That’s the only way I can describe it. The instincts and reflexes on this team seem dulled or borderline robotic. There is no flow on the field whatsover. Guilty feet have got no rhythm.
From my view on the couch, the Raiders defense took two plays off when Reggie Bush broke off his two biggest runs of the game. It looked like they were reaching out to catch Reggie Bush as he was falling or slap his ass as he rumbled on by rather than lighting him up. Lots of failed arm tackling and spectatorism on those plays. It seemed like they just enjoyed watching Reggie run, and I can understand the sentiment.
He did the same thing last season against the Raiders, which is to say he looked like the same guy he was at USC. He did finish last season with over 1,000 yards rushing, so this Reggie Bush is different from Reggie Bush, bust edition. He’s older and wiser and loves the hell out of the Raiders.
The reason I’m not hysterical about Bush’s game is because if you take away those two carries, his stats are pretty pedestrian. It’s far more troubling that the defense allowed the Dolphins to convert so often on third down.
The defense has played fairly well in the red zone this season, and it’s too bad that we already have such a good-sized sample to draw that conclusion on.
Some of those wouldn’t have happened if the team, a team that has a strong special teams heritage including a kicker and punter who are Hall of Came caliber, had more than one guy who can long snap a damn ball. It could’ve gotten Lechler injured, and it was the type of unprofessional stuff that I would’ve expected from the old guard, not a personnel expert like Reggie McKenzie.
But that was really an expensive freak-type issue no one could’ve expected.
What’s more troubling is the lack of energy and flow.
Against San Diego, it was clear to me that Carson Palmer was missing his big-play deep threat studs, Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore. Rod Streater continues to be a great story, he has performed exactly As Advertised. He’s a dependable pass catcher. But Palmer made a few beautiful passes that only certain receivers could catch, and Streater looked out of his element going after them.
But in Week 2 … I’ve never seen such an empty 372 yards. Palmer completed passes to nine different receivers, but it seemed like he took too long to make reads — especially when it came to running backs in the flat. He may have been looking for the bigger play, but he also made some terrible passes beyond the 10-yard mark.
I know regular LT Khalif Barnes was out, but that makes no difference because Barnes is terrible. Palmer took nine licks but no sacks on the day, and Barnes’ presence wouldn’t have changed that. Palmer simply didn’t get it done on third down. The Raiders converted one 3rd down in 12 chances while the Dolphins were 9-of-17.
Darren McFadden is healthy, and that’s about it. He has about 50 yards rushing over the first two games of the season, and the broadcast team suggested that he hasn’t caught on to the zone blocking scheme yet. I call bully on that because does anyone really believe McFadden is just a “system back”? I don’t buy that one bit. He’s got excellent tools for the football field, period.
Plus, I saw a couple plays on Sunday that ran as advertised and looked awesome. Mike Goodson’s touchdown is a good example. They also pulled the left guard on a couple of plays and it was like watching gears mesh; it’s only a matter of time before those pieces come together to benefit Run DMC.
Coach Dennis Allen is a neat guy who says all the right things in the press conferences. That’s a good thing, because we have 14 more games on the schedule. He does write very purposefully with a red pen on his clipboard every time somebody draws a flag or muffs a play. I’m glad we are spared the weird show that was Hue Jackson, because he wasn’t a “Keep Calm And Carry On” type of guy. And that’s what we need right now.
We are two weeks into the season, and while there are some really disturbing things happening on the field, sometimes growing pains come with change. I’m hoping that this is the awkward phase, and I still totally believe they can turn it around.
This is what I’m telling myself to stay sane:
1. Carson Palmer has played just one game with a genuine deep threat to go with “The Possession Posse, Feat. Rod Streater.”
2. The running game hasn’t established itself yet. However, the speed and talent are there, so it’s only a matter of time.
3. This team is playing tight and robotically. The gel, the grease, the glue, whatever you want to call, it’s missing … but I have a feeling a switch is going to flip — out of either desperation or because they have nothing to lose.