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Tag:Jason Campbell
Posted on: October 17, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: October 19, 2011 12:15 am
 

Report: Raiders trying to trade for Carson Palmer

Can the Raiders convince Mike Brown to trade Carson Palmer? (US PRESSWIRE/Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Good news: the Raiders have won two in a row, three of four, and at 4-2 are a half-game behind the division-leading Chargers in the AFC West.

Bad news: Oakland lost starting quarterback Jason Campbell for the season Sunday when he broke his collarbone against the Browns.

Worse news: for now, Kyle Boller is the Raiders' quarterback. Behind him (in random order because, really, you don't want to see either under center for any length of time … which is saying something when the other option is Kyle Boller): punter Shane Lechler and rookie Terrelle Pryor, just off a five-game suspension.

Those choices, coupled with Oakland's early season success, have them scrambling for alternative plans. According to Yahoo.com's Jason Cole, that includes making a concerted effort to convince Bengals owner Mike Brown to trade quarterback Carson Palmer, who opted to sit out the season instead of return to Cincinnati for another year of clown college. (Turns out, the jokes on Carson; the Bengals are 4-2 and seem to be doing quite well with rookie quarterback Andy Dalton.)

After Sunday's game, the Raiders "hit the phones quickly after the game Sunday, hoping to get the 'retired' Palmer, who has been pushing for a deal since early in the offseason," Cole writes. "In fact, Palmer politely asked Brown again this week for a trade, according to a source close to the situation. So far, no go. In all likelihood, Brown will continue to stonewall. Brown has never been a guy to give in to demands, even when they are logical. Bengals fans probably remember the package of draft picks, including at least one first-rounder and another pick that likely would have become a No. 1, Brown once turned down for wide receiver Chad Ochocinco."

(That's the same Chad Ochocinco, by the way, who was eventually shipped to New England for a fifth- and sixth-rounder, and was on the field for just seven snaps Sunday in the Patriots' comeback win over the Cowboys. The point: there's no reason to think that Brown will budge.)

Compounding matters: the perception is that Brown, were he to ship Palmer, wouldn't send him to a possible playoff team. Raiders owner Mark Davis could try to sweeten the deal but, as Cole notes, the organization is without second-, third- or fourth-round picks in 2012 because of previous moves.

Cole suggests that Oakland "would do well to offer Cincinnati a third-round pick in 2013 that could increase in value to a second- or even first-round pick if Palmer performed well either this year or in 2012."

Other options include convincing David Garrard to come out of semi-retirement because after that, it's slim pickins' on the free-agent quarterback market. Earlier this month, when the Dolphins lost Chad Henne for the season, they settled on Sage Rosenfels after failing to sign Garrard. The other quarterbacks they put through the paces? Kellen Clemens, JP Losman, Jim Sorgi, and Charlie Frye.

But even if the Raiders somehow convince Brown to deal Palmer, or talk Garrard into returning to football, there's still the issue of learning the offense. As we saw with Kerry Collins and Indy, that's more than a two-week endeavor. Oakland's best bet might be to stick with Boller in the short term, rely on the running game and the defense, and pray they can land Palmer or Garrard and give one of them enough time to learn the system before throwing them on the field.

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Posted on: October 17, 2011 3:07 am
Edited on: October 17, 2011 1:34 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 6

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 6 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.

1. What's Your Deal?
By now, you've undoubtedly seen the little melee that erupted between Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz following San Francisco's 25-19 victory in Detroit.

NFL VP of Communications Greg Aiello confirmed to CBS Sports following the game that the NFL will look into the near-fight that went down, and I'd be pretty shocked if both coaches didn't get hit with some kind of fine. Though Harbaugh didn't do much that was noticeable on the video, he did admit following the game that he probably incited Schwartz' anger.

Schwartz, of course, chased Harbaugh down the field and had to be repeatedly pushed back from the crowd. No matter what Harbaugh did, it's hard to fathom that Schwartz behavior is remotely acceptable in the eyes of the league. And though Schwartz might have looked like the aggressor, the blame has to lie with Harbaugh on this one.

Looking ahead, this might not be a rivalry that dies quickly. Niners offensive lineman Anthony Davis, on his newly verified Twitter account, had a little trash talk of his own after the game.

"They talked s*** to us all week," Davis tweeted following the game. "We said nothin ... Came and kicked that a** ... its f***** football f*** classy.. Save classy for Mortons lol"

Steakhouse humor aside, it's worth mentioning Cliff Avril of the Lions saw Davis' tweet and pointed out that it was "real professional" -- Davis responded by pointing out that he "pancacked [Avril] on a passing play ... sooo uh just be quiet go home play with your kids."

So this shouldn't evolve into anything unpleasant in the near future at all!

What's fascinating about this whole thing is how people are defending both sides. Some folks think that Schwartz is an unhinged lunatic. Some think Harbaugh is an arrogant jerk. (Our own Mike Freeman noted on Twitter that Harbaugh's not making himself any friends around the league with his attitude.)

For me, it's hard to blame Schwartz for his reaction, given the way that Harbaugh behaved following San Francisco's victory:



Whatever, here's hoping they meet again in the playoffs. In the meantime, my top-five list for coaches I would pick for a steel-cage death match:

1. Jack Del Rio
2. Ron Rivera
3. Mike Tomlin
4. Jim Schwartz
5. Raheem Morris

Leave your picks in the comments.

