6 Raiders who leveled up in week 3
Dr. Nick Chicoine – Sep 26, 2012
Just when I think you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this…. AND TOTALLY REDEEM YOURSELF!
Ok so maybe not “totally” but it sure as hell beats last week. The Oakland Raiders bounced back after an embarrassing loss to the Miami Dolphins by executing one of the most entertaining comebacks I’ve seen in recent history. I envy the ticket holders who were able to view this one first hand, because it had a little bit of everything.
This game had all the ingredients for an instant Raider’s classic. Sure it’s only week 3, but I haven’t been this excited watching the Raiders since they beat the Texans. Just look at the story lines.
1) Controversial Torch lighting by Marcus Allen
2) McFadden finally broke one loose
3) Palmer executed the offense to near perfection
4) There was a controversial (illegal) hit that sent DHB to the ground, and later to the hospital.
5) The Defense finally created turnovers
6) Seabass sealed the deal.
Out of all the great things to take from this game, there are a few Raiders that stood out to me personally. These are 6 Oakland Raiders who leveled up their game.
Gregg Knapp: Raider Nation has been calling for offensive coordinator Greg Knapp’s head since week one. Knapp finally was able to improve his offense against a traditionally stout defense. I thought Knapp’s Red Zone play calling was particularly impressive as well as his 3rd down play calls. The touchdown pass to DHB, and Richard Gordon were set up beautifully, and alls Palmer had to do was get it there. On the game winning drive he called for an underneath route to Derek Hagan on third down which was wide open and set up the game winning field goal. If Greg Knapp continues to call plays as well as he did this week, then he has my patience.
The Tight Ends: Never before have three players, with three very different skill sets at one position, all see 1st team reps. David Ausberry is the athlete, Richard Gordon is the blocker, and Brandon Myers is a balance of the two. Myers has made Kevin Boss and Zack Miller nothing more than faded memories by catching all 15 balls thrown his way this season. David Ausberry is bigger and stronger this year, and his bionic stiff arms have been a tribute to that. I’m not sure what this talented unit will become, but Myers and Ausberry need the ball more! I’m excited to witness the development of this group.
Dennis Allen: It will be a couple of seasons before “Hue Jackson” stops being uttered around Raider Nation. One thing I enjoyed about Hue Jackson was his risk taking. Allen made his first real “risky” play call when he opted for an onside kick. Sure the play ultimately backfired, but I loved the assertiveness none the less. Dennis Allen will get more and more comfortable as the season progresses, but calling for an onside kick shows he has balls, and they are growing. (metaphorically, not litereally).
Disclaimer: If you or your loved one’s testicles are growing please seek medical attention :)
....and oh yeah, did you hear Oakland is ranked 3rd in penalties?
Carson Palmer: Palmer was acquired in a trade that was dubbed “The greatest trade in history” by former head coach Hue Jackson. Palmer has always shown flashes of brilliance; however it has frequently been overshadowed by sprinkles of idiocy. Palmer was able to extend drives on third down, and finish in the Red Zone while taking care of the ball. Palmer leveled up his mental toughness by beating the Steelers in a shoot out. According to Josh Dubow of stats inc. Palmer is 0 for 9 on passes over 21 yards. This proves his accuracy has improved, however Palmer’s next level up will come when he starts getting a little more comfortable throwing the deep ball.
Willie Smith: At 6' 6", 310 lbs Willie Smith stepped in for injured Khalif Barnes. Last season with the Giants, Smith started against elite pass rushers Jason Pierre-Paul, Jared Allen, Trent Cole, and practiced daily against Brian Orakpo . I don’t know how good Willie Smith can be, but I do know our running game looked worse with Barnes lining up on the right. That said, I’ve never been completely sold on Barnes. Willie Smith levels up by showing he at least earned his back-up role over Joseph Barksdale and looked good doing so. If he keeps this up he could earn a starting role.
Philip “The Predator” Wheeler: Ben Rothlisburger torched the Raiders secondary on Sunday. The man who stepped up to make plays and save the defense was Philip Wheeler by recording 11 tackles, a forced fumble, and a crucial 3rd down pass break up. Wheeler with his “Predator” locks can often be found wherever the ball is. Wheeler plays at full speed every down, and although he typically brings “it” every game, had he not brought it against the Steelers, Oakland would not have won. Wheeler is quickly becoming a household name in the Raider Nation, and like the Predator… no one saw him coming.
Honerable Mention: Michael Huff for playing a different position, and Desmond Bryant for his forced fumble.
The Oakland Raiders beat the Pittsburg Steelers without Troy Polamalu and James Harrison, so naturally all the haters will use that as a major reason for Carson Palmers offensive success. That said, Oakland was missing 2 starting corners, 1 starting line backer, 1 starting wide receiver, and had a safety playing cornerback…. Enough said. Dennis Allen may have received one of his first grey hairs on Sunday, but at the expense of a convincing win against a more than worthy adversary. In order to capitalize on this victory Oakland must bring this momentum into the bye week by getting a victory in Denver.
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