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Oakland Raiders: Close, But No Cigar in Atlanta


October 14, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden (20) celebrates with wide receiver Denarius Moore (17) after a touchdown in the second half against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons beat the Raiders 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

If you walked into the Georgia dome late for kick-off you would have been shocked  to look up at the score board and see that the Raiders were ahead three to zero. The gun slinging Matt Ryan was having his trouble in the early part of the game, throwing three interceptions to keep his Falcons out of the lead and allowing the Raiders to claw to a first quarter lead. The Black and Silver defense was playing  above their head to keep the nation in the game.

This year the Raider offensive line has had the key to success of the black and silver. It is also the key to failure. They have the hardest job on the gridiron protecting the qb, as well as creating holes for elite fast running backs. As a group, the behemoths have not performed well all year. Is it the zone scheme the Raiders have installed? Could it be that the Raiders have had 6 Offensive line coaches in 7 years causing chaos and confusion in the X’s and O’s.  A grade of D would be gratuitous for the offensive line.

Watching the game it was obvious that Greg Knapp is having difficulty conveying his message to his charges.  Effective teaching often includes a mix of four teaching styles: formal authority, demonstrator, facilitator, and delegator. Learning styles  are as numbered and diverse as teaching styles, Auditory, verbal, physical, logical, social, and solitary, to name a few. The Raiders are losing the battle in the trenches because the blocking scheme they are using does not fit their players. You can put a square into a round hole but it takes time and alot of pounding. Work smarter not harder!

Darren McFadden, run DMC coming into the game averaged over three yards per game. The Atlanta defense gave up over five yards per carry. McFadden averaged 2.6 yards on 27 carries vs the Falcons, do the math! Something is wrong, very wrong. The Falcon defense caused a traffic jam in the Raider backfield all day. The Raider offense has two rushing TD’s on the year McFadden has both of them. The Raiders have a choice fix the blocking problem, or forget it, and move on.

Carson Palmer had unbelievable numbers considering he was sacked 3 times harassed on several occasions, and knocked down a half a dozen times. Bloody, beaten, and battered Palmer threw for 353 yards on the day, 23/33 with one interception for a pick six. The interception was thrown to the inside on an outside rout. The momentum the Raiders had gathered was squashed on that interception.  Heisman trophy award winners make mistakes as well.

Palmer distributed the ball to nine different receivers on the day. Denarius Moore caught 5 passes for 104 yards, one td, and averaged 20,8 yards per catch. He was one of the highlights on the offensive side of the ball he is showing marked improvement.

Penalties on the day the Raiders who have been almost, penalty free in their previous games are slapped for 12 penalties for 110 yards. The Falcons on the other hand, have two for 25 yards. Just saying, might want to take a look at that Mr. Commissioner. Just saying!

The Raider defense is way ahead on the learning curve on the year. Michael Huff was the shining light on the defensive side of the ball. Phillip Wheeler continues to develop into a stellar linebacker, his eight solo tackles and two hits on Ryan demonstrated his ability to play in big games. The defensive unit held the Atlanta offense to 286 yards. The secondary stole 3 passes on the day, while the front seven put pressure on Matt Ryan all day. Forcing him to make throws of his back foot or  the wrong foot in all four quarters.

If you would have walked into the Georgia dome late in the fourth quarter and looked at the scoreboard and seen that the Atlanta Falcons just went ahead by three you would be shocked. Especially knowing that Raiders controlled the time of possession by 10 minutes, out rushed the Falcons by 104 yards and out threw the Falcons by 84 yards on the day.

The Raiders played well and showed marked improvement on both sides of the ball. The problem with that is, it’s not a win! The players want to win, the coaches want to win, fans want a win. Wanting does not feed the bulldog! Do the work, just win baby!

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

― Winston Churchill

Jacksonville next week at home. Cant wait!