Monday, October 22, 2007

What's It Going To Take

KC 12 - Oakland 10
Usually immediately following a Raiders game I prepare for my post by digging through the stats and articles and pound out some opinionated analysis. This time I'm resorting to mostly my recollections from my seats in the above photo to make some simple points that relate to the disappointing loss to KC.

Football: The Ultimate TEAM Sport
No matter how great one unit plays, the games' outcome more times than not is determined by a total team effort. In this game, the Raiders Defensive unit played at a very high level. Besides one 50+ yard run by LJ and one 50+ yard completion by Bowe on a broken play, the Raiders defense held firm most of the day. LJ was contained to less than 4 yards per carry minus the big scamper. Damon Huard had a consistent, steady pass rush in his face the entire game. There was even a "knock out" blow delivered on Tony Gonzales by Stu of all people. Most importantly, the Raiders D held KC to a meager 1 TD and 12 total points.

Anytime your D holds the opponent to 12 points, it takes the other 2 units to fail miserably to come up short on the scoreboard. The Raiders offense was inept and unimaginative. 2 scoring drives in 13 possessions is putrid. The Special Teams gave away 3 points by mishandling a punt return. One of the Raiders Special Teams players inadvertently ran into punt returner Chris Carr causing Carr to mishandle the punt and fumble.

Offensive Philosophy
Watching the Raiders 1st 8 possessions, a few things knawed at me like a splinter in my brain.

(1) Passing on 1st Down: Is there any enforceable law against throwing to a WR on 1st down? It wasn't until the middle of the 3rd quarter that Culpepper attempted a pass to a WR (Porter) on 1st down.

(2) Stretch the Field: Is there any logical reason that the Raiders offense doesn't incorporate more deep passes into the playcalling?

First off, when I say "deep" pass I'm referring to passes of 30+ yards not 50+ yard bombs. Secondly, I'm not suggesting that all of these attempts should be successfully completed. Third, by no means am I calling for a "vertical" offense.

No matter what type of offense is being run, it is the perceived threat of the deep ball that stretches out the D. The perceived threat is only legitamized by the act of attempting longer passes numerous times. It could be as simple as 1 deep pass per quarter. Throwing 30 yards passes 2 or 3 times per half is more than enough to achieve the indended goal which is to loosen up the D, get the safeties out of the box for run support, and allow bigger throwing lanes for the short to intermediate passes.

(3) The Guessing Game: One of the most basic offensive tenants is to keep the D guessing. The Raiders offense on Sunday had a "broken record" type quality. 1st down: Jordan off tackle run. 2nd down: Either another Jordan run or a short pass to a RB. 3rd Down: Culpepper in shotgun >>> Attempted short pass to a WR or a check down to a back. The idea of using the entire field, passing on running downs, running on passing downs seemed almost revolutionary against the Chiefs.

(4) Coaching vs. Player Execution: The age old question that gets many Raider fans riled up in heated debates. In this game vs. KC, both the coaches and players are culpable for the team's shortcomings. I was disappointed with HC Kiffin's vanilla playcalling and unwillingness to attack the field for big chunks of yardage. Kiffin mismanaged an early 1st half scoring opportunity by going for a 4th down instead of taking an easy field goal down 6 to 0. The players had a difficult time sustaining drives and getting into any type of rhythm. Key players like Ronald Curry were unable to make plays when facing critical 3rd down conversion opportunities. The usually reliable Curry, my favorite Raider, had 3 dropped passes that would have led to 1st downs and BIG plays.

The Raiders seemed to make great strides in the 1st 4 games of the season. The rushing attack was robust (194 yards per game). The scoring (25.5) was plentiful. The last 2 games the Raiders offense has sputtered and hit a wall. In the last 2 games the Raiders have averaged 54 yards per game on the ground and 12 points. As teams game plan to take away our running attack, the key question will be how Kiffin adjusts and counter attacks.

