Final Oakland Raider Grades @ home v.s. Atlanta Falcons; Week 2:
Atlanta Falcons 35 (1-1)
Oakland Raiders 28 (1-1)
Whichever way you look at the Raiders loss to the Atlanta Falcons, this was a bad loss. The Raiders have a brutal schedule the last month and a half of the season so playing well in the first half of 2016 is a must. Let’s look at what happened.
Derek Carr had another good game. The Raiders averaged 6.6 yards per reception though; Matt Ryan averaged 11.6. For the second straight week the Raiders came out sluggish and struggled scoring in the first half. You’d think at home they would come out blazing but they didn’t. Just like with Julio Jones, teams are doing their best to take away the long ball to Cooper so Carr and the Raiders have to be patient. The slant to Cooper and Crabtree are there all day. Carr made a point to throw to the tight end Clive Walford and he had a nice game.
Carr made a mistake trying to heave the ball long. With teams trying to take away the deep bal he has to be patient. An interception was taken away due to pass interference which is getting annoying in college and pro ball. Too many PI’s. The Raiders are a little too conservative for my taste but overall the offense rolled against 2 bad defenses. The hopes are that will continue against better competition.
All off season fans were clamoring for a big trade at RB. They were wrong. The Raiders have a ton of talent at RB and I said that all summer. Jalen Richard and Deandre Washington hit the holes like rockets and Latavius Murray has obviously been motivated by his cut in playing time. They ran for 155 yards rushing on 6.2 yards per gain. Can’t get better than that.
Murray again was on the bench on key downs. On the 4th and 2 play, Richard took the handoff and not Murray. The Raiders finally get it and using all of their RB’s is the thing I hoped they’d do.
I literally cannot wait for the Denver Broncos DL to go against the Raiders OL. Will that be fun or what. Right now no offensive line is playing better. The Saints and Falcons were 2 of the worst defenses last year, but it still is a great sign. The Raiders will go as far as the health of the OL. That is the strength of the team. Carr has all day to throw.
Injuries are their main enemy.
I’ve said it a million times, most teams are now taking away the deep ball to Cooper. The Falcons had one of their safeties shadowing the side where Cooper was on at all times. We laughed on one third down, because one of the Falcons safeties was so far back it looked like he was receiving a punt. Overall another big day for the Raiders WR. Crabtree might be the best possession WR in the game and the slant to him is near unstoppable. How the Raiders drafted DHB over Michael Crabtree is just beyond me but I need to get over it. Andre Holmes made a great adjustment on the last Raiders TD. Clive Walford had a big day and that really opened up the offense.
The only blemish was Coopers mistake of going out of bounds. In the pro’s as long as it’s not an illegal push, the defender can push you out of bounds. Cooper said later he was unsure about the rule.
The Raiders do not have a pass rush. On many of the big plays for Atlanta, the Raiders blitzed but it was picked up. Atlanta RB’s did a great job blocking. Many fans say blitz when the pass rush isn’t good but it’s not that easy. If the blitz is picked up then you are really in trouble.
The Raiders have 7 QB hits and 2 sacks in 2 games. They also are not getting the push that is needed. Jihad Ward and Darius Latham took 47 and 25 snaps respectively at DT and Dan Williams and Jelly Ellis took 15 & 17. Unfortunately Ward & Latham could only muster a combined 3 tackles, 0 sacks, 0 QB hits and 1 pass deflection. I think Williams and Ellis need to get on the field more because this present lineup isn’t cutting it.
Khalil Mack is playing pretty well against the run, but he has had little effect with his pass rush. He has no sacks and Irvin has only 1. Irvin also only has 6 tackles in the first 2 games combined. I said at the start of the year, I question whether Irvin is the answer in the Raiders pass rush.
The run defense was also bad giving up 139 yards for a 4.8 yards per rush average. How big is that Aldon Smith suspension now. Raiders DT Stacy McGee got the only sack of the game for Oakland.
After watching the Raiders DL and then watching Andrew Luck run for his life against Denver, you realize the Raiders DL just isn’t good enough right now.
The Raiders do NOT have an LB that can be considered a great run stopper or pass defender. Ben Heeney would be great off the bench to add depth and spell a player but he’s not a starting LB. I’ve been saying that since he was drafted. He just doesn’t have the speed. He’s also on the smallish side and teams are now running at him.
