Raiders Aiming to Get Back on Track Against Dolphins

Struggling Miami offense, with rookie quarterback, may pose a good opportunity for Raiders to get first win of the season

By Doug Williams
|  Friday, Sep 14, 2012  |  Updated 12:17 PM PDT
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The Oakland Raiders need to open some holes for running back Darren McFadden Sunday.

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Oakland Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie has looked at the team’s schedule and knows what’s in store.

After the Raiders lost their 2012 season opener to the Chargers on “Monday Night Football,” they travel to Miami for a game against the 0-1 Dolphins on Sunday, then play the Steelers and Broncos in consecutive weeks.

Facing the Dolphins and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill Sunday certainly seems less challenging than facing Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning. If the Raiders want to get on the winning track, Sunday in Miami might be an opportunity they don’t want to fumble.

“You’re talking about a rookie quarterback versus two Super Bowl quarterbacks,” McKenzie said Thursday while discussing his team with reporters. “Of course, that’s a different deal. But you get a win any way you can get it. That doesn’t mean we put added pressure on ourselves that we’ve got to beat Miami. We’re not chalking up any wins until we get them.”

Oddsmakers have made the Raiders 2½-point favorites.

After Monday night’s error-filled opener, the Raiders need to get their own house in order if they want to get victory No. 1 Sunday.

First, they signed a new long snapper, Nick Guess, to alleviate some of the problems that occurred Monday night after snapper Jon Condo was injured. Then they announced wide receiver Denarius Moore will return to action this week, getting their best deep threat back onto the field for quarterback Carson Palmer.

On Sunday, they’ll also try to get their running game going. Against the Chargers, Darren McFadden was back in the lineup after missing much of last season, but was stuffed by San Diego’s defense. Though he did catch a personal-best 13 passes out of the backfield, the Raiders need to free McFadden on the ground to get more balance to their offense.

Defensively, the Raiders showed signs they might be a much improved unit from 2011. Oakland gave up just 32 yards rushing and held San Diego to 22 points.

Miami, meanwhile, was erratic in its 30-10 loss to the Houston Texans.

Tannehill, a rookie from Texas A&M, was sacked three times, threw three interceptions and posted a 39.0 passer rating.

Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin is sticking with Tannehill, the No. 8 overall pick in the draft, and said he liked some of the things he saw from his quarterback.

But, it’s a learning curve.

“There were some good throws,” Philbin told reporters in Miami this week. “He did some good things, there’s no question about it. It wasn’t like he got flustered. It wasn’ like you saw a ton of bad decisions. There are some good pictures of him throwing the ball accurately and moving nicely in the pocket.”

The Dolphins have a dangerous back in Reggie Bush, who rushed for 69 yards and had 46 receiving yards, the third straight regular-season game he’s been over 100 combined yards. Receivers Davone Bess and Brian Hartline give Tannehill a pair of good wideouts.

When the teams met last year in December, it was no contest. Miami won, 34-14.

The Raiders had a rough start to the season after an offseason of big changes, so head coach Dennis Allen was focusing on getting his team back on track this week and correcting mistakes.

He’s not pushing the panic button. When he and McKenzie took over the team this past winter, they said they were focused on long-term success, not quick fixes.

“We have 15 more (games) that we’re guaranteed,” said Allen this week, “and we’re going to try to get better every week.”

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