It was more of the same with the Raiders as they lost to the Dolphins today, 13-35.
It started off poorly on the first drive when the Raiders defense came out flat and allowed the Dolphins to rush for 44 yards and a TD after allowing only 32 yards for the entire week 1 game versus San Diego.
The defense then stiffened for the rest of the first half before coming apart completely in the second half. In the 3rd quarter, the defense allowed long rushing TDs on back to back drives. On the first, Reggie Bush ran for a 23 yard TD while breaking at least 4 tackles. In the second, he raced up the left sideline virtually untouched for a 65 yard scamper in which the defense was too tired to keep up with him.
Bush ended with a career high 172 yards on carries for a 6.6 yard/carry average.
The Raiders also struggled offensively. They were able to get into the end zone in the first quarter on a screen pass from Palmer to backup RB Mike Goodson. Goodson took the ball out to the right sideline and, sprung by a fantastic block by RG Mike Brisiel who pulled, got down the field and made a fantastic block on the Dolphins linebacker who was in position to otherwise make the play.
The Raiders were abysmal on third down, going 1 for 12 on the game. Like the San Diego game, they were able to move the ball well at times but unable to finish drives and get into the end zone.
OC Greg Knapp will receive a lot of criticism for this game and rightfully so. The team was unable to run the ball, had few down the field shots and in general lacked explosion or excitement.
On the positive side, the Raiders didn’t rely on McFadden as much as they did versus San Diego. Palmer targeted 10 different players including all 4 active WRs, all 3 TEs, McFadden, Goodson & Reece.
Special teams was a mixed bag as the team improved but still looked weak overall. The one bright spot was punt returner Phillip Adams who had 3 good returns over 20 yards. Two of them were called back due to penalty but it was a big step for the team to find a viable punt returner and he looks to have the necessary skills.
The offensive line looks to be a big concern as they struggled with both run blocking and pass protection. The Raiders ended with only 16 yards rushing by running backs on 12 carries. Darren McFadden struggled on every carry, getting a high of only 4 yards. He was hit almost immediately every rush and couldn’t get anything going offensively. This is the second game in which the Raiders have struggled to run block making it more likely it’s a trend. To make matters worse, the team also struggled with protection increasingly as the game continued.
The Raiders have not looked good with their switch to the zone blocking scheme and the center position is still a work in progress. Wisniewski played his first regular season NFL game there and struggled to get push in the running game plus much of the pressure on Palmer came from the center of the line.
In all, there were few bright spots about the loss today. The loss will be the first big test for Dennis Allen as the team now drops to 0-2 and he has the responsibility to identify what is ailing the team and correct it so the team can win a game. The Raiders play the Steelers next week at 1:25PM.