Raiders week 3: Ballers & Busters

It was the biggest game of the season thus far for this team. Sitting at 1-1 after a tough late loss  to the Bills last week. Playing in their home opener in front of a sold out crowd against a team who was in the AFC Championship game the past two seasons. It was also the start of a brutal three game stretch. If that wasn’t enough incentive to get up, nothing is.

And the Raiders got up too. They scored on the opening drive and after going down 17-7, came back to tie it before halftime. They showed they can play a full game which was something they didn’t do in week two.

Since looking out of sorts in the preseason, they showed flashes of great play in the first two games and took that play up a notch in this game to beat the Jets 34-24.

Here are the players who gave the full house something to cheer about and those who didn’t quite rise to the occasion.

Ballers


Darren McFadden

A top Baller once again, he tore through the Jets defense all day. His longest run of the day was the longest of his career. It went for 70 yards and a touchdown. He also took a handoff and looked to make a halfback pass but opted to tuck in and run instead. That was a smart move as he was able to run for 27 yards on the play to set up a touchdown on the next play. He became the first player vs the Jets in the Rex Ryan era to go over 100 yards rushing in a half and just the fourth to go over 100 yards for an entire game. McFadden had 121 yards rushing in the first half and 171 for the game. Even if you remove the 70 yard run, he still goes over 100 yards on the day. That is impressive against any team, let alone a team with as solid a defense as the Jets. He now leads the NFL in rushing with 393 yards.

Entire offensive line

I have lauded the work of a few of these guys since the season began, but last Sunday they were all great. There was only one sack on the day and it was when Jason Campbell tripped on air and was touched down. In the second quarter, Jared Veldheer gave up a hit on Campbell just after he released the ball. And that was it. Neither Veldheer nor right tackle Khalif Barnes gave up a single pressure or hit on Campbell the rest of the game. We have already covered the rushing performance of McFadden which was due in large part to the blocking by this offensive line. Denarius Moore enjoyed their play as well when he took an end around and Samson Satele completely obliterated a Jet defender on a block to help free up Moore to go 23 yards for the touchdown. Stefen Wisniewski had his moment on the first play of the fourth quarter when he took on a blocker to clear the hole for Michael Bush to walk into the endzone for a touchdown. And the fact that Cooper Carlisle‘s name doesn’t come up just means that he was doing his job with no mistakes—as is usually the case with offensive linemen. The most telling stat may be that the Raiders lead the NFL with eight rushing touchdowns—twice as many rushing touchdowns as the next best team with four.

Denarius Moore

Speaking of the rookie phenom, he was back to amazing in this game. While I am not completely certain if he was technically a starter, he was in on the second play of the game so it really doesn’t matter. He had a 13 yard catch on that second play and it was followed by Antonio Cromartie being called for pass interference on him on the next play. That was 38 yards between the play and the penalty on the drive that ended with the Raiders’ first touchdown. Cromartie would be called for pass interference on Moore again in the third quarter. Then to end the third quarter, Moore was given the ball on an end around and when he saw the edge cut off, he broke it inside and shot downfield. He looked to be stopped short of the end zone, but he wouldn’t be denied, stretching out across the goal line for the touchdown. He would touch the ball five times for 57 yards and a touchdown to go along with the yards on the two pass interference penalties by Cromartie.

Jason Campbell

Last week he had 323 yards passing and the team lost. In their two wins he had a combined 264 yards passing. He had 156 yards passing in this game but most importantly, he continues to make great decisions and runs this offense with precision and efficiency. In that mindset the only stat that really matters is turnovers—of which he had none. He also makes the right passes at the right times when the Raiders need it most. He had a 28 yard strike to Kevin Boss on the opening drive to set up a touchdown. Then on the Raiders’ final drive of the first half, when the team needed to go into the locker room with some momentum, he completed six straight passes with three first downs to set up Sebastian Janikowski for the game-tying 54 yard field goal.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Jets were able to pull within a touchdown and all they needed to do was stop the Raiders’ offense to have a shot at tying the game. To avoid suffering a similar fate as last week in Buffalo, the Raiders needed to sustain a long scoring drive. The first play of the drive, Campbell rolled out and once he couldn’t find anyone open, he scrambled for 10 yards and a first down. Then a few plays later, with the Jets in good coverage on the Raider receivers, he waited and fled the pocket and dropped a perfect pass in to Michael Bush for a 25 yard gain. It was just what the Raiders needed to keep the drive going, and it put the Raiders in field goal range where they went up by two scores for the final score of 34-24.

