What could have been a plus matchup for the Raiders ended up being a nightmare of a home game. A frustrating loss to the previously 0-3 Redskins, coupled with injuries to a lot of key players, made for a pretty unenjoyable Sunday for Raiders fans. Let’s look over what went wrong on this fateful Sunday.
1. Matt Flynn cannot start anymore.
I personally caught myself screaming at Matt Flynn more times than I would care to admit. The Redskins secondary had previously been allowing historically bad passing yardage, and instead of taking advantage of it, Flynn reverted into one of the most pathetic performances by a Raiders quarterback since the last LSU QB to line up under center. Flynn failed to push the ball down the field at all after an impressive opening drive, reverting to a shell-shocked gameplan that could have made Blaine Gabbert look like Aaron Rodgers. His sacks were embarrassing and quickly reminded Raiders fans how special of a player Terrelle Pryor is. While his stat line doesn’t look horrible, it really wasn’t indicative of how useless he was under center, as he consistently failed to avoid pressure and push the ball downfield with any kind of authority.
I may still be letting some emotions get to me, but Flynn’s performance was far from anything he had done in his previous starts. The defense kept the game close for as long as possible, but the offense just completely failed to get anything done after going up 14-0. In fact, Flynn threw more touchdowns for the Redskins than he did for the Raiders after that early lead. His lazy attempt to get up to the line at the end of the game symbolized a horrendous performance from the supposed starter of the Raiders throughout training camp. The team seemed to lack any kind of heart or drive that had been seen in previous weeks.
2. Is something really wrong with Janikowski?
Last week on Monday Night Football, Allen opted against a 68-yard field goal attempt by Janikowski for a Hail Mary attempt. Pryor ended up getting sacked, and many Raiders fans were upset that the strong-legged kicker wasn’t given a chance to shatter the record. Perhaps this might have been a precautionary measure, as it looks like Janikowski’s injury might be more serious than anticipated. He missed a 52-yard kick barely left, and late in the game, the Raiders opted against a short field goal to try to get the necessary touchdown to tie the game. I feel as though Allen wouldn’t give up the sure points if he was fully healthy, as Janikowski has been one of the most reliable kickers in the league until this year. Hopefully it’s nothing serious, but it is something worth watching.
3. Speaking of special teams…
Rashad Jennings stepped up in a big way this game, providing the Raiders with virtually all of their offense and points in the game. His 100 all-purpose yards were nice, but the blocked punt in the beginning of the game started the game on a nice high note. Marquette King’s punts were regularly downed within the 20 (I think I only counted one or two that weren’t, which is impressive with how much he had to punt this game), and Ford did a pretty solid job returning kicks.
4. Ugh. Let’s hope we never see that offense again.
I feel like I need to mention this again. Flynn cannot be allowed to play quarterback behind this Raiders’ offensive line. Pryor can throw on the run, minimizing the damage of this line, but Flynn looked more leadfooted in our backfield than Carson Palmer did last year. Injuries certainly played a key role, as both Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece were knocked out of the game quite early, and the receivers were effectively neutralized due to Flynn’s inability to throw more than five yards downfield. For the first time this season, the Raiders looked and played like one of the worst teams in the league. Hopefully, Pryor can stay healthy and save fans from having to see this again.
5. The defense put up a mixed performance today.
Some of this may have been due to how long they were on the field, but the defense began to falter very quickly in today’s game. After a relatively strong first-half performance where the defense got pressure and forced a lot of errant throws, RG3 and the Redskins’ offense began to move virtually at will in the second half. The pressure was consistent, but RG3 seemed to have more freedom in adjusting protection at the line, consistently hitting the open holes. This could be a point of concern as the season goes on, as in back-to-back weeks, quarterbacks have started the game uncomfortable and eventually settled in and used the Raiders’ blitzes against them. It is a good sign, however, that the Raiders have forced turnovers in back-to-back games. They almost had two turnovers on a forced fumble late in the game, but Houston had lined up offsides before the snap.
The team must regroup and regain health before a two-game stretch against the AFC West. Fortunately, the Raiders have a bye after this next two games, which should help in getting back some of these players that have been injured. For the sake of keeping the Raiders competitive this season, some of the players that were injured in this game need to be healthy in the upcoming weeks.