NFL@L.A.: Carson Palmer

Wrap-up: Chargers 38, Raiders 26

January, 1, 2012

A look at a blown opportunity by the Oakland Raiders as they lost 38-26 against the San Diego Chargers.

What it means: The Raiders will never forget this day. All Oakland had to do was beat the eliminated Chargers at home and they would have won the AFC West title because the Denver Broncos already lost at home to the Kansas City Chiefs. Yet, the Raiders were thumped by the Chargers, a team that the Raiders had completely handled the past three times they met. San Diego was the better team as the Raiders ended the season losing four of their final five games to finish 8-8. The Raiders haven’t been to the playoffs in nine years and are tied for the second longest drought in the NFL.

Support for Turner: It was probably too late, but give credit to the Chargers for playing hard for coach Norv Turner. He will likely be fired because the Chargers failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year. Still, if this was the end, it was impressive.

Jackson’s prediction doesn’t come true: Oakland rookie head coach Hue Jackson predicted earlier in the season the Raiders would win the AFC West. He and his troops had their chances, but they couldn’t get it done. Next season, Jackson needs to just coach and not prognosticate.

Palmer isn’t a difference maker: The Raiders traded two premium picks (including their first-round pick in April) to Cincinnati for Carson Palmer.Palmer did throw for 417 yards, but he wasn’t the difference. Now, the Raiders have to move forward with the 32-year-old and hope he doesn’t continue to decline as he had for the past three years. The Raiders went all in for 2011 with the Palmer trade and all they got was a second straight 8-8 season and no playoff berth.

Penalty kings: To add injury to insult, the Raiders set the NFL season record for penalties and penalty yardage Sunday. Oakland was penalized 163 times for 1,358 yards, surpassing the totals of 158 penalties for 1,304 yards set by the 1998 Chiefs.

Another bad defensive day for Oakland: San Diego was awesome on offense. It had 463 yards and never punted. Expect the calls for Oakland defensive coordinator Chuck Breshnahan to be fired to get very loud.

Wrap-up: Raiders 16, Chiefs 13 (OT)

December, 24, 2011

A look at a thrilling 16-13 Oakland win:

What it means: The Raiders are still alive. The Chiefs are not. When Sebastian Janikowski’s 36-yard field goal went through the uprights, the Raiders became 8-7 and tied with Denver for first place in the AFC West. Denver owns the tiebreaker and can win the division title with a home win against the Chiefs next Sunday. Oakland will win the division with a home win against San Diego and a Kansas City win at Denver. If the Chargers lose at Detroit on Saturday, and if Denver and Oakland both lose in Week 17, Denver will win the division. Oakland is a game out in the wild-card race. It will need to win next week and hope for some help to make it as a wild card. Kansas City fell to 6-9 and was eliminated from playoff contention. It won the AFC West last year. It was Oakland’s fifth straight win at Kansas City, which is a team record. The Chiefs have gone eight straight games in which it has scored 19 points or less.

Big arm at the right time: After winning the coin flip to open overtime, Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer hit Darrius Heyward-Bey for a 53-yard reception deep in Kansas City territory to set up the game-winning field goal. Palmer was decent on Saturday, but he came up big when he was most needed.

Seymour is a chip off the old block: Oakland defensive lineman Richard Seymour blocked two Ryan Succop 49-yard field goal attempts, including one at the end of regulation. Succop had tied a team record of 22 straight field goals made before the first block.

No shame for Romeo: I wouldn’t think this loss severely damaged Romeo Crennel’s hope to become the permanent head coach. Kansas City beat Green Bay last week to help Crennel’s chances. The Chiefs played hard on Saturday under Crennel and that will go a long way in helping his cause when the Chiefs evaluate the situation after the season.

Orton not great: In his second start as the Chiefs’ quarterback, Kyle Orton was just OK as he compiled 21 of 36 passes for 300 yards. Orton, though, threw two interceptions with the Chiefs driving that ending up killing Kansas City. The Chiefs are 2-for-9 in the red zone with Orton.

Penalties pile up: There were 26 penalties for 180 yards. Oakland was penalized 15 times for 92 yards. The Raiders are on pace to set an NFL record for penalties and penalties yardage in a season.