Chimdi Chekwa

This rookie was injured through much of camp and wasn’t able to get all the practice time in that he needed. He is supposed to be the last cornerback in the rotation, but injuries to Chris Johnson and Demarcus Van Dyke rushed him into service. Chekwa stepped up big time. The first play he made was a tackle on a return in which he took the helmet off the return man. Then late in the first half he had a coverage incompletion on third down. That gave the Raiders the ball back with enough time to drive down and kick the game tying field goal. Then on the Jets’ first drive of the third quarter, he had the tackle on a short catch and the drive ended on the next play. Next Jets possession he tackled LaDainian Tomlinson for a short gain on a direct snap run. The drive ended with a three and out. Next drive, with the Jets going for it on fourth and two, he had a pass defended. He had a rough drive a bit later when he gave up a 24 yard catch early on and then gave up the touchdown catch to Plaxico Burress. But he had great coverage on the TD pass and there was little he could do about it. As is so often said, “There is no defense for a perfect throw.” Chekwa finished the game with a coverage incompletion to help keep the Jets from scoring at the end of the game.

Jarvis Moss

Quite a game for this former Bronco castoff. He got in the backfield to sack the quarterback three times. One was a solo sack and the other two were shared sacks. The Raiders had four sacks on four consecutive Jets possessions to start the second half and Moss was part of three of them. He also had a tackle for a short gain on a pitch run.

Hue Jackson, Al Saunders

Hue has this offense moving like a well oiled machine. Saunders has designed some great plays and Hue seems to make all the right calls at the right times. The Jets defense was hopeless to stop anything the Raiders were doing. Most of the time it was old fashioned ground and pound football but there was just enough trickery mixed in to keep them guessing. There were two trick plays in this game and they came back to back. With the Raiders on the 50 yard line, first came the half back pass attempt that McFadden ran for 27 yards. That was immediately followed by the end around to Denarius Moore that covered the final 23 yards for the score. This is one confident and comfortable offense. Now if the defense can come near that level of play, watch out.
  

Honorable Mention

Michael Bush

Bush is the Raiders’ closer. When they need a touchdown or first down in short yardage, they call upon him. At the end of the game, when the opposing defense is getting worn down, they call upon him. He had a touchdown on a one yard run to begin the fourth quarter, but his biggest play was the 25 yard catch that put the Raiders in field goal range and sealed the victory.

Richard Seymour

Seymour had a half sack, but his biggest play may have been on the final play of the game when he hit Mark Sanchez on a scramble attempt on fourth and goal from the two yard line. That tripped Sanchez up just enough that his knee touched before he crossed the goal line which reversed the touchdown call and gave the Raiders the ball back. They would rush out the clock from there.

Kevin Boss

He had one big catch in the game of 28 yards but his best play came when he sealed off the edge of the Jets defensive line so the Darren McFadden could break free and take the ball 70 yards for a touchdown.

Busters

Rolando McClain

I am rather tired of putting him on the Buster list already. It occurs to me that perhaps the Raiders are asking too much of their young middle linebacker. After all, he does make a few good plays. His mistakes are just so costly that the good plays seem trite by comparison. He got off to a very bad start in this game. He gave up a 25 yard catch on the first Jets possession. Then on their second drive, he missed a tackle on Tomlinson and after LDT broke away from him, McClain resorted to jogging afterward, which he did last game as well. This has got to stop. Last game his missed tackle and ensuing dogging it resulted in a huge touchdown run, and this game it resulted in a 74 yard run after catch to the one yard line. The Jets would score two plays later. In my mind it doesn’t matter what he did after that play. He had already played like a Buster. He did play much better for a while in this game as evidenced by his leading the Raiders in tackles on the day (7-5). But then on the Jets last drive, he gave up a huge 32 yard catch to put the Jets at first and goal at the nine yard line. Thanks to some solid defense from his teammates, they were able to keep the Jets from scoring but it got pretty tense at the end there.

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About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

Raiders Week 3: Ballers & Busters

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 26: Wide receiver Louis Murphy of the Oakland Raiders runs with the football after a 13 yard reception past Adrian Wilson of the Arizona Cardinals during the thrid quarter of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 26, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Raiders 24-23. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

I have to admit, this was not a fun one to break down. It is easy to break down a blowout whether it be at the hands of the Raiders or one in which they fall victim. There was also a lot of positives on both sides of the ball for the Raiders. So how then do they let this game come down to the wire and then blow it? How do they let several gifts handed to them by the Cardinals go to waste?

