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29 Nov 2005

Any Given Sunday: Dolphins over Raiders

by Ned Macey

After an off-season trade for Randy Moss and the signing of LaMont Jordan, the Raiders were supposed to be a dominant offense. Fantasy owners had visions of 34-31 shootouts with huge numbers posted by Oakland's talented skill players. But in Oakland's loss to the Dolphins on Sunday, it was the unheralded playmakers from Miami who looked like they are a quarterback away from establishing a dynamic offense.

The addition of Moss and Jordan seemed a perfect fit for Norv Turner's offense. Turner likes to emphasize a punishing ground attack with a vertical passing game capable of big plays. Kerry Collins seemed like an ideal quarterback because he is proficient in play action and has a strong arm. The failure to run underneath routes, however, has rendered the system ineffective, and Collins is killing the team with his propensity for turnovers.

The Raiders feature three talented receivers in Moss, Jerry Porter, and Doug Gabriel. When they catch the ball, they are providing big plays. Moss has his highest yards per catch average since 2000. Porter is averaging an impressive 14.4 yards per reception, and Gabriel is even better at 17.0 yards per reception. The problem is that they are rarely catching the ball. Only Porter is catching even half of the passes intended for him, and he is only hauling in 53 percent of those passes.

Oakland's passing efficiency problem was clearly visible on Sunday. Collins padded his completion percentage with throws to Jordan and tight end Courtney Anderson. For the game, Collins completed 13 of 18 passes to running backs or tight ends. He completed only eight of 19 when throwing to wide receivers, and both of his interceptions were on passes intended for wideouts.

Collins' poor passing performance was particularly problematic because the Dolphins' biggest defensive weakness is in the secondary. Coming into the game, the Dolphins ranked sixth against the run but 21st against the pass in Football Outsiders' DVOA rankings (which are explained in detail here). They have been particularly poor defending opponents' number one receivers, which makes the poor showing of Moss all the more troubling. In Moss' defense, he has been battling injuries, but he should never be so ineffective against a suspect secondary. Through three quarters he caught only one ball, and in the fourth he added just two catches for 10 yards.

Lost amid Oakland's high-profile skill player acquisitions was the rather pedestrian Raiders offensive line. The Dolphins pressured Collins relentlessly, registering seven sacks including a safety. Barry Sims, a stalwart on the Super Bowl team of 2002, was consistently abused by Jason Taylor. Collins has never been the most mobile quarterback – his 17-yard touchdown run on Sunday was a rare sight – and with so many deep routes, he is holding the ball more than ever. Collins has now gone down 29 times, third most in the league. As a result, Collins has fumbled 10 times on the season, including twice on Sunday.

The rumors about Norv Turner's job are starting to circulate. While the Raiders were a flawed team to begin with, the offense is not performing like most people expected. Turner's entire reputation is based upon his skill as an offensive mastermind, but despite their abundant talent the Raiders are not even among the ten best offenses in football.

By DVOA, the Raiders offense ranks 11th overall, the worst offense in their admittedly powerful division. With the known question marks on defense, this offense could not afford to be only a shade above average. For the season, the Raiders have scored more than 23 points only twice and have been held under 20 six separate times.

The Raiders offensive failings were so obvious on Sunday in part because of the solid play from a Miami offense that was shut out in Cleveland the week before. Coming into the game, the Miami offense ranked 27th in the league in DVOA. The Dolphins achieved their poor ranking in large part because of their 27th ranked pass offense, which dragged down a decent run offense that ranked 13th. Oakland seemed like a particularly poor matchup for Miami because it features a strong rush defense and a terrible pass defense.

But Oakland's pass defense allowed even Gus Frerotte to achieve success. Frerotte has been a complete disaster at quarterback, ranking 30th in DVOA among quarterbacks who have thrown 80 passes. On Sunday, he showed what solid quarterback play could do for the Dolphins, completing 18 of 31 passes for 261 yards. Also, despite being sacked three times, he managed to hold onto the ball. Ball security had been a problem for Frerotte, who had fumbled 10 times coming into the game.

