Oakland Raiders Get Number One: How They Did It and How They Should Build on It
The Oakland Raiders got their first win of the season on Sunday.
It wasn't pretty at all but as the legendary heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman once said, "Sometimes you just gotta win today and look good next time."
I sure hope that's what the Raiders are doing.
Sunday's game did not look much like a Raider win in the first half but they looked like a different team in the second half. The Oakland Raider victory can be chalked up to a number of things that they must keep doing.
Turn the page to see what they are.
John Marshall Runs His Elephant Scheme
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Early on, John Marshall pulled out his elephant scheme and it worked to perfection. The elephant scheme is when the defensive end stands up next to the outside linebacker and it causes confusion.
The defensive end and the outside linebacker can either switch responsibilities or both can rush the passer.The Rams didn't even know that the Raiders were running it because defensive end Trevor Scott had his hand in the ground.
You can't call the play a zone blitz because Scott took outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley's man while Wimbley rushed. The play caused just enough confusion up front for Wimbley to get at step on the Ram's right tackle.
That is all Wimbley needs as he got the sack.
Where was that in Week One?
If the Raiders could confuse Donavan McNabb with it last year, why couldn't we do the same to Vince Young last week?
Look what the Steelers did to Young.
At least they used it on Bradford Sunday.
I hope Marshall keeps this going.
The Raiders Blitzed
The Raiders put constant pressure on the quarterback and much of it was through the blitz. The blitzing lead to numerous hurries, five hits, and three sacks.
Only one of those sacks was by a defensive lineman.
The elephant is good but it is necessary to bring more than four guys to the quarterback sometimes. The Raider corners can cover so putting a short clock in the quarterback's head can cause turnovers.
The Raiders got one out of Bradford so I hope Marshall keeps dialing them up.
Roldando McClain Sends a Message
Rookie middle linebacker Rolando McClain's body slam of Daniel Amendola was not a rookie mistake. It was a tone setter, letting letting the Rams know that there prices to pay catching the ball around him.
It was worth all 15 of the yards marched off.
Was that not what Steven Jackson was thinking about when he dropped a pass with McClain closing in?
I'm sure this isn't the last message McClain will send.
Stanford Rout Starting To Get It
Stanford Routt had quite a game on Sunday.
He got lit up a little early in the game but that is part of playing opposite Nnamdi Asomugha. But instead of hanging his head, he kept his head and made the Rams pay later on.
He had some passes defensed to go along with his interception.
If Routt keeps improving like he did in Sunday's game, the Raiders will stop the pass cold this year.
The Run Defense Tightens Up
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With 14 carries for 67 yards in the first half, it appeared that Steven Jackson would have a big day. But at least when Jackson got lose, guys the safeties made the tackle.
Even Michael Huff made tackles and Jackson's longest run was 23 yards instead of 80.
Then the Raiders held him to eight carries for five yards in the second half.
The run defense was another in game improvement.
If Routt and the front seven keep this up, the Raiders will have a shutdown defense.
Move Veldheer To Guard
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Jared Veldheer clearly showed that he his not a left tackle in the preseason. He made it even more clear that he wasn't a left tackle on Sunday.
I'll play the broken record again.
His arms are too short!
Johnathan Ogden was a fluid athlete with quick, explosive hands so it's nonsense to compare Veldheer to him. That's why any defensive end with length will continue to slap his hands down before Veldheer can put his hands on them.
It's not a rookie thing either because all of your great, young left tackles like Jake Long come in and ball right away.
Veldheer has shown that he isn't a center either.
He's strong and athletic enough but he isn't up to all the responsibilities that come with being a center. However, guard is a good look for his size, strength and athleticism.
Cooper Carlisle need to be relieved of his duies the most anyway.
Satele Looked Better But
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Samson Satele didn't overwhelm anyone and he still got stood up and drove back.
But he did manage to stay engaged with his man longer than before. You can probably chalk that up to the fact that the Rams don't have the big, dominant nose tackles on their team.
Jake Grove is on the street right now and should at least be brought in for depth or to push Satele.
Satele is not to be trusted with the rest of our schedule.
Get Zach Miller Involved
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Zach Miller didn't have a catch in the first quarter.
He only had three catches for 45 yards on the day!
When Miller gets his hands on some footballs, good things usually happen. He did have a rare drop Sunday but I'm going to blame it on the fact that they waited to long to get him involved.
He is the Raiders best pass catcher so they need to throw to him more.
2009 first round draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey showed up with some catches on Sunday. He had an early drop or two but he stayed the course and made some plays.
He not only improved over the off-season as Tom Cable so boasted of but he improved during the game. He finished with a total of six catches for 80 yards.
He's becoming a football player with blazing speed!
The Raiders need that.
Murphy Still Clutch
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Louis Murphy had an early drop or two himself but still proved to be a go to guy in the clutch. He was a big part of the turn around in the second half with a four yard touchdown catch.
Murphy also iced the game in the closing minutes with a 13-yard catch on third down. Murphy finished the game with six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Imagine how things will be when Chaz Schilens gets back.
Murphy and Heyward-Bey just might be able to do it without Schilens.
They will have to continue to grow for the Raider offense to be explosive.
They Fed McFadden
McFadden has his legs completely under him this year.
He hasn't had them blasted off because the man is running lower. In a previous article, I told all that would listen that McFadden can turn his career around if he runs lower.
I said it was the answer to all his problems.
He could make people miss, run through tackles, and get hurt much less. Through two games, he has made people miss and punished defenders.
How about that short-yardage run where McFadden refused to go to the ground?
McFadden is running like he's starving through the first two games. He must continue to run this way and it will be H.E. double hockey sticks for opposing defenses when Michael Bush returns.
The play action will be ridiculous.
Don't worry Bush fans.
The Raiders ran the ball 40 times on Sunday so there will be plenty or carries for both.
Bruce Gradkowski Saves The Day
It is really starting to look like Bruce Gradkowski is the man for the job in Raider Nation.
My apologies to Jason Campbell.
They didn't protect Campbell.
The receivers also dropped passed from him.
Heyward-Bey even read man and kept running when he should have settled in the hole of the zone. It almost cost the Raiders an interception in the game.
There wasn't too much of that when Gradkowski was in there. In fact, even the "Black Hole" got much louder when Gradkowski got in the game.
Gradkowski is more of the gun slinger type that has a way of fixing a broken play. He has more mobility so everything doesn't have to be perfect when he is behind center.
But the offensive line even blocks better when Gradkowski is in. I don't see Gradkowski as the better skilled quarterback but I'm just starting to think that Gradkowski is better for this team now.
There might not be anymore blackouts if he becomes the starter.
But will he be consistent?