Oakland Raiders 2008 Season Busters

So now it is time to line up the turds and tell you how much they stink. Most of their stench should be a very familiar smell if you were watching any of the games this season. In the Ballers edition from last week, the goal was more to point out the flowers that had bloomed in the manure; a task that was a bit more difficult after another 11 loss season. But now, pull up those tall rubber boots because the sewage is going to get pretty deep and we are going to wade through it on a quest of vengeance against those who caused Raider fans to suffer throughout this season. So without further adoodoo, here are the Raiders 2008…

Busters:

Kwame Harris-

Though he started only eleven games all season, he made the Buster list eight times. He had a league-leading 11 false start penalties and while he wasn’t falsely starting, he was called for holding 5 times. And while he wasn’t holding, he was giving up sacks or QB pressures. He gave up 8 sacks and at least five times (by my count) his man nearly sacked Russell resulting in either an incompletion, a busted play or a turnover. Tack on the facemask penalty and the 4 times (that I can say for sure) he gave up a tackle for a loss and you have a heck of a lot of negative yards and stalled drives.

In week one, Harris gave up a huge hit on Russell’s back just as he released the pass that was reminiscent of the hit that Mario Henderson gave up on Andrew Walter in the preseason that gave Walter a bloody nose.

In week four, he false started, and gave up a tackle for a loss, and then on third down he was blown up for a near sack in which Russell threw the ball away to kill a promising drive. Then in the fourth quarter he gave up the hard sack and forced fumble on Russell that gave the Chargers their 2nd TD in 85 seconds time.

In week seven, he had a holding penalty in which he had been smoked by former Raider Kenyon Coleman, then two plays later had a false start to stall a drive and on the Raiders first drive after the half he had two more false starts. One of them was on third and goal from the three yard line.

In week eight, he was the story of the game. He gave up several sacks and tackles for a loss including one in which Terrell Suggs ran right past him to aid in sacking Russell for a safety.

In week nine, Harris gave up a sack for the Raiders third straight three-and-out to start the game. Then he gave up a sack to end the first half and he single-handedly stopped two more drives with false starts and a tackle for a loss.

In week ten, he gave up 2 sacks to Julius Peppers.

In week eleven (sigh, this is getting tiresome), after the Raiders had their best looking drive since the Jets game to put them on the 5 yard line, Kwame then immediately had TWO false starts to kill any chance of a touchdown. Oh and of course, he gave up a sack as well.

In week 14, he was partly to blame for a Russell fumble when his man pressured Russell up in the pocket and right into a tackler. 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. Then on the Raiders’ next posession, after a nice return put the Raiders in scoring position, he had a big facemask 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. This would be his final game of the season (and hopefully his Raider career).

If you are looking for a silver lining, here it is: Harris is due a $6 mil bonus in March which means he will most certainly be cut before then. Especially with Mario Henderson playing so well now as the starter.

DeAngelo Hall-

His impact is felt far beyond the big plays he gave up and the game he blew nearly single-handedly. Let’s start with his on-field incompetence though, shall we? In just eight games for the Raiders, he made the Buster list four times.

First off, we were all witness to his being “taken behind the woodshed” by ROOKIE receiver Eddie Royal in week one, so that disaster need not be revisited.

In week two, Tyler Thigpen, playing in his first ever pro game, got Hall off the hook.

But then in week three against the Bills he took the (dis)honor of being the only player all season to have the Buster list all to himself… and he earned it in just one quarter of football. With the Raiders up by 9 points heading into the fourth quarter and the Bills at their own 4 yard line, the Bills marched down the field 96 yards to paydirt almost completely through DeAngelo Hall. Then, after JLH takes a pass 84 yards for a TD to put the Raiders back up by 9, the Bills get the ball and abuse Hall again en route to another TD and are within 2 points again. Next, the Raiders go three-and-out and the Bills march down the field through an exhausted Raider defense to kick the game-winning field goal.

The announcers were saying all game how the Raiders were playing such inspired football. Well, DeAngelo Hall reached into his teammates’ chests and ripped out their hearts.

He also had terrible games in weeks eight and nine which were his final games in a Raider uniform.

