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2010 Regular Season
RAIDERS @ CARDINALS PREVIEW

  • When: Sun. 9/26 4:15 pm ET

  • Satellite Radio 9/26 4:15 pm - SIRIUS Ch 127

  • Televised: Sun. 9/26 4:15 pm ET (DirecTV Sunday Ticket )

Overview
Last Game
Meet the Raiders
Cardinals Roster
Cardinals vs. Raiders Matchups

Overview:
The Raidiz won a squeaker over the Rams. The Cardinals got steamrolled physically by Atlanta and wound up on the short end of an embarrassing 41 - 7 mauling.

Last Game:
Oakland came back from a 7 - 0 second quarter deficit in a sloppily played 1H to regain the lead in the 3Q and then stave off a late StL rally to nip the Rams in a pitchers dual, 16- 14. Three things to take away from that game were: (1) Gradkowski bailing out Campbell in the 2H, (2) 122+ ground yards by McFadden and (3) only 2 TD's given up by the defense.

First Quarter

  • Rams received but two sacks (Wimbley and Branch) on a 7 play drive to nowhere forced them to punt. Higgins returned the punt 53 yards to the Ram 6, but Oakland was unable to punch it over on 4 downs. The Rams moved from their own 6 to the Raider 5. A sack (Houston) moved them back to the Raider 18 where Brown missed a 36-yard FG. Oakland came right back, marching to the Ram 28, but Janikowski's 46-yard attempt was wide (Doesn't anyone want to win this game)?  A 23 yard run by Jackson moved the ball out to to the Ram 41 just before the 1Q (mercifully) ended.    No Score.

Second Quarter

  • A 24-yard catch & run by Jackson helped set up a 6-play StL scoring drive capped by a 7-yard completion from Bradford to Clayton. Rams 7 - Raiders 0.

  • WOn the next possession, Oakland was able to move from their own 12 to midfield in 10 plays but had to punt. The defense held StL to 3 & out. A chop block penalty turned a lousy punt into a disaster and gave the Raiders possession at the Ram 29. They made it all the way to the 11, where Campbell was sacked for minus-9. This time, Janikowski's 38-yard FG try was good.  Rams 7 - Raiders 3.

  • 3:22 til halftime. A couple of Ram penalties bottled them up inside their own territory and they punted from their own 32. On the 6th play of the next possession, Campbell was picked off. With 0:22 left, the Rams ran off the clock. Halftime Score: Rams 7 - Raiders 3.

Third Quarter

  • Raiders received. Gradkowski in for Campbell. A roughness call on StL and a 26-yard Gradkowski-to-Murphy connection helped set up a 41-yaed Janikowski FG.  Rams 7 - Raiders 6.

  • Oakland bottled up StL on the next set of downs. Starting on their own 17, Gradkowski hit Heyward-Bey for +16 and Zach Miller for +24. McFadden then ripped off gains of +9 and +30 to reach the Ram 9 and set up a 4-yard Gradkowski-to-Murphy scoring pass. Raiders 13 - Rams 7.

  • AtOakland overcame a 15-yard personal foul call (Kelly) to bottle up the Rams. The two teams traded possessions followed by a StL 3 & out. Oakland ran off one running play (+5) as the quarter ended. 3Q Score: Raiders 13 - Rams 7.

Fourth Quarter

  • Oakland moved from their own 34 to the Ram 4 (in 10 plays) before Janikowski's 22-yard chip-shot extended their lead. Raiders 16 - Rams 7.

  • 9:50 left. On the second play of the next series, Bradford's pass was picked off by Routt. con 30. The two teams exchanged short possessions. On the 7th play of the following Raider set of downs, Gradkowski was picked off by J. Murphy.

  • 4:05 left. Starting from the Ram 41, StL took advantage of two Raider (offsides and roughness) penalties to reach the Oakland 17. An incomplete 2nd & 10 pass to Clayton was reversed. Touchdown St. Louis. Raiders 16 - Rams 14.

  • 3:18 to play. A roughing the passer penalty on Robbins helped Oakland drain the remaining time off the clock. Final Score: Raiders 16 - Rams 14.

Highlights/Lowlights

  • Sloppy play during the 1H (with both teams blowing scoring opportunities).

  • Defensive battle during the 2H with penalties helping to determine the final outcome.

