Not What I Hoped For
by, 09-24-2013 at 09:47 AM (327 Views)
After a Sunday full of upsets in the NFL, I have to admit I was hoping for more of a game when I watched my Oakland Raiders fall 21-37 to the Denver Broncos at whatever they call Vile High Stadium these days, which seems to be Sports Authority at Mile High.
That means just that I was hoping for more. The Baltimore Ravens lost by 22 points, with Joe Flacco at quarterback. The NY Giants lost by 18 points with Eli Manning at quarterback. That's 3 Super Bowl victories, and our quarterback in his 4th start was down by only 2 scores, 2 touchdowns with 2 successful 2 point conversion attempts. We may have been at only 13 points down IF Dennis Allen had allowed Sebastian Janikoswki to try that record-breaking 68 yard field goal attempt at the end of the half. I was realistic about this, knowing the man love the NFL has for guys like Peyton Manning, knowing the penalties the Denver team has constantly gotten away with, and knowing the limitations of the Raiders.
By limitations I mean I know we had 1 starter on our defense this game that was on the team last year. Despite what some think of Tyvon Branch, I think his presence was missed on the field this game. Even though he's a rookie, Sio Moore was missed , too. he brings a fire to the defense. Lamarr Houston made his presence felt.
First in a negative way, by giving the Broncos a first down on a 3rd and 5 because he bit on the hard count. The 2nd time in a much more positive manner by getting to Manning in the backfield and causing him to fumble. IN THE RED ZONE. In fact, Manning fumbled twice tonight. he had 2 fumbles all of last year, and tonight he fumbled as many times as he did all of last season. One was mishandling the ball, but that means either the center was looking at something on the defense, or Manning was, and one or the other wasn't focusing on delivering or getting the ball. Considering our defensive limitations, that made me smile. When Jason hunter recovered the fumble forced by Houston and got us to the 30 yard line?
I was more than thrilled. We scored a touch down after that fumble, too. We were looking at 14 point swing on that alone. Jason Hunter got a hit on Manning, too. Kevin Burnett forced a fumble when Monte Ball was trying for a run. Mike Jenkins recovered that one. I don't even blame him for the illegal forward pass. He was getting twisted around as he was being tackled, it was only 5 yards, and we still scored a touchdown on the drive.
Then there were the rest of the defensive plays. When Manning went no huddle, nothing we did was able to stop him. Much of the time, they were gassed. Denver had the ball for over 10 minutes longer than we did. The entire first quarter they ran no huddle. Part of me thinks that they did this only because they knew if we could run our substitutions in about , they would have had far more difficulty. Even in a no huddle, we did force a punt and kept them settle for a field goal on their 2nd and 3rd possessions. By the time the 2nd quarter rolled around, again with every possession being no huddle, our defense was struggling. I can understand that. Even with a break, Denver's drives took time, and the thin air isn't conducive to recovering from being winded.
But why was Denver so afraid of running standard offense against us? When they did in the 2nd half, they scored only 10 points. While I understand the strategy, and the desire to win a game, I wish we would have been more prepared for the no huddle. Peyton was afraid for some reason. John Fox was afraid for some reason, and that gives me something to be proud of, and something for the Raiders to focus on. I think I know what the Broncos were afraid of, too. 9 quarterback sacks in 2 games. With Ryan Clady being out, in a standard offense, even as fast as manning can deliver the ball, the Broncos were pushed into the no huddle to protect Manning. Jason Tarver needs to come up with something to diffuse the effectiveness of a no huddle. While I personally don't believe we face anyone that can run it as well as Manning, with an offense as stacked as his, the inability to have an answer can still hurt us in another game.
So defensively, we need to work on the no huddle, and basically sticking with the assignments and making a play. There was more than once when a player stood like his legs were encased in cement rather than break on the player with the ball or getting the ball. That can't happen. I will forgive them for the runs allowed, especially in the 4th for the reasons I mentioned above, plus add that ball carrying duties were handled by 3 different running backs.