But I mentioned that his impact was felt beyond his terrible on-field performances. So let’s just ponder this for a moment; what would this team look like if it had not made that deal?

-Chris Johnson would have had the job since day one and with his outstanding play this season, that would have made a big difference.

- Fabian Washington would not have been traded and to have a guy with his talent coming in off the bench and switching out with Routt at nickel would be a hell of a luxury.

- We wouldn’t have been suckered into getting a 4th rounder in the form of Arman Shields who at this point is a wasted pick as he was out for the entire season.

- The money given to Hall would have been used to lock up Asomugha long term.

- Because Asomugha’s cap number would have been just a couple million more than he is already making, the Raiders would probably have been able to pay Derrick Burgess as well (although AD likely wouldn’t have, but who knows?)

- AND to think what we could have used the 34th pick for! It hurts to think what kind of holes could have been filled with that pick. Not only that but the 5th round pick would have been nice too.

Al Davis-

His selfishness and power hungry ways destroyed any chance this team had to be successful. First he overrides Kiffin’s request to fire the incompetent Rob Ryan and in return he types up a resignation letter and puts it on Kiffin’s desk for him to sign. Then he strips Kiffin of any player personnel decisions (as if he had any to begin with). Next he throws truckloads of money at underachievers, busts and cast-offs like Javon Walker, Kwame Harris, William Joseph, and Tommy Kelly. Next he trades the Raiders near first round pick and fifth round pick AND severely overpays for the aforementioned DeAngelo Hall. Then he drafts the sexy pick in speedster Darren McFadden when this team had no need at running back and HUGE needs along the lines and at linebacker. And then he trades Fabian Washington for a measly 4th round pick. He waits until after week four to fire Kiffin, when he feels he has enough evidence to fire him “for cause” just so he can screw Kiffin out of the rest of his salary. If he cared about this team and wanted to fire Kiffin, he should have done it prior to the season. As if inconsistency wasn’t a big enough problem with a new coach every year, now we are down to new coaches half way through the season. But then again this wouldn’t be the first time. Shanahan was treated the exact same way and look how well that turned out?

Rob Ryan-

Oh how long I have been jumping up and down and screaming about how terrible he is at his job. The only year in his tenure with the Raiders that the defense was supposedly any good was in ‘06. But even that was a fraud because the offense was simply so bad that teams would quickly score twice and then sit on the ball to run clock knowing that the Raiders couldn’t score. I mean why would they take a chance? The Raiders only won two games that season and one of those games was won without a single offensive TD. Well, enough about ‘06, let’s focus on this season.

This was supposed to be the best defensive squad the Raiders have had in a long time. It is difficult to believe that because of a few weak spots, the entire Raider defense could look this bad. Sometimes it seems obvious when individual players are to blame, but when you have a secondary and linebacking corps with a probowler, a former probowler, a superbowl winner and a few near probowlers and they collectively play this bad, it is obvious where the problem really lies. The most maddening times were when the Raiders defense looked solid all game only to get soft in crunch time. And at that point, what difference does it make what they did before that? I thought the defense was supposed to have been playing with passion for Ryan? That is what Ryan and Sapp had led everyone to believe. The Saints game in week eight was a tell all for this defense. They didn’t look at all like a team that just came off a bye week. Usually with two weeks to prepare for a team and get healthy, they come out rejuvenated. There was no agressiveness or fight in them in that game. Every time a Saints receiver would make a long catch, they seemed like they were on an island. The linebackers and safeties were so far away, it was often hard to tell who was supposed to be covering the open man. The Saints have a great offense but the poor schemes and lack of passion on defense made the Saints look like some kind of juggernaut. And the Saints were without their best receiver and starting tight end. Pathetic.

Then in the Falcons game, week nine, the Raiders first half defensive stat line looked like this: 309 yards given up and TWENTY FIRST DOWNS.

As I said, Ryan has been a big part of the Raiders’ losing ways for many years now. His schemes never worked and they turned prospects into busts and studs into goats. Goodbye and good riddance.

Tommy Kelly/ Gerard Warren-

These two were the starting DT and NT on the 2nd worst run defense in the NFL (just above the Lions). And they were a big reason this team struggled so often this season.

