Oakland Raiders Smash the San Diego Chargers: What Did That Show Raider Nation?
After two straight losses, the Oakland Raiders got back in the win column against the division rival San Diego chargers. The big win pulled the Raiders up to 500 and in contention for the AFC West crown with four weeks left in the season.
It's been a long time since the Raiders were at or over the 500 mark this late in the season. It's also been a long time since the Raiders were undefeated in the division with a 4-0 record.
Back to back embarrassing losses led many to believe that the Raiders would lose out for another 5-11 season. But they Raider showed some resiliency and unexpectedly man handled the Chargers on Sunday.
Aside from the resiliency the Raiders showed, Raider Nation has learned a lot about their team.
Turn the page to see what.
2010 Raiders: Attitude
Sunday's win over the Chargers showed Raider Nation that the culture has truly changed. In previous years, the Raiders could be at 500 early in the season only to pack it in after a couple of losses or an embarrassing loss.
That would lead to six or seven game losing streak and one of the many double digit loss seasons.
This year, the Raiders were embarrassed by the Titans in week one. Then they were embarrassed twice in a row by the Steelers and the Dolphins.
The Raider's victory over the Chargers puts them at 2-1 after embarrassing losses. The fact that they beat them after back to back embarrassments shows this team's ability to pull it together and come back.
In fact, the Raiders have a better record after losses (4-2) than after wins (2-4) this season.
So Raider Nation knows the Raiders can get back one track after losing.
Defensive Coordinator: Adapted
In the first Raider-Charger game, Charger quarterback Philip Rivers threw for over 400 yards. It was as if he were playing a video game as he picked the Raider zone defense apart.
The Raiders aren't even good at zone because they traditionally don't run it.
Oakland Raider defensive coordinator John Marshall did things a little differently on Sunday. Marshall went back to the man to man coverage that the Raiders are known for.
With the Raiders in man, Marshall dialed up blitzes early to set the tone for the game as the Raiders had four sacks on the day. Rivers gets my vote for NFL MVP right now but Sunday proved that he is just like any other quarterback.
If you can put constant heat on him and make him feel your defense, he won't quite be the same.
Michael Huff: Playmaker
It seemed like the announcers called Michael Huff's name after every play on Sunday. I still think he should be permanently moved there but he did a great job and safety and corner Sunday.
Shades of Charles Woodson.
Huff had six tackles on the day to go along with a sack, an interception, and a pass defensed. His man coverage is only bested by Nnamdi Asomugha on the team.
The bust whispers have been silenced.
Richard Seymour: Warrior
Richard Seymour didn't show up big in the stat column but his presence was a big plus. The amount of snaps he took was limited but be showed the heart the rest of the team should play with when he was in.
He did manage to pressure the quarterback and get a hit or two in on the quarterback. Seeing the big warrior play hurt and keep fighting had to be a big inspiration to the whole team.
This is why the Raiders traded their 2011 first round pick.
Rolando McClain: Impact
Middle linebacker Rolando McClain had a solid game statistically but that doesn't tell the story. He also inspired the team just by being out there Sunday after being declared as out for the game originally.
He was originally diagnosed with an arthritic foot but a second opinion changed it to tendinitis. That tendinitis sure didn't stop him from setting the tone with his hit on Darren Sproles on Sunday.
That hit on Sproles knocked him out of the game with a concussion and got the Raiders going. He set the tone in week two against the Rams with the body slam.
Sunday, it was the shot heard around Raider Nation.
Nnamdi Asomugha: Value
In a previous article, I wrote about how Seymour was making a case for MVP. Nnamdi Asomugha must have read the article because he really showed is value to the Raiders on Sunday.
When Asomugha was out, the Raider secondary was getting abused with all kinds of big plays. Last Sunday, Rivers threw for 280 yards but it took him 39 attempts to do it and he had a 79 quarterback rating.
That was because Asomugha took away one passing option for Rivers on each play. Rivers did try unsuccessfully to throw at him at first but realized quickly that his ankle really is getting better.
Combine a good pass rush with a receiver being taken out of a play and your quarterback his not as good.
Mike Mitchell: Belongs
Mike Mitchell is proving every week why the Raiders picked him in the second round and that he belongs on the field these days. Antonino Gates beat him a couple of times in coverage but no one can cover him.
He had only four tackles on the day but he cracked someone on all of them. One of those was a tackle for a loss that he came up and lit up the 270 pound Mike Tolbert.
That impact impacted the Raiders in a good way as Mitchell showed that giving away 50 pounds doesn't stop him from bustin' on fools.
Kamerion Wimbley: Reclamation
Kamerion Wimbley is a former first round pick that couldn't convince the Cleveland Browns that we was that guy. He has since come to Raider Nation and showed the Raiders that he is every bit of that guy.
He has been good in coverage all year including when he was touched up a bit by the aforementioned Gates. He has also set the edge in the run game, helping the Raider run defense go from No. 31 to No. 23.
When called upon to blitz, Wimbley puts mad heat on the quarterback as was the case on Sunday. He had a sack to go with his four tackles and pressures on Rivers.
Wimbley is now No. 8 behind Pittsburgh's Lamarr Woodley among linebackers in sacks with 5.5. The Raiders are just now starting to blitz the quarterback too.
Raider Nation looks forward to seeing what Wimbley can do with Marshall calling his number more.
Lamarr Houston: Arriving
Lamarr Houston looked a lot like Howie Long on Sunday.
One play, he's disrupting a play from the defensive end position and the next, it's defensive tackle. It may have been due to Richard Seymour not being 100 percent but the Raiders may be on to something.
Houston had two tackles on the day and really did make them count.
