Earlier this season we saw the rise of Darrius Heyward-Bey to levels we had not seen before in his career. Now, suddenly he is the forgotten man in Oakland while Denarius Moore is the go to receiver. This change didn't happen gradually, it seemed to change overnight, much to everyone's surprise. But the reason is not hard to see.
Darrius Heyward-Bey has been the Raiders' number one receiver since the day he first set foot on the field in Silver and Black. He was an Al Davis speed guy and therefore this seventh overall pick was going to see the field as often as humanly possible, regardless of how much or how little it was deserved.
The coaching staff, knowing that DHB was going to be in the starting lineup, found his skill set as an underneath possession type receiver with the speed to take those short passes the distance. This season he was finally starting to put his talents together and the result was a career high in receptions and yards just seven games into the season.
His skills perfectly meshed with Jason Campbell's because Campbell is the type of quarterback who is known to check down and look to short passes as a kind of security blanket. He doesn't like to take a lot of chances downfield. These two made for a great combination. The receiver who has found his niche in short yardage and the quarterback who likes quick slants and comebackers.
It took a few games into the season for the two to begin heating up, but in week four they caught fire when the two connected four times for 115 yards, the most receiving yards in a game of DHB's career. And it was the last game for which Al Davis was alive.
The Raiders were in Houston to face the Texans the day Davis passed. The next day, DHB made his late owner proud once again when he caught seven passes for 99 yards and a touchdown helping the Raiders beat a tough Texans team. The Campbell/Heyward-Bey connection was alive and well.
That combination was disrupted the next week at home against the Browns when Campbell broke his collarbone. DHB had 82 yards receiving in that game catching passes from both Campbell and Kyle Boller.
Just two days later the Raiders acquired Carson Palmer in trade from the Bengals. The Raiders would face the Chiefs in their final game before their bye week. That game saw an offense that was geared for Jason Campbell but with Kyle Boller and Carson Palmer lining up behind center. That was a recipe for disaster; however, Darrius continued to have success, pulling in five catches for 89 yards.
That game happened on October 23 and it was the last time DHB recorded a catch.
During the bye week Carson Palmer brought in an entirely new skill set and Hue Jackson has tailored his receiving corps to cater to that skill set. Palmer opens the Raider offense to the long ball. Since DHB has never been able to handle catching the long ball, he has not been on the field much.
If Al Davis were still alive, DHB would very likely still be a starter regardless of his not fitting with Palmer's abilities. Hue would be forced to make it work and essentially continue to try and fit a square peg in a round hole. But in recent weeks Hue has made it very clear that this Raider team is no longer business as usual.
Enter Denarius Moore.
This rookie dazzled in training camp. He made some of the most spectacular catches I've seen from any receiver, let alone a rookie fifth round pick. Those talents were not fully on display through the first seven games of the season, with the notable exception of his five catch, 146 yard performance in the week two loss in Buffalo. In every other game he averaged just over one catch per game for 11 yards. He also had zero catches twice.
After week seven came the bye week. So from the time Carson Palmer was brought on board to his first full game, he had nearly three weeks to get to know all his receivers. Three weeks is more than enough time to discover who he favors and who he trusts. The two at the top of his list are Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore.
Hue also liked what he saw from these three, and come the game against the Broncos, Carson had Denarius and Jacoby as his starting receivers. Jacoby led the Raiders in receiving that day with five catches for 105 yards. Jacoby was targeted six times in the game. That seems like a decent amount until you realize Denarius was targeted 12 times in the game. That leaves little doubt who Palmer trusts most among his new receivers. Moore would come down with four of those passes for 61 yards.
Palmer had this to say of targeting Denarius in the game against the Broncos:
"My reads have taken me there a lot, but also the position he plays, he's most consistently at that spot. Where the Z-receiver spot is a handful of guys, the F-receiver spot is a handful of guys, and really, Denarius is the X, with a backup also, but I've had a lot of time on task with him and he's a special talent for sure. The X-receiver in any offense gets quite a few more targets, and he will get in this offense also."
In last week's win over the Chargers, Denarius showed Palmer and the rest of the world just why his new quarterback has such trust in him. He pulled down five catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns. He was targeted seven times in the game. No other wide receiver saw more than two targets. Ford went out early with a sprained foot or he would have seen more action as Palmer's second favorite target.
In the process, Palmer threw five passes that went for more than 25 yards—something Jason Campbell was rarely known to do. Three of those five passes went to Denarius (46, 33T, 26T) and two of them for touchdowns.
"He can be as good as he wants to be," said Palmer of Moore. "That catch he made in the long fade was amazing. He ran some great routes. He has great hands. He has everything you need to be a successful receiver. It just depends on how great he wants to be, but I'm excited about him. He's a special talent and the sky's the limit for him."
In the two games since Palmer has taken over this team, DHB has been targeted one time, with zero catches, while Denarius has been targeted 19 times with 9 catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns. That is an average of 92 yards per game. In the four games leading up to the bye week, DHB was averaging 96 yards per game while in those same games Denarius was averaging one catch for 8 yards per game.
For this Raiders offense it's out with the old regime—Jason Campbell and Darrius Heyward-Bey—and in with the new regime—Carson Palmer and Denarius Moore.
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Denarius Moore was definitely one of the steal's, if not the biggest, in the 2011 draft. Hue Jackson is doing the right thing by starting Moore and running the passing game around both him and Ford. DHB is a good underneath possession type receiver, as Levi pointed out, but he is not a deep threat whatsoever, and he struggles to make plays in the end zone. It is logical that DHB is being fazed out, as Carson Palmer is a gunslinger who likes to throw the deep ball and fire strikes into the endzone. Moore and Ford are the perfect receiving combination for a quarterback like Palmer, as they have the speed, hands and route running skills to get open and make plays, and Hue has to be credited for making the right decision in who he feels best complements his quarterback.....
