Oakland Raiders Come Up Short: Much Has Been Learned About the Raiders
After a big start to their game in Jacksonville with the Jaguars, the Raider lost a close one 38-31.
When the Raiders don't win, it's usually the quarterback and/or the running game that doesn't get things going.
But both Darren McFadden and Jason Campbell had big days, and the Raiders still didn't get it done. This Oakland Raider team is definitely on the verge of being special.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, their weaknesses leaked just enough to keep their strengths from taking over the game. Some of those weaknesses are young and not ready for such a big game yet, but will get there.
Then there are Raiders who simply need to be replaced because they are who they are.
Turn the page to see who.
Darren McFadden: Has Arrived
Darren McFadden has been the guy all year.
He missed two games with a pulled hamstring, and didn't get enough blocking or carries in two others. Yet McFadden is only seven yards shy of his first 1,000 season as a pro.
He's done a fantastic job of not letting the first man bring him down, and making big plays out of nothing. McFadden fully had his tackle-breaking, open field moves and stiff arm on display Sunday.
It all amounted to 123 yards on 16 carries, along with three catches for 83 yards. McFadden's 206 total yard day was highlighted by touchdown runs of 51 and 36 yards and a 67-yard touchdown catch and run.
McFadden has become an elite back this year.
Let the bust talk end.
Nnamdi Asomugha: Already There
Nnamdi Asomugha has been the best at his position for years now. He looks to be back from that high ankle sprain for two games running now.
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers tested Asomugha early in Week 12 to no avail. David Garrard didn't even bother to look his way on Sunday, so that makes it another shut down day for Asomugha.
That's what he does.
Richard Seymour: Leading the Defensive Line
Richard Seymour has been there, done that, and continues to do that.
The three time Super Bowl winner has put pressure on the quarterback and played tough against the run all year.
Seymour has also brought along fellow defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, defensive end Matt Shaughnessy, and rookie defensive end Lamarr Houston. He takes a lot of double and triple teams so others around him can make plays.
The Raiders now have four players with five or more sacks.
They are currently second in the league in sacks as a team.
Seymour had a sack to go with his two tackles and two quarterback hits on Sunday. He was within an inch of having Rashad Jennings in the backfield on his 74-yard touchdown run Sunday.
Seymour's influence will continue to be felt.
Jason Campbell: Getting Comfortable
Jason Campbell is now showing Raider Nation why Raider owner Al Davis traded for him. I realize that he needed to get to know his team, but perhaps Campbell needed to know that he was the guy so he could be the guy.
What do I mean?
Campbell is 5-1 in games that he knows Bruce Gradkowski is out, with an average quarterback rating of 113. With Gradkowski pacing the sidelines, he's 0-3 with an average quarterback rating of 36.
Knowing you're #1 definitely helps.
Some better blocking would too.
Louis Murphy: Getting Back
Louis Murphy has shown himself to be the guy at receiver when healthy.
He has consistently come through for the Raiders in the clutch, except for against the Texans in which he wasn't healthy enough to even raise his hands over his head.
Murphy showed on Sunday that he wasn't just a big play threat. He had just six catches for 59 yards but moved the chains with his catches and had an all too important, 8-yard, red zone touchdown catch.
Sunday's game was only his second game back from injury.
I look for Murphy to make his presence felt going forward.
Rolando McClain: Rookie Value
The Oakland Raiders' run defense was really improving as Rolando McClain started to make plays. The Raider run defense was hurt considerably in his absence due to the tendinitis in his foot.
The Jaguars' rushing attack totaled 234 yards and a seven yard per carry average. It didn't help the Raider defense to have the Raider offense go big play or three and out Sunday but McClain's absence was big.
Raider Nation is hoping McClain can manage his tendinitis for the rest of his career.
Zach Miller: Getting Back
Zach Miller has been the man in the Raider passing game since his arrival in 2007. That Raider passing game was definitely lost during the stretch that Miller wasn't able to help.
Now Miller appears to be getting healthy as he had four catches for 68 yards in Sunday's game. Just knowing he's out there opens things for the running backs catching the ball.
He also keeps the chains moving with his catches.
The Raiders will need Miller to stay healthy the rest of the way.
