Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Long and The Short

Chargers LB Akbar Gbaja-Biamila said on Sirius NFL Radio that he expects the Chargers to “demolish” the Raiders and predicted a similar outcome to the September 11 shutout. Needless to say, the Chargers are feeling pretty cocky right now.

Much was made over Larry Johnson racking up the yards last week, as if it showed some unforeseen crack in our defensive armor. Well, that’s what Larry Johnson does, he runs all over teams, that’s why he’s considered one of the top three running backs in the NFL. He’s currently leading the league in rushing yardage. He’s second in the league in touchdowns. He runs over everyone, not just the Raiders. So I’m not too broken up about it. Our defense limited the Chiefs to 17 points on the road, and our offense should have won that game.

Now we get to face L.T., the league leader in touchdowns, and third in the NFL in rushing yardage to date. In one game last year against the Raiders, he ran for a touchdown, caught a touchdown pass…and threw a touchdown pass. When we limited him to one touchdown and 131 yards on September 11, that could have been considered containment based on his past exploits against the Raiders. Unfortunately, L.T. now seems to be gaining steam. He’s scored 12 touchdowns and racked up 462 yards over his past four games.

The Raiders have won two out of the last 22 games against division rivals, and the Chargers are on a roll. So they’re going to “demolish” the Raiders, right? No. You will never hear me concede defeat of the Raiders until it’s officially on the books. I never predict my team to lose, let alone get “demolished.” I expect the Raiders to win on every, or any, given Sunday.

I will concede, however, that the Raiders must do certain things in order to escape defeat. In this instance, these things are numerous. For starters, we must contain (in the true sense of the word) Tomlinson while putting heat on Rivers, who, much to my chagrin, is emerging as a true force at QB. But don’t tell me this order is too tall. The Raiders defense has not allowed more than 17 points over the past six games.

The real key will be on offense. One thing that won't work is the same old thing. Our offensive line is a disaster, and no measure of wishful thinking will alter this reality. Thankfully, Brooks was masterful last week in eluding the rush, but that will only take you so far…Making the most of broken plays is not a strategy. The trick is to complete plays before they’re broken. And with this o-line, that means sooner, not later.

Remember on opening night against the Chargers, when we finally called those horizontal quick outs to Moss, who proceeded to chew up the considerable cushion afforded by Quentin Jammer (and remember when we quit calling those plays, despite their effectiveness)? Remember last year, when our starting running back caught 70 passes?

Brooks’ quickness under fire shouldn’t be used as a crutch. Many of the plays themselves should be quick.

Also, considering that the Raiders are so maligned for their “vertical” philosophy, how many true long bombs have you seen attempted this year? Think about it. I know I’m contradicting myself by begging for quick plays, then questioning the lack of long bombs. Also, I’m aware that the vertical game is a bit difficult when your quarterback has been rendered horizontal. Still, why not just go for the long straight strike more often? It’s not like Moss and Whitted lack speed. It’s not like a 50-yard interception is much worse than a Lechler punt after yet another three-and-out.

So, the long and the short of it is that the Raiders must surprise the Chargers by going short and long, and by having more than three running plays at their disposal. In terms of playcalling, we need to be quick and aggressive. The only way to serve Gbaja-Biamila a plate of crow is for the entire offense, player and coordinator, to raise their game and, for once, score more than 18 points.

The Chargers think they're going for a walk in the park. I hope our traps are set.


Blogger Doobie said...

RT, you're absolutely right, but a balanced offensive gameplan has been something they've been unable to execute all year long. If you want to keep LT and Rivers from scoring, your best bet is to keep them off the field by controlling the clock. With Jordan out of the lineup, that job is now even more difficult.

And that's something that makes me even prouder of the defense this year. Not only have they been knocking the snot out of opponents, but they've done it consistently despite being on the field the majority of the game (Oakland is fifth lowest in time of possession with 27:58/game).

If this team was able to show some semblance of life on the offensive side, it would take some pressure off the defense and make them even more potent when they lined up opposite the QB. A scary thought for opposing offenses.

5:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doobie's right, controlling the ball on offense seesm the only way to stop LT (short of a spy, like Howard assigned to him full time). I'd like to see Brooks get as many as fifteen designed runs in this game. If we were to use Brooks in this way it would be something that, (1) the Chargers haven't really faced, (2) would definitely slow down their blitzing and (3) fu&* with their defensive style forcing adjustments that would, finally, open up the long ball... something that RT accurately notes we never see from Al's supposed verticle game. And futhermore in regards to creating a running strategy, I'm GLAD Jordan is on the sideline. GLAD! I was sick of his tippy-toeing up to the line, spending an eternity looking for a hole, only to collapse when the first defender's hand brushs against him. He's been a total bust. Is Crockett healthy? Boy, I'd love to see him get twenty five touches. He runs hard and physical. Our goal should be 10 yards and no penalties. Can't we just string together a few 10 yard play sequences? Between Jordan and Brooks I'd like for there to be 40 running plays.
In the most lost of seasons, this is OUR SUPERBOWL. This is it. The only thing left for us to win. Beating shotty and putting him two full games behing Indy would be huge. It would also hurt SD psychologically. Tall order... we had Seattle without Haselback and Alexander... we had the Chiefs with a brain swelled Green and dinged up Gonzales. Now we get the Chargers with no Castillo, Merriman, Foley and possibly McCardell! You gotta be kidding me! We're a professional team and we can't do sh&^ against a team missing their best players?)
And we rag on our OL. Whose on their OL? Who's such a stud on San Diego's OL? Last time I looked they had the McNeil kid, or whatever his name is, the rookie from Auburn. I live in ALabama man! That kid was getting jacked around by people in college! Wisconsin had no trouble with the kid. He's average, nothing special. Yet, you never here of him in a negative way because their coaching staff puts their players in good light (unlike ours). Only Al's Lamonica ball can take a can't-miss tackle who was being compared to Ogden and Pace, and turn him into a Mandrich style bust. Also, Jake Grove was rated by most as THE number 1 center in the draft coming out of Virginia Tech. Go figure. Who does San Diego have?
And lastly, defensively, I've been saying for a long time that Brayton is a huge bust. I read the other day that he is one of only two starting DE's in the league that has NO SACKS. NO SACKS. How can you be playing opposite of Burgess who is the only person on our entire team that is gameplanned (doubled up constantly) and not have ANY SACKS??????????
But, he's Al's pick, so we have to endure him year after year in a starting role.

6:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do any of you really think the outcome of this game will be any different than it has been week after week for the last3 going on four years? There will be more mistakes, more bad plays ,lack of effort,you know the usual shit the Raiders are presenting as professionalism. But we remain fans don't we, just not as enthusiastic as 4-5 years ago.

6:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'd like to pick up on some of the points you made regarding o-line.

Another good example is Dallas, giving up 5,or 8 sacks with Bledsoe, and now suddenly sailing along with Romo.

Also the Jets start rookie Nick Mangold at center, AND, rookie D. Ferguson at LT. and they are not giving up sacks like the Raider 0-line.

These are all things to consider when thinking about the "special" system of football the Raiders favor, and how it relates to the poor play of our 0-line.

9:58 AM  

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