Although it is early in his coaching tenure, many impatient fans are expecting Kiffin to get the offensive unit back in gear. Each and every opponent will continue to stack the box until the Raiders can successfully move the ball through the air. It might seem unfair to expect Kiffin to turn vinegar into wine. My expectations are for Kiffin to start attacking the field with a vengeance, install a no huddle offense, start dialing up a more diversified offensive game plan that utilizes the entire field and all of his weapons. As a fan I want to see Kiffin game plan in a way where the training wheels are tossed to the curb. Above all, I want Kiffin to quit playing it safe with Culpepper and shove all his chips to the center of the table and shout "I'm ALL in!".

Up Next: The Raiders visit the (4-2) Flaming Thumbtacks in Tennessee.

AFC WestRecordNext Opponent
Kansas City(4-3)Bye Week
San Diego(3-3)vs. Houston
Denver (3-3)vs. Green Bay


at Tennessee


Blogger Mike said...

I agree with your assessment, the offense has to start throwing the ball on 1st downs. We can't keep doing what we've done during the first six games. We need to use our tight ends, fullbacks and recievers on 1st and 2nd down. Lets go Kiff, we've got nothing to lose because we've lost enough already

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disturbing stuff Calico. This game really bothered me. It showed just how far we really need to go in order to say we're "back". If we can't beat the Chefs then we obviously have many problems yet to be fixed.

If you're the Raiders you should not need any talent or coordination at all to do this. You only need to go out and beat the crap out of the guy in front of you because he's a Chef. Whatever else you can bring to the table is a plus. We obviously don't have the right attitudes in place yet, coaches, players, whoever.

On the bright side you took a great picture of me there. I'm the spec on the 45 yd line of the upper deck (Chefs side), hanging my head in shame and disbelief.


1:13 PM  
Anonymous ZX7 said...

Great Post Calico. I always tell family members when I watch the game that I"m not trying to be a know-it-all or a micro-managing armchair quarterback when I criticize the coaches decisions or the team. However, I will speak up loudly when the team is not doing the fundamentals which is what your article was all about. The play calling was very weak, and Kiffen is like Gruden in not throwing the long ball. We need more originality and more intensity.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Good post as always. Normally I am inclined to agree with your assesments 100%. However, while your points have merit focusing so much on the coaching issues do not tell the full story this game can be pinned on two position groups

1. Offensive Line: fumbled snap by Jeremy, minimal holes in the run game and Sims has just been okay for what seems like forever. Any time he faces an elite player we loose---i.e. Jared Allen

2. WR: Dropped passes by Curry at least three one of which would have been for major yardage. Also on some plays Culpepper did seem to have time but was not throwing. Not have the benefit of being there and watching on TV I could not tell if receivers were not getting open---You were there what did you see in that regard.

BTW when Culpepper threw that pick in the last minute I almost puked and had to go for a ne hour walk just to calm down


Florida Raider

5:25 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Totally spot on. You said it a lot better than I did.

5:57 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Florida Raider:

You make 2 valid points. In my posts I attempt to shed some light on a few areas. It is not my intention to cover everything.

Point 1: The OLine

I would argue that when the Chiefs stuff the box, attempting to run is VERY difficult. 5 lineman + 1 TE blocking 8 men is a stacked deck. That is the time to pass. Whether it is playcalling or scheme, the coaching staff & players need to make the proper adjustments. When it became painfully obvious that the Chiefs made a concerted effort to shut down our run (especially on 1st down), this is where coaching is critical.

Point 2: WR drops

I made the point in the "Coaching vs. Players Execution" section that both parties were equally to blame. In particular I wrote:

"The players had a difficult time sustaining drives and getting into any type of rhythm. Key players like Ronald Curry were unable to make plays when facing critical 3rd down conversion opportunities. The usually reliable Curry, my favorite Raider, had 3 dropped passes that would have led to 1st downs and BIG plays."

6:17 PM  
Blogger x said...

Calico -

I would say I'm jealous of you for having such great seats, but I think if I were watching these disappointing losses in person, it would magnify the disappointment.

You're right on all points. I made some of the same comments over at Raider Take. I wonder if the over-reliance on, and failure of, the pass last week at SD made Kiffin go 180 degrees vs the Chefs.

My theory on Curry is he wasn't all there the rest of the game after the big hit he took much for our great history of big hitters....we're now more often on the receiving end of those hits.

