Oakland Raiders Vs Jacksonville Jaguars: Accountability Tracker
John Doublin – Oct 23, 2012
The Oakland Raiders took Raider Nation on a roller coaster ride Sunday at O.co Coliseum as they let the Jacksonville Jaguars take an early lead, but came back in the second half to eke out a narrow win on the strength of a 41 yard field goal from Sebastian Janikowski in overtime.
This is contrary to last season that saw the Raiders jump out to big leads, only to fall apart in the second half and lose games.
If the Raiders played in the first half as they did in the second, this could easily have been a blow out win for Oakland, but...they didn't. Penalties, mental errors, blown coverages, missed tackles, poor clock and timeout management, and a general lack of competitive fire led the Raiders to a 17-6 halftime deficit. They went on to trail 20-6 less than three minutes into the 3rd quarter.
This was against a Jaguars' team that was without their starting quarterback, Blaine Gabbert and All-World runningback, Maurice Jones-Drew.
Things looked bleak for the Silver and Black, but the second half was a different story. Some significant things took place that helped the Raiders win.
In every NFL game, whether it's a win or a loss, there is good and bad. Therefore, for the first time in the Accountability Tracker series we'll be highlighting the people who were responsible for the good, and the ones who were responsible for the bad.
Lamarr Houston was everywhere! He was setting the edge against the run, flying to the ball and causing havoc in the Jaguars' back field all day long. A total of eight tackles, (5 solo, 3 assists) to lead the team, a sack, several tackles for loss, and the game winning forced fumble are all credited to Houston. This was the type of performance many expected from the young second-round defensive end from Texas. Raider Nation hopes he can keep these great performances going.
Miles Burris is really coming into his own. Burris was a force of nature in college, and is becoming one in the NFL. Burris is beginning to have the game slow down for him. This is evidenced by him becoming a gap-filling, tackling machine. The fourth-rounder from San Diego State earned seven tackles, (4 solo, 3 assists) and his first career sack. He even made some good plays in coverage in this game—an area he's struggled with all year. If Burris can keep this going, Aaron Curry may not get back to his weak side linebacker spot when he returns from his injury. He'll have to find another place to play...Middle linebacker, maybe?
Carson Palmer is just about all the Raiders have on offense at the moment. Yet another horrible performance from the running game, (more on that in a bit) and offensive line play that left Palmer running for his life made it difficult for him, but he stayed with it and led the Raiders to victory. 26 of 36 for 298 yards, one touchdown and one interception is not "player of the week" worthy, but it wasn't the numbers, it was how he got them! At one point, Palmer led the team on a couple no-huddle drives in which he called the plays at the line of scrimmage. All of a sudden, the Raiders' offense came alive, moved the chains and scored points. Are you paying attention, Greg Knapp?
Dennis Allen is a rookie coach. It's expected that he's going to make rookie mistakes. Hue Jackson made some, Tom Cable made some, even John Madden and Jon Gruden made some. It comes with the territory. However, some of the rookie mistakes Allen made were just inexcusable. Using all the timeouts early in the second half left Oakland with no way to stop the clock on the final drive of regulation. Also, it was painfully clear the team was not prepared for this game. There were mistakes by players that boil down to coaching, nothing more. Of course Allen isn't coaching his team to make these horrible, mental mistakes, but apparently, he wasn't coaching them to avoid them either. Simply put, Allen needs to be better—much better!
Tyvon Branch had an uncharacteristically bad game. He did manage to get seven tackles, (4 solo, 3 assists) but he blew the coverage on the big touchdown pass from Gabbert to rookie Cecil Shorts that put the Jags up on the scoreboard early. Normally, giving up just one big play wouldn't get you on the "bad" side of this list, but that play was so terrible, it had to be mentioned. The safety's job on most passing downs is to provide help for the cornerbacks over the top and not allow anything to get behind you. Branch misread, or misunderstood, or just flat failed in his duties on the play. Sadly, Branch was a non-factor most of the day and his lack-luster performance lands him on this list. Raider Nation expects better—and they deserve it.
Greg Knapp must really like seeing his name in the media, because he appears to do nothing to avoid making lists like this. Once again, his precious, little zone blocking scheme was a complete and utter failure as the most explosive weapon in the entire NFL was held to just 59 yards on 19 carries, (2.78 ypc). It's not clear if Knapp is incapable of seeing that his scheme does not fit the personnel, or if he's just so arrogant that he honestly believes the players just aren't executing it correctly. Well...they aren't executing, but it's not from lack of effort, or lack of talent. It's because they are expected to do things they aren't suited to do. In short, McFadden and the offensive line are being set up to fail by Knapp.
Knapp's play-calling was, once again, pathetic. The Raiders offense came out of the gate looking like a middle school junior varsity squad playing against the 1976 Raiders' "eleven angry men" defense. Only...it wasn't the 1976 Raiders, or the 1985 Bears, or the 2000 Ravens, it was the 2012 Jaguars. A team that has less talent than Oakland—FAR less talent. There was never a rhythm established and Oakland struggled to move the ball at all. It wasn't until the play-calling duties were handed over to Carson Palmer in the no-huddle offense that the Raiders actually started to move the ball with any consistency whatsoever.