One was a big sack on Rivers and the other was a huge tackle behind the line of scrimmage on third and short. But stats are in no the measure of Houston's production on Sunday.
He put heat on the quarterback all day.
Offensive Coordinator: Selections
Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson called a whale of a game on Sunday. His play selection was so good that I'm giving him a pass for calling two draws in a row against an NFL defense.
Jackson actually called bootlegs and roll outs with quarterback Jason Campbell in the game. One of them got the Campbell a rushing touchdown while others just got him out of the pocket to throw on occasion.
I also have to commend Jackson for not giving up on the run so Darren McFadden and Michael Bush could get off. Both backs were called upon to do what they do best and the result was both backs being one average carry away from 100 yards.
When Jackson went to the air, they weren't all deep balls. He did take his shots and landed one on a third and short yardage play which was a gutsy call in it self.
McFadden and Reece were used well in the passing game too.
Louis Murphy: Threat
Louis Murphy scares the Chargers to death.
He has made a big play against the Chargers in at least three out of his four games against them. No wonder why Chargers refused to keep eight in the box the way Miami did.
The 37-yard catch Murphy made is due in large part to the play being a third and short.
He had another opportunity to make a big play but he couldn't quite get that foot down. Murphy was close to making two more plays on deep balls.
One was a well defended play that Murphy tipped and gave himself a second chance to make the play. The other was on a catch that Murphy couldn't quite get his right foot in bounds.
Campbell blamed himself for that play in an post game interview. He said, "I wish I could have that throw back. If I had put it six inches the other way, we would have had another touchdown."
Murphy should have got that foot in.
Next year, he will make that play easily every time.
Jacoby Ford: Weapon
Jacoby Ford showed himself to be a vertical threat ,YAC threat, and a return threat in weeks nine and 12. He then came back and showed what he can do in the red zone on Sunday.
Ford has scored three touchdowns in the last two games.
That's a weapon!
The question is can he do it consistently?
Michael Bush: Carries
Michael Bush needs the ball more!
Raider fans have to love it when both McFadden and Michael Bush have good games. Bush had a chance to shine again against the Chargers with 95 yards on 23 carries.
The end result was the Charger defense being pounded into submission. That caused Charger quarterback Philip Rivers to become a spectator on the sidelines for much of the game.
Bush set the tone in the second quarter with a physical run to fire the Raiders up. Bush broke multiple tackles, running through the last one on the way to a 7-yard touchdown run.
Physical runs are impact a game in the same way hard hits do.
They impact a game even more when they score touchdowns.
Darren McFadden: Carries
Darren McFadden had 97 yards on 19 carries on Sunday.
He had another 31 yards on three catches.
Raider Nation now knows that the last two teams the Raiders played didn't stop McFadden. It was the play calling as all you need to do for McFadden to get off is commit to the run.
McFadden made his biggest impact on a 7-yard touchdown run on Sunday. On a quick pitch to the outside, McFadden broke a tackle of a linebacker and punished the defensive back on the way into the end zone.
Perhaps he was motivated by the physical, 7-yard run that Bush turned in earlier.
That's another physical touchdown run that fires up a football team!
Jason Campbell: Misidentified
For months now, many in Raider Nation have favored Bruce Gradkowski because he was supposed to be the one that can make plays scrambling. They said, "Jason Campbell is a statue and can't avoid the rush."
Somebody done told them wrong.
Campbell was much like Cameron Newton when he was at Auburn University. He was more of a running quarterback than a pocket passer.
He then went to the NFL and forced himself to become a pocket passer as running quarterbacks aren't so appreciated. Then he came to Raider Nation where his protection was less than average.
He also had to try to be perfect because Gradkowski was Cable's guy waiting for Campbell to falter. Now Gradkowski is on injured reserve and Campbell doesn't have to watch Gradkowski pace the sidelines every time he throws an in-completion.
Campbell now looks to have an energy or excitement knowing that he has the keys to the car. He's running around and throwing it because he's not afraid to do anything out there any more.
Did you see him throw for a first down to Marcel Reece while running to his left?
Yet Campbell still managed the game well by checking down when the deep ball just wasn't there. He also threw the ball away when the rush came and no one was open.
Campbell's ball handling on play action is impeccable too.
He scored a touchdown running and also converted third downs by running in the the game. He didn't throw the ball much but made it count when he did.
His deep balls are getting more accurate and they struck fear in the defense when he didn't connect on them Sunday. Stats aside, this is the best game Campbell has played since coming to Raider Nation.
He now looks like a Raider quarterback.
A man with a big arm that could find a way to get things done.
The Chargers were the hottest team in the NFL and considered to be an elite team. Every year, they start slowly then come along in December to "unleash hell on the NFL."
The Raiders putting a stop to that unleashing on Sunday taught me a lot about the Raiders. They can play with any team whose strength doesn't play into the Raider's major weakness.
The Raiders are a very physical team on defense but lack that quality up front on offense. That is why the Raiders were beaten by the more physical front sevens in the league regardless of how the whole team is.
The Chargers don't have such a front seven.
Four of the Raider's losses came to physical front sevens that dominated the Raider offensive line. The other two of the Raider's losses came simply because the wrong guy started at quarterback.
One problem has been solved but the Raiders must find a way to play around Samson Satele and Cooper Carlisle. They were okay against the not so physical front seven of the Chargers but the problem needs to be fixed.
The Raiders could actually run the table so one loss by the Chiefs before week 17 could get the Raiders into the playoffs. If the Raiders do get in somehow, embarrassment awaits them unless they solve the offensive line problem.
Is there anyone on the roster that can help?