2. Speaking of Coaches ...
You'll notice Sean Payton didn't make my top five. And he might not have even if he was healthy, but he certainly wouldn't be up there after the incident that took place on Sunday, when tight end Jimmy Graham came crashing into the sideline and blew up Payton's knee.

The Saints coach suffered a broken tibia and tore his the MCL in his left knee, which means he'll be knocked out of shape for quite a while.

"It's just one of those things, the play kind of got up on me quicker," Payton said Sunday. "I think the second part of the tackle seemed maybe all of a sudden. I mean, every once in a while you feel like you get pinned with the play and that's what happened."

Of course, Payton wasn't the only coach who was injured on Sunday in this game (think about that; seriously) -- Jimmy Lake, the Bucs defensive backs coach, tore his patellar tendon celebrating an interception celebrating, as Ryan says in the podcast above, Martin Gramatica style.

What I'm wondering is if Payton's injury might derail the Saints offense a little bit. Maybe that's a stretch, and he'll certainly have his hands all over the team's playcalling and management, but it doesn't sound like he'll be down on the field for a few weeks.

"I might have to be up in the press box for a few games," Payton said. "Because it’s a fracture, its different. If it’s the MCL you can have the brace, but the fracture on the outside means the weight-bearing part of it really changes."

Maybe it won't have any bearing -- with the Saints playing the Colts and Rams in the next two weeks, Drew Brees can probably manage the offense all by himself.

2. A Boy Named John
With Washington getting two weeks to prepare for the Eagles, and Philly looking very much like a punch-drunk boxer practically begging for a knockout shot, it stood to reason that the Redskins could take advantage of the Eagles porous defense and pick up a critical division win.

They didn't, and that's mainly because Rex Grossman turned into, well, Rex Grossman.

The 'Skins quarterback threw four interceptions -- three to Kurt Coleman -- and registered a couple of terrible interceptions that should have been picks. This led to him getting benched for backup John Beck.

“Well number one—we needed a spark," Mike Shanahan said afterwards. "John has been practicing very well the past couple of weeks and with four turnovers there we thought it was time to make a change and give John an opportunity to show us what he could do."

(Ed. Note: Week 6 review will be up early Monday.)

Beck, who's so fancy/awesome he dressed like a gas-station attendant for his post-game presser, isn't locked into the starting role yet, though, as Shanny refused to name next week's starter immediately following the game.

"I would never announce that right after a game," Shanahan said of his decision on who he'll start. "I would announce that later on in the week. We'll make a decision after looking at the film."

That's all fine and well, but who didn't see this coming? Because if the Redskins leading the NFC East after five weeks was the least likely thing in the entire world, then Grossman eventually imploding was on the opposite scale of predictability. And now this is quickly shaping up to be the second rendition of the Donovan McNabb-Grossman fiasco from last year.

On the bright side, it's less expensive?

"I want to play," Beck said, via Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post. "I want to be the quarterback. But I’m not the one that makes that decision, it’s coach, and they’ll make the best decision for the team ... What’s gonna happen next, I don’t know. But I’ll just do everything I can to be prepared if my number is called."

If it's me, I roll the dice with Beck, who seemed to at least provide a little spark to the team when he came on the field. It's not like he's been good this year, the Redskins defense has just kept Washington in games. And Grossman's now thrown three or more interceptions in seven of his 45 career starts. Which means 15 percent of the time that you put Grossman under center, there's a 15-percent chance he's going to hand the ball to the opposing defense multiple times.

3. Maybe Romo's Not the Only Choker?
For what feels like the fourth or fifth week this season, it's time to question Jason Garrett's playcalling for Dallas. With the game tied at 13 all and the Cowboys in the red zone, Garrett called a third-down shovel pass despite Dez Bryant sitting in single coverage.

The result was predictably predictable: the shovel pass didn't work and the Cowboys kicked a field goal to go up 16-13. Then, after forcing the Patriots to punt, Dallas ran three straight times (for negative-five yards) and the result was even more predictable: Dallas punted back to Tom Brady, giving him the ball down three points with 2:31 left on the clock.

If you've followed football at all for the last few years, you've probably already figured out what happened. Tom Brady did what Tom Brady does, which is carve up a defense en route to just another routine comeback/last-minute win.

By the time he hit Aaron Hernandez in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown, Dallas had just 22 seconds remaining on the clock to move the ball far enough down the field to get a shot at a Hail Mary, which Tony Romo threw out of bounds.

On that last drive, by the way, Romo completed two passes for 31 yards. Throw those passes on the previous series and we're talking about a signature win for the Cowboys, against the best team in the other conference at their place.

Instead, we're left to wonder why Garrett continually plays, as my colleague Pete Prisco wrote, not to lose, instead of utilizing the weapons he has on offense in the proper way. And by "we" I mean "me and Jerry Jones."

"You'll always second-guess whether or not we should have tried to run a little offense down there instead of running it three times," Jones said after the game, per our Pats Rapid Reporter Greg Bedard. "We went conservative rather than try to get some points and it bit us."

Jones said that doing so in a regular-season game was acceptable, but it's not the type of thing that he'd like to see in the playoffs. Of course, it's hard to imagine the Cowboys making the playoffs if they can't figure out how to turn trips to the red zone into more than three points a pop.

