The game in Cincinnati should have seen the Raiders put together back-to-back wins for the first time this season. Coming off an unlikely win against the Steelers, the Raiders were riding a high and their next opponent was a team without starting QB Andy Dalton and Pro-Bowl WR AJ Green.
Well, the Bengals didn’t need either player and handily beat the Raiders despite not being very good themselves. Marvin Lewis’s team had answers for everything the Raiders did on both sides of the ball and it was likely because he had coached with both Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther in the past.
The Raiders were also banged up headed into game and were starting 2 new guards in place of injured Kelechi Osemele (toe) and Gabe Jackson (ankle/elbow). The offensive line looked as bad as it has all year and the defense couldn’t get off the field—allowing a back-up QB to sustain drives for much longer than he should have.
Offensive line woes
Kolton Miller struck first with a poor pass set and lunged against fellow rookie Chris Hubbard playing defensive end. Miller ducks his head and completely misses Hubbard who turns the corner and gets an easy sack.
Miller had one of his worst games of the season on Sunday, allowing 2 sacks and another 4 pressures. The Miller pick was slammed by just about every pundit and draft analyst at the time and there has rarely been a week that goes by without damning video evidence to support those criticisms.
As mentioned before, the Raiders had two new starters on the offensive line this week. Chaz Green was the guard who filled in for an injured Kelechi Osemele. Green fared about as good as can be expected against the menace that is Geno Atkins.
Atkins does his best ‘lion hunting prey’ impression on this sack of Derek Carr by effortlessly batting Green aside before tracking down Carr who gives up trying to escape and simply hits the turf. Richard is the RB in pass protection on this play but hopefully no one thinks the scat back could have stopped Geno Atkins.
The makeshift offensive line didn’t just hurt the passing game but the run game couldn’t get going either. Raiders running backs combined for 49 yards on 14 carries.
Many runs ended like the one above with minimal or no gain. Kolton Miller gets driven 5 yards into the backfield. Chaz Green, Rodney Hudson, and Brandon Parker end up on the ground. This play looks more like a blooper reel than an NFL cut-up. Credit to Denzelle Good for staying on his feet this play and knocking his man on the ground. You have to celebrate the little victories when you watch Raiders film.
Defense can’t get off the field
Too many times, especially in the first half, did the Raiders defense allow the Bengals to stay on the field. Marvin Lewis ditched his traditionally conservative approach and went for it on 4th down twice, both ending in positive plays for his team.
On this play Bengals WR Tyler Boyd motions inside the numbers. His jab step towards the sideline makes CB Gareon Conley bite on a potential out-route before Boyd turns inside for a slant. Conley has to continue to learn the situation and play more aggressively on short routes before Raiders fans can truly anoint him as a potential shut down corner.
A person watching football for the first time would be fooled into thinking Bengals QB Jeff Driskel was an elite dual threat QB. He made plays with his legs all game and extended drives by picking up crucial first downs.
But Jeff Driskel isn’t an elite dual threat QB, he’s a back up who hadn’t won a game as a starter before he faced the Raiders. First it was Nick Mullens and now it’s Jeff Driskel who the Raiders made look like studs.
Well maybe Jeff Driskel wasn’t such a stud passing the ball but he made plays when his team needed them the most. This is another example of a 3rd and long that the Bengals were able to convert.
CB Daryl Worley is in man coverage at the top of the screen. He is lined up in what looks like a press technique but you could hardly call it that because Worley fails to stay in front of the receiver or even get a hand on him. Paul Guenther’s defense is predicated on physical coverage and re-routing WRs. You would think after holding Tyreek Hill for 13 yards and Antonio Brown for 35 yards in consecutive weeks Worley would have been up to the task of defending Cody Core on a 3rd down.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Oakland fans. S Erik Harris got his first interception of the season. Naysayers will say this ball was under-thrown but Harris is turned and playing the ball in the air. He was in a good enough position to track down that pass regardless of where it was located. This is a great play by the journey man safety who could pair with Karl Joseph next season and provide a solid compliment in the back end of the defense.
TE Darren Waller showed why he is such an intriguing talent in the NFL during this game. Waller almost took this shallow cross to the house for what would be the longest play of the day for the Raiders.
Waller would also have the longest run play of the day on a nifty end around that picked up 21 yards earlier in the game. Waller is a legit 6’6 and logged a 4.46 40 yard dash and 37 inch vertical coming out of Georgia Tech. If he was a great player he would have laid out and made that touchdown, but with his physical tools he deserves a shot at the 53 man roster next training camp.
Karl Joseph also showed up in the stat column, registering the Raiders only official sack of the day. Guenther called his number on this safety blitz and Joseph shows great awareness knifing through the open gap and turning the corner for a sack.
Also credit LB Nicholas Morrow for occupying the right guard by bluffing the blitz before dropping off into coverage.
- The poor offensive play is understandable considering the slapped together offensive line and receiving corps. Derek Carr has been playing with half a deck all season making his games/passes attempted without an interception streak all the more impressive.
- Raiders corners getting beat by Tyler Boyd after enjoying success against big game wide-outs this season ins’t an anomaly. Boyd is having quietly an excellent season in just his 3rd year in the NFL and has been able to emerge as a break out player for the Bengals in AJ Green’s absence.
- The defense is back to its old ways, taking poor angles and giving up gashing plays against the run. The Bengals were able to rack up 168 yards on the ground. This is how to get beat by a team missing their starting QB.
- Offense might be down quite a few players but the defense was as healthy as its been all season. Even still Guenther couldn’t match wits with his former team and it was mostly lack of discipline more than being in bad defenses. The lack of situational awareness from this team is getting pretty exhausting to watch and thats a direct reflection on the coaching staff.