Facing a team like the Packers has a way of shining a bright light on every weakness a team has. The Raider failings were glaring last Sunday. The Raiders knew it would take their best effort to even remain competitive in this game. If their best effort was what they brought, that is the worst news of all.
A game like this will leave you dumbfounded. How do you break down an overall ass whooping? I am thankful I am not on the Raiders’ coaching staff, because they may be wishing they could just throw this game tape in the incinerator and try to forget it ever happened.
But for posterity’s sake, it is always important to remember days like this in the hopes that in the remembrance, you can ensure it doesn’t happen again. After all, you can’t get to where you want to go without knowing where you’ve been.
There are a few Ballers this week but keep in mind that most of these guys would barely make the list most weeks.
This was by no means one of his better games this season. But as the Raiders continued to hand him the ball, he continued to churn out yards even in a lost cause. Much of his yards were gained after the game was lost. But I give him credit for being the Raiders’ workhorse once again. He has been one of the few dependable players on this team. Staying healthy despite his heavy workload is an accomplishment all in itself, and one that this Raiders team has come to appreciate. Bush has carried the ball 83 times in the last three games. In this game he had 23 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown. He also had 3 catches for 19 yards to take him over 100 yards from scrimmage on the day. On an offense that couldn’t get out of its own way all day, that was a fine effort.
He too saw most of his production after the game was out of hand. But there is something to be said for not quitting. In the third quarter, with the Raiders down 34-7, Bryant came alive. He started the drive by shooting into the backfield to tackle the runner for a loss of four yards. The next play he sacked Aaron Rodgers for a five yard loss. The Packers were held to a field goal on the drive, which in this game was a small victory. Two plays into the Raiders’ next series, Marcel Reece would fumble and the Packers would return it for a touchdown. Then on the extra point try, Bryant got up to block it. Yeah, it was just one point but there was no let up in Desmond. Earlier in the game, he pressured Rodgers into throwing the ball away on third down and the Packers would settle for a field goal. Bryant finished second on the team in tackles (4-0) to go along with his sack.
Boss had five catches on the day for 43 yards and a touchdown. When the Raiders started to move on offense, he was a big part of it. Late in the second quarter, with the Raiders down 31-0, they mounted a drive to try and score before half time. The second play of the drive, Boss caught a seven yard pass. Two plays later, he had a nice pass block on a blitzing Charles Woodson and Palmer was able to scramble for 11 yards. Next play, Boss caught another pass, this time for six yards. A few plays later, he caught an 11 yard pass to put the Raiders in scoring position at the 14 yard line. The drive would end on the next play when Palmer tried to force it to Boss in the end zone and it was intercepted. Boss would get his touchdown catch, though. It came late in the fourth quarter to give the Raiders 16 points on the day.
After being injured the first part of the year, Murphy is finally making his way back into the Raiders’ offense. It makes perfect sense. Just two seasons ago, he looked like a star in the making. He has great hands and runs great routes. He should be getting the ball more. He would see the ball five times in this game and catch four of them for 70 yards. He also took an end around for 10 yards. His second pass of the day was a high ball over the middle by Palmer that got Murphy nailed by the defender while he was in the air. He was slow to get up, but when the Raiders got the ball back, he had his best series of the day. Murphy started with a 13 yard catch to put the Raiders in Packer territory at the 40 yard line. A few plays later, the Raiders were forced to go for it on fourth and 12, and Murphy hauled in a 17 yard catch. Then after a penalty backed the Raiders up to the 30 yard line, he caught his longest catch of the day. It went for 24 yards to put the Raiders in first and goal at the six yard line. They would score a touchdown two plays later.
McClain was hard to put in either category in this game. But his involvement in the game could not go unmentioned. His play was night and day from first half to second half. The Raiders gave up 31 points in the first half so we’ll start there.
At the end of the Packers’ second drive, he was out of position and late to correct on a swing pass that put the Packers at the Raiders’ 4 yard line. Then he and Jerome Boyd were supposed to be covering the two tight ends. Boyd was caught in space between the long man and the short while McClain chose neither and the result was a touchdown. On the next Packer drive, he was late on a 12 yard run and late again on a 7 yard run on the next play. Two plays later he gave up a 7 yard catch.
It was a different story for McClain in the second half. He ended the Packers’ first drive of the second half with a sack on third and two to force a field goal. He would then end the Packers last three drives. The first with a tackle for loss resulting in their final score on a field goal. The second was a sack for a safety. Then he finished their final drive when he tackled the runner short of the first down on third and 12.
Yet again, after this loss, we hear players saying that their teammates need to “do their jobs.” But that doesn’t cut it in a loss like this. There were two things that became clear pretty quickly in this game: 1) The Raiders’ big plan was to put Mike Mitchell in the game and play nickel against Rodgers, and 2) Aaron Rodgers was watching for it and calling for a run whenever he saw it. For the Packers it worked like a charm. The Packers’ first possession started near midfield after a Palmer interception. On the second play, Rodgers saw the matchup he wanted and called for a run. His offensive line opened a crease and the only defender there to try and plug the hole was Mitchell. He was easily blocked and Ryan Grant ran 47 yards for a touchdown. It was the first touchdown run over 20 yards the Packers had since late in the 2009 season, when the Super Bowl wasn’t even a twinkle in the Packers’ eye.
Another thing we have figured out this season is just how well Rodgers performs when the corner or safety blitzes. So of course, on the next Packer drive, Bresnahan calls for a safety blitz. Rodgers instantly threw to the uncovered receiver for a 12 yard gain. Two plays later, they had their second touchdown.
The Packers’ next touchdown came on a 37 yard bomb. The Packers rushed to the line and knew they had caught the Raider defenders trying to sub out and would have a free shot at the end zone. The Raiders were called for 12 men on the field, but it didn’t matter because the Packers scored a TD.
