Unfortunately, yet again, there is not much good that can be said about this game. Because while the last two games had the Raiders ahead at half time only to blow the game, this one was never that close. As usual the Raiders looked great on their first offensive and defensive drives. First the Raiders defense forced the Saints to go three and out. Then on the ensuing punt, Jonnie Lee Higgins had a nice 35 yard run back to start the game, which he has done in three consecutive games, and the Raider offense drove the rest of the way into scoring position. But also as usual, they were forced to kick a field goal instead of get a touchdown. By now most of us are well aware that those three points were all the Raiders would see all day and their only trip into the red zone. There is plenty of blame to go around but I will get the ballers out of the way first.
Yet again, he was the Raiders leading receiver. He finished the game with 3 catches for 46 yards. While it is sad that a TE always seems to lead this team in receiving yards (cough Chiefs), it is good to know that there is at least one set of sure hands out there. Not to mention his ability to run crisp routes and get open consistently. I am sure he would be more than happy to see some of his wide receiver teammates get more catches and yards than him one of these days.
Finally he was able catch the ball a few times. He too finished the game with three catches. Two of those catches came on the Raiders first drive that lead to their field goal. And while three catches is not great, it is the most he has had all season and for the first time, he looked like he could catch a Russell pass. In previous games he looked lost and out of sync. This could signal good things. I am going to try and take a wait and see approach though.
He looked terrible. Yet again he completed just a handfull of throws all day. 13 for 35 for 159 yards and much of that came after the game was already lost. He hadn’t even amassed a hundred yards passing in the first half. And this time we can’t blame it on lack of attempts. I hate to be so hard on him because he is in many ways a rookie, but I am not here to give the benefit of the doubt. When he plays well, he will get credit for it. But as long as he continues to overthrow, under throw and throw late to his receivers and turn the ball over, this team will continue to lose. He threw an interception right into the hands of Jason David in this game because on what was supposed to have been a timing route, he threw WAY too late and David jumped it. He has fumbled in all but one game this season. So even while he was not given too many chances to throw interceptions or make risky throws, he has still found a way to turn the ball over. And it is always either with the Raiders in scoring position or with their backs to the end zone. In this case, the Raiders were down 27-3 and immediately after he fumbled, CBS (in my area) switched over to the Jets/Bengals game stating they were “moving to a game that is more competitive.” That’s right, the BENGALS were more competitive than the Raiders on Sunday. That is the same bengals who are without Carson Palmer. No wonder Kiffin didn’t trust Russell.
Ok so he was given the opportunity he had wanted and was supposed to be well qualified for and he blew it. It is all fine and good to want to have a balanced attack on offense. The concept being to keep the defense on it’s toes. But Sunday wasn’t balanced. The Raiders passed 35 times and ran 21 times. What it looked like to me was that Knapp was attempting to play to the Saints’ weakness instead of the Raiders’ strength. And that may have worked except we don’t have a quarterback who can make that idea work quite yet. The Raiders have the #3 rushing attack in the NFL thanks to the zone blocking scheme that Cable and Knapp installed and they abandoned it on Sunday. The Raiders finally had Fargas back healthy and he was given TEN carries. McFadden was only given EIGHT carries. That is unacceptable.
I thought the defense was supposed to be playing with passion for Ryan? That is what Ryan and Sapp have led everyone to believe. The defense didn’t look like a team that just came off of a bye week. Usually with two weeks to prepare for a team and get healthy, they come out rejuvenated. There was no aggressiveness or fight in them on Sunday. Every time a Saints receiver would make a long catch, they seemed like they were on an island. The Linebackers and safeties were so far away, it was often hard to tell who was supposed to be covering the open man. The Saints have a great offense but the poor schemes and lack of passion on defense made them look like some kind of juggernaut. And the Saints were without their best receiver and starting tight end. Pathetic.
Wow he was out of position so many times I think I lost count. The Saints 2nd drive nearly all went through him. He gave up a 21 yard catch to Reggie Bush and then two plays later gave up a 13 yard catch to the tight end Billy Miller. The Saints next drive resulted in a TD in which Reggie Bush needed no moves or explosiveness to execute because when he ran to the outside, there was no one there AT ALL. This is where Howard and/or Morrison were supposed to be. On the Saints next drive, he gave up two consecutive first downs. One was a Moore catch and the other was a Deuce McAllister run up the middle in which his first contact was at 5 yards and Deuce drove him for 5 more yards like he wasn’t even there. He tied for the team lead in tackles but much of that had to do with the fact that he gave up a catch first.
He gave a huge catch that set up the Saints field goal just before the half. Then he gave up another huge catch to Devery Henderson in the 3rd quarter that went for 51 yards and set up another field goal to put the game completely out of reach. Then on the next Saints touch down his man was wide open in the back of the end zone with him looking like “Wait, what just happened?” The only starter that had fewer tackles than he did was Aso and we all know why he doesn’t get tackles (because they don’t throw his way). Huff was responsible for quite a few scores last week as well. It is getting tiresome watching the other team score a touchdown or get into field goal range and seeing Huff run into the picture late. Free safety is supposed to be his natural position where he was going to show his true potential. Well it hasn’t happened yet but hopefully eventually he will find it.