Those are questions I will attempt to answer while simultaneously still giving the credit to those players that performed their duties admirably. As always we start with those that did their part and more to pull out the win. Then I will outline those of whom I believe the fault lies for squandering the efforts of the former.

Ballers

Louis Murphy

These are the kinds of performances Raider fans are coming to expect from the steal of last year’s draft. Since this 4th round pick stepped onto the field for the Silver and Black he has shown a kind of savvy typically reserved for seasoned vets. He had six catches last week in a win over the Rams and had another 5 catches for 119 yards in this game. His longest catch went for 70 yards. But that catch was made less than ten yards from the line of scrimmage. Murphy and the defender met at the ball but the firey receiver strong-armed it away from him. Then he spun around and shot up the sideline and wasn’t caught until 60 some yards later. His final catch didn’t go as far but was equally impressive. It went for 25 yards and would have gone for much more but Bruce Gradkowski threw it short and Murphy had to slide and come back to scoop it off the turf. Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt challenged the call in desperation but it was upheld and rightfully so.

Darren McFadden

After going two full seasons with just one 100 yards rushing game, he has now had two in a row. He had another touchdown as well. To be accurate, he had 25 carries for 105 yards. His first nice play was when he had an 11 yard run that set up the first touchdown of the game for the Raiders on the very next play. Then just before halftime, he had his best drive of the game. There was six plays on the drive and McFadden touched the ball 4 of those plays. The first play he ran for five yards. Two plays later he ripped off a 33 yard run. Then the next play he picked up 18 yards on a screen. Two plays after that, he walked into the endzone on a pitch play. If you were counting, that was 59 yards of offense and a touchdown on one drive. The rest of the game, he just churned out tough yards to try and keep the offense moving and the Cardinals honest.

Richard Seymour

It is good to have him back. This defensive line is a different unit with him in the game. He tied for third on the team in tackles with 4 solo tackles and 2 assists. The amazing thing about those numbers is that all 4 solo tackles and one of the assists was either a tackle for no gain or a tackle for loss. He also had a sack in the game (also a tackle for loss technically). His first big play was on the Rams 2nd drive in which he shot into the backfield to pressure the quarterback on a designed screen pass but he didn’t give up on the play and came back to tackle the running back for no gain. Then the first play of the 2nd quarter, he got in the backfield again to stuff a run for a loss. The first play of the third quarter for the Cardinals offense, he stuffed another run for a loss. Then he ended that same Cardinal possession when he teamed up for a sack on 3rd down. He had his final run stuffing tackle for loss came in the fourth quarter and it too was a tackle no gain. Then on the very next play, he pressured Cardinals quarterback Derek Anderson forcing him to throw the ball away. In total, the Cardinals had a negative 5 yards on Seymour tackles in this game.

Shane Lechler

His high booming punts were directly responsible for the two muffed punts by the Cardinals in this game. It is not his fault the Raiders couldn’t make the most of those extra possessions. He also averaged over 50 yards a punt and had two punts downed inside the Arizona 5 yard line. So to break that down, out of 5 punts, he had two that were muffed giving Raiders the ball back and two that were down at the 3 yard line. Meaning only one of his punts wasn’t of the game changing variety. And that one was his longest of the day, traveling 57 yards with just 4 yards on the return. Spectacular.

Nnamdi Asomugha

For the first time, I think, EVER, Nnamdi lined up against and shadowed the opposing team’s best receiver. In this case it was against arguably the best receiver in the game– Larry Fitzgerald. Nnamdi would surrender just ONE catch the Fitgerald on the day that went for 18 yards. So, again I say; Darrelle Revis can keep his “holding his receivers under 35 yards” garbage. Nnamdi is the highest paid corner because he is the best corner in the game today. End of story.

Zach Miller

He one of the two touchdowns on the day for the Raiders. To go along with 4 catches for 64 yards. His touchdown catch was his first of the day and his longest reception of 22 yards. His other receptions went for 21, 15, and 6. And he could have had as many as two more touchdowns but Gradkowski missed him. One was a fade route Gradkowski threw too long and the other was thrown too high and nearly intercepted. There were actually a couple of other times Zach could have had big catches but was missed on the pass. But overall a fine day for Zach.

