Oakland Raiders v Atlanta Falcons - Studs & Duds
David Wilson – Oct 15, 2012
Oakland played with energy and belief and came within spitting distance of a win they had no business getting anywhere near. Travelling to the east coast is always difficult, especially against an unbeaten team. Though this game will go down as a loss, there are a lot of positives to take from it for the Raiders.
So who are the studs and duds of week six?
Michael Huff CB – I don’t think anyone gave Michael Huff a prayer covering Julio Jones or Roddy White, and every fantasy football owner had Matt Ryan in their team against the Raiders. Despite giving up a catch early, Huff kept his man in check most of the day, and had a tremendous first quarter interception. He covered well, and had a further two passes defended. If Huff can play corner like this with any consistency, then he might not be moving back to safety…ever.
Mike Goodson RB –Goodson carried the ball four times for 59 yards, including a 43 yard burst, and caught one pass for 37 yards. It is clear that he is a better fit for the zone blocking system that Darren McFadden, and he continues to average more yards per carry. Despite a very shaky pre season, Goodson is showing his worth, and trading for him in exchange for offensive lineman Bruce Campbell now looks like a great move by Reggie.
Miles Burris LB – I don’t know who counts tackles for the NFL in the Georgia Dome, but they are missing some. Burris was credited with two tackles and two assists, but I had him with a total of seven (4 solo, 3 assists). He made one of the crucial defensive plays of the day on second and goal from the two yard line, when he got off the block of Falcons tackle Sam Baker and stopped Michael Turner at the one on what looked like a sure touchdown. He continues to show an impressive ability to shed blocks and make the tackle, even against offensive linemen.
It was noticeable that Burris now plays with Philip Wheeler as the second linebacker in the nickel package, replacing Rolando McClain who is now relegated to a two down player. Not bad for a fourth round pick.
Philip Wheeler LB – Still the best player on this Raider defense, and I put him on the studs list despite giving up an obvious defensive holding penalty on a third and log in the second half against Tony Gonzalez. Wheeler made up for it on the next play with a blinding A gap blitz, hitting Ryan as he threw and causing the third interception of the day. He also had another hit on Ryan when blitzing, and was strong in the run game. Eight solo tackles and two assists led the team on the day.
Denarius Moore WR – Clearly the Raiders best receiver in every aspect of the game and a real playmaker. He turned a short gainer into a 25 yard touchdown, and caught a 49 yard pass from palmer that was all the way through the air. Despite being well covered, Moore again showed his trademark ability to track the deep ball through the air and the hands to bring it in when under pressure. Five receptions for 104 yards and a score gets you on the studs list.
Joselio Hanson CB – Like Michael Huff, Hanson played well in coverage and had an interception. He also had a pass defended and looked like an NFL cornerback. He sniffed out and disrupted two screen passes, and put in a creditable defensive effort.
Jason Tarver DC – Given what he had to work with, Tarver came up with a good game plan. He kept Matt Ryan guessing, and mixed his coverages well leading to three interceptions. The front seven kept their gap discipline, and as a unit gave up only 45 yards rushing on 15 attempts. A third of that was on one scramble by Ryan. To keep the Falcons to 13 points in their own back yard (the rest came off turnovers), and to make an impressive goal line stand showed a huge improvement in this defense since the bye week. Giving up soft zone coverage and rushing three was a mistake on the Falcons final drive, but this was a massively improved performance.
Honorable mention – I can’t bring myself to crucify Carson Palmer for the one bad ball that cost in the end cost the Raiders the game, because he played well on just about every other play apart from that. He even brought the team straight back down the field on the next drive to tie the game, showing that good quarterbacks have short memories. He was blindsided on the fumble, and that one is on his left tackle. Once again, his arm was all the offense Oakland had.
I love the effort from Darren McFadden. He had a lost fumble and no big plays in a rather pedestrian day for him, but he never stopped giving his all. On Carson Palmer’s fumble he made a touchdown saving tackle at the two yard line through sheer desire and hustle. The Falcons knocked him around badly, but he always came back for more. Matt Shaughnessy made two impressive tackles behind the line of scrimmage in the run game, and got himself on the sack sheet once again.
Willie Smith T – He gave up a sack, numerous pressures, and got called for holding twice in the most obvious of circumstances. I say again that I feel sorry for Smith, as he is clearly jusy not up to the job he is being asked to do. In pass defense he gives up pressure just everywhere. The inside move, the edge rush, and the bull rush. At least if you know where a lineman is going to give up pressure you can allow for it to an extent. With Smith it’s just a lottery.
Alex Parsons G – Although he had some good plays in the running game, Parsons gave up two sacks of Carson Palmer when he just got plain beaten by his man. Not good enough. I’m not a fan of Mike Brisiel, but Parsons is clearly not the answer either.
Greg Knapp OC- I don’t know how many people have to say this to Gregg Knapp time after time, but he has to start running some plays that suit his star player. McFadden was swarmed under on stretch plays again and again, and I don’t know why Knapp keeps doing it to him. Albert Einstein once said that hell is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. That’s what Gregg Knapp is, hell in the running game for the Oakland Raiders offense.
Darrius Heyward Bey WR – Nice run on the end around for 20 yards, but Heyward Bey gets paid to catch the football, and he didn’t do that all day when other receivers were productive. A bigger and better contribution is needed.
There were far more positives than negatives in this game, and the Raiders and Dennis Allen can take a lot from it. With a little luck it could easily have been a victory. But good teams find ways to win games, and that is what the Falcons did on Sunday.
The Raiders need to learn how to do it too.
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