  • My understanding is that Gradkowski replaced Campbell mainly on merit and not because of any injury, causing much speculation that Gradkowski will start and Campbell will sit vs. the Cardinals next Sunday.

  • Campbell went 8 for 15 with an Anderson-like  QB Rating of 42.9. Gradkowski stepped in to go 11 for 22 (162 yards, a TD & no picks) for a 70.6 rating.

  • McFadden gained 145 yards on 30 carries. .

  • What won it for Oakland was the combination of (a) McFadden on the ground, (b) solid 2H quarterbacking /game management by Gradkowski and (c) a pretty good defense.

  • Raiders moved the chains 25 times while holding StL to 16.

  • Their 3rd down efficiency was 7 for 17 (while holding StL to 2 of 10).

  • Total net yardage for the Raiders was 404.

  • They racked up 173 net yards rushing.

  • Raider QB's were sacked twice (They got to Bradford 3 times).

  • Oakland was penalized 12 times for 90 yards. (Rams were flagged 8 times - that's 20 penalties that had to make the game go really slow.

  • Time of Possession: 36:49 (vs. 23:11 for StL).

  • Wimbley, Branch and Houston each had a sack. Routt had the only Raider pick.

  • Leading Raider defenders (McClain, Wimbley, Branch, Huff) only had 4- 6 tackles

Meet the Raiders
They're 1 & 1. They bit the bullet when they got rid of their drafting disaster (Jamarcus Russell) and replaced him with Campbell (and possibly now Gradkowski) and their HC seems to have righted the ship. The Raiders have a pretty aggressive, hard-hitting defense, and McFadden finally lived up to his potential when he gained 145 yards in their most recent game. They're young, their roster (while containing talent) is a bit spotty and they're penalty-prone. (Then too, so apparently are the Cardinals).

 Quarterbacks
08 Campbell, Jason QB 6-5 230 28 6 Auburn
05 Gradkowski, Bruce QB 6-1 220 27 5 Toledo
07 Boller, Kyle QB 6-3 220 29 7 California

Gradkowski stepped in for a struggling Campbell and pulled out their most recent game vs. the Rams. Whether or not Campbell has officially lost his starting spot to Gradkowski remains to be seen.


 Running Backs

20 McFadden, Darren RB 6-2 210 23 3 Arkansas
29 Bush, Michael RB 6-1 245 26 3 Louisville
25 Cartwright, Rock RB 5-8 215 30 9 Kansas State

32 Bennett, Michael RB 5-9 205 32 10 Wisconsin
45 Reece, Marcel FB 6-3 240 25 2 Washington

Turner McFadden is the Chris Johnson/Adrian Peterson glamor guy of this RB group, but Bush can pound it, Bennett is a savvy passing down specialist and Cartright is great on special teams.


 Wide Receivers

85 Heyward-Bey, Darrius WR 6-2 210 23 2 Maryland
15 Higgins, Johnnie Lee WR 5-11 185 27 4 Texas-El Paso
12 Ford, Jacoby WR 5-9 185 23 R Clemson

81 Schilens, Chaz WR 6-4 225 24 3 San Diego State
18 Murphy, Louis WR 6-2 200 23 2 Florida

89 Miller, Nick WR 5-9 180 23 2 Southern Utah

Heyward-Bey is the high-profile home-run hitter of this unit. Although Schilens is listed tops on the depth chart, it was Murphy who scored the two Oakland TD's last Sunday. Murphy caught 6 of 10 passes thrown his way (one TD). Heyward-Bey went 6 of 13.

 Tight Ends
80 Miller, Zach TE 6-5 255 24 4 Arizona State
83 Myers, Brandon TE 6-4 250 25 2 Iowa
Miller has Pro Bowl potential and ability. He caught 3 of 4 passes directed at him last week. Just an observation, but the Raiders are only carrying 2 TE's and 1 FB on their roster.