Honorable Mention

Marcel Reece

Sprung McFadden on a couple of his nice runs inscluding his 2 yard pitch run for a touchdown. He also laid a nice pass block to give Gradkowski time to hit Zach Miller on his 22 yard touchdown in the first quarter. He also recovered a crucial fumble on a QB sack.

Daniel Loper

He was the best offensive lineman for the Raiders on this day. And while usually that wouldn’t be saying much, there is still something to be said for him playing what appeared to be mistake free football. He also showed his blocking prowess in the the zone blocking scheme which was the sole reason he is on this team. While it can be hard to tell sometimes exactly where the key blocks are coming from, I did notice several times on McFadden touches, it was Loper out in front paving the way. He also didn’t give up any sacks or have any penalties.

Busters

Tom Cable, Hue Jackson, John Fassel

This was the toughest part of the analysis of this game. Usually when a person thinks about a team having an overall collapse in the coaching arena, the fault must fall on the one in charge of it all– Al D…er… Tom Cable. But that just seems too easy. And since I am not one to take the easy way out, I just couldn’t go with the obvious choice. At least not him alone. On the other hand, I couldn’t just throw a blanket over the problem by saying something like “The Raider coaching staff” because the defense played quite well for the most part. That wouldn’t have been fair to John Marshall and company to blame them for what happened on Sunday. So let’s look at a few key points in this game that contributed to this loss.

The first one happened in the first few seconds of the game. It was another big kick return. This time, like several other times, it was taken to the house to put the Raiders down 7-0 before a single ball was snapped. And it wasn’t a bad kick either. It went 2 yards into the endzone and was taken out 102 yards to score. And as has been the case so many times before, John Fassel draws my utter disdain.

The next instance that had me mouthing “What the f–k?” and shaking my head came near the end of the first quarter. The Raiders were in range for a long field goal (54 yards) and couldn’t even get lined up properly with the proper personel. Players were running in and out of the game, one of them plowed over an unsuspecting Kyle Boller who was actually slow to get up off the field after the collision. And in the end, they had to call a timeout. The question here is, who is more to blame– Tom Cable or John Fassel? It was a special teams play so I am inclined to believe it is more Fassel’s fault but I can’t completely absolve Cable of fault in that mess.

Then on the very next Cardinal possession, Cable made a seriously boneheaded decision. One that ulitimately gave the Cardinals a touchdown. With the Cardinals in 3rd and 1 on the Raiders 23 yard line, they were called for an illegal shift. The penalty would have put them in 3rd and 6 but Cable declined the penalty to make it 4th and 1. I was immediately thinking, “What the hell is he thinking declining that penalty?” And, as I expected, the Cardinals went for it on 4th and 1 and converted to keep the drive alive. Does Cable not understand that teams, when between the opposing teams 20 and 40 yard line, will almost ALWAYS go for it if there is about a yard to pick up? A chance at a touchdown is preferable to a long field goal try and with just a yard, the odds are pretty good they can pick it up. They DID pick up the yard and three plays later, scored a touchdown to take back the lead 17-13. Monumentally terrible decision by Cable that cost the Raiders dearly.

The very next Raiders possession had an auspicious beginning. After a couple plays and a first down, the Raiders call the same play they had attempted and failed in the Rams game. One in which Gradkowski dropped back, threw a lateral pass behind the line to McFadden, McFadden acts as if he is going to throw it but instead laterals it back to Gradkowski who then attempts to find and open receiver. Last week it was a lateral pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey who threw it back to Jason Campbell. But in both cases, the end result was the same– complete failure. Why continue to attempt a play that so clearly does not work? The defense swarmed on McFadden just as it did DHB before, making the pass back to the quarterback difficult and even with the swarming of the defense, there is still somehow no one open to throw to and defenders in position to rush the quarterback. It is a poorly designed play and one that the Raiders apparently don’t have the personel to execute. This one falls on Hue Jackson.

The clearcut worst, most utter failure in this game was the Raiders first possession of the 4th quarter. The Cardinals muffed their second punt of the day and the Raiders recovered it already in scoring position at their 16 yard line. The Raiders were given TEN plays, thanks to Arizona penalties, to score and couldn’t get in the endzone. A pass defensive pass interference gave the Raiders the ball at 1st and goal at the one yard line. After a run for no gain, a delay of game penalty backed the Raiders up to the 6 yard line. The delay was caused mainly because it took WAY too long to get the play in. Two incomplete passes later, they settled for a field goal. Yeah, I said passes, no runs. This one falls on Cable and Jackson.

