Why Can’t the Oakland Raiders Protect Carson Palmer?

As if all the other problems the Oakland Raiders have weren’t enough, one of their strengths became an issue against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Raiders gave up four sacks, and one was stripped from Carson Palmer’s hand. The Raiders allowed countless other pressures that resulted in overthrows and incomplete passes.

When the Raiders needed to protect Palmer they failed miserably. Why can’t the Raiders protect Palmer? Short answer: they don’t have the players.

The four sacks the Raiders allowed were actually a representative sample of the protection issues. Like many of the Raiders issues this season, there isn’t just one problem that must be fixed. The Raiders gave up pressure and sacks from the inside, outside and due to coverage.

According to ProFootballFocus, the Raiders allowed three quarterback hits, 14 quarterback hurries and four sacks. Three out of the five starting offensive linemen allowed at least four total pressures. It was the usual suspects—Mike Brisiel, Cooper Carlisle and Khalif Barnes—who all had their issues.


Sack No. 1: Interior Pass Protection

The worst kind of pass rush is the kind that gets right in the face of the quarterback and forces him to move laterally. Pass rush up the middle probably forced more bad throws, and a quarterback as immobile as Palmer has little chance to escape it.

First down is also typically a running down, but Oakland’s rush offense has been stagnant for weeks and only recently has shown life with Marcel Reece carrying the rushing load. Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp dials up a play-action pass with double wide receiver screens.

Geno Atkins—ProFootballFocus’ most productive interior pass rusher—blows past Brisiel so quickly that Palmer hardly has any time to even make the play fake. Reece slips past Atkins instead of giving Brisiel help, an...

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