4. Bollers and Pryors OH MY
Many a pundit's willing to point out that the Oakland Raiders, while a half-game back of the Chargers, are the best AFC West team through the first six weeks of the season.

This isn't that far off. The Raiders are pretty good. But despite winning 24-17 over Cleveland on Sunday, Oakland suffered a seriously detrimental injury on Sunday, as quarterback Jason Campbell broke his collarbone and will likely miss the remainder of the season.

“I’m not going to let this football team blink," coach Hue Jackson said Sunday. "We’ll miss Jason for a little while. I have no idea how long it will take [for him to recover]. We’ll see as we go. I know obviously he won’t be here next week. We’ll continue to press forward and get better."

That's the optimistic point of view. The pessimistic? Kyle Boller, Terrelle Pryor and Shane Lechler are now the top-three quarterbacks on Oakland's depth chart. Yikes.

So Oakland has a couple of options going forward. One, roll with Boller. (Again, yikes.) Two, let Darren McFadden carry the ball 50 times a game. (Not terrible, but it could cause some long-term issues in terms of his health.) Three, go out and get another quarterback.

A couple of names spring to mind immediately: Kyle Orton, Donovan McNabb, David Garrard and Carson Palmer. Garrard makes sense because he's openly said he wants to play for a contender and the Raiders, at 4-2, certainly fit the bill.

Orton, McNabb and Palmer seem like longer shots as trade possibilities, but the Raiders have about 36 hours to make a deal, and it's reasonable that the Broncos, Vikings and Bengals would be interested in getting something back for guys that are either going to ride pine the rest of the year or won't bother showing up.

5. Don't Forget the Defense



In this, the year of ridiculously silly offensive outputs in the NFL, it's easy to just gawk at high-powered offensive teams and assume they will end up winning the most games and doing the most damage in the postseason.

But we need to recognize the Ravens for the dirty work they're doing on the defensive side of the ball, suppressed their league-leading points-allowed total to 71 Sunday after casually shut down Houston in a 29-14 victory. Baltimore held 2010 rushing champ Arian Foster to just 49 yards on 15 carries, and limited Matt Schaub to 220 yards and a touchdown in a dominant defensive performance that should make some people take notice.

Ryan and I debated this audio-style, but I think there's a legitimate argument that the Ravens are the best team in the AFC and can contend for the best team in the NFL. Clearly -- quite clearly -- the Packers are the cream of the crop at the moment.

But anyone in the NFL can score these days. Few teams can stop the opposition from scoring. With Haloti Ngata serving as the lynchpin for the defensive line and wrecking havoc on opponents' offensive lines, and with a secondary that's surprising this year, and with Ray Lewis playing rejuvenated ball, the Ravens can do that.

They're lacking in offensive consistency more so than a lot of other teams around the league -- Joe Flacco alternating between awesome and terrible this season is pretty terrifying if you're a Baltimore fan -- but Ray Rice is so good right now that he can carry the Ravens when Flacco's struggling.

And if Rice isn't up for the task, the defense isn't afraid to take over either. Which separates the Ravens from most everyone else in the league.

6. Madden Up to His Old Curses Again
What the hell is going on in Cleveland? Because, one, the Browns aren't winning, so that's a problem. And two, Peyton Hillis has some serious drama surrounding him these days.

We've detailed the drama before (numerous times, actually), but Sunday took things to a whole new level. For starters, Hillis rushed just six times for 14 yards and then left with a hamstring injury, pulling up lame after taking a second-quarter screen pass from Colt McCoy only to have it negated by an illegal shift penalty.

After halftime, Hillis returned and appeared to be out for the game. This is fine, if it's because of injury. Except Hillis returned to the game ... and didn't get any carries. He blocked for McCoy and was on the field, but didn't rush the ball at all.

The Browns weren't exactly ground heavy during the game -- Montario Hardesty only had 11 carries for a meager 35 yards -- and McCoy ended up throwing 45 times (his lowest passing-attempt total on the year is now 32, which is also a bit disconcerting), but to see Hillis hurt but maybe not hurt enough to sit out the rest of the game especially after a controversial injury earlier in the year, well, let's just say that something ain't stirring the Kool-Aid in Cleveland.

7. Ponder This
Sunday night, Christian Ponder got his first real action for the Vikings in their 39-10 blowout loss Sunday night. I mentioned this when writing about the substitution, but you can't pin everything that's going wrong on Donovan McNabb.

He's not the guy refusing to block defenders, and he's not the guy allowing other teams to score 20-plus points in the second halves of games. But it's understandable that some of the players on the team might be a little interested in seeing what Ponder, who at least looked more, um, energetic than McNabb, can do.

"I'm not a coach, but this team definitely could use a spark wherever that may come from," wide receiver Percy Harvin said.

Again, McNabb hasn't been that bad. But the Vikes are 1-5, going nowhere in (arguably) the toughest division in football and need to find out if Ponder's their guy for the long term.

Because at this rate, they'll have another pretty critical decision about some talented young quarterbacks at the top of the 2012 draft as well.

For the Bears part, lets give credit to Mike Martz and Lovie Smith for learning that if you actually give Jay Cutler help to block pass rushers, you can produce offensively.