How sad is the state of affairs when your quarterback is a better play-caller than your offensive coordinator?
At this point, it's abundantly clear the success of the Houston Texans' offense had very little to do with Greg Knapp being their quarterbacks coach. Their offensive coordinator, Rick Dennison and head coach Gary Kubiak haven't missed a beat in Knapp's absence, as the Texans are ranked second in points per game with an average of 30.9. There is no doubt that Knapp turned Matt Schaub into a borderline elite quarterback, but knowing the offense from the quarterback's perspective is one thing—teaching it to the offensive line, the running backs and the receivers is another thing entirely.
Knapp is clearly not qualified to do the job.
General manager Reggie McKenzie has promised Raider Nation a "new era of excellence." Unfortunately, allowing Dennis Allen to hire Greg Knapp, then allowing Knapp's ineptitude to inhibit the offense to such a degree as to eliminate the ability to beat decent teams is not creating the "excellence" he's promised.
If watching the offense struggle in the first half against what is perhaps the worst defense in the league under Knapp's play calling, then watching that same offense be directed to points under the direction of quarterback Carson Palmer isn't enough for McKenzie to force a change, then the Raiders are destine to remain in the NFL cellar—and the fans are destine to spend another year of being ridiculed for supporting the most dysfunctional team in the NFL.
Since the Raiders management isn't going to tell the fans what is really going on, what their goals are, how they feel the current path is leading to the excellence they've promised, then Raider Nation is left to speculate—and speculate they are.
Fans are extremely confused and angry about the performance of the team thus far. They see the improvement of the defense, but they are watching the 9th ranked offense from a year ago, turn into the same, inept Raiders of 2007 and 2008.
The common theme from 2007-2008 to today? Greg Knapp.
On fan forums and social media, some fans are even suggesting that McKenzie is doing nothing to improve the team and losing on purpose in an attempt to secure a high pick in the 2013 draft. Others are accusing McKenzie and the Raiders of losing intentionally to lower fan support in Oakland, thereby removing any chance of getting a stadium built in the Bay Area, allowing the team to move to Los Angeles.
There is even talk suggesting Knapp is intentionally making Darren McFadden look bad, so they can justify trading him away next season. If that happens, the unrest and irritation of the fans would go from social media accusations to lynch mobs! McFadden is the most explosive player in the NFL. He has the ability to win the MVP if put in a position to succeed. Knapp's offensive philosophy is setting him up to fail. That's a problem.
The patience McKenzie, Allen and Knapp are asking for only goes so far. The Raiders have, by far, the most knowledgeable, engaged, and passionate fans in all of professional sports. They understand the game and that "Rome wasn't built in a day." However, they weren't told they would be witnessing a rebuilding year; they weren't told things were going to get worse before they got better; they were promised a "new era of excellence," but they've received a huge step backward from back-to-back .500 seasons in 2010 and 2011.
While it's true that "Rome wasn't built in a day," history tells us that Nero managed to watch in burn down in one night!
Is that what the Raiders are doing? Was that the plan from the start? Is the terrible play just a means to an end? Since the front office won't tell the fans, they're left to wonder and guess. They're wondering how such a vastly improved team over the last two seasons can be so bad, so fast, and they're guessing the goal is to lose—because honestly...that's all they've been shown.
Personally, I don't believe it. I truly believe that Knapp was hired by Allen, not by McKenzie. Allowing Knapp and Allen time to get things rolling is a show of faith from McKenzie. He promised Allen the power that no other coach in Raider history had; the power to pick his own staff, and he's following through with it. But unfortunately, Allen and Knapp are failing to deliver on their end of the bargain.
The problem is, McKenzie has more patience than the fans do. Fans are losing faith; they feel lied to; they think McKenzie and the Raiders don't care about the fans at all; they know the talent is better than the product on the field; they were sold a bill of goods, and they bought it. Now, they're angry and lashing out with "Fire McKenzie and Allen," "Greg Knapp Sucks," and "Bring back Hue Jackson" pages on Facebook.
Whatever the case actually is, the Raiders need to play better—period. Another start like the one last Sunday at "The O" will result in losing. The fact is, the Jags are a bad team, and the Raiders were out-played in the first half by that bad team—without the two most important players on their roster, Gabbert and Jones-Drew.
The Chiefs, the Buccaneers and the Ravens will not be as forgiving. These next three games are against much better teams than the Jaguars and the Raiders cannot have mental lapses and mistakes like we saw in the first half of this game.
There needs to be more of the play seen in Atlanta and in the second half against the Jags. If that doesn't happen, Oakland will find themselves out of the playoff and division races and sitting at the bottom of an impossible hill to climb at 2-7 following Week-10.
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