Raiders vs Packers: 9 Things We Learned from Oakland's 46-16 Loss
This is my worst day as a Oakland Raiders writer.
It's not that I expected the Raiders to beat the Green Bay Packers, but I thought they would come out fired up and compete after being embarrassed in Miami last week. But for the second straight week, the Raiders came out flat, and it cost them right away on a 47-yard run by Ryan Grant (who?).
From there, the game just got uglier, as it started to resemble a game between USC and Montana State. Most of it isn't good, but we were able to learn a thing or two about the Raiders in this embarrassing defeat.
Turn the page to see what.
The Time Is Not Now
I haven't completely given up on the Raiders just yet, but as a realist, this team isn't going to win a Super Bowl. The last time the Raiders lost two in a row, they came back and won three, so they can finish 10-6 this season.
But when the Raiders play the big boys of the NFL, they are thoroughly overmatched and don't deal too well with it. I know the Raiders have some key guys out, but there's no way in the world they make a 30-point difference.
"The time is now" is starting to look more like a slogan or hustle than it does real talk. Speaking of hustle, I'm starting to think that's what Jackson is doing every time he says a key, injured player will be back soon.
Don't Count on McFadden
All of the talk about the quarterback position for the Raiders is insignificant because Darren McFadden is the most important player on the team. After six weeks of "he's getting closer," I'm starting to believe he won't be back this year.
Especially after hearing Phil Simms, who commentated the game, speak of how McFadden's injury usually ends seasons. A torn ligament in a foot isn't something you just play on, because it can become a chronic problem if it doesn't heal right.
Michael Bush did a good job in his stead for a couple of games, but he's averaging under four yards per carry. I don't pin all that on him, but he isn't the dynamic playmaker McFadden is. That's why the Raiders offense just isn't the same.
If he comes back against the Lions next week, that would be great, but I just can't count on it.
Before the season started, I stated in an article I wrote that the Raiders couldn't handle the more physical teams up front with the current state of the offensive line. I even said so after the Raiders got off to a good start ,but many in Raider Nation said, "You have to give the offensive line credit because McFadden is running so well."
McFadden was the league leader in runs stuffed when he was playing, but made up for it with the most runs over 20 and 40 yards. He had holes on some of those runs, but made a lot of guys miss or broke tackles at the line of scrimmage on a lot of them.
Unfortunately for Bush, when he gets a hole or breaks a tackle, it's going to be a gain of six instead of the 20-70 yards McFadden would go for. We can see now that it's the difference between a touchdown and the opposing defenses stopping the next couple of plays to force a punt.
The Raiders offense lived on his explosive plays as well as the ones he caused in the passing game with the attention he garnered. Now the offense is dead because the offensive line isn't consistent enough to start and finish a 15-play drive.
McFadden made the offensive line look much better than it is.
Ever since McFadden and his speed to turn the corner has been out, Bush's best runs came when Samson Satele wasn't in the game. He had his best game against the San Diego Chargers, running through big holes when Satele was inactive for the week.
The next game in Minnesota, Bush started slow then got lose at the end—yes, because Satele went out with an injury. The Raiders' running game has been stopped every since because Jackson insists on starting an already undersized but now wounded Satele.
The best this offensive line has looked is when left tackle Jared Veldheer is on his spot, Stephon Heyer is at left guard, Stefen Wisniewski is at center, Cooper Carlisle is at right guard and Joseph Barksdale is at right tackle. Carlisle needs to be moved from his spot too but the line has functioned well with him.
How many false starts have to be committed until Khalif Barnes loses his job at right tackle anyway?
The Raiders have a young center just like the Pouncey brothers and won't use him there.
No More Zone Please
I'm just trying to figure out what defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Rod Woodson are thinking. The Raiders' secondary got the majority of its pass breakups and incompletions while in man, bump-and-run coverage.
That's who the Raiders are and what they look for when they draft a corner or pick one up in free agency. I have the utmost respect for the future Hall of Famer Rod Woodson, but can't figure out why he calls so much off-man and zone coverage.
I know they want to mix things up but the Raiders get picked apart in that zone. They need to minimize that until they have more time to practice it next year with a full offseason.
Go with what your players do best over the last three games.
Make the quarterback throw a dime into tight coverage.
Hue Jackson sold quarterback Carson Palmer to Raider Nation and I was the first to buy him. I understood his slow start, watched him do well for a while, then after struggling in back-to-back games, I'm starting to feel a little buyer's remorse.
Sure, the Packers are the best team in the NFL, and they are known for getting turnovers, but four interceptions is too much. I see he is fully healthy this year, but I have questions about the former elite quarterback.
Which guy is he?
Is he the same guy that threw for four touchdowns and 10 interceptions in games one, two and five?
Or is he the guy that had ratings of over 100 twice, then a game-winning drive in games three, four and five?
If he's both, that's not enough for a first-round pick.
I'm not looking for a refund just yet, but he needs to pick it up.
More Buyer's Remorse?
Stanford Routt was given a big contract while the Raiders let Nnamdi Asomugha walk to Philadelphia. Asomugha isn't playing very well over there but Routt, who I also bought, isn't playing up to his contract either.
He gives up too many touchdowns—and I mean give.
He has great coverage skills and can run with anyone, but he thinks he's fast enough to impersonate Deion Sanders. Sanders used to let guys run by him to bait the quarterback because he was fast enough to get there when the ball arrived.
Routt is fast, but these tactics don't work for him because Sanders is a different animal. Routt just needs to be Routt and stay tight in his coverage instead of letting guys run by him.
Packers receiver Jordy Nelson isn't that fast, but Routt isn't speedy enough to catch up after letting him run by.
Today isn't the only day he's tried it.
I'll be looking for a refund here too if he doesn't stop trying to be something he isn't.
Mike Mitchell has been one of the major bright spots in the Raiders' secondary this season. He tackles well, makes hits that jar the ball lose from receivers and does a great job of covering tight ends.
Isn't that what strong safeties are supposed to do?
So why isn't he starting?
How about the interception he made today?
What does the man have to do to be a starter?
Like I said before, I haven't completely given up on the Raiders yet, but the Super Bowl contender thing is a fantasy this year. I don't believe we'll see McFadden play again this year—if he does, I'll be pleasantly surprised.
Palmer could get hot if the Raiders get in the playoffs, but I'm looking for him to be that guy next year. That being the case, you have to wonder if the Raiders should have waited until next season to bring Palmer in.
But the fantasy of Palmer making the Raiders contenders in his first half a season appears to be just that—a fantasy. Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore, who I didn't mention earlier, may have a say in the last three games.
But the more Jackson says they're getting close, the less I believe they're going to play this season.
Just win baby!