Except they learned this last year, too. Remember how the Bears stunk and Cutler looked like a candidate for serious brain damage through the first few weeks in 2010? And then the Bears started running the ball more and protecting Cutler? Yeah, maybe next year they'll remember before they're a quarter of the season in.



8. Down South in ... Tampa Bay?
The Saints were supposed to blow out the LeGarrette Blount-less Buccaneers this weekend and the Panthers were supposed to upset the Falcons in the Georgia Dome. And then I was going to spend a large chunk of this column talking about the Panthers secretly being the second-best team in the NFC South.

Well, apparently no one else in the entire world got the same memo I did (thanks a lot for not forwarding the revised copy, you big jerks), because the Panthers got handily dismantled 31-17 in Atlanta and the Bucs straight up took care of business in route to grabbing the division lead with a 26-20 win over New Orleans.

If you missed it, lemme fill you on why the Panthers lost: their defense is terrible. It's not bad coaching and it's not to mean to the guys in the lineup, but the best way for Tiki Barber to revive his career would be to just try and get a tryout with whoever's playing the Panthers in the coming week, because there's a decent chance he could scamper for a buck fifty against that fishnet of a rushing defense.

They'll get better in the future and there's no reason to question Ron Rivera's capability as a defensive coach, but if you can run the ball, you can kill the Panthers. After Cam Newton threw a terrible pick to defensive lineman Corey Peters, the Falcons got the ball up a touchdown with six minutes left to play. Eight plays later -- seven of them running -- they were up 14 points.

Everyone knew they were going to run and there still wasn't any way for Carolina to stop it. New Orleans is a different deal, though, because Blount's absence meant the Bucs would struggle (in their wins thus far, he'd done well, and in their losses he hadn't; it's science!). Instead, Earnest Graham piled up 109 rushing yards on 17 carries, Josh Freeman got loose with Arrelious Benn and the Saints found themselves in a 20-10 halftime hole that they couldn't ever climb out of.

In short, a motivated Tampa Bay team showed up, created turnovers and completely flipped our perspective on the NFC South.

9. Bungle in the Jungle
The Ravens, as noted above, are the class of the AFC North. And the Steelers are coming off a second-straight win in which their defense prevailed and Rashard Mendenhall and the running game looked good.

But it would be silly to discount what the Bengals have done this year, moving to 4-2 after a 27-17 win over Indy, especially considering most of the offensive production is coming from a pair of rookies in Andy Dalton and A.J. Green.

Dalton's not lighting up the statistical sheet, per se, as he's averaging just 218.5 passing yards per game, and he's only found the end zone seven times. But four of those have been to fellow rook Green, and -- I'm as surprised to be writing this as you are reading it -- Marvin Lewis was write about his offense getting an upgrade during the offseason.

And the Bengals are benefiting from a soft schedule; they could realistically be undefeated, considering that their two losses were by a combined seven points. Of course, it doesn't hurt that they have the second-best defense in the league, allowing just 278.5 yards per game. That defense has

The schedule gets harder down the road -- multiple matchups with both Baltimore and Pittsburgh loom -- but there are four more games left where the Bengals will either be favored or basically a pick 'em. The idea that this team could win eight games as recently as September was, well, not there. The four they have now is probably what they'd have topped out in most preseason projections.

And now they're a reasonable contender for a Wild-Card berth if a few things go their way in the rest of their division matchups.

10. Things to Do In Denver on Your Bye
It's fascinating to me that a team like the Broncos could, somehow, manage to create a ton of noise about their team. On their bye week. Without really talking about Tim Tebow.

I mean, there was some Tebow talk this week, of course, but it wasn't out of control. Charley Casserly reported that the Broncos won't change their offense much for Tebow, and that's probably a good thing and/or not that surprising, since this is a John Fox offense.

Most of the noise centered around Denver's decision to start trying to ship every single talented veteran on the roster out of town. Brandon Lloyd wants gone, and it seems like he could be moved before Monday's practice (the team apparently doesn't think he can be on the same field as the coaching staff). Eddie Royal's on the block too and he's generating some interest; this makes sense since both player are rentals for the rest of the year.

Kyle Orton's situation is a little more interesting. He'll also be a free agent after this year, and one would think that he'd LOVE to get out of town since a) the coaches yanked him in Week 5 for Tebow despite acting like Tebow's worse than Brady Quinn, b) he'll be a free agent in the offseason and c) he's more reviled by the fans around Mile High than Carmelo Anthony during his "trade me to New York or else" run last year.

But the Broncos issued a statement on Sunday night denying rumors that Orton wanted a trade, so apparently he's content hanging around and playing -- ahem -- nursemaid to Tebow. Or he thinks the experiment will fail miserably and he'll be starting in a couple weeks anyway.

Regardless, Denver, you're 1-4. Spend the bye week getting better, not drawing attention to yourselves when you're not playing please.

Muffed Punts
Leftovers from Sunday's action ...
... Shane Lechler's first career pass attempt also produced his first career touchdown pass, when the Raiders faked a field goal in the third quarter against the Browns. Oddly enough, Lechler was the emergency quarterback, set to replace Kyle Boller who replaced the injured Jason Campbell.
... No one will talk about it because they won and because of Handshake Gate, but Jim Harbaugh threw a challenge flag on a scoring play. Huge gaffe, since those are all automatically reviewed. It cost him an unsportsmanlike conduct delay of game penalty.
... Drew Brees became the first quarterback in NFL history to post four-straight games of 350 or more yards passing.
... Packers are now just the seventh defending Super Bowl champ to start the next season 6-0.

