Chargers vs. Raiders: Oakland's Biggest Losers and Winners in Week 1
The Oakland Raiders got their first loss of the season out of the way in Week 1 against the San Diego Chargers. Overall, this was an ugly performance by the special teams, and the offense was more vanilla than Mr. Ice-Ice Baby himself.
The score may have been 22-14, but this game was more out of reach than Oakland's backup long snapper's snaps.
There was good and bad play by the Raiders, so let's take a look at the winners and losers for Oakland in their home opener.
Loser No. 1: The Raider Nation and Anyone Watching
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You have to feel for the Raider Nation and really anyone watching the game. More so for the Raider Nation, as they were asked to not only pay for the tickets but also come extra early to the stadium, as security measures in the NFL have added metal detectors to NFL games.
The most excitement they saw was before the game when Ice Cube performed his old-school hit, "It Was a Good Day." Even during that performance, the microphone stopped working, just like Oakland's special teams during the game.
The Raider Nation has a passionate fanbase, and after a decade of not having a winning season, they deserved better. The good news for Oakland fans is that this is the type of performance that shouldn't be expected all season.
Winner No. 1: Darren McFadden
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McFadden had a total of 118 yards with 15 carries for 32 yards and 13 receptions for 86 yards. He showed today why he is one of the most dangerous players in the league.
The only problem for McFadden was that it seemed like every play was going to him, and the defense eventually caught on and found a way to contain him. The majority of his rushing yards came in the first half.
He looks good, but Oakland must find other players to contribute, and that will happen when Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore return.
Loser No. 2: Special Teams
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The Oakland Raiders special-teams unit was terrible in the preseason, and they were terrible on Monday night.
The biggest news of the night—and perhaps the biggest factor in Oakland's loss—was losing long snapper Jon Condo early in the game. Oakland punted the ball four times with a backup long snapper, and three of those led to turnovers. Two were bad grounder snaps that were recovered by the Chargers, and one was a blocked punt.
This game could have been much different if it wasn't for those three errors that put the defense in a bad spot and changed the momentum of the game.
Winner No. 2: Defense
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The Oakland Raiders only allowed a total of 258 yards in the game. They held Phillip Rivers to only one touchdown pass, and the Chargers managed to rush for only 32 yards. Stats like these usually win games, but when you turn the ball over on special teams like Oakland did, it's hard to win any game.
The defense looks promising for 2012, and it shouldn't have to deal with unusual situations like that for the rest of the season.
Loser No. 3: Travis Goethel
Goethel is a great guy and is a player that has worked hard to come back from an injury early in his career. Unfortunately, he was thrown into the lion's den when Oakland's starting long snapper went down.
Starter Jon Condo is a two-time Pro Bowler as a long snapper, and Goethel hasn't played long snapper since high school. He had two bad snaps and one punt blocked as the long snapper. He'll be trending on Twitter shortly. The troubling part about this whole thing is that he didn't spend too much time snapping the ball on the sidelines, which may have helped or may have not helped.
However, his beard was looking sharp.
Winner No. 3: Miles Burris
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Miles Burris is a rookie starting in place of the injured Aaron Curry. He had a strong showing for the Raiders, leading the team with nine tackles. He was part of the reason why Oakland only allowed 32 yards on 20 carries. That is an astonishing 1.6 yards per carry.
If Burris continues to play strong during the season, Curry may find himself in a competition for the starting job as the backup.
Loser No. 4: Tommy Kelly
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Tommy Kelly said this in an interview with Jeanette Thompson of Raiders.com after she asked him if the crowd is more of a distraction for the offense or defense:
I'd say more for offense because they gotta hear the center call his calls and stuff, so you know, I guess they put that in just for the lineman to get adjusted because we gotta go to Arizona. To me, nah, I'm just trying to focus on that ball and moving that ball.
Kelly lost his focus on two plays on the Chargers' only touchdown drive as he jumped offsides on two 3rd-and-short plays, extending the drive.
These are the mistakes that head coach Dennis Allen is trying to avoid and eliminate from the franchise.
Winner No. 4: Brandon Myers
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The Raiders may have found themselves a reliable tight end.
Myers was targeted five times in the game and caught every pass thrown his way. He had five receptions for 65 yards. Myers needs to become a bigger part of the offense if Oakland wants to become less predictable on offense. McFadden can only be targeted so many times in the game.
Myers could be a viable option as the season progresses.
Loser No. 5: Zone-Blocking Scheme
Gregg Knapp brought in the zone-blocking scheme to the Oakland Raiders offense this year. Oakland's running game last year was the seventh best in the league, and that's with McFadden missing most of the year.
McFadden averages 4.6 yards per carry in his career, but in this game, he only averaged 2.6 and gained 32 yards on 15 carries. That is his worst rushing total of his career for a game in which he wasn't injured and carried the ball over 10 times.
The zone scheme did not look very good in Oakland's first game of the season. Hopefully, they can improve and fix the issues, because the running game will be a big part of Oakland's success in 2012.
Loser No. 6: Shane Lechler
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It's hard to find five winners for Oakland in this game, so I will have to choose an extra loser.
You have to feel bad for Shane Lecher, as he is one of the greatest punters of all time. His long snapper was injured, and everything went downhill from there. Prior to this game, he's punted a total of 933 times for 44,389 yards, the best yards-per-punt average ever. Only three of his 933 punts have ever been blocked. On Monday night, he had one punt blocked and two bad snaps, which allowed the defense to tackle Lechler before he could get the ball away.
The "grounder" snaps he was given seemed fitting, as the Raiders O.Co stadium still has the baseball diamond on it with the Oakland A's still in the playoff hunt late in the baseball season.
Overall, this was a terrible loss for the Raiders as they blew a chance to beat a division opponent at home. Not only are they 0-1, but they are also 0-1 in the division.
The good news for the Raiders and Raider Nation is that there are 16 games in the season, and this is only one of them.