The Time is Now for #2
Bears 17 - Raiders 6
As I watched the Raiders struggle on offense throughout the entire game vs. Da Bears, a feeling of hopelessness washed over me that was undeniable. With Josh McCown at QB, the possibility for big, explosive, down the field type plays seemed next to impossible. McCown's pop gun arm does not allow for the type of plays where big chunks of yardage can be covered. On a simple 3rd and 3 play, McCown had a difficult time getting enough mustard on the ball to reach Jerry Porter. When you factor in sacks, McCown's average net pass play was 2.6 yards. The total net yards passing was 80 yards. The dink & dunk passing offense's chances for success (read as TD drive) is like pitching a perfect game. There is little to no margin for error. It requires a time consuming drive with 100% efficiency. As soon as there is a mistake (read as an incomplete pass, sack or penalty) the offensive drive is DOA.
In spite of a putrid offense that could only score 2 field goals, the Raiders held a 6 to 3 lead with only 4:03 left in the game. Time for the D to shut down Da Bears, right? Wrong. On the 3rd play of the drive (1st and 10 from the Bears 41 yard line), QB Grossman hits WR Berrian with a 59 yard bomb for a go ahead 10 to 6 lead. Chris Carr was called into duty today because of the injury to Nnamdi Asomugha. Lined up in man to man coverage on the speedy Berrian, where on earth was FS Stuart Schweigert? (just look at the picture above). The reason I'm pinning the blame on Stu and not Carr are for the following reasons:
(1) Stu should have been shading Berrian's side of the field knowing full well that the Bears have been targeting Carr's side of the field throughout the day.
(2) It was Stu's responsibility to give Carr help by providing deep, bracket coverage.
What is really sad & pathetic is that once Da Bears scored this TD and went up by 4 points, I never had the feeling that McCown could march the Raiders offense down the field for a go ahead TD. McCown's longest completion for the entire game was a 14 yard pass to Porter in the 1st quarter.
What is really a shame is that the Raiders Defense & Special Teams units played exceptionally well. The Raiders run defense tightened up the screws and held Da Bears to a measly 78 yards on 34 carries for a paltry 2.3 yards per carry. The Raiders pass rush accounted for 3 sacks. Excluding the one big TD play to Berryman, the Raiders defense played inspired football. The Special Teams had by far their best performance of the 2007 season. Devin Hester is arguably the best return man EVER. The Raiders coverage units played disciplined, sound football and effectively boxed in Hester. For the game, Hester had 6 punt returns for 14 yards and 3 kick off returns for 35 yards. SeaBass hit both of his FG attempts including the go ahead 52 yarder late in the 4th quarter.
Sitting at 2-7 with an offense that has scored only 4 TDs in the last 5 games, the only ray of hope seems to be that Kiffin's hand will be forced to take the training wheels off of JaMarcus Russell. To build hope & optimism for the remainder of this year and lay a foundation for 2008, Russell needs to be inserted on to the field. I will gladly take the hope that the flicker of Russell's wrist provides for big offensive plays than sit idly by while McCown misfires his squirt gun.