I took another quick look at the Offense against the Ravens and here are a few more thoughts.
Run blocking was surprisingly good. Not great, but they looked like they were in sync for hte most part and doing the right things. There were some holes and running lanes opened up. Would really have liked to see DMC or Goodson running into those holes instead of Reece. Reece is not that natural as a HB. Of course, the ravens' d might have been playing soft run d b/c DMC and Goodson weren't in there.
Willie Smith had another tough day. And the Ravens lined up Suggs against Smith often. That has to be the plan against any opponents (if Barnes doesn't play) : move the best pass rusher to the defensive left side to match up against Smith. Howver, Reece did chip a few tiimes and once he totally neutralized Suggs. There's one play where the Ravens bring a 6-man pressure package; but hte Raiders blockers pick it up very nicely! But then Smith gets beaten by his man and gives up a hit on Palmer. Great....
And there were more 6 and 7 man protections, thankfully. Remember that 1st quarter deep throw just out of Denarius Moore's reach? that was a 7 man protection to buy Palmer that time.
The end around to DHB is not a good play. No one respects the playside and so there's no need to overpursue. This is twice. The first time against Atlanta, DHB bailed out the playcall b/c the defender (Ray Edwards?) couldn't contain DHB. This time, TFL.
Carson Palmer still has no receivers he can rely on. DHB drops an easy pass for a 1st down and he had room to run. Moore drops a pass on 3rd-and-10 that would have been a first down; the pass was a bit high (it seems like he adjusted to try to keep from being batted) but in both hands. Hagan drops a TD pass off both hands, Streater drops a deep pass off both hands. Myers was solid across the middle.
Again, DHB ran some very nice routes. The deep timing out route was beautiful.
Moore, Hagan, and Streater all get the Johnnie Lee Higgins' disease when going across the middle (and they have all year). It is nearing the point where you cannot call any of them on a slant or crossing pattern.
Palmer and Moore seem to have cleared up some of their miscommunications; there weren't timing routes being run and thrown differently.
Ravens defense blew a lot of coverages but the Raiders could not take advantage. They had 2 safeties deep and BOTH safeties would vacate their areas. several times this happened. The TD throw to Moore was on Cover-2 and Ed Reed jumped to cover Myers on a deep post and left Moore uncovered. DHB's near TD (just under-thrown by Palmer) was a cover-2 shell but both safeties run up to cover Myers.
Reece had some nice blitz pickups. On DHB's TD catch-and-run, Palmer had the time to throw b/c Reece picked up Ellerbe on the blitz. It wasn't a great pickup, but Reece got enough of him to buy Palmer that extra count.
Balt had some nice blitzes to free rushers; there was one zone dog that had 4 blockers on 1 Raven and then a safety running unblocked. nice.
Myers' OPI was a bad call, but the throw was even worse.
Palmer appeared a little "off", was missing some throws, and even threw up a couple of wobblers. He threw falling backwards a few times, leaving the throw low, but was bailed out by Reece/Moore. But he also rushed a few throws and just missed it, like the Myers' OPI play or the underthrow to DHB on the deep post.
The Raiders' blocking for screen passes was awesome last year and Wis was a Wizard at it (the highlight being the SD game). THIS year, it's not so good and sometimes just terrible. Raiders had a screen set up to Reece with two blockers out in front (Wis, Carlisle). The blockers BOTH whiff and fall down and FOUR Ravens tackle Reece. This was aggravating to watch (it's the play where Reece tries to hurdle the defender).
And when it goes bad, it goes bad. On one play, the pocket is collapsing and as Palmer tries to escape, Carlisle is trying to pick off a rusher; Carlisle ends up driving a shoulder in Palmer for the sack.
Brisiel had a tough day. Stepped on Palmer's foot on 4th-and-1. False start on 1st-and-goal at the 5. Holding on a run play.
He had another holding penalty, but I give him a break on it. Why? Because Willie Smith whiffs on his man, Brisiel tries to pick him up and has to hold to try to prevent a hit on Palmer.
That 4th-and-1 play on the Raiders' opening drive? It was going to be a first down. The play was drawn up beautifully and Reece was WIDE OPEN for an easy pitch and catch. *groan* Here's a look at it [link]
The 2man pass rush that got the hit on Palmer was on Bergstrom. Although, Veldheer had also let the other rusher get free.
I counted 6 tipped passes. Most on 3 step drops. There was another play where a lineman jumped into the passing lane and Palmer double pumped; the pass was complete, but it allowed the linebackers to support and make the immediate tackle.
Part of the offensive line's job is to open up passing lanes; on those 3 step drop quick passes, the linemen needed to try to help Palmer out more. There really was not much for Palmer to do. Also, give credit to the Ravens because they scouted it and made it hard on Palmer.
Owen Schmitt may finally be getting into football shape. He made a few nice blocks.
Nice to see Juron Criner get some playing time. He ran the similar screen plays to either side. Shows some nice run after catch. Seems like he has a limited package still, but it is encouraging to see him getting worked in. As mentioned, few of the Raiders' WR like going across the middle and really Myers is the only reliable target there. It would be nice to see if Criner has the fortitude to do that; if he does, he has a chance to be a very important player.
The Raiders' offense did not really play that badly, but it was one of those days. On good teams, if one player makes a bad play, then other players rally and pick him up. In this game, it was more like a problem contagion. different Raiders took turns making bad plays and stopping drives. Combine that with the Ravens playing timely defense and you get a minimal output. Despite that, the offense looked like it was doing some good things.
The offensive line pass blocking can be solid IF they will help the linemen. Since the run game is not effective, the play action is not useful in helping slow down the pass rush. That means more max protect or 6 man protections. More chipping.
Run Blocking is getting better. They are at least working in sync and doing things right. The problem is that they get on their men but have a hard time keeping them blocked. Also, again Myers proved to be problematic. However, sometimes there was a 12 Personnel package with Gordon lined up outside of Myers. With this help, Myers did much better. This highlights (also) the problems Reece had as a lead blocker and so it may prove to be more effective to start using Gordon more. Is he in football shape (to play a complete game) yet?
The offense really could/should have been able to make this a competitive (albeit a shootout) game for much longer than it was and closer than it was. But the Raiders were just off as they are often when they travel to the east coast. That's not an excuse, but it's just something that seems to happen.
This gives me a little more confidence in the offense against New Orleans. It will be at home and while the defense may be anightmare, the offense should be able to do very well. If they can make the plays that they missed against the Ravens, the Raiders offense could keep it interesting into the second half and maybe the 4th quarter (a la Pittsburgh). What is going to be key, though, is for the offense to START strong. The Offense has generally been marginally ineffective in the first half and coming alive later. If that happens against the Saints, the Raiders could be down and out early.