ReFo: Raiders @ Chiefs, Week 6
Some games are just hard to watch; when two good defenses meet two poor offenses with a pair of quarterbacks seemingly struggling to outdo each other for ineptitude, it gets very ugly, very quickly. However, deep in the third quarter, as badly as Alex Smith played, he could no longer degenerate any further while Terrelle Pryor continued to plumb new depths – and so (this game in) the West was won.
Smith’s performance must worry the Chiefs, though; he’s played well only once this year (versus the Giants) and if he’s asked to generate more than 21 points (something he hasn’t done in 2013), things might not look quite so rosey in Kansas City.
As for the Raiders, they’ve already exceeded some people’s expectations, but I doubt even the most one-eyed Oakland fan could have anticipated such a performance from a defense replacing 10 starters from last year. If they have proved one thing, it’s that Reggie McKenzie has an eye for second tier talent and has the coaches to motivate them.
Oakland – Three Performances of Note
Following Week 5, many people were starting to question why it took Terrelle Pryor (-7.9) so long to claim the starting berth, and by way of answer, he produced this game.
Although he had to contend with pressure most of the day (55% of drop-backs) by midway through the third quarter Pryor had begun to start running with a clean pocket and on at least four occasions was responsible for sacks that need not have happened. His usual pocket presence crumbled as fast as his offensive line and we were left with a player that looked a shadow of the composed individual we saw three weeks ago on Monday Night Football.
Unfortunately, when he threw, things only got worse and regardless of the state of the game he continued to try and force throws. This led to probably his worst pass of his season; a horrible floated thing off his back foot, to no one in particular, that Quintin Demps picked off and led directly to the Chiefs go-ahead touchdown.
While Khalif Barnes (-6.5) was never going to a Pro Bowl in 2013, his work so far had certainly been acceptable in the context of him having to be a late replacement for the injured Jared Veldheer. However, he hadn’t previously gone against a player on the type of tear Tamba Hali is currently enjoying. Later in the game Hali was beating him on nearly every play and he allowed six hurries and a hit from 4:11 in the third quarter onward alone.
Add to this an equally disappointing display of run blocking and two false start penalties and you have the makings of a very poor day.
Moore Making Strides
As the Raiders’ offense disintegrated, the defense had its second best day of the year (after the Week 2 performance against Jacksonville) and one of the standouts was Sio Moore (+3.4). Playing as the strongside linebacker, Moore is currently consigned to being the first one off the field in nickel, hence his relatively low number of snaps (26). However, given the fact he generated a sack and three hurries on only seven pass rushes as well as doing a good job of holding his edge, it may be worthwhile for the Raiders to consider a change. Why not think more of a 2-4-5 look in nickel with Lamar Houston and Moore manning the edge and sending Jason Hunter to the sideline?
Kansas City – Three Performances of Note
Starting Up Front
The Chiefs currently own the best defense in football and have playmakers in every unit, but perhaps the one garnering least attention is the D-Line. When consideration is given to the front wall it’s usually focused on Dontari Poe but it’s important to state that both Tyson Jackson (+2.4) and Mike Devito (+2.5) are playing equally as well. The media often like to play favorites and while Poe is very deserving so are Jackson and Devito. Only the Jets can boast a sturdier run defense from the D-line but, if anything, the Chiefs’ trio is better getting pressure on passing plays.
Particularly pleasing is the form of Jackson who, in 2011, showed he could play the run but has never played well in all phases together.
In this game they combined for six stops and limited the Raiders to 43 yards between the tackles at 2.9 yards per attempt.
Starting to Show
When our “Race for Rookie of the Year” article comes out tomorrow I suspect a new name will feature – that of Marcus Cooper (+3.1). For the last three weeks San Francisco’s final pick in this year’s draft has been filling in for Brandon Flowers and making an extremely good fist of it. Picked up off waivers by KC in September, who would have suspected that he would have come so far, so fast?
He’s made his share of mistakes, including in this game allowing Denarius Moore too much space on his touchdown, but that play aside, his numbers here read 49 coverage snaps, nine targets, 4 receptions for 41 yards, an interception and two passes defensed.
Top to Bottom
If the player chosen with the third-to-last pick of the draft has impressed (Cooper), the player chosen 251 places above him still has not. After starting to get his act together a little against the Giants, Eric Fisher (-4.8) played his worst game of the year giving up a sack, a hit and four hurries together with a penalty.
It wasn’t even as if he had to face Lamar Houston (that dubious honor was left to Brandon Albert and Donald Stephenson), but both Sio Moore and Jason Hunter gave him enough problems anyway.
It does bring up a lot of questions about these type of position moves; the Jaguars eventually called time on making their second-round selection play RT and moved Luke Joeckel to left tackle (before he was injured) but this is a different dynamic. The Chiefs are genuine contenders and although Albert struggled a little with Oakland’s Houston, he’s generally played very well. With a sub-optimal QB, protection becomes even more important and at the moment the Chiefs have better options on their bench (Geoff Schwartz and Donald Stephenson) than Fisher.
– Tracy Porter’s coverage numbers: 38 snaps, four targets, zero receptions.
– On the 20 drop-backs on which Alex Smith was pressured, he completed only three attempts (for 33 yards).
– One person on Kansas City’s offense continues to shine; Anthony Sherman had yet another positively-graded game as a blocker and is by some margin our top-rated fullback.
PFF Game Ball
Marcus Cooper continues to make plays and if the mark of a great corner is truly a short-term memory, after giving up that early TD, he may be a star in the making.
Follow Neil on Twitter: @PFF_Neil