Worth 1,000 Words


 
Jim Irsay Pop-Culture Referencing Tweet That's Sure to Drive Colts Fans Insane of the Week
"Little red light on the highway...big green light on the speedway...hey,hey,hey"

This one might seem meaningless ... unless you happen to be a Grateful Dead fan and recognize the lyrics to "West L.A. Fadeaway." In which case you, like me, are clearly one of the first people to realize that Irsay's moving the Colts to Los Angeles. Who didn't see that coming?

GIF O' THE WEEK

Big ups to @Jose3030 for pulling this clip of LeSean McCoy pulling an aggressive version of the Pillsbury doughboy poke on Eagles coach Andy Reid. There's so much that's perfect about it, from Reid's stomach jiggling to Reid's head snapping back to Reid being totally unprepared for the punch, to McCoy later tweeting an apology for doing it.



Hot Seat Tracker
  • Jack Del Rio -- He wasn't supposed to beat the Steelers, in Pittsburgh. And he didn't. But the Jaguars showed some life. Still hard to imagine he survives this season though.
  • Jim Caldwell -- In the words of the Talking Heads, stiiiiiiiiiiiiillllll waiiiiiiting ...
  • Tony Sparano -- He only lasts through 2012 if Steve Ross is waiting out Jon Gruden.
  • Steve Spagnuolo -- Another guy who wasn't supposed to win Sunday, and he's been ravaged by injuries. But man, how did we all think they'd win the division?
  • Jason Garrett -- Perhaps a bit early, but Jerry Jones is questioning his playcalling. That's never good.
  • Leslie Frazier -- He needs to go to Ponder now to keep his seat cool.
  • Ken Wisenhunt -- He's got the Cards practicing on their off day during their bye week. Might be feeling some pressure.
Chasing Andrew Luck
You'll notice a shifting of the odds this week -- we're no longer accepting wagers that return any money to you. Mainly because there are just too many crappy teams in the NFL right now.

Colts (-500): The Jaguars and Panthers sandwich their Week 11 bye, and besides a Week 17 date at Jacksonville, well, those are the only games that even remotely look winnable right now.
Dolphins (-350): Their schedule is also quite bleak. At least their fans are happy?
Rams (-250): Al Harris is one of their starting cornerbacks. This is not 2001.
Broncos (-225): They're doing everything in their power to deal away anyone with any talent. And this is different than the Josh McDaniels era how?
Vikings (-125): Minny still has Adrian Peterson? Guh that Bears game was depressing.

MVP Watch
Pretty clearly, there's only one choice: Aaron Rodgers. Guy's doing everything he did down the stretch in 2010 but now it's being spread out over the course of a regular season. If he keeps this up, the Packers will have as many losses as there are people who don't pencil his name in for the top MVP vote.
Posted on: October 16, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2011 7:09 pm
 

Report: Campbell's dislocated shoulder ends year

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

UPDATED 7:06 p.m. ET: According to NFL.com, Campbell will miss the rest of the season with his dislocated shoulder.

----------

Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell has been knocked out of the Oakland-Cleveland game with about 4 minutes left in the second quarter, and according to the San Francisco Chronicle, he's dislocated his shoulder.  After gaining seven yards on a run, Cleveland’s Scott Fujita tackled him, and Campbell stayed on the turf until Oakland trainers could reach him.

As he slowly walked off the field, Campbell -- who was 6 of 9 for 52 yards and had helped the Raiders to a 14-7 lead against the Browns -- Campbell, in obvious pain, held his arm close to abdomen. Kyle Boller is in to replace Campbell, and on his first play in the game, a fourth and 1 from the Raiders 34, the team went for it and Boller gained the first down on a sneak.

If Boller were to go down, Terrelle Pryor -- who is not on the active roster -- would not play. Instead, the Raiders emergency third quarterback is punter Shane Lechler.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: October 13, 2011 11:37 am
 

Keep an Eye On: Week 6's finer points of analysis

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

Raiders vs. Browns
Keep an eye on: Raiders passing game
The Raiders are a run-first team, no doubt. That shouldn’t change against the Browns.

Cleveland can stop the run well enough, especially if middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson stays clean from blockers. But at some point, Jason Campbell will have to make a play or two through the air. Expect Darren McFadden to be the primary receiving weapon out of the backfield.

Throws to McFadden have easy, defined reads for Campbell (who often flounders late in his progressions and when his pocket gets too crowded for him to take a full step into his throw) and they should be available given the way Cleveland’s linebackers have struggled in underneath coverage. Most of those struggles have come against athletic tight ends.

The Raiders, however, are more inclined to run tight end Kevin Boss down the seam and swing McFadden underneath. The Browns will likely commit a safety (perhaps T.J. Ward) to tight end coverage and allow Scott Fujita to cover McFadden (expect zone principles since Fujita doesn’t have a prayer at running with McFadden in man coverage).

