Sunday, September 21, 2008

Foot Off The Gas

In the Raiders heartbreaking loss to the Bills, 23-24, there are 2 chief reasons why a very winnable game became a “L”.

Red Zone Inefficiency
In the first half, the Raiders offense had the ball at Buffalo’s 5 yard line, 18 yard line, and 11 yard line. The result was 3 SeaBass field goals.

First possession of the game was set up nicely by a Johnny Lee Higgins (JLH) 68 yard kick off return. Russell completed 2 passes to JaVon Walker to move the ball to Buffalo’s 5 yard line.
On second and five, Russell could not find an open receiver and wisely threw it out of the end zone. The third and five was a questionable play call. Instead of giving Russell a rollout, pass/run option, or perhaps a swing pass to McFadden in space, Russell attempted a very difficult fade pattern to Walker in the corner. SeaBass gets us on the board for 3.

Fourth possession of the game the Raiders started at Buffalo’s 42 yard line. This was courtesy of the Raiders D. Ryan unleashed both Hall and Wilson on a blitz. Hall and Burgess got to QB Edwards and sacked him on a third and 10. A 22 yard completion to WR Lelie moved the ball to the 20. An incomplete on first down was followed by a 2 yard run by RB Bush. Facing third down and 8 from the Buffalo 18 yard line, the Raiders attempted another pass to the corner of the end zone to Walker. Same result. Incomplete. Out trots SeaBass for a chippy.

On the seventh possession of the game, Oakland started on Buffalo’s 40 yard line. This field possession was handed on a silver platter to the O by means of a DE Edwards sack/tomahawk chop with Sands recovering the fumble. On second and 4, Russell found a wide open FB Griffith near the sideline for a 20 yard gain. The Raiders had first down on Buffalo’s 15 yard line. 3 straight runs for a net 4 yards led to SeaBass kicking another FG.

Through the first half and the beginning stages of the third quarter, the defense played an attacking, aggressive D that gave the Raiders numerous short fields to work. Using blitz pressure and tight man to man coverage, the D created 3 turnovers, 3 sacks, and close to a dozen QB hurries. QB Edwards was running for his life and unable to get into any rhythm. In spite of the offense not capitalizing on key red zone scoring opportunities, the Raiders were firmly in charge of the game’s outcome. At the mid point of the third quarter the Raiders had a 16-7 advantage. With 6 plus minutes to go in the game, the Raiders were up 23-14. So what happened? This brings up point number 2.

Prevent D = Prevention of a W
A number of things happened in the second half that were factors in this comeback victory. Losing SS Wilson to a unsportsmanlike conduct ejection hurt the secondary and run D. Losing DT Warren to injury caused the Dline to wear down and use Sands and Wakefield more than usual. However the chief culprit for this letdown was DC Ryan. From the mid third quarter to the completion of the game, Ryan took his foot off Buffalo’s throat. His blitz packages and man to man coverage had worked beautifully for 2.5 quarters. Instead of using what worked so effectively, Ryan, for reasons that boggles my mind, went to zone coverage and very few blitz attempts. As a fan, I watched QB Edward get comfortable, get into rhythm, and pick apart the zone scheme.

On the fourth possession in the second half, down 16-7, Buffalo started at their own 4 yard line. Ryan went soft and Edwards methodically marched the Bills down for a 96 yard TD drive.

On the third play of the ensuing drive, the Raiders came right back with a slant pattern timed perfectly for JLH. Russell threw the ball for a strike in a small window. JLH took it to the house for a 84 yard TD. OK, so now were are up 23-14 with 6:23 remaining in the game. What does Ryan do with this 9 point cushion? You guessed it. Ryan went to a “prevent” D. WRs Evans and Reed worked the soft zone for receptions of 22 yards, 13 yards, and 16 yards. Buffalo scores a TD to put the game at 23-21 Raiders.

On the game deciding series of the game, the Raiders D clearly had run out of gas. Buffalo was dominating the trenches. With the game on the line, this is the time for Ryan to force the action, blitz, and play aggressive man to man D. Instead, we sat back and let the Bills dictate the terms of the action.

3 red zone possession by the offense that led to 3 FGs and 3 series by the D in the last 20 minutes of the game where we went soft … this is a tough loss to swallow. Kiffin needs to get more creative with his red zone playcalling. Ryan needs to use an attacking, aggressive “play to win” D for 4 quarters. Both Kiffin and Ryan need to be held accountable for this loss. Kiffin will likely be fired at the bye break and Ryan will get promoted to Head Coach which is only fitting in crazy Raiderland.

Up Next: San Diego Chargers visit Oakland

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CJ,

Quick work with the blog---thanks

FYI I went in to my backyard and puked after the game

1. I agree we were way to passive on d in the fourth quarter---same on O though (Hall looked like garbage)

2. What about Kiff using some timeouts on Buffalo's final drive to try and get us the ball back

3. The key play to the game was when we had them 3 and 8 on their 4yard line in the start of the 4th quarter we are up by 9. Lynch catches a pass in the flat and breaks three tackles for the first down. Had we stopped them there it would probably have been over. Instead they go 98 yards score a touchdown and wear out our D.

4. I think Kiff will be fired today. Even though I can not stand Kiff the person for continuity sake I would prefer to see him stick around

I am traveling all the way from Florida for the Chargers game---I pray we can get a win

Regards

Florida Raider

8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coach Rob [Caveman] Ryan threw the game so that he can offer himself to Al as the Head Coach. Meanwhile, Kiffin will be fired/transferred to QB coach. I can hear Al Davis clearly: "Just win, Baby!"

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CJ.

