Lack of Chemistry Is Limiting Oakland Raiders' Passing Game

Christopher HansenNFL AnalystNovember 5, 2012

Nov 4, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer (3) reacts during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Coliseum. The Buccaneers defeated the Raiders 42-32. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

It’s not fair to blame Carson Palmer for Oakland’s Week 9 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, because the Oakland Raiders wouldn’t have been in the game if not for his 39 completions, 414 yards and four touchdowns. Palmer’s play brought the Raiders back into the game, but he couldn’t complete the comeback attempt due to two untimely interceptions.

The quarterback typically gets the blame for interceptions regardless of the circumstances, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to Palmer. Oakland’s wide receivers were often on a different page than Palmer, and the offensive line often forced him to rush his decision-making process.

The lack of chemistry between Palmer and his receivers is not only resulting in interceptions, but lost yardage and fewer big plays. While better protection would probably help Palmer avoid some of the costly errors, the chemistry issue will continue to be a problem no matter how much time Palmer has to throw the ball.   

The chemistry issues between Palmer and Denarius Moore were very noticeable against the Bucs. It’s obvious that the Raiders want to give Moore opportunities to make big plays, but until the quarterback and the wide receiver are on the same page, it doesn’t make sense to force the ball in Moore's direction.

From the very start of the game, Palmer and Moore were not on the same page. On the second play of the game, Moore split the two defenders, and with only one safety deep and shaded to the opposite side of the field, Palmer saw an opportunity for a big play. Heyward-Bey was also open, but Palmer didn’t need to go to his second read because he trusted that Moore will come down with a deep pass in one-on-one coverage.

Moore broke off his route to the inside and into the coverage of the defense, and Palmer threw the ball deep to open space. Moore basically covered himself when Palmer was trying to give him a chance. If you want to blame someone for this incomplete pass, you would blame Moore and not Palmer.

Down by 11 points in the third quarter, Palmer threw the first of his three interceptions. This time, Palmer expects Moore to break off his route, while Moore sees the opportunity for a big play with the cornerback in poor position to make a play. In this case, Moore probably made the correct read by going deep and Palmer the wrong one.

Palmer had to rush the throw thanks to instant pressure up the middle, and he threw the ball off his back foot. On 1st-and-10, Palmer was better off taking the sack and having another opportunity or trying to move in the pocket to escape the pressure. Unfortunately, Palmer panicked and threw the interception, and Doug Martin took it 67 yards two plays later to make it 28-10 Buccaneers.

The most costly interception Palmer threw was with 2:37 remaining with the Raiders trailing by only three points and with two timeouts to burn. Moore and Streater got behind the cornerbacks, but there was a safety lurking deep. Moore ran a post route that cut off by the linebacker, and Streater looked like he was running a fade until the ball was in the air.

It appeared as though Palmer intended Moore to run vertical instead of breaking his route to the inside. Again, Palmer had to rush the throw thanks to quick pressure. With a split second longer, he may have been able to find Marcel Reece open for a gain that would have put the Raiders into Sebastian Janikowski field-goal range.

There were several instances in the game when Palmer threw to no particular wide receiver, indicating that Palmer and his receivers lack chemistry. Palmer and his receivers are not on the same page with where they want to go with the ball depending on the coverage of the defense, and in key moments, that issue has really hurt the Raiders.

The Raiders have had to lean more heavily on the passing game, so these issues need to get worked out if Oakland intends to win more football games.