Re-Focused – Raiders @ Bills, Week 2

| September 21, 2011

Coming off of a shortened week that started with a Monday Night Football win over the Denver Broncos, the Oakland Raiders were hoping to start 2-0 for the first time since 2004. Their undefeated start almost came to fruition if it wasn’t for the late game heroics of Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who orchestrated a 14 play 66 yard drive that set up the go ahead touchdown to seal the victory.
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Even though the Raiders couldn’t walk away with the win, they may have found their wide receiver of the future and the team as a whole has to be encouraged by its overall performance over the past two weeks. Across the sideline, the Bills proved that manhandling the Kansas City Chiefs in week one spoke more about their overall progress as a team, then it did about the Chiefs’ inept ability to do anything constructive.
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Are the Bills ready to take that next step to become a consistent football team that has learned how to win close games? Let’s take a look.
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Buffalo – Three Performances of Note
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1)   Can’t touch this

For the second straight week, Fred Jackson absolutely obliterated the opposing defense. Out of his 117 yards on the ground, Jackson picked up over half of them when rushing between Eric Wood and Andy Levitre. If one were to take a look at the number of missed tackles that defenders had, divided by the number of rushes Jackson had, his elusive rating (137.1) can’t be contended with. He has touched the ball 38 times throughout the first two weeks, and on those touches, he has forced 12 missed tackles.
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2)   On the rebound  

After having an up and down 2010, Chris Kelsay is off to rock solid start in 2011. Whether it was playing against the run or getting after the quarterback, Kelsay made sure to show Khalif Barnes (-2.8) who was the boss. While he had a great game, Kelsay’s versatility really stood out, as he played six different positions and managed to rush the passer and drop into coverage effectively.  Seeing an uptick in playing time from week one (63.2% of defensive snaps to 89.2%) seemed to do the trick, since his strong play continued well into the second half.
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3)  Up in flames

Even with the Bills putting up strong team efforts two weeks in a row, there are still a few areas of concern, with Leodis McKelvin being one of them. Rookie wide out Denarius Moore (+3.8), torched McKelvin (-2.6) consistently throughout the game. Coming into Sunday’s matchup, Moore had never even caught an NFL pass, but when Jason Campbell saw that McKelvin was lined up opposite of Moore, he went after it time and time again. When covering Moore, McKelvin was targeted six times, allowing four receptions for 136 yards and a touchdown, which was surprising considering how he locked down Dwayne Bowe to 17 yards the week before.
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Oakland – Three Performances of Note
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1) Run DMC

While Darren McFadden didn’t pile up as many yards on the ground as he did last week, he had more of a presence in the passing game this week. Against Denver, McFadden only saw one target, but one week can surely make a difference as there was a sense of urgency to exploit the Bills in the short passing game.  Tying Denarius Moore with a team high eight targets, Hue Jackson made it clear he wanted to get his playmakers the ball.  McFadden hauled in seven balls on his eight targets, while picking up an astonishing 81 yards after the catch. He finished with a +2.1 grade solely because of his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, as he instantly made plays on every opportunity.
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2)  So much pressure

I know that it’s the same story every week with Kamerion Wimbley, but I can’t let his outstanding pass rushing performance go unannounced. As a team, the Raiders only had ten combined pressures, with Wimbley accounting for almost half of them. He was continuously harassing replacement right guard Chad Rinehart and right tackle Erik Pears throughout the course of the game. Even though he lost contain on a couple of plays and didn’t play against the run as well as he did last week, his performance still netted him a +3.5 PFF grade.
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3)  Hands to yourself

With the good comes the bad, and the bad this week was cornerback Chris Johnson. Johnson just never looked comfortable at any point in this game, as he was either getting beat on the outside by Stevie Johnson, or being penalized for defensive pass interference. Being penalized three times on 47 pass plays is inexcusable for any cornerback, not to mention the fact that he also got called for defensive holding on the Bills’ game winning drive in the fourth quarter on 3rd and 8. A coverage grade of -4.3 and penalty grade of -2.7 won’t stop many opposing offenses from moving the ball, and is something that the Raiders need to quickly rectify.
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Game Notes

● The Bills had three wide receivers or more on the field for 84% of their offensive plays.

● Denarius Moore saw six targets 20+ yards downfield.

● Nick Barnett had a team high 10 tackles and four defensive stops while playing all 65 snaps.
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PFF Game Ball: 

Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo running back has announced to the world that it’s time to start thinking of him as one of the game’s elite halfback.

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