Well, that's that. The 2011 season is over, and it ended in a similar fashion as just about every loss this season for the Raiders. They were close late and then had a collapse of epic proportions. We knew the Chargers were capable of putting a lot of points on the board and on this day, they were in top form while the Raiders were not. They ended the Raiders' playoff hopes with a 38-26 victory.
As tempting as it is to put the blame on those who helped put the Raiders in this compromising situation, that criticism is for the year end Ballers & Busters, as much as this game individually meant to the evaluation of the entire season.
This was far from a perfect game for Palmer. He certainly made a few throws that had you bracing for an interception. But at the end of the day, he had 417 yards passing and two touchdowns. His passing total is the third most in Raider franchise history. The last Raider QB to pass for more yards than Palmer did on Sunday was Jeff Hostetler back in 1994 — also in a loss. Palmer threw a touchdown pass on the Raiders' first drive of the game, a perfectly thrown ball that dropped softly over the shoulder of Darrius Heyward-Bey in the back corner of the end zone to put the Raiders up 7-0. On the Raiders' next scoring drive, Palmer was 3 for 5 for 39 yards and a 3 yard scramble to set up a Janikowski field goal. Next drive he was 3 for 5 for 43 yards with two drops. One of the drops was by DHB in the end zone that would have made him 4 for 5 for 69 yards and a touchdown. Instead the Raiders settled for a field goal again.
Just before halftime, he made probably his biggest mistake of the day when with just 8 seconds left on the clock, he threw to Louis Murphy in the middle of the field and the time ran out without the Raiders getting off even a field goal attempt. That was a ball he never should have thrown. After the game he blamed the ref for slipping while placing the ball. But even if the ref hadn't slipped, the Raiders would have been called for 12 men on the field. The play never would have worked and the Raiders were held without a possible score before halftime.
After the half, the Raiders had the ball and Palmer atoned for his second quarter gaffe by throwing a perfect 78 yard pass to Denarius Moore. The amazing thing about the throw is it was in the air before Moore had even beat his man. But Palmer put it up and Moore went and got it without having to break stride. The only way it would have been better is if it resulted in a touchdown.
The Chargers answered with a touchdown drive so it was back on Palmer to keep up. He drove the Raiders downfield again despite two more dropped passes and two more penalties and added another field goal. The following drive, he had two big completions to DHB for 39 yards and to Kevin Boss from 22 yards out for a touchdown. It put the Raiders within five points with 9:32 remaining in the game. But the Chargers had their big 99 yard touchdown drive after that and in the desperation time, Palmer threw his interception.
The Raiders should have gotten in the end zone more in this game. But as has been the case several times this season, Janikowski was there to be Mr Automatic whenever they needed him. He was there four times on Sunday and was ready to try a fifth if the Raiders had given him the chance before halftime. He connected from 52, 43, 32, and 28 yards out. If Carson Palmer had thrown away the final pass of the first half, Janikowski would have had an attempt from 55 yards -- well within his range. Five of his seven kickoffs made the end zone with one touchback. Unfortunately, one of those kicks was returned 105 yards for a touchdown but that is hardly his fault. He squibbed another kickoff that was bobbled and was nearly a safety before being called down at the one yard line.
Before we get into his positives, it is necessary that I mention DHB nearly didn't make the Baller list due to his three drops in this game. One of those drops was in the end zone and was right in his hands for what should have been a touchdown. In total, he had a whopping 17 passes thrown his way on Sunday. He pulled in nine of those passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. He also turned defender on another long pass that would have been intercepted had he not knocked it down. His best catch of the day came on the Raiders' touchdown drive midway through the fourth quarter. Palmer threw the pass to what appeared to be no one. The Charger defenders' eyes got really wide and then seemingly out of nowhere DHB leapt up and grabbed it and took it for a 39 yard gain. It set up the touchdown two plays later.
He was helped out when Chargers sack leader Antwan Barnes was ejected early in the game. But regardless of his opponents, Veldheer didn't allow so much as a pressure on Palmer. He also didn't have a penalty in the game. That is what a team asks for in a tackle.
Moore had three catches in the game for 101 yards. Most of those yards came on one catch. And oh what a catch it was. He has become the primary deep threat for this Raider team. Last week he had the huge 61 yard touchdown grab to help the Raiders win. This is becoming a regular occurrence for the fleet-footed, sticky-fingered rookie. On the 78 yard catch, Palmer knew right away that he was going to Denarius on the pass. Denarius hadn't even shifted into high gear before Palmer threw the pass. Then Moore hit hyper speed and ran past Quentin Jammer to go get the ball. Jammer never had a chance. It was all he could do to tackle Moore before he could reach the end zone. Denarius is certainly exciting. Even his three yard run was exciting. He got the ball on an end around and started right but found no opening so he completely shifted course to the left. All told he probably ran about 100 yards just to get that three yards. But it was pretty exciting for a minute there as he looked like he might break through.
