The Oakland Raiders will have many changes coming once again after the 2014 season.
Which head coach are the Raiders targeting if they don’t hire Jim Harbaugh? Will general manger Reggie McKenzie be fired after the season?
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Led by an aggressive and stout defensive line, the Bills were able to prevent both Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers from throwing touchdown passes in consecutive weeks; both quarterbacks were also held under 200 passing yards and intercepted twice.
Fortunately for the Raiders, the Bills offense is still mediocre at best. Buffalo earned a victory against the Green Bay Packers without rushing or throwing for a touchdown.
Tight end Mychal Rivera has proved to be effective when attacking the middle of the field through the air. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson must continue developing the short passing attack, targeting the running backs, in effort to expand the offense.
Here are the expectations and the effective game plan for Oakland’s matchup against the Bills.
Neutralize Pass Rush
Buffalo’s defensive line will have the same objective; it’s leading the league in sacks (49). The Raiders must protect their franchise quarterback by running the ball frequently. Latavius Murray’s contributions within the game plan will be the key to offsetting the Bills’ defensive front.
Murray hasn’t been as successful in the games following his breakout performance in Week 12, but the use of the run gives Carr more breathing room in the pocket.
The threat of Murray scampering to the edge forces defensive ends Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes to spread out for containment, which takes some heat off the pass rush.
The second-year running back is still under the microscope of interim head coach Tony Sparano. Expect Murray to continue getting 15-plus carries going forward. If the rushing attack is successful early, the Bills’ defensive line will play back on its heels in prevent mode in fear of the running back’s speed and agility.
Attack Middle of the field
An aggressive defensive line competing for sacks and a stable of deep-threat wide receivers to defend, creates significant gaps in the middle of the field.
Olson has utilized short passes to get Carr comfortable with the early flow of games. Now he must use the short pass to exploit holes within the Bills defense. Marcel Reece (215 yards) and Darren McFadden (206 yards) have been the most effective in catching the ball out of the backfield.
Each running back should have an impact on challenging the Bills linebackers to fill gaps on the field. These quick pass routes also allow Carr to get the ball out of his hands a lot quicker.
Mychal Rivera improved in comparison to his rookie year as a receiving tight end. Raiders fans who missed Zach Miller’s skill set, should embrace Rivera as Carr has done this season as a viable receiving tight end.
The second-year tight end has steadily produced in the second half of this season; he recorded his first 100-yard game against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14. In the last two games, he has caught seven passes and will continue to be Carr’s safe pass-route option. There will be enough space in the middle of the field for Rivera to pick up yards after the catch en route to another 100-yard game.
Stifle Sammy Watkins
In five out of six Buffalo losses, Sammy Watkins failed to reach 35 receiving yards. In the sixth loss against the Denver Broncos he failed to score a touchdown.
Watkins’ unique blend of speed and size require a double-team, if the defense lacks a Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback. Tarell Brown has only surrendered one touchdown in 42 receptions this season, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Along with safety Charles Woodson over the top, the secondary can prevent Watkins from impacting the game.
The Bills lack explosive playmakers on offense, which keeps games close—even when the defense dominates. Opposing defenses that are able to remove Watkins as a threat, essentially keep the contest competitive if they can score some points. Buffalo isn’t going to run away with the game unless it’s the New York Jets.
Orton will target his go-to wide receiver early and often to open up running lanes for Fred Jackson and possibly C.J. Spiller, who is on pace to return from surgery on a broken collarbone, per the team’s official website.
Spiller’s potential return will likely be subdued. He can be used as a decoy to spread the defense thin, but the Raiders cannot lose sight of Watkins on the field for Spiller on the mend.
Advanced statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com
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At 2-12, the Raiders aren’t going to push important young players back on the field. Oakland placed outside linebacker Sio Moore on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday with a sore hip. Oakland signed cornerback Chance Casey off the practice squad of the San Francisco 49ers to take Moore’s place on the active roster Tuesday. Moore improved a lot and started 11 games in his second season. The dancing fan favorite had 79 solo tackles, three sacks, two passes defensed and one forced fumble. Casey spent last season with the Raiders, playing two games after being on the practice squad the first part of the year.
The Oakland Raiders haven’t had a winning streak since October of 2012, when they won two games in a row. They had a chance to match that meager accomplishment on Sunday, but they were never able to get going. In a matter of minutes in the third quarter, they went from four points down to 18 down, and they could never muster a comeback. The result was a 31-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
It was a strange game in the sense that even with the Chiefs stretching the lead, it never felt as if they were dominating. It never looked as if they were clearly the better team. It seemed more as if the Raiders could do nothing to win. Almost nothing that went well last week showed up this week. Kansas City just had to get out of the way.
