Both the Raiders and Titans entered the 2010 opener looking to build on recent positives. One of them did.
For Tennessee, an impressive second-half turnaround in 2009 provided hope for a strong start in 2010. A QB upgrade and well-received draft kicked off an offseason of back-pats and butt-slaps that had Oakland feeling good too.
When the two met on the field this week, and the rubber actually hit the road, only Tennessee appeared headed in the right direction.
With Michael Bush absent, HB Darren McFadden had the Oakland backfield to himself and produced the second-best PFF grade of his young career (+1.5). The bulk of his positives came from the passing game (+1.2), where he served as QB Jason Campbell‘s security blanket, especially late in the game against a softened Titans D. On the ground, McFadden ran hard — spending the majority of his day hitting the middle of the line (9 of 18 carries) and picking up 56 of his 95 rushing yards after contact.
As expected, LG Robert Gallery posted the top grade among Oakland offensive linemen (+1.0), but left the game with an injury. The other four O-line starters finished at -1.0 or worse, with RT Langston Walker “leading” that group into the negative with a -6.0 grade (-2.9 pass block, -2.6 run block.) Walker surrendered a sack and 4 QB pressures in 44 pass-blocking opportunities.
Top draft pick LB Rolando McClain played every defensive snap and led the Oakland defense into the green with a personal PFF grade of +3.5 (+2.8 against the run). Fellow offseason additions LB Kam Wimbley and DT John Henderson joined McClain and DT Richard Seymour as bright spots for the Raiders’ D that bottled up Chris Johnson (their obvious focus for the week), holding him to just 2.5 yards per carry … outside of his 76-yard TD run.
In control of the game early, Titans QB Vince Young (+4.1) wasn’t asked to be extraordinary. What he was, was very good. His +2.0 passing mark, +2.0 rushing grade (he opened his day with a 20-yard run), and a QB rating of 142.8 added up to a solid start to 2010. He was particularly efficient with the long ball, missing only 1 of his 4 passes over 10 yards and none of the two over 20.
Chris Johnson broke off his customary chunk on the long TD run, but found his other 66 yards tough to come by. Scoring only a +0.6 on the ground overall, he was limited by a defense that clearly had designs on holding him down. This is something he’s sure to see at least 15 more times this season. Tennessee’s center Eugene Amano had a bad day against the interior of the Oakland D-line and FB Ahmard Hall also had a down afternoon as Johnson’s lead blocker.
Tennessee’s defensive backfield enjoyed the opening day, with all four starters and their nickel back winding up with grades of +1.2 or better. Safety Michael Griffin (+3.6) looked like he did in 2008, rather than the forgettable 2009 season. The group shut down the downfield routes and forced Campbell into constant check-downs, keeping Oakland from challenging Tennessee’s lead.
Oakland started their top three 2010 draft picks: McClain (mentioned above), Jared Veldheer (-1.7), and Lamarr Houston (+0.3). WR Jacoby Ford and CB Jeremy Ware saw limited action.
Derrick Morgan played 56 percent of Tennessee’s defensive snaps and fourth-round DB Alterraun Verner (-1.0) entered the game as a dime cover man late in the first half. Second-round WR Damien Williams and seventh-round WR Marc Mariani each saw the field briefly on offense and Mariani handled all of the Titans’ return duties.
On 50 of their 75 offensive snaps, the Raiders lined up with three wide receivers. … Campbell struggled against the blitz (5 of 12, 32 yards, 1 INT). … The Titans didn’t throw at Nnamdi Asomugha once.