If ever there were an example of raidering, it was Sunday’s debacle against the Miami Dolphins. Carson Palmer raidered left and right: Overthrowing, underthrowing, miss-throwing, et al. Greg Knapp raidered himself in public when he abandoned the run altogether in the third quarter. Joselio Hanson raidered until he was blue in the face, as did Pat Lee and Rolando McClain. The only player who did not raider himself might have been return man Phillip Adams. I suppose the lesson we learned is that the Oakland Raiders are still the Raiders, and that they are going to raider themselves out of football games.
Phillip Adams, maybe. Travis Goethel didn’t have to long snap, so there’s that. Perhaps the fact that Denarius Moore wasn’t bad.
I suppose the truest silver lining is that the Raiders are positioning themselves for the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. In the words of Grant Napier: If you don’t like that, you don’t like Raiders’ football. In the spirit of “Suck for Luck,” I’ve been working on some PR campaigns to keep fans interested. Here they are in hashtag form: #Forfeit4FirstPick, #Suck4Seven, #Eightysix4GenoSmith, #Raider4Tyler, and #sarcasm.
Sunday’s game represented the single greatest opportunity for the Raiders to make a statement. The statement, however, need not assert greatness–we know they are not. It only needed to assert competence–a direction, a plan, or even a vague idea as to what they are doing. The opportunity was missed. The Raiders as team looked as lost as Sergio Casilla as a batter.
Despite the strong showing against the Chargers, the Raiders defense was atrocious. Neither Pat Lee nor Joselio Hanson proved able enough to stop receiver Brian Hartline. Though Dolphins corner Nolan Carroll declared Hartline “[the Dolphins'] version of Jordy Nelson,” Hartline has never performed as such–well, not until Sunday. After week 1, Football Outsiders had Hartline ranked as the 59th best receiver in the league — he was the 37th in 2011.
Their biggest issue wasn’t Brian Hartline, however; that moniker belongs to Reggie Bush. The same Bush who has only flirted with consistency in his career gashed the Raiders’ defense. But Bush doesn’t deserve all the credit. Were it not for the Raiders, Bush might have only been pedestrian. The blown assignments, bad angles, and missed tackles accumulated to 172 yards, the second highest single-game total of Bush’s career. All are exemplified by Bush’s first touchdown run.
In all, the statement made is that the Raiders are still going to raider. They still lack discipline; they still lack competent play-calling/coaching. Perhaps even more troubling is that this team appears to be regressing. Unless the goal is to #Forfeit4FirstPick (it’s gotta ring to it, doesn’t it?), the season is shaping up to be a huge disappointment.