Recipe For Disaster
The Raiders played one of the elite teams in the NFL on Sunday facing off with the Green Bay Packers (11-2) on the road. In order to win this game, the Raiders needed to (a) play a complete game; offense, defense, special teams (b) win the turnover battle (c) contain RB Ryan Grant (d) accrue a minimum of penalties (e) and make a few big, game changing plays. Unfortunately, the Raiders came up well short on every item of their "to do list" and the result was a 38-7 shellacking at the hands of the Packers. Here is a summary of the Raiders shortcomings:
(a) Team Effort: Offense, Defense, Special Teams
The offensive unit had their worst performance of 2007.
- The Raiders were unable to sustain drives. Out of 12 possessions, the Raiders had only 2 drives that covered at least 40 yards (1 TD, 1 missed FG), 4 drives that resulted in 3 and out punts, 2 interceptions on the 1st play of drives, and the remaining 4 drives ended on downs or went nowhere fast.
- QB Josh McCown was inaccurate with his throws (7-15, 115 yards, 2 interceptions) and Justin Fargas had a difficult time getting in a rhythm (15 carries for 57 yards) to establish the run.
- The offensive unit earned only 10 total first downs for the entire game and had 0 red zone opportunities. The total net yards accumulated was 233 (85 rushing, 148 passing).
- The game got so out of hand that QB Andrew Walter was inserted in mop up duty in the 4th quarter.
The defensive unit had their worst performance of 2007.
- The Packers were forced to punt on only 2 occasions and converted 50% of their 3rd downs. The Raiders defense allowed the Packers to rack up 445 net yards (179 rushing, 266 passing). The average gain per play was 7.5 yards.
- The Raiders D was unable to create a pass rush (0 sacks), did a poor job of tackling, and had numerous blown coverages in the secondary.
The special teams unit had their worst performance of 2007.
- The special teams unit was responsible for 2 Packer TDs. The 1st was a 57 yard punt return TD by Will Blackmon who fielded a short punt from Lechler and went untouched. The 2nd TD was caused by a fumble by PR Tim Dwight who coughed up the ball that ended up recovered in the end zone by Will Blackmon.
- Punter Shane Lechler had 2 short punts (1 traveling only 30 yards) and poor hangtime on his 5 punts.
- Kicker Sebastian Janikowski missed his only field goal attempt from 44 yards out.
(b) Win the turnover battle
Probably the most important element to an upset win on the road is creating turnovers on defense and protecting the football on offense. Losing the turnover battle 3 to 1 made this contest a knock out instead of a TKO.
(c) Contain RB Ryan Grant
Grant sliced through the Raiders defense for 156 yards on 29 carries for 5.3 ypc. The Raiders front 4 got completely mauled by the Packs OLine. On the majority of Grant's carries he reached the 2nd level of the Raiders defense.
(d) Accrue a minimal number of penalties
The Raiders were flagged 9 times for 62 yards. Although some of these penalties were dubious (offensive interference phantom call on Porter and defensive pass interference on Asomugha) the rest were the result of undisciplined play. The offensive penalties killed 2 or 3 drives and the defensive penalties led to 2 Packer 1st downs.
(e) Make a few big, game changing plays
Besides WR Jerry Porter's 25 yard TD grab to end the 1st half, the Raiders were unable to make any game altering type plays. The Packers on the other hand had at least 4 pivotal, impact plays; 57 yard Punt Return TD; 80 yard TD pass to Greg Jennings; fumble recovery for a TD on Raider punt return; 46 yard TD pass to Donald Lee.
Who is Next?
The Raiders host the Super Bowl Champion Indianopolis Colts (11-2). After performing so badly against the Packers, it is important for the Raiders to bounce back with a spirited, well played effort vs. the Colts. I also feel it is important to take the bubble wrap off of JaMarcus Russell and get him some valuable playing experience. In a typical game the offensive unit has usually 12 to 15 possessions. Ideally I would like to see Russell on 2 series in the 1st half and 2 series in the 2nd half.