https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2 ... ns-week-6/
ReFo: Raiders @ Falcons, Week 6
Ben Stockwell | 2012/10/15
After a fine game-tying drive, which came on the back of a failed attempt at a game-winning drive, the Oakland Raiders went a long way toward proving correct an old adage in the NFL — Prevent defense only prevents you from winning. With the Falcons starting from their own 20=yard line with only 40 ticks left on the clock, the Raiders played off and didn’t force Atlanta to do anything difficult to move into field goal range. To gain the 43 yards to setup Matt Bryant’s game-winning score, Matt Ryan didn’t complete a single pass of any difficulty, every completion was targeted under the Raiders’ soft prevent defense. This was the final act in a game that saw the Raiders repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot and blow a chance at a marquee victory for rookie head coach Dennis Allen.
This may be the ‘new’ Raiders, but the old Raiders showed there is still work to do to get this team turned around. They racked up another dozen penalties and 110 penalty yards, which stifled their attempt to score the upset and grab their first victory coming off a bye week in a decade. Instead of putting the Falcons away they allowed them to hang around, in spite of an extremely sloppy performance. Despite having the ball for only 39 seconds in the last 6:19 of the game, the Raiders essentially gifted the Falcons a 10-7 scoring advantage in that spell courtesy of a pick-six by Asante Samuel and the game-winning field goal by Bryant. The Falcons stepped up big time to make those plays, but the Raiders should have had control of this game. Instead, they let it frustratingly slip away.
Oakland – Three Performances of Note
Moore to come
After missing the first week of the season, Denarius Moore (+3.8) eased himself back into the lineup with 12 catches for 183 in his first three games. This week he exploded out of the Raiders’ bye week, and collected 104 yards on a season-high five catches, including a touchdown and one forced missed tackle. There were four other incompletions targeted to him, with one of those being the game-changing pick-six by Samuel. On the play, Moore’s QB Carson Palmer left a pass to an out route infield, a cardinal sin, which allowed Samuel to jump the route. Prior to that Moore had displayed his deep speed to get behind Samuel on a go route for a 49-yard gain, and also his elusiveness on short passes — he took a crossing route and beat a tackle from Mike Peterson on his way to a 25-yard touchdown that gave the Raiders a 13-7 lead at half time. The only thing missing from Moore’s game is a consistent hook up with his quarterback, as over the past two seasons less than half of the 98 passes targeted to Moore have been completed. If Palmer and Moore (who to his credit has only one drop on 35 targets this season) can up this mark then teams will really have to start to fear the WR consistently, rather than simply be wary of the occasional big play.
Rushing Statistics Flatter to Deceive
A cursory glance at the Raiders’ team rushing statistics in this game makes for apparently pleasant reading for Raider fans. Their 32 carries, including 27 for their lead back whose durability has been questioned, shows a commitment to the ground game. And their a 4.9 yard per carry average, 150+ yards and a goal-line touchdown suggests a profitable day for the offense. However, if you scratch just a little below the surface you start to see the real picture — one that doesn’t make for such pleasant viewing for Oakland fans. If you remove the Raiders’ three longest rushes, which were important in their own right but are outliers in regards to the team performance, then you reduce the Raiders’ rushing total almost by half and take their yards per carry average down from 4.9 to 2.8. Add into that a costly early fumble by Darren McFadden and you start to see that the Raiders’ inability to establish a consistently effective ground game was one of the limiting factors in them establishing full control of this game. The offensive line blocked solidly as a unit, but there were still breakdowns and Jared Veldheer struggled individually. He yielded three defensive stops, including one on a 3rd-and-goal play that forced a field goal attempt rather than putting six points on the board. At present, the Raiders’ big-play ability is keeping the running game afloat and when you don’t get those it is tough to see at present where the Raiders are going to get offensive balance from.
Getting the Hang of Things Again
Emerging from the University of Texas as a safety and corner ‘tweener’, Michael Huff has spent most of his career at safety, never quite fulfilling the promise that made him the number seven overall pick as long ago as 2006. As a combination of salary cuts and injuries have left the Raiders incredibly short at corner, he has been pressed back into action at the position and, after a slow start in his first couple of games, Huff this week put in a performance that we have rarely seen during his NFL career. Kept busy by Ryan and the Falcons’ passing game, Huff clearly got the better of this encounter (+2.7) as he allowd fewer than 50% of the passes into his coverage to be completed and got his hands to four passes, intercepting one that might have been destined to be an touchdown. Against the Falcons’ top two receivers Huff allowed only 5 of 10 targets to be completed for 62 yards, and gave up just a trio of first downs in the first half, before he collected a trio of pass defenses in the second half. On his interception Huff used his experience at safety to bait Ryan into a throw to Julio Jones and then drifted underneath the post route from his left corner spot to intercept a pass that, at release, Ryan must have thought had a chance at six points. With the Raiders heavily depleted at corner they will be praying that Huff continues to perform in this manner, and not how he played against the Steelers in Week 3.
