Carson Palmer Off the Hook
Jon York – Sep 13, 2012
At the risk of stating the obvious for those paying attention, the Raiders offense failed to live up to expectations Monday night against the Chargers. For all of the Raiders speed and athleticism there was a notable lack of big plays. They only scored 16 points with their lone touchdown coming in garbage time. Darren McFadden was targeted too many times and had more catches than you'd like in the type of offense many fans expected to see.
There were some legitimate reasons. Two undrafted free agents starting (center and wide receiver). Derek Hagan playing a significant number of snaps for someone who couldn't possibly know the entire playbook. The injuries to Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford robbed Oakland of two important big play threats. Rod Streater's fumble ruined a great drive and sure scoring opportunity.
There was plenty of blame to go around too, if you followed social media. The ZBS won't work. Greg Knapp sucks. Carson Palmer was playing tentative. The wide receivers couldn't get open. Those seemed to be the most common targets of angst.
I was watching the same game, and what I came away with was a severely underperforming offensive line.
When I began working on this piece I set out intent on letting Carson Palmer and Greg Knapp off the hook - at least for the passing game. The run game was another matter... It failed the Raiders but judgment for Knapp and the ZBS will not be given after one week.
My initial reaction was that the Chargers routinely rushed four and were constantly pressuring Palmer - I don't care who you have on your team if there is quick pressure and seven players in coverage the passing game will suffer.
Thanks to NFL's All22 package it's possible to do much more than rely on initial reactions. After reviewing every pass play it's no longer possible to let Knapp off easy but still safe to say Palmer played a solid and intelligent game.
As noted by several players the Chargers dropped their coverage deep on every play. In the first half they varied the pass rush - it was almost an even split between a four and five man rush - and the result was the Raiders moving the ball into scoring position on three out of four drives (the only exception being the drive that included a brutal attempt at a reverse). When the Chargers did rush five Palmer had his longest completions of the half (and another time missed Reece wide open for what would have been a big gain).
For the second half San Diego made adjustments while the Raiders did not. Out of 28 second half pass plays there was a four man rush on 22 of them. Still, all three sacks and much of the pressure came in the second half. Game situation contributed, but the fault lies with the blocking effort and play calling.
The game tape did show that the Raiders offensive line did a poor job of blocking four - pressure was getting to Palmer before the routes even had time to develop. This isn't an indictment of the receivers in the game... The reason Darren McFadden was the target for so many passes was that he was regularly the only player running short routes. The Chargers continued to drop their coverage deep and Knapp did not adjust by calling shorter pass routes. All too often when Palmer was forced to throw the ball the running backs were the only players who had players who had fully gotten into their routes.
Carson Palmer did not have a perfect game... He had one pass that should have been intercepted... A few times Reece appeared wide open near Palmer's sight line and was ignored... He short armed one deep throw and didn't see a receiver crush press coverage and come open in the end zone...
Still, what quarterbacks would say they had a perfect game? He played intelligent, routinely held the ball as long as he could, and took what the defense gave him. The poor blocking and lack of adjustments by the offensive coordinator were more than he could overcome.
For next week we need to see adjustments by Greg Knapp and better play by everyone on the line with the exception of Jared Veldheer. For this week, Carson Palmer deserves none of the criticism being thrown his way... Palmer is off the hook for the Chargers game.
For the record - I am not a professional coach or scout. However, this is my breakdown of every pass play (including penalties) from Monday night's game.
1st and 10. 4 man rush. Screen left to McFadden 9 yds.
1st and 10. 5 man rush. Incomplete right to Heyward-Bey. Reece wide open over the middle 18 yds deep.
3rd and 10. 5 man rush. Left to Hagan for 13 yds, no one else open.
1st and 10. 4 man rush. Right to Heyward-Bey for 9 yds. Pass a little late. Streater open at about 12 yds.
1st and 10. 5 man rush. Bubble screen right to McFadden for -1 yds.
3rd and 9. 5 man rush. Incomplete left to Hagan. Offside, play negated.
3rd and 4. 5 man rush. Left to Streater for 8 yds, fumble. No one else appeared open.
2nd and 13. 4 man rush. Right to McFadden for 9 yds. No one else appeared open.
1st and 10. 5 man rush. Right to Heyward-Bey for 13 yds. Myers open across middle at 12 yds.
2nd and 10. 5 man rush. Quick pressure. Incomplete right to McFadden. No one else appeared open.
3rd and 10. 4 man rush. Middle to Streater for 4 yds. No one else appeared open.
1st and 10. 5 man rush. Middle to Streater for 13 yds - best option of 3 receivers open.
3rd and 24. 4 man rush. Right to McFadden for 3 yds. No one else appeared open.
1st and 10. 4 man rush. Quick pressure. Incomplete right to McFadden. No one else appeared open.