 Offensive Line
75 Henderson, Mario LT 6-7 300 25 4 Florida State
69 Barnes, Khalif T 6-5 325 28 6 Washington
76 Gallery, Robert LG 6-7 325 30 7 Iowa
60 Loper, Daniel G 6-6 320 28 6 Texas Tech

68 Veldheer, Jared C 6-8 315 23 R Hillsdale
64 Satele, Samson C 6-3 300 25 4 Hawaii
66 Carlisle, Cooper RG 6-5 295 33 11 Florida
74 Campbell, Bruce G/T 6-6 315 22 R Maryland

70 Walker, Langston RT 6-8 360 31 9 California
Lots of beef on the hoof on this unit. Veldheer's name seemed to come up a lot in the penalty column last Sunday. Let's not forget that O-lines usually have something to do with running attacks that gain 173 yards on 40 carries.
1



 Defensive Line

99 Houston, Lamarr DE 6-3 305 23 R Texas
77 Shaughnessy, Matt DE 6-5 270 23 2 Wisconsin

92 Seymour, Richard DE 6-6 310 30 10 Georgia
90 Bryant, Desmond DT 6-5 290 24 2 Harvard
94 Alford, Jay DT 6-3 305 27 4 Penn State

93 Kelly, Tommy DT 6-6 300 29 7 Mississippi State
79 Henderson, John DT 6-7 335 31 9 Tennessee
91 Scott, Trevor DE 6-5 255 26 3 Buffalo
Pretty formidable unit - especially with Seymour and Kelly inside. Houston had a sack last week.

 Linebacker

52 Groves, Quentin OLB 6-3 265 26 3 Auburn
53 Howard, Thomas OLB 6-3 240 27 5 Texas-El Paso

55 McClain, Rolando MLB 6-3 255 21 R Alabama
57 Brown, Ricky LB 6-2 235 26 5 Boston College
50 Goethel, Travis LB 6-2 240 23 R Arizona State
96 Wimbley, Kamerion OLB 6-4 255 26 5 Florida State
54 Williams, Sam LB 6-5 260 30 8 Fresno State

High rookie draft pick, McClain is the starting Mike. Wimbley and Groves can both bring it off the edge.

 Secondary
21 Asomugha, Nnamdi CB 6-2 210 29 8 California
22 McFadden, Walter CB 5-10 180 23 R Auburn
26 Routt, Stanford CB 6-1 195 27 6 Houston
37 Johnson, Chris CB 6-1 200 30 7 Louisville
23 Ware, Jeremy CB 5-10 185 24 R Michigan State
24 Huff, Michael FS 6-1 205 27 5 Texas
31 Eugene, Hiram FS 6-2 200 29 5 Louisiana Tech
33 Branch, Tyvon SS 6-0 205 23 3 Connecticut
34 Mitchell, Mike SS 6-1 220 23 2 Ohio University
27 Brown, Stevie S 5-11 215 23 R Michigan

Asomugha is considered one of the top one or two CB's in the game. Routt had a pick last week. Huff was a high draft pick the year we chose Leinart. I don't know anythng about Branch or the other Raider DB's.

 Special Teams
09 Lechler, Shane P 6-2 225 34 11 Texas A&M
11 Janikowski, Sebastian K 6-2 250 32 11 Florida State
59 Condo, Jon LS 6-3 250 29 5 Maryland
12 Ford, Jacoby KR/PRWR 5-9 185 23 R Clemson

Kicking and punting are in extremely capable handss. Rookie Ford has home run potential.

Coaching Staff
Tom Cable Head Coach
Hue Jackson Offensive Coordinator
John Marshall Defensive Coordinator
John Fassel Special Teams Coordinator

Cable seems to have stabilized what in recent history has been a dysfunctional coaching environment (No easy task when you figure that bleep flows from the top, and the top is occupied by a guy known as Big Al).


Cardinal Roster

QB - 03 Anderson, 06 Hall,  19 Skelton,
Mixed bag last week for Anderson. He seemed to be more in synch with Fitz and his other receivers, but regressed to his old "wild high" MO and had two deflected passes picked off. He didn't get exceptionally great protection from his pass blockers and, by the end of the 3Q was beginning to look like a human pinata. Hall got his shot on the last offensive series of the contest (which amounted to 2 plays, when Hall underthrew his man (who was covered in-front and in-back) down the left sideline and was picked off.

RB - 34 Hightower, 31 Wright, 36 Stephens-Howling  (KR/PR), 26, Wells
Hightower owned the only feat to make the highlight reel when he took a handoff around right end for a picture-book 80-yard TD gallop. LSH was used nicely as an outlet receiver. Wells didn't play.

FB - 45 Mau'ia
BTake away Hightower's 80-yarder and Cardinal RB's gained 38 yards on 12 carries - not much of a feather to put in a lead-blocker's cap.

