Oakland Raiders v Miami Dolphins - Studs & Duds
David Wilson – Sep 17, 2012
This was another hugely disappointing performance from the Raiders, against what most analysts believe is a poor Miami team. Whilst there were some glaring underperformers in this game, there were also some players who graded out very well.
The biggest failing, yet again, was the inability to generate any kind of running game. You won’t find any offensive linemen on the studs list today.
Matt Shaughnessy DE – Shaughnessy is a rock in run defense, and was also the lone Raider to get himself on the sack sheet against Miami. It wasn’t just one play though, as he generated pressure a number of times against one of the elite left tackles in the game, Jake Long. Long struggled to handle Shaughnessy in the run game too. Richard Seymour said that Shaughnessy was as good a defensive end against the run as there is in the league, and on this performance I believe it. In addition to his sack, he dropped Reggie Bush behind the line for a loss of yardage, and was one of the keys to a good first half for the Raiders defense.
Philip Wheeler LB – Wheeler had eight tackles on the day (4 solo, 4 assists), but his performance was bigger than that. If you watch the way he diagnoses plays, tracks the ball carrier and then makes the tackle, it is text book linebacker play. He was the surest tackler on the field for Oakland either inside or in the open field, and also nailed Ryan Tannehill hard on a blitz to force an incompletion. Sign this guy to a long term contract, he is a keeper.
Carson Palmer QB – Don’t be surprised. Palmer had no running game to support him and was facing pressure up the gut most of the day. 239 of his 373 yards came in the first half, and were meaningful. The lone interception came in garbage time when the game was already lost. He stood tall in the pocket, and showed real strength by getting the ball away with defenders hanging off him. Yes, he made a couple of errant throws in the game, but as a body of work this game is tough to criticise under the circumstances.
Brandon Myers TE – Myers run blocking has been average, but he has quietly and efficiently shown that he can be a good receiving tight end. He caught six passes for 86 yards, and very much looks like Carson Palmer’s go to guy when he is under pressure. Every quarterback needs a reliable tight end, especially in this system, and Myers is proving that he can be that. Myers makes the studs list for the second consecutive week.
Honorable Mention – Tyvon Branch tackled well most of the day, but gave up the outside on Bush’s 63 yard touchdown run. Tommy Kelly stuffed the inside well, and gave good effort for 60 minutes. Not everybody did. Desmond Bryant remains solid as ever.
Mike Brisiel G – While Brisiel might have made a couple of good blocks on screen passes, he continually gets overpowered at the line of scrimmage. He got bull rushed multiple times on passing plays, and was the main offender in giving up pressure on Palmer. He failed to generate any movement in the running game, and his man made tackles for a loss or at the line on a number of occasions. Brisiel might be our highest price free agent, but he is the worst player on this line by some way.
Darren McFadden RB – You won’t often find McFadden on this list, but he did not play well on Sunday. He didn't have his usual physicality or vision, and never looked like he was going to make yards. It may be a quite justifiable lack of faith in the scheme or his offensive line, but this performance was poor. Two dropped passes helped get him on the list. One was near the goal line at the end of the first half, which if he had caught it would most likely have been a touchdown.
Rolando McClain LB – After a good performance last week, McClain was back to the 2011 version of himself against the Dolphins. He misdiagnosed plays, and twice I saw him somehow dropping into coverage when Wheeler and Miles Burris were moving forward to make a run stop. In the third quarter he missed an easy tackle on the 5 yard line (after giving up the catch) which allowed TE Anthony Fasano to score, and showed the same lack of urgency or physicality that marked previous poor outings. McClain was lazy and slow to the outside on Bush's long touchdown run. He gives up on plays easily, only managing to jog after ball carriers, and reverted to his role as a ‘pile inspector’ most of the day. He missed a number of tackles in the first half, and although other players made the stop, it just isn’t good enough. This unit will continue to be weak against the run with McClain at MLB.
Greg Knapp – Oakland has gone from a top ten running game last year to being totally ineffective on the ground. Dick Vermiel used to say that great coaches adapt their scheme to make the best of the players they have. Bad coaches try and shoe horn any player into the only scheme they know. Such is Greg Knapp. Knapp did not cover himself in glory the last time he held the offensive coordinator role in Oakland, and he certainly isn’t doing that now. If Knapp can’t start to generate a credible running game soon, then you can forget the play offs very, very quickly.
Jason Tarver – I don’t blame Tarver and the defensefor this loss on the whole, as they were worn down in the heat by being on the field far too long. But how many times in one game can you let an average receiver like Brian Hartline beat your secondary on the same 10-14 yard out pattern? It was almost the same play every time, and it was keeping drives alive when they should have been stopped. Hartline is never going to be a deep threat, so it isn’t like the corners have to play him eight yards off. When you know what the offense is going to do, and they still succeed at it time after time, you know things are bad.
Steve Hoffman – One good punt return of 47 yards does not make a good special teams game, and this unit is still more like a ‘special needs’ unit than anything else under Hoffman. Two penalties on punt returns put the offense in the hole, again, and apart from one touchback, the staring field position for the Raiders was on their own 7, 7, 9, 13,13, and 1 yard line. That starting position on the one (I mean who fields a punt at their own two yard line? Let it go into the end zone!) put the Raiders on the back foot and led to directly to the Dolphin’s go ahead score. If it was better than last week’s attempt to remake a Three Stooges movie, butit wasn’t good special teams by a long way.
Dishonorable Mention - Richard Seymour looked lacklustre and didn’t offer anything in the way of pass rush all day. He is being overpaid at $15 million a year. The entire offensive line played poorly as a unit. Stefan Wisniewski also got over powered at times and missed blocks, although not as many as Brisiel. If Jared Veldheer generally pass blocked his man well, he failed to adjust to stunts and blitzes on more than one occasion, and did not generate much movement in the run game.
Right now, this team is in big trouble and may be the rightly graded as the worst in the league on several network power rankings. I think the Raiders have the talent to improve, but they have to harness that talent and put players in a position to succeed rather than force them into systems where they don’t fit.
Dennis Allen also needs to show that there are no more scholarships or favorites in Oakland, and bench those players who just aren’t getting it done. Mike Brisiel and Rolando McClain, I’m talking about you…
Next week, Pittsburgh…
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