Raiders key matchup No. 2: Miles Burris vs. Andy Dalton

November 24, 2012, 4:16 pm
Share This Post

Editor's note: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Bengals matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m. (CBS), at Paul Brown StadiumRaiders LB Miles Burris vs. Bengals QB Andy DaltonTale of the tape
Burris (56): 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, rookie season, San Diego State
Dalton (14): 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, second season, TCUCINCINNATI -- Miles Burris and Andy Dalton used to match wits in the Mountain West Conference so it's not like the Raiders rookie linebacker and Bengals second-year quarterback need any feeling-out time.Not that Dalton, runner-up to Carolina's Cam Newton a year ago for NFL offensive rookie of the year, would even want a meet-and-greet with the active Burris, who sacked Dalton in 2010. Dalton has already seen enough film of the Raiders' porous defense of late to know what to expect."Teams have hit some big plays on them," Dalton told Cincinnati reporters this week. "They have given up a lot of points. Our big thing is, we've just got to come out and play our game. We can't stress too much about that stuff, we've just got to come out and play. So for us, just like these teams, when we get our chances, we've got to hit them. That's going to be the emphasis."But when we get those chances, we've got to hit them.Dalton, who has passed for 2,559 yards and 20 touchdowns and has a passer rating of 92.7, is onto something here.In Oakland's three-game losing streak, in which the Raiders have been outscored by a combined 135-69, they have surrendered 31 "explosive" plays that have yielded eights touchdowns -- 19 passes (four TDs) and 12 runs (four TDs).The Raiders have had 23 explosive plays of their own in the three-game skid with just two TDs -- 20 passes (two TDs) and three runs.The Raiders define an explosive play as a pass that gains at least 16 yards andor a run that gains at least 12 yards.In the three-game stretch before the losing streak -- against Atlanta, Kansas City and Jacksonville -- Oakland gave up a relatively-mere 14 such plays -- nine passes, five runs -- with no TDs on those plays.It would not be fair to pin this on Burris, the Raiders' fourth-round draft pick who assumed the starting weakside linebacker job when Aaron Curry's knees betrayed him in training camp. After all, Burris' 51 tackles rank fourth on the team, and fourth among all rookie outside linebackers in the NFL, and he has a sack with a forced fumble and a pass defensed.Then again, per Pro Football Focus, Burris allowed eight catches for 63 yards with a touchdown the eight times he was targeted in last weekend's 38-17 loss to New Orleans and he also missed two tackles.And with Curry waived on Tuesday, Burris is operating without a net. But he's far from alone.NEWS: Curry out in Oakland
Consider: the Raiders have allowed an NFL-worst 322 points thus far and if the Bengals drop 40 on them Sunday, Oakland will equal the 1973 squad's season total of 175 points allowed ... just in this month of November.There are also multiple senses of irony at work here in that the man Dalton replaced, Carson Palmer, is making his return to the Queen City, while a former Raiders fan favorite is Dalton's backup in Bruce Gradkowski."Coming in, all I knew was that (Palmer) wasn't here and I had to come in and learn a new offense and meet new guys, learn teammates, get used to everything," Dalton said on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. "Everything with Carson, I wasn't really worried about. I was just kind of focused on me and what I could control."Such as his relationship with Gradkowski, who relieved Dalton earlier this season against Baltimore and led the Bengals to a comeback victory over Cleveland in 2011."It's been great," said Dalton, who played in the Pro Bowl as a rookie. "I'm glad we've had Bruce here since I've been here. He's been a lot of help for me coming in. Just having his experience out there. He's been around awhile. He's a great teammate, a great guy. I'm glad he's in our quarterback room."