This isn’t to say Campbell won’t go to his wide receivers. He’s been attacking deep more in October than he did in September. That’s a response to the new speedy duo of Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Both are raw but potentially lethal. (No. 3 receiver Jacoby Ford is also a burner.) They’re not a potent one-two punch yet, though. Moore’s only big game came against the Bills, when Heyward-Bey was out of the lineup.

We may find out which receiver the Raiders like better this Sunday. Campbell has avoided throwing at top-flight corners this season (he hardly looked to Darrelle Revis’ side in Week 3 and rarely challenged Houston’s Johnathan Joseph in Week 5). Browns second-year sensation Joe Haden is most definitely a top-flight corner (he may have the most natural change-of-direction ability of any defensive player in football).

If Haden returns from his sprained knee, he’ll likely line up on the defensive left side. Whoever Oakland puts on the offensive left side (i.e. away from Haden) figures to be the go-to target. That could tell you what wide receiver pecking order the Raiders prefer.



Ravens vs. Texans
Keep an eye on: Brian Cushing
The third-year pro has been arguably the best inside linebacker in the AFC this season. That’s significant considering how mightily Cushing struggled as the middle linebacker in Houston’s 4-3 scheme last season.

But the inside duties are different in Wade Phillips’ new 3-4. With less field to cover, Cushing has been able to be more of an attacker than a reader-and-reactor. That’s a style best suited for his speed and ferocity.
 
Cushing hunts down outside runs extremely well and shows vigor when tasked with clearing out a lead-blocker. Both are critical traits for containing a Ravens ground game featuring a dynamic B-and C-gap runner like Ray Rice and a fullback like Vontae Leach.

Cushing is also noteworthy because of what he means to Houston’s pass-rush. Against the Raiders last week, Phillips resorted to frequent inside blitzes in an effort to instill panic in Oakland’s pass protectors and command one-on-one matchups for the rushers outside. Cushing continuously stood out for timing his blitzes well and executing them with reckless abandon.

With Mario Williams out, Phillips may feel compelled to be even more aggressive with linebacker blitzes. And he’s certainly seen the Week 4 film of Joe Flacco and the Ravens struggling to sort out many of the Jets’ inside blitzes.

Lions vs. 49ers
Keep an eye on: the tight ends
The 49ers and Lions are very different offenses. The Lions run a modern, semi-spread, aerial attacking offense. The 49ers run a 1980s, compact, ground-pounding offense.

That’s primarily a function of the quarterbacks. Though both are former No. 1 overall picks, Matthew Stafford is gun-slinger while Alex Smith is, comparatively, a spitball shooter. (To be fair, Smith did have a terrific game against the Bucs. He diagnosed coverages well and made a few stick throws.)

Though vastly different, both offenses are built around the same base personnel package: two tight ends. The Lions frequently line up with Tony Scheffler and Brandon Pettigrew while the Niners often feature Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker. The conundrum that two tight end personnel presents for a defense is in deciding what personnel to respond with.

Go with nickel and you risk getting run on (especially when facing the Niners, given that Davis and Walker are both solid run-blockers). Go with a base defense and you risk getting thrown on (especially with the Lions since Scheffler often splits out as a third receiver in the slot).
 
All four tight ends are weapons. For the Lions, Brandon Pettigrew is surprisingly mobile given his 265-pound frame and ’09 knee injury (from which he’s seemingly gained mobility through rehabbing). Scheffler is a swift downfield target.

For the Niners, Vernon Davis is as athletic as they come. No one save for maybe Jermichael Finley is as dangerous down the seams. Delanie Walker is not as good as Bay Area fans think, but he’s versatile in patterns and can block from a standstill position, off of motion or in a lead out of the backfield.

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Posted on: October 4, 2011 3:44 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 3:45 pm
 

Hue Jackson says Raiders will win division

Can Oakland can win AFC West? Why not. (US PRESSWIRE)
Posted by Ryan Wilson

“We’re going to win the AFC West. We’re going to do everything we can to get in the playoffs and go challenge for a Super Bowl. I am not backing down from that.”

That was Raiders head coach Hue Jackson at his Monday press conference. Our first thought after reading those remarks: "Hey, why not? This is the AFC West we're talking about. And through the first month of the season, the Raiders have every right to think they can win the division."

Also worth noting: Oakland went 6-0 in the AFC West last season but because of their 8-8 overall record finished behind the Chiefs and Chargers. (Seriously, this could only happen to the Raiders.)

And even without Nnamdi Asomugha and Zach Miller -- two key players who went elsewhere in free agency -- Oakland has been one of the surprises a quarter of the way through the season. It starts with running back Darren McFadden, but Jason Campbell has done a good job of managing the offense, and the defense (save the second-half implosion against the Bills in Week 2) has been solid.

Either way, Jackson sounds like a man legitimately confident in his team.

"I expected to be 4-0," he said Monday. "I really did. I'm not going to back off of that, and we're not. We're 2-2, so I'm disappointed but not discouraged because I know what's in the locker room. I've said this before: I have to keep coaching and keep pushing and keep grinding on these players. And these players have to keep responding, and they've responded every time I've asked them to. Maybe not as fast as I want them to, maybe not as fast as everybody wants them to, but I know the message is there, and it's clear."

Helping Oakland's cause: the Broncos are one of the league's truly awful teams, the Chiefs are somehow worse, and the Chargers hardly look like a playoff outfit, despite their 3-1 start.