Wasting a fake: A penalty wiped out an Oakland touchdown on a fake field goal. That’s terrible. Sooner or later, opponents are going to catch onto Hue Jackson’s penchant for fakes. To waste a touchdown on a penalty is horrible.

Good defense: Both defenses failed late, but they both hung in for the most part. Oakland came into the game allowing 13 touchdowns in the past three games.

Bowe comes up big when it counts: Kansas City receiver Dwayne Bowe was great at the end of the game and he tied the game with a short touchdown reception; it was his first score in 53 catches.

What’s next: Oakland hosts San Diego and Kansas City plays at Denver.

Wrap-up: Lions 28, Raiders 27

December, 18, 2011

A look at a devastating loss for the Oakland Raiders.

What it means: This defeat was absolutely crushing for the Raiders. They were poised to pull into a first-place tie with Denver, which lost by 18 at home to New England. However, a late Detroit rally kept Oakland a game behind Denver in the division. It was also a major blow for the Raiders’ wild-card chances. Oakland has now lost three straight games and is 7-7.

A man named Suh: In his first game back from a two-game NFL suspension, Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh got a hand on a 65-yard field goal attempt by Sebastian Janikowski as time expired. Welcome back, big fella.

Late disaster: We’ve seen the Raiders’ defense collapse like this before. But this was bad. Oakland had a 27-14 lead, but the Lions scored twice in the final 4:59, including a touchdown with 49 seconds to go. It culminated a 98-yard drive that started with 2:11 remaining in the game.

Palmer mostly good: The good news for the Raiders is quarterback Carson Palmer had a bounce-back game. He couldn’t extend a late drive, but he had a real nice day. Palmer completed 32 of 40 passes for 367 yards. He did not throw an interception. He went into the game with 13 this season.

Big day for receivers: Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson (who caught the game-winning touchdown) had nine catches for 214 yards. Oakland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey had eight catches for 155 yards. Heyward-Bey needs to be more consistent but he is capable of good things.

Penalties a plenty: We knew this was coming. Oakland came into the game leading the NFL in penalties and Detroit was fourth. Oakland committed 10 penalties for 86 yards and Detroit was flagged nine times for 72 yards.

What’s next: Oakland plays at Kansas City on Saturday. The Chiefs beat the Raiders 28-0 in Oakland in October.

Wrap-up: Packers 46, Raiders 16

December, 11, 2011
What it means: It’s been a terrible two weeks for the Oakland Raiders, who skipped into December with a lead in the AFC West and on a three-game winning streak. This 46-16 debacle followed up a 34-14 loss at the Miami Dolphins last week. Neither of these two games was close. Now, Oakland is a game behind the 8-5 Denver Broncos with three games to go. Is it panic time? No, but panic is trying to kick in the doors in Oakland.

A long way to go: The 13-0 Packers showed Oakland how far it is from being the game’s elite. The Raiders simply couldn’t complete with Green Bay. The Packers led 31-0 at halftime. It was the Raiders’ worst halftime deficit in team history.

Palmer was dreadful: Oakland traded two premium picks to the Cincinnati Bengals for quarterback Carson Palmer in order for him to perform in games like this. He was terrible. After making strides in Oakland, Palmer has taken a step back and threw four interceptions Sunday. Palmer has thrown 13 interceptions and nine touchdown passes for the Raiders. He had one great game at San Diego, but otherwise has not looked like the difference-maker Oakland expected him to be.

Need the speed back: The Raiders were missing running backs Darren McFadden and Taiwan Jones and receivers Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore. Palmer needs to get that world-class speed back as soon as possible if Oakland is going to make a playoff run.

What’s next: The Raiders host the Detroit Lions on Sunday. The Raiders are not out of this race -- a win over the Lions and a Denver home loss to the New England Patriots next week ties this baby back up. Oakland has to start playing better in all aspects.

