By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, November 28th, 2010 at 10:35 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Brought back some bad memories, didn’t it?
The same team that went into its bye week at 5-4 and full of hope is either a shell of itself or has simply reverted to what it has been starting in 2003.
The Raiders were out-blocked, out-tackled and blacked out. They were inferior in both the passing game and the running game. Had it not been for Jacoby Ford and and a couple of early Miami failures in the red zone, a 33-17 loss to the Dolphins Sunday at the Coliseum would have been _ and probably should have been _ much worse.
If you’re looking for some positive reinforcement, check out another site. Having had no problem saying how good the Raiders have been during their three-game winning streak, putting flowers on this pig is not an option.
News, notes and observations from the Raiders’ most disappointing game of the season:
– Even up to the time when press box announcers are supposed to announce lineup changes, Jason Campbell was the alleged starter. Asked a media-relations member and was told, “We have no changes to announce.”
If only the Raiders could only get over on an opponent the way they did with the media. What an incredible waste of time for a team that claims to put all its emphasis on winning to act in such a moronic fashion.
Sure fooled everyone with that Bruce Gradkowski switch. Gradkowski said he learned he was starting “at the beginning of the week.” Campbell said he found out Tuesday. Cable said he realized Gradkowski would start Wednesday once he was 100 percent healthy.
Because, you know, it was always going to be Gradkowski’s job once he was healthy. Cable has contradicted himself on this several times, but no matter. Coaches aren’t obligated to tell the media the truth except when it suits their purposes, and now that Gradkowski is hurt, it doesn’t really matter.
Not that it was handled with aplomb. If the Raiders were actually trying to go out of their way to look ridiculous, they couldn’t have done any better.
It’s apparent Gradkowski (surprise!) is down for awhile, re-injuring his throwing shoulder. He didn’t want to talk about or think about it, but said it felt like it did following the first San Diego game. And he returned five weeks later.
So now Campbell is back in the saddle, unless Kyle Boller is warming up in the bullpen. I heard second-hand Sunday night the reason Campbell was benched is that he’s not right for the Raiders as currently constituted, considering his issues with a pass rush and the club’s problems at wide receiver.
– Campbell wasn’t pretending to understand the double-talk, on one hand being told Gradkowski would get the job when healthy, and on the other hand still getting the start against Pittsburgh.
“My thing was in the Pittsburgh game, well, he was healthy,” Campbell said.
– Behind the scenes, the Raiders are fighting the perception that Campbell is the favorite of Al Davis, while Gradkowski is preferred by Cable and Hue Jackson.
“You’re a competitor and you like to compete, but by no means are you understanding or anything,” Campbell said. “It’s kind of tough because you’re caught right in between something and you don’t know what’s going on.”
Must be all that great communication Cable has talked about with his quarterback.
– Darren McFadden has fallen and he can’t get up.
In the last two games, McFadden, who has looked every bit the No. 4 overall pick in 2008, has 16 yards on 18 carries. Yes, there are issues with the offensive line. Privately, the coaching staff is concerned that he’s not running as he did before.
Right tackle Langston Walker seemed to think opposing teams are simply taking him (and other Raiders running backs) away.
“If teams are smart, if they have good defensive coordinators, they are going to load up against the run when they play us,” Walker said.
– The more Jacoby Ford does, the more damning it is for Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Telling moment _ Gradkowski has Heyward-Bey in single coverage on his left, with the safety drifting cheating toward the middle. He sees this, drops back, and lets fly a deep pass down the right sideline toward Marcel Reece. It is intercepted by Yeremiah Bell. Gradkowski said he was giving Reece a chance, given what he’s shown as a playmaker. He never considered Heyward-Bey even after he saw the coverage.
Reece is an intriguing but undrafted wide receiver turned tight end turned fullback. Heyward-Bey is the No. 7 overall pick in the 2009 draft and the alleged deep threat of the future.
The coaching staff is starting to reduce Heyward-Bey’s time on the field. He had far fewer snaps than normal and when asked if Heyward-Bey was still nursing a sore hamstring, Cable said it was simply a factor of the wide receiver rotation.
Not sure if another Raiders receiver is capable of making the 44-yard touchdown grab from Gradkowski, smoothly hauling it in while turning to his left and stradding the sideline for the score. He later repeated his magic act of taking an interception away from a defender with his 52-yard reception to set up a field goal.
– Davone Bess of the Dolphins caught six passes for 116 yards, had three punt returns for 60 yards with a long of 47, and the Raiders had no interest in him as an undrafted free agent. He went to Skyline High, grew up within sight distance of the Coliseum and was a big fan of Tim Brown.
Bess doesn’t have the 40-yard dash time Al Davis prefers, but his skills as a receiver are off the charts. He had subtle pushoffs on at least two catches worthy of a 10-year veteran.
“I’m excited to come home and get to play in front of my home city, my family, my friends, all my close ones that supported me through this,” Bess said. “Just to get the W, that’s my focus. Just get the win.”
– It was almost comical to see the Raiders go into damage control mode, with players getting serious briefings about what to say and not to say if scheduled to take the podium. Players shrug their heads at this later and laugh when it’s brought up informally.
– Zach Miller is confirming that is original “arch injury” was a torn plantar fascia, a very slow-to-heal condition. He hurt his right leg later in the game. Cable called it a “fibula” injury. Miller caught one pass for six yards and is currently a shell of himself.
– When winning, every move a coach makes seems to work out, and then you have Walter McFadden.
McFadden had a good week of practice following a game in which Jeremy Ware got poor reviews from coaches against Pittsburgh. So McFadden was the nickel back, but for some reason, Ware was inactive even though Chris Johnson was out with a groin strain and Nnamdi Asomugha was playing with an ankle injury.
McFadden got torched for five catches and 113 yards, including four third down conversions and another on third down because of a defensive holding penalty. Asomugha, who had given up five catches for 87 yards all season, gave up four receptions for 65 yards and also had a holding penalty resulting in a Miami first down. He conceded afterward he couldn’t plant and turn _ sort of a prerequisite for playing cornerback.
With Ware inactive, it’s not like Asomugha had any choice but to stay in the game.