It was not a pretty day for the Oakland Raiders last Sunday, as the team traveled to Denver but ended up getting beat badly by the Broncos, 37 to 6. After a very encouraging game by the Raiders offense against Pittsburgh, when they put up 34 points, including five possessions in a row with a score, their performance fell considerably against the division rival. So let’s take a closer look at what the offense brought to the table against the Broncos.
It was, literally, a painful afternoon for Carson Palmer. Not only he had a poor performance in terms of stats (202 yards, 56 completion percentage and no TDs), “CP3″ also got hit a lot during the game. He was constantly under pressure, specially in the final moments of the contest, when, with the game already way out of hand, it looked like the only purpose of Palmer being on the field was for him to get injured someway. Or, should I say, aggravate an injury, as the QB looks to be suffering from some sort of pain on his elbow or shoulder, even wearing a brace on his throwing arm. Regardless, he hasn’t been on the injury report yet this year. Against the Broncos, Palmer dealt with more pressure as the game went on, and it’s hard to blaim him with the OL not giving him a good pocket frequently. He missed a couple of pre-snap blitz recognitions that cost the Raiders two plays and also had a “delay of game” penalty on him that led to a 3rd&16 situation in the second half. Palmer also should’ve been intercepted late in the game, but the opposing DB dropped the easy catch.
QB Grade: C
Once again, the zone blocking scheme did not give Darren McFadden enough holes to work with, as the RB was held to just 34 yards (2.6 YPC). He missed a few opportunities too, but almost every failed run should be put on the players designated to block account. Mike Goodson ran for 22 yards with a 7.3 YPC, including a 13 yard long one but with the game already out of hand. He showed some good flashes, but nothing that should put DMC’s feature back spot in danger. It would be good to see Taiwan Jones back in the mix, though, as the youngster was running with great success in the pre-season. Marcel Reece looked very good in the beginning of the game, with a 31 yard reception in the first drive, but his target numbers went down as the game went on. He should be more involved in this offense.
RBs Grade: C
Denarius Moore was the best of the bunch by a good margin, as the second-year wide out looked reliable all game long. He caught 4 balls for 71 yards, including the best play of the Raiders offense in the contest, a 37 yard reception that was 1 defender away from the endzone. Once again, drops weren’t an issue for the WRs, but their ability to get open, specially on deep patterns, wasn’t on point for the whole game. Juron Criner, in garbage time, caught the first 2 passes of his career and looked good on his second one, creating a few extra yards to make the first down. Palmer missed his #1 target, Darrius Heyward-Bey, specially on the short to medium routes on 3rd downs, but at least it looks like DHB will be back against Atlanta on week 6, after the bye.
WR Grade: C
Brandon Myers had his worst game of the season, catching only 1 pass for 22 yards, and also dropping his first target of the year, due to a great coverage play by the defense. On his favour, he was not heavily involved in the playcalling, as he should’ve been and should be for the next games if the Raiders are smart enough to keep the reliable TE in the mix more often. But Myers had a rough game in terms of blocking. He got pushed back strongly blocking for Shane Lechler, letting his man get too close to the punter and block the kick. He also missed a block on a crucial 3rd&2 situation on the second half, giving no chances for Darren McFadden to run for the first down. David Ausberry caught only one pass for 9 yards and was targeted in the endzone in what he looked to be one of Palmer’s last options for the play, and the ball wasn’t catchable.
TEs Grades: C
The OL was worse as the game went on, specially in terms of pass blocking. At one point of the 4th quarter, it looked like it was only a matter of time for Palmer to get hurt, as he was getting constantly hit by the Broncos defense, with pressure coming from everywhere. Even Jared Veldheer, who is having a very consistent year, specially on pass blocking, had his struggles. But for the most part of the game, he was solid as usual. The right side of the OL, in the other hand, had problems with Denver’s pass rush all day long. Mike Brisiel and Willie Smith, the latter specially. Smith, replacing the injured Khalif Barnes, was not up to the task on Sunday, being constantly beat by defenders and also being responsible for a sack and fumble by Palmer. The running game appears to be making strides but in a very slow pace. At least now the problem seemed to be, in a certain amount of plays, in the blocking on the second level of the defense. But anyways, it’s still very poor and not giving enough gaps for McFadden to develop his game. Mike Brisiel was responsible for a false start and Cooper Carlisle, for a holding penalty.
OL Grade: D
Once again, Greg Knapp’s zone blocking scheme failed and, now that the Raiders face a bye week, it’s time for him and head coach Dennis Allen to really evaluate if they truly believe that it will work on some point of the season. It’s useless to ask for patience, because that would be reasonable if the Raiders had a bad offense already last year. But the offense was very respectable in the last couple of years, so they didn’t start from ground zero. As of now, the Raiders are not scaring anyone with their running game, and, under Knapp’s command, Darren McFadden has played like an average player, which is definitely not what he is. Also, Knapp failed to adjust to the Broncos pass rush during the game, keeping Palmer under constant pressure with routes that weren’t supposed to develop quickly. Dennis Allen decided to not challenge the spot of the ball on a Denarius Moore catch early in the second half, as the WR appeared to have made enough for the first down. Instead, Allen decided to keep the challenge and the Raiders, facing a 4th&1, punted the ball. It proved to be a very crucial decision, because from that point on, the Broncos scored 3 TDs as the Raiders offense completely stalled. Not to mention that, to go to halftime losing by 10×6, and end up losing the game by 37×6, it should mean that the Raiders got completely outcoached in terms of halftime adjustments.
Coaching Grade: F
The Raiders were only able to score 6 points, were a mess on 3rd downs (converting only 1 out of 12) and had 4 consecutives 3&outs. The complete meltdown of the offense got the game out of hand way too early and the Raiders lost an always important divisional game badly. The upcoming bye week is very welcome, as the coaching staff needs to deeply evaluate what they are doing and what they plan to do to get the Raiders offense back on track before it’s too late.
Overall Offensive Grade: F
The Raiders will now have a bye week and will return to action on October 14th to face the Falcons in Atlanta.