Rapid Reaction: Dolphins 34, Raiders 14

December, 4, 2011

MIAMI -- Here are some initial thoughts on the Miami Dolphins' dominant 34-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders:

What it means: Miami won its fourth game in five tries and continues to relish its role of spoiler. The Dolphins improved to 4-8 and will have their third consecutive non-winning season. But they continue to share their misery by beating other teams late in the season. This was Miami's most complete and impressive performance of the year. The Dolphins took advantage of their 10 days of preparation and looked very sharp offensively and defensively. It also came against an Oakland team (7-5) that is leading the AFC West.

Defense continues to dominate: The light has come on for Miami's defense. The group has been one of the league's better units for the past month. The Dolphins baffled and battered Oakland's offense Sunday. Miami held Oakland to just 14 points, which were scored in garbage time, and sacked Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer two times. Miami was the NFL's sixth-rated unit in 2010, but started slow this season during its 0-7 start. The group is finally rounding back to its expected form.

Bush continues to thrive: Dolphins starting running back Reggie Bush continues to have his most successful season running the football. Bush rushed for 100 yards on 22 carries. By the fourth quarter, Dolphins fans were chanting "Reggie! Reggie!"

Seymour Watch: A fine could be forthcoming for Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour. He was ejected in the third quarter after a half-hearted attempt to punch Miami guard Richie Incognito. Seymour has a reputation for questionable play and the refs wasted no time ejecting him. This was the second ejection in as many seasons for the former Pro Bowl player. Seymour also was ejected last season for a shot to the face of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger after the whistle.

What's next: The Dolphins will play their second consecutive home game next week when the Philadelphia Eagles (4-8) come to town. Miami is looking to win its fourth consecutive game at home.

Raiders rising but can they breathe?

November, 20, 2011
For the first three quarters of their 27-21 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, the Oakland Raiders looked like the class of the AFC West and a scary good young team that could make enough noise in the playoffs to net the Cincinnatti Bengals two first-round draft choices from the Carson Palmer trade after all.

In the fourth quarter they looked like the same undisciplined, immature Oakland Raiders team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2003.

The Raiders weren't just bad in the fourth quarter Sunday, they seemed hellbent on giving away the game to a Vikings team that has done the same on way too many occasions this season.

First Sebastian Janikowski had a 48-yard field-goal attempt blocked. Then Michael Bush fumbled inside the Raiders 40 yard line just moments after the Oakland defense came up with a key interception in the endzone to thwart a nice drive by the Vikings. In between the Raiders committed an alarming number of penalties.

Some of the dysfunction can be attributed to the scary injury to wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who was carted off the field because of a neck injury.

Some of the penalties whistled by the officials were probably due more to the Raiders' reputation for reckless, undisciplined play. They are guilty until presumed innocent far too often for it to be a coincidence, which I assume is why coach Hue Jackson decided to take a heavy fine for the team and criticize the officials after they whistled his team for 12 penalties that cost the Raiders 117 yards during the game.

But way too much of the Raiders problem late in Sunday's game has to do with attitude.

This has been a team on its way up for the better part of two years now. They've played -- as young teams generally do -- with a large chip on their shoulder.

Now all of a sudden they have arrived and they seem to have little idea of how to breathe the air up there.

(Read full post)

Wrap-up: Raiders 27, Vikings 21

November, 20, 2011

A look at a fortunate day for the Oakland Raiders in the Twin Cities as they beat the Minnesota Vikings 27-21.

What it means: The Raiders are now 6-4, and they will remain in first place in the AFC West regardless of the rest of the action in the division in Week 11. Denver is 5-5, and San Diego and Kansas City are 4-5.

Survival: The Raiders looked great in the first two quarters against the undermanned Vikings, who fell to 2-8. Oakland scored 24 unanswered points and led 24-7 at the half. Yet the Vikings came back thanks to several Oakland penalties. Had the Vikings not been mistake-prone (they committed five turnovers, including two interceptions that were deep in Oakland’s territory), they could have won this game. The Raiders need to find a way to play a complete game moving forward, but they'll take a win.

Spreading the ball around: In his third Oakland start, quarterback Carson Palmer had his moments, especially in the first half. He ended up 17-of-23 passing for 164 yards. It was a great sign that Palmer spread the ball around. He completed passes to seven different receivers and hit tight end Kevin Boss five times. Getting Boss more involved is paramount. Palmer’s comfort level in this offense is growing, even though his numbers weren’t spectacular Sunday.