7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get use to the style of play Kiffin is using. Its dink and dunk and its not going to change. You have Jamarcus Russell with a big gun and next year he will be asked to dink and dunk. Lets just hope that next year Kiffin gets to select the players he wants and not the speed players Al likes. Hello, Higgins. This draft appears to be Miller as far as quality. Richardson still has a ways to go, but after that, it's Al's kind of players...Q. Mosses cut again..Hey Grady Jackson got cut, he would be better then anything currently on the line against the run. Porter and Curry, major disappointments. WE need a star w/r in addition to everything else..

2:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone please kidnap Grady Jackson and bring him to Oakland ASAP.


6:29 AM  
Anonymous Tooz 72 said...

Best call of the post: The Flaming Thumbtacks.

Calico, I renew my call. If, or should I say when, the Raiders hit 6 losses, they have to play the rookie. There will be no reason to mark time with Daunte or Josh knowing that the season's in the tank and that JaMRuss will take their place next year. At 6 losses, the season is baked so let's get JaMRuss some reps and a head start into what has to be a better season next year.

Until then you are spot on. For the love of God, it's not that hard to be creative at head coach. Is Kiffin that much of a zero or is the Senile One really putting on the handcuffs? I have to go with Door 1 on that -- no way the Adidas Sponsor Emeritus would stifle the offense like that.

Every day I look at my autographed Legends print of Blanda, Stabler, Lamonica and Plunkett and dream of what was, and what will some day be again. May it be sooner than later!

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Raider Nate75 said...

well said cj. i agree with everything on here. i'm beginning to wonder if it is the players. the past 3 years, i've been all over the coaches. i agree that kiffin's playcalling offensively has been very vanilla the past 2 weeks; but the execution of these plays have been horrible; though not as horrible as it was under shell and turner.
but here's something i've been pondering since sunday's debacle. if you look at the first 3 games against our division (donks, chefs, and dolts, currently 3 of our 4 losses); kiffin called 3 of his most vanilla games against these doormats; and yet in all 3 games we were right there. so i'm wondering if kiffin called vanilla games against them, to try and figure them out, and then lay the hammer down the next time we face them.
i mean, if you look at him during the press conference after all 3 of these games, he has this smirk on his face as if he's saying, "yep, i have you right where i want you."
then you look at the first 3 games of the season, and the whole team was making vanilla play calls, and now the defense is turning it on. i think kiffin is calling vanilla plays, because our offensive players are making huge mistakes, on the most simple plays. that is what has really killed us in the 4 games we lost.

1:08 PM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Well done CJ (sorry for the late post)-

Apparently, with the success of the first 4 games, the players duped Kiffin into believing they could actually run block, and he’s struggled to go away from that (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). Clearly, it broke, and seemingly for the reasons you point out.

I will offer this, however. Remember last year when we had only five plays in our playbook, and they all sucked? We were all screaming for a simple screen pass. Well, at least we have a playbook now, even if the right plays aren’t always called.

Which leads me to this question: Does Kiffin have a split personality? Is there some compulsion that causes him to play ultraconservative, then call a flea-flicker, or go for 4th down while well in field goal range? Not that I dislike the compulsiveness. I was just wondering.

There’s been a lot of posters down on Curry for his drops against KC. I make exception of the long sideline ball which he was arm-ripped and the sideline judge missed the call, or simply overlooked it. Curry has proven he can catch the tough pass (like the one when he was popped over the middle and hung onto). IMO, if he wasn’t interfered, he makes that catch on the sideline.

Oh yeah, Calico, nice seats!!!

12:42 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Tooz: I would like to see #2 be worked into a series or 2 in games 8 to 11 and eventually become a full starter by game 12.

Raider Nate: Good points. I think some of the vanilla playcalling and emphasis on the run calls is the lack of confidence in the OLine to adequately protect Culpepper on pass plays. The conservative playcalling, IMO, is way for Kiffin to minimize the mistakes of the offense.

NY Raider: You will NEVER hear me utter a bad word when it comes to Curry. He is usually a very productive and reliable WR who just had a bad game. Curry is my favorite player. I love everything he stands for ... a dedicated, team first professional who has overcome adversity and produces when he hits the field. Curry is a class act and an excellent role model. It is no accident that he was voted one of the Captains of the Raiders.

1:42 PM  
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11:56 PM  

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