What is unfortunate about Frerotte's general struggles is that the Dolphins actually have decent offensive weapons. On Sunday, they committed to throwing to Chris Chambers and Randy McMichael, and the two combined for 10 catches for 160 yards. Despite obvious talent, Chambers and McMichael have been among the least productive players at their positions. Chambers has always caught a low percentage of passes because of poor Miami quarterbacking, but this year he's catching only 44 percent of the passes intended for him (down from 50 percent over the last three seasons). McMichael is catching only 56 percent of passes, low for a tight end, and the passes he catches are of little value. Barely half of his receptions have netted first downs.

Until Sunday, the inefficient Frerotte had failed to capitalize on the reliable ground game the Dolphins have developed. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams have formed a nice duo, deployed effectively behind an average offensive line. Despite sharing carries with Williams, Brown ranks 13th in the league in DPAR (Defense-adjusted Points Over Replacement), an addititve stat that tends to increase with more carries.

On Sunday, Brown had issues with ball security, fumbling twice. With Brown putting the ball on the ground, Williams stepped in to have his second consecutive strong game, gaining 82 yards on 16 carries. After a slow start, Williams has gained 312 yards on 67 carries over the last five weeks. Running back committees are emerging all over the league, and the Dolphins have the potential to have one of the best.

Ricky's aborted retirement had as much to do with consecutive seasons of over 380 carries as his desire to study holistic medicine. The 383 carries he had in 2002 limited his effectiveness in 2003; decreasing his workload by splitting carries with Brown will prolong his career and increase both players' value.

Neither of these teams is going to make a playoff run, no matter how often Dolphins players note that they are only two games out of first place. Going into the season, however, the Raiders harbored legitimate playoff goals thanks to their high-profile additions. Most pundits assumed that if the Raiders could play average defense, they would have a shot, even in the highly competitive AFC West. In fact, Oakland's defense is only slightly below average, with a DVOA of 0.9 percent. But an offense that is far from dominant is preventing them from keeping up with the Chiefs or Chargers, two teams whose truly powerful offenses overcome unreliable defenses.

In Miami, they are never going to make the playoffs unless they can get a consistent quarterback. The Dolphins have either won or been within a touchdown of winning every time Frerotte has completed 50 percent of his passes. Unfortunately, that has only happened in six of 11 games. They managed to win one of the other five games -- but were beaten soundly in the other four.

The Dolphins have an above-average defense and an adequate running game. But since neither unit is dominant – like the Bears defense or the Atlanta running game – the Dolphins need at least average quarterback play to contend. On Sunday, Frerotte delivered that against a suspect Raiders defense, and the Dolphins won. Nobody thinks he can do it consistently, and filling the hole at quarterback will be Miami's primary task this off-season.

Each Tuesday in Any Given Sunday, Ned Macey looks at the biggest upset of the previous weekend. The NFL sells itself on the idea that any team can win any given game, but we use these upsets as a tool to explore what trends and subtle aspects of each team are revealed in a single game. On Tuesday morning, DVOA stats may link to tables not yet updated for the current week.

Posted by: Ned Macey on 29 Nov 2005

37 comments, Last at 02 Dec 2005, 5:52pm by Ryan Carney

Comments

1
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 2:54pm

Thanks for noticing the Oakland line play. I said all offseason that a team doesn't put together the 32nd ranked rushing offense, then just go and get a new running back and expect to have a solid running game. If you're last in the league rushing, the RB is only part of the problem.

I have to admit, though... the Raiders have been better this season than I expected them to be. I figured they'd be the worst team in the West, but I never figured they'd actually be above league average. Like San Diego, they're a team that can assign a lot of blame to their brutal schedule. Put them in the NFC, and they're competing for a playoff spot right now.

I have to admit, though, I'm a little bit surprised that you didn't weigh in on Saban's comments last week and their effect on the team.

2
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 3:01pm

I am a Dolphin fan.

I live in Los Angeles, where we are force-fed Raider games every freekin week. So, this week I figured I'd finally get to watch the Dolphins. But noooooooo, CBS chooses to show the Charger game at 10am (probably a smart decision, but why do they decide to get smart now?).

Anyway, I haven't gotten to see Miami much this year, so I really don't know how they've looked this year. I imagine the defense is getting old, and wonder if it will continue to decline, as the offense gets built back up.

The Chris Chambers factor has been sad. Every once in awhile he'll have awesome games, that makes me think he may be one of the top 10 WR's in the NFL, but with a lack of QB skill, he is just wasted out there. Is he going to be too old to contribute by the time Miami finds a QB?