Scary scene: Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey had a good game with four catches before he injured his neck or head in the fourth quarter. He had to be taken off the field on a stretcher.

UPDATE: Oakland coach Hue Jackson said Heyward-Bey has regained all of his feeling in his arms and his legs, and he was hopeful Heyward-Bey could fly home with the team.

Controlling Allen: Minnesota sack master Jared Allen came into the game with a sack in 11 straight games. The streak ended Sunday. Oakland did allow four sacks, but it was able to contain Allen.

Big game for Bush again: Oakland backup running back Michael Bush had 109 yards on 30 carries. He has a total of 266 rushing yards in the past two games, as Darren McFadden has been out since Week 7 with a foot injury.

Satele hurt again: Center Samson Satele had a concussion in the first half. Rookie guard Stefen Wisniewski moved to center, and Stephon Heyer came in to play left guard. Wisniewski excelled at center in Week 10 at San Diego when Satele was injured.

Bringing the heat: The Raiders continued to get to the quarterback. They had five sacks Sunday and have 11 sacks in their past two games.

Penalties still an issue: The Raiders -- the most penalized team in the NFL -- were flagged 12 times for 117 yards. This is a major issue for Oakland that has to somehow be cleared up.

Fourth-quarter problems continue: The Raiders were shut out in the fourth quarter for the fifth straight game. It almost caught up to them Sunday.

What’s next: The Raiders host Chicago in Week 12.

Palmer, Raiders take control of Chargers

November, 10, 2011

SAN DIEGO – This is why the Raiders traded for Carson Palmer.

This is why no one trusts that the San Diego Chargers will ever live up to expectations.

In an entertaining and unpredictable start to what could be a spectacularly wild second half in the AFC West, the Oakland Raiders took ownership of the division by setting the tone offensively and defensively against a home San Diego team that can only be described as floundering.

In a game featuring big-armed quarterbacks, it was Palmer who outdueled a still-sagging Philip Rivers in a 24-17 Oakland win.

In the process, the Raiders raised their record to 5-4 and are now alone in first place in the AFC West. San Diego has lost four consecutive games and is spinning out of control at 4-5. Kansas City is 4-4 and it hosts Denver, 3-5, on Sunday. If the Chiefs beat the Broncos, who beat Oakland last week, they will be technically ahead of Oakland owing to Kansas City's victory over the Raiders in Week 7.

This game had the feel of two teams scrambling to stay alive.

The reality of the three-way tie in the division was that no team had established itself as a quality squad, nor had any team showed that it was ready to be anything but first-round playoff fodder for stronger AFC competition come January.

Oakland had lost consecutive divisional games at home by a total of 42 points — and with a rusty Palmer and without star running back Darren McFadden, was lacking an identity on offense.

San Diego entered the game losers of three in row, games they could have easily won and in which Rivers made crucial mistakes.

The Raiders made necessary adjustments in a short week. The Chargers added to their misery.

“It had a feel of a desperate game,” Oakland defensive lineman Richard Seymour said. “We talked all week about just letting it go and doing whatever we could to get this win.”

The Raiders followed a formula they have used against San Diego for the past three years — they punched them in the mouth and controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

Offensively, the Raiders used a beautiful combination of Palmer converting key long passes and McFadden caddie Michael Bush jamming the ball down the Chargers’ throats. Bush, one of the best backups in the NFL, had 157 yards rushing on 30 carries. He had 78 yards on13 carries in the first quarter.

Thursday night represented a return of the Oakland offense that was clicking so well in the first six games, before former starting quarterback Jason Campbell broke his collarbone. In the first six quarters of the Palmer era – Oakland acquired him from Cincinnati two days after Campbell was hurt in exchange for two premium draft picks – Oakland’s offense was out of sorts.

They couldn’t run like the NFL's best running attack, and Palmer looked just like what he was – a guy coming off his couch after a nine-month layoff, with completely new teammates.

If Thursday night’s crisp offensive showing by Palmer and the Oakland offense is any indication of things to come, the Raiders must be considered the favorites to win the West for the first time in nine years.

