For those of you who were unaware, this season the Oakland Raiders will be traveling a league leading 31,732 miles. That is more than the Panthers, Falcons, and Ravens combined. Also, the Raiders are the only team that will travel more than 30,000 miles.
Yes, the extra flight to London in week six, which is technically a home game, accounts for a large portion of the mileage. But cross country road trips to Miami, as the Raiders have this week, take a toll on the body as well.
The dreaded, early (for west coasters) 10 am kickoff. It is something that in past years has plagued the Raiders, but most recently has not given them the huge disadvantage it once did.
The forecast for Sunday’s game is a high of 88 degrees which is not the same as 88 degrees on the West Coast because of the intense humidity.
We saw how the heat and altitude effected the Raiders defense late in the game last week. Hopefully players are better prepared this week to deal with the warm temperature and humidity.
Despite the challenges of traveling and being on the road this is a winnable game. Miami is 2-0, but both wins came against teams who aren’t considered dominant by any means. Miami’s offense lacks fire power, they rank 26th in total offensive yardage with 299 per game. Their strength is on defense where they rank fourth in the league in points allowed per game at 16.
The key to the game will be the Raiders ability to play a full, 60-minute game. In the previous two weeks, the Raiders have shown flashes early, but incapable of delivering the kill shot.
Let’s see what players and coaches from both teams are saying about the week three match-up.
Head Coach Jon Gruden, on the challenge Robert Quinn and Cameron Wake present.
“Well Wake has a history of being troublesome guy. I think a great trade they made was Quinn. He raises hell off the edge. He can bend the edge. He’s very athletic. Plays hard. I love his motor. It’s hard to do in Miami where that heat is what it is. He’s given them a lot of high-effort rushes. Down in and down out. I really like the addition of Quinn. They’ve emerged I think. They have some young linebackers from Ohio State that are playing well. Xavien Howard, their left corner, he’s as good as we’ve seen so far this year.”
Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, on defending Ryan Tannehill’s scrambling ability.
“Yea, he can run with the ball. We’ve played this guy before. I wouldn’t say he’s a Fran Tarkenton or anything like that, but he can win downs with his feet, they’ll have some things for him in the running game which he’ll be able to run the ball. It’s nothing we haven’t seen in the past.”
Quarterback Derek Carr, on the problems the Dolphins defense presents.
“Obviously know about their edge rushers, they got good run-stuffers in the middle, they go young linebackers – Kiko Alonso is the vet in that group who I’ve played against. They’ve got good corners, very athletic, sticky corners. I don’t think number 25, Howard gets enough credit to be honest with you. He’s one of the better corners in the whole league and he does not get enough credit for that. He’s a very good player.
Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase, on his impressions of the Raiders after two weeks.
“I think it’s tough to really label the team yet. I know they’re learning two different systems. Both sides of the ball are learning new systems. On defense, it’s completely different. It’s different than what they did in the last few years. Usually after those first two weeks, when you’re in a new system, there are a lot of learning experiences that go on.”
Defensive Coordinator Matt Burk, on defending Jared Cook.
“Obviously Jared has had a successful season so far. He has a lot of targets, he had some success against us last year. Cook’s a guy we have to be aware of and what they’re trying to do with him, they’re trying to get him the ball in a lot of scenarios. So yea, that’s the game plan is to try and have some different body types to throw at him and try to take some of his game away.”