The losses mounted Sunday afternoon for the Raiders, eventually becoming one giant blowout.
Oakland was demolished by the Bengals 33-13 in their 2015 season opener, and didn’t score until the fourth quarter after Cincinnati had scored all of their points.
If they weren’t missing tackles or blocking assignments, the Raiders were allowing Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert to prance up the seam without a defender nearby. For two sure touchdowns.
The day couldn’t have gone much worse, too, considering the other losses the Raiders suffered.
Quarterback Derek Carr left the game with a right hand injury, Del Rio stating after the game that x-rays were negative. The team lost their two starting safeties, Nate Allen to an undisclosed knee injury and Charles Woodson to a shoulder injury, possibly a collarbone break.
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said:
“It’s very disappointing and embarrassing effort. I take full responsibility. … Offensively, we have to be able to run it. We have to be able to protect the quarterback and protect the ball. Quarterback ended up being hurt. We didn’t run it well enough. And we didn’t protect the ball, we were minus-2 in turnovers.”
A frank-talking Del Rio says he expects things to get better, that they will improve. He stressed watching film, as coaches tend to do. But his displeasure was clear — Oakland failed to win most of the game’s elements, and lost on several key plays.
Said Del Rio:
“It just wasn’t good football early. At some point you have to start playing good football. … I’m disappointing that the effort to open the season wasn’t better. Our fans were very excited, fired up, we get an opportunity to open the season at home. And we didn’t play well. And that’s disappointing to me.”
Del Rio stressed taking ownership and getting back to work, as did defensive end Justin Tuck.
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
Oakland’s secondary is an already shallow unit, and the Allen-Woodson combo hold the most experience of any in the group. If the two are sidelined for a period of time that exceeds a few games, that could spell big trouble for the Raiders young season.
But the most experienced members of the roster stress the fact that it’s only one game. Said Tuck:
“I’ve been in this league long enough to know that you don’t reach your goals in the first week. I’ve started fast and got my butt kicked at the end of the season, and I’ve started slow and won championships at the end of the season. That’s what I’m going to continue to tell these guys.”
Drives that mattered
Cincinnati won the toss and chose to kick the ball off to start the game. The Raiders gained two yards on the first three plays, and punted.
The ensuing Bengals possession helped set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.
A short pass to Eifert for a few yards, a five-yard scamper from Bengals running back Jeremy Hill, and then a 10 yard run from Hill for the first down.
That sequence essentially repeated itself until Hill ran three yards into the end zone. Cincinnati did that all day.
Said Del Rio:
“We said we were going to leverage and tackle. On the first possession alone, we had four leverage issues. So it just wasn’t very good. It wasn’t very good.”
Late in the second quarter, after another rushing touchdown from Hill and a field goal from Mike Nugent, Eifert put Oakland’s coverage to shame.
On third-and-7 with just a few ticks remaining in the half, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton hit Eifert in the middle of the hashes, and the young tight end did the rest.
Cincinnati led 24-0 after the first half, enough to guarantee a win even with 30 minutes to go.
Oakland was 2-for-8 on third down conversions in the first three quarters, and the Bengals were 4-for-10. Neither mark is exceptional, but the Bengals were more effective, with their 127 rushing yards a key reason.
Hill was a bowling ball that rolled downhill, and curved in for a strike at all the right times. The Raiders defense had no answer for the tandem of Bengals backs, which included Giovanni Bernard, a second-round pick in his third season.
The pair exemplify what teams want in a pair of runners — one extra shifty, one quick and powerful, and both good enough to be featured on most teams.
The Raiders definitely have some things to fix, and it’s certain that Del Rio and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. will be working on stopping the run over the next couple weeks.
One major issue was one which was predicted, if not expected.
Oakland’s pass coverage was deplorable, and allowed receiver A.J. Green to get open deep twice, while Eifert had his way with the Raiders’ zone concepts like a kid has his way with a package of Jelly Bellys.
The Raiders loss of Allen and Woodson only compounds the issue, though there’s been no indication whether the injuries are long-term.
The extended loss of either would be enough to open rumors over a trade for Seattle safety Kam Chancellor, currently holding out of his contract but asking only for more guaranteed money. And the Raiders have plenty of money they need to spend.
More information on the injuries is expected by Tuesday afternoon when the Raiders head back to practice, where the Raiders begin preparing to host Baltimore next Sunday.
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.