I woke up on the morning of September 12th early and excited. 10:00AM local time could not come soon enough. A number of friends were coming over to take in the first game of the new season. A new season in which we were all optimistic and hopeful for change.
Yes the Raiders were opening on the road against one of the best running backs and defenses in the league. But I was convinced we were going to upset the Titans.
From the opening kickoff there was clearly something wrong. Figurs almost fumbled the return.
The heir apparent to the QB throne in Oakland came on the field. He’s supposed to be the savior, the one that’s going to lead this once proud franchise back to glory and another Lombardi trophy.
He was compared to Jim Plunkett, in both ability and the situation in which he arrived in Oakland. From the moment he stepped on the field it was clear that the weight of the franchise was resting on his shoulders. The chance to succeed rested with him, at least in his mind.
The memory of the hit he took in the preseason game against the 49ers was obviously still lingering as well. Gone was the confidence and poise the nation had come to expect. He was anxious and jumpy.
The first play of the game was a screen pass that was almost intercepted. Two plays later the Raiders were punting. I looked around the room I was sitting in at the collection of Raider fans. Not one of them was saying anything, but we all had the same look. “here we go again”.
On the ensuing drive Vince and Chris Johnson were moving the ball. Things didn’t seem to be going the Raiders way when all of a sudden Young was sacked and fumbled the ball turning it over to Richard Seymour and the Raiders.
The Raiders proceeded to march down the field and score a field goal. It wasn’t much, but it was a spark. Maybe just maybe they would get it together.
On the next possession it looked like the Raiders fortunes would continue. If Tyvon Branch doesn’t get a pass interference penalty the Raiders hold the Titans to three and out.
Unfortunately if’s and maybe’s don’t mean anything. Not only did they get called but, Routt bites on a play fake on the very next play. He allows Nate Washington to go 56- yards on one play for a touchdown.
The Raiders never seemed to recover after that.
Clearly the team in Nashville yesterday was a different one then most of us saw in the four preseason games. There are few factors that need to be corrected in order for this team to move past this.
First- This is one game, one. Yes it was a lopsided loss. It’s only one loss. Things didn’t go their way. The Raiders can leave this loss in Nashville where it belongs.
Second- Jason Campbell can still be the man. He needs more reps and more confidence in this team and specifically the offensive line. His decision making early on was shaky and he seemed to have happy feet. Note to Jason. Please be aware of the sticks and the slide rule. One drive was killed because he slid early.
Third- Routt got burned because he bit on the play fake. Chris Johnson is a huge threat at running back, know your role and do your part. You got caught worrying about run support. If you were on your man the first touchdown doesn’t happen.
Fourth- The offensive line needs to gel. All the shuffling and change in the preseason showed yesterday. They are not working well yet as a unit.
Fifth- As the offensive line comes along please limit the deep drops by the QB. Quick developing plays will limit the time allowed. This will limit the number of hits the QB has to take.
Sixth- More intensity on the defensive side of the ball. I for one would love to see Mike Mitchell starting. He hits like a truck. His presence will make receivers think twice about catching over the middle.
Seventh- When in doubt get the ball to Zach Miller. He is the man. Darren McFadden showed up and was ready to play. He was physical. He ran hard and delivered a few punishing blows to the Titans.
Eighth – Come Sunday the team is home in Oaktown. The 12th man that is the Raider Nation needs to show up in force. This is our house. Let’s go 8-0 at home boys. It’s time for opponents to once again fear the Black Hole. When the Rams are down on the mat Sunday, don’t let them up. Go for the jugular. Play with a sense of urgency like there is no tomorrow.
To quote Shane Falco: Chicks dig Scars, Pain Heals, and Glory Lasts Forever.
Let’s see some glory come Sunday in the East Bay.