Tag:Michael Huff
Posted on: October 19, 2011 3:05 pm
 

Film Room: Raiders vs. Chiefs preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Imagine you get sick. You call your girlfriend to tell her that you’re sorry but you’re not going to be able to go with her to the ski resort this weekend. She says that’s no problem, she’ll just go with one of her friends. But when she scrolls through her contacts, she realizes she doesn’t have any friends nearby who are good skiers.

So, she calls to tell you to get well soon and also that she’s going to the ski resort with that guy her cousin knows from the gym. Oh, and the guy and her are moving in together after the trip but can the two of you still be friends? You can’t help but realize that if you’d never gotten sick, your girlfriend would not have started thinking about someone else.

If you can imagine this, then you can imagine how Jason Campbell is probably feeling right now. Let’s examine Jason Campbell’s Carson Palmer’s 4-2 Raiders as they head into their matchup against a Chiefs club that has won two straight coming off its bye but has been rocked by injuries and turmoil.


[Raiders vs. Chiefs PreGame]

1. The Decision
Forty-three million over four years, along with a first-and either first-or-second-round pick in exchange for a quarterback who became inconsistent after a slew of injuries and failed to manage the oversized personalities infiltrating his locker room and huddle in Cincinnati? That’s a steep price – probably too steep, in fact.

But you can understand the Raiders’ logic in going for a potential franchise quarterback. Like the skiing girlfriend, they’re attracted to strong-armed prototypes and are looking for a ring.

The Raiders knew they couldn’t get that ring with Campbell. Caretaking quarterbacks don’t cut it in today’s NFL. Campbell has always been too methodical in his reads and mechanics. He locks onto receivers, which limits what Hue Jackson can do with his gameplans. Campbell is athletic but seems to forget it whenever defenders flash in his face. In short, he has always been exactly what he’ll be when his collarbone heels: a quality backup.
That said, when a team goes all-in like the Raiders have here, they’d better be set in virtually all areas around the quarterback.

So how set are the rest of the Raiders?

2. Pass offense
It’s difficult to gauge Oakland’s passing attack because it has been tailored to hide Campbell’s limitations. But a safe assumption is that with Palmer aboard (whenever he does play), it will become downfield oriented. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore might be the fastest receiving trio in the league. Also, tight end Kevin Boss is not fast, but he’s effective stretching the seams.

Still, speed isn’t everything. The Raiders wideouts all remain raw. Heyward-Bey’s elevated reception total has been partly a function of facing favorable off-coverage. His hands are improved but still not naturally soft. As for Ford, durability and route running can be hit or miss. And Moore? He has done next to nothing since his breakout game at Buffalo.

Still, we’ve seen that (when healthy) these guys can give the Raiders firepower. And because Darren McFadden and fullback Marcel Reese are such dynamic weapons out of the backfield, Hue Jackson can comfortably sacrifice an extra receiver in the formation in order to employ a sixth offensive lineman.

Doing this makes for a better play-action game (a run-oriented team throwing out of a run formation) and also ameliorates right tackle Khalif Barnes’ weakness in pass protection.

3. Run offense
McFadden has blossomed into a legitimate top-five running back. The difference between now and two years ago is he’s staying healthy and has figured out how to get to the perimeter early in the run. That’s important because being such a stiff-hipped, straight-line runner, McFadden doesn’t have the type of agility and lateral burst needed to elude defenders at the line of scrimmage or second level. But he has uncanny speed and acceleration, which, when turned on full blast, make him hard to tackle cleanly.

The Raiders blockers have helped ignite Oakland’s explosive outside run game. Rookie guard Stefan Wisniewski has good movement skills (particularly in short areas) and center Samson Satele has been getting out in front with much greater consistency.

The Raiders also spend a lot of time in six-offensive linemen sets, with the nimble Khalif Barnes serving essentially as a 325-pound blocking tight end. Factor in Michael Bush’s between-the-tackles power and you have the making of a potent, sustainable rushing attack.

4. Defense
When the Raiders don’t surrender big plays they’re tough to trade blows with for four quarters. The defensive line is enormous and athletic, particularly inside where Richard Seymour (future Hall of Famer?) and Tommy Kelly present thundering power augmented by uncommon initial quickness.
The key to creating big plays against Oakland is isolating their linebackers.

Middle linebacker Rolando McClain plays slow (both mentally and physically) and can be exploited. Aaron Curry has only been in town one week, but if his track record from Seattle means anything, he too can be exploited, mainly in space outside the numbers or when forced to cover receivers horizontally. It’s surprising that Curry was handed Quinton Groves' job right away (Groves had been up and down but was getting more comfortable).

