“In Depth Look @ the Final Grades: Oakland Raiders v.s. the Cincinnati Bengals; What Wen’t Wrong?”.

derek-carr-hand

Final Oakland Raider Grades v.s. Cincinnati Bengals; Week 1

(1-0)  Cincinnati Bengals  33

(0-1)  Oakland Raiders  13

The excitement in Oakland was high with anticipation, and a start to a new era in Raider football was hoped for.   Unfortunately for Raider fans the only bright spot of the day was the tribute at half time to the great Ken Stabler.   I warned Raider fans talking a 10 and 11 win season, that there was still a lot of work to do, but it’s hard to rain on people’s parades. For a team with so much hope, this was a huge setback and is more than just one loss.   I complained about the pass rush all off season and there was so little pressure on Andy Dalton that is was like pitch and catch all day for the Bengals.

Quarterback:

Matt McGloin and Derek Carr combined to AVERAGE an atrocious 4.7 yards per completion in their passing game.   Absolutely NO downfield passing game.   The quarterback ratings for both were 29% and 34% respectively.

The Raiders need to start realizing the strengths and limitations of Derek Carr. His strengths are throwing on the run, throwing outside the pocket, leadership, and a rocket arm. You can’t teach 2 things though; pocket awareness and accuracy; Carr struggles with both. He’s just not an accurate QB in the pocket. His throws sailed over open WR and on the first throw; an easy slant; he threw somewhat behind new WR Amari Cooper who dropped it. He also has happy feet in the pocket. This isn’t going to change any time soon. As I have been saying Carr will never be a great QB but he has a chance to be a good one. If he is going to be a good one though, he has to start improving soon.

Carr had 2 nice throws on the run outside the pocket which is his strength. He left in the second quarter with a hand injury. His X-Rays were negative but he still may miss time.

The Matt McGloin fan club was silenced when McGloin was awful in replacing him. When the Bengals had gone to a prevent defense with some backups late in the game McGloin helped put 13 points on the board but it was way too little and too late. One of the worst QB performances by the Raiders in a long time by both QB’s.

GRADE:  D

The first half was hard to watch and Carr was awful and McGloin; until the end when the Bengals called the dogs off; was just as bad.

Running Backs: 

The ground game wasn’t much of a factor. Until teams respect the passing game, the Raiders running game will struggle with so many teams concentrating on the running game.  I did like the Raiders running backs being a part of the passing game.

Marcel Reece got NO carries but did catch a few passes.

Grade:  C

Until the passing game is fixed, the running game will struggle.

Offensive Line: 

The OL was a mess at times. Newly signed Rodney Hudson struggled with a penalty and mistakes and had a bad game.   Austin Howard and Khalif Barnes struggled as well. They just weren’t on the same page all day.

Grade:  D

A very disappointing game for the OL. I think this group will play better than this in the future though.

Wide Receivers: 

The Raiders wide receivers were not a factor in the game due to drops and a lack of a deep passing game.  Amari Cooper dropped the first past of the game which was catchable. It seemed like the game went downhill from there. The Raiders radio announcing team was losing their mind at the play of Seth Roberts who was so in over his head and should not have been the #3 WR.  Brice Butler was missed in a very huge way.

GRADE:  D

A forgettable game with few bright spots. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree had their moments late but with bad quarterback play it’s hard to get too excited about the passing game.

Defensive Line:

I warned people about the lack of pass rush all off season long and now people are waking up. Khalil Mack had a quiet game with 3 solo tackles and no sacks. As a team the Raiders started where they left off last year; 0 sacks.

Once Aldon Smith plays every down, the true importance of his signing will be felt. He needs to get into football shape and that will take a couple of weeks. He looked tired and it’s hard for a player like him to get his rhythm playing 20 plays. With him playing every down the Raiders pass rush will be better but they need solid DL play.

Justin Ellis 1st quarter injury really hurt the defense and they struggled the rest of the game. Mario Edwards is not the answer.   When he played he was invisible.   The Raiders put little pressure on the QB all day and couldn’t stop the run at times. Better days are ahead hopefully with Aldon Smith playing more.

Grade:  D

The pass rush was non existent and the Raiders recorded no sacks on the day. Andy Dalton isn’t exactly John Elway so giving an average quarterback a lot of time is a disaster waiting to happen. Dan Williams and Justin Tuck played well at times but it seemed they were not getting much help. Khalil Mack was a non factor which was disappointing. With injuries early to Curtis Lofton and Nate Allen, the defense struggled.

