Oakland Raiders Handle KC Chiefs 26-16: Accountability Tracker
John Doublin – Oct 29, 2012
The Oakland Raiders did what they had to do; they traveled into enemy territory and took care of business by defeating the struggling Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead stadium.
Things didn't get off to a great start, as Carson Palmer threw a deep pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey on the first play from scrimmage and former Raider, Stanford Routt, out-fought Heyward-Bey and intercepted the pass. DHB would make amends later in the game, but it was a bad omen to begin the game.
The Chiefs did nothing with that stolen possession as the Raiders' defense rose to the occasion and forced the Chiefs to punt. This was a theme that held true for most of the game. The Raiders' defense imposed their will, and Chiefs didn't get into the endzone until garbage time.
Although it was a solid win, it wasn't what most would call a "complete game." There were several things that cropped up in the course of this game that Oakland still needs to improve upon. There were at least five dropped passes by Raiders' receivers, and Oakland's offense wasn't very good on 3rd down.
So, who is most responsible for the Raiders win? Who are the players who contributed most?
Let's give credit where credit is due:
Carson Palmer: 14 for 28, 209 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Once again, the Raiders' quarterback did enough to win. He had the one interception on the first play, but that could have been avoided by DHB simply going up for the ball. Palmer did a nice job shaking off that early mistake and went on to have a decent day.
It wasn't his stats that stood out, but rather, it was his leadership. Palmer kept the offense on schedule by completing passes, checking into the correct plays at the line of scrimmage, and once again, running the no-huddle offense to near perfection.
All the Palmer-haters have nothing to complain about!
Darren McFadden: 29 Att. for 114 yds-4 Rec. for 23 yds.
FINALLY! It looks as though the zone blocking scheme is beginning to make sense to McFadden and he's beginning to see the holes and cutback lanes. This manifested in his best, most complete game of the season thus far.
D-mac also did the one thing he doesn't get credit for: Pass protect. There were several plays in which McFadden throwing a block for Palmer was the difference between getting a first down, or getting sacked.
D-mac is beginning to get comfortable in this new scheme, and hopefully his production will continue to improve.
Brandon Myers: 3 Rec. for 49 yds.
As the 2012 season approached, many in Raider Nation called for Reggie McKenzie to go after a high-profile, high-priced, big-name tight end, like Jeremy Shockey or Chris Cooley. One writer, (this writer) stuck by Myers and believed he could be "the man." This proved to be accurate.
Myers' contribution to the win on Sunday goes beyond the stat sheet. He did a nice job in the run game, getting his blocks at the point of attack and sealing the backside to allow McFadden to get to the cutback lanes.
All Myers does is remain consistent and come through in the clutch when called upon. This bodes well for the Raiders the rest of the season.
The Offensive line: 135 rush yds, 0 sacks
It's hard to imagine that this is the same front five that played so weakly against the Jaguars last week. The "big uglies" finally looked like they understood their assignments in the zone scheme and did a fantastic job keeping what is perhaps the best pass rushing tandem in the AFC, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, away from Palmer and off the stat sheet.
This is a game the coaching staff needs to queue up to show how things are supposed to work up front.
The Linebackers: Combined for 22 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble.
For the first time in a long time, the Raiders are getting their tackles from the position their supposed to—the linebackers. The days of safeties and cornerbacks leading the team in tackles seem to be over. This is good news because it means that most of the stops are happening closer to the line of scrimmage.
Phillip Wheeler led the team with 11 solo tackles and a sack, Miles Burris chipped in with seven solo tackles and even the much-maligned Rolando McClain added four solo tackles and a sack/fumble.
This may be the most improved squad on the entire team. Linebacker coach, Johnny Holland and defensive coordinator, Jason Tarver deserve a lot of credit for resurrecting this unit.
Monte Johnson, Phil Villapiano and Ted Hendricks would be proud!
The Defensive line: There's no stat for causing havoc!
Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, Lamarr Houston, Matt Shaughnessy, Desmond Bryant, Christo Bilukidi, Dave Tollefson and Jack Crawford all played extremely well, despite accounting for just five tackles and one sack as a unit.
Seymour and Houston in particular were constantly in the back field, forcing early throws from Cassel and Quinn, flushing them off their spot, and not allowing them to set their feet. They front four rotation also kept Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs' runningbacks hemmed in most of the day, not allowing big runs and soaking up blocks to allow the Linebackers to fly to the ball and make plays.