The secondary does indeed miss Nnamdi Asomugha, but any secondary would miss Nnamdi Asomugha. Stanford Routt has been adequate on the left side, and the versatile Michael Huff is having the best season of his career. Anytime a team plays predominant man coverage (like the Raiders do), the defensive backs are vulnerable. A pass-rush can help relieve this. The Raiders have great interior rushers but could stand to use a little more speed on the edges.

5. Kansas City’s chances
The question is whether the Chiefs can find some sort of run game without Jamaal Charles. So far, the answer has been no. Don’t expect that to change Sunday; Oakland’s defensive tackles should feast on Kansas City’s struggling interior line.

In the air, teams have been attacking the Raiders defense with play action and rollouts. Matt Cassel has the mobility and arm to make throws on the move (he did so frequently against the Vikings) but that’s usually by circumstance, not design. This is a shotgun passing offense, with success hinging on whether Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston can separate from Stanford Routt and DeMarcus Van Dyke (or Chris Johnson or Chimdi Chekwa, should either return from their hamstring injuries).

On the other side of the ball, Tamba Hali is one of the most disruptive players in all the land. He plays with perfect leverage and physically strong quickness in all cardinal directions. The Raiders don’t have anyone who can block him. Hali can’t do it alone, though, which is why Justin Houston needs to play with more decisiveness (tough to ask of a rookie sometimes). Kansas City’s secondary misses Eric Berry but has two physical corners (Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers) who can compensate, especially against raw wideouts.

Key matchup to watch: Darren McFadden against Derrick Johnson. Speed on speed.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 7 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: June 29, 2011 9:09 am
Edited on: June 29, 2011 9:32 am
 

Podcast: Free agency could be a frenzied hot mess

Posted by Ryan Wilson

For no official football, there's plenty going on in late June and we cover a lot of it in the latest Eye on Football podcast.

Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith are meeting in Minnesota in the hopes of ending the lockout. And then there's Terrell Owens, 37, who has no plans on retiring … even though he recently had ACL surgery. We're not sure who will have a need for him at this stage of the proceedings, although he's destined for Canton. (Right? Right.)

Related geriatric talking points: Tiki Barber, you may have heard, wants to return to the NFL. Tiki's sort of like Terrell in that he can be problematic in the locker room, but the difference is that even TO had supporters. We have yet to hear one person -- including twin brother Ronde -- come forward in Tiki's defense.

Finally, we discuss Pete Prisco's top 50 free agents list. For the most part, we agree, although Michael Huff at No. 11 might be a tad high.

Talking starts below.

Just hit the play button and don't forget to Subscribe via iTunes.



If you can't view the podcast, click here to download.

Posted on: June 28, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2011 5:38 pm
 

Sapp unimpressed with Huff's preparation



Posted by Ryan Wilson

We still may be without football, but former NFL player and NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp has been a one-man news-generating machine in recent days. Last week, he hopped on the "Anybody but Tiki" bandwagon, telling Rich Eisen “I didn’t think much of [Tiki Barber] when he did play. …He was a fumbler all the way through his life, and then all of a sudden, somebody taught him how to hold the ball up high and then he (left the Giants) and said, Eli (Manning) can’t lead them and they’ll never win a championship."

On Tuesday, Sapp, who played 13 NFL seasons in Tampa Bay and Oakland, appeared on the Ben and Skin Show on KESN-FM in Dallas. He had this to say about former Raiders teammate safety Michael Huff, who will be a free agent when the lockout ends.

“Michael Huff leaves something to be desired,” Sapp said. “I watched Huff for two years, not pick a pass off in practice. I seen him make a couple plays, lately. I’d really be interested to see his tape and watch his last couple of years because his first two make you want to throw up watching him practice.”

Huff was the Raiders' 2006 first-round pick (seventh overall), and his professional career can kindly be described as inconsistent. In five seasons he started 66 of 80 games, had seven picks and 38 passes defended. If Huff's numbers are a reflection of his practice habits, it's another reason for teams to be wary of him in free agency. In fact, Huff's midweek preparations used to make Sapp nauseous (figuratively ... we think).

“I went so far with Michael Huff, and you can ask him this, that my last day in Oakland, I waited in the parking lot for Michael Huff," said Sapp. "I waited in the parking lot because I wanted to talk to the young man because he made me want to throw up watching him practice. I mean, the scout team would complete ball, after ball, after ball. I’m like, ‘You’re not going to make one play? I mean, you’re not even going to put your hand on it and knock it down?’”

