Monday, December 05, 2005

Five Postgame Takes

1. It’s official: the 2005 Oakland Raiders are not better than their record indicates.

2. I was coming unglued when the Raiders offense was huddling up, strolling to the line of scrimmage, and letting the play clock run down to five seconds while three scores down with 10 minutes remaining. Finally, one of the ESPN announcers pointed out the lack of urgency, only to have his partner say: “This is a 4 and 7 football team, and what Norv Turner is trying to do is just get some completions.” Oddly, this comment was meant as praise. I didn’t know that ESPN broadcasted team practices on Sunday nights. If that’s all Coach Turner was trying to do in that situation, then we have a problem. If that’s not what he was trying to do, then we also have a problem, because the lack of urgency would thus be unacceptable. Conclusion: we have a problem.

3. The Raiders left two timeouts untaken before halftime on Sunday night. Let’s have a look at that…With 1:58 left in the second quarter at the Raiders’ 16-yard line, the Chargers ran the ball. The Chargers executed two more plays, taking the clock steadily down to 22 seconds before calling their first timeout (meantime, the Raiders still had all three timeouts available at this point) to set up a final play for a touchdown. Now, why do you think that the Chargers weren’t using their timeouts before scoring? Because they didn’t want the Raiders to get the ball back with time to score. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the counter strategy should be, right? Yet the Raiders didn’t take a timeout until after the ensuing kickoff, with just four seconds left, to set up a hopeless try for a 61-yard field goal. Poor time management and wimpy playcalling has become epidemic under Coach Turner.

4. In defending the decision to stick with Kerry Collins this week, Coach Turner stated the following: “We're going to do everything we can to give ourselves the best chance to win that football game.” I submit that Marques Tuiasosopo would have given the Raiders the best chance to win the game, if not as the starter, then certainly later in the game. Now, before we get sidetracked into the whole offensive line debate, let me say this: the porous offensive line is simply a fact at this moment, one with no remedy in sight. In that context, Kerry Collins is becoming less and less effective, regressing into downright dismal over the last few games. Could the Raiders do any worse, or possibly much better, with a fresh and mobile Tui taking some snaps? If it’s about winning the game, why is this option still unexplored?

5. Sorry to be so negative (another crushing defeat to a division rival tends to do that…). Let’s look around for some upside. Call me nuts, but I was happy to see the Raiders contain LaDainian Tomlinson, even in defeat. If he had just run rampant over us yet again, this loss would have been all the more demoralizing. Let’s see…Zack Crockett. I still love Zack. I’m glad to know that he hasn’t been abducted by aliens, as I was beginning to wonder. With LaMont Jordan hesitating in the backfield and dropping some easy passes lately, I think it’s time to get serious about getting Zack more touches. The defense gave up 27 points and made some mistakes. But on that side of the ball, the game looks worse on paper than it really was (the offense sure didn’t help them out). I think that the defense continues to show poise and purpose and potential, which could mean great things in 2006.


Blogger js said...

It's true, the Raiders aren't better than their record. It reminds me of the time Gruden, when asked whether his 1999 Raiders were better than their record, said that a team is its record. People can say that a team would have been 6-2 instead of 2-6 if it had just made a few plays. Well, 2-6 teams are what they are because they consistently fail to make those plays. And our Raiders are 4-8 because they fail to make the plays they need to win, week after week.

The big example for me this week is the consistent failure on the part of the Raiders to notice that Quentin Jammer was giving Randy Moss a seven-to-ten yard cushion. Moss would run hooks and curls to get open, and the ball would, more often than not, go elsewhere.

Did Collins just not notice? Did the coaches in the booth not point it out to him? Just what does Collins see when he looks at the pictures they hand to him after every series? If Jammer's going to give Moss that much cushion, just throw Moss a wide receiver screen or a quick slant and let him create his own opportunities.

I don't know. I could barely watch the second half; it was too depressing. They've got to make some changes at Alameda, starting this week, if only to give people a reason to keep paying attention.

1:15 AM  
Blogger Doobie said...

What summed up yesterday's performance was the dazed and utter look of confusion that was on Collins' face in the 4th quarter. If there was a time to give Tui a shot...even Walter, it was late in the 4th quarter when they could have used any infusion of life. Instead, they let Collins go down with the ship.

Also, once again, the o-line looked average at best. The Chargers D constantly beat them to Collins and frequently hit Jordan before he made it to the line of scrimmage. Conversely, if you watched on many of LT's runs, the Chargers o-line didn't even let the Raiders touch him until he was 5 yards down the field. And again, Collins proved that he cannot make a short pass, specifically quick outs which he TIME and TIME again overthrew.

If there were anything positive to pull from yesterday's loss, it was that, despite a few long runs, they managed to contain LT, holding him to under 100 yards on the ground (only 110 total) and keeping him from the end zone completely.

The fact that they didn't have a penalty all game...that's right, THE RAIDERS DID NOT HAVE ANY PENALTIES...was a positive, if not previously unthought of accomplishment. However, if they're going to lose this bad while doing it, I'd rather them be a tad more aggressive.

5:11 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

JS, I love it: "They've got to make some changes at Alameda, starting this week, if only to give people a reason to keep paying attention."

