Oakland Raiders Weekly Accountability Tracker: Week-3
John Doublin – Sep 24, 2012
The Oakland Raiders earned their first win of the season and the first of the "New Era" when they held off the Pittsburgh Steelers for a 34-31 win at O.co Coliseum on Sunday afternoon.
There are a lot of things for Raider Nation to be happy about. Darren McFadden got his first 100 yard game on the strength of a 64 yard touchdown run in the first quarter, the defense stiffened and created turnovers when the team needed them most and there is no doubt now that the Raiders have some fight in them as they overcame a 10 point deficit to win with a last second, Sebastian Janikowski field goal.
This brings us to the point of this article. "Accountability" can be a very loaded and negative word. It is often associated with assigning blame for mistakes. However, it is possible for a person to be "held accountable" for good things too!
Therefore, this article will address the positive things that occurred in Sunday's win. Those who stepped up will be given their due credit.
Let's get on with it, then!
Carson Palmer: Make no mistake: Carson Palmer is the primary reason the Raiders won this game. Whether it was with accurate throws, great audibles at the right times, (McFadden's 64 touchdown run) or simply keeping the offense on track and on the field, Palmer was on fire all game long.
24 of 34 for 209 yards doesn't seem like a "man on fire," but when you consider he also threw for three touchdowns and only one interception, (which clearly wasn't his fault, as the intended receiver, Denarius Moore fell down on the play) and it's clear that Palmer did everything required to help the Raiders win.
All the "Palmer haters" that have been calling for him to be benched in favor Terrelle Pryor should watch Palmer's demeanor and performance in this game...then reconsider their point of view!
Darren McFadden: There is still some trepidation as to whether or not the zone blocking scheme can work in Oakland with the personnel currently on the team. Nonetheless, McFadden proved that he can be successful in any system if given the chance by breaking a 64 yard run on a stretch run off the right side.
The rest of the day, McFadden had 17 carries for 49 yards. That is an average of just 2.8 yards per carry, which isn't tearing things up by any means. That said, McFadden wasn't successful because the scheme is working better or the play calling is getting better; he's getting better because of his individual desire not to fail!
The big run play doesn't appear to have been called by Greg Knapp from the sideline, but rather audibled into by Carson Palmer at the line of scrimmage. Outside of that one, big run, McFadden just flat out refused to go down on any other plays.
This is what accounted for McFadden's improved success; sheer determination and will, rather than scheme or play calling.
Brandon Myers: There was a lot of worry about the Raiders' starting tight end position to begin the year. Many in Raider Nation wanted the team to go get a high-priced, prima-donna player like Kellen Winslow jr. or Chris Cooley. Some Raiders' fans, (like this writer) called for people to just give this guy a chance. He got that chance and has run with it.
Myers had four catches for 55 yards on four targets Sunday. This is good, but when you consider that he also got a key kick-out block that sprung McFadden on his big run, as well as keeping the safeties honest in the middle of the field all day long, Myers had a lot to do with this win.
So far this year, Myers has been targeted 15 times and has made the reception every time. It's clear that Myers is taking his first ever chance at being "the guy" at tight end and making the most of it.
Matt Shaughnessy: While it's true Shaughnessy didn't show on the stat sheet, he played outstanding on the edge of the defense. Watch the replay and you'll see Shaughnessy standing up his man and holding the edge against the run all day long.
On one particular play, Shaughnessy beat his man fair and square and applied almost immediate pressure on Ben Roethlisberger. This forced "Big Ben" into attempting to "do what he does" and extend the play. The only problem for Ben? Shaughnessy flushed the Steelers' quarterback right into the waiting arms of Richard Seymour and Lamarr Houston for the only Raiders' sack of the day.
There was no room for the Steelers' running backs on Shaughnessy's side and he was solid all game long.
