The Raiders travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins on Sunday with both teams looking for their first win of the 2012 regular season.
Oakland is coming off a Monday night game in which special team miscues contributed to a 22-14 loss against AFC West rivals San Diego Chargers, while the Dolphins are coming off their 30-10 loss to the Houston Texans.
The good news for the Raiders is that they have seen a similar offense to theirs successful against the Dolphins as the Texans tacked 30 points against the Miami defense. The bad news is it was just last week and the Dolphins will likely be making adjustments to try and put their defense in a spot to succeed.
The Raiders will need to limit their mistakes in Miami to help give them a chance at giving head coach Dennis Allen his first head coaching regular season victory.
Despite only putting up two field goals and one touchdown last week, the Raiders offense was able to move the ball but was unable to finish the drive on numerous occasions.
In order to mend their long-snapping debacle suffered last week when Jon Condo left with a concussion, the Raiders held a tryout among five long snappers and signed Nick Guess to their practice squad should Condo not be ready to return.
Quarterback Carson Palmer will also need to get the ball to someone other than star running back Darren McFadden for the offense to be successful. McFadden hauled in 13 of Palmer’s 32 completions last week. Though Jacoby Ford is expected to miss the year, it appears that Palmer gets back his play-making wide receiver Denarius Moore who has been out since mid-training camp with a hamstring injury.
It remains to be seen how limited Moore will be, but when healthy, Moore proved to be a play maker and have a good repertoire with Palmer last season.
Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp’s offense has typically relied on a solid run game in the past, something the Raiders were unable to establish last week. The Chargers held McFadden to just 32 yards on 15 carries, something the Raiders hope to improve on while in Miami.
There’s no doubt that the Raiders defense will have an easier task this week. The Dolphins are starting a rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehill with a less-than-stellar wide receiving corps. Expect defensive coordinator Jason Tarver to bring a game plan of lots of blitz packages and apply pressure on Tannehill in hopes of forcing a turnover.
With starting cornerback Ron Bartell out with a broken shoulder blade, it will be Pat Lee getting the start opposite of Shawntae Spencer. Lee and Spencer have an easier task this week against a wide receiving corps that features Legadu Naanee and Bay Area-native Devone Bess as their starters, Neither of which have broken the 1,000-yards receiving plateau in their career.
On paper, the Dolphins’ biggest offensive weapon lies in running back Reggie Bush, former USC teammate of Raiders backup quarterback Matt Leinart. Bush had a breakout season last year, rushing for a career-high 1,086 yards and six rushing touchdowns. But as Leinart and the Raiders know, Bush is also a valuable target in the passing game having averaged almost four catches a game for his career.
The Raiders showed a defense with improved linebacker play and the ability to stop the run. Oakland only allowed the Chargers to rush for just 32 yards on 19 carries.
The Raiders will need to defend the run as well as not turnover the ball to come home with a victory in Miami, something the Raiders have been unable to do since 2007 while under head coach Lane Kiffin.
Injury report as of Friday goes as follows:
OUT: DE Tony McDaniel (knee), RB Daniel Thomas (concussion)
DOUBTFUL: WR Anthony Armstrong (hamstring)
PROBABLE: LB Jonathan Freeny (thumb), DE Randy Starks (groin)
OUT: CB Ron Bartell (shoulder), WR Jacoby Ford (foot)
QUESTIONABLE: LS Jon Condo (concussion), WR Juron Criner (ankle), RB Taiwan Jones (ribs), LB Rolando McClain (ankle), C Alex Parsons (shoulder)
PROBABLE: TE David Ausberry (shoulder), K Sebastian Janikowski (left groin), S Michael Mitchell (ribs), WR Denarius Moore (hamstring), TE Brandon Myers (shoulder), DT Richard Seymour (knee)