It wasn't often that Palmer had a clean pocket to throw from
The best part about this game for the Oakland Raiders is that it ended. Oakland lost 37-6 and it could have easily been worse. The Raiders were dominated in nearly every aspect of the game including total yardage (503-237) and time of possession (37:25 to 22:35).
Amazingly, the Raiders caused the only game's only turnover, though to be fair, Demaryius Thomas all but handed it over to Oakland's defense losing the ball while streaking towards the end zone after a perfect wide-receiver screen. Needing to rush Peyton Manning, the defense barely breathed on him, failing to record a sack.
On the flip side, Denver's defense harassed Carson Palmer all day long. Palmer was sacked three times, and was knocked down on the ground four times that much. Once again, Darren McFadden was ineffective on the ground, gaining 34 yards on 13 carries. It was not about bad calls or refs or a few plays. Denver was just markedly better than the Raiders all game long.
Heading to the bye week, Oakland is 1-3 and based on this performance, can't really be expected to do much going forward. The secondary is atrocious and the heralded front four of Shaughnessy, Seymour, Kelly and Houston has shown itself to be too plodding and too ineffective to give the shaky secondary much assistance. That leaves the field open for average quarterbacks (see: Ryan Tannehill) to exploit the defense.
When great QB's like Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning get these looks, it's going to be very very bad.
So, for the sake of continuity, let's revisit my five keys to what I genuinely believed would be a close Raider victory. Guess I can leave my psychic hat in the garage.
Get defensive on third down. No, not so much. The Broncos were 10-of-16 on third down and extended drive after drive as they marched up and down the field at will. Denver's offense was really only stopped by Denver (Thomas' fumble and an ill-advised fake field-goal stand out). On the year, the Raiders have allowed 32-of-60 conversions on third down, a terrible 53 percent. Until that improves, nothing will change for Oakland defensively.
Which coordinator's unit is more disappointing?
Last call with Carson Palmer. I thought Palmer would have to make a few adjustments at the line and create plays. But let's be honest here. Nothing matters much when your offensive line is getting beat on nearly every pass attempt. Palmer made a couple of nice moves in the pocket to avoid at least three other sacks. With no running game and a defense that can't get stops, most games become a desperate situation that most QB's are not going to be successful with.
Don't let Denver's return teams be "special." One out of five ain't bad? The Raiders' coverage teams were fantastic. And considering they got plenty of work, that is a mini positive. Taiwan Jones made a pair of great open field tackles on Jim Leonhard, but when you're the team doing the bulk of the returning, it doesn't really matter much.
Play from the front. I said the Raiders needed to either get a lead early or keep the game close. The latter was in play. Down 10-6 and receiving the ball, perhaps the play of the game was one that was not made. On Oakland's initial second-half drive, Palmer appeared to hit Denarius Moore for a first down as he rolled on the 30-yard line. But the officials marked it just short and coach Allen declined to challenge. The game rolled downhill from there.
Let McFadden send Broncos to the glue factory. For the third time in four weeks, McFadden simply did not get on track. Denver's defense gets some credit for that, but it is becoming apparent that Oakland's best player is being stuck in a system that is just not conducive to his skill set. The onus is on Greg Knapp to make the adjustments or else McFadden's health won't matter as much as his inability.
The bye week comes at a great time for the Raiders, giving no less than six players a chance to completely heal up. However, the next game is daunting, a cross-country game against undefeated Atlanta in two weeks. It will be interesting to see what adjustments this Oakland coaching staff makes with the extra preparation time.