This weeks breakdown would fall into the “What’s the point” category. After a thrashing like this it seems rather pointless to figure out who was most responsible and how it all went wrong. Afterall, when absolutely everything seems to go wrong, it is pretty much an overall failure of team wide proportions.
This game was already lost before the 2nd quarter. And before halftime I saw a commercial with a bunch of people in massage chairs and oh how I wished I were in one of those chairs too. It was a funny commercial and I laughed because laughter is very therapeutic. At that point I had two choices; laugh at the pure ridiculousness of it all or simply give up and walk away. And since the latter of the two was not an option, I chose to laugh. Apparently, according to Nnamdi Asomugha, many of his teammates were laughing after the game as well. And he was not happy about it. He claims that there are a few players that always take losses hard. He mentioned Burgess, Gibril, and Tommy Kelly specifically. The great George Allen once said, “Rockne wanted nothing but ‘bad losers’. Good losers get into the habit of losing”. And losing has certainly become a habit for this Raider team. So while losing is something every player must accept, this team has come to EXPECT losing. With that said, here is the list of those that despite the losing ways, still played at the top of their game on Thursday along with those who either didn’t get it done or just rolled over gave this game away.
Zach Miller- He had a career high 8 catches (although it seemed more like 12) in the game for a total of 64 yards. He is every bit the great receiving tight end the Raiders had hoped and much more. I would like to remind all Bears fans that they drafted Greg Olsen in the first round and the Raiders got Miller in the second round. I think it is pretty clear who the better of the two is. Not to say Olsen is bad but he couldn’t hold Miller’s jock. Now if we could only get some Offensive Tackles and perhaps a good receiver to go along with Zach.
Justin Miller- (no relation to Zach) He gave the Raiders their third special teams TD in four games. Also note that as soon as he was signed to take the kick return duties away from Higgins, JLH immediately had two straight games with punt return touchdowns. That is no coincidence. Now Miller has joined the touchdown party. I was a bit discouraged when he was easily caught near the end of the run despite that fact that he is supposed to be one of the NFL’s fastest players. But the stiff arm he handed out at the 8 yard line that he used the rest of the way into the end zone was pretty nice. And speaking of kick/punt return TD’s and credit where it is due:
Brian Schneider/ Special Teams- These guys need to start giving the offense lessons in how to block and open up running lanes because whatever they are doing, it is damn good. Special Teams is outscoring the offense. The coverage team even caused a fumble in the fourth quarter when Trevor Scott tackled the returner and then Isaiah Ekejiuba knocked the ball out. At least one part this Raiders team is playing hard and executing. They did something neither the offense nor the defense could do on Thursday: They had a Touchdown AND and caused a turnover.
Shane Lechler- He has put the rest of the NFL so far behind him in punting that it is just silly. The standards that he has set for himself are so high that they can sometimes go unnoticed (cough, cough) because we as Raider fans get so used to his freakish greatness. This game was certainly no exception. His first punt went 46 yards and was saved from bouncing into the endzone by Tony Stewart and downed at the 4 yard line. His second punt stopped untouched at the Chargers 6 yard line. His third punt was a 47 yard net after just a 4 yard return. His fourth punt bounced out of bounds to put the Chargers at the 14 yard line. His fifth punt traveled 58 yards and was left alone by the returner to be downed by Hiram Eugene. His next punt was a 57 yarder that ended up 61 yards after a Charger block in the back penalty that started their drive at the 10 yard line. And his last punt was a measly 42 yards but the Raiders swarmed and caused the returner to fumble. So basically not a single punt he had all day would suggest that he shares the same humanity as other punters in this league. Now for the bad news, he is a free agent at the end of the season. Please don’t leave us Shane! With as much as this team has punted in the past six seasons, we need you more than any other team could possibly need you.
Kirk Morrison- He led the team in tackles with 11 solo tackles and one assist. He showed why he was 2nd in the AFC and 4th in the NFL in tackles coming into the game and after this week, he may take the top spot. Five of those tackles were run stuffs for little or no gain including a huge hit he put on LDT to tackle him for a loss on the Chargers first posession of the second half that resulted in a three and out. He didn’t give up any catches but he certainly cleaned up some messes that were made by members of the Raiders secondary. Unfortunately he can’t do it all by himself but he sure tried.
Darren McFadden- Yeah sure he only had one carry for zero yards and two catches for 8 yards. He also had a stupid late hit roughness call on Eric Weddle in the game. He was clearly headhunting on the play for something Weddle had done on a previous play. He is here because he played his ass off on Thursday and fought until the whistle every play and played hard even when the game was lost. It won’t show up in the stat line but he actually had as many tackles as half of the Raiders’ defensive players. On two of the three interceptions it was McFadden who tackled the returner. The first tackle was a solid open field tackle on Stephen Cooper after he intercepted the ball. The next tackle was one in which he could have gotten Antonio Cromartie for a loss after Cooper lateraled the ball to him but he was knocked out of the way by his own man. But he didn’t give up. He got up and ran down the field behind Cromartie and tackled him anyway. Just two plays before that, he had a textbook chip block to give Russell the time he needed in the pocket. I had no idea he was such a good tackler. With Dmac’s tackling ability maybe he should try his hand at safety. He is all about versatility right?
Derrick Burgess- He showed signs that he is finally healthy and on his way back to form. He had several QB pressures that resulted in incompletions. One of which, he actually hit Rivers’ arm as he threw which disrupted the pass. He also had three tackles and 2 assists; all in the run game. Both of the assists were tackles for no gain and one of his solo tackles was a tackle for a loss. I think that next week he will have a couple of sacks and look like his old self again.