This is probably the last game in which Bresnahan will be mentioned. His ticket out of Oakland was likely punched a while ago, but this game will make the decision to "let him go" that much easier. The players are frustrated and confused on the field but they seem to have a pretty good idea of why they continue to falter on defense. There were several times in this game that made you wonder what was going on with the defensive scheme. On the Chargers' first touchdown, Bresnahan opts for Matt Giordano to blitz and put Mike Mitchell in single coverage on All Pro tight end Antonio Gates. The result was to be expected. Gates got behind Mitchell, pulled down the pass and ran through 38 yards of open space for the touchdown. Then in the third quarter, after the Raiders had pulled within one score, Lamarr Houston is spotted guarding Gates — on third down, no less. Gates gets the catch and the first down and the Chargers' drive stays alive. To finish it off, Rivers throws a touchdown to his Pro Bowl receiver Vincent Jackson who is guarded by middle linebacker Rolando McClain. Easy touchdown.
Then we come to the same point the Raiders have found themselves in several games this season. The defense needs a stop if they hope to win. This time the Chargers' drive started at the half yard line. Four plays later, they had gone 99 yards for the touchdown. A 19 yard catch, a 40 yard run, a 7 yard run, and a 43 yard touchdown catch. The Chargers actually had to go 109 yards because they were called for holding on the second play. Absolutely pathetic. And inexcusable.
I am really struggling to find what Mike Mitchell does well. In this game, like some previous games, his weaknesses showed across the board. He gave up the Chargers' first touchdown when he was completely destroyed by Antonio Gates for a 38 yard touchdown catch. He didn't have a safety to protect deep and he knew it and yet he chose to let Gates get behind him. A light forearm to the back by Gates (a basketball move from the former college basketball player) and Gates had all the wide open space he needed to run to the end zone.
But what about his special teams play? In the second quarter, just after the Raiders kicked a field goal to close the deficit to 14-10, they kicked off to the Chargers. Chargers return man Robert Goodwin fielded the kick five yard deep in the end zone and took it back 105 yards for the touchdown. There were a lot of good blocks on the return but the guy who had the best shot at stopping it was Mitchell who whiffed on the tackle as Goodwin went untouched all the way to the end zone.
On the Chargers' next possession Mitchell was out of position on a catch and then missed the tackle and it was taken 13 yards to set up another Chargers score on a field goal and a 24-13 halftime lead. He wasn't done though as he gave up a 16 yard catch on the Chargers' next possession and they scored another touchdown a few plays later. Someone remind me again what his strengths are?
He gave up five catches for 93 yards and a touchdown in this game. That's a good day for a receiver which means it's a bad day for a corner. Two of those catches came on the Chargers' first touchdown drive. The first went for 14 yards on third and seven, the second went for 13 yards to put them in scoring position. Late in the second quarter he gave up a first down catch that, if stopped, would have been a three and out. Instead, they moved into field goal range to tack on another three points before halftime.
Sheppard's undoing was on the big 99 yard drive. With Rivers deep in his own end zone, Lito gave up a 19 yard catch on the first play to instantly eliminate what should have been a big advantage for the Raiders. Now they were at the 20 yard line as if it were a touchback. After a holding penalty on the Chargers, it looked like the Raiders might just stop them yet. But then they broke off a 40 yard run in which Lito missed a tackle. Two plays later, he was victimized on a 43 yard touchdown pass and the game was essentially over.
When the Raiders beat the Chargers in week ten, it was due in large part to the pressure Wimbley and Co. were able to get on Philip Rivers. Wimbley had four sacks in that game and several other pressures. But Wimbley didn't have his first sack in that game until after the Chargers lost their left tackle Marcus McNeill to injury. Afterward, he feasted on the backup tackle. Since then, the Chargers signed Jared Gaither to play left tackle for them, and Wimbley was rendered toothless. Rivers had all day to throw and picked the Raiders apart at will.
Wimbley had the first penalty of the day on a neutral zone infraction as the Raiders sought the NFL single season penalty record. On their next drive, he was blocked on a seven yard first down run, and the Chargers finished it off with their first touchdown. On their next drive, he was put on Gates and Rivers saw the matchup and threw for a 37 yard completion. That drive would end in the Chargers' second TD of the day. Then just to finish off the day, he was blocked on a 46 yard end around and was called for an offsides penalty on the Chargers' final drive.
This was another game of mismanagement for Hue. There was a timeout as the clock ran down and a delay of game before a field goal try. Then there was the missed opportunity to end the first half in which the Raiders ran out of time and didn't get off a field goal attempt. Granted Carson Palmer should not have thrown the pass in the middle of the field to allow the clock to run out but some blame falls on Jackson as well. I mean, why are any of the receivers cutting to midfield on that play? That should have been a quick read for an open man along the boundary and a throw away. Or it should never have been run in the first place. Without the play it would have been a 55 yard field goal for Janikowski. That is commonplace for him. But it never happened.
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ah man! that 40 yard run was so stupid. that shit should never have happened. especially for a slow ass tolbert
We all knew DHB was a project when he was drafted. Now it's paying off - he's learned how to catch, now he needs to work on his routes. One thing you have to remember with DHB is context - the other option on draft day was Michael Crabtree... a guy who didn't want to play for us, has personality issues and isn't improving the way DHB has. DHB was 25 yards from 1000 - that's a quality WR in anybody's book.
DHB has definitely improved his play this season. From the shoulders down, he is actually becomming a promising receiver. If DHB can learn to catch the ball above his shoulders, not only will he become a legitimate deep threat alongside Denarius Moore, but he may actually become a rising star in this league. It is really nice to see DHB take the high road and work on his game the way he has, versus just collecting a check and accepting mediocrity like JaMarcus Russell. DHB is a good role model for those who aren't blessed with the most natural talent, and catching the football was obviously not a god given gift to him...
Agree he has gotten better, and 1000% agree that he seems to have the right attitude. But he is not "great" by any stretch, and not even "pretty good" yet. Doubt he would start for anyone else. @Spartacus
DHB struggles with balls that are thrown above his shoulders, which is the main reason he is not a legitimate deep threat. To me, it looks like a timing issue, which is why I think he tends to cradle passes that are thrown below his shoulders. He is definitely not a natural at catching the ball, and even his biggest supporters would agree to that. However, his incredible improvement this year brings a lot of hope to everyone that he can materialize into a very good receiver. If DHB continues to improve at the rate he is doing, he will emerge into a rising star, as I stated prior. Obviously, it will be up to him, and I agree that he would probably not be a starter for any other team in this league. However, luckily for DHB, he was the beneficiary of an Al Davis draft pick, and as the case was with Al, his draft picks get a lot of playing time, whether they deserved it or not, and DHB truely benefitted from his time on the field, which he probably would not have received in any other circumstance...
And while DHB has been improving what has Crabtree done to look like a number 1 receiver? Nothing! He is an overpaid Diva. We could say DHB is overpaid as well, but at least he didn't just take his money and leave it at that (J-Russ anyone?). He has worked his arse off since he was drafted to get better and it is that type of hardwork which I think will be dividends for us in the future.
Not only has he improved dramatically over the past shortened off-season he has had to adjust to the numerous QBs this team has been through since he was drafted. That's a hard ask for any developing player.
@JarrodRollins Landry is good but injury prone. Something has to happen at FS coz Michael Huff has been told he is moving to CB next year according to Steve Corkran. That aint gonna make a lot of difference to the D IMO. Our pass D may actually get worse: 9 INT's and 42 Pass' Defended in 6 years may actually make him a target.
I think Branch to FS would be a smart move but then that does leave us with a whole at SS. Maybe we could pick up someone like Jim Leonhard? Otherwise if Branch stays at SS we could sign an older CB like Marcus Trufant? I could see Trufant being a good FS for a couple years until we can get the opportunity to draft another safety.
One guy I hope we can sign is Brent Grimes. He has to be one of the most underrated CBs in the league and could pair up well with Routt and Huff for a very good CB trio which in the leagues is what you need these days with all the premier passers.
I was actually wanting to move Huff to CB this past offseason. I would like to see how he does as a pure CB vs NB.
Seeing as we finally (after years of speculation) seems to be going to a 3-4 D if HJ stays and gets a DC to replace Chucky, several issues surface with the personnel -
1) We need a pure NT as neither TK or Sey can do it, and Big John is way past his prime.
2) Shaughnessey who has shown immense potential doesn't really fit the 3-4 (unless he can become an
rushing OLB, which is not too likely due to his building and movement, as well as Wimbley being there as the rush OLB) and due to injury he has not really increased his value to be a serious trade object!