3rd and 3. 5 man rush. Right to Reece for 15 yds. Gordon also open.
1st and 10. 5 man rush. Right to McFadden for 4 yds. Hagan open on left at 8 yds.
2nd and 6. 5 man rush. Incomplete left to McFadden. Heyward-Bey appeared to be coming open right.
3rd and 6. 5 man rush. Short middle to McFadden for 12 yds. WR on left open at 10 yds.
1st and 10. 4 man rush. Incomplete deep right - miscommunication play where Palmer was fired up at Heyward-Bey.
2nd and 10. 4 man rush. Right to Hagan for 10 yds. No one else appeared open.
1st and 10. 4 man rush. Quick Pressure. Middle to Hagan for 4 yds. Myers may have been coming open at 8 yds.
2nd and 6. 4 man rush. Short left to McFadden for 17 yds. Myers open right at 3 yds.
1st and 10. 4 man rush. Incomplete left to Streater, was open, pass off target. WR on right may have been coming open. Another receiver open left but not as much as Streater.
2nd and 10. 3 man rush. Flushed from pocket, late throw to Hagan n end zone almost intercepted. A couple options open.
3rd and 15. 3 man rush. Short middle to McFadden for 15 yds. Heyward-Bey open over top on right.
3rd and 2. 4 man rush. Barnes beaten badly but Palmer able to step up. Incomplete middle to Hagan. PI on Jammer. WR on left had single coverage and a tiny bit of separation, McFadden open on right about 7 yds deep.
1st and 10. 4 man rush. 12 yards left to Ausberry. Streater coming open on shorter route.
3rd and 2. 5 man rush. Short left to Myers for 0 yds. Reece open short right.
1st and 10. 4 man rush. Pass short middle to McFadden for 7 yds. Reece also open at about same depth in middle. No one else open
2nd and 3. 5 man rush. Incomplete right to Streater. Palmer really missed Reece wide open middle with room to run, and not too far from where he threw the ball. Myers also open left side 10 yards deep.
3rd and 3. 5 man rush. Immediate pressure, hurried throw left to DMac for 2 yards. No time for even the short routes to develop (I think McFadden missed blocking assignment here).
2nd and 13. 4 man rush. Pressure was coming (not quick) incomplete short right to McFadden. WR on right was maybe coming open deep middle. No one else open.
3rd and 13. 4 man rush. Pressure. Incomplete left to McFadden. All other routes were deep and weren't developed by time Palmer flushed from pocket.
1st and 10. 4 man rush. Incomplete deep left to Streater was open, ball underthrown. Also a receiver from right side was coming open deep middle.
2nd and 10. 4 man rush. Complete deep left to Heyward-Bey for 21 yards. Also WR on right open at 12 yds, 2 open underneath (worst coverage to this point).
1st and 10. 5 man rush, immediate pressure, sack. A few were open but unable to get pass off.
2nd and 17. 4 man rush. Complete short middle to Myers for 26 yards. WR on left open deep on go route.
1st and 10. 4 man rush. Incomplete deep middle to Heyward-Bey (double covered). Only things open were two underneath who would have been tackled for little gain.
3rd and 21. 4 man rush. Incomplete deep right to Streater. 2 players open underneath but it was 3rd and 21...
1st and 10. 4 man rush. Immediate pressure, sacked. Doesn't matter if anyone was open.
2nd and 19. 4 man rush. Short right to Reece for 9 yds. No one else open.
3rd and 10. 4 man rush. Complete middle to Myers for 16 yds. Underneath route open.
1st and 10. 4 man rush. Incomplete left to Streater (stumbled at break). Reece also open.
2nd and 10. 4 man rush. Short right to McFadden for 1 yd. No one else open.
3rd and 9. 4 man rush. Short middle to McFadden for 5 yds. 1 other underneath route open.
4th and 4. 4 man rush. Incomplete middle to Heyward-Bey. Pass interference. Hagan open on right, Streater maybe open in middle (both short).
1st and 10. 4 man rush, hit after throw. Deep right to Streater for 17 yds. No one else any more open than that.
1st and 10. 4 man rush. Sacked. No one open.
2nd and 15. 4 man rush, hit after throw. Complete to Myers short middle for 8 yds. Shorter route on right open.
3rd and 7. 4 man rush, quick pressure. Short middle to McFadden. Other routes appeared to be coming open but pressure was too quick.
4th and 4. 5 man rush, quick pressure. Incomplete deep left to Streater. Only open was in flat on right. Roughing the passer.
1st and 10. 4 man rush. Short middle to Myers for 11 yds. Couple of shorter routes coming open but not yet.
1st and goal. 6 man rush, quick pressure. Short right to Streater for 2 yds, TD. 1 or 2 others open.
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