Monday, September 10, 2007

Week 1: The Glass is Still Half Full

Game #1

1st quarter00
2nd quarter100
3rd quarter714
4th quarter197

Ok, Raider Nation. Here's the deal. A home opening loss is very disappointing. However, before you start whining and getting gloomy, let me put some perspective on our 1st game under Lane Kiffin.

Going into the 2007 season, what was the one key area that we needed to improve and rebuild. Easy. Our offense which scored only 10.5 points per game and was one of the worst offenses in the history of the NFL. Major changes have been made in terms of scheme, personnel, and playcalling. At the same token, ask any Raider fan about their confidence level concerning the defense and it would be unanimous. The Raiders D was an up and coming elite unit. Lane Kiffin was brought on board to revamp & rebuild the offense. My conclusion (and the reason my glass is half full) is that in a short period of time, Kiffin has indeed done a remarkable job improving the offense.

In the final analysis, the Raiders D were outplayed by a high powered Lions offense that feasted on our nickel and dime corners. The Lions used many 3 and 4 WR sets. Fluerry (#2 WR) was the leading WR in receptions last year. Williams (#1 WR) was in the top 3 in reception yards. Johnson (#3 WR) destroyed our slot corners. McDonald (#4 WR) had a prolific day. The bottom line is that the Lions passing offense was too much for the Raiders D to handle. Is it panic time for the Raiders D? Of course not. This D has a ton of talent. Facing a more traditional offense, the Raiders D will match up very nicely and prove that last years' numbers were not a fluke.

As far as the performance of the offense, I focused on a few key barometers to gauge the progress of the offensive unit in relation to last year's unit. The 5 key areas to get a read on this progression are Time of Possession (TOP), 3rd down conversions; Total Yards, Red Zone Conversion; Total Points. The 1st summary shows the high water marks by the 2006 Raiders offensive unit in each category. What you will notice is that Sunday's performance in each and every category was better than or close to the top marks for the 16 games last year. Kiffin has been a miracle worker.

What progress was made by the 2007 offensive unit? The Raiders' offensive unit showed that it could sustain drives (TOP), convert 3rd downs at a high rate, gain a high number of yards, go perfect in the red zone, and score more points than it did in any game last year. Yes. That's right. Let me read back that last part of the sentence. The 2007 Raiders offensive unit scored more points vs. the Lions than it did at anytime during the entire 2006 season.

High Water Marks for 2006:
Time of Possession: vs Arizona >>> 37:01
3rd Down Conversion: vs. Arizona >>> 13 of 20 (65%)
Total Yards: vs. Arizona >>> 395 yards
Red Zone Efficiency: vs. SF >>> 2 of 5 (40%)
Points >>> vs. Arizona >>> 20 points (22 points minus 2 points for defensive safety)

Offensive Performance vs. Detroit:
Time of Possession >>> 33:06 (3rd highest TOP for 2006)
3rd Down Conversion >>> 7 of 13 (53.8%) (2nd highest 3rd Down conversion rate for 2006)
Total Yards >>> 375 yards (2nd highest total yards for 2006)
Red Zone Efficiency >>> 3 for 3 (100%) (Better than any 2006 mark)
Points >>> 21 points (more points scored by offense than any 2006 mark)

The Lions game was a tough pill to swallow. The defense let us down. The Special Teams unit laid an egg (field position; 0 for 3 FG by SeaBass), and the offensive unit had too many turnovers (3). One game does not make a season. Obviously no one likes to suffer a loss especially a home opener.

The chief reasons I'm excited about the Raiders long term future is that Lane Kiffin has proven in just 1 game that he is more than capable of establishing a modern, diversified, creative, and productive offense. If you were asked prior to the season starting whether or not you would be pleased with an offense that scored 21 points, racked up 375 yards, converted 7 of 13 3rd downs, was a perfect 3 for 3 in the red zone, and controlled the clock for 33:06 ... you would say "GREAT!".

Late Breaking News: Oh Yeah! JaMarcus Russell has just signed tonight! Our short term future (2007) looks much brighter with McCown/Culpepper at the helm and our long term future (2008 and beyond) just lit up like a Christmas tree with the signing of Russell. In the meantime Raider Nation, keep you chin up, gear up for the Donkeys next week, and know that any diehard is in it for the long haul. Our long term future looks very bright. Pull up the anchors, bust out the Red Stripe and set sail for a very exciting new Raider voyage.
Calico Jack


Blogger Leighraider said...