With the safeties helping out to stop the deep ball to Julio Jones, this left the LB’s to cover the tight ends. That was a disaster. With Matt Ryan getting time, the Raiders LB’s were overwhelmed. The play action passes opened up the Atlanta offense by fooling the DB’s and LB’s. Add the good running for Atlanta and the Raiders were on their heels all day. Malcolm Smith struggled as well and Cory James was of little help when he came in for Heeney.
The LB’s right now just aren’t good.
Raiders 1st round pick Karl Joseph was a popular topic in the local media last week. The Raiders coaches tapped dance around the questions but the vibes are that they are bringing Joseph around slowly and that he still has a lot to learn. They are excited about his future but right now he’s going to play mostly special teams.
David Amerson played fairly well but Sean Smith and Reggie Nelson looked awful. Talking to Tim Kawakami, Jack Del Rio also wasn’t really happy with the soft coverage of DJ Hayden late in the game.
Reggie Nelson was responsible for helping keep Julio Jones deep routes in check. You won’t find these in the stat sheet but Nelson was out of position often. On the slant to Jones TD, Smith was looking for Nelson to help in the middle and Nelson was way wide. On the long pass Nelson let Jones get behind him and he took a bad angle to the ball. Angles are huge for safeties and Nelson seemed very out of sink. Both are also too passive. Smith just lets WR come off the ball without any effort to be physical with them. He and Nelson seem very passive out there.
Smith was a nice player for Miami but he really got his reputation at Kansas City which allowed him to get a big money deal with Oakland. In the 3 years that he was at Kansas City, the Chiefs were at least a top 6 team in defensive sacks. You wonder how much the great pass rush of the Chiefs attributed to Smiths play and reputation.
The pass rush has to wake up or this group is toast. Joseph isn’t ready to play yet. The Raiders need to try something new like bring in TJ Carrie to play a corner position or have him play safety along with Keith McGill. They need to try something because this is ugly.
Some fans hated the Raiders going for it on 4th and 2 but I think it was the right thing to do. The play call though was bad. If they did a play action pass and throw a quick out to Crabtree or Cooper, they get an easy first down. The Falcons DB’s were so leery of the deep ball they we’re even playing off the WR at the goal line.
If I’m Bill Musgrave I realize what Don Shula did when Dan Marino was his QB. The Dolphins defense sucked but they had a great offense. Use it. To win you have to outscore the opponent. To score 28 points against a bad Falcons defense isn’t enough. The Raiders need to come out no huddle at the start of the game and play like it’s their last drive of the season. The Raiders don’t seem to open things up or play with urgency until they have to. They have to get a killer instinct. Teams are taking away the deep ball, so nickel and dime them to death. The Raiders did that today but another slow start hurt them.
Ken Norton is taking a lot of flack but if you go back and watch the game, on many of the big plays for the Falcons, the Raiders rushed 5–6 guys. Fans are fickle. If the team does well the players get all the credit. If the team isn’t doing well, blame the coaches. I don’t know if it’s hero worship or whatever but it’s the way it is. There comes a time though when Irvin, Mack, Smith and Nelson have to earn their money. Right now they aren’t.
Personally I think the Raiders should be aggressive to start the game and create an up tempo to overwhelm teams. Jack Del Rio may call the defensive plays next week but unless he can play LB and Willie Brown and George Atkinson can find a time machine, this defense is in trouble.
The long punt return resulted in a field goal for the Falcons. Taiwan Jones allowing the ball to bounce off of him on a kickoff resulted in terrible field position. Janikowski missed a 58 yd field goal but it’s hard to get on him for that.
Marquette King is really punting well. The punt return defense struggled on 2 returns and the Raiders return game was not a factor.
However you slice it the Raiders should not lose to the Falcons at home. This is not a good defense. The Raiders offense is going to have to be the key to their wins so they need to score as many points as humanly possible and be aggressive for 60 minutes.
I would be much more up tempo offensively, especially in the first half. Defensively the Raiders have to change things up. I’d bring in TJ Carrie to start at CB or Safety. Carrie has had his bad moments too and isnt going to fix this defense, but they have to try something. I’d also continue to be aggressive blitzing but I’d blitz the CB or safety more. The Raiders have to get to the QB to help the DB’s. Defensive Linemen Dan Williams and Jelly Ellis are too good to ride the bench.
I still think the Raiders can get to 10-6 but they can’t lose games like this especially at home. Next up is a very winnable game @ Tennessee. The schedule is fairly easy; but the travel isn’t.