WR - 15 Breaston, 12 Roberts,  Komar,  80 Doucet
WR -11 Fitzgerald (Probable), 14 S Williams,
Anderson had better rapport with Fitz than he did in the StL opener. He threw to Fitz 12 times (completing 7) and Williams 6 times (but only connecting on two attempts). What we didn't see were those patented high catches off the back shoulder by Fitzgerald.

TE - 89 Patrick, 83 Spach,  81 Dray
Pretty much the same as the first game (i.e. "This unit was close to invisible last Sunday (the exception being (yup!) Spach's obligatory one penalty per game"). Patrick caught one of two passes thrown at him.

LT- 75 L Brown,
73 Bridges
LG-
66 Faneca,  70 Hadnot
OC-
63Sendlein, 62 Claxton, (70 Hadnot)
RG- 76 Lutui
RT 
72 Keith
Anderson - under pressure throughout the day - was sacked twice and threw two picks. As pointed out earlier - Cardinal runners gained 38 yards on 12 carries when you subtract THT's 80-yarder.

DE - 93 Campbell, 79 Iwebema
NT - 97 B Robinson, 98 Watson, 92 D Williams
DT - 90 Dockett, 78 Branch
Watson didn't suit up again, and Atlanta took advantage of his wide-bodied absence by pounding us with 725 lbs of Turner, Snelling an Mughelli between the tackles. We surrendered 221 yards to the Falcs on 45 carries. Meanwhile, our pass rushers got to Ryan just once (for minus-2). While this unit has looked dynamic in a traditional "Be explosive at the snap, penetrate and fly around the field" mode, they were exposed by Atlanta's physically dominant thumpers. Any opposing DC worth his salt won't think twice about physically challenging the Cardinal middle until we stop them. Dockett and Robinson were each penalized twice (though D-Dock wasn't even on the field for one call).

OLB1 - 55 Porter
ILB  51 Lenon, 52 Obiozor
ILB- 58 D Washington,
56 Walker,
OLB2 - 53 Haggans,  59 W Davis
Lenon and Washington had 19 tackles between them, but what about the tackles they didn't make? We know they can fly around, but looked weak vs. a pounding running attack. If it was because our LB's aren't big enough or strong enough, we've got a problem. if it was because our LB's stopped trying (I cannot remember seeing any Cardinal player stick his nose into the action during the entire 2H), we have a problem of another kind.

RCB - 28 Toler, 37 McBride, MacDonald
LCB-
29 Rodgers-Cromartie, 27 Adams, 20 Jefferson   
SS-
  24 Wilson,
 22 Ware, 41 Abdullah,
40 Tillman
FS- 25 Rhodes,  
49 Rash Johnson
Atlanta picked on Toler and their receivers took him to school. The good news is that he and his coaches have plenty of tape to watch and learn from. What remains to be seen is how well he comes back from being so severely toasted, learns from his mistakes and allows the experience to make him stronger. Rhodes took what looked to us to be a bogus unsportsmanlike penalty when he inadvertently "went Italian" and a gesturing pinky inadvertently touched an official. Still - he's been around long enough to avoid this kind of nonsense. DRC was flagged twice for interference (both questionable calls -  the second one involved an uncatchable ball thrown somewhere in the vicinity of Savannah.

K-04 Feely
P- 05 B Graham,

H - 05  B Graham
LS-
82 Leach
KR -
18 Komar 15 Breaston, 37Stephens-Howling
PR
- 18 Komar, 15 Breaston, 37Stephens-Howling
Feely missed a 54-yarder (no guts/no glory). Graham continues to drop most punts inside the 15, though he seems to be good for one shank per game. The most gut-wrenching play of the game was a 90+ yard kickoff return by Stephens-Howling that was called back due to a phantom holding call on Dockett (who wasn't even out there). At the very least, the play was a reminder to opposing ST coaches that LSH is a dangerous return man.

  Raiders vs,. Cardinals Matchups

Injuries:
Cardinals: Out:
TBA . Questionable: TBA  Probable: TBA  

Raiders: Out: TBA . Questionable: TBA . Probable: TBA .