Now this brings me to the offense. Why couldn't we do the same, especially as Darren McFadden was so ineffective? Can we PLEASE , Mr. Olsen, not run him up the middle any longer? He doesn't cut back and look for an opening. he doesn't try to break tackles. He runs into a wall and allows himself to go down. End of story. Jeremy Stewart come across your mind at all? How about using Marcel Reece to carry the ball? Don't we have a fullback? Wow, I checked our roster and we do! Jamize Olawale. Heck, have Taiwan Jones carry the ball! He's done it before. ANYTHING to stop the tedious monotony and predictability of failure that is now commonplace for McFadden. (This is from a Raiders fan!)
We probably should have tried more of the option plays for Pryor, and given him more targets, too, earlier in the game. I know clock management has not been his long suit, but hell, TRY a no huddle with him. Anything to have changed the pace of the offense and give it a much needed spark.
All of that being said, Terrelle Pryor was a true bright spot in this game. Stefan Wisniewski had a bad snap, that
was high. Had Pryor looked prepared for it, it may not have gone over his head. But he wasn't and it did. He made nothing out of what could have been, considering he was in the end zone, a safety. Denarius Moore
returned to rookie season form. I have more faith in Pryor keeping his professional form than I have of Moore doing so. I therefore issue a challenge to Moore: keep on doing what you did this game, and I will continue to praise you highly. Can you rise to that challenge, Mr. Moore? Can you keep your head in the game?
Now aside from a couple fo calls, over all I am happy with the offensive line. It protected Pryor very well. People talked about the run blocking being poor, but again I will state that McFadden didn't try to bounce out at all. He wasn't looking for anywhere to run. In fact, I saw his head down, so he couldn't have been looking for any type of opening. Keep in mind this is a makeshift line, with an RT at LT and a guy with a couple of weeks with the team at RT.
Khalif Barnes did get nailed for a hold, and it was a good call. But 1st and 20 is better than a 2nd and 20. We would have lost yards regardless, what we got was another down to try to get them.
Now onto officiating. While NONE of this cost us the game, it did cost us. We had a first down on a nice pass play, and we were called for one of the most bogus offensive pass interference calls I have ever seen. The hold on Marcel Reece? yeah was probably a legit call, but considering how little it was compared to the holding that prevented Burnett from making a play, that didn't get called? Or other holds by the Denver team? I know that while running a QB is allowed to be hit, he is considered defenseless if he is in the grasp and forward progress is stopped. This was the case when Terrelle Pryor got clocked so hard he ended up with a concussion. I trust the NFL will mete out a suitable fine. (When hell freezes over, that is.) Now to be fair, Brandian Ross may have gotten away with some kind of hit on Demaryius Thomas, but again, in comparison to what they got away with on Pryor? It wasn't anything.
Game balls: Terrelle Pryor hands down for making plays out of nothing, keeping plays alive somehow, finally going into his progressions, and staying form in the pocket more than once, and reception leader, Denarius Moore. For defense, Kevin Burnett for leading the defense with 10 tackles, all solo, a pass defended and one forced fumble, and Lamarr Houston, who had 5 solo tackles, a sack, a qb hit, and the forced fumble. Honorable mentions: anyone that caught a ball tonight, because they gave Pryor a target when he needed one, and Charles Woodson who seemed to know more than Tarver, knowing when he blitzed that one play it was a mistake, before the play. He was second on the team with tackles, with 9 solo and one assist for a total of 10 combined. Hunter for his fumble recovery and Jenkins for his play, too.
This isn't a moral victory by any means. But we stopped the Broncos when other teams failed, and at times, we were the reason they kept moving the ball. yeah, I hoped for better, but I am satisfied with this showing. There are too many positives to take away from this game.
So time to work on shortened week and try to figure out an offensive plan for both Pryor and Matt Flynn, as he may have to play if Pryor isn't cleared medically. Also we need to be prepared for Robert Griffen III who is still a threat, never mind the Redskins struggles.
A complete side note. When I was watching the game, I started yelling "Go! GO!" after Jenkins was trying to get the ball in the end zone after getting he recovery from Ball's fumble. My grandson came over looked a the game and said "Football! Go GO!" I said 'Go RAIDERS!" and he looked at me and yelled "GO RAIDERS!" That gave me the biggest smile of the night. Gotta' love it!
Win, lose or tie, RAIDERS til I DIE!