Ratto: Raiders invoke self-inflicted collapse

Ratto: Raiders invoke self-inflicted collapse
November 29, 2010, 2:57 am
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Nov. 28, 2010RATTO ARCHIVERAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEORay RattoCSNBayArea.com

We know one thing for sure about the Raiders' latest disaster and their traditional descent into disinterest that such performances produce.Nobody will be blaming God.That was Stevie Johnson's reaction to the drop that cost the Buffalo Bills victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, and apparently God can only ruin one NFL team at a time.
Bills' Stevie Johnson Blames God
The Raiders did it the old-fashioned way. Self-infliction.In losing so demonstrably (33-17, though it should have been much worse) to the depleted Miami Dolphins, the Raiders collapsed. They found a new go-to guy in Jacoby Ford but lost everything else - both quarterbacks, the tight end, the functional offensive line, the running game, the defense as a whole and the secondary in particular, and quite likely Coach Tom Cable in due time as well.They allowed the Dolphins to have the ball for 41:38, the second-longest time of possession imbalance of the season. They allowed the pitiable Miami offense to gain 471 yards, by far a season high to go with their season high in points.But that's not the thing that has killed this season.There's Cable, who couldn't remember how many times he has tried to remember who his starting quarterback was supposed to be, committing publicly to Jason Campbell before the Pittsburgh game "because he's earned it," going back to Bruce Gradkowski before this game, and now has lost Gradkowski to a re-injured shoulder and has to go back to a Campbell who has lost the coach's trust and who seems hesitant to give the coach his own."I didn't understand the whole thing," Campbell said. "He explained to me that when Bruce is healthy, fully healthy, he goes back in as the starter. My thing was in the Pittsburgh game, I was like, well he was healthy.""It's not easy. It's not an easy thing to be going through, by no means. You're a competitor, you like to compete . . . but by no means are you understanding or anything. It's kind of tough because you're caught right in between something and you don't know what's going on. It's not something where I really know what's going on. I can't worry about it."You lose the quarterback, you lose, period. You lose the quarterback the owner traded for and is paying a princely sum, you lose something more.And then there were the effort issues, which typically crop up this time of year for the Raiders when they finally see the forest instead of the trees."It's a simple question," safety Mike Mitchell said. "Is everyone on our team going to decide that we're &@ around, and are we going to play? But that's what this game was. It wasn't coaching. It wasn't scheme. It wasn't anything. It was us. If you're not 100 percent committed, you can't play. You can't be with it. That's what it is. That's what I gotta say about it. We need everybody on the same page doing it. Every play. That's what it is." Or defensive tackle Tommy Kelly."I don't see what the problem is," he said. "I mean, we're going for the playoffs, the division. It's just hard to swallow. I mean, the thing is, we had a good week of practice. That's the frustrating thing. Everybody had a good week of practice. We knew what they were running. We just didn't execute worth &@."Or the injured cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who noticed the flagging attention spans as well."I didn't sense it in the beginning," he said. "We started off pretty fast with the kick return (Ford broke a 101-yard score from the opening kick to begin and end the Raider highlight package) and I thought the guys were fired up. I think that point might have come in the second half, I didn't see it in the beginning."But it came, and a number of players noticed, including defensive tackle Richard Seymour, who said, "It was horrendous. We've seen better days, but the beauty in it all is we'll make up our minds we want to go out and play. We can still control our own destiny, but playing like that, we don't control nothing."
This was, in short, one of those pearl-handled disasters the Raiders put up in November when they're not sure whether to push ahead or lay back and wait for January. This time, they were within screeching distance of the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs, playing one of the few seemingly easy games they had left, and they were comprehensively inert.And it makes you wonder if these are yet one more version of the end of days the Raiders have specialized in since 2003. The anger is still fresh, but the symptomology is clear because we've seen it so many times before. Important game, beatable opponent, no effort, no execution, no performance whatsoever.Indeed, it trumps even Cable's inability to convince Al Davis that Gradkowski is the best man for the quarterbacking job, or keeping Campbell's head in a happy space. Yes, the quarterback situation is an irredeemable mess, but it isn't the only reason the Raiders turned back into the Raiders in eight hard days.They went to Pittsburgh tied for first place, and they came out of the Miami game gasping for air and doubting their will to play hard, let alone actually win.Eight days, it took. Eight. And unless this team has a storehouse of will Raider teams don't typically possess, we can mark this as the day they surrendered their eighth consecutive season, and then waited for the NFL player lockout to end so they could start another new era with another new coach.And God won't have anything to do with it.What's on your mind? Email Ray and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.