Raiders-Titans Game Recap

Darren McFadden's career day was overshadowed by yet another poor showing by the Raiders offensive and defensive lines. Despite all the scrutiny those two units have received over the past few years, they continue their string of letdown performances in Week 1 of the 2010 season.

As the saying goes, "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

Sunday at LP Field in Nashville, the Raiders lost in an all too familiar fashion, falling to the Titans by a score of 38-13. It is their eighth consecutive loss in a season opener and their worst since a 41-14 drubbing to the Denver Broncos in 2008.

First, the one and only positive from Sunday: Darren McFadden.

Sunday's performance was arguably the best of McFadden's short career. His 95 yards rushing were his most since his second career game in 2008, in which he ran for 164 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs.

McFadden, who has had a difficult time staying healthy in his first two years, was finally able to showcase the versatility and athleticism that made him the fourth overall pick in 2008.

Despite playing behind an atrocious offensive line (which we'll cover extensively in a moment), he was able to consistently get to the second level and make things happen whenever he got into open space. On only 18 carries, McFadden averaged 5.3 yards per carry with his longest run being 13 yards.

McFadden was also the team's leading receiver on Sunday, hauling in six catches for 55 yards and a touchdown.

Needless to say, McFadden was the Raiders' only viable option against the Titans.

This was the type of performance Raider fans have been waiting for from McFadden. His fragility and upright running means that he will never be a bruising, in-between-the-tackles type of runner—that job is left for Michael Bush—but what McFadden is, is a weapon. A X-factor. He is the game breaker who can change things up when things get bogged down.

Time will tell if he can keep it up over the course of an entire season and it will be interesting to see if he maintain that effectiveness when Michael Bush comes back from a broken thumb. Perhaps after two years, what was revealed on Sunday is that McFadden needs to know for himself that he's the team's primary backfield option, and that he needs consistent touches to develop a rhythm. If that's the case, then hopefully, Bush's return won't signal a regression in McFadden's game.

Perhaps the two biggest things to take from Sunday's loss are the failures of the offensive and defensive lines. It's especially disconcerting considering that these two units have been the most heavily scrutinized for the past few seasons and that so much effort and personnel have been devoted to them.

Of course, it was Jason Campbell's regular season debut in Silver and Black and no thanks to the offensive line, it was a brutal one at that.

Campbell was sacked four times, including two blindside hits that both resulted in fumbles. Campbell was never able to get comfortable in the pocket. In our game preview, we stressed the importance of the Raider offense establishing the temp of the game against a relatively unknown Titans defensive front.

Instead, the Titans were the aggressors as they displayed a fast and aggressive pass rush from the get-go. Gone are the likes of Keith Bulluck and Kyle Vanden Bosch, and before Sunday's game, the defensive line was one of the major questions facing this Titans team. In other words, it was an opportunity for the Raiders offensive line to assert their dominance, and they failed miserably at that.

Jared Veldheer struggled all day and simply looked overwhelmed in his professional debut. Tom Cable was asking a lot out of his rookie lineman, who is playing center for the first time after playing his entire collegiate career at tackle. He played like he was making his first career start at center as the biggest issue he clearly had was with the snap.

Of course, just to illustrate how dire the situation is, as the starter, the coaching staff is essentially saying that Veldheer s a better option than Samson Satele.

Mario Henderson and Langston Walker were simply overwhelmed and overmatched by the Titans pass rush, and it just goes to show that the talent just isn't there for the Raiders. Only one week into the 2010 regular season, and offensive tackle is almost assuredly number one on the draft board for 2011.

On the play where Michael Griffin recovered Jason Campbell's fumble (and was eventually challenged and ruled down by contact), the Titans Jacob Ford simply timed the snap superbly. Ford was in the backfield before Mario Henderson could even get his head turned around and really, there's not much you can do there.

However, the line was never able to maintain their poise throughout the game, as displayed by the plethora of pre-snap penalties. Those types of penalties can either stall or kill drives, and they definitely did not help the offense gain any rhythm.

The screen play, a play the Raiders had immense success with during the preseason, was nearly non-existent. After the Raiders failed to execute a few times on the screen, first year Offensive Coordinator essentially scrapped the play for the rest of the game.

The team also took a hit after Robert Gallery was taken out due to a sore hamstring. It probably won't keep him out of next Sunday's home opener against the Rams, but despite being the team's best lineman, Gallery isn't the most durable either.

The defensive line's performance was equally as atrocious as the offensive's.

In the first quarter, it looked like all the game planning the Raiders did for Titans running back was paying off. Johnson only had three yards on five carries. What made the run defense so successful in the first was a mix of the Raiders line clogging up the middle and Johnson doing a little too much dancing behind his line.

But Chris Johnson isn't the league's best running back for nothing. His slow start in the first gave way to an onslaught starting in the second—the big play being his 76-yard touchdown run.

On that play, the Raiders were in nickel package with Kamerion Wimbley playing with his hand down and rushing off the edge. At the snap, Wimbley came in too wide and was further set off course by the opposing lineman's initial punch, while the rest of the Titans offensive line put bodies on bodies, and voila, a huge running lane. One embarrassing juke of Tyvon Branch later, and Chris Johnson showcased his 4.24 speed.

So much has been said already about both lines' struggles, so what else can be said? You can always fall back on the fact that this was only the first game, but it was only the most recent in what is a disturbing trend of ineptitude.

The Raiders have a great chance at a bounce back game this Sunday against the Rams, but what once looked like a lock for a win is less so after a not-so-bad performance by Los Angeles' other former team.

Steven Jackson is no Chris Johnson, but he's obviously no slouch. While Jackson might not have Johnson's speed, he is a balanced runner with great vision and power. Perhaps it's then, it's better that the Raiders try and iron things out against two great running backs before taking on Arizona's tandem of Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower in Week 3.

For the offensive line, you just have to hope that Tom Cable and his staff have something special lined up in practice for them. It's a unit that's well aware of its shortcomings, so confidence, needless to say, is not high.

Ultimately, what we learned from Sunday's loss was that the Titans are a tough, physical team that has a distinct idea of what they want to do, and then they let their attitudes carry them to their goals. In a sense, they are a reflection of their long tenured and well-respected coach, Jeff Fisher.

These are all the things Tom Cable and the Raiders are not, right now.

What's been typical of the post 2002 Raiders teams is that once they're hit, they struggle to get back up.

The 2010 season, with all the optimism it has for the Raiders, has gotten off to a bad start. What will define this team is how quickly they can bounce back and for how long they can maintain a good streak.

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