Penalties were a big issue, as the Raiders finished with 10 for 75 yards. Justin Tuck, who himself committed a big penalty, felt that this played a big role in the final outcome. In regard to the penalties, he said after the game that “we [the Raiders] aided in our demise today,” per the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Vic Tafur.
The loss was especially disappointing because, despite its record, this isn’t an impressive Chiefs team. The Chiefs avoid big mistakes, but that’s about it. Aside from that, it’s a team that hopes for wins rather than trying to create them.
The Raiders could’ve come out as the aggressors, but they ultimately weren’t able to develop any rhythm. They gave up too many big plays, couldn’t come up with any of their own and the game eventually got away from them. Oakland did more harm to itself than Kansas City, and the grades reflect that.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — That’s why the Raiders can’t have nice things. Every time they win a game – any by every time we mean twice – they get blown out the following week. Oakland followed up its win over San Francisco with a 31-13 loss to the Chiefs in which somehow, they allowed Alex Smith to beat them with his arm. The former Niners quarterback threw for a season-high 297 yards and two touchdowns, as Kansas City scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to pull away. Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr could never get going. His offensive line – so good a week ago – was dominated Sunday
The game begins at 1 p.m. ET and will be played at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. It will be televised on CBS.
Derek Carr is coming off of the best game of his young career. He had great individual stats—254 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions while completing 78.6 percent of his passes—but perhaps even more impressive is that the offense controlled the ball against the San Francisco 49ers for almost 33 minutes. It’s going to take a similar performance from the offense for Oakland to win today.
The Raiders’ defense will also be looking for another impressive outing, but it’ll have to do so without Sio Moore. The defense has been the team’s best unit, and the linebackers have been a major reason why. Particularly, the play of Moore and Khalil Mack has often set the tone. But with Moore out, Oakland will be looking to avoid a major drop-off as either Bojay Filimoeatu or Ray-Ray Armstrong, both unproven, will step into the starting lineup.
It’s always a tough task to go into Arrowhead Stadium and walk out with a win, but the Raiders have a real chance to do just that. Follow here for live scores and updates, and join the conversation in the comments section.
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Outside linebacker Sio Moore will miss Sunday’s game at Kansas City with a sore hip. He had been listed as questionable. Moore and backup safety Larry Asante were key in containing Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles in the win three weeks ago, and they are both out Sunday. Asante has a shoulder injury. Cornerback Tarell Brown, meanwhile, will be a game-time decision with foot and ankle injuries. The Raiders now have just four healthy linebackers. Miles Burris and Khalil Mack are the only ones who have started games in the NFL. Bojay Filimoeatu, who was promoted from the practice squad Saturday, and Ray-Ray Armstrong have played only 89 snaps on
Cornerback Tarell Brown returned to practice Friday in a limited fashion after missing Wednesday and Thursday with foot and ankle injuries. He will be a game-time decision and if he can’t go, TJ Carrie and Chimdi Chekwa would have to step up. Brandian Ross would normally move from strong safety to nickel cornerback, but probably can’t with backup safety Larry Asante out with a shoulder injury. DJ Hayden is the other starting cornerback. Brown has taken all but eight of the team’s 931 defensive snaps, including the three plays he sat out after what looked like a serious injury against the 49ers.… ^ Also, linebacker Sio Moore watched practice as
Friday was a good day for Derek Carr. The Raiders quarterback was named the NFL’s rookie of the week after leading his team to a 24-13 victory over the 49ers last Sunday. He completed 22-of-28 passes for 254 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 140.2 passer rating — the sixth-best by a rookie quarterback with at least 20 attempts since 1960. Earlier in the day, Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin threw Carr some love on Twitter, after watching Sunday’s game film to prepare for Sunday’s game against the 49ers. “The more I watch this film, the more I think Derek Carr of the Raiders is really really good,” Baldwin
Quarterback Derek Carr, outside linebacker Khalil Mack and left guard Gabe Jackson have highlighted the Oakland Raiders’ outstanding rookie class in 2014, but cornerback TJ Carrie is the unheralded star of the group.
In many ways, the seventh-rounder out of Ohio University has outshone last year’s first-round pick, D.J. Hayden.
