It was an afternoon that started off well before ending in an abysmal nightmare that has the Oakland Raiders wondering what is next.
A blocked punt for a touchdown followed by a Matt Flynn touchdown strike to Mychal Rivera had the Raiders up 14-0 early at the O.co Coliseum. Against an 0-3 Washington Redskins team it appeared that the Raiders might be able to handle the loss of Terrelle Pryor and escape with a win under Flynn. It turned out to be the furthest thing from the end result.
Flynn threw an interception for a touchdown to Redskins rookie David Amerson, who returned it 45 yards to pull Washington within a touchdown. From then on there it would be a nightmare for Flynn, who reminded anyone watching the game why Terrelle Pryor was named the Raiders starter.
Flynn was ineffective at getting the Raiders anywhere near scoring distance despite getting some great field position thanks to an inspired effort from the Raiders defense led by offensive coordinator Jason Tarver. Flynn left the field at the end of the first half hearing boos after failing to get Sebastian Janikowski into field goal range to end the first half and those boos would only get louder in the second half.
Janikowski would register his own costly error on his lone field goal attempt, shanking a 52 yard field goal that would have put the Raiders ahead. Instead Pierre Garcon would score on a five yard touchdown catch to put the Redskins ahead 17-14.
With Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece in street clothes after first half injuries, Flynn was left exposed without the help of a Raiders rushing attack. Fumbling the ball after one of his many sacks on the day as Flynn was caught holding onto the football for far too long on many occasions on Sunday.
Flynn’s fumble set up RGII’s knockout punch that was capped with a Roy Helu Jr. 14 yard touchdown run to put Oakland down two scores. Flynn would fumble on a 4th and 1 sneak attempt inside the Washington red zone in the fourth quarter to seal Washington’s fate and a day that likely ended Flynn’s hopes of ever gaining a foothold in the NFL as a starter.
Flynn was 21-for-32 passing for 227 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception, but his stat line was nowhere indicative of his poor play. Once up 14-0 Flynn did the complete opposite of what was needed and couldn’t keep the Raiders defense off of the field, at the end of the second half that was costly as the defense looked out of gas from the workload of going out on the field after so many Flynn three and outs.
Dennis Allen came under fire on Twitter for not getting the win today, but the team effort was more than enough to win this game and sadly it puts the blame solely on Flynn. From the beginning of OTA’s and training camp it looked clear that Flynn was behind Pryor at an ability and athletic standpoint and it showed today. Allen had no choice but to start Flynn with Pryor’s concussion symptoms flaring up on Saturday night making it unsafe to play their starting quarterback, at the end of the day you can’t fault Allen for doing the right thing and keeping his quarterback safe.
Flynn will be taking the blame after his loss and it is very likely that this will be his last stop where he is ever considered as more than just a back up. Against a poor Redskins defense that has been carved up to start the season Flynn looked hopeless on the majority of his drives, holding onto the ball and taking sacks due to an inability to read the defense. In the build up to the game we pointed out Flynn’s experience in coming into relief situations as a back up and his successes in those moments, that was not the case today. If Matt Flynn starts another game for the Oakland Raiders it will be because Pryor has yet to recover from his concussion, but it will be easy to write off Flynn after today.
Marcel Reece and Darren McFadden’s injuries were huge setbacks for the Raiders in the loss, but their recovery time will also be a huge factor in the future of Oakland’s backfield.
Reece is already signed to a multi year extension, but McFadden is an UFA this spring and his long list of injuries was added to as DMC left the game with a tight hamstring.
Once their rushing attack left the field things got even more difficult for Flynn, even though Rashad Jennings was serviceable in the backfield in addition to his clutch punt block to start the game, the absence of the blocking of Reece and McFadden’s threat of the run made it even easier for the Redskins defense to expose Flynn’s weaknesses.
With Pryor out and recovering from the concussion the next biggest injury concerns will now be McFadden and Reece as without them there will be even more pressure on Pryor to heal from his injury and carry the team without the support of two of Oakland’s most talented offensive weapons.
Don’t Blame Dennis
The fumbled sneak attempt from Matt Flynn while in field goal range on 4th and 1 will be talked about over the next few days as a gaffe by Dennis Allen, but if you look at it from the perspective of the game situation it was the right call.
With Flynn showing zero ability to march the Raiders in a quick fashion to the Washington endzone, Dennis Allen knew that if they didn’t grab a touchdown down 24-14 with under five minutes left they weren’t going to win the game on a last minute drive needing a likely 60-80 yard touchdown drive to win with Flynn under center. So he took the risk of gaining a yard to continue the drive and the easier chance at a touchdown.
In the end he was burned by Flynn’s fumbled snap, but Raider Nation should exercise some patience and perspective for Allen who was stuck in a tough spot missing Pryor (then DMC/Reece) and being forced to play Flynn. Oakland had a gameplan set in place to win the game and got the execution out of their defense, but the errors of Flynn were their downfall. That isn’t the fault of the head coach.
Oakland’s next meeting will be against the Chargers who are now .500 after a big home win over the Dallas Cowboys today.
The game will either be played as scheduled at around 1 p.m. or kickoff will be delayed until 8:30 p.m. due to an onflict with the Oakland Athletics and their MLB Playoff schedule