3) Wimbley, Curry, McClain all would seem to fit the 3-4 pretty well, but we would miss LB depth (Groves could be kept for one, Scott another - Goethel perhaps, but definately not likely to be a solution) and a legit starter to be the last of the 4 (Tulloch from Lions who only has a 1 year deal? to help Death Ro in the middle)
Personally i like the way a 3-4 has the ability to attack in various different ways and show different oulooks to confuse the O, but quality NTs and LBs doesnt really come cheap, and the Dline and LBs especially would need to get used to the new scheme! Also, with Huffys full time conversion to CB we need a starting FS! Giordano makes some plays, but way too often blows coverage! Boyd plain out sucks, and Mitchell hasn't shown nearly enough to warrant a change of Branch to FS imo!
Just seems that the change would require us to go get some serious quality FA's to help the D(which will be easier financially without a draft), and although I could see a few, it seems a little farfetched to get it all? I hope we do something as everything will be welcomed on the D, especially to stop the run, and if we can get a man like Moss, 3-4 could definately be an option! Just hope we dont have to suffer through too much of a transition period - we need to win next year!
Levi - if and when you should have the time and find it interesting, an analysis of the potential shift to a 3-4 (per the interviews with Hue) and the personnel situation would be greatly appreciated! And thank you for a very good year of raiderreports on TFDS - great reads!
@Harder2000 I just dont see a change to 3-4 coming. Every team is on the lookout for that monster NT - the most important ingredient for a 3-4. Where you gonna get him from??? I like the Tulloch suggestion tho', be a nice replacement and instant upgrade over McClain. Take half a yard at least off the leagues worst average yard per carry.
@DevonRaiderUK Tulloch was way underpaid, don't get why he wasn't signed for a long term deal, maybe some undisclosed issues, but he is definately a very solid MLB! No doubt! Just don't see it unless it is for a 3-4 where Death Ro can stay, they have too much invested in him to replace him already (unless they can trade him, which is naturally doubtful)!
From the press conferences it seems HJ has an interest in the 3-4, especially as he has said on several occasions he is not tied to the 4-3 in any way! Also, the DCs he wanted to bring in and that has been rumored are mainly 3-4 guys, especially Moss, so i definately think it might be in the cards! ... That said, you're right, the personnel is not easy to get, and although we have the majority of the pieces, we still need some key players - like the NT, which will be very hard to get!
We will see, but with the comments of HJ i think we're closer than we have been the last couple of years to the change, and if the HJ can get the coaches and coords he wants, i think we will change!
the entire defensive line are busters in my opinion. The suppossed strength of this defense was the front four, and they simply did not show up the way they had too.
@DylanAlexander I will have my 2011 season B&B out next Monday. A joyous romp it will be.
LOL - Bresnahan may even be synonymous with "buster" going forward. "Baller and Bresnahan List?"
Yeah, Levi usually puts a year in review together... @DylanAlexander
@RaiderDoc I would reserve "Brening" someone for an example of extreme ineptitude. Something along the JaMarcus line. It can be an award we break out on those occasions. The inaugural winner of the Brenashan award- Chuck Brenashan lady's and gental men for his hard work in costing us an AFC West title.
Lmao. I like where you are going there. Perhaps we can have an honorary defensive buster of the year award "the bres" and offensive buster of the year "the Jamarcus". In all honesty, it will be difficult for anyone to live up to those levels of ineptitude, but still.@DylanAlexander
Sorry Levi - I am going to disagree with you on the "drop" in the end zone by DHB. Yeah I am a homer, but look at that play. He jumped to get the ball, which was slightly overthrown. He had the ball in his hands, got the ball into his body, and Weddle knocked it out. Weddle had his hand available to knock it out completely, whether the ball was in DHBs hands OR body. DHB did a helluva job playing defense and getting Weddle OOB before he established possession and got an INT. Just how I saw it, in slow mo. Oh and 5'10" Lito on 6'5" Malcolm F. is a complete mismatch . Lito did play off his man, the biggest one for me is being 7-8 yards off his man on a 3rd and 3...
@BlitzChick, are you gonna start blogging here as well? ;-) enjoyed your articles @ raidernews awhile back.
Don't be sorry. You can disagree with me. I see that play as an "eye of the beholder" type situation. I don't completely disagree with anything you said. Where I differ slightly in the way I saw it was that DHB almost always needs to pull the ball to his chest to catch it. He had it in his hands. If he had just squeezed it and not tried to use his chest plate to pin it, Weddle would never have affected the catch.
moore,murphy,schillens and ford catch that ball.
