Today was a reminder of how much more building is necessary for Hue Jackson’s bully. A true bully does exactly what the Raiders did to day in the first half during today’s test in Buffalo. When you’re a bully in unfamiliar surroundings the best remedy is always to take the fight to the kid in his own crib. By jumping out to a 21-3 lead at the half Hue’s design was looking flawless.
Then the bully did what bullies aren’t supposed to do – the Raiders letup their punishment and the Bills got comfortable. Too comfortable. Ryan Fitzpatrick starting linking up with Stevie Johnson like it was a practice session. Those all too familiar symptoms re-emerged as big plays plagued Oakland during a 35-point onslaught that put the “O” in Buffalo.
Sure, this one was still there for the win courtesy of Jason Campbell finding what should be his top target for the foreseeable future. However it was not meant to be as Denarius Moore’s coming out party was rained on. But I’m pretty sure he got his coaches attention with a 146-yard effort capped off with a fantastic TD grab.
We knew this was going to be a work in progress from the moment the lockout robbed everyone of OTAs. To be sure things are being learned on the fly – both good a bad.
First let’s start with the positives.
Hue Jackson’s offense is really getting into a rhythm. Campbell is looking more confident in letting it rip as evident by the 50-yard bomb that Moore fought for and came down with in the end zone. The rookie is doing this kind of stuff in regular season now. It’s officially time to get that hype machine running a full speed.
The offensive numbers reveal just how frustrating this loss was.
67% efficiency on 3rd down isn’t supposed to be a losing stat. Going 4 for 4 in the red zone isn’t supposed to be a figure associated with an L. Whenever Darren McFadden finds the end zone twice and has 140+ yards of total offense on the road the Silver and Black are supposed to be going home happy.
But those numbers only tell part of the story.
Penalties are still problematic. Sure, there were a couple questionable calls but that’s not an excuse for giving a team almost an entire football field in free yardage.
The real culprit was as familiar as all that yellow laundry on the field. The defense once again sprung a leak yielding big plays at the wrong time.
Fred Jackson’s 43-yard run to pay dirt was the moment that officially broke the dam. Before you knew the Bills were rolling up and down the field like it was an offseason OTA with no defense.
Again there was poor tackling made worse by bad angles. Matt Giordano went from being a hero in Denver to becoming the scapegoat against the Bills. He wasn’t alone as the secondary had the communication of deaf family with no hands. Nowhere was that more costly than on Buffalo’s game winning drive.
It’s one thing if the offense is turning the ball over, giving the opponent a short field to work with. It’s an entirely different ball game when an offense goes on scoring drives that chew up 80 yards at a time. The Raiders’ defense was bullied for three scoring drives of 80-yards in the second half. Overall the Bills torched the Raiders for 326-yards and 5 TDs in the final half an hour of football.
Hue still has much work to do.
Acting like a bully is one thing. That is something anyone can do with a little backbone. Now actually being a bully means committing to the role full-time. The Raiders learned this lesson the hard way in Upstate New York. When you’ve got an opponent down you’ve got to dial up the intensity even more.
These are the types of losses that kept Oakland out of the playoffs one year ago. These are exactly the types of losses that will haunt them again one year later. With a tough stretch coming up on the schedule now was the wrong time to learn such a hard lesson.