Oakland Raiders vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Raiders Offense Down Right Offensive!
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No fire, no passion and no offense sums up the Oakland Raiders 35-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I must say, as a Raider fan for nearly 38 years, I was disgusted with the way the offense, (the offensive line in particular) performed in this critically important game.
The play calling was horrible, the effort from the offensive line was pathetic and the overall performance of the offense was worse than it has been since the "49ers debacle."
This loss for the Raiders wouldn't have been so bad if the Raider offense actually looked like an NFL team, but they didn't. They looked like a collection of guys off the street that didn't care about each other, the team or the fans.
On the bright side, the defense played fairly well, but got no help whatsoever from the offense. The first drive of the game as the exception, the defensive players had no time to rest or hydrate after forcing several three-and-outs.
The ejection of Richard Seymour seemed to fire up the Raider defense, only to be let down by the offense—again!
I am supposed to be writing about the positive aspects of the Raiders' performance, but I wouldn't know what to put on the other eight slides.
Therefore, I'll cover what positives there were and finish out the article with what went wrong. There will be no "sugar-coating" of my critique...
The Defense Played Fairly Well Against The Run
Rashard Mendenhall gained only 59 yards on Sunday.
The Steelers are not a "run first" team anymore, but they have been more effective running the ball lately. Stopping the run and not allowing the play-action pass to get set up was important for the Raiders and they got it done.
Rashard Mendenhall gained only 59 yards on 23 carries. He scored on a five yard touchdown, but holding Mendenhall to 2.56 yards per carry is a good day for the defense.
The Steelers earned a total of 162 yards on the ground, but that number is deceptive. 55 of those yards came from Ben Roethlisberger scrambling and picking up yards with his feet.
17 of the Steelers' rushing yards came on a an end-around by Mike Wallace that should have been negated for an illegal block in the back of Kamerion Wimbley by right tackle Flozell Adams.
Taking away Roethlisberger's scramble yards, the Steelers running backs gained 88 rushing yards on 29 designed run plays, which is an average of just 3.03 yards per carry.
In all, a respectable day for the Raiders' run defense.
The Team Committed Fewer Penalties
Tom Cable has somewhat improved the Raiders' discipline.
The Raiders committed just seven penalties for 55 yards on Sunday. This is a vast improvement over the team's recent trend.
The best part is there were fewer mental errors. False starts, offsides and other "lack-of-focus" penalties are way down.
Two personal fouls, including the one that got Seymour ejected, accounted for 30 of these penalty yards.
I've said in the past, I can live with "intimidation" penalties, but not stupid mental mistakes.
Had the offense actually showed up to play, penalties wouldn't have gotten in the way of victory like it has in the past.
That's all I've got for the positives.
Now on to what went wrong...
Why Does Cooper Carlisle Still Have A Job?
Cooper Carlisle has worn out his welcome in Oakland.
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I don't know what more Cooper Carlisle needs to do to lose his job, but he needs to be benched—now! Maybe if he gets the quarterback killed—literally—the coaches will make a change.
Daniel Loper has substituted admirably for Robert Gallery in the past. I say, let Loper start at right guard and sit or even cut Carlisle.
Seriously, Loper can't possibly do any worse. Truthfully, my daughters dance team choreographer could do better. At least she'd give an effort.
Honestly though, I'd rather see tight end Brandon Myers playing at right guard than have to suffer through watching Carlisle show zero effort for another game.
Carlisle doesn't deserve to wear Silver and Black.
Why Didn't The Raiders Sign Jake Grove?
Samson Satele was, once again, overmatched.
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Samson Satele was completely outmatched by the Steelers nose tackles. Casey Hampton and back up Chris Hoke were able to dominate Satele more often than not.
Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski weren't able to even complete their drop before having to run from the pressure coming over center and right guard.
The only difference between Satele and Carlisle I can see, is Satele is at least putting in the effort. He's just not talented enough to start in the NFL.
The Raiders brought former Raider Jake Grove in for a workout, but have not signed him as yet.
If Grove doesn't look good enough, or isn't healthy enough, fine. Get someone in there to play center like a real NFL player.
Satele is a back up—barely.
Is It Time For Khalif Barnes To Get More Time?
Langston Walker has been decent, but not great.
I like Langston Walker, I really do. However, he did not look good at all on Sunday. He was better than Carlisle and Satele, but that isn't saying much.
Walker had an up and down day against Steeler defensive end Ziggy Hood. One play he'd stone-wall Hood, the next, he'd get pushed right back into Campbell or Gradkowski's laps.
I think Walker made a good effort, but was just steadily beaten by a more talented player.
Maybe it's time for Khalif Barnes to get more playing time. Barnes has been doing a good job as an extra tackle on unbalanced formations and as a third tight end.