In week one they weren’t seen in the Broncos backfield even once despite the Broncos Oline consisting of mostly rookies and first year starters. Cutler had all day to throw and Kelly and Warren looked like they just weren’t giving any effort. That effort seemed to turn around in the next few games but by midseason, they were back to being terrible again.

In week nine the Falcons ran all over the Raiders for more than 250 yards including Michael Turner’s 139 yards.

Oftentimes in games this season, members of the Raider secondary led the team in tackling; week 13 against the Chiefs was one of those weeks. That week Warren had just one tackle in the game without a single QB pressure while Larry Johnson ran for nearly a hundred yards.

The next week against the Chargers it was Kelly’s turn to disappear. He had just two tackles in the game without anything that resembled pressure on Phillip Rivers. He would constantly overpursue on big screen plays, two of which were touchdowns to Darren Sproles. Then he had a completely stupid unnecessary roughness penalty after the Raiders had the Chargers stopped on third down that gave them an automatic first down. That drive resulted in a touchdown that put the game away.

In week 15 against the Pats, Sammy Morris ran all over both of them including a 29 yard touchdown run right through the hole where Kelly was supposed to have been. And let us not forget that Tommy Kelly is the 2nd highest paid Dlineman in the NFL.

Cornell Green-

His bad play was dwarfed only by the man usually at the opposite Offensive Tackle position. But there is no way that was going to get Green off the hook. He had 6 false starts on the season and allowed 6.5 sacks which is just one less than Kwame Harris on the season.

In Week ten against the Panthers he actually looked worse than Kwame Harris because while he was just as porous in giving up sacks (2), he made life miserable for Justin Fargas every time he tried to run to the right side. Fargas ran 7 times to the right side and those runs looked like this: 2, 1, -3, 0, 0, 3, and 1 which is a total of 4 yards. Oh and he had a drive killing false start later in that game, too.

In week 14 against the Chargers, one play said it all. Phillips rushed in and literally threw Green aside like a rag 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 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. That’s right the quadruple whammy. When Mario Henderson came in to start at left tackle the next week, it only further exposed Cornell Green for being incompetent. Right tackle should be of utmost importance this offseason in free agency or the draft.

Greg Knapp-

We all wondered why Kiffin took the play calling duties for the Raiders…until week six when Cable gave the play calling back to Knapp. Then he was given the opportunity he had wanted and was supposed to be well qualified for and he blew it. It is all fine and good to want to have a balanced attack on offense – the concept being to keep the defense on it’s toes. But in that game, it wasn’t balanced. The Raiders passed 35 times and ran 21 times. It appeared that Knapp was attempting to play to the Saints’ weakness instead of the Raiders’ strength. And that may have worked except the Raiders didn’t have a quarterback who could make that idea work quite yet. The Raiders had the #3 rushing attack in the NFL at that point in the season thanks to the zone blocking scheme that Cable and Knapp installed, and they abandoned it on Sunday. The Raiders finally had Fargas back healthy and he was given TEN carries. McFadden was only given EIGHT carries. That is unacceptable. Then in his next game, the Raiders offensive (in every sense) first half stat line looked like this: negative two yards of offense and ZERO first downs on four posessions. So in just two games, he was so bad that Cable took the play calling duties away from him again. I hope Seattle fans are not expecting much offense next season.

Michael Huff-

He lost his starting spot just one game into the Tom Cable era. Huff made the Buster list three times in the first five games including the last two weeks before he was benched in favor of Rashad Baker.

In week one he was pretty much absent on long catches and every receiver had a wide open field to run into the end zone on each big TD play. The one time I can recall seeing him, was when he was supposed to pick up Darryl Jackson on his TD catch and Huff’s ensuing whiff on the tackle. In week four Huff was at least partially responsible for ALL THREE Charger touchdowns. He was out of position on an Antonio Gates TD to start the 4th quarter, then he missed the tackle on LT on the next TD, then he was out of position AND missed the tackle on the LT TD which sealed it at the end of the 4th quarter.

