Photo via David Eulitt of the Kansas City Star
From the FanPosts. Tweaked the title. -Joel
Another week is in the books. Unlike last week where there was a moral victory I don't think that's the same case this week and I'm sure the players won't look at it that way. Win or lose though there are things that are good, bad and ugly so lets run them down.
Our 60 million dollar quarterback is back in the game and physically looked very good. He was active in the pocket and proved to be more mobile then I think alot would've expected. He made plays with his feet when he had to although I think considering he has to still be considered as "rehabbing" all the fans and coaches would rather not see him throwing lead blocks. He has the swagger, competitiveness and demeanor of a winner and that was clear today.
Control of the gameclock. The defense and offense combined to give us a Ravenlike two to one advantage in the clock. On offense we were able to run the ball and on defense able to get off the field. The offense didn't have a three and out until the last drive of the game(technically it was a four and out) and on the defensive side of the ball we caused six, three and outs and one four and out of the Raiders ten total drives.
We have a running game again for at least this week. We ran very effectively with various people running the ball. It was an emphasis coming into the game and I think they rose the occassion. After the Raiders defense shut down what some would call a better running team in San Diego when went out and racked up 173 yards for a 4.6 ypc average.
The Offensive Line is improving and you can tell from lack of hate on this site alone in the post game comments. The common theme around here for the last month has been to blame everything on the oline. Even though they had a few penalties tonight they are clearly getting better as a group as they gave Cassel time in the pocket and throwing/running lanes to work with as well as gaped open running lanes most of the afternoon. It's not perfect yet but a huge step forward today.
The defense showed up to play. The naysayers will say "On the most important drive of the game they couldn't get off the field" which is true but the fact is we kept them to 166 yards and 13 points as well as what was previously mentioned of getting off the field in four and out or better on seven of ten drives. The Raiders vaunted running game got a whopping 66 rushing yards for a 2.6 ypc average.
Tank Tyler deserves his own shout out even though he was part of the defense that played well today. We worried all offseason whether we had a NT that would work for this team and after a little time, Haley beatings, and picking up his play Tank has stepped up. He was pushing into the backfield all night and led the team with seven tackles.
There were other things that borderlined on good like the addition and impact of Bobby Wade, Dantrell Savage filling in well for Charles and the offense moving the ball as well as other things that have been good in past weeks. These are more of the good things that were question marks or concerns before.
Penalties taken and called. After a great week of focus and discipline last week it seemed like a set back this week. The offensive line had a few penalties and its not that they were bad but the penalties seemed to come at bad times, stalling drives making 2nd/3rd and mediums to longs etc.
The playcalling was also probably the worst we'll see all year. You can't blame a loss on the refs because we had opportunities to put the game in the bag and take it out of the refs hands but at a critical time in the game they did shift the momentum and affect the outcome of that drive. Between the mystery block in the back on Wade, the "late hit" even though he wasn't downed on JR and the constant hands to the face that Hali had to deal with all game we'll all be looking forward to a new crew next week.
Offensive execution is still clearly a work in progress. We have to remember that as of three weeks ago a new offense is being installed and the QB leading that got his first live snaps in that offense today. Haley said it last week about Croyle and you could see it in Cassel's face for alot of the game today "I look at him on the field and he's registering it in his head. He has to think every call through and nothings happening automatically yet". This was no more clear then in the first half when he burned two timeouts early which came back to bite us later. There was one time he went back to the huddle and you could clearly see him say "I don't know what they play is", needless to say we took a timeout on that play. It will take awhile before these players are working automatically and instinctively but it's already better then the "easy" option which was to keep Chan around.
We didn't make the big plays when they were there. Whether it was Cassel throwing interceptions in the Raiders zone, Flowers dropping a pick six, making a great special teams play, or Leggett pulling down what looked like an interception on the last drive to seal the deal. These are the plays, like last weeks game, that are the difference in between wins and losses and today we didn't make them.
Take the points when you have them. Even people playing Madden 2010 know this rule. With 30 seconds left and no time outs left, going on it on 4th and 1 was the wrong call. Its the equivalent of playing rag cards in poker, if you hit a decent flop you end up playing a hand that you think is better then what it is. Getting the first down there only encouraged the players and playcallers to push the limits that shouldn't have been pushed in the first place. It's a 3-3 divisional game against a team that the game is historically decided by 7 points or less. Take the FG.
Norv Turner was put in the same position today. Despite boos and an extra down to work with he called for the FG from the 10 yard like with ten seconds left in the half. The Chargers ended up losing anyway but it allowed them to have two drives in the last four minutes of the game where it kept it a one possesion game and gave them a chance.
Time Management. Blame who you want the coach, the QB, the RB, the mascot it doesn't matter. With 14 seconds left its a no brainer, its either out of bounds or thrown away and that didn't happen. The call wasn't great, the QB shouldnt have thrown it and the RB shouldve reached the ball out of bounds. Between that three points and the interception in FG range we're sitting alot better then where we ended up.
The Defensive playcalling. The gameplan was played to a T all night but when it counted with the lead and the game on the line, just like last week, the playcalling failed. People will be quick to blame the defense on the last drive but they do what is called and what was called was not good. Last week the problem was the jailbreak blitz at the wrong time and tonight it was no blitz and soft coverage the entire drive. Its too extreme and Clancy has to find a middle ground and get it soon. We were getting good pressure with 5 or 6 all night and under pressure Russell was awful. Theres one good pass JR is good at, straight in front of him down the field. Haley had enough trust in the defense to pull a trick onside kick(which was executed beautifully by Succop by the way) but Clancy didn't trust them enough to keep his foot on the Raiders necks.
We lost. A loss is never a good thing but a loss on our own turf is embarrasing, a loss on our own turf when we dominated the game is unacceptable and a loss to a division rival especially the Raiders is inexcusable. There is no moral victory here for the players. The fans, players and staff all need this win and they need it sooner rather then later. We lost a game we should win so now they have to do it the hard way and win a game that we are supposed to lose.
This team is improving and this team is better then the team fielded last year. Like Haley said tonight and before the season, to win this team needs to work harder and be smarter then the other team every week in order for us to win. Tonight we no doubt played harder but we let them stay in the game with mental breakdowns and miscues. Simon Wilcotts had it pegged at the start of the game I guess. Everyone is tired of being the team that played a close game but couldnt get over the hump, I guess we get to find out next week if we're any closer to being that team.