Patriots vs Raiders: 6 Things We Learned from Oakland's 31-19 Loss
The New England Patriots went into the O.co Coliseum and did what they do. After getting some humble pie from the Buffalo Bills last week, they saved a few pieces for Raiders—upping their record to 26-2 after losses since 2003.
I know this was a heartbreaker for Raider Nation as we all had high hopes for the team coming in. But it is one game the Raiders lost to one of the best teams in the NFL.
The loss may be the best thing that could happen to the Raiders at this time. They just had a chance to learn a lot about themselves as we have learned a lot about them.
Turn the page to see just what we learned about the Raiders.
Jason Campbell Can't Shoot It out
Jason Campbell is a solid quarterback that I thought could do whatever we need him to do after the Raiders' loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 2. He just got an opportunity to go head to head in a shootout with Tom Brady and against the worst defense in football.
Campbell had 344 yards passing but melted under the hot glare of the endzone, throwing an interception in the redzone when a touchdown could have put the Raiders ahead and seized the momentum late in the first half. He also missed on other opportunities in the redzone the led to field goals instead of touchdowns.
That combined with the interception he threw to Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork killed the Raiders!
Raider Nation had to have collectively said, "What are you doing, Jason?"
There are no excuses, either, because Campbell had all day to throw.
Hue Jackson Too Cute
I believe Raiders head coach Hue Jackson is doing a good job overall with the football team. However, I thought he was a little too cute for is own with the play calling against the Patriots.
The reverse was fine as it did work but I don't understand why he got away from the running game so soon. McFadden broke a good run early then didn't get the ball again until the Patriots broke the game open.
How about some running plays in the redzone instead of throwing interceptions?
Then he called pass plays for Darrius Heyward-Bey and Derek Hagan on key third downs to have them drop the ball. I'm starting to wonder if he remembers that he has a guy named Chaz Schilens that doesn't drop the ball.
He also got away from Denarius Moore after getting him into the game early.
Get the ball in your best players' hands!
Middle of the Offensive Line
Everyone always wants to give Samson Satele and Cooper Carlisle so much credit for getting better and leading the offensive line. I didn't realize that you can lead an offensive line by getting driven back and getting pancaked—paving no room for superstar running back Darren McFadden.
I still maintain that Jackson should have stayed with the run but it should have been either outside or to the left. That's where his 41-yard run came from as well as most of the yards that he has this year.
They couldn't run the ball up the middle at all because they put the Patriots put five on the line of scrimmage. When the opposing team does that, you can't double team anyone—leaving Satele one on one with Wilfork and Carlisle one on one with whoever.
That isn't the first time the Patriots have done that as they unsuccessfully tried it against the Jets last year. I guess you can see now that there's a huge difference between Nick Mangold and Satele run blocking.
There's a difference between Cooper Carlisle and anyone run blocking in the power scheme! I've said before that the Raiders won't beat elite teams with Satele and Carlisle in the middle.
It seems like the only time the Raiders successfully run the ball up the middle is on the goal line with Joseph Barksdale and Bruce Campbell going into the game.
Scrap the Zone
The first thing cornerback coach Rod Woodson did upon being hired was express his desire to "mix it up." That meant to add some zone coverages to all of the man to man coverages they run.
"Mixing it up" is OK but it looks like the Raiders have become a zone team through the first four games. I my pregame article, I stated that Brady would laugh at a Raiders zone and pick it apart and that's what happened.
The zone really hasn't worked on anyone this year.
The Raiders are a man to man team with man to man personnel and they're trying to change their stripes without and offseason. It also doesn't help that the Raiders aren't the best at tackling in the secondary.
Leave the zone alone until 2012—a full offseason will help the cause.
Right now, the Raiders running zone is tantamount to Joe Frazier throwing a bunch of one-twos when he fought Muhammad Ali. His best punch was the left hook as he gave Ali major problems with it when they fought.
Do what you do best.
Secondary Needs to Get Healthy
Many will blame the departure of All-Pro corner Nnamdi Asomugha for the demise of the Raiders secondary. The a loss Asomugha doesn't help but the secondary would still be a great unit if it weren't for key injuries.
When I made the prediction of the Raiders beating the Patriots, it was based on Michael Huff playing in the game. I assumed (you know what that does) that he would play because he passed his concussion test.
He also had an ankle injury so who knows what happened there?
Chris Johnson was also out—hurting the secondary more.
I know he didn't play well to begin the season but that's because he was just coming off of surgery on his groin. He was a statistical top-five corner in the NFL last year so you can clearly see that injuries have affected him.
Huff is excellent in covering the slot so his presence would have helped slow down Wes Welker. Then you have Mike Mitchell, who wasn't on the field a whole lot because this was his first action of 2011.
Mitchell is the physical presence of the secondary and does a good job of covering the tight end. His presence was probably missed the least of the three because Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't do much.
I didn't even see too much of rookie Damarcus Van Dyke, who was replace by the abused Joe Porter. With so many guys out in the secondary, the Raiders are lucky the final score wasn't worse.
Raider Nation has yet to see the Raiders secondary at full strength.
Still Can't Stop the Spread Run
The Oakland Raiders still can't stop the run out of spread formations.
The good news is it's not a physical thing but Jackson and his staff have to find the answer to this. The Jets and the Broncos are power teams that collectively averaged 3.6 yards per carry against the Raiders this year.
The Patriots and Bills are spread, finesse teams that collectively averaged 7.5 yards per carry against the Raiders. I like the bully the Jackson has built in Raider Nation but they can't just let teams finesse their way through the defense.
The NFL is a copycat league.
The Raiders will see the the same thing until they show they can stop it.
With all being said, the Raiders still have a good team and have a chance to do some things this year. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will the bully that the Raiders are trying to build.
The health of the secondary is the biggest of all the problems the Raiders have. Everything else seems to be easily fixable by either changing strategies or coaching up the players.
Some switch outs may be necessary too.
It's a long season, Raider Nation, so be patient.
On to the Texans we go!