Linebackers:

The injuries to Curtis Lofton, Justin Ellis and Nate Allen early killed the run defense. Malcolm Smith is not a starter; he is not good against the run and there were times where he was very out of position. Ray Ray Armstrong missed key tackles including one for a rushing touchdown.   I question him being a viable option as a starter. Ben Heeney came in for spells but he’s not a starting LB. The Raiders LB’s struggled all day with poor tackling and being out of position.

Grade D

Rough game for this unit where much was being expected. The injury to Lofton really set the tone for a somber day.

Defensive Backs:

“They are literally throwing at DJ Hayden every play and the Bengals can do pretty much whatever they want right now”.

Tom Flores

Without a pass rush this group is toast. I said it on draft day years ago and I’ll say it now. D.J. Hayden is not a starting NFL corner. He’s a great athlete and a good guy but it’s just reality.   If Andy Dalton was accurate A.J. Green would have had 2 TD’s and another long pass against him. He was overmatched with whoever he was guarding all game.

T.J. Carrie struggled at times but he did have a couple of good deflections and covers. Not a great performance but at times not bad. The Safeties struggled all game covering TE Tyler Eifert who was dominating. Charles Woodsen was injured and had to leave and the Safeties were making too many tackles out there.  Nate Allen’s early injury was a big blow.

Grade D- 

Without a pass rush, the DB’s are in shark infested waters. It was difficult to watch how easy they were shredded. The Raiders have to help these guys out with a pass rush because they just are overmatched right now.  Injuries to Woodsen and Allen was a nightmare to watch.

Coaching:

The coaching staff from the get go was overwhelmed. I still don’t get why the Raiders are going no huddle when for years they have not shown they are a good passing team that can sustain drives. Tom Brady can do no huddle; Derek Carr and the Raiders can’t.

To go for it on 4th down after Carr’s injury was a ridiculously desperate call. Your quarterback goes down and the opponent knows without warm-ups that you are going to run off tackle which they did. After they were stopped the flood gates opened.

As I said the Bill Musgrave hire was a bad one IMHO. In 15 years expecting all of a sudden for him to be a dynamic play caller is naive at best. Why not a first down play action bomb to cooper to loosen things up? And AGAIN; just like last year; the Raiders empty the backfield twice on short yardage situations telling the Bengals that on 3rd and short they are going to pass. How hard is it to leave Murray in the backfield and do a play action pass instead of taking away the run and limiting your options? Ridiculous.

How in the world is Seth Roberts playing?  Roberts dropped several passes and on 3rd and short he ran a route for no yards. I thought the Raiders radio crew was going to lose it. He’s not a #3 WR right now and that is on the coaching staff who should not be playing him.

Grade D-

The best coaching move Jack Del Rio did all day was having his family beside him during the post game press conference so the sports writers would be a little bit softer on him as normal.   These press conferences are more predictable than lip synching at a Miley Cyrus concert.

The offense again was 5 yards or less in the passing game with conservative routes and play calls.   Does anyone else feel like this is the twilight zone? What good is it to have a strong armed QB and a fast WR who can stretch the field when you are throwing passes that are 5 yards or less?

Special Teams:

Marquette King had a bad first half but he will bounce back. Sebastian Janikowski wasn’t a factor. Taiwan Jones had 2 nice kickoff returns and he seems to be getting it.

Grade C+

The special teams really weren’t much of a factor.

Next Opponent:  Baltimore Ravens (0-1; last game, loss @ the Denver Broncos 19-13)

Looking @ the Raven’s:

The Raven’s have mostly dominated the Raiders in their young history. Last week at Denver, the Bronco’s DL was in Joe Flacco’s face a lot. Flacco was atrocious and struggled. Baltimore’s running game also was not very good running for only 73 total yards. Obviously Denver has a good defense but the Raven’s offense looked bad. The Raiders have to put pressure on the QB and make the Raven’s predictable. This is going to be a really rough game for the Raiders to win.

Outlook:

Even though I was called a hater by some, I told people I could see this a mile away. Until you do it on the field, hype is just that. Carr can be good but he doesn’t have the accuracy or pocket awareness to be a great quarterback. Matt McGloin isn’t the answer in any way.

The play calling was predictable and they HAVE TO get the tight ends involved especially in the red zone.

When Aldon Smith plays every play he will have much more of an impact on the game than he did. It was a good signing and in time should be a really good addition.

Better days are ahead but I hope all the talk of Super Bowls, a 10 or 11 win season and domination are now stopped. The Raiders still have holes on their team even with the improvement in their roster. You have to walk before you can run.  No game is a for sure win and there is much work ahead.

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