Oakland Raiders Exposed: They're Not Ready for Prime Time Yet
The Oakland Raiders have no prime time games this year. They're rarely picked as the game to be shown across the nation on Sundays, and their 35-3 showing against the Steelers showed why they shouldn't be.
The Oakland Raiders went into the game with a three-game winning streak and tied for first place in the AFC West. But the Raiders showed the nation that they are not yet ready for prime time because they can't compete with elite teams.
This was the first real test of the season for the Raiders, as they've accumulated their 5-4 record against mediocre and bad teams so far. This coming after being beaten by average and bad teams to begin the year.
Even though they came off a bad showing against the Patriots, the Steelers aren't bad or average. They are an elite NFL team that came out ready to take last week's embarrassment out on the Raiders.
The whipping the Raiders took on Sunday exposed every open wound the Raiders have put a band-aid on. These wounds will keep the Raiders from competing with elite teams until they are addressed.
There are some key injuries as well.
Turn the page to see the state of the Raiders.
Injuries: Zach Miller
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Zach Miller was a warrior out there for his teammates on Sunday but probably shouldn't have played. The pain in his arch had to be getting to him because he had some drops, and Miller doesn't drop balls.
He also gets open more often, and that wasn't the case on Sunday. Miller's health was devastating to the Raider offense, as third down is when he was missed the most.
The receiving corps is already banged up, so they weren't able to take advantage of the Steeler secondary. The Raiders also didn't have Miller underneath to take advantage of another Steeler weakness.
The Raiders need Miller back soon.
He has been their most consistent offensive weapon over the last three years.
Inuries: Nnamdi Asomugha
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Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns. Roethlisberger's totals were way above what the Raider pass defense averaged giving up going into the game.
I think the football world will agree that this was due in large part to the absence of Nnamdi Asomugha. Roethlisberger's performance was a good look at what Asomugha's value is to the Raiders.
The field expands a whole lot when Asomugha is not in the lineup for the Raiders.
Injuries: Chaz Schilens
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Chaz Schilens is the most sure-handed and versatile receiver on the Raider roster. He's 6'4", 225 pounds, has major league speed, runs good routes, can go over the middle and can catch the ball in traffic.
The opposing secondary has to watch the whole field with Schilens in there. I'm sure the Steelers are glad they didn't have to face him this year, as he helped the Raider cause last year.
Jason Campbell Not to Blame
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Jason Campbell was under duress all day on Sunday.
I'm not going to say that he played well, but no one could have under those circumstances. The offensive line gave him nothing, and the receivers gave him drops for his efforts Sunday.
Even guys that didn't usually drop balls dropped Campbell's balls on Sunday. The interception that Campbell threw went off both of the receiver's hands before it was caught by the other team.
The running game the Raiders are known for this year didn't amount to much either. That obviously doesn't help a quarterback, as Campbell faced 3rd-and-long all day as a result.
It's tough to have a good day when no one around you does.
Bruce Gradkowski Couldn't Save This One
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Bruce Gradkowski is probably one of the best sparks off the bench in the league. Something good usually happens when he comes into a game late.
But to spark a team, you have to have something to spark them with, and Gradkowski had nothing to work with. They caught his dinks and dunks for a while but then started to drop his passes.
The blocking was another thing that didn't improve when Gradkowski went into the game. Gradkowski was sacked, pressured and knocked all around the place on Sunday too.
Bringing Peyton Manning into this game would have done no good.
Samson Satele on the Wrong Side of a Mismatch
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Running on the Steelers is possible, as the New England Patriots showed as much. The Raiders faced the same Steeler team with two injured defensive linemen the Patriots did.
So what's the problem?
Samson Satele is a big problem as usual.
He has yet to shine this year or during his career, but he wasn't as bad during the win streak. Enter Casey Hampton, and you have Satele getting driven back on every single play.
You have to get the nose tackle blocked when running against the 3-4 defense. Patriot center Dan Koppen is a man I'd much rather have blocking Hampton than Satele.
His inside help is much better than what Satele has as well.
At least to the right it is.
Cooper Carlisle Isn't Any Help
Speaking of help to the right, Satele got none from Cooper Carlisle on Sunday. Hampton couldn't be moved by the two of them put together, and that's how it's been against good nose tackles for them.
Carlisle couldn't even get push on linebackers or keep them from getting to the quarterback. The push up the middle spelled nowhere to go for Raider quarterbacks when there was pressure off the edge.
