Oakland Raiders Weekly Accountability Tracker: Week-6
John Doublin – Oct 17, 2012
The Oakland Raiders went to Atlanta, Georgia to take on the undefeated Falcons last Sunday. The game didn't end in a win for the Silver & Black, but they played a lot better than they have in previous weeks. The run game is improved, but not great. The pass rush showed up and the secondary was the best its been all season.
There were certainly a lot of positives to take from this tough loss. However, there were still too many mistakes made by the Raiders, and those mistakes prevented a win.
So, which players or coaches should shoulder the most accountability for this heart-breaking defeat?
Carson Palmer: It's really tough to put Palmer on this list, because other than one horrible throw, he actually played really well. For the most part, he was accurate and on time with his passes; he showed great leadership and moxie against a very good team.
Unfortunately, Palmer's one and only mistake was a back-breaker. On 3rd down and six, up by seven, in Falcons' territory, with less than three minutes to go, Palmer threw a ball well behind Denarius Moore that resulted in Assante Samuel stepping in front of it and taking it in for a defensive score.
Palmer did a nice job shaking that mistake off and leading the team to the tying score on the very next drive, but the damage was done. Had that ball been thrown better, it would have been a first down for the Raiders, or at worst, an incomplete pass. But...he didn't.
This article is intended to call players and coaches out to see if they acknowledge their mistakes and accept responsibility. Palmer has already done that in several post game interviews. He stepped up like a real leader is supposed to and threw himself under the bus for his mistake.
Good job, Carson.
Willie Smith: Smith was out-matched most of the day. Whether it was Ray Edwards, John Abraham or a linebacker, Smith was beaten consistently all day long.
Smith also committed several key penalties that resulted in big plays being called back, thus putting Oakland behind in down and distance. With the run game finally showing signs of life, Smith negating good plays due to mental mistakes is not helping the team.
Oakland needs to get Khalif Barnes back, or perhaps it's time to see if Lucas Nix or Tony Bergstrom can play tackle in the NFL. Either way...Smith isn't getting the job done.
Step up or step aside, Willie.
Dennis Alen: Allen did what he said he was going to do during the bye week. He got the pass rush, running game and secondary all playing better and the Raiders were better on third down on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, there is more to football than those four things.
The Raiders allowed penalties to shape the game once again. A problem Raider Nation thought was solved, came back to bite them. 12 penalties for 110 yards is not the discipline Allen promised.
There was a decision that left many shaking their heads as well.
Early in the game, Allen elected to punt from the 40 yard line. With the leg of Sebastian Janikowski on the team, why not try the 57 yard field goal? It's well within his range, so let the best kicker in the league do what you're paying him to do.
It doesn't seem like much, but ultimately, Oakland didn't get any points from that drive and the Falcons started from the 20 and scored...so, what's the difference between letting them start at the 20 or the 40? Nothing, but the fact that Oakland would have had a shot at three points.
When you consider the Raiders only lost by three, that's big.
Improvements are being made, but there is still a long way for Allen to go.
Keep improving, Dennis...but you need to put it all together at the same time.
Jason Tarver: Tarver called a pretty good game most of the day. The pass rush was much better and the secondary was greatly improved. But, there are a couple things to consider.
Not once...all day long, did the Raiders' cornerbacks jam the Falcons' receivers at the line of scrimmage. Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzales were allowed free releases all day. This did nothing to disrupt their timing or route running.
Not wanting to get beat deep is one thing, but to allow receivers take off unabated isn't going to stop many teams.
On the final drive of the game, Tarver once again had the secondary playing extremely soft. Again, no jams at the line, almost no pass rush, just the same, exact scheme that has allowed teams to pass the ball at will all day long.
That last drive looked an awful lot like the entire Broncos' game in which Peyton Manning and his receivers were able to pick and choose, marching down field with almost no resistance whatsoever.
Even though the Raiders are terribly thin at defensive back, Tarver can't be afraid to challenge receivers and be aggressive in their coverage. Hopefully, this will be rectified in coming weeks.
Sometimes the more aggressive call is actually the safest call, Jason.
Greg Knapp: The most common name mentioned in this series of articles!
First things first: Knapp started the game by calling a few power run plays that worked well. The progress he's been preaching to the media and fans in recent weeks was seen and he showed that he was willing to augment some power runs into his zone blocking scheme.
It worked well—until he decided to give up on it.
McFadden ran four power runs for about 26 yards in the first half. That's an average of nearly seven yards per carry. He still wasn't doing that well at the zone plays, but the power plays were making up for it. Then, for some unknown reason, Knapp stopped calling power plays in the second half and the run game sputtered once again.
It's clear that McFadden still isn't comfortable in the zone scheme, so why does Knapp insist on running it? Maybe it's because he sees Mike Goodson run the zone stretch plays so well, he thinks that any runningback can do it. That simply isn't true. Knapp showed Raider fans that he can call power plays, but he still refuses to use them consistently.
The Palmer interception brings up an interesting question.
On third down and six, inside three minutes, in a tie game, inside opponent territory, already in field goal range, why are you calling a pass play to begin with? The Raiders were in a position to burn some more clock, kick a field goal and take a three point lead with two minutes on the clock and all three timouts.
But rather than taking the (almost) guaranteed points to take a three point lead, Knapp chose instead to run a risky out route against one of the best off-man cornerbacks in the league. It was a risky call—a risk that didn't need to be, nor should have been, taken.
The next time Oakland finds themselves in that same position, run the ball, burn some clock, TAKE THE POINTS!
Come on, Greg!
Overall: Despite losing, this was, by far, the best game the Raiders have played this season. They showed some fire and intensity for the first time since the second half of the Steelers' game. There is much more room to improve, but it's clear the right steps are being taken.
The Raiders have a chance to go on a mini-streak in the next three weeks. Jacksonville, Kansas City and Tampa Bay are three games the Raiders could, AND SHOULD win. That would put them to 4-4 at the half-way mark of the season.
As long as they play as they did versus the Falcons, minus the mistakes, Oakland has a legitimate shot at being .500 and, at worst, just two games out of the division lead when they travel to Baltimore in Week-10.
More power runs and better, more "situational" play calling from the offense, a more aggressive defensive strategy and more discipline from the head coach, and the Raiders still have a realistic shot at the 2012 NFL Playoffs.
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