I am really curious to see what Miami does at QB next year. I have a feeling that they are going to make a run at Philip Rivers. I have no idea if this is a good plan. I guess it's as good as anything, considering Rivers was a highly rated QB coming out of college, and has been learning the NFL on the sidelines in San Diego, so he may be ready to go in 2006. That bizarre trade earlier this year of Feeley for Cleo Lemon with San Diego seemed really strange, and it's almost as if it was some sort of pre-trade for acquiring Philip Rivers. But that's just a hunch.

Does anybody know of a good resource online for Dolphin info? I used to read a Dolphins website called finheaven.com, but it's mainly a bunch of idiots there.

3
by Jay (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 3:32pm

Specific to the Oakland line, what is the consensus on Gallery? I never see any Raider's games, but I remember when they played the Patriots this year, Belichick mentioned that he'd have taken Gallery number 1 if he had the first pick in that year's draft. How has he progressed?

4
by JonL (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 4:11pm

Regarding the Raiders receivers' "catch %," are those numbers normal, or are they particularly low this year?

Also, I find it interesting that given the deep routes Norv Turner uses, I can't think of an even remotely mobile quarterback he's had. But then, maybe my memory is underestimating Trent Green and us Frerotte.

An interesting (off-season) project might be to look at various head coaches/offensive coordinators who have been around awhile (and, ideally, worked for more than one team), and look at stuff like average sacks allowed, etc. It would be a way of empirically looking at something like the situation in earlier Houston earlier this year, where after Chris Palmer got fired Pendry said he would use fewer seven-step drops. I guess the question would be, does a particular offense in and of itself lead to particular outcomes.

5
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 4:34pm

Can somebody explain to me how the Dolphins O-line got so competent in the off-season?

6
by beedubyuh (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 4:43pm

RE: %

Got Hudson Houck?

7
by Cinnamon Rolls (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 4:49pm

re: 5, 6

Yep, unfortunately the Fins plucked Hudson Houck from the Chargers, who got pretty good performance out of a pedestrian line in San Diego also.

8
by Nicolas (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 5:07pm

I think this game the Raiders (Collins) V. Miami (Frerotte) highlights the DVOA deficiency, when rating receivers, of: "We cannot yet fully separate the performance of a receiver from the performance of his quarterback. Be aware that one will affect the other." These should be two high-powered offenses, but they are being stiffled by ineffective QB's. Collins and Frerotte are back-up QBs, fronting as starters. What I don't understand is that it is so obvious that Collins is a QB with horrible accuracy, yet not a word from the media about it. For instance during the Denver game last week, everyone in the stadium could see that Collins was totally missing his receivers. You could see him throwing the ball everywhere except near the receiver. Then his home crowd started booing him and the announcers didn't even mention it. He then throws a garbage TD to Gabriel and then announcers start saying what a wonderful throw he just made.

9
by JonL (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 5:28pm

I guess my intent was to try to separate "coaching" from "scheming."

10
by Josh (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 5:30pm

Phillip Rivers come on down! Welcome to Oakland. Hope that arms in good shape.

11
by Nate (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 6:03pm

No way in hell Rivers ends up in Oakland. They seem to really like Walter(s?).

12
by JonL (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 6:04pm

it's occurred to me that my proposition, like most of my ideas, is silly and impractical, if not impossible to carry out. I thank you.

13
by Bright Blue Shorts (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 6:04pm

"and Collins is killing the team with his propensity for turnovers." - You can criticise Collins for poor throws, or throwing the ball away too often; but certainly not for turnovers. Putting that in the opening paragraph makes me wonder whether the writer watched the game, or just came in with a bunch of preconceived notions based on Collins' pre-2005 career.

Kerry's thrown more passes than any other QB this season and only 9 ints. Both Tom Brady (10) and Brett Favre (19) have thrown more in less attempts.

IIRC he had a stretch of 150+ passes without an interception at the start of the year, and the Raiders were 0-3 during that time. You can hardly attribute that to Collins' propensity for turnovers.

Even including fumbles the Raiders are 5th best in the NFL in not giving the ball away. While the offense may not be firing, they're certainly not giving the ball away cheaply.

The protection Kerry's received from the line has been poor. Take a look at the safety the team conceded to the Fins (on NFL.com) - Collins had no chance.

As to Gallery ... they only ever seem to call his name to mention a holding penalty or false start. He hasn't made it from right tackle to the coveted left tackle position. I'm not sure he's progressing as expected.

