on it's head, what happened to that Khalil Mack? The one we saw yesterday was a shadow.
I have all the faith in the world in Mack, don't get me wrong. However, he was needed in this game and he did not show up. Nobody on the team really showed up but Mack is the best player for the Raiders. If he is completely irrelevant then what does that say for the rest of the team? I have no doubt in him having a much better performance next week.
Next up is the unexplainable lack of proper officiating when Amari Cooper was literally being assaulted directly in front of a ref. Levi Damien already touched on the subject, but Adam "Pac Man" Jones should be suspended for a very long time. I have never witnessed a player actually unstrap a players helmet, take it off and then slam the players head into it.
How did he even have enough time to do that without someone breaking it up when the ref was right there! I know there was already plenty of talking about this play but come on, this was a complete joke of officiating. For those of you talking about Raiders of long past doing the same type of thing and us being soft for being mad; this isn't the 70's anymore!
Players are proven to be debilitated and dying from head injuries and the Raiders gem of this year's draft just got brutalized on the field and nothing was done about it. This to me is on the same level as Albert Haynesworth stomping on Andre Gurode's head back in 2006. It was borderline to criminal assault, if it was a high schooler they would be being charged right now.
What is worse is that he wasn't even kicked out of the game, and the penalty for it was just off-set from other penalties anyway. The NFL probably wouldn't even have said anything about it all if it wasn't for the extreme social media backlash afterwards, and they still might not even do anything about it since it happened to a Raiders player. If that was a Raiders player doing it you can bet your house that it would have been handled differently.
The referee who was standing there should be suspended too, it is absurd that he just stands there and watches it happen the whole time and then doesn't even eject him. When you watch the video of the incident the ref is literally standing over the two watching intently like it's still part of the play as Jones is unstrapping Amari's helmet and grabbing his head. That's not football, no matter what Pac Man has to say afterwards.
If there is one good thing to come out of this game, hopefully it is the coaching staff realizing that they need to have Marcel Reece heavily involved from now on. He was the lone bright spot on the offense for the day, with the only possible exception being Amari Cooper who had flashes of excellence. Reece only touched the ball 3 times, but 2 of them were touchdowns.
We have been down this road before plenty of times of course. Marcel Reece proves he is a valuable weapon, only to be completely disregarded afterwards for several weeks before he again proves that he is a very valuable weapon. If this coaching staff wants to regain respect after this performance they better have Reece involved in the game plan next week against the Baltimore Ravens.
There was a good section of fans calling for Matt McGloin to be given a shot as the QB, not the majority by any means but a good many. When you look at the box score, it appears he may even have had a good game with completing 23 of 31 passes with two touchdowns. That would disregard what actually happened though.
Now that any optimistic thoughts are thoroughly smashed from our brains we get to look forward to playing another contender quality team in the Baltimore Ravens next week. They did lose their best defensive player to a season ending injury with Terrell Suggs being out so that will help the Raiders chances.
That being said, if the Raiders play next week like they did yesterday the Ravens could sit all of their starters and still win. This was the ugliest, most pathetic season opener I have ever witnessed and with the injuries mounting it's very hard to believe it will get better next week. It's awfully sad when it's just Week 1 and it already feels like the season is doomed.