Miami Dolphins Dismantle Oakland Raiders: Raider Offense Pathetic Again
Ricky Willimas sealed the deal late with a 45 yard touchdown run.
The injury riddled Oakland Raiders were trounced 33-17 by the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in Oakland. The score doesn't tell the story of just how lopsided this game was.
The Raiders offense got spanked all over the field and did nothing to help the defense out.
I didn't get to watch this game on television. This is a fact I'm grateful for, because listening to it on the internet was painful enough.
Based on the stats and what I heard from Greg Papa and Tom Flores, this game came down to two statistics. Time of possession and turnovers. Both of these critical stats were squarely in the favor of the Dolphins.
If not for the presence of Jacoby Ford, the Raiders wouldn't have scored at all. Louis Murphy had some nice stats, but most of it was earned in "garbage time."
Darren McFadden and the run game never got going, Bruce Gradkowski got the start and played horribly and the defense was on the field entirely too much to be successful.
In short, the offense let the team—and the home crowd—down.
In this slide show, I'll once again begin with the good news. The other nine slides will be devoted to trying to make sense of the Raiders' recent decline.
The Only Silver Lining—Jacoby Ford
Jacoby Ford can't do it all by himself, but the rest of the Raiders seem to be counting on him to do so.
Fourth round rookie wide receiver Jacoby Ford took the opening kickoff 101 yards for a score to start the game.
Late in the second quarter, Ford made a great catch on an intermediate pass from Bruce Gradkowski and took it 52 yards down the sideline for his second touchdown of the day.
Ford finished the day with four catches for 108 yards and the only offensive touchdown the Raiders could muster.
Ford added 203 return yards and 13 rushing yards for a total of 324 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
The rest of the Raiders' team managed just 172 total yards (offense and special teams combined) and three measly points.
Essentially, Ford was the extent of the Raider offense.
I like what I'm seeing from this Rookie from Clemson. I admit, I underestimated his ability when the Raiders drafted him in April.
Let's hope his growth not only continues, but rubs off on his teammates.
Now, to discuss the misery...
Bruce Gradkowski got no help from the offensive line.
First, an admission: I was one of the proponents calling for Bruce Gradkowski to be the starter at the beginning of the year.
I no longer hold that position.
Gradkowski finished the game with 17 completions in 32 attempts for 252 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
In fairness, Gradkowski got no help from the offensive line. (To be discussed in another slide.) He was pressured all day and was never afforded any comfort in the pocket.
However, even when he did have time and space to deliver the ball, he missed open receivers and made bad throws that led to missed opportunities and turnovers.
The musical chairs that has become the Raiders quarterback position has to come to an end.
If the coaching staff wishes to keep this team winning and make a legitimate run at the playoffs, Tom Cable, Hue Jackson and, of course, Al Davis have to decide on a quarterback and stick with him—no matter what.
Until a permanent decision is made about the starting signal caller, this is what we can expect from the Raider offense moving forward.
Kyle Boller anyone?
The Interior Offensive Line Is Horrible
Cooper Carlisle is the worst starting guard in the NFL, hands down.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Cooper Carlisle and Samson Satele are the worst starting Center/Guard tandem in the NFL—period.
The Dolphin defensive linemen had their way with them the entire day.
I can understand not being able to gain any yards on the ground against the Steelers, but this pathetic display has continued against the Dolphins too.
Against the best rushing defense in the league, the Steelers, the Raiders gained 61 yards rushing. Against the 20th ranked Dolphins? A whopping 16.
Dolphin nose tackle Paul Soliai completely and utterly destroyed Satele all day long. He didn't get many tackles, but he collapsed the pocket and forced runs outside for the duration of the game.
It's time for Carlisle and Satele to sit down and make room for players that are willing to give a full effort.
Players like Daniel Loper, Bruce Campbell and practice squad player Alex Parsons can't possibly do any worse.
Heck, a fourth grade Brownie troop couldn't do much worse than these two guys.
The Offensive Play Calling Was Useless
Hue Jackson now has two games in a row of offensive futility.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
How many times does Hue Jackson have to call a predictable, uninspired game before he realizes that what he's doing isn't working anymore?
This wasn't the Broncos or Seahawks, it was a very solid, well-coached team he and the Raiders faced on Sunday.
When the running game struggled early, Jackson never adjusted. He simply gave up on the run and put the game on Gradkowski to win or lose.
Gradkowski wasn't up to the challenge.
Jackson called 32 pass plays and just 12 run plays. Some of that was due to being behind late, but the even in the first half, the Raiders had no balance whatsoever.
Jackson needs to learn that if the run isn't working, you don't give up on it, you try different looks, formations and plays to make something happen. He never did.
Raider Nation deserves better.
Lack Of Offense Killed The Defense
The defense played well early, but ran out of gas.
Remember in the introduction I said that time of possession was a determining factor?
