Oakland Raiders: Big Week-3 Matchup vs Steelers

– Sep 21, 2012

To say the Week-3 game at the O.co versus the Pittsburgh Steelers is a huge game for the new era Oakland Raiders is a bit of an understatement. To begin the season 0-2 has been hard on Raider nation, but to go 0-3 after Sunday’s game will be downright catastrophic for the new era.

There is no sense in rehashing the numbers for this one as A. it has all been covered extensively by me and my co-writers at Raider Nation Times and B. I just cannot spend another second discussing the woes that this team has suffered in the two losses that, by every right, should have been victories.

I have exhausted my supply of aspirin and antacids.

At worst, the Raiders should have been 1-1 just like Pittsburg, instead of 0-2 and this game should have all the hype surrounding it that a heavyweight UFC championship bout draws. Instead, for the Raiders, it looks more like an over the hill George Foreman boxing match where he spends more time pedaling his grill rather than actually fighting.

Anybody wanna buy some Ray Guy vintage bobbleheads?

These two storied franchises are really both in crisis mode at this point in the season and everything is on the line for the Raiders because many have already seen enough and are content to call it a season after only two games.

Many predict an easy time for the Steelers as the Raiders cannot put any points on the board and the defense has more holes in it,(due to injuries) than an crocheted blanket. So, here we go again Raider fans, roughed up, our backs against the wall, the daunted Steelers coming to town and the haters are all proclaiming the Raiders are dead in the water already for the 2012 NFL season.

What else is new as this era looks a lot like the last one at this point.

Is it time to pack it in and call it a season? Do we scrap this version of the Raiders and plan for better success in a couple of years? These questions may very well be answered definitively come Sunday. Although, if you ask Gregg Knapp, the answer appears to be yes! The Raiders offensive coordinator is making a lot of excuses and asking for patience as he implements his scheme.

WOW is all I can say about that right now!

While the critics and experts alike have the Raiders ranked at the very bottom of the league right now, (deservedly so considering their performance thus far this season) it can all turn around with a victory this Sunday.

With this one victory, the Raiders can be tied with Pittsburgh at 1-2 and begin to claw their way back into the mix of things. It will take a Herculean effort on their part and a little luck wouldn’t hurt either, but the team has to come together and first believe that they can do it. The coaching staff has to also give them the tools to get the job done as that has been the main problem with the machine to this point in the season.

Pittsburgh is not the same team from previous years as their age and injuries have hampered them considerably. Their offensive line is banged up and the secondary is minus SS, Troy Polamalu, and that could really give the Raiders’ running game a much needed boost, not to mention, how much that will help the passing game.

Polamalu is vital to what the Steelers want to do on defense and he is a big loss for them, so the Raiders have to take advantage of this and attack the replacement safety.

Steelers starting running back, Rashad Mendenhall, is in the process of trying to come back from a torn MCL injury he suffered last year and that puts the running game into serious question for the Steelers.  

The problem, of course, for the Raiders on defense results from losing both starting cornerbacks to injury and in a game where pass defense could determine the outcome; this is a serious detriment to overcome. The Raiders have gone as far as to even move safety, Michael Huff, to corner to try and install someone that can shore up the pass defense.

How this experiment will turn out is a flip of the coin as Huff hasn’t played corner at this level and is sure to be tested early and often by the Steelers’ wide receivers.

Raider Nation Times lead writer and editor, John "Coach Jay Dee" Doublin broke down a good way the Raiders defense can attack Pittsburgh defensively in an article earlier this week, so check it out to see how the Raiders can take advantage, even with the injuries, and pull out a victory this week.

Along with the rest of Raider Nation, I have seriously questioned the offensive play-calling of Gregg Knapp and the scheme he is implementing as the results speak for themselves with the Raiders currently ranked one spot from the bottom of the league in both rushing and scoring as well as total offense.

/articleimages/allen-dennis-video-thumb.jpgHowever, HC Dennis Allen has stated that he is sticking with this scheme and expects results sooner than later and for his sake, I hope he is right with this move. If not, maybe vintage jerseys will be the way to go this season if you plan on purchasing any Raider gear at all.

