Raiders open with farce
Published: Monday, September 10, 2012 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 10, 2012 at 11:32 p.m.
Think of the Raiders’ Monday home opener as a play. A bunch of talented people with big money put together a show. They previewed this show out of town, and after many rehearsals and much fine tuning, they opened to a sold-out house and great hopes. All the critics showed up, and there was a sense of great anticipation.
That’s the Raiders’ story except they had more than a sold-out house. They had the entire nation watching on Monday Night Football because this really was a brand-new play with a new script and a new director and a new producer. Everything was brand new.
Sometimes, shows with big backing and big expectations flop. And you’d have to say “Raiders, The Show” flopped on a warm Oakland night. It doesn’t mean the show will close. Nothing like that. But it means this particular cast needs a ton more rehearsal time and better understudies when necessary to keep the crowds coming, to get good reviews, to stop the booing that rang out loud and clear in the fourth quarter, although no one threw rotten tomatoes at the players/actors.
The problem, as I see it, is this. Generally speaking, the Raiders wanted to put on a serious drama, something gripping, something with suspense and even a few heartbreaks along the way, which would lead to a glorious conclusion.
Unaccountably, the Raiders put on a comedy. I’m talking a laugh-riot farce. This organization, which has so much to prove, has to get out of the comedy business as fast as possible.
If you’ll permit me, I’ll list some of the comedic high points of the giggle-filled evening.
Raiders long snapper Jon Condo got hit in the head and had to leave the game. That wasn’t funny at all — and everyone hopes Condo is OK. It’s just that his absence led to some real slapstick, stuff you never see in an NFL game. Linebacker Travis Goethel, poor guy, took over for Condo.
Call Goethel the fall guy in this comedy. He was involved in three loused-up snaps to punter Shane Lechler. Twice he snapped grounders and once, well, I don’t know what happened. Maybe it wasn’t even his fault. Please read the accompanying article by my colleague and friend Phil Barber, who gets to the heart of the long-snapping travesty. But I know two things. The snap to the punter is automatic and it’s very funny — and very sad — when it’s not automatic. The silly snaps led to nine San Diego points.
There was more.
Raiders nose tackle Tommy Kelly dashed prematurely across the line of scrimmage twice on the same San Diego drive, dashed across on third down. He’s a big man and it’s hard to make yourself invisible when you loom large. Kelly and the Raiders were penalized five yards for each penalty, which meant twice Kelly prolonged the Chargers’ drive, which meant he was instrumental in the Chargers scoring a touchdown.
Rookie coach Dennis Allen, bless his heart, pulled Kelly out of the game for a few plays after that. Although Allen said Kelly needed a rest, that’s doubtful. The coach, I believe, was giving Kelly a timeout. Why? Because Kelly played the part of a clown even though the script didn’t include a clown.
There was more.
The Raiders’ offense was what you’d call Darren McFadden-happy. Every time you looked, quarterback Carson Palmer was handing off to McFadden or passing to McFadden. McFadden is very good, but come on, the Raiders allegedly have several other “skill” players on their offense and I encourage Allen to use them for the sake of variety.
I mean, “Macbeth” wouldn’t be half as good if the big guy had to carry the whole deal without Lady Macbeth washing her hands, not to mention Banquo turning up as a ghost. So, come on, Dennis Allen, don’t make your play all about one character.
There was more.
Early in the third quarter, the Raiders were going for it on fourth-and-2. Except they had 12 men in the huddle and got penalized five yards and had to punt and that led to one of the long-snap gigglers. The whole sequence was decidedly Three Stooges.
There was more. The Raiders tried a double reverse. Unfortunately, Marcel Reece tossed the ball and hit Taiwan Jones in the face and Jones dropped that sucker and picked it up and lost 25 yards. It was a very good play in a Charlie Chaplin comedy, not in your big-deal home opener of the breakout football season.
You almost can see the reviews of “Raiders, The Show” in the entertainment section of the newspaper.
“I rolled over in my grave” — Vince Lombardi.
“That performance was horrible, even to me” — Joe Bugel.
“It was an affront to football, but the Raiders showed comedic genius” — Woody Allen.
Coach Dennis Allen himself got into the act. Speaking of his punting game, he said, “It was hard because you didn’t know what you’d get from one play to the next.”
But he wasn’t laughing when he said it. The poor guy seemed disheartened about his first game as a head coach. He needs a good rewrite and he needs it fast.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at email@example.com.
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