Sapp's last season in Oakland was 2007. That year Huff had just one pick but did register 11 passes defended. Last season, Huff had three interceptions, two forced fumbles, seven passes defended, and the Associated Press named him to its 2010 All-Pro second team.

We're guessing Sapp remains unimpressed.

(Turns out, it's not just Sapp who questions Huff's ability. Before the 2010 season Scouts, Inc. wrote that "Huff needs a lot of work on route recognition and reading the quarterback's eyes when in off coverage" and that "he has struggled to establish himself in the secondary." Scouts, Inc. didn't list Huff as one of the top-10 players on his own team, and he tied for 69th among all NFL safeties. Yikes.)

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Posted on: May 27, 2011 5:00 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2011 5:53 pm
 

If Cowboys land Asomugha, Newman's likely gone

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Cowboys drafted cornerback Terence Newman fifth overall in 2003. Five years later, and quite happy with his development, the club rewarded him with a six-year extension worth $50.2 million, including $22.5 million guaranteed.

But as often happens, professional athletes reach their physical peak in their late 20s, and their production falls off a cliff once they hit 30. Newman was 29 when he got his new deal; he will be 33 when (if?) the 2011 season starts.

Given his age, it's no surprise that Newman struggled last season. Sobering details via ProFootballFocus.com:

"After a solid 2009, [Newman] crashed back to earth in a big way. Although he picked off five passes, he also gave up five touchdowns and allowed 65 percent of balls [thrown in his direction] to be completed. His 914 yards allowed ranked sixth worst in the NFL. Compare that to 2009 where he allowed just 740 yards and 57 percent of balls to be complete."

Also not surprising: Should there be free agency this summer, the Cowboys will be in the market for a shutdown corner. The team addressed the position three years ago by drafting Mike Jenkins. After conquering his aversion to contact as a rookie, and a promising 2009 season, Jenkins hit a rough patch in 2010. "His QB-rating-allowed more than doubled [from '09 to '10] (from 54.0 to 122.0), he allowed more touchdowns (two compared to six) and had fewer picks (five compared to one)," PFF's John Breitenbach wrote last month.

Presumably, Dallas isn't yet ready to give up on Jenkins. He has three things teams covet in cornerbacks: youth, athleticism and potential. Newman's tenure in Big D, however, could be nearing an end.

ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins, in a recent mailbag column, was asked about the Cowboys' chances of acquiring CB Nnamdi Asomugha and S Michael Huff in free agency (contingent on a new labor deal). Both players are familiar with new Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan from their time together in Oakland, and Asomugha is the consensus best cornerback in the free-agent class. Waktins' take:

"Of those two names you mentioned, I would say the team would try to sign Asomugha. If it happens, salary cap or not, the team won't keep Terence Newman. I don't see the team keeping two players in the defensive backfield who would command an average of $6 million to $8 million a season. Huff is an interesting choice, but I think Abram Elam and maybe Danieal Manning are better players."

The salary-cap math says that jettisoning Newman makes sense, even if he can somehow summon one more good season. And if Newman isn't with the Cowboys in 2011, he will be somewhere, likely paid well for his services. Demand for cornerbacks always outstrips supply, and franchises desperate to upgrade their secondaries will overpay for a player on the downside of a great career based solely on past performance. It seldom works out for both sides, although Champ Bailey and Charles Woodson are exceptions. Maybe Newman can be too.

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Posted on: April 4, 2011 11:45 am
 

Hot Routes 4.4.11: Rams interested in Rice?



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • In this Pro Football Weekly report, sources tell the publication that the Rams could have some interest in Vikings WR Sidney Rice. Considering how lackluster the current crop of St. Louis receivers are, the move would make sense. But the Rams organization apparently also is leery of Rice’s hip injury that cost him much of last season.
  • The Boston Herald wonders how Tom Brady’s image will be affected by the upcoming Brady v NFL case. Apparently, he can expect a hit to his short-term marketability.
  • The creator of the Madden NFL video game is suing EA Sports for many, many millions of dollars. It could even reach into the b illions. And get this: Robin Antonick’s original game was released in 1988, and it was for Commodore 64, MS Dos and Apple II.
  • Further cementing the idea that Da’Quan Bowers could fall out of the top-10 is Peter King of Sports Illustrated reporting that only one head coach (Arizona’s Ken Whisenhunt) and two GMs (Atlanta’s Thomas Dimitroff and Buffalo’s Buddy Nix) were in attendance at his Pro Day last week.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Posted on: March 17, 2011 2:06 pm
Edited on: March 20, 2011 3:03 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Oakland Raiders

Posted by Will Brinson



Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups. Also, check out our checkup podcast:


For every single team in NFL history, sweeping the division has resulted in a playoff spot. As it should -- that’s six wins and an incredible headstart on the postseason race.

