Raiders Vs. Titans: Musings and Mutterings On The Bright Side Of The Dark Side
As I write this article, the San Francisco 49ers are getting destroyed by the Seattle Seahawks. I note that, because it fits the narrative that I see, which is that both Bay area teams are works in progress.
I can hope that the Raiders, and even the Niners, will improve as the season goes along. The worst thing a fan can do is resort to irrational statements about the team. I'm not saying that you should forcibly say good things, but rather, focus on constructive statements rather than mud-slinging.
Ironically, a 49er fan I know commented that Jason Campbell looked about as bad as Alex Smith did as a rookie. Later the same day (today), Smith has thrown two picks and zero touchdowns.
It's bad luck to trash another team with mud-slinging that can be easily disproved.
Musings and Muttering
Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell completed 22 of 37 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown. That however doesn't reflect the fact that the passing game was all but shut out during competitive time. Campbell rushed six times for 34 yards, yet was sacked four times. He also had a pick and lost one of two fumbles.
The passing offense is still out of sync, because the Raiders neglected the position of center for most of the off-season. Samson Satele wasn't the answer, and so, the Raiders plugged in a rookie tackle, Jared Veldheer, at the last minute.
Veldheer accounted for bad snaps and a fumble (recoverd by Oakland) but was also penalized for holding on a play in which Campbell recovered his (Campbell) fumble.
I know that Veldheer played center in the pre-season. But my perception is that Veldheer came in under prepared to play the position. The Raiders can hope he progresses, or sign former Raider Jake Grove, whom was cut by Miami.
Adding Grove could allow Veldheer to play tackle.
Right guard Cooper Carlisle might not get penalized much, but he also doesn't add much either. I read the play by play of the game, and all but one run off the right guard by Darren McFadden was stopped for a loss or a negligible gain. Carlisle is not creating room to move. I'd like to see what rookie Bruce Campbell can do.
The offense also missed opportunities to score. Sebastian Janikowski missed a 54 yard field goal, which is understandable. Yet, Janikowski lucked out early in the game when he missed an otherwise easy field goal, but got another chance because of a penalty on Tennessee.
The Raiders offense also stalled on their final two drives by failing to convert on fourth and ten, and fourth and one.
This may only be what it is, but I was encouraged by the performance of tailback Darren McFadden, despite the otherwise anemic offense. Raider fans knew that McFadden could be productive, with better schemes and play-calling. McFadden averaged over five yards per run for 95 yards, and had six catches for 55 yards, plus a touchdown.
If McFadden continues that progression, he could be the dual-threat that was expected when the Raiders made him the fourth overall pick in 2008.
The Raiders defense looked stingy at times, but would negate those results by allowing costly big plays and penalties. Titans wideout Nate Washington had a 58 yard catch for a touchdown, while tight end Bo Scaife had a 28 yard catch.
Despite some early success at stuffing tailback Chris Johnson, Johnson still produced his usual numbers with two touchdowns, including one on a 76 yard run. Johnson finished the day with 142 yards on 27 carries. Titans runningback Javon Ringer also added a touchdown and 33 yards on five carries.
Raiders coach Tom Cable botched the role of Trevor Scott. Scott had been slated to start at linebacker, before Cable decided to have Scott start at right defensive end, rather than Matt Shaughnessy. Scott is undersized for defensive-end at 255 lbs, but not natural as a linebacker. He does however have good pass rush moves to be a utility rusher that can rush in situations as a linebacker or defensive end.
I just don't believe that Scott is an every down player, but that he could be a dangerous situational rusher.
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