The Oakland Raiders suffered a couple of setbacks, as they lose their season opener to the San Diego Chargers 22-14, at the Black Hole. The Raiders had unfortunate miscues in the one aspect of their game they have always been phenomenal in, special teams.
Starting long snapper, Jon Condo, suffered a head injury late in the second quarter. His replacement, Travis Goethel, had not long snapped since high school. What took place throughout the third quarter, was an eventful series of punts that put the Raiders in the worst possible predicament. Two of his snaps, barely made it to punter Shane Lechler, one of the two that did got blocked, and the other one was belted by Lechler, just barely before the Chargers could get to him. These blunders, put San Diego in great field position for most of the second half. If it weren’t for a stout performance from the defense, this game could have been a rout after three quarters of play.
The other culprit in last night’s game was the offense. In the first half, Carson Palmer seemed to be moving the ball at will, but the Raiders were only able to score two field goals. On their first initial drive, they were deep in San Diego territory, when rookie wide receiver, Rod Streater had a costly fumble deep in San Diego territory. The Raiders did manage to give running back, Darren McFadden a lot of touches throughout the game, but it was mainly as a receiver, as he ended up with a career-high13 catches for 86 yards. In the running game, McFadden only had 32 yards on 15 carries.
Palmer had a solid game, throwing for 297 yards, and a touchdown, but he never attacked the Chargers down the field throughout most of the ball game. I don’t know if it was new offensive coordinator, Greg Knapp, being too conservative, or that Palmer didn’t trust his young wide receiver corps, but they never put any consistent pressure on the Chargers’ secondary. Depleted at wideout, with no Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford, the Raiders were thin at the receiver position. They could have still threw more passes to Darrius Heyward-Bey (who had 64 catches last season), but he was only targeted five times. For the game, he had 3 catches for 43 yards, but he could have, and should have been used a lot more. The lone bright spot besides McFadden, was the possible emergence of tight end Brandon Myers, who had 5 catches for 65 yards. The Raiders offense, will eventually become more explosive, but until they get Moore and Ford back, they better do a better job of establishing the run, if they want to be effective, and efficient on offense.
The defense held up great last night, when you consider how many times they were backed up inside their own territory on numerous occasions. They held Chargers quarterback, Phillip Rivers to 231 passing yards, and one touchdown. They held San Diego’s running game in check, only allowing 32 rushing yards. The front seven was dominant, while the secondary did enough for most of the night (besides giving up some timely pass plays, I digress).
It seems like head coach, Bruce Allen has established the Raiders defensive identity, but the team as a whole still has room for improvement. Now that the first game of the season is in the books, I’m curious to see how Allen and his staff will make adjustments for next week’s game against the Miami Dolphins. The Raiders haven’t played too well against the Dolphins in recent years, so it will be interesting to see if Allen has the ability to repair, and motivate his players after a tough loss. With this Raiders team, you saw a couple of positives on the field Monday night, but the reality still remains, they are a work in progress. Let’s hope Raider Nation doesn’t have to go through another season of close, but no cigar.
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Written by Arthur Kai