Oakland Raiders-Tennessee Titans: Veldheer's Inexperience or Defensive Offsides?

David VillaContributor ISeptember 13, 2010

CHICAGO - AUGUST 21: Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears rushes against Jared Veldheer #68 of the Oakland Raiders during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 21, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Radiers defeated the Bears 32-17. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The offense started with a delay of game penalty. The formation started with either No. 97 Brown or No. 78 Ford coming across the offensive line and returning to the Titans' side of the ball. No. 68 Veldheer did not snap the ball, No. 8 Campbell pulled out from under center, expecting a clear unimpeded to the quarterback call. The officials finally throw the flag and call delay of game, offense No. 8.

This set the tone for how encroachment would be called all day. The first half was filled with plays of No. 75 Henderson getting beat around the edge by Ford. Ford was routinely seen off Henderson’s shoulder on the Raider’s side of the line of scrimmage before anyone on the Raiders moved.

The line was still in their stance, receivers waiting to go, running backs waiting and Campbell clearly still under center awaiting the ball. Is Veldheer’s delivery so slow that no one but the defensive end could jump on the snap, or are the officials out of place to see it?

This lead to Campbell having no time to set and throw, No. 20 McFadden dodging defenders in the backfield, and passes to the check-down receiver in coverage. McFadden wasn’t able to run through the planned lanes, and Campbell wasn’t given the time to set and throw down field.

No. 80 Miller was needed in pass protection early, and covered well when allowed to run a pattern. No. 81 Schilens, the Raiders possession receiver and circus catch guy, is recovering from a knee injury and won’t be back for at least two more weeks. When Campbell did manage to get the ball to a deeper route, his pass was hurried and a little behind the receiver.

These were catchable balls, but the Raiders receivers are young and need practice adjusting to the ball. Murphy did not slow on a deep crossing route and nearly ran right passed the ball. It looks like the Raiders are running their routes and expect the ball to be right there in stride every time.

Veldheer is a rookie and played tackle, not center, until now to boot. He showed his inexperience as well. Campbell and Veldheer have not worked with each other much, maybe three weeks, so the chemistry between quarterback and center is not there either. Veldheer does a wonderful job blocking the nose tackle, but is still learning the nuances of the position.

Great centers hike the ball when a defender enters the neutral zone and the quarterback expects it. This gets penalties for the defense, causes defenders to be moving backwards at the snap and a free play for the offense. It shows Veldheer’s discipline as a lineman. He doesn’t false start often, but the center needs to adjust the count when the defense goes.

It was also clear that the Raiders have not practiced much from the shotgun. Veldheer’s snaps were erratic at best, high, low, and left. I think the Raiders only used the shotgun three times during the game, and you can see why.

Veldheer is a quick learner and rarely makes the same mistake twice. I have every confidence he will study the game film and work with Campbell, Michalczik, Jackson, and Cable to correct this in the future.

Campbell and Veldheer need to develop confidence and trust in each other with the ball exchange. Veldheer also needs to practice the shotgun more. Maybe Campbell will stay with him for 20 minutes after practices just snapping the ball from the shotgun.

As the quarterback and center build confidence in each other, the Raiders offensive line will improve. The next three games are going to be rough for the offensive line, but cheer up Raider Nation. Despite the score the Oakland Raiders are better than last year and getting better every practice.

The Autumn Wind is Coming


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.