Michael Wagaman: The initial impact was negative, as several players were highly critical of the move and had no problems voicing their displeasure. A few days later, the mood seemed to have softened somewhat but Nnamdi Asomugha pointed out that players had been looking over their shoulder waiting to see who was next to go. That's not a good atmosphere to work under, though the defense seemed to respond reasonably well against Carolina.
Q: Just how good is CB Nnamdi Asomugha?
MW: Very good. The guy has opposing quarterbacks so spooked that they will go entire games without even looking in his direction. Jake Delhomme of Carolina tried to throw at Asomugha once last week, and Asomugha responded with a brilliant interception. What separates him from the rest of the DBs in the league is how often he's called upon to play man-to-man. He does it flawlessly, which makes his lack of Pro Bowl appearances simply ridiculous.
Q: Why have the Raiders had problems stopping the run?
MW: Oakland hasn't been good against the run since 2002. Over the last five-plus seasons the Raiders haven't finished better than 22nd in stopping the run and the problems have been two-fold. A lack of talent and depth in the interior of the line and not enough run support from the linebackers has made it easier for running backs to slip through lanes and find openings into the secondary. Oakland has also had problems tackling at all three levels.
Q: Who's the pass rusher the Dolphins have to concern themselves with the most?
MW: Defensive end Derrick Burgess has been the team's best pass rusher, but he's been out since early in the season with a triceps injury. In his place, veteran Kalimba Edwards has stepped up and provided the Raiders with steady play from the end spot. Because Oakland doesn't tend to blitz much, that puts more pressure on the guys up front and Edwards has been the most consistent. Rookie Trevor Scott has also flashed at times coming off the bench.
Q: How big of a weapon is punter Shane Lechler?
MW: He's the best punter in the league without question, so there's no denying his value. He personally kept the Panthers pinned deep in their own territory for much of the game last week and he's repeatedly had to bail out Oakland's struggling offense. The Raiders want to see him get more hang time out of his kicks, but beyond that there's not much to find fault with in his game.