These days the hardest thing, I find, with studying these games and putting together the list of those who played well and those who didn’t, is the redundancy. It seems more and more that the same guys make the plays and the same guys don’t. With little exception from game to game. Then of course there are those who are amazing one game and terrible the next. And then we look at them with the eye of “which version of this guy are we going to see this week”. The biggest problems with this Raiders team are those players that play with inconsistency from play to play and game to game and the fact that the good players are so easy to pick out. That goes against what “team” is all about. If there are many good players, it can overshadow the faults of some and makes it difficult to find the weak links. In the Raiders case though it is as they say “you are only as strong as your weakest link.” With that in mind let’s examine this weeks weak links and those who played well in spite of them.
There are a lot of fast guys in this league and then there are those who know how to use it. Howard is one of those guys who know how to use his speed. This week was certainly no exception to his usual energy and passion. He is all over the field every game and is involved in nearly every tackle. He had 7 tackles on the day and 5 of them were run stuffs which resulted in little or no gain by the back. One of those was a tackle on Ricky Williams in which he chased him down for a six yard loss on the play. Keep it up Thomas and hopefully soon there will be a few more players around you with equal passion.
He lead the Raiders in tackles with nine. That alone is not very good news because when a DB leads the team in tackles it means that the backs are breaking into the secondary and too many catches are being given up. But only two of those tackles were on catches he gave up that were of any significance. Another was on a two yard catch that he sniffed out and stopped for just a two yard gain on third down which forced a punt. He is quite a solid tackler as it is turning out. His best tackle of all was when he ripped the ball out of the ball carrier’s hands to force a fumble and the only turnover the Raiders had on the day. That is the kind of agressiveness we need to see. Big defenses like the Ravens and Giants make plays like that because they expect to dominate. And when you expect to dominate, what could be five yards given up and a simple tackle turns into a turnover.
In his first start since early in the season, he had six catches for 73 yards. The last time I had him on the baller list, he was benched immediately after in favor of Chaz Schilens. I scratched my head at the move because the reason I put him on the list in the first place was because he looked like he had turned the corner and finally figured out Russell’s passes. Prior to that he clearly hadn’t gotten used to the way JaMarcus threw the ball. Now that Javon Walker is out for the season and Curry is back in the starting lineup he goes right out there and proves exactly what I said before. He only had one drop on the day and it was a ball that was not easy to catch. Then on the next play he had a fantastic catch in which he slid to catch a ball that was low and behind him. He is back folks. And hopefully this time he is back for good.
For just the second time all season Zach didn’t lead the Raiders in receptions. But his importance to the passing game is always obvious. He had four catches for 67 yards. His first catch went for 27 yards to set the Raiders up at the 5 yard line. Then after McFadden was tackled for a loss and a false start by Kwame Harris, Miller gained those yards back plus a few more on a catch that stopped at the two yard line. Unfortunately that was third down and it simply set up a chip shot field goal for Seabass.
Well as long as this team is going to be forced to punt so often, at least we have the best punter in the history of the NFL. Miami only started two drives all day outside of the 20 yard line that were off of punts. Their other drives started at the 13, 9, 12, and 6. If our offense could score a touchdown then these punts would not go to waste.
He only gave up one catch for 13 yards. He was tied for third on the team in tackles with six. He also had a pass defended, 2 run stuffs, a fumble recovery and teamed up for a sack. Nice well rounded game for Gibril.
Jonnie Lee Higgins
Every return he had on the day went for little or no gain…except one. And that was the one that counted. He gave the Raiders their first touchdown in three games. And that is all we ask him to do. So as much as I would have liked to put him on the Buster list based on his other lack of returns, he took one to the house, and Raider fans were able to celebrate something for the first time since week 8. Even if it was short lived.
This defense has looked great the last two games and there is a lot of overachievers and surprises. If Ryan gets the blame in failure he deserves some praise in success. So here is that praise. Unfortunately he only seems to have success when the offense isn’t.
Welcome back Kwame, you kept your spot warm for you. What’ll it be? The usual? Comin right up! Am I the only one who notices that he false starts at the absolute WORST times? For instance; after the Raiders had their best looking drive since the Jets game that culminated in the 27 yard catch by Zach Miller to put the Raiders on the 5 yard line, Kwame then immediately had TWO false starts to kill any chance of a touchdown. Oh and of course, he gave up a sack as well.
He gave up more big plays than he had tackles. He had a whopping TWO tackles. For a starting strong side linebacker that is pathetic. In consecutive drives in the second half he gave up an 11 yard pass to Ricky Williams to set the Dolphins up for their second score of the day. Then on the Dolphins next drive he gave up a 12 yard run to Williams and then on the next play he was plowed down by Williams who picked up the first down because of the effort. I think that Stronside linebacker is pretty high on this team’s wish list these days. Or it should be.
He was given one drive and in that drive he was given ONE shot at passing and he fumbled it for a 13 yard loss. Does anyone still wonder why he isn’t starting somewhere? I am wondering how he is still in the NFL, personally.
Ashlie Lelie/ Chaz Schilens
Where were they? Wasn’t Schilens starting? I don’t expect Schilens to be great every week but he should at least have a catch. But when every wide receiver on the Raiders roster, not named Ronald, does a disappearing act, that is not going to win any games.
Just thought I would throw him in here. Lest we forget.
I am sitting here banging my head against the wall trying to figure out who is at fault for this offense not doing anything. What it boils down to is that this offense is not fooling anyone. There should be some deception going on and it is like the Dolphins were reading the Raiders playbook half the time. Even the one great drive the Raiders had were thanks in large part to a couple of great catches by Miller and Curry. And continuing to start Kwame Harris over Mario Henderson just baffles me. Cable is an offensive line coach so he should know that Henderson has played much better than Harris. I said it last week in regards to Cable “he is not doing the best he can with what he has”. His game plan seems to be generic rather than tailored for what this team’s strengths are. Hopefully he studied what the Dolphins are doing because they are less talented than the Raiders and many of the other teams they beat. They are simply better coached.