January 20, 2018

They Bent, They Broke, They Sucked!

Week five for the Oakland Raiders had them back at home to face the Ravens.  After losses to the Redskins and Broncos, Jack Del Rio was hoping to get his team back on the right track against a team that had been struggling.  I thought it would be a tight game with the Raiders pulling out a win by maybe seven points.  Silly me.  What the hell was I thinking?  This game got off to a terrible start as Joe Flacco went deep on the first play and connected with speedy Mike Wallace for a 54-yard gain.  Guess who was “covering” Wallace?  It was the incomparable Sean Smith.  It’s become painfully obvious that Smith can’t cover anyone.  That was just the first of many blunders made throughout the game by the defense.

Most of the blame goes on the defense.  But not all of it.  Backup quarterback E.J. Manuel tossed a short pass to Jared Cook.  He caught the pass, looked to gain yardage and had the ball knocked from his hands.  It was picked up by Jimmy Smith and returned 47 yards for a touchdown.  The protection for Manuel was decent.  He was sacked three times and that seems about the norm for the once heralded offensive line.  Manuel completed 13 of 26 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown.  Despite being not nearly 100 percent, Michael Crabtree had himself a nice game with six catches for 82 yards and a touchdown.  I guess it is time for the obligatory mention of how Amari Cooper was once again invisible.  He was targeted twice and caught one pass for eight yards.  When it comes to him, I am beyond words.  I simply do not understand why he’s not getting more passes thrown his way.

When it comes to a defensive scheme, it looked like something that was drawn up in the dirt in Ken Norton Junior’s backyard.  There was no blitzing.  No pressure on Flacco at all as he was hit a grand total of two times.  Even though Flacco has a good arm, he is not mobile at all.  Where were all the safety blitzes we saw against the Titans and Jets?  I guess this scheme is called “bend but don’t break.”  Well, they bent, they broke and they sucked!  Flacco completed 19 of 26 for 222 yards.  Wallace was the leading receiver with 133 yards on three receptions.  On one occasion, Flacco took the snap, fell down, quickly got to his feet and was sandwiched in between two Raiders.  But he managed to toss a wounded duck to the right sideline.  A pass like that usually has interception written all over it.  Instead, it was caught by Jeremy Maclin for a first down.  Maclin was just standing by himself with no defensive backs around him.  After five weeks, the Raiders still have yet to pick off a pass.

After Terrance West left the game with an injury, the Ravens turned the running duties over to Javorius Allen.  He had a good game with 73 yards on 21 carries and one touchdown.  All totaled, the Ravens rushed for 143 yards on 39 carries.  On the other hand, the Raiders rushed for a grand total of 108 yards on 25 carries.  Marshawn Lynch was the leading rusher with 43 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown.

This game was a mess from the start.  The Raiders basically gave the Ravens 14 points before the crowd had time to get a drink and find their seats.  But there was what I would call a “small glimmer of hope.”  The defense stepped up their game early in the third quarter.  After Lynch scored from three yards out to make the score 24-17, all they had to do was stop the Ravens and give the ball back to the offense.  That sounds like a really good idea doesn’t it?  The defense had other ideas.  Flacco completed several short passes to keep the ball and the clock moving.  Then came the dagger.  On third and eight from the Baltimore 47, Flacco went deep down the middle for Wallace.  Why does the Raider defense freak out every time they get in a third and long situation?  It’s like a Chinese fire drill.  “Everybody back up! Back up!”  Screw that backing up crap.  Bring some pressure!  Apparently they didn’t back up far enough.  Wallace got behind two defenders and hauled it in for a gain of 27 yards.  The Ravens would add a field goal.  That put the Raiders down 27-17.

With a little under nine minutes to go in the game, the Raiders had a fourth and three at the Baltimore 44-yard line.  What’s the big deal?  It’s only three freaking yards.  My jaw dropped when Del Rio sent in the punt team.  That was it.  They basically just said “Baltimore, you’re better than us.  We don’t have Derek Carr today, so you can go ahead and try to add to your lead.”  That’s precisely what they did as they added another field goal and came away with a 30-17 win.

This loss was the third straight for the Raiders and their record is now 2 and 3.  Rumor is that Carr will return next week to face the Chargers.  That should give the offense a spark.  Hopefully the offensive line will provide ample protection.  But that’s not really what concerns me.  My concern lies with the defense.  They will be facing another immobile quarterback.  However, everyone knows that if Philip Rivers is given time to find a receiver, he’ll find him and it will go for a big gain.  If the Raiders use the same defensive scheme they did against the Ravens, their record will be 2 and 4.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

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