Then the 2010 Raiders came along.

They won all six of their division games and yet still somehow managed to go 2-8 in the remaining contests on their schedule. That resulted in Tom Cable’s firing and a lot of angry confusion in the Bay Area.

A much worse trait’s percolating around the Black Hole though: cautious optimism. Since Oakland’s fall from grace following their 2002 Super Bowl loss to the Bucs, Oakland hasn’t just been a lost cause. They’ve been the poster child for bad management.

2010 didn’t change that, but Raiders fans will probably try and tell you otherwise. Hue Jackson moving from offensive coordinator to head coach will give Jason Campbell some much-needed stability, and it should bode well for both the continued improvement of Darren McFadden and Oakland’s stockpile of burners at the wide receiver position.

But personnel losses on the other side of the ball -- Nnamdi Asomugha, mainly -- and a focus on scoring points might not exactly guarantee any more success in 2011.


Delusion, Stopping the Run

Part of the Raiders second-ranked passing defense was Asomugha’s ability to shut down half of the field. But part of it was also their inability to stop opposing offenses from piling up yardage on the ground; running backs averaged 133.6 yards per game (and 4.5 yards per carry) against Oakland.

That was good for 29th in the NFL and it’s pretty clear that “losing games” and “not stopping the run” go hand-in-hand. Chris Johnson (142 yards), Arian Foster (131), Frank Gore (149), Ricky Williams (95), Rashard Jennings (109) and even Dominic Rhodes (98) all put up pretty big numbers when Oakland lost.

Oddly, not once in a Raiders’ win did an opposing back tote the ball more than 20 times. Many times -- though not always -- that was because Oakland jumped out to big leads early.

And it’s possible that Jackson can continue that trend into 2011, but improved defense against the rush will avoid the need to make big and sometimes luck-driven leads a requirement.


1. Secondary
Stanford Routt’s the new No. 1 in Oaktown with Asomugha now departing to, um, somewhere. (We don’t know where yet, but he’s probably not coming back to Oakland.) Routt and Chris Johnson can work well together, but there’s a pretty good chance that losing Nnamdi will expose other areas in the secondary as teams work the entire field against Oakland. It’ll also stretch their safeties even thinner than before, something that could become a problem if Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch can’t step up their game.

2. Front Office Contract Guy
No, but seriously -- the fact that Asomugha and Kamerion Wimbley somehow BOTH managed to end up with funky as all get-out finales to their contracts is pretty indicative that something ain’t stirring the Kool-Aid in the front office when it comes to the guy who draws up the deals. Either that or Oakland really wanted to dump Nnamdi this offseason. Which makes less sense than accidentally messing up a pair of big-time contracts.

3. Outside linebacker
Branch and Huff were the leading tacklers for Oakland in 2010, which is good, because tackles are nice. It’s bad because it means that teams were pretty easily getting to the furthest layer of the Raiders’ defense. Letting people break big plays (the Raiders allowed 17 rushes over 20 yards, third-worst in the league, and 51 passes over 20 yards, 11th worst) was a nasty little problem for Oakland last year. And even with "franchise" player Wimbley sitting on the outside, Oakland needs some more run stuffers.


There'll be optimism in the Raiders' fanbase, because there always is. But there's not that much of a reason for it. They're losing one of the top two cornerbacks in the NFL, there's no guarantee that McFadden can continue his much-delayed breakout, there's a 100-percent certainty that Richard Seymour is a year older, and they're still starting Jason Campbell.

Oh yes, and they're still the Raiders too.

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Posted on: November 1, 2010 4:04 pm
 

Nnamdi Asomugha injury news not good

Posted by Andy Benoit

The Raiders second straight blowout win was not without collateral damage Sunday. A league source told Pro Football Talk that an MRI reveals that superstar cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha – who played at a genuine A+ level against Seattle – suffered a high ankle sprain in the win.

Asomugha could barely put any pressure on his ankle while leaving the field. High ankle sprains generally sideline a player 4-6 weeks, though Asomugha is seeking a second opinion. He’s virtually a guaranteed “out” for this Sunday against the Chiefs. After that, the Raiders have a bye.

The Raiders will turn to Chris Johnson, an underrated/overrated cover corner, depending on the week, and Stanford Routt while Asomugha is out. The trick will be filling the nickelback role. Fifth-round rookie Walter McFadden is next on the depth chart, though coaches may want to consider sliding safety Michael Huff over to the slot.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com