Sep 16, 2012; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush (22) eludes Oakland Raiders cornerback Joseph Hanson (23) and linebacker Roland McClain (55) to score on a 23-yard touchdown run at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins defeated the Raiders 35-13. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
The Raiders struggled against average opponents in the first two weeks of the season, but now must face a formidable Steelers team after looking like Oakland does not even belong in the NFL for two straight weeks.
The Oakland Raiders have looked nothing short of horrendous in their first two games of the 2012 campaign. At this point, many in the Raider Nation are preparing themselves for the worst, a long season full of mistakes, misques and just plain bad play. The Raiders looked bad in week one when they lost to the San Diego Chargers, but at least they kept the score close and the Chargers are a respectable team. In week two, the Raiders made a rather sad team look like a power house when they were destroyed by the Miami Dolphins. To make matters worse, if the Raiders want to right the ship, they will have to do so against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week three.
The Steelers may be getting older, and are no longer one of the perennial favorites to go to the Super Bowl, but they are still considered to be a playoff caliber team, and one that is better than both of the teams the Raiders have faced so far this season. This is certainly not the ideal team for the Raiders to go up against when they are depserately trying to empty water out of a boat that is quickly sinking.
One of the biggest problems for the Raiders in the first two weeks has been the play of their offensive line. Last season, when the Raiders were running a power blocking scheme, the Raiders offensive line looked better than it had in years and even boasted two players that looked like future pro bowlers in Stefen Wisniewski and Jared Veldheer. Now that the Raiders have switched over to a zone blocking scheme, the offensive line looks helpless. It does not open holes for Darren McFadden in the run game and does not give Carson Palmer enough time to let down field routes develope. The offensive line is one of the most important aspects of the offense, if they are not playing welll, it will show in the performance of the offense as a whole. Even if the Steelers' defense is getting old, they look young enough to handle a struggling offensive line like the Raiders have.
On defense, the Raiders parted like the Red Sea for Reggie Bush last weekend. On top of that, they made Brian Hartline look like a stud receiver rather than the slightly above average receiver that he is. That does not bode well for the Raiders as they will be playing one of the hardest quarterbacks in the league to bring down. With the extra time that Ben Rothlesberger creates by avoiding the sack, the Raiders secondary will be hard pressed to keep guys like Mike Wallace under wraps when they could not keep Hartline under wraps for even short periods of time.
Needless to say, this is not the matchup the Raiders would like to see after two back to back devastating losses to start the season. The Raiders are going to need to correct their problems and do it quickly if they want to have any chance at being competitive with the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend.