How is it that this Raiders team seems to be regressing? They go from a well-played loss against San Diego in the opener, to an ugly win in Kansas City to and even uglier blowout loss to the Broncos in Oakland.
This time there was only one defensive stop. And the Raiders gave the ball back two plays later on a turnover. There was only one timely turnover. And, the Raiders gave the ball right back to the Broncos two plays later on a turnover. No that was not a typo, both times the defense made a good play, the Raiders gave the ball back two plays later. And both times the Raiders gave the ball back, the Broncos capitalized on the mistake with a score.
The Broncos had 21 first downs to the Raiders' 9. The Raiders drives looked like this: 3 and out punt, two plays interception, three plays interception, 12 play field goal, 5 play end of first half, punt, 2 play fumble, punt, 3 and out punt, 4 and out loss of downs.
Meanwhile, the Broncos didn't punt until THE MIDDLE OF THE FOURTH QUARTER!
So who is to blame? Oh, where to begin. Let's begin with who is not to blame. In this case- the Ballers. Then we can move on to the worst of the worst in the disguisting mess we witnessed (well those of you who weren't subject to the blackout) on Sunday.
They only threw to his receiver once in the game and it was the second the last play of the game. The catch was made by Marshall on a perectly thrown ball. It had to be perfect because Nnamdi had great coverage on the play. As usual Asomugha was forced to make his stat line contributions in other areas. After JaMarcus Russell had his second interception (more on that later) of the day to give the Broncos another short field, Nnamdi stopped the Broncos' rusher on third down to force a field goal. On the Broncos next drive he was all alone on the outside on a sweep and tackled the running back in the open field for minimal gain. Then later he sniffed out a sweep again and tackled the runner for no gain. Denver was called for holding on the play. One other time he forced the running back inside where he was tackled for no gain. Not only is he the best true shutdown corner in the league, but he has the run stuffing skills of a strong safety or a linebacker (Although, no linebackers on this team).
Michael Mitchell, Tyvon Branch, Michael Huff
Every week Tyvon Branch and Michael Huff continue to impress. But now you can add Michael Mitchell to that. Branch played the Broncos tight ends extremely well in this game. He also led the team with 10 total tackles. He had 6 run stuffs and 2 of those were tackles for loss. He also had a pass defended. Mitchell was seeing his first action of the season coming off of injury. His first tackle, he teamed up to stuff the Broncos on third down and goal. The Broncos would go for it on the next play and be turned away for no score. In the third quarter when Warren forced the fumble on Knowshon Moreno, it was Mitchell who was on the ball to recover it for the Raiders. He had two other tackles on running plays. One of those was an absolute run stuff at the line on third down to end the Broncos drive at 3 and out. Huff played another solid game. He was working on his tackling all offseason and it has paid off. His first nice play, he came all the way up to stop an end around for a short gain. A few drives later he had a pass defended with the Broncos on third and goal to force them to settle for another field goal. On the first drive of the second half after a big run by Correl Buckhalter, Huff stopped him from scoring as the last line of defense. A role that Hiram Eugene was always most known for. This is one truly impressive group of safeties. And it has been about 25 years since the Raiders have been able to boast that.
He had just one field goal but is that his fault? He was given one chance to score and he converted. It wasn't a chip shot either. It was from 48 yards out. He kicked the ball so hard, it almost cleared the top of the net. That is a lot of pent up aggression. He also kicked all of his kickoffs into the end zone with one touchback.
Before I get into specifics, let me say this: THREE FUMBLES!! THREE!!. He took the first carry for one yard and he fumbled on his second carry of the game. It was recovered by the Raiders but with a six yard loss which caused a three and out to start the game. On the next drive for the Raiders (that didn't end with a JaMarcus interception) he fumbled again. It was recovered by the Raiders again but was for another loss of 5 yards. A nice hard fought catch and run by Zach Miller was the only thing that got the Raiders back into decent field goal range. Then in the third quarter after the Raiders recovered a Bronco fumble to put them in the last best chance to score, McFumblen put the ball on the ground for the third time. This time on the Broncos 5 yard line. The Broncos would take posession and drive down for a field goal and the final result of 23-3.
While McFumblen wasn't handing the ball to the Broncos, JaMarcus was tossing it to them. He had two interceptions on the day. Both were forced throws to Darrius Heyward-Bey in double coverage and both resulted in Bronco scores. Hey, Russell's completion percentage was over 50% though...for 61 yards! That man is a check-down machine. Of his 12 completed passes on the day, only 2 were not either a check-down or a screen. Both went to Louis Murphy for a total of 25 yards. Russell's best play of the day was on the Raiders final drive with the game well out of reach. He tucked the ball and ran 16 yards through wide open field with the Broncos all playing for the deep ball. Isn't it time to sit him down yet? The Browns benched Brady Quinn this week and he was in the same first round with Russell.
It think it might be time to try Samson Satele out at center again. Satele wasn't this bad on his worst day. And if Satele just needed some time to acclimate to the zone blocking scheme, he must be better by now right? Oh well on to the game. The first time we heard Morris' name was when he was being called for holding to negate a nice first down run by Michael Bush. Then three plays later he couldn't block his man and McFadden was tackled for a loss on the play. Then, later in the game, he had his really horrid drive. It was only five plays and three of them were Morris mistakes. After a Denver penalty gave the Raiders and automatic first down, Morris had a hold, gave up a run stuff and then gave up a sack to end the series. Thanks Chris!
Some may consider this to be an injustice putting him down as a buster considering much of the game he was being asked to cover Brandon Marshall (for some odd reason). Covering the opponent's number one receiver is not typically in the job description of a linebacker. But, in even those instances, he played so far off of Marshall that the receiver was able to not just catch the ball but pick up the first down each time. And in one instance; a touchdown. Morrison gave up both touchdowns in fact. The second one, he could have stuffed just prior to the goal line but Knowshon Moreno drove through him to get the touchdown.
Gave up a drive ending sack in the third quarter and committed a drive ending holding penalty in the fourth quarter. Green has a spot reserved for him on the Buster list almost full time it appears.
Once again, he was absent from the stat sheet. He had two passes thrown to him. Well, intended for him anyway. On the first pass, he tripped and fell and it was intercepted. The second one was overthrown into double coverage and it too was intercepted. JaMarcus Russell said during the week something to the affect that his receivers are not running the correct routes. I think he may have been speaking of Heyward-Bey specifically. He should not have started the season if he can't run the correct routes. He has started three games so far and has caught a total of ONE pass. Chaz Schilens could do better on crutches.
What the hell is wrong with this team? The defense was so confident all week coming into this game and then they go out and play uninspired football. And as I said a moment ago, if Darrius Heyward-Bey can't run the correct routes, why is he starting? Why isn't Jonnie Lee Higgins starting? Why is Javon Walker not even active? Walker was the talk of training camp with his recovery from his secret surgery and the show he was putting on for the media in practice. Walker claims he was ready to go week one and yet instead of Cable putting him in the lineup, the Raiders have to suffer through two rookies running the wrong routes and dropping passes. The Raiders looked utterly incompetent against the Broncos and that falls squarely on Cable's shoulders. I understand that there is only so many plays that can be called with a quarterback who can't seem to hit the water from a boat. Rich Gannon said that he gives Cable a lot of credit for his handling of Russell up to this point and so do I. My only stipulation is that it is either at or very near the time to sit Russell down. It is Russell's third season and Cable is treating him like he is a rookie. The fans deserve better. The rest of this Raider team deserves better. They deserve a chance to win.