News, Notes, Quotes, and Grades

Mike White couldn't solve this problem, Joe Bugel did no better. It wasn't a phenomenon of Jon Gruden's reign. Bill Callahan was tormented by it. And now, Norv, it's your problem.

Discipline.

Thursday night, the Raiders had 16 penalties for 149 yards in prime Massachusetts real estate.
Consider the following:

-- Six of the first seven penalties of the game were against the Patriots. 15 of the next 16 were against the Raiders. Either that's a total collapse of self-control or it's a disease.
-- 149 yards was more than double the number of yards the Patriots' ground game, featuring Corey Dillon, ran for.
They came from everywhere -- six on offense, six on defense, four on special teams. They ranged from four holding penalties of varying types, three flagrant personal fouls, one interference, two delays of game.
And it must be contagious because a rookie, Stanford Routt, earned 38 yards in penalties on one series alone.
And it could have been worse. Two more penalties were declined (a fifth holding and a second interference).
Bad as the Raiders have been in this department over the last 10 years, and they have usually either led the league in being penalized or come precipitously close, this one was epic. Only three games out of the last 145 stand out as no less than this one's equal in the penalty department.
-- The 2003 opener against Tennessee, 17 penalties for 173 yards.
-- Another 2003 gusher against Cleveland, 19 penalties though for "only" 128 yards.
-- A 1996 Denver game in which 20 flags were dropped on the Raiders for 157 yards.
"I'm really concerned about the amount of penalties," Turner conceded. "The way we're going to go about it is look at every one of them and coach off of them."
"That's something I'm not used to," running back LaMont Jordan said.
Chances are, he will adapt.

NOTES, QUOTES

-- The spectacular always get the attention and Randy Moss' 73-yard touchdown pass from Kerry Collins in the second quarter, definitely qualified as highlight film stuff.
However, the Moss debut (five catches for 130 yards) was not a dominating one when it is considered that to get him those five receptions, the Raiders had fired 14 of their 40 passes at him.
"My hat is off to the Patriots, man," Moss said. "They run good schemes and they've got good ballplayers inside those schemes. It was to be physical with me at the line and not let me get into my route. I was getting doubled and tripled probably 95 percent of the night."
-- RB LaMont Jordan had a good Raider debut. He was on his way to a 100-yard rushing game with 14 carries for 58 yards by halftime but when the Raiders fell behind, his workload decreased and he finished with 70 yards in 18 attempts.
He had a warning for other teams.
"You can't come out against the Super Bowl champion and make that many penalties," he said. "They won't beat themselves. Granted, they lost two coordinators, but they haven't changed."

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

-- WR Ronald Curry was not a factor. He did not catch a pass in his first regular season game since tearing his Achilles tendon last December. He only had one pass thrown to him. It was incomplete but the play was nullified by a penalty.
-- In choosing Ron Stone as his starter at RG over Brad Badger, coach Norv Turner said he the decision was based on Stone's tendency to play more physically.
-- The team's leading exhibition pass receiver, WR Johnnie Morant (15 catches, 315 yards), was inactive for the game.
-- LG Langston Walker, who stands 6-feet-8, continues to be a special teams standout. He blocked an extra point. Last year, he blocked a field goal and an extra point.
-- RB Justin Fargas (knee) was inactive for the Patriots game.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

REPORT CARD VS. PATRIOTS

PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus -- QB Kerry Collins was on fire at the start, completing all four passes for 64 yards on the game's opening series. Thereafter, he was a mere 14-for-36 for 201 yards. His pass protection was spotty and broke down on his interception, which was really a fumble that was picked off in mid-air.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- After last year's ground game catastrophe (last in the league), 92 rushing yards was a virtual godsend. LaMont Jordan was on pace for a 100-yard game until the Raiders fell behind, had to play catch-up and backed off on the run. Still, there were too many plays stacked up at the line. The Pats were supposed to be vulnerable here. In all, not a good start by the offensive line.

PASS DEFENSE: F -- Catastrophic. Tom Brady was never sacked and rarely harried. He carved the Raiders up whether they were running the 4-3 or inserted extra pass defenders to cope with three and four receiver sets. Five different Patriots had catches of 20 yards or more. There wasn't anything close to an interception. SS Derrick Gibson gave up six completions for 91 yards in the first half alone.

RUSH DEFENSE: A-minus -- The Raiders held Corey Dillon and Company to 2.4 yards a rushing attempt. Dillon finished with 63 yards on 23 carries and the Pats didn't have a gain longer than 10 yards in 31 attempts. Tommy Kelly and Bobby Hamilton had excellent games outside, Warren Sapp and Ted Washington did the same inside. Charles Woodson made an open field tackle for the ages. No problem here.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- Mostly good with exception of a badly missed field goal by Sebastian Janikowski and some flaws in kick and punt coverage. There were two blocked kicks (Langston Walker, Randal Williams). Return specialist Chris Carr had an impressive debut. Overall, it was an improvement.

COACHING: B minus -- There is credit for making it a competitive opener against a monster opponent. Less credit in other areas such as stubbornly sticking with RG Ron Stone over Brad Badger when the nature of the game changed from trying to be physical and run to passing to play catchup. Adjustments when the Pats went three or four WRs by adding coverage people may have been the logical call but there was no pressure, so Brady just kept picking apart whoever the Raiders sent out to get gored. OLBs Tyler Brayton and Grant Irons were eventually replaced but part of their effectiveness was supposed to be their pass rush ability. And those penalty problems just won't go away.


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