“Final Oakland Raider Grades v.s. Arizona Cardinals; Week 7:”

SJM-RAIDERS-1013

Arizona Cardinals  24 (5-1)

Oakland Raiders  13 (0-6)

Quarterback:

Derek Carr had a so so game missing on a few passes that he should have hit.  He also had a couple of drops that hurt.  He was unable to hit many long passes as he did against San Diego.  His weakness in college was handling a pass rush and he had mixed reviews with the blitz happy Cardinals.  He was 16-28 for 173 yards and no TD’s or interceptions.  Arizona is near last in passing defense so this was disappointing.  I HATE the Raiders routes.  The middle so often is wide open and they don’t utilize it.  They have to get the tight end involved to help out Carr.

GRADE:  C+

Carr seemed reluctant to go down deep and when he did he either missed or the Raiders weren’t open.

Running Backs: 

Again, another team that is making the Raiders throw the ball.  For much of the game Arizona had 7-8 men on the block daring Oakland to throw.  They took away the running game and the Raiders were unable to take advantage of this.  McFadden was banged up, and the Raiders didn’t have the injured Marcel Reece which hurt them.  Maurice Jones-Drew wasn’t a factor.

Grade C

Arizona’s game plan was to take away the run and they did.  Unfortunately the Raiders were unable to hurt the Cardinals with the pass, which was disappointing.  The Raiders running backs blocked fairly well picking up the blitzes.

Offensive Line: 

They had a lot to deal with today with Arizona doing everything to rush the passer and take away the run.  Arizona blitzed on almost every play and the line overall did well protecting Carr.  With Arizona crowding the line there wasn’t much of a chance to run.  The Raiders line gave up only 1 sack.  Overall not a great game but they also didn’t get much help from their teammates.

Grade C+

They did a good job picking up the blitzes but the Raiders just didn’t have the passing game to win.

Wide Receivers: 

Andre Holmes had his weekly drop which is frustrating because he has so much talent.  He has to concentrate.  Brice Butler had a long 55 yard catch that needs to happen more.  James Jones is Carr’s favorite receiver.  He had 8 targets but caught only 4 for 35 yards.  The Raiders really had chances to go deep and they have to spread the field like they did against San Diego.

GRADE:  B

They had a few more drops and that can’t happen.  Butler and Holmes are inconsistent and Carr threw to the tight end twice all game.  The Raiders have to go to the tight end and utilize the middle of the field with slants as well instead of just fly patterns and deep outs.  I really hated some of the routes today, and the game plan overall.

Defensive Line:

If you take out Khalil Mack out of the DL equation, they really are non existent.  Lamarr Woodley got his weekly 1 tackle and the leading tackler on the DL was Pat Sims with 2.  They are too easily blocked and just aren’t getting to the quarterback.  The Cardinals ran for 123 yards and during two drives, the Raiders literally could not stop the run.

Grade:  D+

The Raiders DL is just not a factor and this has to be fixed this off season.  The Raiders have 5 sacks all year.  Detroit leads the NFL with 20.

Linebackers:

The linebackers played their best game of the year.  Khalil Mack had his best game by far with 11 tackles and 3 for loss.  He still doesn’t have a sack in 6 games and that is troubling.  He got beat twice on passes as well but overall, a very encouraging game.  Sio Moore had a controversial penalty but he also had a good game with 5 tackles with one being for a loss.  Miles Burris had 5 tackles but missed big time on a couple of runs including a touchdown run.

Grade B-

This unit has struggled big time in the past but they are getting healthier and it shows.  Not a bad game and it’s good to see Mack finally making a difference.

Defensive Backs:

These poor guys are playing their hearts out.  They are on an island due to the terrible Raiders pass rush and they are trying to hold their own.  TJ Carrie has his good moments and he has potential.  Usama Young and Charles Woodsen are taking a beating on running plays and they are having  to make too many tackles in the run game.

Grade C+ 

The Raiders struggled at times getting off the field on 3rd down and it killed them.  Several times Carson Palmer hit key passes for first downs.  These guys are not going to last long physically having to make so many plays.  Even though he’s healthy DJ Hayden is not a factor which should tell you something.

Coaching:

Greg Olsen encouraged me last week, but this week it was same old song, different dance.  The Raiders have to start using the middle of the field and start using the running backs and tight ends more.  The offense is too wide receiver heavy.  There are some routes that show the wide receivers just running down the field and I really don’t get it.  Carr needs safety valves for help.

Greg Olsen seemed to go away from throwing deep against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL.  The Cardinals were next to last in pass defense but the Raiders could not exploit it.  Arizona is using 3rd stringers so they have to blitz but the Raiders still could not shore up their passing game.

On defense, the Raiders just don’t have a good defensive line and they had another 1 sack game.  There just isn’t much of a scheme that you can use when your defensive front isn’t good.  The Raiders are next to last in sacks in the NFL with only 5 all year and their DL is probably the worst in the NFL.

Grade C

I felt the Raiders were too conservative.  They have to throw deep, if just to keep the defense honest.  Do a no huddle when you get a couple of completions, especially playing against the Cardinals who have a thin defensive line.  The Raiders are limited talent wise on defense, and I didn’t expect them to win, but this was a little disappointing.

Special Teams:

Sebastian Janikowski must really hate Marquette King.  Whenever he misses, King catches flack.  Matt Schaub now holds for Janikowski.  He was 2 for 2 for field goals and hit a 53 yard kick.

TJ Carrie is a good return man.  You wonder if it’s smart having him return though.  He is taking a beating at times trying to stop the run as a defensive back and you wonder how long he can last.  He did have a bone head play that looked like a punt hit him but the refs ruled it didn’t.

Marquette King was solid as ever punting.  Not a great day but he was solid.

Grade B-

Special teams didn’t play a huge factor in this game but the Raiders did a good job.

Next Opponent:  @ Cleveland Browns (3-3; last game, loss @ Jacksonville Jaguars 24-6)

Outlook:

This week was one of those games that the Raiders needed to show their fans that they are really back on the right track.  Unfortunately this loss really makes the mood dark in Oakland; again.  The Raiders are now 53-129.

In their next 4 games the Raiders will play at Cleveland and at Seattle, and then come home to Denver before flying to San Diego.  Not many teams have a tougher stretch.

The weather will be a typical cool, fall day in Cleveland with no rain and temperatures in the 50’s.

The Browns are very inconsistent with big wins at home over the Saints and the Steelers but they’ve also lost big to Jacksonville on the road.  They are playing much better at home than they are on the road.

Brian Hoyer had a terrible game against Jacksonville and so did the defense which gave up 183 yards rushing.

Look for the Browns to play much better at home.  This is a game the Raiders have to win.  From this point on the Raiders play one team that has a losing record, and the rest are at least @ .500.  The Raiders will also have games in Kansas City and Denver in mid to late December respectively so cold weather is ahead; maybe snow.

The nightmare continues and another high pick will probably be seen by the Raiders.  Hopefully the NFL will show mercy and hide defensive backs NFL combine 40 times to help the Raiders pick a good 1st round draft pick.

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