BBS :-)

14
by 10K (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 6:36pm

Richie, it's called a blackout. I was at the game and have caught quite a few Miami games on DirectTV. The defense has been suspect but it's not old. Zach is playing, I should say WAS playing, better than he has in a couple of years. Seau has been injured, but it doesn't matter. The 2 old guys have been playing great when healthy and we have fantastic young LBs: Derrick Pope and Channing Crowder particularly. (Crowder is probably slotted to replace Zach, but Pope is just as capable, maybe more so because he's smarter with instincts while Crowder is pure instinct.) Donnie Spragan serves well as a situational player.

The rebuilt line, although old, is younger than having TimBo and a rotation of FAs. Keith Traylor has been a beast, and even though people were surprised by Vonnie Holliday and Carter getting picked up, they too have played young. Both should stay with the team next year, particularly Holliday who seems to have really meshed with the team and become a leader.

The problem with the D IS youth... in the seconday. Well, Sam is getting old and can't cover a guy without molesting him. But Travis Daniels is too young (he makes mistakes) and slow. But he's smart. Tillman is decent but too young. I think Yeremiah Bell will be good but makes youthful mistakes. We should have kept Surtain and let Madison go, but I guess the trade value was in Surtain. We shouldn't have released Knight, but Schulters has been great. He's having his best season in a couple of years.

So... the old guys are playing like they're young again, and we have lots of youth... At LB, the youth is raw but already capable of starting whereas the secondary has been suspect all year.

Thanks to Norv's horrible and predictable play calling (you should remember that from a few years ago) and pressure from the front (JT, Vonnie, Traylor) the passing threat never developed.

P.S. It's COURTNEY Anderson, not CHRIS. His family gives him a girl's name, he's got to live with it.

P.P.S. Would you agree that you didn't really find any answers if FO's stats or any other stat indicators to explain this one? I see it as: Miami reigned in Linehan and got him calling smarter plays (throw to Chambers, and McMike, run the boys), the D-line played a super game and took pressure off the secondary, and that's it... Otherwise, even though Miami's put in horrrible games, they just didn't finish a couple: they should have beat Atlanta and NE (how do you lose 2 games with 1st and 5 to go for goal, with 3 or 4 straight passes?) and should have been more competitive with Buffalo, the Jets, and Tampa, but they gave up as they seek to define themselves and the organization.

15
by 10K (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 6:40pm

"The protection Kerry’s received from the line has been poor. Take a look at the safety the team conceded to the Fins (on NFL.com) - Collins had no chance."

Sure, he did. JT wasn't even supposed to be rushing; he was supposed to drop into coverage. He left a man open that went right by him.

That was actually a blown play on Miami's side.

Of course, you could fault Carr (I think it was Carr for letting the Fins down it on the 1, but....)

16
by 10K (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 6:57pm

"Kerry’s thrown more passes than any other QB this season and only 9 ints. Both Tom Brady (10) and Brett Favre (19) have thrown more in less attempts.

IIRC he had a stretch of 150+ passes without an interception at the start of the year, and the Raiders were 0-3 during that time. You can hardly attribute that to Collins’ propensity for turnovers."

But in this game he had 2, and another 2 reversed on Miami penalties. You can fault him for 4 picks in a game. That's pretty bad. Especially against Miami's weak secondary.

So, in discussing the game, Kerry did kill them. I'm not so sure you watched it.

As for the statement, it's in the 2nd paragraph, not the first, and it was in discussion of the value in bringing Kerry's big arm to the team. Last year, he threw 20 and that hurt the team. This year, having a good RB and Moss to catch his overthrown balls has reduced his picks more than anything Kerry is doing individually.

17
by 10K (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 7:15pm

"“and Collins is killing the team with his propensity for turnovers.� - You can criticise Collins for poor throws, or throwing the ball away too often; but certainly not for turnovers. Putting that in the opening paragraph makes me wonder whether the writer watched the game, or just came in with a bunch of preconceived notions based on Collins’ pre-2005 career.

Kerry’s thrown more passes than any other QB this season and only 9 ints. Both Tom Brady (10) and Brett Favre (19) have thrown more in less attempts."

