It was tough debut for Jason Campbell as he was never able to get comfortable in the pocket. He managed to throw for 180 yards and a touchdown and an interception apiece on 22 of 37 passing. While those numbers by themselves won't blow anyone away, it was impressive that Campbell managed as much considering the poor offensive line play and the disappearance of his wide receivers.
Campbell was sacked four times and as we said in our season and game previews, the offensive line is the biggest weakness for this year's squad. Campbell averaged 4.9 yards per pass completion—a indication of how little time he had to go through his reads and progressions, and being forced to make the first, and often shortest, pass he saw.
Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson got a little creative on one play where he had Johnnie Lee Higgins catch a pass behind the LOS and then pass it back to Campbell. As was the case for much of the offense, the strategy was there but the execution wasn't. Campbell only managed one yard on the reception.
Running Backs/Fullbacks: B
Darren McFadden had perhaps the best game of his career against the Titans. Sunday's 95 yards on the ground was the second most for him since his second career game against the Chiefs in 2008 (164 yards).
McFadden was easily the brightest spot for the Raiders as he was the only working option on offense. Give credit where credit is due. The Titans began keying in on him in the second half, but McFadden did a good job of getting open for Campbell and making things happen with the ball in his hands.
McFadden was also the leading receiver for the team and it's that sort of versatility that will make him a valuable weapon for the offense. It will be interesting to see how the Raiders will adjust when Michael Bush comes back from a broken thumb and if McFadden's big day was a case of him getting consistent touches.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: D
The wide receivers were a non-factor in this one.
So much was said and written about the great offseason Darrius Heyward-Bey had, but a non-existent preseason and a poor start to the regular season hasn't proved much. Louis Murphy caught four passes for only 28 yards. There were a few passes that came his way that were off target, but for the most part, he had a tough time getting open. Zach Miller was not the factor that he should have been. Again, Campbell didn't have much time to find his receivers, but also, the Titans did an excellent job of taking away Campbell's options. It's no secret that the Raiders will throw often to Miller, so the offense desperately needs its young wide receivers to step up. Offensive Line: D-
McFadden's 95 yards saves this group from receiving an entirely failing grade. Perhaps it's a bit harsh to give the offensive line a "D-" given McFadden's big day, but those yards were thanks in large part to his shiftiness and athleticism (5.3 average yards per carry).
The run blocking was better than the pass protection, but that's not saying all too much. The line allowed Campbell to be sacked four times and never really gave their quarterback enough time to deliver the right pass. Of course, penalties were a major issue as well.
Jared Veldheer struggled in his debut, particularly on his snaps. Mario Henderson and Langston Walker were consistently pushed back and beaten by a faster, strong and more hungry Titans pass rush.
And the penalties. Oh, those penalties.
The day could probably be summed up on one particular offensive drive in the second quarter: On 1st and 10, three Titans defenders penetrated the line and forced Campbell to throw a shovel pass to McFadden that went for an incompletion. A pre-snap penalty on Mario Henderson set the offense up with 2nd and 15. On that play, the Titans Jason Babin blew by Langston Walker to sack Campbell and force a fumble (recovered by Marcel Reece).
Defensive Line: D
In the first quarter, it looked as if all the game planning the Raiders did for Chris Johnson was paying off—only three yards on five carries. But from the second quarter on, Johnson was his usual self. Johnson finished with 142 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, including a 76-yard touchdown run in the second.
The Titans offensive line exerted their power and dominance at the snap. As soon as Johnson or backup Javon Ringer got the handoff, they had huge holes to run through. Simply put, the Raiders defensive line was dominated.
Vince Young was sacked twice but for the mast part, he had plenty of time to go through his reads and make his throws. The pass rush ability that the Raiders showcased in the preseason just wasn't there on Sunday, and it seemed like Defensive Coordinator John Marshall was conservative in his approach.
When the holes opened at the line, the linebackers were not there to fill them. That was problem number one.
Problem number two was that the linebackers were out of position for most of the game and you can put that on John Marshall. The Raiders are an attacking defense and Sunday was an issue of them misfiring too often.
There were a couple of times when Kamerion Wimbley was caught out of position and he spent most of the game having to recover back to the ball. He did, however, finish with a sack. Rookie Rolando McClain finished with four tackles in his debut and at times he looked a bit overwhelmed. Considering his great work ethic and level of commitment, chances are that McClain will be better prepared the next time out.
The Titans did a good job of staying away from Nnamdi Asomugha and picking on Chris Johnson. Hiram Eugene replaced Michael Huff, who left the game with a knee injury. Tyvon Branch was his usual self, but as the old football adage goes, it's rarely a good sign when someone from the secondary leads the defense in tackles. Branch obviously does a great job in the film room because he's always around the play. However, there were a few instances when his over aggressiveness put himself out of the play.
The big plays were there for the Titans and the secondary was not. Vince Young got things going on a 56-yard touchdown strike to Nate Washington, and both Titans running backs weaved their way past the secondary for scores.
Special Teams: C
Yamon Figurs finished with 105 yards off kick returns so that was a bright spot. The punt return game failed to get started, only returning three punts for a total of 22 yards.
Shane Lechler was his usual dependable self, averaging 54.8 yards on four punts, including one inside the 20-yard line. Sebstian Janikowski was 2 for 3 on his field goal attempts with his one miss coming from 53-yards out.
After starting out somewhat fairly and keeping the game close, the Raiders let the floodgates open and the coaching staff did not do a good job of resetting the team's focus.
Offensively, the 10 penalties for 77 yards is a reflection of a lack of discipline. It's not that Tom Cable and staff haven't been vocal in practice—they just need to step it up a notch. Again, the play calling was there but the execution wasn't.
On defense, it was the same old story for the Raiders and it makes you wonder just exactly what it's going to take for them to be able to stop the run. In the preseason, Marshall used Kamerion Wimbley and Trevor Scott on and off the line when coming off the edge, but against the Titans, Marshall seemed to hold back on those twists and player installs. Defenders were caught out of position and really, the defense looked a lot like those generic ones you can find in high school seven-on-seven passing tournaments.