You have to think Palmer will keep getting better as he continues to practice with his stable of new, young receivers.

“I like what he is bringing to our team,” Seymour said. “We needed another leader and you can see the affect he is having on the young guys. … It’s good to have him here.”

Palmer threw for 299 yards and made some terrific passes when needed most. He did commit two turnovers – he has eight in 10 quarters with the Raiders – but he clearly is getting on track in Oakland. He and rookie receiver Denarius Moore connected five times for 123 yards and two touchdowns.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Palmer was 4-for-4 on passes of 21-plus yards for 146 yards Thursday night. The late Al Davis would be proud of the new Oakland quarterback who showed his arm is still a top weapon.

“What he is doing is phenomenal,” Oakland coach Hue Jackson said of Palmer.

While the season's second half started on the right track for Oakland, San Diego is mired in problems. As the Raiders' offense dominated the Chargers' defensive front, the Oakland defensive line did the same to the battered San Diego line, which played much of the game without three starters.

Four days after being humiliated by the Tim Tebow option runaway train, Oakland teed off on Rivers. He was sacked six times and it was an Oakland jailbreak on nearly every play. Oakland linebacker Kamerion Wimbley had four sacks himself. He said the constant pressure took a “toll” on Rivers.

“We knew it was on us,” Seymour said. “We wanted to get in Rivers’ face on every play.”

It worked. Now, Rivers has to face the fact that his team is no longer that 4-1 squad in need of a wee bit of tweaking — but rather under .500 and leaking oil fast. After the game, Rivers, who threw another fourth-quarter interception Thursday, again had no answers for the problems.

Rivers and San Diego had better figure out something soon, or this once-perennial Super Bowl contender is going to be on the outside looking in come January for the second consecutive year and potentially facing major changes in the offseason.

Oakland has already endured major change during this season, and it is starting the stretch run better for it.

Rapid Reaction: Raiders 24, Chargers 17

November, 10, 2011

SAN DIEGO -- A look at an entertaining, standings-changing Thursday night game:

What it means: The Raiders are in first place in the AFC West. They are 5-4 and snapped a two-game losing streak. San Diego has lost four consecutive games and now is 4-5. Kansas City is 4-4, and Denver is 3-5. The Chiefs host the Broncos on Sunday.

The QBs: Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer was mostly terrific as he threw for 299 yards. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers had his moments but threw a key interception in the end zone late in the game. He has made a key mistake in every game during the Chargers’ losing streak.

Bush excels: Oakland needs to re-sign running back Michael Bush. He has been fantastic in two starts in place of star Darren McFadden, who is out with a foot injury. Bush finished with 157 yards on 30 carries after starting fast with 78 yards on 13 carries in the first quarter. He is a free agent at the end of the season.

Rookie receivers shine: Oakland rookie receiver Denarius Moore looks like a top target for Palmer. He had five catches for a game-high 123 yards, including two touchdowns. San Diego rookie receiver Vincent Brown had a touchdown pass on a spectacular catch and had another nice touchdown catch reversed. They both look like keepers.

Injuries pile up: Both teams came into this game banged up. The injuries mounted. Oakland lost receiver Jacoby Ford to a foot injury. San Diego saw left tackle Marcus McNeill (stinger), guard Louis Vasquez (ankle) and linebacker Takeo Spikes (concussion) leave the game. The Chargers were playing without three offensive linemen much of the game, and San Diego pass-rusher Antwan Barnes was injured late in the contest.

What’s next: The Raiders play at Minnesota on Nov. 20, and San Diego plays at Chicago in a game that matches up former AFC West adversaries Rivers and Jay Cutler.

The mild, mild West

November, 6, 2011
Philip RiversChristopher Hanewinckel/US PresswireFor the first time in his NFL career, Chargers QB Philip Rivers threw three interceptions.
SAN DIEGO -- Here come the Denver Broncos?

Why not? It’s the AFC West and everything appears to be on the table.

With half the NFL regular season remaining, anything is possible in what is developing into the NFL’s wildest race. It is plausible that any team in the AFC West could win the division crown and any team could finish in last place.