More attempts? So what... He's attempted more than anybody and has completed fewer than Favre, Palmer, Brady, Manning, Green, and McNair. He has a lower % than over 40 QBs with any considerable time. And he's thrown fewer TDs than Palmer, Manning, Manning, Favre, Brady, Brees, McNabb, Delhomme, and Bledsoe. On more attempts.

Yes, that could be overthrowing or it could be bad catching, but I would call that a propensity for picks, when he has a huge history of it, whether or not they are realized... Defenders could equally be dropping or having the pick eliminated by penalty... as we saw twice in the game this weekend.

18
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 7:44pm

Also, I find it interesting that given the deep routes Norv Turner uses, I can’t think of an even remotely mobile quarterback he’s had. But then, maybe my memory is underestimating Trent Green and us Frerotte.

Your memory really is underestimating Trent Green. He's actually the best rushing QB in the entire NFL. And no, I'm not joking. He's having an off year this season, but the past 3 seasons he has finished 2nd, 5th, and 1st in rushing DVOA by a QB. No, I'm not making this up. Yes, this absolutely floored me, too. No, I had no idea either.

For comparison, Vick was 3rd, 1st, and 10th over the same 3-year span. McNabb was 1st, 11th, and 2nd. McNair was 5th, 17th, and 3rd. Culpepper, Plummer, Carr, Garcia... Trent Green's rushing DVOAs blew them all away.

Just a little something from the "things that make you go 'hmmmmmmmm'" department.

19
by Ned Macey :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 8:51pm

In response to Kerry Collins' erratic throws, I apparently had the New Orleans Hornets center playing tight end. Sorry about that.

20
by Richie (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 9:50pm

10k - was that PPS for me? I'm not quite sure what the question is.

As for the blackout, there would be no Los Angeles blackout of a game played in Oakland. Instead, I think CBS figured that San Diego-Washington would be a better matchup/ratings game than Oakland-Miami. Probably correctly. The Raider fans have surely given up on their team by now. But my question is, should high ratings even matter as a reason to broadcast Raider games in Los Angeles? Raider fans don't have any money to spend on advertiser products, do they?

21
by 10K (not verified) :: Tue, 11/29/2005 - 10:00pm

Richie, no... that was for Ned. THe question being: usually Any Given Sunday says our FO stats show that this so-called upset was going to happen. I don't think they have that this week so they mentioned their ranks a couple of times, through in a couple of completion and reception percentages, and let it go. Basically, I'm wondering if theit stats don't account for these teams well.

As for you, I forgot you were from LA and that people from LA like to pretend that Oakland is their team even though it's not.

22
by John P (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 3:07am

Look, I know coming into the season it was agreed that any problems that the Raiders had on the field would be blamed on Kerry Collins. Just like any club house issues would be attributed to Moss, if any had come up. But that is why I read FO. To get away from that crap, and get to real analysis. This is not it.

The Raiders failures are (as pointed out by DVOA) special teams #1. Janikowski's early seasons shanks stick out. Defense #2, especially pass defense. The offense is actually above average. It is a strength of this team.

As for Collins performance, yes his INTs this week killed us. That has not been the case for the year, however. Collins is tied for the 6th lowest int%. Even with fumbles, which he does not have overly many, he has still been above average in the turnover department.

What he has been this year is inaccurate. Absolutely. But considering he is 28th in completion%, yet 15th in yards/attempt, he has clearly been going deep. He has not been "padding his stats " with dinks and dunks. No more than any other quarterback has.

Let me tell you what has been happening ...

23
by Sergio (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 3:26am

RE: 2 (Richie)

The Dolphins mailing list (see my name) is always a good resource. I'd recommend the "original" list rather than the digest, since you can manage it better... at least that's how it works for me. Great people, rational discussion, and reasonably on-time news. Plus, Curt's news wire (you can check it out on the site on my name) is THE source for news about the Dolphins. Ok, end of publicity here...

10K's account for the season is very accurate, though I must add that, from seeing every single snap of Miami Dolphins football this year, Chris Chambers is as overrated as they come. Every single Miami Dolphins fan seems to pin him as this great WR, but the guy completely underplays his considerable talents. He'll make the highlight reel catches, and miss perfectly catchable balls the next few plays. Bizarre, really. I'd argue that Welker has been better than him in his limited role.

Also, while I'm quite happy to see my Phins get some "air time" here -by all means, talk about them on every single item-, it's funny that last week some argued that AGS dealt with the "biggest upset with playoffs implications". Guess not.

