By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, December 19th, 2011 at 6:50 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Still subbing for Steve Corkran today . . .
For what it’s worth, and right now its worth about as much as Raiders’ first-round playoff tickets, here’s a few opinions and second-guesses about what transpired in the Raiders’ 28-27 loss to the Detroit Lions and the season through 14 games:
– I didn’t have any problem with either of the pass plays that helped cost the Raiders the game against Detroit. You traded a good part of your future for Carson Palmer precisely because he has the ability to make both the fourth-and-1 pass to Denarius Moore in the first half, and the third-and-3 pass to Chaz Schilens in the fourth quarter.
Hit either one and it’s the ball game. For a quarterback of Palmer’s passing skill, those are nearly layups. Hue Jackson held Schilens responsible in the aftermath of the game, but Palmer took the blame afterward. Yes, Schilens could have caught it, but it wasn’t a typical soft Palmer pass. It came in flat and hard, unlike most of his throws.
– Having discussed the situation with a few other non-experts such as myself today, I’m of the belief the Raiders didn’t go for the two-point conversion after the Aaron Curry touchdown simply because Jackson and Co. got caught up in the moment and didn’t think about it.
When you’re on offense, coaches are always looking ahead. What do we do if we score? What’s our next move? On Curry’s defensive touchdown, there was no such train of thought. Jackson simply sent out the extra-point team as quickly as possible without even pondering the point total. That’s where you need a wise old hand somewhere who is always thinking down the road and has access to the head coach in those situations _ the football version of a baseball bench coach.
– Michael Huff has been hurting most of the year and hit and miss in the secondary, but they really missed him against Detroit. There were safety help issues on the 51-yard Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson touchdown, the 48-yard sky shot from Stafford to Johnson, and the game-winning 6-yard pass to Johnson. Even if Huff makes just one of three of those plays, it’s a different result.
– The Raiders have given up 27 touchdown passes a year after giving up 28. Their pass defense is as much to blame as their run defense for being in the position they’re in.
They were playing Cover 2 to hide their weaknesses in the secondary and still couldn’t pull it off. Bad idea to have Rolando McClain and Jerome Boyd responsible for Johnson? Absolutely. But that ball was there for the taking. Either man could have been a hero simply by getting a hand on it.
– Darren McFadden, still day to day . . . right. Actually saw McFadden coming into the stadium when I went back out to my car because I’d forgotten my phone. Said hello and asked if we’d be talking soon. He just said hello, shrugged his shoulders and smiled.
If the Raiders knew McFadden was going to be out a good long time immediately after being injured seven games ago, they did him a disservice by stringing along the possibility he’d be able to play, because it makes it appear as if he doesn’t want to. No one who runs as hard as McFadden when healthy is a sit-it-out type. Sadly, he simply may not have the body to hold up over a season. He hasn’t been able to do it yet.
– Jackson said the reason Marcel Reece didn’t touch the ball in the second half was more three wide receiver sets. Considering the Raiders scored 17 points by halftime, and needed a defensive touchdown in the second half to get to 27, perhaps they should have run more sets with Reece in the game.
– The grim reality is this _ if the Raiders lose their last two games and finish 7-9, the Chiefs finish 7-9 and the Chargers and Broncos each have a better record, Oakland, in terms of seeding, would finish in last place. The Bengals would be getting a draft pick better than they ever imagined for Palmer, but at least the pick the following year would be in the second round.