Chaz Schilens: Has to Keep Playing
Chaz Schilens is the best receiver on the Raiders roster.
So why isn't he making plays?
He's playing with a quarterback that he's never played with before and needs to develop some chemistry. Meanwhile, Campbell has developed some chemistry with other Raider receivers.
Schilens has only been back for two weeks now so Raider Nation will have to give it time. Things between he and Campbell will get better as Schilens stays Healthy.
The Raiders will then have a complete passing game.
Tyvon Branch and Mike Mitchell: Young and Physical
Tyvon Branch and Mike Mitchell are becoming staples in the Raider secondary, and boy are they physical. Sunday was no exception as Branch bullied the ball lose from Jaguar receiver Michael Thomas.
The ball would then be caught by Mitchell.
Branch and Mitchell have always been physical in the run game with tackles. But they are starting to make plays against the pass, as they have an interception a piece this season.
This is going to be the most physical safety tandem in the league.
Offensive Line: Not Physical Enough
During the Raiders' week of preparation, Cable said, "We're going to get back to our identity."
That means get back to being a physical team and running the football.
The Raiders can only get physical with the non physical teams in the NFL. I didn't think of the Jaguars as a physical team on defense coming in, because I failed to realize that the Jaguars' run defense had improved with new players replacing injured players up front.
The Jaguars are now a physical team.
Cable calls the Raiders a physical team, but they have undersized guys in the middle of the offensive line. Left guard Robert Gallery did give a sack Sunday, but he is the only one in the middle that is physical.
Center Samson Satele and left guard Cooper Carlisle often get run over by the big defensive lineman.
Aside from some big plays that came from McFadden's individual effort, the Raiders' running game was shut down. Consistent five, eight, and 10 yard runs were missing from the Raiders on Sunday.
There was also a lot of pressure in the face of Campbell, but he was able to escape the pocket early and make plays.
However, the pressure eventually caught up to him, knocking Campbell out of the game during an important stretch.
This cost the Raiders the game, as back up quarterback Kyle Boller threw an interception with Campbell on the sidelines.
Jacoby Ford: Still a Rookie
After showing his big play ability on special teams and the passing game, Jacoby Ford crashed back down to earth on Sunday with rookie mistakes in both fazes.
His fumble of the ensuing kick off after a Jacksonville spear, headed the Jaguars' comeback. That's going from a 10 point lead, to being down four in just a blink of an eye.
He also had some drops that could have been third down conversions.
That comes with being a rookie.
He will make plays for the Raiders going forward.
Michael Huff: Will Be Fine
I have been wanting Raider safety Michael Huff to move to corner since he arrived in Raider Nation. He has been proving me right in his appearance at the position all year long.
Then Huff gets beat for two touchdowns on Sunday, but I still believe in him as a corner.
The blame for the bomb he gave up for a touchdown has to partially go to defensive coordinator John Marshall. That was a horrible defensive call for Huff to be in man coverage while lined up as a safety.
Huff should have been lined up as a corner so he could jam his man at the line of scrimmage. He also should have had some help over the top unless there was going to be heat on the quarterback.
I like Huff at corner, but he's not Asomugha.
Most of the blame has to go to Huff for the way that he was beaten on the play. He let Jaguars' receiver Jason Hill blow past him and jogged behind him as if he just knew the ball wasn't coming.
He's not Asomugha.
Darrius Heyward-Bey: Still Not Clutch
Darius Heyward-Bey has improved dramatically.
I get that.
He actually had two catches for 40 yards on Sunday, after going catchless for a few games.
But he needs to be more clutch, as he missed an opportunity to really make a big play late in the game on Sunday.
Heyward-Bey beat his man deep and Campbell finally throws a perfect deep ball. But Heyward-Bey lets the ball fall right between his hands without touching it.
He shouldn't have been out there. He's not ready for such a moment yet.
Raider Nation has learned that the core of this team is already there, and they're not too far from being a Super Bowl contender.
The glaring weaknesses of the team just cost more in some weeks than others.
In the Jaguars' game on Sunday, it cost the Raiders just enough to lose to what looks like a playoff team.
The Nation hopes that the Raiders get physical over the last three games of the season. Otherwise, Raider Nation will just have to be happy with the progress made and wait until next year.
But, progress has been made.