Final note: I didn't get to watch the game, though I do have it on tape, and I look forward to a solid afternoon of analyzing it. Charting games for your team - it just doesn't get any better than that...

24
by John P (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 3:36am

Collins has been going deep, hitting a low percentage, but connecting for a lot of yards when he does connect. He dumps the ball off to his TE and RB a lot (94/223 completions)t, but not even close to most (look at the Eagles for example). He does NOT turn the ball over much, which is a huge surprise, and a huge plus. The only real negative was that we expected him to complete a few more deep balls. And here we come to the problem ...

Wide Receivers! Or lack thereof. First Ronald Curry, whom you don't even mention, was supposed to be the #3 WR. He was knocked out for the year right off the bat. Second, Jerry Porter could not catch a cold in the first half of the season. And I am not talking overthrows, I am talking drops, and halfhearted routes. There was really something wrong with him. Third, Moss gets injured and is never the same again. This passing game never had two dangerous receivers on the field at the same time this year.

Add all that up, and instead of the #10 DVOA offense, you are looking at possibly a top 5 unit, and everyone is remarking how amazing it is that Plummer AND Collins cut down their INT problems and had great years.

Meanwhile, Collins betters Eli Manning in completion%, int%, and yards/att.

Oh, and the bad Oakland line ranks right in the middle of the pack, according to your own rankings.

They allowed Ferotte to go 18/31 for 261 yards at 8.4 yards/att. Ricky went 82yd/16att = 5.1, and Ronnie went 58yd/15att = 3.9 All to the 27th rated offense by DVOA. That is the problem with the Raiders.

Sheesh, and I am not even a Collins fan. I didn't like it when they brought him in. I wanted them to give Tuiasosopo the snaps when Gannon went down.

25
by John P (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 3:38am

By "They allowed Ferotte ..." I meant the Oakland D of course.

26
by Steve Sandvik (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 3:47am

Curious you reference Eli, since the numbers predicted either he had to start making completions or getting picked off more, and a week ago against Minnesota, that came true. Inaccurate quarterbacks, historically speaking, are bound to throw picks eventually, even if they've managed to avoid it for a while. Collins has been a high risk to do this for a while, by the numbers, and it's historically likely that he'd do it too.

27
by usedbread (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 5:29am

maybe the dolphins are just cursed.
when their offense has had a good half, the other half has been horrible.
sammie smith, anyone?

28
by Ned Macey :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 11:19am

Sorry for the confusion. I am not blaming Kerry Collins for the season. In fact, I think I was blaming Norv Turner's design and the offensive line. The offense is not completing enough passes in the intermediate range. Kerry Collins is good enough to win football games, but people had visions of him being one of the best qbs in football this year, and that has not been the case.

As for the turnovers, Collins has, thrown 7 picks and fumbled 4 times in his last 4 games, during which time Oakland is 1-3. I'm not sure he lost all those fumbles, so I apologize for mentally counting those as "turnovers."

Yes, the offense is better than the defense, but it was supposed to be much better than it is. The Raiders were hoping for a Colts or Chiefs from 2003 type season with a very good offense and a defense that doesn't kill you. The defense hasn't killed them, but the offense isn't fulfilling their end of the bargain.

AGS is not supposed to be about why our stats predicted an upset but an explanation of an upset that goes beyond some random emotional explanation. In this case, the point is Oakland's offense isn't as good as people thought it would be, and Miami is a good team when Frerotte plays well. That Frerotte would play well against Oakland's bad pass defense is a reasonable assumption, but I think if these teams played 10 times in Oakland, Oakland would win 6 or 7.

Also, no upsets with playoff implications this week, so we went with this game.

29
by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 11:27am

Kibbles #1:

"Put them in the NFC, and they’re competing for a playoff spot right now."

Last I checked, Oakland was ranked #15, with 7 NFC and 7 AFC teams above them. What exactly about the NFC would make them so competitive in it? Joining the NFC West? Wouldn't almost any team joining the NFC West be "competitive"?

30
by Joon (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 1:12pm

Re: #29

well, 8th in the conference is usually considered "competing for a playoff spot," since 6 make the playoffs. but the raiders aren't competing in the AFC because they're 4th in their division.

you could make a reasonable case that in any division other than NFCE/AFCW, the raiders would be competing for a playoff spot.

