Aso is the only defensive player you are going to see on this list. He shut down his side as he always does and when he came up to make a tackle, he didn’t miss. In fact that tackle of Jay Cutler was something the rest of the team should study. It was an open field tackle and he hit him hard and direct sending his legs flying in the air and stopped him on what looked like a sure first down. The only ball that his man caught all day was on a play in which Rob Ryan called for Aso to stay at the line for an expected run (that wasn’t). In which case Huff was supposed to take Darryl Jackson but whiffed on the tackle resulting in an easy TD. Nnamdi deserves better than this. And when I saw he and Jay Cutler chopping it up at the end of the game it sent chills down my spine that Nnamdi may turn down any amount of money next offseason so he can go to a team that is not so dysfunctional and gives him some chance to win a championship.
Although he didn’t start as he was told he would, he came in after McFadden left with a shoulder injury and looked as good as ever. Bursting through the line for large chunks of yardage and making positive yardage where it looked like there was none to be had. He always gives it everything he has and if the Raiders defense would not have blown this one early on, he and McFadden may have been able to carry this team to a win or at least kept it close. The only runs he had that didn’t look good were 4th and short plays in which they should have put Michael Bush in to pound through the line. But Bush mysteriously was no where to be found. Another rant for another day I suppose.
I am going to get to individual defensive players in a minute but it seems that� when you have a secondary and line backing corp that is full of probowlers and near probowlers that when they all play this bad it is obvious where the problem really lies. Let’s start with his use of DeAngelo Hall and Gibril Wilson first. Everyone knows that DeAngelo Hall is a cover corner and the the whole game Ryan had him playing zone. Everyone knows that Gibril Wilson is a hitter and run stuffing Safety. So why not send Hall out on an island like Aso, bring up Wilson to guard against a run to that side or a QB scramble and have Huff back there as a “safety” valve in case Hall bites on a pump fake or gets burnt? I am no expert but it is easy to see that what his “plan” was on Monday was not the way to go. Ryan has proven yet again that he has no clue what he is doing. He has always been terrible and the Raiders could have a probowl team out there looking lost (which they pretty much already do) with him at the helm.
Every year the cycle plays itself out again and HE is to blame. HE is responsible for this team’s dysfunction, HE is responsible for Ryan still being here, HE is responsible for Kiffin being disconnected with the players on the field because Kiffin was never allowed to decide who to bring in, HE is responsible for putting rat face on the Broncos with a lifelong grudge against him, HE is the reason Gruden was on the opposite side of the field beating the Raiders like a drum in the SuperBowl, HE is the reason this team continues to draft terrible players that are fast (cough JLH) and players we don’t need while neglecting glaring weak spots, HE is the reason the Raiders can’t get any players who just want to win, and HE is the reason HE has to pay way too much to bring players in which means there isn’t enough cap room to sign more players that fill a need. I keep wondering when or if he will ever get it through his head that he is dragging this team down with his meddling and power hungry ways. Al: “If you love something let it go” but unfortunately in this case it may be “Until death do you part”.
The Entire Raider Dline
I lost count of how many times I saw the Broncos Oline completely stand up the Raiders Dline. In fact not a single Raider lineman even got into the backfield, let alone pressured Cutler, all day. Derrick Burgess was no where to be found. He wasn’t even a blip on the radar screen and it is not like the Broncos have this spectacular Oline either. The Broncos have mostly rookies, and first and second year starters. They are supposed to be a rebuilding Oline whose glory years are long over. But the Raiders incompetence made them look better than ever. There was several times in which Cutler just stood in the pocket while there wasn’t even any movement from the Raiders Dline. It was as if someone had paused the Tivo for about 10 seconds. I don’t know how many times I shouted “What the hell are you doing!?” at the TV. The only aspect that looked improved was stopping the run. But without pressure on the QB the Broncos still marched down the field with ease and eventually the line wore out and (as I said in my article “key matchups”) midway through the 3rd quarter they ran the ball down the Raiders throats as the thin Dline was sucking air.
While I just said that Rob Ryan was the main problem because he was having Hall play zone, that is still no excuse for his astoundingly bad play. He was ALWAYS so far off of his man that there was no chance for him to come up and make a play. Eddie Royal is a rookie and he made DeAngelo Hall look like Michael Waddell. In fact, even Waddell never looked as bad as Hall did in that game. The play that was the worst was when Royal started out on the left side then went in motion to the right. Hall didn’t pick him up until it was too late and even then he played 10 yards off the line and as soon as Royal started running, Hall BACKED UP. Royal caught the ball wide open and Hall ran over, pushed him out of bounds and then flung him like rag doll which drew a flag for a late hit out of bounds. The result was an easy 30 yard gain. Then on the next play he gave up another catch to Royal and hit him while he was down (not really and it was a typical discriminatory call against the Raiders) which made for another 25 yard gain. So in two plays, the Broncos were in scoring position. I thought that if the Raiders were going to be beat, it would be first of all running the ball, and second of all short passes in the slot. Hall getting schooled by a rookie was not something I thought would have ever happened.
