Behind Enemy Lines: Breaking Down The Raiders
By: Daniel Gonzalez-Quevedo
What do you know about the 7-4 Oakland Raiders? They’re quietly in first place in the AFC West and if the season were to end today, they would be hosting a playoff game. Despite having all-pro running back, Darren McFadden, missing four games with a sprained foot, players such as Michael Bush and Carson Palmer have stepped up their game and the squad has managed to go on a three game winning streak.
Here is a scouting report on the Raiders from Dolphins players and coaches:
(On what he sees out of Carson Palmer)- “They’re very much different to me right now than they were early in the season when you watch them on tape. Carson throws the ball in the middle areas of the field very well and he throws the deep ball extremely well. I spent some time watching a lot quarterbacks this off-season and he just throws the deep ball very well. The guy gets it out of his hands quick. Sees things really quick, pressure, and those types of things. We played against him a year ago in Cincinnati and had to prepare for him there. I think he’s doing a nice job of is using all the weapons. ”
(On if Carson Palmer has shaken off the rust from his holdout)- “Yeah, I would say he’s shaken off the rust pretty good. The ball is coming out of his hand fast. The arm strength looks really good. I saw him escape a few times in the game the other day. He’s moving around pretty good.”
(On what Michael Bush brings to the Raiders offense)- “I mean big, strong, physical, can finish. I think the guy is getting better and better every game he plays. They’re a little different shade, different running the football than (Darren) McFadden, little different style runner. But they’ve done a nice job adapting and adjusting to him. Obviously if you get both those guys back there that’s a tall duty. Our guys are prepared. They had a good week of practice.”
(On how the Raiders have changed) – “I’m familiar with their personnel. A lot of the same guys are still there, but what they’re doing now with their schemes is pretty much different. Before they would just line up man to man, and you knew where they were going to be and what they were going to do to you. But now they’re doing a great job of mixing it up a little bit and that’s were they get their success. “
(On what he sees out of Carson Palmer, Michael Bush, and the Raiders offense as a whole) – “First thing you see when you turn on the film is a ‘bruising’ running game and how fast they are at the receiver position. It’s going to be a challenge for us. Up front we have to stop the run, I think their 4th in the league in rushing. In the pass game we have to make sure to stay on top of the receivers because they have a lot of speed. Palmer is a veteran guy who how to read defenses and who knows how to get the ball out quick. He’s going to stand in that pocket; he’s going to wait for one of his guys to get open, and he’s going to deliver the football. When he drops back, he knows where he is going with the football. We have to give him some different looks and try to get him off the spot. He’s real big into reading pre-snap defenses, so obviously we’re going to have to give him some different looks. We’ll go back to when we played him against the Bengals last year and go from there.
(On Oakland’s defense) – “They bring a lot of pressure and that’s something we have to clean up. A little bit of pressure got to Matt (Moore) this last game. So we got to clean that part of the game up, pressure side of it, ID’ing the fronts right, ID’ing their fronts and their schemes correctly. They’re fast and big up front too. That’s something we got to make sure we handle well this game. We can’t get caught in the early negative yardage in downs.”
Here are some quick notes on the Raiders and Dolphins:
• Last year, the Dolphins visited Oakland in week 13 and came out with a 33-17 victory.
• Michael Bush has 3 rushing touchdowns and 1 receiving touchdown in the last 4 games.
• The Raiders defense is giving up a league high 5.3 yards each rushing attempt.
• The last time Miami’s defense gave up a rushing touchdown was in Week 6 against the New York Jets.
• Matt Moore has not thrown an interception in 11 quarters.
• Oakland leads the all-time series 19-14-1, but the Dolphins have won eight of the past nine regular season contests.
Michael Bush is clearly one of the better ‘back-ups’ in the NFL. He is a huge part of the Raiders offense and it will be interesting to see how the Dolphins try to stop him. During their 3 game winning streak Bush has carried the ball at least 24 times in every game, and has even caught a few passes out of the backfield.
The receiving core of Oakland is by far the fastest in the league. The Dolphins definitely don’t want to turn this into a track meet. Oakland has a couple of speedsters that can score at any moment. The Dolphins secondary must stay on top of these receivers and not let anyone slip deep into the secondary because they will make them pay.
Special Teams could play a huge factor in this game. Both teams have great kickers and punters than can severely change the outcome of the game. Sebastian Janikowski has proven he can make field goals from 60+ yards, and Shane Lechler is capable of punting the football almost 80 yards. We already know Brandon Fields is extremely accurate, and can pin teams inside the 20 when given the chance. Dan Carpenter is returning from a groin injury after sitting out two weeks. The Raiders return unit is also very dangerous; last year, Jacoby Ford took the opening kickoff of the game back for a touchdown.
Oakland currently holds the 4th seed in the AFC. With the Broncos right behind them at 6-5, the Raiders will try their hardest to get a bigger cushion in their division race to secure a playoff spot.
The Dolphins will be honoring the late, Jim Mandich on Sunday against the Raiders in what is sure to be an emotional day for the fans, players, and coaches.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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