31
by 10K (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 2:44pm

John, I'd disagree with you about the receivers. Gabriel is great. Curry is decent, but out. Porter is like Chambers, kind of-- sometimes he shows up, some times he doesn't. Unlike Chambers, it's not just the big catches though, if he shows he can deliver the game.

I agree with Ned. It's Norv's system and the line. LaMont's proven himself in my eye as a huge talent based on what he's done behind that line. But Norv's system is a predictable run game... more like: run, run, run, run, dink, pass long, run, run, run...

That's his problem that the offense can't get anything going. Having Kerry as the man I think is a problem too because he doesn't suit the offense and actually diminishes the value of a guy like Randy. Why pay both of them?

Anyway, so Miami's O is poorly ranked: Ricky and Ronnie have been averaging about just that the entire time they've played. And Gus was just slightly above 50% (Oh my!) and got over 200 yards (again, Oh my!)... Big deal. That shows me that Miami's offense despite clicking and matching Oakland TD for TD and finishing the game played about what they've done all year. I wouldn't point to that as any evidence that the Defense fell apart for Oakland.

32
by JonL (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 2:55pm

Here's a (somewhat related) question: why does anyone still use the seven-step drop anyway? Haven't defenses become fast enough to make its success increasingly difficult?

33
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 4:35pm

I will be surprised if Moss has more than one healthy season left in his career, which is why I thought trading him was a good idea, while also thinking that the Vikings should have employed a better draft strategy.

34
by Bigwavdave (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 5:27pm

Collins has the arm, but his lack of accuracy is killing the Raiders. How many of his long passes were over- or under-thrown. The Raiders needs someone who can hit the wide outs in stride. Give Tui the chance he deserves.

35
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 8:25pm

Re #29:
Average past schedule rank of the NFC West- 22nd.
Average past schedule rank of the NFC North- 18.25th.
Average past schedule rank of the NFC South- 27.5th.
Average past schedule rank of the NFC East- 10.75th.
Average past schedule rank of the AFC West- 8.25th.

That's what I meant. I was simply trying to say put Oakland in any division where it doesn't have to play 6 games against the AFC West and 4 games against the NFC East and Oakland would be fighting for a playoff spot right now.

For a complete breakdown, average past schedule of the entire AFC is 13.4th, and the average past schedule of the entire NFC is 19.6th. Also, your statement, while true, is very misleading, as well. Your statement makes it seem as if the 7 AFC teams better than Oakland are as much better as the 7 NFC teams better than Oakland. That's not true at all. The seven AFC teams above Oakland are ranked 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8. The seven NFC teams above Oakland are 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. Every single one of the AFC teams above Oakland is at least 15% DVOA better, some of the 30% or more. Except for NYG, every single NFC team better than Oakland is less than 15% DVOA better.

I didn't say that they'd GET a playoff spot. I simply said that they'd be COMPETING for a playoff spot that they have no chance at in the AFC, where they're just completely outclassed.

36
by Ryan Carney (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 5:31pm

watching Kerry Collins sabatoge the Raiders is like Chinese water torture, watching him sabotage your fantasy team (Jerry Porter and Lamont Jordan) makes you want to buy a gun. Watching him committ 8 turnovers in the Raiders last two possessions makes you wanna call Al Davis and have him call Jeff George.

37
by Ryan Carney (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 5:52pm

I really can't imagine how anyone could defend Kerry Collins upon watching him play. On one key play on Sunday, he let jason Taylor sack him from his knees, it's like he had no idea Taylor was there, all he neede to do was sidestep to avoid it, and I believe that the game was 23-21 at the time, and the Raiders were driving, at least in Miami territory. It's plays like that, not even necessarily the picks late in the game when Oakland had obviously convinced themselves that the game was lost, that make me question Collins. Not to mention the fact that there is not an untalented skill player on that offense, all the way down to the third receiver and tight end, and to have the lackluster numbers he has is obscene. Furthermore, when analyzing his completiong percentage, which is very low, you have to take into account that Lamont Jordan has 59 catches this year, and those are all dumpoffs. Westbrrok is second with 56, and with Philly's wideouts, I wouldn't even count that, and Chris Perry is thrd with 46, but Carson's comp percentage is just short of 70 anyway. If you remove Lamont Jordan's 59 catches, Collins' efficiency drops even significantly more than the already poor rate shown by the stats.