It is inconceivable to think that Oakland could dramatically change their scheme in one week, but it is not crazy to think that they could implement some things from the last two seasons to help them out in this game.

For instance, calling a few plays that required man on man power blocking and that allowed Darren McFadden to go north and south, instead of, sideline to sideline could help put the Steelers back on their heels a little bit.

Picking up some yards and a couple first downs on the ground could open things up for a shot downfield, something that is noticeably absent to this point in the season. Bottom line is the running game for Oakland has to get going this game period, end of discussion.

Making adjustments both at the line of scrimmage and at halftime could really help to make the Raiders more competitive in this game, as it is a guarantee that Steeler defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau will have some surprises in store for the Raiders as he is one of, if not the best, in the league at scheming game to game for an opponent.

If Oakland has made adjustments in the previous two games this season, they were not well scouted and/or implemented and that has to change for Oakland to come away from this game with any chance of a victory.

Hmm... these 1976 championship posters might look nice on the wall this season.

Finally, redzone offense has to improve in both play-calls and execution as the Raiders have completely collapsed with possessions inside the opponent’s twenty yard line. It boggles the mind that Oakland cannot take advantage of their chances to score touchdowns and if need be, they must pull out all the stops to get into the endzone versus the Steelers as points will come at a premium in this game.

There are a ton of issues on both sides of the ball for both teams and it will boil down to which team executes better to determine the outcome. On paper it definitely appears the Steelers have all the advantages in this game, but to quote Chris Berman: “That’s why they play the games!”

If the Raider running game can get anything going, they have a great chance to control the clock and keep their injury-plagued defense off the field which could lead to grinding out big a win. If they do not get anything going on the ground, it could very well be a really long day for the Silver and Black as they could possibly end up 3 full games behind San Diego and nothing to look forward to in week 4 at Denver come Sunday night.

I'm digging these Marcus Allen autographed pics on page 37 of the catalog!

But let’s not dwell on the negatives as hope must spring eternal this season for Raider Nation as right now, that is about all we have left is hope. So, on that note, here are a couple of interesting facts about this week’s matchup.

From 1970 to 1981, only one AFC Championship game was played that did not feature one of these two teams. From 1973 to 1977, the Raiders appeared in every AFC championship game and faced the Steelers for 3 in a row in that time-span.

The Raiders hold an all- time 13-12 edge in head to head matchups versus the Steelers, but the last meeting was an embarrassing 35-3 loss for the Silver and Black in 2010. Ahh to remember how it once was when these two teams met on the field has me wanting to buy some vintage videos to relive the good ole days.

This series used to be the best in all of pro football and a win Sunday for the Raiders could go a long way in restoring some of the lost prestige for the Raiders in this rivalry and spark a fire that could help them bring some respect back to Oakland.

With their backs against the wall, it is high time this coaching staff show Raider nation what they are made of. If the Raiders fail to compete against this banged up aging version of the Steelers, it could very well be time to consider the fact that the new era is not going to change the mentality of the past decade as fast as we first anticipated and that Coach Allen may have to reconsider his philosophy.

That is, unless the philosophy has been to give up on this season all along?

It is all on Allen right now to motivate and inspire this team to put the disastrous first two games behind them and focus. A win this week is exactly what must happen or he is in danger of losing the team along with a good number of Raider fans.

/articleimages/McKenzie-War-room1.jpgOne must wonder just what Raider GM, Reggie McKenzie, is thinking at this point as all signs from the coaching staff and front office point to keeping the current philosophy and schemes on course. Without any wins to show for it and the team struggling as they are, this is definitely not the course Raider Nation envisioned for a return to excellence.

Is a mutiny in the making or is it only darkest before the dawn?

One thing is for certain, the picture will definitely be clearer come Sunday night.

Anybody seen any Lester Hayes jerseys on sale?


Follow us on Twitter: @MoonRock69 and @RNTimes

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