On a day the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders could end up long regretting, the Chargers, Chiefs and Raiders started in a three-way tie and ended in a three-way tie after all three teams lost home games. They are all 4-4 at midpoint of the season. Denver -- yes, Denver -- looms at 3-5.

Week 9 has to be particularly disheartening for Kansas City and Oakland. Both teams had to be looking forward to improving to 5-3 Sunday and seeing if the other teams in the scrum would keep up. Kansas City was entertaining winless Miami and the Raiders were hosting hapless Denver, fresh off a 35-point home loss to Detroit.

“You never know what is going to happen,” San Diego defensive lineman Tommie Harris said after the Chargers lost 45-38 to Green Bay on Sunday. “That’s why we just have to bounce back quickly.”

The Chiefs – who came into Week 9 on a four-game win streak -- were dismantled 31-3 by the Dolphins. Oakland, in the first start of the Carson Palmer era, was run over 38-24 by the Broncos.

Both the Chiefs and the Raiders may be guilty of looking ahead. The Chiefs came out of a huge Monday night win over the Chargers last week thinking they’d be 6-3 after home dates against Miami and Denver. After starting 4-2, the Raiders had designs on going 6-2 with home games against Kansas City and Denver on the horizon.

Things can quickly change.

Just ask the Chargers. Three weeks ago, they were defending their somewhat shaky play by pointing out they were 4-1. Now, they are simply another shaky .500 team after three straight losses that featured critical fourth-quarter miscues by struggling quarterback Philip Rivers.

Rivers threw three interceptions (for the first time in his NFL career), including two that were brought back for touchdowns in the first quarter and another one that scuttled a potential game-tying touchdown drive in the final minute in a wild loss to unbeaten Green Bay.

Had the Chargers been able to come back to beat Green Bay, they would be looking good at 5-3 in this division. Instead, the three-way logjam continues.

None of these three teams can say they are currently a good team. All three have issues moving into the second half of the season.

If I had to peg a favorite to emerge from the AFC West heap right this moment, I’d probably say the Chargers -- who host the Raiders in a critical division game Thursday night.

It just seems that they currently have fewer major questions than the other teams in the division. The Chargers are skidding, but they aren’t playing terribly. San Diego needs some tweaking, but it doesn’t seem to be in any major upheaval. The Chargers could have won any one of the three past games.

While Rivers is clearly making way too many crucial mistakes, he is still making a lot of plays. It’s not like his game is in total disarray. If he can clean up the problems, the Chargers should be fine.

What's worrisome about Kansas City is that on Sunday it reverted back to the first two games of the season when it was beaten by a combined score of 89-10. No contending team should be hammered like that at home by a bottom feeder like Miami. Plus, the Chiefs’ schedule gets extremely difficult in Weeks 11-15. They have road games at New England, the Jets and Chicago and home games against Pittsburgh and Green Bay.

The Raiders are a bit of a mystery right now.

They are 0-2 since trading two premium draft picks for Palmer. He has thrown six interceptions in six quarters with the Raiders. Oakland has problems on defense and its offense is clearly out of sorts with the sudden quarterback change from Jason Campbell to Palmer. The Raiders have loads of talent, but they have to quickly get their house in order.

The Broncos are the least talented team in the division, but the truth is, they are still in the hunt. Truly, anything can happen out West in the next two months.

Count the Chargers among those who are grateful to be in the race.

“Whether we’re 8-0, 2-6 or 4-4, we’re tied for first place,” safety Eric Weddle said. “That’s all that matters … let’s see what happens after 16 games.”

There’s no question that this muddled, imperfect race has the feel of one that will go the distance.

Wrap-up: Broncos 38, Raiders 24

November, 6, 2011
What it means: The Raiders, San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs are 4-4 and tied for first place in the AFC West after all three teams lost at home Sunday.

The Denver Broncos are 3-5 and one game off the pace in this hot mess of a division. The Raiders -- who went 6-0 in the AFC West last year -- were primed to be 6-2, but they have lost back-to-back home games to Kansas City and Denver.

Palmer’s impact: Quarterback Carson Palmer had his moments Sunday as he threw three touchdown passes in his first start as a Raider. But the man brought to Oakland to be the difference maker has thrown six interceptions in six quarters of play.