Philip Wheeler: "Beast." "Animal." "Stud." Whatever you choose to call Wheeler, he is flying to the ball and making plays. In this game, he earned 11 tackles, (7 solo, 4 assisted) forced two fumbles and even knocked down a few passes.
The turnovers he was a part of allowed the Raiders to remain in the game...and win it!
This could be the best free agent acquisition of any team in the league, (that's right, even better that "that guy" in Denver!). Wheeler has brought an entirely new level of intensity and fundamental play to the Raiders' linebacking corps.
Anyone who wants to say that cutting Kamerion Wimbley in favor of Wheeler was a step backward has no clue what they're talking about. Wimbley is a great pass-rusher...nothing more. Wheeler is a great linebacker, period!
Most coaches would take the latter of the two.
Michael Huff: While it's true that Huff wasn't spectacular, he was doing something that few players can do; playing a "new" position with only one week of practice. Yes, Huff played cornerback in college, but that was more than seven years ago and he's been playing safety since then.
With the injuries to Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer, Huff was asked to move from his normal free safety spot to the starting cornerback position. Don't think for one second this is an easy transition for any player.
More often we hear of cornerbacks moving to safety, rather than the other way around. The view of the game, the responsibilities and techniques of cornerback are entirely different than safety.
The fact that Pittsburgh completed a lot of passes underneath is irrelevant; it was part of Jason Tarver's scheme for the game. He respected the speed and explosiveness of the Steelers' receivers and wanted to keep everything in front of his defense. It worked well as the Steelers didn't get any big "catch and run" plays that broke the Raiders' backs.
What Huff was asked to do is extremely difficult and he did it very well. He deserves credit for stepping up!
- The entire offensive line: Palmer had a clean pocket and time to work most of the day.
- Derek Hagan: Provided reliable play in place of the injured DHB. Clearly never should have been cut by Hue Jackson!
- Rod Streater: Took a huge hit, got poked in the eye, but held onto the ball. This rookie is coming into his own.
- Pat Lee: Forced into action and played very well...even forced the game-changing fumble.
- Desmond Bryant: Played very well in relief of Seymour and forced a Jonathan Dwyer fumble.
- Joselio Hanson: With the team just a month, but was always in position to make plays...including recovering a critical fumble.
Side note: If any group deserves to be called out for bad performances, it's the replacement officials. There were missed calls all over the place! Raider Nation knows that when announcer, and Legendary Raider-Hater, Dan Fouts is defending the Raiders, it MUST be bad!
There was no flag on the hit that sent DHB to the hospital, and there should have been. The NFL has to get back to the negotiating table and come to an agreement with the real NFL officials...before a player gets killed. It almost happened to DHB today.
The Raiders even benefitted somewhat from the poor officiating when right tackle Willie Smith should have been called on an illegal chop block that sent Steelers' defensive end, Ziggy Hood to the training room.
Are you listening, Roger Goodell? Do you even care that these guys are destroying the integrity of the league and ruining all the progress you've made in player saftey? Is it about money, or player safety?
Make it happen, Roger!
Closing: Football is a team game and this was a true team win for the Raiders. Every player that saw the field could easily be on this list. Of course there were mistakes, but none that really cost the Raiders. It's clear general manager Reggie McKenzie is bringing in the right type of players with the right mindset and work ethic.
This team is getting better each week, regardless of what "Hater-Nation" has to say!
Dennis Allen deserves a lot of credit for lowering the penalties as well.
The fans...the fans were loud, proud and ROWDY as they are known for being. This eliminated the Steelers being able to audible and never allowed them to get comfortable. Pat yourselves on the back, Raider Nation!
Now it's time to focus on the Denver Broncos and prepare to travel to the Mile High City to take on "that guy" the media likes to keep talking about...even though he's sitting with the same record as Carson Palmer...and has a lower passer rating, (85.6 to 89.3).
The Broncos will be a challenge, but if the Raiders play like they did on Sunday, they have more than a chance, they have a legitimate opportunity to move to 2-2.
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