|View from the Other Side: Raiders @ Titans
Oct 29, 2007
Kiffin more or less defended quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who had a borderline horrendous game. Culpepper frequently threw the ball at receivers' feet, was a victim of five sacks, saw five passes tipped by onrushing defensive linemen, fumbled four times (losing one) and threw a rainbow lob of an interception. Normally, this would be license for a coach to either rip his quarterback or say something harmless like, "Daunte had a bad day at the office." But when offered the chance, Kiffin refused to blame Culpepper for much. He pointed the finger at other Raiders.
"Daunte wasn't false-starting," Kiffin said. "Daunte wasn't hitting people in the back and doing the holding. Daunte didn't drop the last pass."
No, that drop was by wide receiver Mike Williams. He juggled and lost a fourth-down pass that would have given the Raiders a first down at the Tennessee 16-yard line with 1:21 remaining.
In addition to that botched play, Kiffin implied, most of Culpepper's problems could be traced to those breakdowns by the offensive line - and those flags. Definitely those flags. Four Raiders linemen committed at least one penalty, continually placing the team in long down-and-distance situations. The worst offender was tackle Barry Sims (three false starts and a hold).
"It's just lack of focus, I guess," Sims said. "The team counts on me to do the job and when you screw it up, the job doesn't get done. I feel bad that I let my teammates down. But we've just got to regroup."
Nice of Sims to apologize. But as a professional, isn't he paid to have focus so that he doesn't have to apologize?
The Raiders weren't about to fall victim to Tennessee Titans all-world quarterback Vince Young on Sunday. From the outset, they pressured Young, forced him to rush his passes and pounced on him as soon as he turned upfield.
It worked, even though the Titans emerged with a 13-9 victory. Young completed only six of 14 passes for 42 yards and managed only 11 yards on seven carries.
"One thing you don't do is allow the quarterback to run the ball," Raiders defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. "We knew our defensive backs were going to cover their guys, so it was up to us to do our part against Vince. We did that."
Five times Young scrambled in the face of pressure and made a mad dash for a first down. Only once did Young succeed. Even then, he absorbed a huge hit by Sapp as he ran out of bounds.
The Oakland Tribune
Raiders coach Lane Kiffin is one hacked-off play-caller, as well he should be. His offensive line isn't protecting, his passing game isn't flying and his offense isn't scoring.
And, here's the real kicker: Five losses into his seven-game Raiders stay, Kiffin will realize any minute now that he might not have enough talent on offense to do the things he wants to do.
Throw the ball? Not with Daunte Culpepper getting knocked over 10 times. Move the chains? Not with 11 offensive penalties. Win the game? Not Sunday, with the Tennessee Titans more than happy to cash in on Oakland's bumbling for a 13-9 victory at LP Field.
Save the encouraging talk about how close the Raiders are to turning the corner. Kiffin has had it with moral victories.
"Yeah, that's getting old," Kiffin said. "It's no consolation."
San Francisco Chronicle
Raiders wide receiver Mike Williams approached coach Lane Kiffin in the middle of the game and implored him to call his number on a play run in practice numerous times.
"Give me a chance to make a play," Williams told Kiffin.
Sure enough, Kiffin called Williams' number. Fourth-and-14, from the Tennessee Titans 30-yard line, with 1 minute, 21 seconds left in the game Sunday.
Just as in practice, Williams ran the proper route, got open, waited for Daunte Culpepper's pass and ... dropped the ball right at the first-down marker. End of ballgame. Titans win 13-9.
The Oakland Tribune