The play of Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer this past weekend can not be understated, but the defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers certainly helped the veteran quarterback out by declaring what they were going to do several times during the game pre snap.
You are likely reading quite a bit today about how “predictable” the defense was on Sunday, but most of the predictability came from not enough “sugar” pre snap and the defense tipping their hand to Palmer pre snap, especially in no-huddle situations.
The 64 yard touchdown run by Darren McFadden, which I broke down earlier this week, is a perfect illustration of Palmer knowing exactly what the Steelers were going to do pre snap and checking out of the original play and to another one that took advantage of it.
In the animated gif below, the Raiders are in their no-huddle offense with 11 personnel on the field. Although the gif fails to deliver audio, Palmer does a good job with his pre snap cadence so that Brett Keisel, Casey Hampton, Lawrence Timmons and Chris Carter all tip their hand as to what is coming from each, which appears to be a weak outside blitz by Timmons.
Watch Keisel slap his hands together after knowing he and the others have been caught tipping the defense. If Palmer does not know what is coming, Raiders left tackle Jared Veldheer certainly is making sure that he does. Palmer then checks out of the play to one that has his left guard blocking back on Keisel as he knows that Timmons is about to vacate his spot in the center of the field.
When Palmer checks, Larry Foote does not check the defense out of the call. Did he have the time to do it? It certainly seems like he does and I wonder what Foote was hearing in his helmet during the play from defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.
This is just one of several examples in the game Sunday where the defense tipped their hand too early and Palmer checked out to different play. The defense has to do a better job at disguising their intentions moving forward, especially in no-huddle situations, as this is where they have been carved up defensively in their first two losses.