Kwame Harris- After escaping the buster list last week, he returned to take his rightful place atop this list yet again. He was partly at fault for Russell’s fumble because his man collapsed the pocket and Russell had to step up and right into the defensive man that Fargas was trying to hold off (and was doing a better job of it than Harris) Then in the 2nd quarter, after a couple of nice plays that put the Raiders at the Chargers 41 yard line on first down, he had a completely retarded false start while Russell was calling out an audible. Two plays later on second and long, Russell threw an interception. Then on the Raiders’ next posession after Justin Miller had a nice return to give them good field position, the Raiders had their best drive of the day to put them on the Chargers 23 yard line and in scoring position. Then Kwame did what he always does, he had a big face mask penalty that took the Raiders out of field goal range and they were forced to punt. Then on the Raiders first drive of the second half, he was called for holding AND gave up the sack for a loss of 10 yards on third down. The holding was declined of course and the Raiders were forced to punt. At this point I just feel bad for the guy. I see how disappointed he is in himself and how much he beats himself up. He was a first round draft pick and he wants so badly to live up to that as well as the faith the Raiders put in him by signing him. Perhaps that is part of his problem. It is clear that much of his penalties come in the most high pressure situations so it stands to reason that his failure is in his head. Whatever it is, he shouldn’t be starting and hopefully next season he won’t be.
Cornell Green- Green was abused by Shawn Phillips all game. But one particular play stood out among the rest. Like a huge pile of dog crap in the middle of a white table cloth. Phillips rushed in and literally threw Green aside like a wrag doll and came after Russell, hitting him as he released the ball. The ball was intended for Zach Miller but was intercepted. Then Russell was taken down hard by Phillips and Miller was hit twice on the interception, the second hit he was blindsided and knocked him off of his feet. Both Miller and Russell were down and hurt. Miller ended up being ok (surprisingly) but Russell sprained an ankle and did not return. Eventually Mario Henderson replaced Green and appeared to play better the rest of the way. Right tackle is where Henderson will most likely end up starting. Could be this year just to try him out and get his feet wet in preparation for next season. Removing Green certainly couldn’t hurt because having him in there is hurting quite a bit. Just ask JaMarcus and Zach.
JaMarcus Russell- And he continues to regress from that masterfull game he had against the Broncos. That game he had seems like a fluke or an anomaly of some kind at this point. It certainly seems like a distant memory. The first drive of the day for the Raiders ended with him fumbling. Getting sacked can be blamed on someone else but fumbling is on him. This was devastating considering it was on the Raiders 12 yard line which put the Chargers in scoring position immediately. At which point LDT easily ran it in for a touchdown. Two drives later ended with an easy interception that made one wonder what Russell was thinking when he threw it. His man was double covered and Cooper wasn’t even one of those guys. He just was simply right in the path of the pass so it went right to him as if he was the receiver all along. Russell’s second interception was more the fault of Green getting tossed like yesterday’s trash and phillips hitting him as he threw. But even so, the pass was heading for double coverage again. Miller is a great receiver but Russell needs to find an actual OPEN receiver or just tuck the ball. If he got sacked that certainly would be better than turning the ball over. That turnover resulted in a Charger field goal just before halftime and Russell would not return after he was injured on the play. In his half of football he was 9 of 13 for 68 yards, and 3 turnovers. Waw waw waw.
Chris Johnson- It seemed like it had to happen eventually. He has had a few really stellar games this season taking over for DeAngelo Hall but in this game he was exposed. Hopefully it is not a sign of things to come but rather just a glitch. We will have to take a wait and see approach on this one. His first slip up was a 17 yard catch by Vincent Jackson on the Chargers second TD drive of the day. Then the next Chargers posession lasted all of three plays because the third one CJ was burned badly on a 59 yard touchdown strike to Jackson to put the Chargers up 24-0 just five minutes into the 2nd quarter. Then on the Chargers second posession of the second half he gave up a 16 yard catch to Jackson. The next Chargers posession saw him give up a 10 yard first down to Jackson. That means all but one of Jackson’s catches on the day went through CJ for 101 yards. Keep in mind that last week vs. the Falcons, Vincent Jackson had zero catches on the day against a secondary that is supposed to be far inferior to the Raiders. This week Jackson had 148 yards and a TD which made him look like a probowler. Does this sound familiar? It should. The Raiders gave up 146 yards and a TD to rookie Eddie Royal in week one. Most of those yards came against the guy that CJ replaced.
Tommy Kelly- He had a whopping two tackles on the day and was never in the backfield even sniffing something that resembled pressure. Then he would consistently overpersue on screen plays that went for big yards. During the highlights Warren Sapp said “It amazes me that despite not getting a sack all day, this Dline can’t tell when it is a screen.” He is absolutely right. If the Oline is suddenly letting you push them as they haven’t all day, then something is up. Both of Darren Sproles’ touchdowns on the day were off of screen passes and in both cases there was no one staying at home to defend it. All of that doesn’t fall solely on Kelly’s shoulders but he had an overall lackluster performance so I am calling him out specifically. And that brings me to the main reason Kelly is on this list. The Chargers were on their third drive of the day and were already up 10-0. Shane Lechler had just kicked a beautiful punt which Tony Stewart alertly saved from bouncing into the end zone to pin the Chargers at the 4 yard line. Then the Chargers had two straight false starts to put them on the 1 yard line. LDT ran for three yards and was stuffed by Kirk Morrison at which point it looked like the Chargers may be forced to punt out of their own end zone and give the Raiders great field position or better. Then Kelly lost his cool and pushed Kris Dielman off of the pile and was called for a 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty. The drive was kept alive and the Chargers marched down the field and scored a touchdown to go up 17-0. That penalty was a defining moment in this game and is typical of bad teams. Oh by the way, he is the 2nd highest paid Dlineman in the league. Although I am sure no one can forget that.