Fully agree with everything you say, every team that plays the RAIDERS this year will know that they are in a game on both sides of the ball.I just hope that Curry's hamstring isn't a bad one.Onwards and upwards to the land of the Donkey's.

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, but this doesn't account for our lack complete lack of pressure by Burgess, Sapp, and Co.

Also, if the Lions have such a great offense that we can look forward to the Defense being better next week then you'd also have to say that the Lions have such a bad Defense that we can look forward to our offense falling off next week.

I love the Raiders but I was really dissappointed by this loss.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Cheers Leighraider. Let's take ShanaRat and the Donkeys down!

Anon: The key point I was trying to convey is that our offensive unit has made leaps and bounds progress from last year REGARDLESS of the opponent.

Better pass & run blocking, better playcalling and use of personnelm more productive (see 5 key stats in blog entry).

The RBs and TEs are now offensive weapons in the passing game. Going 3 for 3 in the Red Zone is quite a feat. I dug through all the stats of every game last year and came away with a simple, yet VERY encouraging conclusion which is that Kiffin has the offensive unit on the right track.

Also, keep in mind that each and every opponent will pose new challenges. I was also deeply disappointed by the loss but anyone who thinks that a 2 & 14 is going to instantly turn into a playoff contender is frankly kidding themself. It will take time and hard work for the Raiders to steadily improve and become a playoff worthy team again.

We started the game with 10 offensive players that were either new as starters (Curry, Porter), new as Raiders (Miller, Green, Carlisle, Newberry, McCown) or playing a new position (Sims, Gallery). The only offensive unit member who was a starter, playing the same position was Jordan. That is a major overhaul & reconstruction of the entire unit.

The point being that it is going to take time but I was pleased with the progress in game 1.

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CJ good positive post. My three impressions bad, three impressions good and one question


1. As soon as Newberry went down, my spirits sank----Grove against Rogers terrible match up. Newberry is the closet thing to Robbins physically that the Raiders have had since the AFC final against the Titans. We need that type of strength in the interior if the offense is going to click. Grove is sub par and just not strong enough

2. Turnovers, Raiders loose the turnover battle they loose the game a common theme

3. Pass rush was not there this is what the D missed more than anything. Raiders can not cover 4 wide for 6 seconds at a time. Oh yeah and Stu is just plain terrible shwag


1. Namdi is awesome, I think he had only one short catch against him the entire day

2. Run D looks improved

3. The team as a whole especially on O looked organized and calm, perhaps there is return of some leadership at all levels


I just read on that McCown is possibly out for a few weeks because of a cracked bone in his finger. Before the first game I was pulling for Pepper to be the starter but after seeing McCown move around well I felt that going in to Denver next week at least for that game he gave us more of an opportunity. Your thoughts and preferences on that subject please


Florida Raider

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

i agree with the majority cj. yes, we did look better offensively, but not much better. we had one good quarter, where, to me, the other 3 were reminescent of last year. the difference is we moved the ball a little more consistently, rather than going 3 and out every drive.
jano's misses were difficult kicks, his career long came last season against the donkos, which was a 55 yarder. yes, those 3, if made, would have put us in striking distance; but we couldn't offensively move the ball forward a little more.
newberry going down hurt. i think he would have handled rogers better than grove; but he made some vital mistakes on the first drive before he went down. can you say "shotgun?"
rob ryan's game plan of a modified nickel prevent the pressure defense is what cost us the game. i swear, didn't he try this the first year under norv? didn't he learn his lesson then? come on rob, you're a better coach than that, get your head out of your butt and play defense.
to me, i think the raiders went in expecting to win, and didn't plan the way they should have. they planned to do "enough" as to what they thought should win, and it blew up in their faces. this is the biggest beef i have with the raiders. they always play to the level of their competition, instead of playing every game with the same intensity. i am still hopeful that we will realize that, and play better the rest of the season.
here's to improvement by beating the doncos.

5:47 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Excellent points Florida Raider & Raider Nate.

To answer your question Florida Raider, my preference for the starting QB since the completion of the exhibition season has been Culpepper. McCown's performance and injured index finger does not change my preference one bit. I have thought all along that Culpepper provides the best combination of experience, leadership abilities, playmaking abilities, mobility, and passing prowess.

Raider Nate: I'm with you about the D. It is time to take a page out of Buddy Ryan's handbook and turn the dogs loose. Prevent D, soft zones, 3 man rush, no blitzing is way too conservative for my tastes. The D needs to dictate the action and keep the QB guessing and on his heels. I hope that the Lions were an anomoly in that they had 4 WR sets and a difficult offense to scheme, prepare, and execute against.

8:18 PM  

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