Both of Oakland’s young cornerbacks are playing well, but it’s rare for a rookie to do so—especially a seventh-round pick. So fear not, Raider Nation, because that says more good about Carrie than bad about Hayden.
Outside of quarterback, cornerback is perhaps the most difficult transition from the college game, so Carrie’s play is notable. Carrie has actually been impressing since training camp, but he’s been lost in a troubled season and overshadowed by his fellow rookies.
When Bleacher Report presented its mid-season All-Rookie team, Carrie garnered three votes as a returner and, surprisingly at the time, two votes as a cornerback. A lot has changed in the few weeks since then, and Carrie is one of the players on the list who has actually strengthened his case.
In addition to his stellar play at cornerback, Carrie recently reclaimed his role at punt returner. For the first eight games, Carrie was the primary punt returner. However, an injury slowed him down and the team explored other options because he was more valuable as a cornerback.
Now that he is completely healthy and primary kickoff returner Latavius Murray started getting the bulk of the carries at running back, Carrie has become the team’s best option to return kicks as well as punts. Carrie isn’t getting good blocking, but he’s doing better than anyone else for the Raiders in both roles.
In last week’s upset win over the 49ers, Carrie made several plays that serve as a great example of what makes him the unheralded star of the Raiders’ rookie class. Carrie had seven tackles and five of those were stops that constituted and offensive failure.
Football Outsiders made Carrie one of their stars of the week, noting that he had four “Defeats,” which they define as plays that either prevent a first down, are made behind the line of scrimmage or result in a turnover. They noted that Carrie’s day included two tackles for a loss and two tackles that prevented third-down conversions.
Carrie allowed five of the six passes in his direction to be completed for just 26 yards. That’s just 4.3 yards per reception, and Carrie allowed just one yard after the catch on the five receptions.
The stats might tell us that Carrie was good, but they don’t explain why he was good or why the Raiders should be excited about his play. For that, we’ll have to examine the video evidence.
Carrie made a stop on 3rd-and-5 with just under nine minutes left in the game that forced the 49ers to convert on fourth down to keep the drive alive. They did convert on a quick slant that Carrie very nearly knocked away, but the third-down play was more impressive.
The 49ers called a pick play, in which Anquan Boldin blocked Hayden to the outside so Michael Crabtree could catch a slant for the first down. In theory, Carrie would’ve sunk deep enough trying to cover Boldin to take himself out of the play and Hayden would have fought through Boldin’s block to make the play on Crabtree.
Carrie did start tracking Boldin, but he peaked at Crabtree, only to see him looking back at quarterback Colin Kaepernick. This is the result of good film study and alerted Carrie to abandon his coverage of Boldin and drive on the underneath pass to Crabtree.
It’s worth noting that Hayden also saw this and knew he had to get around Boldin, but he’s wasn’t in as good a position as Carrie to make the play with a blocker in his way.
Had Carrie taken one more step in coverage with Boldin, he might not have been in position to make the stop before Crabtree got the first down. Two steps and Crabtree might have had a big gain with no defenders in the center of the field.
Hayden ended up getting a piece of Crabtree’s jersey, but Carrie is the one who made the tackle. This play is a great example of a young player taking what he learns in the film room and making a key play in a key situation.
After Carrie nearly broke up a short slant on fourth down, he came up with a play two plays later that isn’t in the stat book under his name. On 2nd-and-8, Kaepernick couldn’t connect with his receiver because Carrie and the coverage were almost perfect. The Raiders eventually sacked Kaepernick on 3rd-and-8 and the 49ers missed a 47-yard field goal on fourth down, which ended any hopes of a 49ers comeback.
Again, the 49ers used a tried and trusted concept to get a first down. Out of trips, the outside receiver runs off the outside cornerback and the two slot receivers run a curl and corner combo.
Safety Charles Woodson jumped on the curl route and Carrie quickly closed the gap between himself and Crabtree. Kaepernick wasn’t expecting Carrie to be there and sailed the ball over Crabtree’s head because of the coverage switch.
If Carrie didn’t recognize the route combo or was late getting back to cover Crabtree, Kaepernick wouldn’t have had to be as fine with his throw and the 49ers would have potentially had a first down inside the Raiders’ 10-yard line. Great play by the rookie, and great call by defensive coordinator Jason Tarver.
Clearly, Carrie’s intelligence is serving him well, and as he gains more experience, he’s only going to get better.
With cornerback Tarell Brown a doubt to play Sunday after missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday with foot and ankle injuries, Carrie will earn his fourth start of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs. It won’t be his last.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics via Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
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