The Raiders will face an Andre Johnson-less Texans team this week, the Browns the week after, and then following their Week 8 bye, will play three consecutive division games against the Chiefs, Broncos and Chargers.

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Posted on: September 18, 2011 7:47 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2011 11:15 pm
 

Bills continue to be pleasant surprise

D. Nelson caught the game-winning TD pass in Buffalo's win (AP).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

One of the biggest surprises of last week was the Buffalo Bills. They dominated the Chiefs on the road, winning by 34. They got wonderful quarterback play from Ryan Fitzpatrick (if you saw him as Carson Palmer’s backup in Cincinnati, that was downright shocking), and they showcased one of the underrated running backs in the league with Fred Jackson.

But these are, after all, the Bills, and even though they were at home vs. the Raiders, it seemed like a pretty good bet that Buffalo would return to normalcy. And after falling behind 21-3 at halftime, that’s exactly what I thought had happened.

Coach Chan Gailey had made the organization better, but he’s not a miracle worker. It’s not like the Bills’ stay at the top of the AFC East would last more than a week. And then Fitzpatrick went to work. And so did Jackson. And so did Buffalo’s offensive line.

And when Jason Campbell’s last-second Hail Mary attempt was intercepted in the end zone by Da’Norris Searcy, the Bills’ comeback attempt was complete. This week, Fitzpatrick went 28 of 46 for 264 yards, three touchdowns and an interception; Jackson rushed 15 times for 117 yards and two scores; and Buffalo’s stay in the AFC East penthouse will last at least another week.

"That was an amazing gut-check by our football team,” coach Chan Gailey said after the game. “What they did coming out of halftime was amazing. I was really proud of it.

While last week was a laugher the entire way in Kansas City, this week’s performance was even more impressive.

After falling behind by 18, the Bills had five offensive possessions in the second half. They scored five touchdowns. It’s not like the Raiders shriveled up; they kept answering with touchdowns of their own, but eventually, Buffalo got the lead. Only to give it back, which set up the last drive, perhaps the most impressive of the game.

After Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell -- who had a pretty good game in his own right -- hit Denarius Moore for a 50-yard touchdown to give Oakland the 35-31 lead with 3:41 to go, the Bills didn’t panic. They went back to work, and Fitzpatrick started targeting David Nelson.

Already, Fitzpatrick had completed three passes to Nelson -- who recorded 10 catches for 83 yards (both career highs) and a score -- on the final drive, and on third and 10 from the Oakland 15 with 27 seconds to play, Fitzpatrick found him again for a nine-yard gain, setting up the fourth and one with 18 seconds remaining.

Then, Fitzpatrick let Nelson win the game for him. With Nelson lined up on the left side of the line, he took advantage of a busted Oakland coverage (both Raiders defenders shadowed the slot receiver on Nelson’s inside), Nelson worked his way to the post and caught a wide-open 6-yard touchdown to seal the come-from-behind win.

It was, according to Rapid Reporter Mark Ludwiczak, the result of smart play-calling. According to him, the same play was used earlier in the game, but instead of Fitzpatrick throwing the ball to Nelson, he went to tight end Scott Chandler in the slot instead.

This time, of course, Fitzpatrick went the other way.

“I think they were all keying on (Chandler)," Nelson said. "They saw the similar play and I just slipped right underneath."

The Bills have done the same thing, slipping underneath the radar thus far. At 2-0, they’re still a surprise, and if they can actually compete with the likes of the Patriots and the Jets, that would be an even bigger shock. But there’s no question that the Bills have a different attitude this year. And if they can blow out one team and make a nice comeback on another, who’s to say Buffalo can’t continue to surprise all year long?



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Posted on: September 12, 2011 5:25 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 1:54 am
 

7-Point Preview: Broncos vs. Raiders

James Brown asks Dan Marino, Bill Cowher, Shannon Sharpe and Boomer Esiason for their thoughts on the Monday night matchups between the Patriots and the Dolphins and the Raiders against the Broncos. Watch The NFL Today every Sunday at 12 p.m. ET.

Posted by Ryan Wilson

1. Oakland Raiders (0-0) at Denver Broncos (0-0)
A few months ago, this game looked to be the official start to the Tim Tebow era, but a lot has happened since July and Kyle Orton remains the starter. And for now, he gives the Broncos the best chance to win (Orton has thrown for at least 3,600 yards in each of the last two seasons). Although, you could argue that Denver won just three times with Orton under center a season ago. Duly noted. (Tebow got the start in the Broncos other win in'10.)

The Raiders, meanwhile, lost two of their best players -- cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and tight end Zach Miller -- to free agency, and Hue Jackson replaces Tom Cable who was fired after leading the team to eight wins. (It was the first time Oakland had more than five victories in a season since they went to the Super Bowl in 2002. So, naturally, Cable was canned.) Jackson, to his credit, sounds undaunted by the task of working for Al Davis.

"I expect to win here," he said. "And 8-8 doesn't cut it for me. I'm not interested in being 8-8. I'm interested in being great." And Denver's as good a place to start as any. The last time the Broncos hosted the Raiders, Oakland was up 21-0 before Denver ran an offensive play. By the time it was over, the Raiders had won 59-14, racked up 508 offensive yards, including 165 yards on the ground from Darren McFadden, who also added four (!) touchdowns.