Tebow’s impact: Tebow played better than he did in his first two starts of the season, but he wasn’t terrific throwing the ball. Yet, with 117 yards rushing, he very likely did enough on keep his job as the starter. Denver is 2-1 with him as the starter.

McGahee’s day: The star of the show for Denver was 30-year-old Willis McGahee. Playing two weeks after breaking his hand and only limited practice, McGahee ripped through an Oakland defense that is giving up too many big plays. He had 163 yards rushing and he scored on runs of 60 and 24 yards in the second half. Denver, which has struggled all season on the ground, had 298 yards rushing.

What’s next: The Raiders have a quick turnaround. They will play a crucial AFC West game at San Diego on Thursday night. Denver plays at Kansas City,

Palmer's debut with Raiders not so simple

October, 23, 2011
Palmer/JacksonAP Photo/Paul SakumaRaiders coach Hue Jackson, right, tried his best to tutor quarterback Carson Palmer during the game, but it was a rough debut.

OAKLAND -- In simpler times, when both Hue Jackson and Carson Palmer were younger and the colors they wore were cardinal and gold, not silver and black, Jackson had a saying to calm his young protege down.

"Just run the old brown shoe," he'd tell him. Palmer would nod, knowing exactly what his offensive coordinator meant.

"Yeah," Palmer recalled. "He'd always say, 'You could just run the old brown shoe and win.' "

In other words, keep it simple and let your talent take over. The plays, the offense, the protections don't matter. Just play, don't over-think it.

A decade later, and a whole lot more at stake, Jackson would have been better served heeding his own advice.

Palmer never had a chance to make much of a difference in Sunday's game, a 28-0 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

He had time to learn only three or four protections and a small fraction of the team's plays. He's still learning his receivers' names, let alone their tendencies. Oh, and the first time he'd thrown in pads in 10 months was Sunday, when he entered midway through the third quarter.

Jackson knew all this. So did Palmer. Heck, so did the Chiefs.

But instead of buying Palmer and the Raiders some breathing room by saying Palmer would need a week or two to acclimate after a daring blockbuster trade last Monday, Jackson elevated the expectations for immediate success by calling it "the greatest trade in football," then playing coy about whether Palmer would start.

Gamesmanship, Jackson called it afterward. And it would've been great if the Raiders had won.

Instead it seemed like Jackson faked out his entire team -- including Palmer, who said afterward he was never expecting to play this week.

"I didn’t think I was going to play so I didn’t have much expectation," Palmer said. "I expected to get a feel for watching from the sidelines, seeing coverages unfold, seeing protections be picked up and watch the running game, different play action things to watch from the boundaries.

"But as soon as it’s time to go, it’s time to go. When your number’s called, you’ve got to be ready to go."

(Read full post)

NFL legend and former Raider Jerry Rice on what it will take for Carson Palmer to succeed in Oakland.

It is an empowering moment, no matter which cards you're holding and how good the percentages of actually winning the hand are. There's just something about wrapping your hands around the sides of your chip stack, shoving them into the middle of the table in a no-limit poker game and letting everyone know this is it.

No one says "All in" softly. You say it fast and you say it strong or you don't say it at all.

I imagine that's how things feel in the Raider front office this morning as the group of people stepping in to replace the late Al Davis made a bold move to acquire Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer for what could be two first-round draft picks.

It was a move Davis would've loved. A 60-yard touchdown pass over the head of the safeties when everyone was expecting a run.

It feels great in the moment. Empowering, strong, aggressive. Like you just grabbed some control over a game rooted so deeply in chance.

It feels even better when you make that move from a position of strength. To continue the poker metaphor, with a big chip stack to intimidate the other players, or the best hole cards at the table.

The Raiders have neither.

(Read full post)

Palmer trade good for Raiders?

October, 18, 2011
Herm Edward believes both sides win in the Bengals trade of Carson Palmer to the Raiders.



Philip Rivers
570 379 4286 31
B. Oliver 160 582 3.6 3
R. Mathews 74 330 4.5 3
M. Floyd 52 856 16.5 6
A. Gates 69 821 11.9 12