In a game where many things went wrong, there are two decisions that became the roots of the biggest blunder trees on Sunday.
The first was the decision to start Jared Veldheer at Center. Hindsight is 20-20 and Tom Cable alluded as much in his Q&A with the media on Monday.
When Cable was asked if he regretted starting Veldheer, he answered, “Yes and no.” This is as about as much expressed regret as you are likely to get from Cable. Maybe, in the long-run Veldheer benefits from this experience, but the Raiders certainly didn’t on Sunday.
The setting Sunday is likely to be the most adverse conditions a Raiders starting Center will face all year. The Tennessee crowd is one of the loudest in the league and they are stacked on the defensive line. Perhaps the comfy confines of the home stadium and the St. Louis Rams defensive line would have been a better starting point for Veldheer.
The second decision that doomed this team was leaving Asomugha at Right Cornerback. During training camp the Raiders had been sliding Asomugha to different spots on the field. Asomugha and the coaches had even talked about moving him around to utilize his talents and maximize the havoc he could create.
Then on Sunday, he was firmly planted on the right hand side. The Titans seemed to be the perfect opponent for Asomugha to point to a guy and say, “You’re mine.”
Nate Washington was the only real threat at WR that the Titans had on Sunday. Washington had three catches on Sunday. All of them were in the first half. The second two were game changers and none of them were against Asomugha.
Two of Washington’s catches came against zone coverage, but neither were on Asomugha’s side of the field.
Washington’s second catch, the 56-yard touchdown, came against man defense and he was supposedly being guarded by Stanford Routt. Routt bit in on Young’s bootleg and left Washington with more space then he knew what to do with and gave the Titans one of the easier touchdowns you’ll ever see.
His third catch appeared to be on a zone defense and was made between Routt and Tyvon Branch. This 21-yard catch was good enough to convert on 3rd and 9. The Titans went onto score their second touchdown on this drive.
Take away those two TD’s and it would have been 3-3 and a whole different ball game at that point.
I know it's not as simple as that. Maybe the Titans would have found other ways to score, but the point remains: These two decisions, which would have been easy to execute, could have changed the tone of the game.