ReFo: Bucs @ Raiders, Week 9
By the end of the game the Bucs had come away with the win, but despite a massive franchise-record rushing performance from rookie running back Doug Martin, made it far harder than it ever needed to be against a Raiders team that still seems to be completely unpredictable.
Having got the team back in position to mount a victory late on, Carson Palmer then took it upon himself to throw the game away with some ugly passes nowhere near his intended receivers.
Let’s take a look at who stood out, good or bad.
Tampa Bay – Three Performances of Note
In need of a new nickname
Any time a rookie runner smashes a franchise record, he’s going to start getting headlines, but there’s no way the nickname of ‘Muscle Hamster’ does justice to such a dominant display. Doug Martin (+4.0) ended up with 251 rushing yards from 25 carries, and added four touchdowns. His grade is remarkable given he was responsible for giving up a pressure in pass protection, but his rushing grade was simply off the charts. What is strange though is that almost all of the damage was done on three runs that drove a knife into the heart of the Raiders. Coming into the third quarter they had held Martin to just 47 rushing yards before he exploded for carries of 45, 67 and 70 yards. Martin also forced a dozen missed tackles in the game.
Reports of his demise…
Last season Ronde Barber looked for all the world like a player that needed to retire. He was missing tackles for fun, and looking badly out of his depth at corner against the league’s best receivers. This season the move to safety seems to have revived him, and his +3.2 grade represents a season best. Barber was thrown at four times, broke up two passes and allowed just 19 yards on three catches.
The Nicks Effect
What will be interesting to watch for Tampa Bay is whether the loss of Carl Nicks affects Donald Penn more than it does the running game, since Martin seems more than capable of making things happen all by himself. In this game, Penn surrendered a sack, a knockdown, and two more hurries for a pass blocking grade of -1.6. Penn is capable of both very good and pretty poor days, but having a player of the caliber of Nicks to his inside had to help his confidence to deal with the edge rush. His past two games have now been two of his three worst this season, the other coming on opening day against Carolina.
Oakland – Three Performances of Note
Out of his depth
Since moving into the starting lineup, right tackle Willie Smith (-4.6) looks completely out of his depth, maintaining the problem spot of the Raiders remains right tackle. He has actually had three worse pass-blocking grades this season, but the sack, knockdown and four further hurries he accounted for this game still represented a major issue for the Raiders and put Palmer under pressure on plays where there should have been a clean pocket. Perhaps the worst of his play came on the sack with 4:11 to go in the second quarter. With Oakland looking to pass on 2nd-and-10, Smith was beaten around his outside so fast that Bucs defensive ends Michael Bennett met Palmer at the top of his drop, dumping him for a 7-yard loss before the quarterback had a chance to do anything.
Crowned too soon
The dramatic improvement of play in Michael Huff since moving to corner had been impressive. After being completely victimized early in the season he had rounded into some extremely impressive play of late once he looked more comfortable at the position. This game showed the difference between being comfortable playing corner and being able to deal with receivers like Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, both of whom took Huff to task in this game. The Oakland defensive back was thrown at seven times, allowing five receptions for 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns, one each to the Tampa duo. The pair also split the big plays, with each beating Huff for a gain of at least 37. This was a little reminder that there are tougher challenges out there than Jacksonville and Kansas City.
Oakland, the team with the most and least dominant D-line around depending on the day. At times the players on Oakland’s D-line can stand up and dominate like few other teams, but then they can have days like this where they make little to no impact all game long and get routinely shoved out of the way by the opposition. Richard Seymour (-3.1) and Tommy Kelly (-5.1) are talented interior rushers, but the pair combined for just a single hurry all game despite 56 rushes between them. Kelly was blanked from the score sheet entirely but for a single missed tackle, and Seymour could only account for a pair of stops and a fumble recovery. The Raiders are at their best when this pair can show up to games and provide consistent inside push, but they just didn’t do it in this game, and Martin’s big runs came as a result of how easy they were moved to the side up the middle.
– Oakland lost both Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson to ankle sprains after each had done some good things in their snaps. Rather than turn Taiwan Jones, the Raiders then went with fullback Marcel Reece in the backfield for the majority of the time, with Jones getting just five snaps, only one on a running play.
– Andre Carter may have been a shrewd pickup for the Raiders, and he was their most consistent source of pressure in this game, getting a sack and pair of hurries off the bench.
– On six carries between the tackles Doug Martin averaged 22.2 yards each run.
Given the ball instead of LeGarrette Blount to start icing the game, Doug Martin may have threatened Adrian Peterson’s all-time single-game rushing mark of 296. As it is, 251 and a PFF game ball will have to suffice.