The Raiders' leading receiver through the first seven weeks of the season was mysteriously not in the starting lineup on Sunday. Darrius Heyward-Bey had been the starter every week leading up to the bye week and was finally playing like he deserved to be the number one receiver as evidenced by his team-leading 27 catches for 434 yards. But something happened in the last two weeks to keep him on the bench much of the loss to the Broncos.
The Raiders came out for the first play of the game in a three wide receiver set that didn't include Heyward-Bey. It featured Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore on each side with Chaz Schilens in the slot. This was the alignment throughout most of this game with DHB and Louis Murphy playing sparingly.
But of the five receivers, DHB was the only one who failed to make a single catch in the game. He saw only a handful of plays and was thrown to just once. That one throw was a long bomb down the right sideline near the end of the third quarter. He was well covered on the pass and the jump ball in the endzone forced DHB to become the defender and knock the ball out of the hands of Bronco defensive back Andre Goodman in the end zone.
There has been little explanation as to what may have had Hue Jackson benching the team's leading receiver. The logical explanation seemed to be that he was simply not picking up the tendencies of his new quarterback as quickly as his fellow receivers.
I asked Palmer about this theory, to which he responded simply, "I think your starters are your starters."
An odd response considering DHB has not only been a starter every week prior to this week but the number one receiver. He went on to clarify and essentially confirmed it by saying, "I have thrown more balls to those guys and they're more comfortable with me and I'm more comfortable with them probably."
During the game, he and Louis Murphy appeared to be disgruntled about their lack of playing time. Their behavior on the sidelines resembled that of sulking. Murphy in particular was so angry that once he finally did see a pass late in the game, he made the catch and threw the ball at the turf which earned him an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. If either of them are in Hue Jackson's doghouse for some reason, that kind of behavior will not do them any favors.
Afterward, Hue Jackson insisted Darrius Heyward-Bey was simply not in the game plan.
"That was just certain sets," said Jackson of DHB's limited playing time. "We have some very talented players and he's one of them and we had certain sets where we have a bunch of guys targeting for those particular sets because comfortability, it had nothing to do with... Darrius is a good player, and he's doing well, so that had nothing to do with that."
Key word: "comfortability." Either Carson is not yet comfortable with Darrius or the other way around. It would seem that after the two hooked up a few times in the loss to the Chiefs before the bye week there was some comfort there. The important thing to remember, however, was that Carson was uncomfortable with the entire offense. He was unable to go through his reads and look off receivers because he likely only knew what one receiver would be doing on any given play. With DHB the leading receiver, he was often the one guy to whom Palmer was looking to get the ball. Now that they have had three weeks of practice, those receivers who have developed "comfortability" with Palmer and vice versa are the receivers who got the start as well as the playing time.
My thoughts are that DHB will receive more playing time as he and Palmer gain more chemistry, but it remains to be seen if he will get his starting job back. The Raiders will not go with three wide receiver sets every week and Jacoby Ford and Chaz Schilens have the confidence of Palmer and therefore Hue Jackson right now. Throw in newly acquired TJ Houshmandzadeh and it could be very difficult for DHB to come close to the 96 yards per game he had over the previous four weeks of the season.
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maybe during the Bye week when other recievers elected to get together with Palmer and build some chemistery he chose to take that time off..
With so much talent in this receiving corp, it's hard to not like any of the guys we do see out there. DHB needs to keep developing his game, but that pretty hard to do on the sideline. I hope he keeps his head on straight and not get discouraged about putting up numbers and then being put on the shelf. He needs to get the mind frame that he wants and needs the ball on every play because he can make the play and score every time. They starting to question why he isn't on the field. It was just a short time ago they were questioning why he was on the field.
Brown got one over on Hue Jackson in the trade simply because he knew THE RAIDERS WERE DESPERATE. Hue had no choice because he didn't want to tank the season. "the time is now", right?
DHB should be getting as many looks as possible. yea, his TDs are way down as he has 1 in half a season.. but he still moves the chains and eats up big chunks of yards to get us down field. very important. the chemistry between the two of them might have been there in the KC game, but chances are that fell off in practice ...
if that's not the case and Hue is just being daring by trying to throw DEN's defense off, it sure as hell didn't work... i doubt this is the case.. but hue has made some questionable play calls and has made some very questionable moves thus far.
with that said, i like Palmer. he makes some fabulous throws. im VERY curious to see what he's got with a FULL YEAR on the offense. if the quiet Campbell could do that well with this team, im very certain CP can do much better than he could, with the throws he makes. with a good running game, it's plausible to think that Carson will be limited on his mistakes going forward.... that is if Hue Jackson lets up on passing plays a bit and trust his run first mentality offensive strategy. this offense could be virtually unstoppable with a healthy DMAC in the game... this much is a certainty. the man loves playing DEN ... he would have done much more than Bush did in this game. things like keeping this SHOTTY DEFENSE WE HAVE off of the field and just drain the clock all day long.
this organization has gone through a mid season crisis in the worst way .... it's hard to get too down on them too much right now. many say that this would have happened to any other team... SF, BAL, HOU, or even cincy to list a few. having their QBs go down right now would kill their momentum and kill their good records ... throws everything off when you lose your leader. i'll try and reserve judgement for a few more games ...if this kind of crap is still happening after that, then god help us.
well, like i said the other day, i dont care who the qb is (except boller), who starts at wr, or the offensive sets, we will not be successful without mcfadden! bush is nice, and i hear guys all the time saying he should be the starter cause mcfadden isn't healthy, but the difference is on bush's 10 to 15 yard bursts, those are 20 plus for mcfadden. bush is only north and south, while mcfadden can go east and west as well. we only run right up the middle with bush cause he doesn't have the ability for sweeps and tosses. i know this is no new news to anyone, but we need him bad! despite the ramifications, i would seriously think about sitting him thursday if he is not totally 100% healthy to get him extra rest for the long haul. i would rather take my chance being a game back if we lose thursday than rush him back and we got bush the rest of the season as the feature back!
Something real fishy is going on. DHB has been our best receiver and now he has been dumped into the scrapheap? I am not liking the way Jackson is taking this team. We should not have given up more than a first round pick for Palmer and Housh is past his prime hence why he has barely had a look in from any team up until now. Instead of having Palmer thrown so many balls when we had the lead Bush should have been pounding the ball down their throat
As good as DHB has been playing, he is still not making touchdown catches. The Raiders need their receivers to make plays in the end zone, and that is still DHB's biggest weakness. Jacoby Ford is a logical starter, as he makes the big plays, particularly in the end zone, so Hue Jackson has to make him a primary target and starter. Also, Denarius Moore's numbers have gone down since DHB's picked up, so I think that Hue wants to get Moore actively involved in the offense and get his confidence going again, as he is a big time playmaker like Ford, who has the potential to put points on the board.
DHB has far exceeded expectations so far this year, and kudos to him for his hard work and desire. However, the Raiders have an incredibally talented group of guys, and Jackson has to get the best playmakers out on the field. He owes it to himself, the fans, and most importantly, the team....