That building a bully thing that coach Hue Jackson talks about apparently is going to take a little more time than expected to get off the ground.
The Raiders allowed 514 yards and 40 points in a 20-point loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night at the Oakland Coliseum. In the process, the Raiders dropped to 0-3 in the exhibition season.
More important, the Raiders got pushed around defensively for the second straight game. Last week, the 49ers piled up 402 yards offense. The Saints blew past that figure long before the game ended Sunday.
“I’m not going to make any excuses about the way we’re tackling,” Jackson said. “We need to tackle better. You guys watched the game just like I did. You seen every play, from one to the last. We need to tackle better. Simple as that. We need to go tackle better.” The Raiders were without defensive tackle Richard Seymour and cornerback Chris Johnson against the Saints, but it likely wouldn’t have mattered based on the way Saints quarterback Drew Brees marched his offense up and down the field without getting hit.
Brees wasted little time going after right cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, Johnson’s replacement. Brees completed a pass for 37 yards on the first play and four times for 73 yards on the opening drive.
“He’s got to learn from it,” Jackson said of Van Dyke. “He’s a rookie and he’s a very talented young man. He’s learning the NFL game. Until he starts making those plays consistently — and he made some, and he missed some — until he makes them consistently and he’s out there, he’s going to get targeted. That’s the way this league is. Wherever you’re bleeding, people will keep scratching at the area, so we’ve got some things to fix.”
On the second drive, Brees victimized cornerback Stanford Routt, free safety Michael Huff and strong safety Tyvon Branch. Later, he picked on strong-side linebacker Kamerion Wimbley.
It was as if Brees were playing catch in the backyard, without a care in the world and no threat of being sacked or pressured.
By the time he called it a night, Brees had completed 15 of 23 passes for 189 yards without being sacked or intercepted.
“Great quarterback,” Routt said. “Easily, one of the best quarterbacks in the league. But we’ve got to be one of the best defenses in the league. We’ve got to stop it. Plain and simple.”
*Recently acquired quarterback Terrelle Pryor and cornerback Lito Sheppard did not play, as expected. They joined the Raiders at practice for the first time Friday and didn’t know enough of the respective schemes to play right away.
It’s likely that both will see some action against the Seattle Seahawks on Friday night in Oakland’s exhibition finale in Seattle.
Interestingly, Pryor was in uniform for the game, which indicated that Jackson was prepared to play him at some point, likely if the first three quarterbacks received enough playing time.
*Jared Veldheer, Stefen Wisniewski, Samson Satele, Cooper Carlisle and Khalif Barnes, from left to right, started on the offensive line for the Raiders.
Stephon Heyer, Bruce Campbell, Daniel Loper and rookie Joseph Barksdale received significant reps in backup roles. Heyeer replaced Barnes, Barksdale also played at right tackle.
Wisniewski moved from left guard to center once the other starters departed for the night.
*Sunday night marked the 2011 debuts for rookie running back Taiwan Jones, and it was quite a memorable one for the local kid out of Deer Valley High School.
Jones rushed for a game-high 81 yards on 13 carries. The highlight came on a 22-yard run that ended with his celebration in the end zone.
“He did it,” Jackson said. “That’s what I talk about. It’s performance. What you do in practice needs to show up on the field, and that’s what the young man did, and that’s what I’m looking forward. When I talk to our team, that’s exactly what I need to see, those things you do in practice, they need to show up in the game. And for that young man tonight, he did it.”
Jones burst around right end, received a block from wide receiver Derek Hagan and used his feet to do the rest. No Saints defender got a hand on him as he glided into the end zone.
“The hardest thing was trying to slow myself down,” Jones said. “I was so anxious and excited that I was able to showcase my talent against another team that I was a little too fast sometimes. I just had to slow things down, take a deep breath and try to be patient.”
Jones said he purchased approximately 30 tickets for family and friends for the game.
Darren McFadden has missed all three games, the first two while recovering from a broken orbital bone. Jones was out for an extended period with a hamstring strain.
*The Raiders have until Tuesday afternoon to pare their roster to a maximum of 80 players. Likely candidates include: offensive linemen Lou Eliades and Ben Lamaak, punter Glenn Pakulak, wide receivers Steve Goulet and Shawn Bayes, fullbacks James McCluskey and Bryson Kelly and defensive linemen Jamie Cumbie, Derrick Hill and Mason Brodine.