He gave up the first touchdown of the game to a wide open Eddie Royal (I am already sick of saying that name) because he didn’t pick him up when he went deep. Then he almost gave up another TD to Brandon Stokley on a pass that sailed just out of Stokley’s reach at the goal line. Then he gave up another big catch to Royal later in the game.
Kirk Morrison- Completely BLEW his coverage on Tony Sheffler who had wide open space to run for a 72 yard TD. Then he would have given up another TD catch to Sheffler if it had not been for Sheffler just dropping the ball.
Was pretty much absent on these long catches and TD catches. Seriously, why was it every time a Bronco receiver beat his man, he had a wide open field to run into the end zone? Where was Huff on all of these big plays? The one time I can recall seeing him, was when he was supposed to pick up Jackson on that TD catch and the ensuing whiff on the tackle.
His first pass attempt was when the Raiders were inside the 5 yard line and looked like they might score. McFadden slipped into the flat and Russell went to throw it and the ball simply slipped out of his hand for a fumble which was recovered by the Broncos. Next time he dropped back, he held the ball forever and despite being out of the pocket he didn’t get rid of it and was sacked of a 10 yard loss. Next play he took too long to get the play called and was flagged for delay of game. So the Raiders ran the ball to try and get back a few yards and punted. Next pass attempt he had, Curry had his man beat on what looked like a sure TD� and he overthrew him. And the last play before half time he caused the entire offensive line to false start (I don’t know how but if they ALL jump then…). Then to start the 2nd half he fumbled the ball (the Raiders recovered). He played pretty well for a while after that but the damage had already been done and the Broncos were sitting back letting him have the little stuff by that point. Sure he is essentially a rookie and he will have rough times but then what was he doing half of last year and this entire training camp and preseason this year?
Jonnie Lee Higgins
Anyone who gives Higgins credit for his first kick-off return wasn’t watching this game. He ran a straight line down the field and wasn’t even touched until he was in Broncos territory. That return was all thanks to blocking (can’t believe there wasn’t a flag thrown). In fact a competent returner would have taken that one to the house. On nearly all of his other run backs, he was tackled by the first man down the field and in some cases he simply ran straight into them. Then there was that end around that he bobbled, dropped, picked back up, went the other direction and ran out of bounds for a sizable loss of yards. What an idiot. He is supposed to be a receiver and he can’t catch a pass that is thrown from two feet away? Then he can’t throw the ball away and save the Raiders from losing yards? Ashley Lelie, and Chaz Shilens looked decent out there so I think we can safely say this team doesn’t need Higgins as a receiver and they could put just about anyone back there on kicks and have more success. I am really sick of criticizing this guy’s terrible play every week and having him still on the team the next week.
Kwame Harris, Cornell Green, Cooper Carlisle
While they technically only gave up a couple of outright sacks (Carlisle was responsible for one of those), Russell was pressured all day and flushed from the pocket on nearly every pass play. Kwame Harris gave up a huge hit on Russell’s back just as he released the pass that was reminiscent of the hit the Mario Henderson gave up on Andrew Walter in the preseason that gave Walter a bloody nose.
Overall, his coaching was not terrible. It wasn’t too good but not especially bad. I do have a few questions for him though. Where was Michael Bush on those short yardage plays?. Why did you elect to punt on the Broncos 38 yard line instead of go for it or try a field goal? Why were your goal line and short yardage plays so predictable? I will take you answers in the comment box (No, not you Coach Elkins. I don’t care what you have to say about Kiffin).
I really don’t know where else to go with this game. It was a complete and utter humiliation. The Raiders lost badly against our most hated rival in prime time on the first game of the season. As fans, we deserve better than this. This defense looked as horrible as the Raiders offense did in 2006. On top of that, the offense didn’t look very good either. This makes 6 straight season opening losses for the Raiders. After waiting 7 months to see our team play again, should we have to endure the same embarassing scenario in game one every year? Each game is just like the season in microcosm. In both cases the Raiders are forced to try and dig themselves out of a hole that is near impossible to accomplish. Desperation simply leads to worse results. Although some would certainly like to burn the tape of this game, I hope there is something that can be learned from this.