Raiders get new coach, same game-day face

Raiders get new coach, same game-day face
September 11, 2012, 6:49 am
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Dennis Allen is now a member of the club. He has seen the Raiders for one real game now, he has diagnosed them with pedal gunshot wounds, and he sounds like every other Raider coach who wasnt Jon Gruden.We have to eliminate self-inflicted wounds, Oaklands new game-day face said after wearing the same old Raider coachs game-day face. Those things arent supposed to happen, but the did tonight, and we have to get those things eliminated.And if it werent the same old description for every slack-jawed Raider performance of the last decade, Mondays 22-14 loss to San Diego would have some interesting facets to it.But sameness kills. Too much Darren McFadden (28 touches and five more targets in Oaklands 69 plays), and not enough of anyone else. Two grounders and a popup from backupemergencynot-going-to-be-so-tomorrow long-snapper Travis Goethel. A general but persistent blah about the game plan, its execution, and the results.Put another way, the Raiders were lucky to lose only by eight, and had no business being away from a wishful-thinking onside kick for a wishful-thinking last possession. They did too little, and what they did do was not nearly crisp or elegant enough. They did not crackle with life so much as they oozed with ordinary. Their mistakes were noticeable, but their lack of verve was more crushing still.True, without Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore they were short on players who could test the perpetually ordinary San Diego secondary. But in working McFadden like a rented mule (and thereby reviving the spectre of him not being able to play all 16 games because of the workload) and backing away from a more intrepid passing game, they safed their way right out of competition after 2 quarters.Now it is quite possible that there was no way to make this lead sparkle, that Rod Streater and Darrius Heyward-Bey didnt do enough to make themselves available to Carson Palmer. And yet Palmer didnt look to anyone much except for Streater and McFadden (28 of 46 balls were thrown their way, for a very modest 113 yards, a dreadful 2.6 yards per attempt). And their one real gadget play, a double-reverse to Taiwan Jones, turned out to lose 25 yards. In short, a team that needs creativity didnt show it, and a team that needs results even more desperately didnt get them, or come nearly close enough.And, as Comrade Gutierrez will share with you, the teams strengths last year, offense and special teams, were absolute minuses.The special teams failures, though, were caused mostly by Jon Condos injury on the Raiders first punt. His replacement, Goethel, was a linebacker who hadnt snapped in a real game in college, and whatever reps he got in practice did not translate into anything but disaster in the game.One punt was rendered dead on arrival when Goethels snap essentially barrel-rolled to Lechler. Another was blocked by San Diegos Dante Rosario when Goethels snap took on the characteristics of a Jemile Weeks grounder.And for that, and the other errors of commission, omission and false-startery, the Chargers managed only one touchdown and five Nate Kaeding field goals. In other words, the Raiders couldnt even find the solace that comes from saying they lost to a superior team.They just, well, lost. Without obvious passion or effervescence, with a hamster-wheel offense of McFadden unless otherwise notified, and a general drabness that is no way to start a new era.In fact, if you want anything weird to come from this game, consider this two-year-old gem from of all places, The Onion satirical web site, that featured Goethel: We highly recommend the last line if youre looking for that what-the-hell moment.Not that it will make you feel any better if you are Raider-centric in your outlook, mind you. But in a way that the Raiders themselves could never manage, this was a jaw-dropper on a night that desperately needed one.In the meantime, the Raiders have shown a new coach what foot bullets feel like. Call it a rite of passage, with a limp.