Raider Dave, thanks for correcting me about the points given up by the defense (I think I'd blocked out that interception return like a bad childhood memory). I am correcting it on the blog. I'm with you - amid the criticism, we shall not lose hope.

Doobie, the Collins misfires were driving me crazy, too, on long ones as well as short. Our receivers are going to get hurt (in Moss's case, more hurt) if they keep having to twist and jump and reach to catch these balls while midstride, which makes them more vulnarable to a devastating hit.

7:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your points are right on. I was willing to give Norv the benefit of the doubt but he doesn’t coach to win. You already mentioned the timeouts at the end of the first half and the lack of the hurry-up in the fourth quarter. Here’s more:
1- you don’t punt on fourth and five down 17 in the fourth quarter
2- In the first half we had third and two from the Chargers 33. This is the area of the field where you are in four down territory, especially if you are down or tied, and always when you are four and seven. A good coach always decides on third down whether he’s going for it on fourth. I like two runs in this situation but I don’t mind the pass if the call is smart, i.e., you can’t take a sack here because it brings you out of go-for-it or FG range. The pass call has to be a quick read so Collins can release the ball or throw it away and still leave 4th and two. SD blitzes, sack, no points.

This brings me to Collins. He is very poor at reading the blitz and checking off. Teams picked up on this from the second KC game and have been blitzing relentlessly because he doesn’t react well. The only audible we seem to have is him flapping his arms at his side which changes the wideouts to short outs. If I can see this, every D-coordinator can. His lack of audible-ability and his lack of mobility make advancing the ball very difficult, which is why it is “Tui-time” [you made this point]. Collins also lacks leadership skills. We need a QB with LaMont Jordan’s personality.

We will not win a championship with Collins and Norv. We need a coach who plays to win, not to keep the score close and we need a QB with brains and some juice.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Make that Seven Postgame Takes! Thanks, LK.

Mr. M...You are right, that was a major good news oversight on my part. I hope it's the beginning of a trend, not just a freak circumstance. Those refs are to be commended for letting the players play the game. They didn't go flag happy amid some pushing and shoving, and we all survived with our morals intact. They should turn last night into a training film for other zebra squads.

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part of Collins issue is the O-line, he's a QB who absolutely has to have a wall in front of him to be successful. But in addition to him being off on short and deep throws and not leading his receivers he also does not seem to be on the same page as his receivers.

You watch the most successful QB's in the game, and they almost always know where their guys are going to be in almost any situation. Some of this lies on the receivers; Porter, Jordan not making what appear to be easy catches but alot of it is simply no chemistry.

When Al hired Norv and signed Collins, I had nightmares of reliving the Bugel George years. In Gruden's worst years we were 8-8 and often hung in there with tougher teams and this was with Donald Hollas and Jeff George!!! Also, there was always the sense that Gruden, Gannon and his receivers were truly on the same page.

I don't want to dwell on losing Gruden but this team was on it's way to a long line of contending seasons with him at the helm. Al was smart enough to bring him in but also stupid enough to replace him more or less with a very mediocre presence, personality and most importantly uninspiring Norv Turner.

With parity the talent from team to team is virtually the same, the difference between good teams and bad teams is the level of coaching. We have the talent and players, but they need to be lead both on and off the field and it's time for Al to make a bold move here and get the right man for the job.

As an aside, I had a conspiracy theory at the Gruden trade that the whole reason was to rebuild the defense over a few years and bring Gruden back!

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd really like to know what happened with Gruden...after all the stiffs I thought we finally found a guy worthy of the Raiders who would be here 10 years. Too bad, this team would be scary with him.

I'm not sure I can put too much on the o-line. More often than not, I don't think Collins checks to the right play so the defensive pressure works and he winds up throwing off his back foot, without his shoulders square, around a lineman's head or any of the other awkward positions we have witnessed lately. Teams [Denver]get away with sending six and sometimes seven men at Collins, for a pro QB this should be an engraved invitation to score [see Carson Palmer, either Manning, McNabb, lots others]. It makes you crazy to watch--we have a squad with serious players in their prime.....

12:45 PM  
Blogger THN said...

The Raiders defense played well, with one touchdown coming on an interception return. But the game was never in doubt because Kerry Collins was in the game.

I hope he never leaves.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

NFL Adam - boy, I hope that was sarcasm!

Also, RE: Gruden...the reason he's not here is because there was only room enough for one ego in Raiders management and that seat will always be reserved for Al Davis. Unfortunately, the most talented coaches in recent Raider history (Gruden and Shanahan) made it into Al's doghouse quickly and were shown the door. It's a shame, really, since Al goes for low-key company yes-men for coaches (Shell, White, Bugel, Turner) and that hasn't panned out since the days of Tom Flores.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Storminator said...

Why on earth is Collins throwing 40 times a game? Why is he averaging 37 passes per game?!? Have we simply forgotten to run the ball?

3rd and 2 is NOT a passing down! Neither is 2nd and 2. Nor is 2nd and 10.

I'd rather run the ball into the line for no gain than throw an incompletion.

I'm liking the defense tho. It's not doing well, but there are plenty of plays where you say "if that rookie puts his hand out, that's an incompletion." If they can just tighten up a touch, they'll be a really good defense.

But they aren't there yet.


11:46 AM  

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