@nilbymouth@massillonraider There is no maybe in regards to Moore. He WOULD have caught it. I have seen his make catches much more difficult than that like it was nothing. And did you miss the games in which Ford literally took the ball out of the defenders hands last season? He did it twice. You may be right in regards to Murphy and Schilens.
I agree about the DHB missed TD. I don't see that as a DHB drop. He fought damn hard in top coverage to get that TD and then had the brains to make sure it wasn't an interception.
... And on the Baller side of things. No way DHB is a baller. Ballers don't drop passes like that. The 9/17 does not a baller make. Yes, he had 9 receptions, and yes he had a lot of yards... tweener maybe. Baller no. Same goes for Palmer. Tons of yards, but he was off target all game. Not a baller in my book. Take DHBs 9/17... at least one of them is to blame for 8 misses to DHB alone. Best case scenario at least one of them doesn't make the grade. Neither are quite busters (unlike the whole D) but neither is really worthy of baller unless baller now means half way decent.
All that said... your "baller and buster" list is, and remains, one of the best reads on the net. Thanks for all the hard work you do here. Honestly appreciated.
@RaiderDoc I really, truly feel you on this one Doc. I had a very hard time putting Palmer as top Baller for all the reasons you mentioned. I also made it clear with DHB that I was close to leaving him off the list as well. His drop in the end zone could have been a game changer. I agonized making these guys Ballers. But at the end of the day, I had to look at it as who gave the Raiders a chance to win and they both made a few plays in which I could say that. So despite my overall disappointment in their glaring mistakes, I had to go with them as Ballers. Also, to add to your criticism of Routt, his attitude after the game was shameful as well. He was reading from the stat sheet as he was talking to the media in the locker room. As if the game is played on the stat sheet. He doesn't get it.
Wow, glad I didn't see Routt doing that. Wish I didn't even know he did. Wow. That is disgusting. For 10 mil we deserve better @LDizzle
I don't know. I'd make both Palmer and DHB ballers.
True, DHB dropped a few, but not all of them were easy catches. What's more, he made 2-3 of the biggest plays in the game.
DHB was the best receiver in the game. Arguably the best offensive player. You know, he has to be "there or thereabouts" for the list. Well, assuming you want any of the offense on there!
I agree that numbers wise they both posted some pretty decent stats... but the drops and missed connections drops one of them at least. I mean, you are right, "not all of them were easy catches," but either DHB is dropping or Palmer is not making them "easy." Somebody isn't playing like a stud. I guess in my eyes DHB as a "receiver" needs to be better at "receiving" ... I mean he is paid to catch is he not? And Palmer needs to be better at throwing accurately. Don't get me wrong, neither are busters for sure. I give them both near misses. @ChristopherMooney
I agree about not having Palmer for top Baller but as much as I don't like the guy I think he deserves an honorable mention in this game. Some of his throws were way off target and even if Ford didn't slip, I still think that pass would have been an incompletion or at worst still an interception. But he still made a couple nice throws in this game too.
Levi - Usually I agree with 99% of your list... but the buster list here is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy too short. Maybe you are somehow saving the whole defense for a season summary list, but there is not a man on that D who truly stepped up. Seymore? Routt? McClain? Anyone? All busters in my book. As I said before, every single man on the defensive side of the ball (coaches and players alike) should have to give back the game check for that one. Pathetic. Beyond pathetic. There aren't even words to express how sad that performance was. Me, you and 9 other guys about to read your article could have done almost as well... yes, we would have allowed a touchdown on every drive... no doubt... but that only adds, what, 4 points to the final tally? Ok, I know that is a bit of an exaggeration. We did get a red zone pick and they missed a FG. But the outcome would have been the same, and I bet you and I would have left it all on the field. Somebody show me one guy on our defense who really stepped up? One? I am especially disappointed in Seymore and Routt. No excuse for that kind of lack of leadership from vets getting paid like all stars. Bresnahan blows, but at some point someone needs to make a play!!!
Guess I'm a little bit frustrated eh? lol
Yep the defense plain sucked it up! No one stepped up but two guys for me again that "stood out" for me were Giordano and Branch. These two guys are constantly chasing down players and not giving up in that way. Branch has the tools of a very good safety, but he should be playing FS not SS. Giordano does make some mistakes but he does have good ball hawking skills and seems to be often running down receivers (Branch also) turning TDs into just long gains.
I sort of agree. But at the same time, if this games about keeping the score low, and not allowing passing yards, then players like Jerod Mayo, Clay Mathews, Charles Woodson are also stinking it up this year.
The passing numbers are ridiculous in 2011. Three players over 5000 yards...............Something like 10 over 4000!
Basically, there aren't many defensive players who can cover!