Teams have until Sept. 3 to pare their rosters to 53.
*Trent Edwards and Kyle Boller were locked in a tight competition for the backup spot at quarterback to unquestioned starter Jason Campbell.
That might have changed Sunday night. Boller completed 5 of 7 passes for 69 yards and looked morer poised in the pocket. At one point, he released a deep pass for Hagan, knowing full well he was going to get flattened.
Sure enough, Boller wound up on his back, but Hagan caught the ball and turned it into a 35-yard gain.
Edwards didn’t have the benefit of working with many first- and second-team players, as did Boller. Still, he looked unsure on several plays and was sacked three times. He also lost a fumble out of the shotgun.
Pryor has to serve a five-game suspension to begin the season, so he is out of the equation until Week 6. At that point, Jackson will be forced to decide whether to carry four quarterbacks or to cut Edwards or Boller to make room on the roster.
*Jackson faces his toughest calls on the final roster when it comes to his defensive backs.
As of now, it appears certain that cornerbacks Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson, as well as safeties Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch and key backups Mike Mitchell, DeMarcus Van Dyke and Stevie Brown are going to make the 53-man roster.
From there, Jackson has to decide how many more to keep from a group that includes 2010 draftees Jeremy Ware and Walter McFadden, 2011 draftee Chimdi Chekwa, Sheppard, veteran safeties Matt Giordano, Jerome Boyd and Josh Bullocks, undrafted free agents Zac Etheridge and Sterling Moore.
Several of those guys have to go at some point. The question is how many? And whom?
*Jason Campbell turned in a sharp performance in what might have been his final showing of the exhibition season.
Campbell completed 12 of 17 passes for 150 ayrds and one touchdown. He had one pass intercepted, and it looked as if it might be a touchdown until safety Malcolm Jenkins deflected it to a teammate at the last second.
*Darren McFadden and Jacoby Ford warmed up before the game and were in uniform. However, Jackson opted against playing them, apparently for fear of losing them in advance of the season-opener.
That’s not such a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Jackson already knows what he has in those two players. He gained far more insight into players such as Jones and receivers Denarius Moore and Derek Hagan through their added playing time.
“I made a decision last night that I wasn’t playing those two young men,” Jackson said. “I wanted them to come out and warm up, and I was going to put them in cellophane, just like I said I would. I wrapped ‘em up, kept them over there.”
*Speaking of Hagan, is there any way Jackson can keep him out of the starting lineup against the Denver Broncos on Sept. 12?
Jackson says he will base starting jobs and playing time off his players’ performance in practice and games. Well, then, is says here that Hagan and Moore should be the opening-day starters.
Hagan caught all six passes thrown his way Sunday night and racked up 121 yards. Moore caught three passes for 23 yards and continued to show that he is far from your average rookie.
“The young man can play,” Jackson said of Hagan. “He’s proven that, week in and week out. He’s a verteran player. He works at it. I like all our guys. I like the guys that are out there competing and playing. Trust me, we have some very talented individuals. But he’s done well, he’s reperesented himself well.”
Hagan said there isn’t any secret to his success. It’s pretty simple.
“I just think it just comes down to hard work,” Hagan said. “That’s it. I’ve always been working hard since the day I got into the league. That’s something I just try to continue to do, is just work hard and get better on a daily basis. Whether it’s just watching film with the coaches or watching film on my own, I strive to be the best, whether it’s on offense or special teams, because I know I can do both. So, coming out here today and making plays, it felt good but hopefully we can keep this thing going.”
Campbell said he has established a rapport with Hagan and knows full well what he’s capable of doing in this offense.
“He’s really come along … ,” Campbell said. “He’s always telling me in training camp, ‘J, all I need is an opportunity. The Giants, I was with them and I didn’t really get a chance to get in there and get that real opportunity. I’ll make plays and I feel like I can make this team.’ So, with that being said, he went out today and did what he had to do, personally, to make plays and show his ability and show his experience.”
*Looking for a silver lining from tonight’s game? The Raiders committed only five penalties for 45 yards. That’s a long way from the 10 for 84 they committed against the Arizona Cardinals on Aug. 11 and much closer to what Jackson wants to see.