The Oakland Raiders kept it close with the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, but their rivals ultimately pulled away and prevailed 24-7 at an incredibly loud Arrowhead. Below are five things (good or bad) to look at in this one.
1. Pass defense
Honestly, I was very impressed with the Oakland Raiders pass defense on Sunday, and the Raiders secondary has found praise hard to come by this season. The Chiefs receivers had a difficult time separating from receivers, and I’m sure Alex Smith had something to do with that; the Chiefs QB did not have one of his finer games. I thought Dwayne Bowe looked solid and could have caused the Raiders some big problems if Smith played better, but the Raiders secondary should get their due for tight coverage on the Chiefs wideouts. Tracy Porter looked excellent, and he’s one of those corners who always has a couple of those games that you can’t help but praise. Give plenty of credit to Charles Woodson‘s deep coverage too, because the Chiefs completed just 2-6 deep throws for 35 yards. Then again, it was also Alex Smith flinging the ball out there.
2. Awful blocking
I praised the Oakland Raiders offensive line earlier this season for managing to do a passable job, but they don’t exactly have the most talented guys up front, especially with Jared Veldheer out. This kind of a performance was bound to happen, especially against the Chiefs vicious pass rush. I mean, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, and Dontari Poe are just sacks waiting to happen. Unfortunately, guys like Khalif Barnes left a lot to be desired, and they made things a bit easier for the Chiefs star pass rushers.
The pass protection was bad, but it wasn’t as brutal as the run blocking. You can’t help but feel bad for Darren McFadden, as he had absolutely no running room and mustered just 52 rushing yards on 16 carries. I’m honestly surprised he got even that much, and backup Rashad Jennings couldn’t get anything going either.
I’m not going to sugarcoat this at all; Terrelle Pryor’s performance was horrendous. This was easily his worst game of the season, and the only bright spot was his ability to generate some much-needed yardage with his legs. That was extremely important, but it doesn’t make up for his three interceptions. It doesn’t make up for the ten times Chiefs defenders got a hand on his passes. It’s fair to blame the protection, but it also seems like Pryor caused a number of those sacks on his own. If you look at the numbers the Pro Football Focus has meticulously tabulated, you’ll see that Pryor was responsible for four of those sacks.
Anyone trying to use this game as a springboard for an anti-Pryor argument should rest up and sip on some tonic water. Pryor has all the physical tools to be the QB of the future in Oakland, and even a game as bad as the one he had on Sunday isn’t going to change that. These kinds of growing pains are to be expected, and it’s honestly fine if Pryor does chuck up another one of these awful outings. As long as he’s able to effectively learn from his mistakes and become a better QB for it, it’s fine by me. Plus. first-year starters going up against a pass rush as effective as Kansas City’s are bound to struggle like this, and the Chiefs defense is clearly one of the best in the NFL all-around. Additionally, it’s difficult for a young QB to keep his head together mentally with that kind of a pass rush, and that’s why the sacks that are technically Pryor’s fault aren’t actually his fault; they are the fault of the offensive line and youth. Pryor is not an issue in my view, and you can’t dramatically change your opinion of this guy based on one game- give him the time he needs.
Rod Streater and Denarius Moore will certainly attest to the benefits of playing with Terrelle Pryor, and they are two-fold for the speedy wide receiver duo. First off, Pryor’s strong arm is obviously conducive to more opportunities for the deep threat receivers. Secondly, Pryor’s rushing ability is a huge threat for defenses and also helps open things up downfield for those two.
Streater was able to make three relatively long catches against the Chiefs, but it was Denarius Moore who impressed me and was clearly the Oakland Raiders best player on offense. He caught five passes for 82 yards and a touchdown, and he was the saving grace for this Raiders offense. His 39-yard TD pass to open the scoring was the highlight of the night for the Raiders (I mean, it was their only score), and Pryor averaged 8.2 yards per attempt when throwing it to Moore.
5. Sio Moore
Rookie SAM linebacker Sio Moore has had an up-and-down year coming out of UConn, but Week 6 was an “up” week for Moore following two subpar games. He looked much better than the man in the middle (Nick Roach) in run defense (Roach racked up a lot of garbage tackles), and Moore played significantly better than his two tackles indicate. He did a great job of pressuring the QB with a sack, and I thought he did a nice job of redirecting some runs. But overall, he did his best work as a pass rusher, and it was a very encouraging game for him. One more thing, I hope Eric Fisher gets things together soon for the Chiefs, but I’m not worried about him just yet.