Raider Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
It's unclear which QB (Campbell or Gradkowski) will start (and Cables ain't telling). Campbell is a pure athlete, but doesn't perfectly fit the needs of the Raider west coast offense. Gradkowski is less potentially spectacular, but is terrific in an Oakland horizontal passing attack which stresses making the right decisions and delivering the ball to the right guy at the right spot at the right time.  We're guessing that Cables will call on Gradkowski (because all he does is win). His favorite targets are Heyward-Bey and Murphy. Raider receivers are talented but inconsistent. Both Heyward-Bey and Murphy are big fellas. Schilens is a small slot type.

The Cardinal Front Seven has proved in the past that it can get to the passer, but demonstrated last week that it can be distracted by a physical running attack. This is because - when you can't stop the run, you are less inclined to shoot your LB's from weird angles on passing downs and - because your opponent can pick up 1st down yardage on any given down, there no longer exists so-called "passing downs." Based on last week's performance by Oakland, we cannot afford to ignore McFadden and will have our hands full getting in Gradkowskis' (or possibly Campbell's) face.

Raider Running Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
Gut check time.

Last Sunday, Darren McFadden "was what everyone thought he was" (living up to all the potential heaped upon him since before he was a high draft pick). He gained 145 yards on 30 carries and (with the exception of three carries by Reece) shouldered the entire RB load. If you're going to give McFadden most of the credit, you can't ignore the Oakland O-line (Henderson, Gallery, Velhdeer, Carlisle and Walker) though Velhdeer does seem to be penalty prone.

Last week, the Cardinal run defense was waxed by a physically more dominant Falcon running machine featuring 235 lb Michael Turner, 245+ lb Jason Snelling and 250+ lb O. Mughelli. To put it quite simply, we were blacktopped. I fully expect Oakland to watch the game film, lick their chops and attempt to do precisely the same thing Atlanta did to us - which means "All McFadden/All the Time" until we can prove we can stop him.

Hopefully, Watson will be activated, so that we can apply a beefier presence at NT and allow Branch to add a physical presence outside as backup to Campbell and Dockett. It will also be gut-check time for Arizona's smallish LB corps - with Joey P, Clark, Paris and DWash occupying the right gaps and being unmovable when called upon. Perhaps this will be the week when we see the bigger Will Davis and Reggie Walker get some playing time.

Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Raider Pass Defense
The Raiders have always had strong corners. This year's no different. If the NY Jets Revis isn't the NFL's best cornerbacks, Asomugha certainly is. We don't know that much about Routt - except that he had an interception last week. Huff's a hitter. We don't know much about Branch.

Anderson will remain an enigma until he proves he isn't. He's already demonstrated that (a) he can be wild high, causing picks off deflections and (b) after appearing to overcome his weakness in one game, will regress back to his old ways the next. For the cannon-armed Anderson to be effective, he must consistently throw "low in the zone", especially over the middle.

Although Anderson hooked up with Fitz more consistently last Sunday, he remained out of synch with Steven Williams (2 for 6) and, in our opinion, hasn't looked totally in command out there (defined as: knowing what he's going to do, knowing that it's going to work and then doing it every time). Derek still looks a bit tentative and "more hopeful than confident" when he's out there.

Cardinal Running Attack vs. Raider Run Defense
Last week Oakland held Steven Jackson to 75 yards on 19 carries.Based on their tackling stats from that game, they appear to employ a "hold your position" team-oriented defense (with 3- 6 tackles spread pretty evenly among a bunch of defensive players).

 It's unclear whether Beanie Wells will finally be healthy enough to return to action. Meanwhile, Hightower (who has looked spotty running between the tackles) sure looked good rambling around RE. Do our offensive minds know what the key was to making that 80-yard run work so smoothly - was it one of their guys out of position? A key block?  Makes us wonder -  Can the Cards cook up a set of plays that take advantage of the outside threat Hightower has now demonstrated?

Without adding Beanie to the mix during the first 2 games, we really don't have a complete picture of what our RB's will be able/unable to do. At the very least, I think we can assume that - barring another early meltdown (marked by another rash of penalties) our Run vs. Pass ratio will be much more balanced.

Special Teams
Lechler and Graham match up well. So do Feely and Janickowski. LSH has proven home run ability in the return game. Rookie Ford certainly has home run potential..

Final Word
This doesn't look like a game of matchups as much as it does one of attitudes. Will the Cards play hard. Will we play physically? Will we play with poise? Will we cut way down the penalties? Will we protect the ball? All of these things have less to do with physical ability than it does toughness, spirit, poise and heart.

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