Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Raider Stuff

The lack of a home computer is hampering my efforts to break down game tape, its hard enough to blog at work, without a stack of notes in front of me grading lineman. That said I do have some thoughts on whats happening in Raiderland this week.

- Rhodes not getting carries

Based on what we saw of him in preseason I worried that this was a bad signing for the Raiders. He did not seem to adapt well to the zone/cut scheme that was being implemented by Cable. He looked to bounce things outside when there was a hole backside.

Its hard to judge how far he has come along in adjusting to the scheme since returning from suspension due to his lack of carries. But I have to assume that the coaching staff just isn't seeing it in practice. Which sucks, since he should be the Raiders best receiving option coming out of the backfield. This team could really use another option in the passing game due to the receivers inability to consistently get separation.

Unless Rhodes finds a way to adapt to the system soon, he is 1 and done in Oakland. A shame that he is taking up a roster spot that could have better been used to retain a RB that fit the system (like Joe E. who is currently in Houston).

- The Titans are a great example of where the Raiders will be next year if they don't address their WR core.

Watching the Titans offense struggle in the passing game Sunday gave me visions of what the Raiders can expect next year with JRuss at the helm unless the Raiders overhaul the WR core.

Porter seems to lack the explosion to get open constantly, and most likely will opt out of his contract this off season and be someone Else's problem next year.

Currey is an outstanding rout runner, but is a #2 option due to his injuries. He also lacks explosion. If the Raiders had a true #1 lined up across from him I think he would be able to get more looks.

BMW, gone already, bad routes, no explosion. It was worth a try, but on a team with as many holes as the Raiders you can't afford to carry a 1 trick pony.

Compare that to the Titans top WR and you see the same thing. A group of possession guys who cannot get open consistently against good CB's. This allowed the Raiders to keep the LB's closer to the line and with the exception of right after Kelly went down, to shut down the Titans run attack for most of the game.

The Raiders are already going to see plenty of 8 man fronts once Russle is in the lineup as teams count on him to go through a learning period. Without an upgrade to the WR core, the Raiders offense will continue to struggle for the foreseeable future.

- The Oline regresses

You had to think the game plan called for Sims to get plenty of help Sunday with Vanden Bosh. But with McQuistan forced into service due to injury the Raiders were forced to slide protections to the right, leaving Sims on an Island and Gallery 1 on 1 with Haynesworth.

The Raiders Oline was already over matched coming into the game. But loosing a starter early showed just how much the oline counts on playing as a unit for success.

I preached since the hiring of Cable that it was going to take awhile for this unit to come together. Early success against Denver, Cleveland and Miami raised expectations for the rest of the year. But the injury to Green coupled with facing better front 7's is giving the Nation a dose of reality mid season.

Sims is just a stopgap at LT at this point of his career, Gallery is still adjusting to yet another position, the center spot is far from solid, Cooper is a good fit for the system but far from spectacular and the RT spot needs a fix.

Take sollice in this Raider fan, there have been flashes this year, and the zone/cut system does not require high priced FA or 1st day draft picks. The line can easily be fixed for the future with the development of the youngsters and 1 or 2 additions this off season. The Raiders are closer to being a good oline than they have appeared the last two weeks, its just going to take a little more patience.

- The D improves?

The defense looked better the last two weeks. They have held the opposition to 12 and 13 points receptively. But I'm still seeing the same problems overall. The linebackers continue to over pursue the ball and there is little to no pass rush from the front 4.

I put much of the improvement on the fact that they have not played against cutback style runners and have played against lower tier passing attacks.

LJ's big run came on the 1 play that he found a cutback lane exploiting the Over pursuit of the Raiders LB's. Chris Henry's TD run came on a counter, once again exploiting the same over pursuit. The run D is not fixed and took another shot with the loss of Kelly who was doing a decent job when lined up as a base end.

The continued lack of consistent pass rush will still open up the Raiders to the opposition when they play teams with better passers and WR's. Neither KC or Tenn. present any sort of match up problem in the passing game with the exception of Gonzo, and he is well past his prime.

The D should look good against the pass this week as Houston is injured in all facets of the passing game, but I'm worried about the run D as the Raiders face another team that loves the cutback.

- Silver (and black) linings

Tough to find positive at this point. The Raiders moved up the draft board with another loss (currently drafting 7th, up from 9th last week)... nope that's not positive.

McCown should be back from injury soon. Its a matter of opinion if this is a good thing.

Fargas to get more carries, hey I like this.

Richardson to get more playing time... when the team is this bad, getting the youngsters in is good IMO.

The Texans are coming to town. The Raiders should be able to get another win this week...if they don't beat themselves again.

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