By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, September 12th, 2010 at 5:23 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Tyvon Branch sent his regrets via modern technology:
“I personally apologize to the raider nation!,” Branch sent out on his Twitter account about two hours after a 38-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
A business memo would characterize Week 1 for the Raiders as “failure to accomplish any of the objectives and/or projections set forth by management.”
Other than Darren McFadden for the first time looking every bit the No. 4 overall selection in the 2008 NFL draft, there was virtually nothing for the Raiders or their fans to feel good about.
Other than the fact that it was on the road in the afternoon, and not at home in prime time, this one had the whiff of hopeless season openers in 2006 and 2008, when the San Diego Chargers (27-0) and Denver Broncos (41-14) humiliated Raiders teams which were never really in the game.
News, notes, observations and some quotes (furnished on site by Steve Corkran and from the Titans P.R. staff):
– The Raiders aren’t likely to go into any sort of detail until Wednesday, but the game caused physical pain as well as mental anguish. Six players didn’t finish _ Robert Gallery (hamstring), Yamon Figurs (stinger), Hiram Eugene (lower leg), Michael Huff (knee) and Richard Seymour (hamstring).
If both safeties are hurt, the Raiders will consider promoting Stevie Brown from the practice squad unless they want to move Tyvon Branch, Mike Mitchell or Jeremy Ware to single deep safety.
– Raiders coach Tom Cable: “We felt like we were very hesitant in all three phases particularly early in the game, and never seemed to get rid of it. In this league, they don’t give you anything, you have to take it.”
Not entirely true. The Raiders gave up a 56-yard touchdown pass from Vince Young to Nate Washington, 15-yard scoring run by Javon Ringer and a 76-yard bolt to Chris Johnson on plays which would have been touchdowns in flag football.
“Those plays they scored on were our mistakes,” cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. “You know, if we played our defense correctly, that stuff never happens. The deep pass, and then the draw.”
– Blocking and tackling, two issues which along with quarterback play have killed the Raiders for the better part of the last seven years, were poor again. Quarterback Jason Campbell never could get anything going with wide receivers and wasn’t able to get Zach Miller involved until it was too late. He barely had time to think. Truth be told, when Campbell did have time, he wasn’t very good.
And if he doesn’t get any better at sliding, he’ll wind up being injured without being hit.
Campbell’s interception and 32-yard return by Chris Hope, setting up another Tennessee score, was another instance of the Raiders making it way too easy for the Titans.
– During training camp, much of the talk was about a sophisticated offense installed by Hue Jackson that would bring the Raiders into the world of contemporary football. Instead, Cable sounded a lot like Lane Kiffin when he said, “I learned like we have to stay on schedule. We have to play the game in a mode that does not allow us to be in third and long so much.”
Gallery was more blunt.
“We were in long-yardage situations and we’re no good when we get to that,” Gallery said.
– Jared Veldheer’s baptism under fire is one he’d rather forget, from poor shotgun snaps to being at the center of a line that found itself overwhelmed much of the game. Veldheer wasn’t at Hillsdale anymore.
“It was a new experience, obviously,” Veldheer said. “I definitely got better at some things. There”s some opportunties to keep working at things, keep getting better at things . . . there were challenges at times, which I knew there would be.”
– Middle linebacker Rolando McClain finished with six tackles and found himself walled off on Ringer’s 15-yard touchdown run _ the kind of play he was drafted to prevent.
McClain echoed what he said during the week _ that the NFL really wasn’t all that much faster and better than the SEC.
“No different,” McClain said of the speed.
– The Titans rushed for 205 yards, 76 of those coming on the one Johnson run. The other 38 carries for the Titans netted 133 yards _ an average of 3.5 yards per carry.
To the Raiders credit, they seemed to realize those 76 yards indeed count toward the total. They went in hoping to keep Johnson from breaking the big one and failed.
The good news? There are no more Chris Johnsons on the schedule and 3.5 yards per carry will be a huge upgrade if they can do it against most other teams.
– Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour: “Things just kind of snowballed on us. I don’t think the game started out that bad. Once they got momentum, we never seemed to get it back. It will be a good film to watch because we have a lot of things to work on.”
– Raiders quarterback Campbell: “Obviously, we’re not proud of how we played today. We have to get back to the drawing board, eliminate the penalties and we can’t turn it over.”
Ah yes, the penalties How about 10 for 77 yards. That was another offseason point of emphasis.
– Figurs fumbled the opening kickoff, with the Raiders recovering. Figurs also fumbled on a kickoff return against San Francisco and a punt against Seattle.
Can’t say they weren’t warned.
– Asomugha: “During the preseason, as far as the confidence level we’ve shown, we looked likea team that even if we were behind, it would be OK, we’d be able to bounce back, so I never got too discouraged. Then the fourth quarter rolled around, we were still struggling, and I was like, `What’s going on? Why can’t we make up this ground?”
– McFadden looked like the running/receiving back the Raiders had envisioned when they drafted him. He’s never ran harder or better from scrimmage, gaining 95 yards with a long of 16. He consistently broke the first tackle and finished runs. He also caught six passes for 55 yards.
“Catching the ball, running with the football, blocking, he was able to convert some plays,” Cable said. “That’s the kind of player we envisioned him being. As I have said all along, if he is healthy, that’s what he’s capable of.”
Said McFadden: “I just feel like I did the best job that I could out there as far as how the coaches use me. You want to go out there and play hard and I feel like I did that today.”