The Oakland Raiders could not have asked for a better time for their bye week to have come. Normally, players prefer a bye week later in the season so they can let their bodies rest from the wear and tear of a 16 game NFL season. The Raiders, however, find themselves in need of a time out to break the rhythm of a season that is beating them into a pulp. Any hope that was born out of the Raiders win over the Pittsburg Steelers was quickly shattered when the Raiders laid an egg against the Denver Broncos last weekend.
While the Raiders lick their wounds and try to figure out how things went oh so wrong, let's take a minute to look at how the position groups have done in this young season.
Carson Palmer has actually had a fair season so far. He has put up over 1,000 yards and 5 touchdowns while completing over 60% of his passes. He has also thrown two interceptions, but that is neither good nor terrible. His average yards per completion is somewhat low, but that seems to have to do more with play calling than position play. Additionally, Palmer has shown that he is athletic enough to play in Greg Knapp's offense and has shown he still has enough arm strength to make some fantastic plays.
The run game has been non existent for the Raiders this season. Darren McFadden went from a potential MVP before he got hurt in 2011, to this year's Chris Johnson. Three games into the season and McFadden has only put up 201 yards and that includes a 64 yard run for his only touchdown this year. McFadden just does not look the same in the zone blocking scheme and is averaging a pathetic 3.5 yards per carry. Rung game? What run game?
The Raiders have been plagued with injuries at the wide receiver position. Jacoby Ford is likely out for the season and Denarius Moore missed the first game of the season and played only part of the second game. Meanwhile, Darrius Heyward-Bey was knocked out of last week's game with a concussion and a neck injury and sat out this past weekend's game. Denarius Moore has started to warm up, but overall, the Raiders wide receiver group has massively underperformed.
Tight end was supposed to be the Raiders weakest position this year. After losing Zach Miller two years ago and Kevin Boss last off season, the Raiders did nothing to get a new tight end this year, choosing instead to go with veteran back up Brandon Myers and young players David Ausberry and Richard Gordon. So far, Myers has not made the Raiders regret their decision. He leads the Raiders in reception yards and has the second most receptions after McFadden. While it has not necessarily been a big position of strength, it is much better than expected.
For years, the Raiders have struggled to put together a solid offensive line, but last season it appeared as though they were finally on the right path. Then the Raiders changed to a zone blocking scheme and the offensive line has looked terrible. This was supposed to be an upgraded line with Stefen Wisniewski entering his second season and free agent signing Mike Brisiel, but instead, it took a huge step back,
The defensive line has had an up and down season for the Raiders. While they have had moments of brilliance in their play, they had failed to play consistently and are not able to put nearly enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks. This group has goo depth and has been playing good football, but they have not yet lived up to their full potential.
The linebacker play from the Raiders has gotten much better. Philip Wheeler was a great signing in the off season as he has been an absolute ball hawk since signing with the Raiders, Meanwhile, rookie Miles Burris is looking like a legitimate NFL caliber starter and Rolando McClain looks like a completely different player under the new coaching staff.
The Raiders corner backs have also been suffering an epic amount of attrition. After every single corner from last season was released from the 53 man roster, the Raiders are desperate for good corner play. However, due to injuries, the Raiders have had to play Michael Huff at corner, something that is never a good sign for the season. Quarterbacks will be licking their chops when they see the Raiders on their schedule.
The safety play for the Raiders has been fairly solid this season. Tyvon Branch continues to be a shining star in a secondary full of black holes. If Branch was surrounded by better players, he would likely have made a trip to the Pro Bowl by now. Huff has played well, but not great this season, and is now spending time at corner due to injuries. In his stead, Matt Giordano has played admirably, but his lack of size makes him susceptible to mistakes.
Overall Grade: D