I took a look at the first quarter of the game, wanting to look at some of the first team and into the second team to get some thoughts.
-On the kickoff, Dan Bailey’s placement was poor. I question whether Ford should’ve fielded it because the ball came down right near the sideline and short of the goal line area. If he hadn’t fielded it and it had taken a favorable bounce out of bounds the team would’ve started at the 40 after a penalty.
But, on the flip side, Ford was moving forward at a good pace, fielded it cleanly and had the return team given him a crease he could’ve had a great return as he was already at about the 10 or 15. The return team gave him absolutely nothing and he was swarmed over by Cowboys almost immediately. The special teams bears some watching in future games.
-Darren McFadden had 38 yards on 3 touches which obviously bodes well. His first, a 4 yard run round the right end was a good run but nothing amazing. The next play was an 18 yard reception that looked good.What struck me was that McFadden could have actually gotten more yards had he followed his blocking a bit more.
The play started with McFadden in a shotgun formation to the left of Palmer but prior to the snap he moved to the right outside wide receiver position with Jacoby Ford in the R slot position to his left. The linebacker that was assigned McFadden moved out with him indicating man covg.
At the snap, Ford drove his man, the LCB towards the sideline and the LB guarding McFadden. McFadden used Ford’s blocking as a screen pick and ran towards center, fielding the catch from Palmer and scooting up field.
While Ford held his own against the CB, what really sprung McFadden was a good move by RT Khalif Barnes who, at the snap, brushed by the left DE and angled right into the CB who could’ve made it around Ford for a quick tackle on McFadden for no gain.Barnes levelled the LCB and also got in the way of the LB who was coming around Ford to make a tackle. McFadden’s explosiveness allowed him to escape an arm tackle attempt from the LB.
Also at the snap, RG Mike Brisiel had engaged the left DT opposite him and shoved him in towards the center, Wisniewski. Brisiel then moved forward to block at the second level and he was able to get in front of McFadden.
McFadden chose to cut left around Brisiel which put the safety in his path and the safety made the tackle on McFadden for the 18 yards. Had McFadden seen the safety coming around Brisiel and cut right instead Brisiel looked likely to be in position for a crushing block on the safety and McFadden would likely have been able to run for the TD.
-One of the most talked about plays was the INT that ended the first drive. After reviewing the play again, and with all due respect to Dennis Allen’s opinion, I agree with Carson – he shouldn’t have thrown that ball to Ford that ended up intercepted.
Allen indicated that FS Sensabaugh was in middle of field and therefore Palmer had a good read on man coverage against Ford but in reviewing the tape, the closest to mid-field that Sensabaugh reached was really at the left hash, no further.
Plus, Palmer was looking off Ford from the snap. Sensabaugh appeared to start towards the center but was able to read Palmer’s eyes to Ford and break towards the sideline before Palmer released the ball. This is why he was in a position to make the play.
-The 1st team run D looked good but I am still skeptical about their ability to sustain dominance until I see it for a full game. The Raiders D has history of starting hot but wearing down over the course of a game. They tend to get into a pattern of stopping the run for two, three, four plays and then suddenly giving up a 34 yard run which completely kills them.
Plus, the D-line is on the more svelte side right now & they are likely to be better at the beginning of games when their quickness and energy can overwhelm opposing O lines. I want to see how they do over the course of a full game when size frequently starts to win-out.
-Final note: This week in practices, Palmer and Ford really made effort to work on timing. Palmer likes Ford and went out of his way to talk him up to the media. I think Palmer would like to put to rest the discussion about wheter Ford has bad hands and you’ll see him look Ford’s way a lot tonight.
In fact, I’m going to go on record and predict that Palmer’s first pass tonight will go to Ford.
The Raiders play the Arizona Cardinals tonight at 7:00pm Pacific. There is no national broadcast of the event but it will be televised locally. The NFL Network will replay the game later in the week.
For more Raiders news and analysis throughout the day, follow me on Twitter @AsherMathews