If you were keeping track, poor coaching cost the Raider at least 18 points in a game they lost by one on a missed chip shot field goal.

Sebastian Janikowski

Sure, you can say that this game should not have come down to a field goal to win it. But, hey, that happens sometimes. Sometimes the kicker has to do his job and hit the game winner. Not only that but, if you think in terms of wins and losses and direct results, it doesn’t get much more “direct result” than missing a chip shot field goal that will win or lose a game. He missed it, they lost. But it wasn’t the only field goal he missed on the day– he missed three. The 58 yarder I understand. That would have been among his top five in the record books, but the 41 yarder? Any NFL kicker is supposed to make that one. He had his chance to get redemption for the miss and missed an easier one. Bust-o-rama.

Although you may notice I didn’t put a picture of Janikowski crouched on the ground after he missed the game winner or Lechler holding his helmet dumbfounded. I figure no one needs the visual reminder especially after we all lived it and have all seen those images several times since then.

Jared Veldheer, Mario Henderson

They shared the duties at left tackle again in this game, and they were both terrible again. Veldheer got it started, giving up a run stuff on a three and out in the first quarter. Henderson came in in the 2nd quarter and was seen not blocking anyone as a defender came untouched to sack Gradkowski on 3rd down. Then in the 3rd quarter, Henderson does what Raider tackles has come to be known for, commit stupid penalties immediately following a big play that puts them in scoring position. This time it was a holding penalty on the first play after Murphy’s big 70 yard catch and run. The drive ended a few plays later with a missed field goal. Then to start the 4th quarter, it was back to Veldheer when he gave up a sack and forced fumble that was luckily recovered by the Raiders but for a loss of 13 yards. And since Veldheer seems to like to commit his offenses in pairs, he immediately had a false start on the next play. To finish things off, with the Raiders in 3rd and 2 and barely in field goal range, Henderson had a false start. The Raiders couldn’t convert 3rd and 7 and Janikowski missed the 58 yard field goal attempt. This left tackle situation has really gotten out of hand. I know I am really pointing out the obvious on that one.

Tyvon Branch

It is getting really ridiculous putting Branch on the Buster list this season. I feel like I need to keep reminding everyone that he played at a Pro Bowl level last season and was a season Baller. Now three games into the 2010 season, he has been a Buster all three weeks. I think I may have pinpointed his most glaring weakness too– zone defense. The Raiders switch to zone defense in the redzone and when that happens, he turns into a statue. He had given up 4 touchdowns in the first two weeks and gave up another one in this game. He also had an illegal hands to the face penalty that kept a drive alive that had the makings of a three and out. Then in the 3rd quarter he gave up a 25 yard catch that put the Cardinals in scoring position. It was the biggest play on the drive and two plays later, they would score a touchdown to re-take the lead.

Bruce Gradkowski

I hate to put Bruce as a Buster simply because I know that this Raider offense would be much worse off with just about anyone else in the NFL behind that shoddy offensive line. But it is hard to escape just how inaccurate he was in this game. He was not exactly the picture of composure either. His numbers were average to decent considering the circumstances, 17 of 34 for 255 yards with one TD and one interception. But there were at least four other instances in which he was extremely lucky his pass was not picked off by the defense. There was a couple times he was running backwards on a scramble as well that only made the odds of a successful completion that much more unlikely. I blamed Cable and Jackson for that failed conversion with ten plays in the red zone, but Gradkowski carries some of the blame for that. He is partially responsible for the delay of game and he threw a couple of off-target passes that would have been a touchdown. This is one of those rare situations in which the difference between Baller and Buster could have been one completed pass.

Jonnie Lee Higgins

His punt return attempts are truly a joke. How many times do the coaches have to see Higgins make a clunky, failed juke attempt that goes nowhere before they activate Nick Miller and put him back there? Miller has proven he can do some damage and is a smart returner. Higgins has proven the opposite. He averaged 2 yards on 3 attempts. One of those returns he was apparently trying to fake out the defender but he faked to the sideline and then ran out of bounds. Just about anything else he could have done would have been a better choice. Oh, and he had no catches on the day either.

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About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

Raiders Week 3: Ballers & Busters

(Photo by Patrick Patterson)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.

Ballers

Nnamdi Asomugha

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.

Sebastian Janikowski

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.

Busters

Darren McFadden

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.

JaMarcus Russell

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.

Chris Morris

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!

Kirk Morrison

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.

Cornell Green

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.

Darrius Heyward-Bey

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.

Tom Cable

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.

About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

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