I agree to a point. But at the same time, Hue Jackson has just said he's going to give receivers playing time, dependent on the opposition match up.
You know, it's all well and good saying Moore/Palmer have a great thing going, and it's an improvement, but the teams been whupped in 2 of the 3 games with the new receiving line up. And Palmer has thrown 7 picks in those games. Many of them because of receiver errors.
I hope Heyward Bey is heavily in Oakland's plans for the rest of the season. He was (amazingly!) a very reliable target for the team, who made a lot of big 3rd down plays.
I few interesting stats I thought i would throw out there about Denarius:
First in Rookies (5th in the NFL) with over 20 catches for 1st down % (82.6%)
Third in catches of 20+ yards and 40+ yards for Rookies
Fourth in Receiving average amongst rookies (although first is Titans RB Jamie Harper who only has one catch of 21 yards)
Not bad for a 5th round choice! Still would like to see more of DHb though
Okay, you say that the reason for Darrius' lessened playing time is not hard to see, yet that statement baffles me and I see no reason at all as to why this has occured; it only takes common sense to start your leading receiver, who has (by the way) finally shut up the numerous and offensive critics after Al Davis (Hue's man??) took him ahead of Michael Crabtree in the '09 draft. And now that he has produced, Hue and Palmer have completely ignored him after showing everyone what he's capable of. It's hard to see about ANY reason for benching ANY team's leading receiver.
-I have 3 points in addition to this:
-there are usually 2 receivers that a qb always has to throw to, so why cant the 2nd be DHB
-DHB is not a short yardage receiver; he averages 16.5 yards per catch
-Moore has gone 2 games as the teams leading receiver, whereas DHB has had 5; each player was the leading receiver with palmer once
bey is in the same boat campbell is in, seemed to be rollling and then an injury to campbell ruined his season and probably career with the raiders, and then bringing in palmer seemingly ends dhb career. he will get some more shots i believe, he just gotta make then count when his number is called! so the campbell injury may have ended two careers at once! talk about killing 2 birds with one stone!
it seems like a great passing game would involve all 3 receivers. with Ford out this weekend, Moore will get double teams all day long. DHB, TJ, and Boss should be getting wide open looks 20 yards out all day long. this will really confuse an opposing defense. to just try to run run run and throw it deep is the Al Davis way, but it won't work in every game. if we want to see the true potential of CP and this passing offense to reach top 10... DHB should be given all kinds of looks as a possession receiver. for TJ to get more reps over him is RIDICULOUS. there must be something else there besides not being the deep threat CP wants in a receiver... there just has to be.
Not too worried about Offense nowadays, but F83K man, D is giving me ulcers man. We can score the points but rely on D to put a beating down on the other team and hold their points to a minimum. GB and Lions are coming over, we need our best from our Corps on D. I just hope this little lay off, D can get healthy, specially on Secondary, Hallelujer!
I kind of feel bad for DHB. He seemed to finally be catching on after all of the hard work. Still, I was never convinced that he was a legitimate #1 receiver. I think he could have a positive role on the team, but we need to go with our best options.
I am really excited about what this offense will become. CP has said he still only has about 70% of the playbook down. Once he has 100% down and more time to develop his timing with the receivers as well as having a healthy McFadden back, look out! Lawdy Lawd, Sweet Jesus, Hallelujah!!
Now if only the defense could be half as good on a consistent basis, then this team would be unstoppable.
I think the problem a lot of people have is that while DHB may not be a deep threat, neither is Housh who is seeing more action than DHB. And DHB is a lot more likely to turn one of those medium routes into a long gain than Housh.
I also think that by DHB should be playing in at least 3 receiver sets if only if two reasons: Having a good medium-short option is great for Plamer to use as a checkdown and hopefully eliminate some of his Intercepts. And secondly, having the defense having to account for a good WR in the medium-short routes means that more space is opened up for Moore and Ford (if these are the other two receivers playing at the time) in the deeper routes. Not to mention DHB is by far our best blocking WR.
With all this talk of DHB, Moore and Ford everyone seems to have forgotten about Louis Murphy who only last year was looking like our best option for a number one receiver and Chaz Schilens who has amazingly been pretty healthy this year! Has their time be and gone now? Maybe we can re-cooperate a couple more draft choices back at the end of the season from these two.
I still think Ford and Moore are "all or nothing" guys at the minute. Which is predictable, being young players.
You know, the offense has had some explosion recently, but let's remember, we lost 2 of the 3 games, heavily, to poor teams, mostly because of receiver/QB errors.
Heyward Bey was running tight routes, and making big time 3rd down plays. And we were winning games regularly in that type of O. And we weren't turning the ball over
Great point about Housh. If the knock on DHB is his deep threat ability, you cannot tell me old man Housh is any better in the deep passing game? And DHB is much more likely to turn a short-medium catch into a big run afterwards than Housh is. I never believed Housh should have ever been signed.
You left out Chaz Schilens. He was the third receiver of the starting unit vs Denver and he can catch the deep ball as well.
@UnkleChivo actually we'll be heading to Lambo field dec 11th... not looking forward to it... we'll see how well this defense can perform week in and week out. im worried about the immediate future and what AP will do to us if we're not disciplined. forgive me if i don't fully trust our LBers ... limiting that man to under 100 yards would be amazing and would surely get us a win. win in the trenches!
You know, in a way it's classic Raiders.
They have a great project guy, who's improving every game, and who has unbelievable upside, and they give his playing time to a 35 year old vet, who will probably be cut at the end of the season!
Oakland should be going with Moore, Ford, and DHB.