But it's a new season; hope springs eternal and all that. The Broncos, under new coach John Fox, are looking to improve on last year's four-win effort. And the Raiders, a team that went undefeated in the division, are hoping to make the postseason for the first time since 2002.


2. What the Degenerate Gamblers and Eggheads Are Saying
The Broncos are favored by three points, according to Bodog.com. Translation: it's a pick 'em with Denver getting the edge because they're playing at home.

Interestingly, the Football Outsiders preseason projections have the Raiders ranked 28th (28th in offense, 21st in defense, 7th in special teams) and the Broncos ranked 29th (21st, 29th and 8th), ahead of only the Cardinals, Titans and Seahawks.

Based on the Vegas line and the FO projections, the Raiders and Broncos are evenly matched, though not much is expected from either outfit. (Of course, the same was said of the Chiefs last year and they won the division.)

And because we wouldn't be doing our jobs if we didn't mention it, every CBSSports.com expert but Pete Prisco likes the Broncos. Make of this what you will.

3. Key Matchup to Watch
Asomugha's now in Philly, which means that offenses can attack both cornerbacks without trepidation. So Chris Johnson and Stanford Routt will be in Orton's crosshairs. They'll be tasked with slowing Brandon Lloyd, who came out of nowhere to log 1,448 receiving yards and 11 TDs a year ago (by comparison, Lloyd managed just 2,370 yards in his first seven years in the league), and Eddie Royal. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, the Broncos' 2010 first-round pick, is sidelined with a broken finger and a sore Achilles, so that's one less thing the Raiders' secondary has to worry about.

Offensively, Oakland will need to rely on its running game to open things up for the passing game. Now that tight end Zach Miller is in Seattle, quarterback Jason Campbell doesn't have a legit go-to receiver. We're still waiting for Darrius Heyward-Bey to play like a first-rounder, and Kevin Boss, signed to replace Miller, is out with a knee injury. This means that o-line will have to create holes for McFadden, Michael Bush and Taiwan Jones. If Oakland can establish a running game it will help neutralize a Broncos' pass rush that features Elvis Dumervil and rookie first-rounder, Von Miller.

4. Potentially Relevant YouTube
This is both awesome and awkward. The Monday Night Football intro from the 1996 Broncos-Raiders game. (Look at Jaws' 'stache!)


In case you're wondering, the Broncos won, 22-21.

5. The Raiders win if…
The offensive line can control the line of scrimmage, open up running lanes for McFadden and company, which will have the dual effect of eating clock and slowing the Broncos' pass rush.

6. The Broncos win if…
Orton can exploit the Raiders' secondary, build an early lead, and then let the defense tee off on Jason Campbell.

7. Prediction: Raiders 17 Broncos 20

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Posted on: August 22, 2011 1:42 pm
Edited on: August 22, 2011 3:59 pm
 

Raiders take Terrelle Pryor in third round

T. Pryor was taken by Oakland in the third round of the supplemental draft (Getty).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz


In a move that was ridiculously predictable and (probably) predictably ridiculous, the Raiders have taken Terrelle Pryor in the third round of the NFL’s supplemental draft. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it was with the No. 18 pick.

According to NFL.com's Albert Breer, Pryor immediately got on the phone with Raiders coach Hue Jackson and said, "I'll be there, and I'll be ready ... I can't wait." Breer also quoted agent Drew Rosenhaus saying, "I'm optimistic we'll get a deal done tonight."

The move isn’t a surprise, especially since we know the Raiders’ obsession with speedy draft picks and with the news that Pryor ran between a 4.38 and a 4.41 40 during his Pro Day last weekend. While the rest of his Pro Day was uneven for a quarterback -- his accuracy wasn’t that great -- his speed really stood out, especially considering he’s 6 foot 5 and 230 pounds.

Pryor's Journey to Oakland
Assuming Pryor, who will miss the first five games of the season because of a suspension, remains a quarterback, he would be entering a position that’s actually pretty deep in Oakland with Jason Campbell as the starter and Trent Edwards and Kyle Boller as the backups.

Which might mean the Raiders could try to turn Pryor into a tight end. And considering Oakland lost standout tight end Zach Miller to the Seahawks and replaced him with a lesser talent in Kevin Boss, a move like that would make a little bit of sense.

Still, the third round seems a bit high, right? As one of my editors pointed out, the Vikings got Donovan McNabb for a sixth-round pick this year, and the Raiders were willing to wager a third-rounder on Pryor? Are there many in the league at this point who would feel more comfortable playing Pryor at the quarterback spot instead of McNabb? I can't image so.

It’s interesting that the Raiders would take him so high, but in their mind, they might have felt like they had no other choice. They didn’t have a fourth-round pick because they’d already traded that selection to the Redskins to bring in Campbell. If they waited until the fifth round to select Pryor, there was a real chance he’d already be gone.

As of now, the Raiders have mortgaged half of next year’s draft, because they’d already traded their second-round pick to the Patriots -- meaning they don’t have a second, third or fourth-round draft pick for 2012. That’s not to say Oakland won’t be involved in trades that gets the club a draft pick in those rounds, but for now, the Raiders really have to hope the Campbell and Pryor picks were the right moves to make.

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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