By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, October 4th, 2009 at 2:59 pm in Oakland Raiders.
News, notes and observations from the Raiders’ 29-6 loss Sunday to the Texans in Houston:
– So you want Tom Cable’s head on a platter. Al Davis, given his track record, is on some level probably considering the same thing.
There goes your head coach, offensive coordinator, play caller, and de facto line coach, gone in an instant, and a new victim served up on the road to the New York Giants.
Your suggestions, of course, are welcome and encouraged.
– The Raiders defense made a lot of plays on the other side of the line of scrimmage. They had four sacks with their beloved natural four-man pressure.
Absolve the defense from the blame for Sunday’s loss would be to shrug of offensive yardage on the “explosive plays” Cable talked about following last week’s 23-3 loss to Denver. He describes an explosive play as any run of 11 yards or more and any pass play of 16 yards or more.
In the first half, Houston had runs of 11, 11 and 32 yards from running back Steve Slaton, the last one for a touchdown. Ryan Moats added a 12-yard run. That’s four rushes for 77 yards.
Meanwhile quarterback Matt Schaub had a 62-yard completion to Andre Johnson, 41 yards to Ken Walter, 44 to Owen Daniels, 18 to Slaton (for a touchdown) and 17 yards to Joel Dreessen. That’s five completions for 182 yards.
All told, that’s nine plays totaling 259 yards _ 28.8 yards per snap during a half in which the Texans took command of the game with a 20-6 lead.
All that happened before the Raiders should have been worn out by the offensive struggles, so pay little mind to the “on the field for too many snaps” talk. Most of the damage occurred when they should have been relatively fresh.
Yes, the Raiders held Houston to 47 net yards in the second half. But there was more than a little 2006 in that figure, with the Texans killing the clock and keeping it conservative, secure in the knowledge the Raiders weren’t going to score if they played until Tuesday. With that in mind, Cable’s crediting the defense for the second half performance rings hollow.
Did the Raiders get physically pushed around? No, but they blew enough coverages and assignments to make things far too easy for Houston.
– Justin Miller didn’t get outside the 20-yard line until his third kickoff return. Jacoby Jones returned a booming Shane Lechler free kick 95 yards for a touchdown. The Raiders gave up a first down for having 12 defenders on the field for a Houston punt. Johnnie Lee Higgins returned one punt for a minus-3 yards and then essentially a drop-kicked one to the Texans on his final return.
On the opening kickoff, Sebastian Janikowski’s onsides kick attempt was recovered by Houston, and a later pooch attempt set up the Texans with good field position. Seabass converted two more field goal attempts and hasn’t missed this season, and Shane Lechler punted for a 53.4 average and a 45.9 net, pinning Houston inside the 20 three times. As JaMarcus Russell said earlier this season, sometimes the best play is to throw it out of pounds and turn it over to your all-pro punter.
– These are Russell’s first four games _ 12-for-30, 208 yards, 1 TD; 7-for-24, 109 yards, 0 TDs; 12-for-21, 61 yards, 0 TDs; 12-for-33-128, 0 TDs. He’s got four interceptions. Time for one of those stats services to determine if a quarterback has ever hard four worse games and retained his starting job. He’s throwing it out of bounds and giving it back to Lechler far more than anyone intended.
Russell was 6-for-20 to wide receivers. The Raiders have gone eight quarters without a touchdown.
Pick a maligned Raiders QB of your choice _ Marc Wilson, Todd Marinovich, Donald Hollas, Kerry Collins _ and try and find four worse games played consecutively. Collins looks like Dan Marino about now by comparison.
Since the Raiders dropped by Cable’s count nine balls, it’s not as if Russell got a lot of help. It may have been _ gulp _ his best game. That’s how low the standards are at this point.
– It’s officially open season on the Raiders strategy to go heavy on the passing all through training camp, convinced that their running game would be just fine.
After a nice first half in the season opener against San Diego . . . pffft.
The Raiders bottomed out running the ball against Houston, gaining 45 yards on 22 carries, with 20 of those yards coming on a 20-yard reverse by Darrius Heyward-Bey, who more than doubled his season offensive output on consecutive first half plays when he had an 18-yard catch preceding the run.
Or try it this way _ remove the Heyward-Bey reverse, as well as a 7-yard loss by Louis Murphy on a reverse, and take away the 13 meaningless yards by Justin Fargas to kill the clock in the first half and the Raiders had 18 yards on 18 carries.
Fargas got his most extensive time (his violent running was supposed to be a spark) and he had 24 yards on 10 carries. Michael Bush had 10 yards on three carries and lost a fumble after catching a screen pass. Darren McFadden, who had three fumbles last week, lost three yards on six carries, had no gain longer than four yards, and appeared to have his “lead back” status stripped because of ineffectiveness.
The Raiders were 2-for-15 converting third downs and their possession chart (not including the end of the first half) read punt, punt, field goal, punt, punt, field goal, punt, fumble, safety, punt, punt, downs, fumble, punt.
– Yes, the above statistics are evidence the offensive line had its worst day, with converted tackle left Erik Pears getting the worst of it at Robert Gallery’s left guard spot.
“I don’t think we blocked anybody, we’ve got to say it like it is,” Cable said. “We didn’t play well up front offensively.”
– Even through the frozen pixels and stop-and-start status of my home DirecTV, it was one of the more active games from defensive tackle Tommy Kelly that I can remember. Sure enough, he finished with 13 tackles (nine tackles and four assists).