When your opponents' leading rusher is their quarterback, it means you're getting to him and forcing him to run, and your not allowing their rushing attack to take hold and help them. That's all you need from a defensive front, and that's exactly what the Raiders' defensive line did.
Jason Tarver: 3 for 13 on 3rd down, less than 300 total yards allowed, 7 tackles for loss, 3 turnovers
The woes of the Raiders' secondary were still evident in some cases, but overall, the Raiders didn't allow anything behind them, they applied pressure, stopped the run and a lot of that success was directly due to play calling.
Tarver had a solid plan for the Chiefs, he clearly prepared the team well and had them buying in and executing. There were more blitzes called than Raider fans have seen in a long time. However, these weren't the ineffective blitzes witnessed under Chuck Bresnahan and John Marshall...these blitzes actually worked.
The improvement of the defense is obvious and it's only getting better under Tarver.
Dennis Allen: 2 penalties for 20 yards, and win is a win!
After the debacle that was the first half against Jacksonville, the Raiders needed to be fired up and ready to play from the start in Kansas City. And ready they were. Allen had them foaming at the mouth from the kickoff to the final gun.
The clock management, the disorganization, the communication issues of last week seemed repaired, and the overall fire and passion of the team were all restored as the Raiders came in to enemy territory ready to go.
The mini-penalty run was fixed as well. Oakland committed just two penalties for 20 yards. That's great, but in a heated rivalry like Raiders/Chiefs, that's downright amazing!
Honorable mentions: It takes a whole team to win in the NFL.
Pat Lee, Michael Huff, Tyvon Branch and the whole secondary played pretty well. They managed two interceptions, including an amazing play from Pat Lee.
The special teams kept a good return team in the Chiefs in check and didn't give up anything big. They also forced a great turnover and Oakland won the field position battle.
Some things to clean up:
The Wide Receivers: 7 Rec. for 132 yds, 2 TDs, FIVE DROPS!
Yes, Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey had good days on the stat sheet and made spectacular plays to score, but they also had some pretty obvious mistakes. DHB dropped an easy first down, Moore dropped a touchdown that hit him right in the hands.
The other receivers had problems too. Derek Hagan dropped a ball that would have set Oakland up with a first and goal, Rod Streater dropped an easy first down and Juron Criner lost sight of where he was on the field and caught a pass out of bounds.
These little things don't seem like much, but they must be fixed for the Raiders' offense to be truly effective.
2 of 12 on 3rd down: You gotta stay on the field.
Some of this is due to play calling, some due to miscommunication, some is just poor execution. Whatever it is, it has to be remedied.
The Raiders' offense has to stay on the field as much as possible to keep the defense resting and effective. The Raiders' managed to win this game, despite losing the time of possession battle. Against better teams, this issue will become much more important.
1 of 6 in the Redzone: You gotta score when you get that close.
Six trips inside the Chiefs' 20 yard line, only one touchdown and four field goals was good enough against the Chiefs, but it simply won't do against better teams.
While it's true there were some execution issues and dropped passes, it's also true the play calling was suspect and there doesn't seem to be any one thing the Raiders do well that close to the endzone.
Use your weapons—ALL of them!
Marcel Reece and David Ausberry are match-up nightmares for defenses, and they weren't even targeted in the offense...at all! This is just ridiculous when you watch film of what they do with the ball when they get it.
The only time Reece was seen was in pass protection, which isn't even his strength...he should be getting screens and inside handoffs. David Ausberry saw some time...on special teams only. How is that possible for a 6'4", 260 pound tight end that runs a sub 4.5 40 yard dash?
The more people you involve, the harder it is to game plan against you. Words offensive coordinator Greg Knapp should learn and act upon.
Closing: Six straight at Arrowhead!
In the end, this game wasn't really ever in doubt. The things the Raiders didn't do well didn't hurt them, and the things they did right won the game. There was a lot more energy and passion from the start. They didn't wait until the second half to wake up, and it won them the game.
A lot of credit needs to go to Dennis Allen, Jason Tarver and the men in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Palmer and McFadden had solid outings due to the much-improved offensive line play; the linebackers had a monster day due to the defensive line being dominant and absorbing blocks, keeping the linebackers clean.
Now sitting at 3-4, the Raiders find themselves just one game out of the AFC West lead. There are still nine games to play and anything can happen. If the Raiders can continue the solid defense, keep improving the running game, dominate the line of scrimmage and avoid beating themselves and playing with fire from the start, the playoffs, even a division title, are not out of the realm of possibility.
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