Walker would be a dramatic upgrade at guard over Carlisle. Perhaps the team should see if rookie Bruce Campbell can play right tackle and move Walker to guard.
If Campbell can't get it done, then see if Barnes can.
Chaz Schilens, Where Are You?
Chaz Schilens has done nothing more than take up a roster spot.
I don't know what Zach Miller's problem was on Sunday, but he had several uncharacteristic drops. I chalk this up to simply having two weeks off due to injury and a bye week. I feel it was nothing more than rust.
Miller wasn't alone though.
Jacoby Ford had at least one drop, Higgins had a couple and Murphy had his fair share as well.
Some of the blame needs to be placed on bad throws due to instant pressure on the quarterbacks, but some of it falls on the receiver. If it touches your hands, you need to catch it.
This alone accounted for a lot of the failed third down conversions.
All that said, I have said this before—most of the blame should be placed squarely on the shoulders of wide receiver "coach", (I use the term loosely) Sanjay Lal.
The receivers are not getting coached in body position to shield off defenders, or to catch the ball with their hands consistently or even how to get separation regularly.
It's time fire Lal and take Tim Brown up on his offer to help out. Greg Biekert has greatly helped the linebackers, and Brown is likely to do the same for the wide receivers.
If not this, something must be done.
The wide receiver position has to be respected by opponents for the Raiders to win. Right now the opposition can say, "cover Miller and the backs, stop the run, and you beat the Raiders."
The Offensive Play Calling Was Uninspired
Hue Jackson's game plan and play calling were terrible.
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Hue Jackson has made some serious improvement to the Raider offense. On Sunday however, Jackson let the fans down with an ill-conceived game plan and bad play calling.
In my previous article, "Raiders vs Steelers: Plan of attack" I laid out a game plan I felt would work against the Steelers.
This plan suggested that the Raiders should run Michael Bush with power plays, then attack the edges with Darren McFadden.
This suggestion went unheeded.
McFadden got 10 carries for 14 yards, most of which were off guard or off tackle. Bush got just four carries for 33 yards, including a 24 yard draw play.
This means that McFadden had an average of less than two yards per carry, and Bush, (aside from the 24 yard draw play) averaged over three yards per carry.
Hmmmm...could I have been right? Well, as a parent of two teenagers, I'm used to not being listened to.
Turn the page to see more flaws in Jackson's game plan...
Jackson's Failures Continued...
Jackson didn't adjust much at all at half time.
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What can be done to slow down a pass rush? Run screens. You know that, I know that, but apparently, Jackson forgot that.
Before CBS ended my misery by switching from covering the Raiders, to showing the Jets great comeback against the Texans, I witnessed one screen play attempted by the Raiders.
That one screen wasn't successful, but it wasn't executed very well either. You can't judge the viability of a play based on one poorly executed attempt. You need to run it, and execute it properly before you know if it will work.
What this boils down to is Jackson's reversion to a complete lack of creativity. I felt Jackson has done much better in the past, and needs to do better in the future if the Raiders want to be taken seriously.
Nnamdi Asomugha Was Sorely Missed
Nnamdi Asomugha being out with injury really hurt the Raiders.
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Ben Roethlisberger and the Steeler offense picked on Nnamdi Asomugha's replacement Chris Johnson all day long.
Second year wide receiver Mike Wallace had a great day snaring only three catches but gained 116 yards and scored a 52 yard touchdown against Johnson.
The truth is, Johnson didn't have bad coverage in most cases, but he lacks the awareness to make a play on the ball at the right moment.
Overall, the Steelers gained 269 yards of passing against the Raiders' 2nd ranked pass defense. This was due in no small part to the absence of their Pro Bowl cornerback.
Richard Seymour didn't help the team by being ejected.
I'm sure my love of the Raiders, (and my hate for how the offense played) came through loud and clear in the tone of this article.
All I have to say about that is—GOOD!
There were a lot of reasons for this loss. Not enough blitzing by the defense, not enough pressure on Roethlisberger and the list goes on. This article highlighted the reasons I felt most contributed to the loss.
The biggest contributor to this embarrassing loss was offensive line play—or the lack thereof. Head coach Tom Cable has to make some changes on the right side of the line before one of the quarterbacks gets seriously hurt.
The second biggest reason was bad play calling. Hue Jackson has to recognize what is working and what isn't and adjust better.
The third was time of possession. The defense played pretty well early in the game, but got tired due to spending more than half the game on the field. This is the same problem the Raiders had when "that other guy" was playing quarterback.
I'm most angry about the fact that Steeler fans and Chiefs fans are laughing at us right now. This is unacceptable and the players and coaches are insulated from the ridicule we get as fans.
Also, all the "experts" will now start claiming they were right all along.
Look, I'm a Mariners fan, I can't take much more of this crap!
What do you think Raider Nation? What did I miss? Was I too harsh? Not harsh enough? Let me hear you in the comments.