The Oakland Raiders traveled all the way to Miami looking to bounce back from their loss to the Chargers in the 2012 regular season debut. But once again, the Raiders could not come away with a victory, as the offense continued to struggle. Let’s take a closer look into the Silver & Black Attack’s performance against the Dolphins.
Carson Palmer completed 24 out of 48 passes (50% average) for 373 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception. With the running game not working well, the Raiders offense relied once again on Palmer and the passing game, which would turn out to not be enough for the win. Although Palmer was constantly getting pressured in the pocket, he had some mistakes of his own. A few passes were not accurate, either sailing over the receiver or thrown too close to the ground. He’s wearing a brace on his throwing arm, which would lead us to believe that he’s not 100% healthy due to a probable shoulder injury. But he’s playing, anyways, so we cannot use it as an excuse, specially regarding a talented QB like Palmer who can play better than he did against Miami. It was not an awful performance, as Palmer still managed to move the Raiders offense and could have used more help from his offensive line. His most glaring mistake came in a 1st & goal with about a minute left in the 1st half. Palmer spent too much time trying to force the CB to move backwards and missed an open Darren McFadden underneath. He still managed to hit DMC between the numbers, but the running back was too close to the sideline and with a couple of defenders collapsing on him. McFadden dropped the pass, but he would’ve liked to have the ball thrown his way a little earlier. The next two plays were also pass calls, but Palmer couldn’t do much with heavy pressure on him at both attempts, which went for incompletions. Palmer’s interception came late with the game already out of hand.
QB Grade: C
For the second straight week, the Raiders rush offense was basically on Darren McFadden and, once again, he had nowhere to run all game long. Out of the 12 designed run plays, McFadden had 11, going for 22 yards (2 yards per carry). The other one was by Mike Goodson, who lost 6 yards on the play, but he made his presence felt as a receiver out of the backfield. Goodson had 3 catches for 83 yards, including 64-yard screen play for a touchdown, where he proved he also has breakaway speed. McFadden was not able to repeat his good performance as a receiver this time (2 catches for 19 yards). After a very strong 2011 season for as long as he was on the field (when he averaged 87.7 rushing yards per game and 5.4 yards per carry), McFadden is off to a very low start, only averaging 27 YPG and 2.1 YPC. But it’s hard to blaim him. He is rarely getting a good hole to hit by the OL, as the team is struggling to transition to the zone-blocking scheme that new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp wants to implement. McFadden is being asked to do too much before hitting the gas pedal and he’s making himself a big target for opposing defenders. And when he actually tries to accelerate, the gap usually is not there.
RB Grade: C
The receivers once again did what they were supposed to do in terms of catching, without too many drops. But the unit could’ve done a better job creating separation from the Dolphins receivers in a few key plays late in the game. It was not the kind of separation issue they had against the Chargers, but they still were there from time to time. The receivers also lacked making those extra-effort plays for the QB. The Raiders could use a little more of playmaking ability by the WRs in games like these where the running game is not working and the QB is not on the money all the time. On a positive note, Denarius Moore came back with a good performance, despite missing some time during the game with cramps. Moore led the WRs with 67 yards (3 receptions).
WR Grade: C
It was a good game overall for this unit. Brandon Myers once again proved that he should be involved more often in the passing game. He caught all the 6 balls thrown his way for 86 yards (leading the team in terms of receptions and receiving yards). He’s showing secure hands and also good chemistry with Palmer. In the other hand, he was flagged for a holding penalty that negated a good Phillip Adams punt return. David Ausberry contributed with a catch for 31 yards, which included a wicked stiff arm. Richard Gordon played well on special teams, recording 4 tackles.
TE Grade: B
The OL had a very poor performance against Miami. Once again they were not able to create any holes in the running game, making life very difficult for Darren McFadden. And although they didn’t allow a sack, they couldn’t give Palmer security in the pocket. Palmer was getting pressured too often and that led to costly incompletions. The OL also committed two holding penalties, by Stefen Wisniewski and Willie Smith. Mike Brisiel had a very good block in the Mike Goodson TD that was the key for the big play, but other than that he was part of a unit that couldn’t push the opposing DL and create the necessary gaps for the RBs, nor give the QB time or security consistently.
OL Grade: D
With two weeks into the season, Greg Knapp is not making any fans in the Raider Nation. Not only his attempt of implementing a zone-blocking scheme is a complete failure so far, Darren McFadden, under his command, is looking like an average player. Knapp needs to understand what this offense was capable of doing last season with basically the same players and maybe try to a be a little less narrow-minded regarding his zone scheme. Why not throwing some power blocking in the mix to try to make this transition smoother? Right now, Knapp is not putting his players in the best position to succeed and that’s pretty much what a coach has to do. His playcalling could also be a little more unpredictable, specially with the kind of athleticism the Raiders has. The offense is struggling badly on 3rd downs: the Raiders are the worst team in the league in terms of 3rd down completion percentage, with only 22%. Many of those plays are completed passes tackled behind the first down line. Also, many of those attempts are 3rd&longs because the running game is not being able to establish itself as a threat.
Coaching Grade: F
The running game was a non-factor once again and that’s concerning since it is surely the Raiders offense best asset. The passing game was able to put the Raiders in good position until halftime, when the protection only got worse and the offense lacked execution and playmaking ability in order to keep up with the Dolphins. The Raiders are struggling to establish themselves in games and are not moving the ball with consistency. In a game in which the defense wasn’t able to keep the team in a close contest, the offense did not show any meaningful progress from the week one’s performance and that resulted in a 22-point deficit loss, with the Raiders only able to score 13.
Overall Offense Grade: D
The Raiders will now host the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 23th at 1:25 P.M. (PDT).