Monday, October 29, 2007

Raiders Offense Stuck In Neutral











Titans 13 - Raiders 9
So far this has been a VERY frustrating season for Raider fans. The 1st quarter of the season was marked by great progress. In particular, the offensive line showed vast improvement. The running attack was #1 in the entire league. The Raiders split the 1st 4 games and at 2-2 were in 1st place.

The last 3 weeks have been a return to the futile, mistake filled offense that stunk up the place in 2006. 14 points at San Diego (1 offensive TD). 10 points vs. KC (1 offensive TD). 9 points at Tennessee (0 offensive TDs). This downward trend in offensive productivity needs to be corrected pronto.

The big factors in this offensive ineptitude the last 3 games has been poor QB play (Culpepper has been very shaky), an inability to run the ball effectively (2.7 avg per carry), poor pass protection (13 sacks in the last 3 games), losing the turnover battle (4 fumbles + 4 interceptions; -6 turnover ratio), an upward spike in costly penalties (avg. of 9 penalties), and above all, a failure to make a play at critical, game deciding junctures in the game.

In this game vs. Tennessee, the Raiders offense created the perfect storm of mistakes. 14 penalties for 100 yards. 11 penalties called on the offensive line alone. The average 3rd down distance that the Raiders faced in this game was 11.6 yards. With the defense unable to create any turnovers, the Raiders stared all 12 possessions in their own territory. The long down & distances set up the Titans to exploit the Raiders shoddy pass protection. Culpepper was sacked 5 times. One of these sacks caused a fumble on the Raiders own 9 yard line.

When you boil it all down, the penalties, turnovers, and sacks laid the foundation for the ultimate deathbed of the Raiders offense. At this point in time, the Raiders can ill afford to play an undisciplined and unsound brand of football if the team is to be victorious. 1st and 15, 2nd and 20, 3rd and 12 ... these type of down & distances stack the deck against a team that has yet to show the wherewithal to unleash a consistent passing attack.

The frustration and disappointment in this closely fought game is that the Raiders found a way to lose. In spite of the offense continually shooting itself in the foot, the Raiders were in a position to win. Down 13 to 9, the Raiders had moved the ball to the Tennnesse 26 yard line with 2:00 to go. 1st down on the 26. What do you do in this important situation? 1st play: LT Barry Sims false start. 2nd play: Culpepper sacked. Next play: A short completion. 3rd down: incompletion. 4th down: BMW fails to secure the ball on a key reception. Game over.

















As I pointed out in one of my earlier posts "Wanted: The Closer", good teams find a way to execute at key points in the game. When you have the lead in the 2nd half, the mindset needs to be to put your collective foot on the windpipe of your opponent.

An interesting and sad fact: The Raiders have had the lead in the 2nd half in 6 of 7 games this season. On the sunny side of things, this shows that the team is doing enough good things to be competitive and be in the position to win. Unfortunately, this is also an indicator of a team that has come up short when victory is within their grasp.

Up Next: The Texans (3-5) visit Oaktown (2-5). If Culpepper doesn't perform well, you can expect the chants for JaMarcus to get louder and louder each week.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CJ,

I think Kiffin and the coaching staff should get some credit he is keeping the Raiders in games.

The blame has to lie with the players and I think it is a question of talent more than anything. The Raiders have some pockets of young talent here and there but glaring weakensses otherwise.

I think it is going to take a couple of years to get back to the playoffs, until we improve the following positions: LT, RT, RB, QB, WR. FS, DT, DE. In other words with the exception of corner (assuming Namdi stays) and linebacker improvement needs to take place all over.

I hope they beat Houston next week or our record might be the same as last year

Regards

Florida Raider

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anybody know what our record was last year when we led in the second half of our games?

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We never did

4:06 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Florida Raider > You make a good case. The Raiders do lack talent at key positions. However 'talent' does not fully explain the key reasons we keep stubbing our toe. The 14 penalites committed vs. the Titans is one of the chief reasons the offense could not get on track. The majority of these penalites were presnap which are unacceptable mental errors.

Most of the turnovers were also undisciplined plays. Ball security is very fundamental. In the Titans game we had 4 fumbles (1 lost) & 1 INT. It is my belief that a team that plays smart football will increase the likelihood of winning ... if the Raiders protect the football better, don't commit silly penalities, and execute the game plan, we would turn these close losses into victories.

Anon 2:19 > The Raiders had the lead in the 2nd half last year in 8 of the 16 games:

vs. Cleveland (loss)
at SF (loss)
vs. Arizona (win)
vs. Pittsburgh (win)
vs. Denver (loss)
at KC (loss)
at SD (loss)
vs. Houston (loss)

6:23 PM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Well presented Calico Jack. This year is a tough pill to swallow, but hopefully it will lead us to better times. I believe Kiffin will purge this team of its dead weight. Florida Raider's player list is long, but looks about right.

In the short-term, I see the next two games as very winnable. Houston is a team we held to negative passing yards last year, but still managed to lose. Da Bears have seen better days and, while still tough, also vunerable.

6:49 PM  
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11:56 PM  

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