How Do Oakland Raiders Wide Receivers Matchup against AFC West Cornerbacks?
Jerry Rump – Jun 26, 2012
As summer officially begins and everybody is enjoying barbecues and complaining about the heat, there is a rumbling coming from Raider Nation that is one of building anticipation for the Oakland Raiders 2012 season.
The faithful fan-base is ready for the season to begin and the excitement is spreading.
It’s everywhere you look. Even ESPN has had more positive offseason Raider coverage than any in a 10 year span. But, even with all this excitement, there is still a hint of worry lurking in the corners of the Black Hole as many are concerned about what to expect from the team this year.
After all, this is the first season without the iconic leader of the Raider Organization, Al Davis, in charge of running the ship and he is dearly missed by die-hards in the Nation.
It is a new era and uncharted seas for the Raiders organization and their ”rabid” fan-base. So, considering all this, and the huge subsequent changes in Oakland this offseason, why shouldn’t Raider Nation be excited and reply to the typical hater rhetoric by chomping at them like a crazy zombie-fied Miamian, when they spout off that it is going be the same old Raiders come next season?
The sense of things around recent team workouts has been one comparatively different than those taking place in recent years. The players and coaching staff have been challenging each other to perform like their jobs are on the line, and the new head man, GM Reggie McKenzie, has been there to reassure them that, THEY ARE!
So Raider Nation Times readers, be prepared the next two weeks for analysis pieces on how Raiders personnel will look versus the guys in the division that suit up to oppose them.
Fellow Raider Nation Times' writer, Dave Wilson, will be doing similar postion analysis pieces, as well as a quarterback breakdown from senior editor, John Doublin, so checkout our collaborative work and give us some feedback on what you think?
This first piece is a personal favorite as most of Raider Nation really agrees and believes the Raiders’ wide receiving corps will be an area of significant improvement heading into the 2012 NFL season.
The main reasoning behind this resides in the drive and pure hunger the Raiders young receivers have to prove themselves and Reggie McKenzie’s ability to upgrade talent at any position. Add in, a full off-season to work with QB Carson Palmer, and a healthy Darren McFadden and this means, the passing game will be critical in determining how far the team can go this up-coming season.
The young, but talented receivers for the Raiders must become a consistent and reliable force for the offense this year. It is crucial that, RB Darren McFadden must stay healthy and consistent play from the receivers will help take some of the load off his back and open up the running game considerably.
Beginning by examining perhaps the best secondary in the division, the Kansas City Chiefs, finished sixth in the league in this category statistically last season allowing only 201.3 yards per game, (ypg). Looking at how the Raiders’ wide receivers matchup, one might be inclined to favor the Chiefs. However, a few things have changed since last season.
Starting cornerback, Brandon Carr has gone on to greener pastures with Dallas, but as everyone in Raider Nation knows, Stanford Routt, jumped ship and is now a tandem with Brandon Flowers as the Chiefs’ starting cornerbacks. Add in the young second year nickel-back out of Alabama, Javier Arenas, and one of the best young safeties in the entire NFL, in Eric Berry, and it looks like first year head coach, Romeo Crennel, has all he needs to have a dominate secondary in KC this season.
But not so fast! Before people like Skip Bayless of ESPN go handing them the division, let’s see how the Raiders can give Kansas City more to cry about than their baseball team and un-envious geographic location.
It is true these corners may provide the Silver and Black their toughest test in the passing game within the division this up-coming season. But, a full off-season to construct that all important chemistry and timing between Palmer and the receivers could lead to some serious doubt in the Chiefs’ ability to dominate defensively against the Raiders as they did in last season’s matchup.
Not to mention, Routt will now be racking up penalty yardage that favors the Raiders for a pleasant change of pace.
Look for the Raiders to bring a balanced attack against these corners for the Chiefs, with plenty of play-action passes to keep them guessing and then exploiting any one-on-one coverage schemes they come across. The Raiders are young and deep at the wide receiver position and there will be holes in that Chiefs secondary for Palmer to exploit.
Watch for Marcel Reese to open things up a bit in the passing game as he has the ability to both come out of the back-field or line-up outside and provide a mismatch that favors the Raiders.
The Denver Broncos bring the next most-talented secondary to the table as they ranked 18th in the league last season and gave up 231.5 ypg. Led by veteran CB, Champ Bailey, and the recently added free-agent Tracy Porter, the corners for the Broncos provide plenty of experience and leadership, which will make it tough for the starting Raider receivers to get off the line and get open.
This is why one should look for Oakland to run plays that help them get advantages against Denver’s safeties and nickel-backs, as this is the weakness against their secondary. This is where the Broncos lack talent and depth, so multiple wide receiver sets should open the way for the Silver and Black to establish the running game and keep the chains moving in this season’s matchups with Denver.
It imperative that WR, Darrius Heyward-Bey, step up in these games and be the type of leader for the receiving corps that Raider Nation has anticipated from him since he was drafted in 2009 out of Maryland. This is a make or break year for Heyward-Bey and big performances against the hated Broncos will go a long way in helping him solidify his spot for the Raiders.
The San Diego Chargers sport the division’s weakest secondary and look for the Raiders to take advantage of this and exploit them right away in the season opener, September 10th.
The starting corners for the Chargers are projected to be the unimpressive duo of Antoine Cason and the aging Quentin Jammer. This matchup for the Raiders should resemble something more the likes of a pride of lions taking down the weak and the older zebras on a National Geographic Wild series, rather than a competitive contest between top-tier pro athletes.
Look for the Raiders to exploit the Chargers’ weak and old corners by going pass heavy as Palmer has always enjoyed lighting up San Diego.
Raider Nation should enjoy more of what we saw in week ten of last season where Denarius Moore caught two touchdowns and Palmer went 14-20 with 299 passing yards in only his third appearance since coming off of the couch.
The Charger secondary could end up being one of the worst in the league by year’s end, and will serve as fodder in the first game of the season for new head coach, Dennis Allen to begin his tenure off right with the Raiders by exposing this key weakness in the San Diego defense.
Top to bottom, the Raiders have one of, if not, the best receiving corps in the AFC West. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Louis Murphy, and new-comer, Juron Criner, can make things very tough upon their rivals in the division as any one of them have the potential to breakout in any given game.
The rest of the AFC West will suffer this season for what has been a missing element in the Raiders’ offense for far too many moons. Having depth and ability at the wide receiver position goes a long way in fixing what has honestly been a dismal part of the game for the Raiders since 2002.
Upgrades at this position such as, replacing the ”lackluster busta,” also known as, Chaz Schilens, means there is now competition at the receiving positions for the Oakland Raiders.
This is symbolic in letting not only the team, but the rest of the NFL know, the days of scholarship players automatically earning a spot on the Raiders roster are long gone. It also means the running game will not be the only thing opposing defenses will have to prepare for when they face the Raiders’ this year.
Follow us on Twitter: @RNTimes
Like Raider Nation Times
How Would You Grade the Raiders Free Agency So Far?