ReFo: Raiders @ Broncos, Week 3
The Broncos' win may have been a little predictable, but that only proves what a rich vein of form their QB is currently enjoying. Ben Stockwell has he best of ...
ReFo: Raiders @ Broncos, Week 3
Even after the Denver Broncos began their day on offense with a holding penalty, followed by a dropped pass, there was still never any doubt where this game was going.
For the Raiders, this was another mixed bag with some positives to be taken, but at the same time a defensive performance that saw them out of the game early on — although a late score demonstrated their fight and served to make the scoreline look a little kinder. Tackling was poor, the run blocking afforded Darren McFadden no time and space to add balance to the offense, and Peyton Manning’s passing put them out of the game.
This comfortable victory sets the Broncos at 3-0 and the fears of what could happen to their defense without the mercurial and influential Von Miller have, at this point halfway through his suspension, not resulted in any defeats. When the offense fires, as it did in this one, it overrides any concerns that may have developed, and there won’t be many, if any, teams queuing up to face off with Manning and co. on current form.
Oakland – Three Performances of Note
Filling the Biggest Hole on the Roster?
After impressing with his legs in Week 1, and leading the Raiders to their first victory of the season against the Jaguars last week, Terrelle Pryor put in his best passing display of the season (+3.0, +4.5 overall) in last night’s defeat. As we have seen all season, the Broncos sat off of Pryor for much of the game, blitzing on only five of his 32 drop-backs, but unlike in previous weeks Pryor was more productive against a base pass rush. Though sacked three times he went 15 of 23 for 230 yards (10 yards per attempt) including his touchdown courtesy of Denarius Moore and some sketchy Broncos’ coverage. Pryor maintained that 10 yards per attempt average going on the rare occasions Jack Del Rio sent extra pass rushers, finishing 4 of 5 for 51 yards . When Pryor is fully recovered from the concussion he suffered late in the game we’ll see whether he can reproduce displays like this and stake his claim for the Raiders’ starting job in the longer term.
Shoddy Tackling Leaves its Mark
As a team, the Raiders missed 19 tackles against the Broncos last night, almost twice as many as they missed in the first two games of the season combined. Of the team’s total, 13 were missed by three players. First-round pick D.J. Hayden (-4.0) missed half a dozen tackles, while middle linebacker Nick Roach (-4.7) fell off of four tackles, and free safety Brandian Ross (-3.9) missed a trio. That leaves six missed tackles for the rest of the team, with Kevin Burnett and Charles Woodson missing two each, though they did at least combine to make 22 tackles, with Woodson spending much of the game cleaning up any mess in front of him. In terms of a team split, 11 of the missed tackles came in the passing game (10 coverage, 1 pass rush) with eight coming in run defense on Montee Ball (five) and Ronnie Hillman (three).
Nowhere to Run
Darren McFadden’s touchdown run to end the game left the Raiders’ ground game on a high note, but that play, and the run setting up his passing score to Marcel Reece were the only positives to take from this game. Individually, McFadden, thanks to his -6 yard carry, had more yards after contact than he had total with 9 yards on 12 carries. The only thing that even raises the base stats for the Raiders to mediocrity is a 23-yard carry by Pryor. Playing from behind, and with so few carries, any errors were always likely to stick out in the mind, and stick out in the grades, with Andre Gurode (-3.2) struggling in his first start at left guard surrendering two stops — one at the line of scrimmage and one behind it. The one bright spot on the offensive line was again Tony Pashos (+2.6) who, though surrendering his first pressure of the season, put in another strong display in pass protection, even if he couldn’t provide any impetus for a ground game off the right side.
