Monday, September 26, 2005

5 Postgame Takes

1. Haven't I seen this game before, like a few dozen times? Opponent marches downfield against the Raiders in the final minute, and the kicker never misses, even with one leg sawed off...

2. Despite that final drive, the Raiders defense is really coming together. They were physical and precise, with crisp tackling. Charles Woodson was on fire for much of the game. Not perfect, but they kept it close. Remember the Patriots game, with all the soft coverage and confusion? They've come a long way in three weeks.

3. Only seven out of 42 Collins passes thrown in Randy's direction?

4. DeLawrence Grant...Next time, please use your bone of a head to think before ramming it late into the back of the QB during a crucial third-down situation. Norv, next time DeLawrence cheerfully pats you on the back after something like that, grab his face mask and spit nails. We need more Ditka, less Bugel.

5. As far as losses go, this was a good one. This was a very tough opponent, but the Raiders came back and fought to the bitter end. Things are pointing in the right direction. The return to glory is on schedule. Once the offense gets out of neutral, watch out!

Bonus take: Chris Carr may have potential as a return man, but if he doesn't straighten out his decision making soon, he's going to cost us a game. He's been lucky so far, but luck is not a decision.

Extra point: Hey, Eagles, black is not the new green. Your jerseys are lame. Quit stealing our colors.


Blogger js said...

I don't mind fighting to the bitter end, but I'd much rather we won at the bitter end. The 2001 Chefs fought to the bitter end a lot, and wound up 6-10. I love the spectacular plays as much as anyone, but I want to see more consistency from the offense. How we could manage to squander the tremendous field position we had for much of that game is beyond me. The defense is looking better, but they'd have to play like the 2000 Baltimore Ravens for the Raiders to win games with the offense sputtering like this.

Collins and company need to throw to Moss, yes, but they also need to keep the chains moving and give the defense a rest. They've had too many 3-and-outs this year. They need more consistent run-blocking for Jordan. They need...well... a lot of things.

Same as any 0-3 team.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

All great points, thanks.

I just think the defensive improvement is worth noting, because (1) it was atrocious last year and (2) I want to find at least a little bright side to 0-3. That said, I share your angst, and your disappointment with the offense.

I don't think Moss is the cure all, but until other fixes are made (such as creating some running lanes, as you noted), they might as well at least try to get the ball to their multimillion-dollar playmaker. The dude cut his teeth on double coverage.

Overall, there just seems to be a lack of imagination on the coaching side. The offense just looks kind of safe and predictable. I'm not talking about calling for flea flickers or double reverses, just something with a little more flair or imagination or complexity than we're seeing, something to mix it up and rattle the opposition. Do you know what I mean?

8:37 PM  
Blogger js said...

Yeah. I know what you mean. The failure to find Moss in the second half was painful and they need to find ways to feed him the ball; but there's a grim reality here. The offense, as I understand it, is based on this premise: pound the ball between the tackles with Jordan (picking up at least 3.5 yards per carry) then use play action to clear things out for Porter and Moss down the field. It's not a bad premise. Manning and company put up 49 TD passes with it a year ago. (And Turner found success with it in Dallas, Miami, and even Washington when Westbrook could keep his head together.) Still, it depends on finding a consistent rhythm in the running game. Until that happens, opposing safeties can afford to sit back and wait, forcing Collins to hold onto the ball just a little longer than he should, given his lack of mobility and tendency to get rattled and make poor decisions under a heavy rush.

Moss may have lived on double coverage, but he also had the advantage of a mobile quarterback and a decent running game to keep the defenders honest. Even if the strong safety played back fifteen yards, he still had to mind the possibility of a draw to Smith or a Culpepper bootleg. That would give Moss the half step he'd need.

Given the way last year went, I'm not sanguine about Collins forcing the ball to anybody.

Some misdirection might help. Not a flea flicker, of course. That depends, once again, on having a consistent rhythm in the running game. Counters and draws are good. Jordan ran them well when he was with the Jets. I also wonder where did that nifty slot-receiver screen went that we ran last year? It was a simple play, but it usually worked, especially in the red zone. I'd love to see Moss, Porter, or Gabriel run one of those. And what has become of the double moves we saw in the first couple of games last year? If the safeties are going to play in two-deep shells or rolled zone coverage, they should be suckers for pump fakes.

That said, I agree with you about the defense. They look better, and it was nice to see Sapp mixing it up. The big nickel they're running looks like it'll pay dividends. The run defense has been particularly strong, which was a damn good thing yesterday or the Eagles could have burned the clock after taking the lead in the second half. I'd like to see a more consistent pass rush out of the front four though, especially late in the game. The secondary is too thin to allow the Raiders to blitz all that often, especially against elite quarterbacks. Of course, it could be that all the time the front four spends on the field in the second halves of games wears them down.

And yes, Chris Carr needs to smarten up. It's good to see a kick returner eager to make a play, especially after watching Philip Buchanon take fair catches with no defenders in sight last year. Still, there are some risks not worth taking, and he has already helped us lose one game with that early muff against the Chefs. David Dunn couldn't have done it better.

And what the hell is the matter with Janikowski? Maybe we need to get the Oakland police to arrest him every three weeks or so, just to get him back to his comfort zone.

The good news is that Dallas is coming into town. That game looks winnable as long as DeLawrence Grant doesn't use his helmet to impale Drew Bledsoe. A victory would certainly help the guys gain some confidence before they face the Bolts.

Thanks for putting together a reasonably intelligent sports blog, quaketown.

3:22 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

I'll take "reasonably intelligent" as a compliment. And after this latest message, you've been promoted to official Raider Take Technical Advisor.

Great take on Janikowski. Please hang around these parts and keep us honest.

7:17 AM  
Blogger js said...

Do take it as a compliment, and thanks. I'll be around.

1:13 PM  

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