Raiders look like same old Raiders on Monday Night Football
The Raiders have an extensive history of shooting themselves in the foot with injuries, penalties, and other actions that many would describe as "boneheaded."
Anyone who stayed up until nearly 2:00 a.m. (Eastern) to finish watching the game knows the story in this one - special teams. If you're not a Raider fan, you probably don't know who Jon Condo is, but Raider Nation certainly does. The Raiders signed the Pro Bowl long snapper to a three year deal worth over $3 million, so it's obvious that they value his special teams ability.
When Condo was ruled out with an injury after taking a knee to the head early in the game, I wasn't too concerned for the special teams unit. I figured that every team would have a guy who practiced long snapping during the week, just in case something like this happened. Apparently, the Raiders didn't. Linebacker Travis Goethel, who reportedly does not practice long snapping, was thrown into the game - and he bombed.
The Chargers got the ball in Raiders' territory from the punt team three times, twice due to snaps that looked like ground balls on the baseball diamond, and once due to a blocked punt. While one may be hesitant to blame the blocked punt on the long snapper, the long snapper is the quarterback of punt protection. When there is overload to one side, the long snapper calls out the necessary adjustments to block it. Lechler stated that the block probably wouldn't have happened with Condo recognizing the way the punt block unit was set up.
The Raiders lost by 8 points, and they gave up 9 points off of the backup long snapper's miscues. While that is painfully disappointing, it wasn't the only thing keeping the Raiders from a victory.
When it comes to the most single season penalties of all-time, the Raiders hold six of the top eight spots. This is something that new coach Dennis Allen felt he had to address, and he has. Players have stated that Allen gets annoying about stressing penalties, but when they see the results on the field it's all worth it. For the most part, the Raiders did see good results on the field, only being flagged six times for 35 yards, but it was the situations in which they were penalized that hurt them.
On the Chargers lone touchdown drive of the evening, Raiders defensive tackle and captain Tommy Kelly jumped offsides on a 3rd and 1, and on a 3rd and 4. Those two penalties allowed the Chargers to continue their drive and ultimately score a touchdown, which perhaps the Raiders could have prevented should they have had the chance to force a fourth down on those two plays.
The Raiders also faced significant injuries to their offense. Denarius Moore, Carson Palmer's favorite target, was out with a hamstring injury. Slot receiver Jacoby Ford wasn't even present for the game with a foot injury. This crippled the Raiders' ability to get the ball downfield, and allowed the Chargers to completely stack the box, holding running back Darren McFadden to 32 rushing yards. This was also part of the reason that the Raiders moved the ball well, but couldn't show it on the scoreboard.
In addition, the absence of Moore and Ford resulted in undrafted rookie out of Temple Rod Streater getting the start. Streater ended a promising opening drive for the Raiders with a fumble while trying to fight for extra yards.
Other self inflicted blows to the Raiders included a botched exchange between Marcel Reece and Taiwan Jones on a double reverse, and a five yard penalty that backed the Raiders up while in the red zone with 16 seconds left in the first half (they would then settle for a field goal).
Well, here's the couple of positives that can be taken for the Raiders. First and foremost, Darren McFadden isn't hurt yet! After a heavy workload of being the first, second, and third option for the offense, the Raiders get to use their brittle running back for another game.
Second, Rolando McClain is a monster. Maybe the defensive minded Dennis Allen brought out the inner beast in him, but he was making some great plays and clogging lanes for a defense that gave up only 21 team rushing yards (excluding an 11 yard Eddie Royal end-around).
That leads me to my next point - the defense was as good as it looked in years. Granted, the Chargers came into this season with serious question marks on their offensive line, but the Raider D still played great. Aside from the 9 points that they gave up due to the punt team handing the ball to the Chargers in field goal range, the defense gave up 13 points. The touchdown drive was in part the result of two awful third down penalties, which will hopefully go away as Coach Allen gets more time with the unit. It was certainly a promising showing from the Raider defense.
Staying on the subject of defense, rookie Miles Burris looked fantastic filling in for the injured Aaron Curry. A fourth round pick in last year's draft, Burris burst onto the scene, leading the Raiders in tackles with seven. He's definitely got a spot in the linebacker rotation, even once Curry comes back.
The Raiders face off against the Dolphins in Miami next week, and they'll look to their revitalized defense to torture rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill on their way to their first win of the season.