Denver – Three Performances of Note
Decker Starts to Turn Things Around
After a dire start to the season with five drops and a fumble against the Ravens and Giants, Eric Decker held on to the ball each of the eight times it came his way in comfortably his best showing (+3.9 receiving) of the season. He got things started with back-to-back gains of 12 (forcing two missed tackles) and 17 yards to convert a 2nd-and-20 into a first down on the opening drive – a drive he capped with a wide-open 2-yard score benefitting from a breakdown in the Raiders’ goal line defense. He then made his longest play of the day late in the second quarter to set up Julius Thomas’ score, bringing in a pass that Mike Jenkins tried (and failed) to jump, before spinning away upfield, turning Brandian Ross inside out, and evading a tackle from D.J. Hayden to set the Broncos up inside the red zone. In spite of his drops during the first two weeks, Manning has not erred in targeting Decker plenty. His 28 targets after Week 3 sees him sit just outside the league’s Top 10 most targeted receivers, and more performances like this should see him stay high on this list and be productive moving forward.
Maximizing his Opportunities
Defensive end Robert Ayers figured in a season low 30 snaps, but turned in his highest graded performance (+1.5) making the most of his opportunities particularly as a pass rusher. In 24 pass rushes, Ayers had five pressures (1 Sk, 1 Ht, 3 Hu), with another nullified by a penalty. Ayers got to rush the passer on 24 of his 30 snaps, profiting from the Broncos’ scoreboard advantage and Jack Del Rio’s personnel deployment. Ayers got most of his pressure to the outside of opposing blockers (on top of one pressure in pursuit), but got his sack driving inside of Khalif Barnes to get the Raiders off to a bad start on their first drive after Denver established a 37-14 lead. Through three games, Ayers is tied for 10th among 4-3 defensive ends with 15 total pressures, but on 121 pass rushes that hasn’t translated into a high pass rush grade (-0.7) producing a consistent base line of pressure that didn’t increase with his abundant opportunities in the first two weeks of the season. Ayers is helping to ensure that the Broncos pass rush is doing just enough without Von Miller, but they are clearly lacking his spark. The intimidating thing for the Broncos’ rivals is that Millers’ absence isn’t making the Broncos any more beatable.
Cutting the Raiders to Ribbons
He might not have set any single-game passing records this time around, but in his second prime-time game of the season Peyton Manning (+6.9) put on another clinic, tearing the Raiders coverage to pieces. Of his 37 passes, Manning had only five incompletions, four of which were drops and the other a pass defense by Kevin Burnett. His accuracy in this game was absolutely stellar, and he made the most of his opportunities when the Raiders were miles away in coverage, and hitting tight windows when they were in reasonable positions or better. The only blots on his copybook came with putting the ball on the ground twice — once on a fumbled snap and the other when he was nailed in the back by Lamarr Houston as he began to throw. He worked predominantly between the numbers (21 of 23, 213yds, 2 TDs) but ,as ever with Manning, it was his intermediate work that stood out the most, with only a pair of drops (on consecutive plays midway through the third) and Burnett’s pass defense robbing him a perfect day on passes aimed 10-19 yards downfield. Even so, his grade on intermediate throws was +4.6 to go with a stat line of 7 of 10 for 142 yards and a score. Who will knock Manning out of this vein of form, and when?
– Unfortunately for Raider fans, you don’t have to go too far back to find a team missed tackle count worse than this, as they missed 20 against the Bucs in Week 9 last season.
– Pryor and Manning were at opposite ends of the time to throw spectrum this week. On average, Manning released each pass 2.14 seconds after the snap (quickest in the league this week), while Pryor’s release was on average 3.13 seconds after the snap (second-slowest in the league this week).
– That quick release time translated into a relatively pressure-free day for Manning as well. Pressured on 6 of his 38 drop-backs, only Tony Romo (3/25) was pressured less among starting quarterbacks.
PFF Game Ball
His quarterback was almost faultless, but in such a crowded receiving corps this was a crucial performance from Eric Decker. You can only go on dropping passes for so long before you see your targets start to drop as well, and Decker rebounded in style from a rough start to the season.
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Ben Stockwell | Director of Analysis
Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.