One item I fogot to mention is Russell threw 3 passes in the second half. You can not win in the NFL doing that. Is Russell that raw and or bad or is Kiffin being super cautious. Either way it is scary

Regards

Florida Raider

10:41 AM  
Blogger kigleigh said...

GUTTED !!Another heartbreaking loss. We surely did enough for a win only to bottle it with ultra conservative play calling and prevent-me-from-sleeping-at-night Defense and throw away what would have been a very,very valuable win.
Not since the Denver game with the Shannarat time-out after our FG debacle have i felt as dissappointed as this..
This should have been 2 away wins on the bounce guys,not another inquest as to what went wrong...
As i said GUTTED !!!!

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

Kigleigh,
I disagree, we did not do enough for a "W" because of poor clock management offensively, only playing 3 Quarters of football, and simply not being in shape to play 4 Quarters.
This has been a problem with the Raiders, even in the Gruden days. Playing hard 3 Quarters, and hitting cruise control in the 4th. We play too much to the mentality of "expecting a win" when leading in the 4th, instead of "Raider" mentality of burning the house down, and stealing the plunder. We have the mentality of showing up in the town, setting the house on fire, and expecting the villagers to surrender, and give us their plunder. But what is happening is the villagers are putting the fire out before it spreads, and punching us in the face.
We have to take it, we have to make a statement to the rest of the League if we expect to return to our winning ways. But we expect others to hand us the win if we are leading in the 4th Quarter. It's just not going to happen. EVER! A football game is won in the 4th Quarter, not 3. We did nothing but let another lead get away from us by not keeping focus as a football team. That again, falls on the entire coaching staff; and the players on the field. Somebody stop the bleeding!

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Tooz 72 said...

I don't care if I never see another Prevent D again as long as I live. The Raiders Prevent D has prevented one hell of a lot of wins over the years. And somewhere Cliff Branch and Fred Beletnikoff are thanking God they didn't play in the we-don't-pass-in-the-second-half era. Another shitty game well documented by CJ and the good bloggers here.

Maybe we'll see something different in SD next week.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CJ

Watch this video link especially the last two minutes when some Raider staffer almost gets in a fight with that Tim Kawima (not spelt correctly) coloumnist

http://www.contracostatimes.com/raiders/ci_10531343

Florida Raider

5:35 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

FL: Above all, I hope you enjoy your trip to Oaktown this weekend.

1. Agreed. Kiffin fell short on his red zone playcalling (needs to get more creative) and failed to use his backs more as receivers. Ryan went completely limp from the 7:00 minute mark of the 3rd Q to the completion of the game.

2. In my judgment, the Raiders should have used the TOs early in the last D series AND took some chances to go for a 3 & out. The soft, prevent D late in the game is a recipe for failure.

3. You are correct. There were a few plays similar to that one where poor tackling led to critical 1st down conversions.

4. My guess is either tomorrow (team's day off) or right before the bye break.

Interesting point Anon. (please sign in or give yourself a login name next time). I wouldn't put it past Davis to "remove" Kiffin but keep him on the payroll in order to force Kiffin's hand to quit.

FL: Yes, Kiffin is being ultra conservative with Russell which isn't the worst thing in the world especially if our rushing attack is clicking. What I would like to see happen is for the Raiders to utilize the backs more in the passing game and on ocassion go to some 2 TE sets (1 blocker, 1 receiver).

KigLeigh: Gutted, filleted, and harpooned. A sick feeling. Instead of back to back road victories and 2 & 1 record, we are back at the "Fire Kiffin" trough.

RaiderNate: You took the words right out of my mouth. The 4th quarter ... From the movie Glengaryross "Coffee is for closers"! With a 9 point lead, you need to apply the foot to the throat harder not softer. The missing component to the Raiders in this game was the KO punch. A KO can be delivered in so many ways ... by the offense, defense, the special teams. It often times is making just one more play, or one more stop.

Tooz: SD looked very impressive tonight. All I want on Sunday is for the Raiders to go all out, for 4 quarters, with complete reckless abandon. If we lose with this approach, we still have our pride in tact. Now is not the time to go soft, passive, preventive, nor conservative.

Thanks all for stopping by SBF. CJ

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

I think one of the most unused plays in the red zone is the shovel pass. Gannon made a hay day with that play in the red zone.
It works better than a screen, play-action, and run up the middle. If I were calling the offense, that would be my first down play for the first 2 red zone trips; and then the third, run the ball, or play action to Zach Miller on an out pattern.
Guaranteed 21 points in the first half.
Creativity in the red zone puts points on the board; which is another thing that Kiffin lacks.
Being the aggressor for 4 Quarters, not only gives us points, but more importantly gives us a "W"; another thing that Kiffin lacks. Developing a QB means you let him make mistakes, and give him the opportunity to learn from it, and helping him to become more disciplined in his decisions. Handing the ball off to the RB is not QB development.
This isn't rocket science, it's football. The more aggressive wins. The Raiders have lost the swagger of aggressiveness. We have no hard hitters on defense; we have no creativity on offense; and no physical play in the trenches on both sides of the ball. We are going on our 6th season of passive football; and instead of stealing plunder; we our throwing it overboard.

The winter cold killed a pirate
Frustration on the sea
With a lamenting song, he weeps, he longs
To recover from his injury

He hangs his head in defeat
He feels helpless as the cold waves crash
He's lost his sense of direction
And has snot-sickles on his mustache

He moans and begs for mercy
He reflects on his glory of old
He begins to shake, and quiver and quake
As the winter robs him of his gold.

The winter cold killed a Raider
A legacy ends in turmoil and shun
He's been knocked around, hung upside down
Disgraced, defeated, undone

6:28 AM  

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