The heart of the offense or defense is in the middle.
Does that mean the Raiders have no heart on offense?
Tom Cable Sells Raider Nation Stale Cheese
I love the way Cable has sold his winning attitude to the team and motivates them to play hard. Watching him in an interview is looking at what the image of Raider football is as well.
The only problem with Cable these days is what he is trying to sell Al Davis and Raider Nation. He sold Raider Nation the offensive line as a new and improved unit, but they just hadn't played against good pass rushers in a while.
He then went to Gradkowski at quarterback as if Campbell were the reason the Raiders were getting killed. Cable's attempt to show that the Raiders are much better with a different quarterback didn't work.
That was last year.
Campbell isn't the problem, so Cable can't say he's the reason the Raiders don't make the playoffs.
Why weren't any new linemen trotted out onto the field with Gradkowski?
It's time to stop selling and fix what really needs to be fixed.
The Raiders have too much talent in the backfield to entrust it to such an offensive line.
Raider Nation has been bamboozled, hoodwinked, led astray.
Hue Jackson Didn't Call a Good Game
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Raider offensive coordinator Hue Jackson ran the football mostly up the middle against a physical team behind Satele and Carlisle. They are both very undersized and very soft in the middle of that Raider offensive line.
These are weaknesses that the Raiders were able to hide for a while, but not against the Steelers. Jackson didn't even challenge some of the weaknesses the Steelers have.
The Raiders did throw the deep ball and got some pass interference calls, although the refs missed one. But the Raiders didn't have time to go down the field too much, and the receiver corps is banged up.
Miller isn't back to the Miller the Raiders need him to be yet, but there were other options for Jackson. Darren McFadden didn't catch a pass until the fourth quarter against the Steeler linebackers.
Marcel Reece dropped a screen pass that led to an interception, but you have to go back to him. Jackson didn't split Reece or McFadden out to use their wide receiver skill sets.
There isn't a linebacker on that Steeler roster that can cover either of the two.
Why not take advantage?
The Raiders need a consistent play caller as well as consistent players.
John Marshall Scared to Blitz?
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What happened to Raider defensive coordinator John Marshall?
What happened to all of the blitzes that were working so well before?
The Raiders were among the league's leaders in sacks but only had two on Sunday. Marshall didn't do much in the way of dialing up some pressure on the quarterback.
I even saw some zone in there, and it was picked apart.
The Raiders have been successful blitzing Roethlisberger in the past, so I expected it from Marshall Sunday. It looked as if Marshall was afraid to blitz Roethlisberger as the blitz wasn't dialed up very much.
You can't tell a team to cut it loose if you don't do so yourself.
Richard Seymour Finished Killing the Raiders
Richard Seymour knows better than to make the move he made to get ejected on Sunday. I don't know what Roethlisberger said to him, but Seymour knows his value to the Raiders.
He also knows that Asomugha, the only other great player on the defense, was out with a bum ankle.
I'm sure Seymour was frustrated because he isn't used to his team getting handled like that.
But he can't make things worse for the Raiders by getting ejected.
Bright Spot Going Forward: The Raider Run Defense
The only good thing I can really say about the Raiders on Sunday is the run defense was good. They gave up 162 yards rushing, but 64 of it came on quarterback scrambles and a reverse for a big play.
Rashard Mendenhall has become an elite running back this year, and he was held in check on Sunday. Mendenhall had it rough against the Raider defense with 23 carries for 59 yards.
The Raiders have been pretty stingy against elite running backs lately.
That actually held up against the Steelers.
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The Oakland Raiders are clearly not there yet as a team.
This team can be a bully, taking what they want on offense with an elite offensive tackle. Jared Veldheer isn't bad and he's a major league improvement over Mario Henderson but he isn't an elite left tackle.
Veldheer would then be able to play center and his speed and power would allow the Raiders take what they want inside. McFadden had his best day against the Broncos with Veldheer at center handling the nose tackle.
At some point, the Raiders need to take a look at Bruce Campbell at right guard as Carlisle isn't working. Then an elite left tackle could give Campbell that extra time to go down the field.
The Raiders also need Schilens and Miller to get healthy on offense.
On defense, John Henderson is back and all that is needed now is a healthy Asomugha. Michael Huff should be moved to corner so Mike Mitchell can play safety.
The Raider defense would then become a more physical unit.
This will make the Raiders and elite team in the NFL.
I hope you enjoyed the slide show.