Raiders vs. Dolphins: 10 Things We Learned about Oakland in 34-14 Loss
Jingo bells, Batman smells, Raiders lay an egg.......
The Oakland Raiders fell to 7-5 and are now in a first-place tie with the Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos. They did so in embarrassing fashion, losing 34-14 to the now 4-8 but recently resurgent Miami Dolphins.
In a loss like this, many like to say, "It's just one game that the Raiders didn't play well in." To me, that may be the case in some ways, but seeing this game gave me major causes for concern going forward for the Raiders.
Some of them are the same old problems and some of them I know will be fixed before long.
Turn the page to see what they are.
Old Problem: Not a Bully on Offense
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I have listened to Raiders head coach Hue Jackson say that he would build a bully in Raider Nation. Over the first few games, many in Raider Nation believed that the bully was already built because the Raiders led the league in rushing.
I told everyone that would listen that much of that was the individual effort of Darren McFadden. He was among the league leaders in carries even when the running game was getting stuffed.
McFadden made up for it by taking it to the house when the offensive line did open a hole. He also helped the offensive line by making guys miss, breaking tackles, then taking off for a long touchdown run.
It's long runs like that which make up for the stuffs and brought the Raiders' yards-per-carry average back up. As a whole on offense, the Raiders have been horrible all year but made of for it with a league-leading 67 plays of 20 yards or more.
The Raiders had five such plays today but all of the early three and outs, a stat the Raiders offense also leads the league in, made them too little, too late. A bully on offense can make a long, methodical drive and not just depend on a big play.
The Raiders aren't very good at protecting the quarterback either, as good pass-rushing teams always get there in them.
The Raiders' offensive line was exposed today by a physical defensive front.
Old Problem: Samson Satele
I've been yelling from the roof tops of Raider Nation that the Raiders would not be a bully with Samson Satele at center. The only time the Raiders really looked like a bully this year is when Satele was out of the game injured.
Michael Bush ran wild against the San Diego Chargers through holes in the middle of the defense. The next game in Minnesota, Bush starts the game struggling, then starts to get loose when Satele goes out of the game with an injury.
The Bears shut down the Raiders' running game last week with Satele darn near getting Bush killed. Then today against the Dolphins, nose tackle Paul Soliai did the same thing he did to Satele last year.
He took his lunch, ate it and threw it up on his shoe.
So much for how you all thought Satele got so much better.
Old Problem: Khalif Barnes
Most teams like to run to the right in the NFL, but not the Raiders, because they have Cooper Carlisle and Khalif Barnes on the right side of their offensive line. Carlisle was off the hook today because he didn't have a man lined up over, but he was pushed back last week.
Today, Khalif Barnes was his usual no push off of the line of scrimmage self with plenty of penalties. He had at least one false start and two holding penalties in the game.
He had more penalty yards that Bush had rushing yards on the day (10-18)
What do starters have to do to get demoted?
Old Problem: Special Teams Coverage Units
The Raiders have already allowed two punt returns for touchdowns this season. The kickoff return unit didn't want to be outdone so they allowed Dolphins kick returner Clyde Gates to go 77 yards, setting up a touchdown to begin the second half.
The Raiders psych themselves up in the locker room to come back from a 13-point deficit and the kick coverage allows that. After the return, it almost seemed like the Raiders quit, then decided to play in the fourth quarter.
The coverage units have to stop these huge momentum swingers.
Old Problem: Not a Bully on Defense
The horrible got worse with the Raiders' run defense today.
The Raiders have this great defensive line and linebackers that are both fast and physical. Yet the Raiders, for some unknown reason to me, can't stop the run even a little bit.
They've had their moments, holding Arian Foster to 68 yards, but they let Reggie Bust—I mean Reggie Bush, run for 100 yards. The Dolphins had guys hurt on the offensive line and the Raiders give Bush the first 100-yard game of his career.
That's an exaggeration, but you get my point!
Old Problem: Michael Bush Needs To Do More
When running the ball isn't working out, a running back has to be able to do something to help his team. Bush is a good receiver out of the backfield, but that's not the only way to help outside of running the ball.
You have to be able to block and pick up the blitz, but Bush not been able to do that since McFadden has been injured. It was especially costly today because when your quarterback is struggling you have to give him help.
He will be looked at as a complimentary running back until he can pick up the blitz.
Is McFadden ready yet?
Should Get Better: Carson Palmer
The Raiders gave up too much for Carson Palmer to play the way he did today. I understand that he doesn't have his receivers, but he won last week, and the man has to play better than that.
Watching him was unbelievable!
Every quarterback has had bad games, so that's not the main reason for my criticism of him today. I didn't like how there was no fire or passion in Palmer, as he seemed to be going through the motions.
His face looked as if he was watching another team, not playing himself.
He looked like Jason Campbell did last year against the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers. I believe he will play better going forward, but I want to see him show some fire when the team sleepwalks behind him.
A player acquired for a first-round pick should never look that way.
Should Get Better: Darren McFadden
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McFadden led the Raiders to a 4-2 start through six games before sustaining a mid-foot sprain early in Week 7. If you don't do well on third down, you better make up for it with big plays, and of the Raiders' 67 plays over 20 yards, McFadden has nine of them and he hasn't played in five weeks.
With his big-play ability, versatility and ability to pick up the blitz, he's the Raiders' best football player. The good news about him is that he ran around a bit in practice last week.
This problem should be over soon for the Raiders.
Should Get Better: Jacoby Ford
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Another big part of the big-play movement for the Raiders is receiver/kick returner Jacoby Ford. He has quickly become one of the receivers that Palmer is most comfortable with too.
Ford has eight of the 67 plays of 20-yards or more himself, so the Raiders need him back on the field. The good news here is like McFadden, he started to run around a little bit on his sprained foot.
From all the reports I've read, he seems like a good bet to play next Sunday.
That should help Palmer get back on track and bring some explosion back to Oakland.
Should Get Better Soon: Denarius Moore
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From the looks of things, Denarius Moore is the receiver that Palmer likes to go to the most. That's because this, smooth, fleet-of-feet receiver knows how to get open, catch the ball and finish in the end zone.
On top of that, the little amount of the third-down conversions the Raiders do get are at the hands of Moore. This rookie has 15 of the Raiders' 67 plays of 20 yards and over, as you can see how much of his explosion was missed today.
The great news about him is that he is the closest of the injured stars to coming back.
The Raiders were short a couple of guys, but I don't think that Jackson is doing the the best with what he has. I don't know what it is with Satele but the Raiders had their best day on offense with Stefen Wisniewski at center, Stephon Heyer at left guard and Joseph Barksdale rotating in at right tackle.
After seeing Satele against Soliai, I don't even want to see him play against B.J Raji next Sunday. I understand that coaches like veterans, but exceptions have to be made when those veterans don't play well.
It especially doesn't help to give a veteran that didn't play well last year his job back. Chaz Schilens was a bright spot with six catches for 90 yards, but his foot is hurt again.
I guess the only time he will ever be able to play is when the other wide receivers can't. I also have to get on Jackson about the non-use of Marcel Reece until the game was effectively over.
Perhaps some of those drops by tight end Kevin Boss could have went his way. As far as the defense goes, the front seven needs to change the way they're doing things in a big way because this isn't working.
I'll have more on that Monday.
Just win baby!
Just lost baby.