OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 02: Tyvon Branch #33 of the Oakland Raiders breaks up a pass intended by Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots at O.co Coliseum on October 2, 2011 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
The Oakland Raiders followed a big win with a big let down in week four. There were really no positives for the Raiders to take from their loss to the Patriots, instead, they are left taking it as a sign that they have a lot of work left to do.
The Oakland Raiders followed up a solid performance against the New York Jets with a rather uninspiring performance in their loss to the New England Patriots. Despite only being down seven points at half time, there was little hope that the Raiders would be able to come back against Tom Brady and the Patriots. Sure enough, the Raiders looked far worse in the second half than they did in the first, and never really threatened the Patriots lead.
The Raiders failed on numerous fronts against the Patriots. All areas of the team left a lot to be desired in their performances. While no one thought that the Raiders are at the level of the Patriots yet, this game was expected to be a close one. Instead, mental errors and poor play by the Raiders led to a lopsided loss.
Without further adieu, this weeks grades are not pretty:
Passing Offense: Bad, just bad. This was easily the worst performance by Jason Campbell and the Raiders passing game. While Campbell put up 344 yards through the air, a significant portion of those yards came late in the game when the Patriots knew they had the win and simply were not playing that hard. More importantly, Campbell threw two very ill advised interceptions at extremely costly times. Campbell has had a problem with protecting the ball in the past and for the first time this season, he showed that it is still a problem that he needs to address.
Rushing Offense: The Raiders put up 160 yards on the ground, but were never able to establish a consistently dominant run game like they have in past weeks. Darren McFadden was held to a season low 75 yards on 14 carries. The Patriots did not completely shut down McFadden as he had a healthy average of 5.4 yards per carry. However, they were able to take McFadden out of the game by establishing a big enough lead to force the Raiders to throw more than run.
Passing Defense: Tom Brad did not put up huge numbers but that is because he did not need to, not because he was not able to. Brady had all day to throw the ball, and as we all know, give a guy like Brady that much time and he will pick you apart. The Pats had their running game going off against the Raiders so that Brady did not need to dominate. But when he had the ball in his hands, he made our secondary look bad (as did Wes Welker who was unstoppable). No pass rush and inability to cover the receivers made the Raiders pass defense look terrible.
Rushing Defense: Everyone knows that the New England Patriots boast one of the strongest running games in the NFL. Oh, wait, that's not right. Well, you could have fooled most people with the way they ran all over the Raiders defense on Sunday. The Raiders gave up 183 yards on the ground to the Patriots. Most of those yards came from Stevan Ridley, truly one of the league's best running backs. Oh, wait, that's not right. Steven Ridley is a rookie who had more carries against the Raiders than the previous three games combined. Leave it to the Raiders to make the Patriots look like a power house in the running game.
Special Teams: There is not a lot to say about the special teams. They looked much better on kick and punt coverage, which has been a problem this season. Lechler had a real good game, averaging 52 yards on his two punts, with one being 63 yards long. Janikowski hit both of his field goals, but they were chip shots with the longest being from 28. Nothing to get real excited about on special teams, but nothing bad either.
Coaching: As badly as the Raiders performed on the field, the coaching staff performed even worse. Hue Jackson stopped being Hue Jackson, and the offense suffered as a result. Jackson has prided himself on being an aggressive and creative play caller. On Sunday, he had three fourth and short opportunities, all of which he chose not to go for, including one in the fourth quarter when the game was only going to be won if they converted. Additionally, he failed to get the ball into the hands of his play makers. Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore did not see the ball nearly enough, and Jackson did not do enough with his play calling to get the running game and Darren McFadden going. While Jackson should take a good amount of weight, defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan has a lot of explaining to do. He did absolutely nothing to adjust his defensive game plan during the game. The Raiders consistently failed to get pressure on Tom Brady, and yet no changes were made. This was a terrible performance for the new coaching staff.
Overall: This was not a must win for the Raiders, but it was a sign that this team is not ready to be one of the top tier NFL teams this season. Inconsistency and a lack of discipline are keeping the Raiders from being really good. Their performance against the Patriots really did not leave a whole lot to be excited about. The Raiders failed on numerous fronts and still have a lot to work on.