Ray-Dar: Quick Slants From Week 9

Just when I thought there wasn’t a team in the NFL that could be more jinxed than the hapless Oakland Raiders, the Miami Dolphins came roaring in screaming: “Pick me! Pick me!”

I was skeptical at first. Despite getting shut out twice, Adam Gase’s “Aqua Assassins” were 4-3 walking into Sunday night’s tilt. And against a 3-5 opponent at home, the odds were titled in Miami’s favor. But brain fart after brain fart gave not only myself, but a national audience who tuned into the Yuck Fest, damning evidence the Dolphins’ luck is more rotten than the Raiders.

And yet, Oakland won by a narrow 27-24 margin. Go figure.

“We’ve got one. We want to go 1-0 each week. That’s what we’re after,” head coach Jack Del Rio said of his Raiders after the W.

“We won. That’s what we needed,” quarterback Derek Carr chimed in. “We worked really hard. We had a good week of practice. I think that our energy, our intensity carried over to the game. Our Wednesday, Thursday practice were some of the most competitive we’ve had in awhile. We have to bring it in practice, we have to bring it in our meetings and when we do that, the outcomes take care of themselves.”

Bring it, the Raiders did. Give it away, the Dolphins did.

Let’s hit those Quick Slants:

  • Was lukewarm on Jared Cook signing, but not anymore. Crow tastes like chicken. Count me as skeptical for signing a drop-prone catch-first tight end, but Cook is the element Carr sorely missed: An athletic tight end who creates matchup nightmares. His rapport with DC is growing and his catch with :01 left was a difference maker. It allowed Oakland to get a field goal in a game that was won by three points.
  • Was miffed when Carr threw the ball into the ground. It was 3rd-and-14 on the Dolphins’ 17 on the Raiders’ first drive and, after looking left and middle, DC darted the ball into the field. Was even more miffed when the All-22 film showed a wide-open Amari Cooper with the nearest defender nearly in the end zone.
  • NBC’s spy cam gave a unique perspective. Especially on Marshawn Lynch’s 22-yard touchdown run in third quarter. We got to see Gabe Jackson and Marshall Newhouse feint a block on Ndamukong Suh — the mighty Dolphins defensive tackle fell comically to the turf — and some pep in Lynch’s step as he juked past the safety for the score.
  • The Raiders put wide receivers in motion. And it paid off handsomely when special teamer and speedster Johnny Holton smoked the Dolphins defense for a 44-yard rainbow of a touchdown.
  • Still zero interceptions. And which Raider had the best shot at grabbing one against Miami? None other than the vilified Sean Smith. I had joked all night Smith would ice the contest with a pick. Came close.
  • Great to see Obi Melifonwu on the field. The Raiders second-round pick saw good snaps at safety (covering the tight end, even) and limited plays as a corner. Makes you truly wonder what those “big plans” coaches had for the rookie.
  • Dexter McDonald is no better than David Amerson as a starting corner. Amerson has been inactive due to injuries but his replacement hasn’t fared much better. Grades are varied, but Dexter and David are bottom dwellers.
  • The lack of sacks are concerning. Oakland did turn up the pressure late in the game, but the rush has been stymied. A lot of it has to do with the quick checkdown swing passes Miami deployed.
  • Jalen Richard has fallen to third on the depth chart. Or so it seems. Rocket didn’t get any meaningful snaps until halftime approached and his usage has been waning. I did find it amusing when Cris Collinsworth stated Richard was in the backfield for pass protection.
  • Tackling must improve. The Raiders defense is predicated on keeping plays in front of you and making the tackle before YAC (Yards After Catch) occur. Seems defenders bought into its high Pro Football Focus tackle rankings wholeheartedly. (More on this in another piece. Stay tuned).
  • A touchdown return is sorely needed. Whether it be on kickoff or punt, a scoring return is long overdue. Especially after seeing former Raider Jaydon Mickens housing a 63-yard punt return for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Quote(s) Of Note:

“He’s phenomenal all the time. You talk about a guy … There is no secret to why he has been in the league for so long. We have young players, and I tell them ‘There is no secret why this guy is still playing and playing at a high level.’ It’s the way he works during the week. On a Friday – usually Fridays are slowed down tempo – if Jared is on one of those routes where he needs to get it again, he’s almost full speed. Just the way he prepares, the way he practices, I love talking to him, I love picking his brain.”

— Raiders QB Derek Carr on TE Jared Cook

“Those two guys are really talented. They are going to help our secondary and our secondary needs some help. That will be welcome. Eddie [Vanderdoes] has been solid all year. This is kind of a year ending kind of discussion, but I started to go here. I’ll try and finish. Marquel [Lee] has been solid for us. I’ve been really happy with him. Shalom [Luani] has been a solid pick for us. Overall, we’ve had some injuries that keep it from being what it really can be. It’s a good group of guys, a good group of young men.”

— Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio on the rookie class

Don’t forget Raider Nation to check out our media channel @RRambleMedia and give it a follow and also check out our Periscope channel which brings you backstage interviews such as this one featuring Jared Cook.

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