The Raider defense was on the field for 41:38 and were able to rest for just 18:22. That is not going to turn out well for any team, in any game or any era.
This, and bad play calling led to a sputtering offense for Oakland.
The defense played pretty well early on, but simply ran out of gas due to being over-worked.
Just like last season, 95 percent of the blame for giving up 33 points belongs to an ineffectual offense.
Injuries to Key Players
Nnamdi Asomugha tried to go, but was ineffective.
Nnamdi Asomugha gave it a valiant effort, but was unable to perform to his high standards. As a result, Devon Bess and Brian Hartline had good receiving days for the Dolphins.
The Raiders' fourth ranked pass defense gave up 307 yards to a less than 100 percent Chad Henne. This was due in no small part to the absence of Asomugha and almost no pass rush.
It seems to me the Raiders really missed Asomugha and excellent pass rusher Trevor Scott on defense.
However, they also missed nickel cornerback Chris Johnson. He's not a "great player," but he would have been a better option than the rookie Walter McFadden who gave up several big plays.
On offense, the big loss was that of injured tight end Zach Miller. Miller being out hurt the Raiders ability to control the safeties and linebackers in the middle of the field.
This slowed the rushing game and allowed the Dolphins to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback.
Injuries are not excuses. They are a fact of NFL life. Great teams overcome them with depth and a desire to win.
The Raiders showed neither on Sunday.
A Far Too Conservative Defensive Game Plan
John Marshall started the day blitzing with some success, but gave up on it.
NFL Photos/Getty Images
Early in the game, defensive coordinator John Marshall called several double safety blitzes. These calls resulted in a couple of sacks and three-and-outs by the Dolphin offense.
Then, inexplicably, Marshall abandon this aggressive play calling. (Did this come from the owner's booth?)
Once the second half started, the blitzes from the Raiders were virtually nonexistent. Henne was able to stand in the pocket, almost untouched, and deliver the ball to his receivers.
The "Two headed monster" I described in my preview article of this game also took advantage of the linebackers and safeties playing soft.
The Dolphins racked up 22 first downs, 186 yards rushing, 285 net passing (sack yardage removed) and went nine of 19 on third down.
This led to the Dolphins possessing the ball most of the second half and putting the game away.
The Raiders' secondary is being asked to make too many tackles.
The Raiders gave up a total of eight plays that were more than 20 yards in length, including a 45 yard run and a 57 yard pass for touchdowns.
It seems to me these plays were a result of no pass rush, missed tackles and a bad defensive game plan.
John Marshall has shown that he can call a great game from time to time, but he also has a tendency to be too conservative.
I don't know what the solution is, or if Marshall is being instructed to call a specific type of game, but in all the Raider wins, the blitz has played a big part.
On the flip side of that, in every Raider loss, a distinct lack of blitzing is apparent.
It's time for Marshall to go back to what won the San Diego game—pressuring the quarterback and blitzing the opponent into submission.
The Wrong Players Are Making All The Tackles
Tyvon Branch once again led the team in tackles from the safety position.
Five of the six leading tacklers for the Raiders were secondary players, including Tyvon Branch who led the team with 11 tackles. (Nine solo.)
Why is this bad?
Well, this means most of the tackles the Raiders are getting happen down field, rather than near the line of scrimmage or in the opponent's back field.
Safeties are intended to be exactly what their name implies—the last line of defense. Recently, (over the last several years) the Raider safeties (and cornerbacks) have been relied upon to do most of the heavy lifting on defense.
Part of this is due to John Marshall's scheme that has the linebackers playing soft and the defensive line being expected to pressure the quarterback and penetrate on their own.
Hopefully, this will be addressed in coach's meetings. If not, Raider Nation can expect more big plays and more points from opposing offenses.
This does not look like a confident head coach.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
To me, this game was worse than last week because the Dolphins are a team the Raiders should have been able to handle.
Not only was Oakland unable to handle Miami, they were out played, out coached and out worked by an inferior team.
Having been a big supporter of Tom Cable, my faith is now wavering.
Losing to one of the best teams in football last week is one thing, but to lose to a team like the Dolphins, (who were without their best receiver in Brandon Marshall) the way they did is troubling to say the least.
The quarterback carousel has to end. It's time to give the permanent job to Jason Campbell and make him feel wanted.
It's high time to bench, (or even cut) Cooper Carlisle and Samson Satele and replace them with players that want to work hard and have a desire to win.
It's time to stop playing soft and conservative on defense and do what has won games earlier this season—blitz and apply more pressure.
It's time to be more creative with the offensive play calling and prove that you can adjust, rather than just sticking with the same old failing plays.
It's time for a lot of things to change.
(Don't forget to hover your cursor over the pictures to get the captions.)
What do you say Raider Nation? What did I miss? What was the biggest issue to you? Can the Raiders rebound from this and finish respectably? Let me hear you in the comments.