So close yet still so far away. That is the only way I can describe this version of the Oakland Raiders and their chances of making the playoffs this season. Plenty of progress was made this year but in the end we’re still looking at a .500 club that consistently was its own worst enemy.
All year long the defense was a huge concern for the Raiders. Today the sum of all fears was realized as the silver and black were completely defenseless against the San Diego Chargers.
If this is the last we’ll see of Norv Turner in the AFC West then it was fitting that he pulled a Chucky and got some revenge on the way out. Aside from Darrius Heyward-Bey’s TD in the first quarter this game was never in doubt.
Sure, there were moments when you felt like the Raiders were on the verge of taking control this afternoon. Like when they pinned the Chargers on their own half-yard line in the fourth quarter. Surely Chuck Bresnahan’s defense could keep Philip Rivers out of the end zone with an entire field length to go for the score…right?
Wrong. Dead wrong, in fact!
San Diego marched 99-yards on a drive that about summed up all of Oakland’s defensive issues this year. A defensive line that was supposed to be dominant was dormant and got no pressure on Rivers. A secondary that has been unimpressive all season continued their flawed form yet again.
Time and time again guys like Kamerion Wimbley and Rolando McClain were stuck covering players they had no chance of staying with on passing downs. Bresnahan’s scheme is tragically flawed and has been all year long.
The Raiders would have been better served to not even let the defense take the field today. At least there would have been more time left on the clock for Carson Palmer.
Even though Palmer and his countless turnovers will be assigned plenty of blame for this disappointing season it is hard to fault him or any of the Oakland offensive players today.
To be sure Michael Bush wore down no thanks to carrying the load in the running game in the absence of Darren McFadden. Oakland’s running attack disappeared down the stretch when the team needed it most.
Heyward-Bey finished up the best season any Raider receiver not named Randy Moss has had in years. 9 Grabs for 130 yards and a score is a good day at the office for any NFL receiver. He had a couple of drops today but overall DHB was a big part of the solution and had a very small had in the problems that plague the franchise.
The biggest problem of all of course are the penalties. Today wasn’t as bad but setting the NFL record for penalties and yards will be discussed all offseason long and Hue Jackson knows it.
Coach Jackson proved himself more than worthy of being appointed head coach. Al Davis had the last laugh on that decision but I’m pretty sure he’s not chuckling at all knowing the Denver Broncos are AFC West champs despite dropping three straight to end the season.
Overall there are plenty of positives to take from this season. In the end it is still a bitter disappointment. Finishing .500 for a second straight year is just a tease, plain and simple. The Raiders were the best team in the AFC West for second year in a row and once again have missed the playoffs. Injuries factored into the equation but it was all the self inflicted wounds and defensive shortcomings that ultimately doomed this team.
Whatever comes in the offseason will fail to compare to all the drama of this season. The acquisition of Carson Palmer will be the biggest talking point as Oakland is again without a first round pick. No matter your stance on Palmer it is hard to argue against a QB throwing for 400 yards and 2 scores in the biggest game of the season.
The writing is on the wall and in order for Oakland to take the next step they have got to defend and they’ve got to stop shooting themselves in the foot with careless penalties.
Coach Jackson has his work cut out for him but I feel that he is more than up to the task. As tough a pill as this was to swallow the future prospects for the silver and black are bountiful. Still, making the playoffs was a goal this team failed to realize. That makes this season a failure as well.
Topics: Al Davis, Carson Palmer, Chuck Bresnahan, Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Hue Jackson, Kamerion Wimbley, Michael Bush, Norv Turner, Oakland Raiders, Philip Rivers, Randy Moss, Rolando McClain, San Diego Chargers