Sunday, October 01, 2006

Not So "Special" Teams

CJ’s Observations: (Cleveland 24 – Oakland 21)
The difference from a joyous “W” and a very disappointing “L” came down to the poor play of the Raiders' Special Teams coverage units. This game was set-up on a silver platter for a very manageable victory.

STEP 1: Get an early lead on a big play. CHECK. Raiders 7-0 on a Reuben Droughs fumble that was recovered for a 30 yard TD run by LB Sam Williams.

STEP 2: Get a BIG lead by running the ball effectively. CHECK.

- Fargas busts a 48 yard run that sets-up the eventual Walter to Moss 5 yard TD pass and a 14-3 lead.

- Jordan runs for a 59 yard TD run in the 2nd Quarter that puts the Raiders up 21-3.

STEP 3: Make the Browns earn their scores by forcing them to work the entire field. NOPE. Below is a summary of the special teams break-downs which led to 17 points for the Browns.

- Raiders up 14-0; Browns KR Cribbs returns the kick for 65 yards to the Oakland 32. Browns kick a field goal. (14-3)

- Raiders up 21-3; Browns KR Cribbs returns the kick 53 yards to the Oakland 43 yard line. Browns go on to score a TD. (21-10)

- Raiders up 21-17; Browns PR Northcutt retuns the punt 58 yards to the Oakland 17 yard line. Browns go on to score a TD. (21-24)

- The Browns had 217 return yards; Punt returns (3-73; 24.3 avg), Kickoffs returns (4-144; 36 avg)

- The Browns had field position inside the Raiders' territory 4 times. The Raiders had field position inside the Browns' territory 0 times. The best field position that the Raiders had on any one possession was their own 38 yard line.

- So even though the Raiders had a very comfortable lead, good field position caused by poor special teams play allowed the Browns to work from a short field and climb right back into the game.

Other Observations:
- The Raiders run blocking was outstanding. The rushing attack accounted for 194 yards on 24 carries for a robust 8.1 yard per carry average.

- The pass protection also was much better although the passing attack never got on track.

- The play calling by OC Walsh wasn't perfect but for the most part, he gave the offensive squad a good mix of plays to take some of the heat off of the O-line & Walter. The gadget play where Curry attempted to pass to an open receiver after receiving a reverse hand-off was a well designed play. Unfortunately Curry's pass was off-target. The 4th quarter, 4th and inches, off tackle run play for Jordan was a bad play call. Walsh should have called for the big 6'6" Walter to take a QB sneak where Walter could easily lean forward for 1st down yardage.

- It was good to see pass rushing demon DE Derrick Burgess get on track with 2 sacks. Nnamdi Asomugha has had his first 2 interceptions of his career.

- The defense got continually gouged by the Browns screen pass plays on a number of critical down down plays.

- There was a very questionable officiating call with the Raiders down 24-21 at the 11:52 mark in the 4th quarter. The Raiders were driving down the field by picking up 3 1st downs and moving inside Browns' territory. On a critical 3rd down and 16 to go, Andrew Walter hit WR Curry whose catch and run looked to be enough for a 1st down. The t.v. replay of the play showed that the officials gave the Raiders a disadvantageous spot by about a half yard which would have been enough for a 1st down. Faced with a 4th and inches, the Raiders gave the ball to Jordan off right tackle. Langston Walker was beat upfield by DE Roye who stuffed Jordan for a 2 yard loss.

- The Raiders passing game was very ineffective. Walter's statline: 9-23 for a meager 68 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception. Besides the 5 yard TD pass to Moss, the pair didn't connect on any other pass. Drops by Curry, Moss, and Williams didn't help the cause.

Final Thoughts:
This was a very disheartening loss for the Raiders. A game like today illustrates how important it is for each unit to do their part. In the 1st 2 games of this season, the offensive unit played so poorly that the team had no viable chance for victory. In this game, the special teams unit really let down the entire team. Although Walter had a sub-par game statistically, I would love to see him start for the rest of the season regardless of whether or not Brooks is healthy. There is a greater upside to allowing Walter to gain valuable experience and being able to properly evaluate the QB position for the 2007 season than to see Brooks back in again.

AFC WestRecordNext Opponent
San Diego(2-1)vs. Pittsburgh
Denver(2-1)vs. Baltimore
Kansas City(1-2)at Arizona


at S.F.


Anonymous Tooz 72 said...

CJ, always a good blog!

I too like Walter for the future. The guy showed some ability to move around (pushed out of pocket a few too many times), adjust (shovel to Jordan), freeze the defensive backfield (pump fakes), and move the ball downfield via run or pass. Too bad he's not a tackler on special teams! He just needs some more seasoning, and this looks like a seasoning-type of season.

Hopes: Walter, running game, Moss most of the time, coaches waking up

Concerns: Shell (still on the list because he didn't challenge that horrible spot), O-line (though improved), special teams and Moss (greats run out the routes and challenge for the ball on close or bad passes, sir.)

Next up is public enemy number one as far as I'm concerned. My career, friends and heart may be in SF, but my soul is in Oakland. To use an old phrase, it is a must win game. The 49ers are spectacularly bad this year. This game will be my litmus test for the remainder of the year. A big win shows promise; a tight win indicates a 6-10 season at best; a loss signals that a flat out rebuilding is in order.

I changed my identity name. Youknowwho is out. I wanted to channel one of the great spirits of the past. He'd know what to do.

9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree too, Walters should get the snaps as long as he stays healthy (ie., until he gets hurt by the incessant sacking), and yah, the defense played another strong game. I also agree with Tooz, we need to mix up fargas and jordan.
Unfortunately, I am not more opportunistic about the rest. I waited until now to comment on Walsh, but I think this week was the turning point. Did we ever pass on a first down? I could not believe the drops Walters was taking, combined with our ineffective O-line, what is he (Walsh) thinking. It is one thing to have a simple gameplan, but a simply predictable scheme spells disaster. After watching these 3 games, Walsh has lost my confidence, and I believe what we saw this week is that he has lost the confidence of the players. What happened to the aggressiveness and swagger that Shell had promised. The defensive team has (soon to be 'had' after the offensive woes deflate them), becuase they have a coach and leader they believe in; you don't see that on offense. You know why Moss is sleep-walking out there, he is referencing it in side-comments to the press. THis isn't news to some in the Raider Nation, I hoped it was the case. But Walsh has to go. Until then, we will not only lose, but we are going to do so in an embarassing way.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I check out what you have to say all the time and i have been a fan all my life now I'm 47 yrs old so i remember all their hay days. I don't remember a team playing this poor. I watched Randy Moss run his routes and it seemed to me he was dogging it and not ripping down the field like he did with the Vikings and it seem like he does'nt want to be here. But who can blame him when the team is running this sorry retro poo butt offence. It's time to give Walter the rest of the season to learn and get better as our QB of the future, this so called OC Tom Walsh is about the sorriest OC in Raider history. Al we love you but i think the time has come for you to retire and let younger fresher minds run the team. RAIDERS FOR LIFE

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Tooz 72 said...

"Sorry retro poo butt offense." My hat is off to you, sir. This is now part of my vocabulary.

10:59 PM  

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