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Sunday, September 12, 2010
After one game, it's the same old Raiders

By Bill Williamson

Jason Campbell
Jason Campbell was sacked four times as the offensive line failed to protect their new quarterback.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It was a familiar scene for the Oakland Raiders, and that's a problem.

In one end of a sullen locker room sat the Raiders’ quarterback and his receivers. They didn’t say much. They were beleaguered after a completely ineffective performance in a 38-13 thrashing at the hands of the Tennessee Titans, who were by far, the superior, most prepared and most efficient team on the field Sunday.

Jason Campbell may be in and JaMarcus Russell may be out at quarterback, but the ineffectiveness that saddled and defined the Raiders last season still hovers over the team like an unforgiving and unrelenting stench.

“When I woke up this morning I didn’t think this is how the day would go,” Raiders tight end Zach Miller said.

The Raiders thought they had moved beyond this type of performance.

They thought they had turned the corner from being one of worst organizations in the league and had become a legitimate playoff contender. That is one of the reasons why the Raiders pranced around in T-shirts predicting they’d win the AFC West this year.

However, as they fly across the country Sunday night, the Raiders must realize that true NFL turnarounds occur on the playing field, not in the draft room or on the training-camp practice field.

It was only one game, but the 2010 Oakland Raiders look like more like the 2003-09 Raiders, who lost 11 or more games for a record seven straight seasons, than the team Oakland thought it already had become.

After Week 1 of the NFL season, we cannot talk about the addition of a new, effective quarterback or a shiny new draft class that changed the defense. All we can talk about is that the Raiders are now 29-84 since advancing to the Super Bowl in the 2002 season. For now, the misery in Oakland continues.

The complete beating shocked the Raiders and their coaching staff.

Oakland was convinced this season would be different, and maybe it still will be. But there is now a serious dose of doubt that was not present during the offseason.

Raiders
The defense couldn't stop the Titans as Tennessee put up 24 straight points in the first half.
The Raiders hired the respected Hue Jackson as their offensive coordinator. They traded for Campbell and cut Russell. They had a solid, smart draft. They performed, for the most part, solidly in the preseason.

All systems were go. Until kickoff. Then, the Raiders reverted back to being the same old Raiders.

Oakland’s Yamon Figurs fumbled the opening kickoff and the Raiders barely recovered the ball. But it was a sign of things to come. Oakland was sloppy and was outplayed on both sides of f the ball.

The Raiders never truly seemed to be in the game even though they took a 3-0 lead after a Vince Young turnover in Titans’ territory.

Oakland, who compiled some garbage-time yardage after trailing 31-6 after three quarters, had 136 yards of offense in the first half. Tennessee sacked Campbell four times in the first half and batted down three of his passes. He never had time to set up the deep pass and many of his 22 completions came on check-downs. Their longest pass play was for 27 yards and no other went for more than 16 yards.

They were 0-for-7 on third-down conversions in the first half. Starting receivers Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey combined for five catches for 39 yards. Heyward-Bey, the 2009 first-round pick whom Oakland has high expectations for this season, had one catch for 11 yards.

Campbell finished 22 of 37 for 180 yards. He looked hesitant and didn’t appear to completely trust his line, which was anchored by rookie center Jared Veldheer, a converted tackle. Campbell fumbled twice, losing one deep in Oakland territory. His one interception was nearly brought back for a touchdown.

Campbell wasn’t Russell. But he wasn’t Jim Plunkett circa 1980, either. Oakland owner Al Davis compared Campbell’s arrival to Plunkett’s arrival -- which sparked a title in the 1980 season. Jackson is supposed to revive an offense that scored only 17 touchdowns last season. Yet, the Raiders, who were penalized 10 times for 77 yards, didn’t score their lone touchdown Sunday until 9:58 remained in a blowout.

“We’re not proud of how we played today,” Campbell said. “I thought they were more detailed today than we were … it’s deflating.”

Defensively, the Raiders gave up too many big plays. While Oakland did a decent job of stopping rushing king Chris Johnson at times, he ended up with 142 yards in 27 carries. He had a 76-yard touchdown run and the Titans also had a 56-yard passing play for a score.

To his credit, Oakland coach Tom Cable -- who will once again be the subject of hot-seat talk if this type of play continues -- was clearly perturbed. Cable has earned a reputation for being an eternal optimist in his tenure as Oakland’s coach. Cable, who is now 9-20 as the Raiders’ head coach, didn’t paint a rosy picture Sunday.

“I’m very disappointed in this one game,” Cable said. “We were very hesitant in all three phases early in the game, and never seemed to get out of it.”

Again, it’s only one game, but it’s painfully obvious to Oakland that it is not out of the abyss yet.