Atlanta – Three Performances of Note
Ryan Takes a Shelling
He may not have seen much more pressure than he is used to — pressured on 33.3% of his drop-backs against a season average of 30.5% — but when he was under pressure yesterday Ryan was under heavy pressure. He was hit or sacked 11 times by Raider defenders, and on 12 pass attempts under pressure he had a miniscule passer rating of 11.1. That stems from the fact he completed only four passes for 60 yard while throwing two interceptions. As good as Ryan’s season has been so far he is still not comfortable under pressure in spite of taking some strides since last season. Under pressure his passer rating is dropping by more than 30 points, and his completion percentage drops by nearly 20%. Usually this means the Falcons’ offensive line must simply stand up to an opponents’ base pass rush, as Ryan is usually very efficient against the blitz. This week, however, Ryan was only comfortable with no pressure and no blitz. In an unusually poor performance against the blitz Ryan completed only 6 of 13 passes for 56 yards, with one interception for a passer rating of 26.4. If the Raiders hadn’t backed off and played such a soft prevent defense on the Falcons’ final drive, would the national media be throwing a microscope on Ryan’s performance in this game?
One-Man Wrecking Crew
The Falcons didn’t exert an exorbitant amount of pressure (pressure on 13 of 36 drop-backs) on Palmer in this game, but when they got there it was telling, and John Abraham (+7.4) led the charge with three sacks. His third sack was merely a case of touching down an already fallen Palmer, but his first two were telling examples of his ability to dominate either of the Raiders’ offensive tackles. In the first quarter he ripped to the inside of RT Willie Smith to almost immediately sack Palmer at the top of his drop-back, which put the Raiders into a long-yardage situation they didn’t risk seriously trying to convert. While in the third quarter, he tore to the outside of Veldheer to take down Palmer as he wound to throw, which forced a fumble that was returned to the Raiders’ 2-yard line by Ray Edwards. The Falcons may have failed to punch the ball into the end zone, but this got them back on level terms and Abraham had made his presence known on the game. In combination with another four pressures, drawn against four different Raiders, and a pair of holding penalties (one each drawn from the Raiders’ tackles) Abraham and Mike Nolan ensured that the Raiders could never scheme to tie down and take away his threat from just one spot on the defense.
Asante Samuel in a Nutshell
If you’d never come across Samuel before yesterday’s game then he showed, almost completely, the player that he has always been and still is. Equally adept at giving up big plays as making them, Samuel was as infuriating as he was game-breaking for the Falcons. He let up two long gains, including one when he tried to break on a short route that wasn’t even faked for, but made the pivotal play for the Falcons late in the fourth quarter. Without that pick-six, his trademark play jumping a route in front of him, the Falcons almost certainly would have lost this game (though who’s to say the Raiders wouldn’t have played soft with a touchdown lead had they finished that drive) and all that Samuel would have been remembered for from this game was the long gains allowed to Moore and Derek Hagan. The only thing Samuel didn’t provide in this game that we are used to after a shoddy start to the season, was a missed tackle — he missed six tackles in his first four games for Atlanta. Samuel has now gone consecutive weeks without a miss. That’s the first time since the middle of last season that he has managed that feat.
– The 10 quarterback hits recorded by the Raiders’ defense in this game nearly doubled their season total. In their first four games they recorded only 14. The two recorded by Philip Wheeler takes him to eight hits in his past four games.
– Atlanta’s expansive use of three wide packages ensured that Rolando McClain played a career-low 18 snaps — evenly split between run and pass defense.
– With 11 missed tackles (tied for a season high) in this game the Falcons have now missed 52 after six games. AT this pace the Falcons are on course for 138 missed tackles this season, 31 more than they missed last season.
PFF Game Ball
The only Falcon pass rusher who appeared to show up in this game was John Abraham who inflicted on Jared Veldheer the Raider LT’s worst performance since his rookie season. Abraham’s contribution was pivotal in both run and pass game.