The Packers would get another interception and were quickly back in business at the six yard line. Then in second and goal from the six yard line, Rodgers sees Mitchell playing in the box and calls an audible for a run and touchdown.
In the second half, the “game plan” for the defense was to play zone. The result was a 27 yard catch to start the third quarter resulting in a field goal and then another 27 yard catch in which the receiver was so wide open it was impossible to tell who was supposed to be covering him. It too resulted in a field goal. The Packers took Rodgers out before the end of the third quarter. They probably started to feel sorry for the Raiders.
I let Hue off the hook last week in a loss to the Dolphins, though perhaps I shouldn’t have. Last week I credited the Dolphins’ solid defense for the Raiders’ play last week. But it has become clear that the Raiders just haven’t been ready. Hue likes to say that after every loss as a way of being vague about the issues that face this team. He also does it so that when his team is actually truthfully not prepared properly, it won’t seem out of the ordinary that he says so. But this team was so clearly not ready to play on Sunday. They weren’t prepared the week before either. They just don’t look like they are putting together a game plan that focuses on taking advantage of the opponent’s weaknesses. The Packers have weaknesses. You may not have known it from watching this game, but the Packers don’t have a great defense. They can be had. The Giants put up 35 points on them last week and it was only by a miraculous Rodgers drive in the waning seconds that the Packers were able to pull out the win. The Giants are a playoff level team. The Raiders are showing that they are not. And it starts with Hue Jackson.
Palmer threw four interceptions in this game. Three of them were his own fault or at least partially his own fault. The other interception, he was hit on the arm. But that was the final offensive play of the game for the Raiders and long after the real damage had been done.
Palmer got the Raiders’ day started off terribly. After he had led the team to the Packers’ 42 yard line—just out of Janikowski field goal range—he blew it. He got a little pressure off the edge and escaped it but instead of setting his feet and making a good throw or simply throwing the ball away, he lobbed it right into the arms of a Packer linebacker. The Packers took the short field and scored a touchdown.
The next drive, he had the Raiders moving again. But after a few penalties had the Raiders in third and 25, he didn’t lead Darrius Heyward-Bey on his throw and it fell incomplete. If he had hit DHB in stride it may have been a big gainer.
Two series later, with the Raiders in third and six, he threw a two yard pass to DHB and thus ended another possession. Next series, he threw a pass to DHB before he had even made his break. Woodson cut off his route and intercepted it. Next possession he threw a risky pass to Schilens that was nearly intercepted. On the Raiders’ final drive of the first half, Palmer led them all the way to the 14 yard line before throwing a pass in traffic in the endzone where it was intercepted again.
In the second half, the Raiders would score twice but Palmer really wasn’t much better. He could have saved a touchdown when Marcel Reece fumbled, but he couldn’t manage to simply fall on the ball and wrap it up. The result was another Packer touchdown. The next series ended with a three and out when Palmer threw wide for Louis Murphy. He threw too high in traffic for Murphy to end the next drive and nearly got Murphy seriously injured. His final three plays were a low incompletion, a high incompletion and getting hit as he threw for interception.
DHB was the Top Baller last week. This week he started out the game looking like he might make the rare Top Baller to Top Buster leap. He dropped two passes on the Raiders’ second drive. The second one was the final play of the drive. If he had caught it, the Raiders could have been in field goal range or perhaps close enough to try for more. The next drive ended with another drop by DHB. To start the second quarter, he was sent on a go route but didn’t make any attempt to disguise it, and as a result was blanketed by his defender and it was nearly intercepted. The series ended two plays later when he caught a two yard pass on third and six. The next Raider possession ended in two plays when DHB was completely schooled by Charles Woodson right off the line as Woodson cut off his route and intercepted the pass. The Packers would use the short field to score their fourth TD of the day. Funny thing is, DHB actually led the Raiders in receiving with 5 catches for 78 yards. But after that first half, who cares?
If you read the Chuck Bresnahan breakdown above, you have a pretty good idea of Mitchell’s day. He is a liability on this team. Since choosing him in round two of the ’09 draft, the team has never really found a good place for him. In this game, for the Packers, the number 34 looked like a target symbol. As I said, for the broader picture on that, read the Bresnahan description. Here are the lowlights.
He was blocked like a mosquito on the 47 yard touchdown run for the first Packer touchdown. Next drive, he was sent on a blitz and whiffed on the sack. Then on the next play he gave up the catch for a first down. The Packers scored their second TD a few plays later. Next Packer touchdown drive came in the second quarter on a drive in which he was late on a seven yard first down run. He did have a nice interception in the end zone just before half time. It was part luck and part skill. He was lucky because he wasn’t playing the ball and just reached up into the face of the receiver. The skill was pulling the ball in and getting possession inbounds for a touchback. It was a great play on an otherwise terrible day for this third year safety.
While the turnovers weren’t killing the Raiders, the offensive line play was. The Raiders’ second drive ended with four bad plays by the offensive line—two by Barnes. With the Raiders in first and 20, he had one of his patented false starts. Then on the next play he was beaten by his man to give up a run stuff tackle for no gain. He later gave up the hit on Carson Palmer as he threw for the game ending interception.
He didn’t record an actual statistic in this game. He was only seen a couple of times. The first was getting blocked to open the huge hole that Ryan Grant sprinted through for his 47 yard touchdown run. The second one was the primary reason he is a Buster this week. When the Packers rushed to the line to catch the Raiders in a 12 men on the field penalty, it was Seymour who was leisurely walking off the field. The free play was a 37 yard touchdown bomb. Last week he was too emotional and punching opposing players, and this week he just didn’t seem to care. Can we find a happy medium, Richard?
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