In the week six game against the Saints, he gave up three huge catches that all resulted in Saints scores and then he blew his coverage on the next Saints touchdown so his man was wide open in the back of the end zone. The only starter that had fewer tackles than he did was Aso and we all know why he doesn’t get tackles. Free safety is supposed to be Huff’s natural position where he was going to show his true potential. Granted it was his first season back at Free Safety so I am not ready to give up on him yet but he is on a short leash at this point.

Lane Kiffin-

It is not good when you consider that he coached this team for all of four games this season and landed on the Buster list three of those games. Overall, his coaching was not terrible, it was just not that good. I do have a few questions for him though. Where was Michael Bush on short yardage plays? In the Broncos game, why did you elect to punt on the Broncos 38 yard line instead of go for it or try a field goal? Why were your goal line and short yardage plays so predictable? In fact nearly all of your play calls were predictable, especially in crunch time. I suppose we will never get those answers now. And in week four (his final game) against the Chargers, what the hell was with letting the clock run down before the half and then trying a 76 yard field goal? That kind of lack of aggression has cost this team far too many games. The moment this team tries to play it safe and play not to lose, that is exactly what happens. It happens because the defense runs out of steam by the fourth quarter with all of the offensive three-and-outs keeping them on the field so long. Al Davis may have been hoping for this kind of showing just to send Kiffin out with a loss and make it that much easier to fire him.

Jay Richardson-

He started 11 of 16 games this season but it was hard to tell most of the time. Mainly because the only time this team saw any productivity from his side of the line was when he was replaced by Kalimba Edwards. Richardson was not starting for his pass rushing ability as much as to help shore up the run defense. But he was unable to help in that area either. In four of his 11 starts he had just ONE solo tackle and in six other starts he had only 2 tackles. Those are not good totals for the guy who is supposed to be shutting down the run on his end of the line. His worst start was the Jets game in which he had just one solo tackle on the day. The first mention of him was an offsides penalty on the third play of the game. Then two plays later, he was offsides again. Later he was fooled on a reverse and couldn’t catch up to Brad Smith who was eventually tackled by Hiram Eugene to save a touchdown. After that, as was the case nearly all season, we saw a bit more of Kalimba Edwards.

JaMarcus Russell-

I saved Russell for last here because, despite the fact that he landed on the Buster list a record (says the principal in Ferris Bueller) NINE TIMES, he seemed to start to put things together near the end of the season and I am optimistic about next season for him. He shredded the Broncos in Denver in week 12 and had a couple of really nice performances in the last two games of the season. But he was truly horrible the rest of the season. His biggest problems were accuracy and fumbles. He fumbled in nine games this season and twice in three of those games for a total of 12 fumbles on the season. The worst thing was that a few of those fumbles just slipped out of his hand. He went back to throw and WHOOP! It’s Garo Yepremian out there (Dolphins kicker, classic whiffed pass attempt in Superbowl VII). Maybe Russell should have been a carny (small hands)? His ranked 26th in the league with a passer rating of 77.1 and the Raiders lost every game in which he had over 25 pass attempts. He only had 8 interceptions but he made up for it with the 7 lost fumbles. His worst games of the season were against some of the worst defenses in the NFL in Kansas City (31st), New Orleans (23rd), Atlanta (24th) and San Diego (25th and 31st against the pass).

Against Kansas City (both times) he completed 35% of his passes for an average quarterback rating of under 48.

Against New Orleans he completed 37% of his passes with an interception and a fumble for a QB rating of 40.

Against Atlanta he completed 31% of his passes with an interception and two fumbles for a QB rating of (you ready for this?) 19!

In the second game against the Chargers he had 2 interceptions and a fumble on just 13 attempts for a QB rating of 42.

So that means that he averaged 40% completion with an average QB rating of 40 with 1 touchdown, 4 interceptions and 3 fumbles against four teams with an average defensive ranking of 28th!

But that said, I would like to end this on a high note. So I will mention that in JaMarcus’ last two games of the season he completed an average of 70% of his passes, with 4 TD passes, 1 interception and 1 fumble for an average QB rating of 113. The last of which was against the tough Tampa Bay defense in a game they really needed to have. So, though I can’t leave him off of the yearlong Buster list, the future looks bright and Raider fans can spend the next few months contemplating suicide the prospect of even further growth from Russell and with that, the hopes of this Raider team next season…And beyond!


About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

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