Raiders week 4: Ballers & Busters

The Raiders entered week four full of confidence after a big win last week over the New York Jets. But still, they were facing the best offense in the NFL in the Patriots, so they knew the order was a tall one. The coliseum was packed and the Raiders were pumped. But they couldn’t channel that energy into a win.

Instead, the team seemed to be flying by the seat of their pants, and next thing they knew, they had made stupid play after stupid penalty while the Patriots took full advantage of every mistake.

There were signs of the Raider team that beat Denver, hung with the Bills offense into the last seconds, and beat the Jets. But the ugly side of the Raiders reared its head too many times. So with no further lead-up…


Darren McFadden

Another Raider game, another McFadden top Baller. This week he was not playing at 100% from the groin strain he suffered in last week’s game, but you couldn’t tell when he was in the game as he was still running past defenders in space as evidenced by yet another big run—this time for 41 yards. The coaching staff held him out nearly the entire second quarter as they checked him out, which is why he had just 14 carries in the game. But he was still able to gain 75 yards on the ground for 5.4 yards per carry. He added four catches for 48 yards. His total yards from scrimmage was near his numbers all season as he continues to be this team’s number one weapon.

Kevin Boss

Boss put up the kind of numbers the Raiders expected from him when they signed him this offseason. He had four catches for 78 yards on the day and was a toe away from having a late touchdown as well. He got started early with two catches on the Raiders’ first drive. The first catch was his longest of the day, going for 23 yards to put the Raiders on the 13 yard line looking to score. Then on third and 19, he had a 12 yard catch to put Sebastian Janikowski in range for a chipshot field goal. On the Raiders’ first drive of the second half, Boss had a catch in which he put a stiff arm on a defender and took it for 20 yards. The drive ended with another Janikowski field goal. Later Boss matched his 23 yard catch with a great grab in which he shielded off the defender to haul in the pass and put the Raiders in first and goal at the seven yard line. The Raiders would score a touchdown three plays later.

Lamarr Houston

Houston quietly put together a decent game amidst an overall collapse by the Raider defense. He was third on the team in combined tackles from his defensive end spot which included one tackle for loss. On the Pats’ first drive, they drove to the 17 yard line and were looking to score when Houston and Wimbley teamed up for a run stuff for a short gain. Unfortunately the Patriots scored on a pass one play later. Houston held containment that helped stuff a run for a short gain. He had a run stuff for no gain on the first play of the second half and then added another run stuff for a one yard gain a few plays later. In the fourth quarter, immediately following Jason Campbell’s second interception, Houston had his run tackle for loss.

Darrius Heyward-Bey

I always talk about how DHB doesn’t catch with his hands, fight for the ball, or catch long passes. Since he did all three in this game, it is only fair that I recognize his efforts. In the second quarter, with the Raiders down 10-14, they lined up on third and four and Campbell threw the ball up for Heyward-Bey. He was covered, but he held off the defender and leapt up and pulled down the 28 yard catch. It was the most impressive catch I have seen him make, and it put the Raiders in Patriots territory. His last catch of the day was the longest of his career in the air, and it came on a long pass in which, yet again, DHB was covered and he caught it over his shoulder for a 58 yard gain. The Raiders had no chance of coming back for the win, but it was still a nice catch from him.


Richard Seymour

The Raiders needed him at his best against his former team, but he completely lost composure. He almost single-handedly gave the Patriots their first touchdown. He came racing through to sack Tom Brady on a play that had been blown dead with a delay of game. The Patriots were lined up in third and 9 at the 21 yard line and would have been in third and 14 after the delay of game penalty. But Seymour came flying through to throw Brady to the ground and was called for roughing the passer. He claims not to have heard the whistle, which is very possible with the crowd being as loud as they were but everyone else had stopped, including Brady. So Seymour, in his furor, was the only guy on the field or otherwise that didn’t notice everyone had stopped playing. The penalty gave the Patriots an automatic first down. Three plays later, he was called for a facemask penalty making him responsible for 30 yards on a touchdown scoring drive that should have stopped with a three and out. He lost control and it cost his team. The rest of the game he was a non-factor and both of the Patriots’ running backs were able to put up great numbers and a rushing touchdown apiece.

Jason Campbell

Campbell had a lot of passing yards in this game, but stats don’t win games. He had critical mistakes at critical times. His first big mistake came with the Raiders in second and goal at the 7 yard line. He dropped back, looked for an open receiver and threw RIGHT to a Patriots defender in the end zone. He claims he was trying to throw it away and it slipped. But if he had thrown it away, it would have meant an intentional grounding penalty as he was still in the pocket. Some think Darrius Heyward-Bey was supposed to run his route to the inside or perhaps Campbell just thought he would. But if DHB had run his route inside, he would have been in triple coverage. Campbell also had open field in front of him to scramble. He could have tucked it and gained a few yards or perhaps a TD. Instead he threw the most mysterious interception I have ever seen. It held the Raiders without a score and gave the Patriots the ball at the 20 yard line. They drove for a field goal to head into half up 17-10. Then they got the ball to start the second half and scored again. So instead of the Raiders being up 17-14, next thing they knew they were down 24-10. In the fourth quarter, with the Raiders desperate to score for a chance to win, Campbell threw right to nose tackle Vince Wilfork. He was going for the check down to Darren McFadden and didn’t see Wilfork standing there. Even though Wilfork weighs in at 367 pounds and is always standing there, somehow Jason missed him. That interception sealed the Raiders’ fate. Campbell’s longest pass as well as his only touchdown both came on the Raiders’ final drive when they had no chance of coming back to win. Stats be damned.

Chimdi Chekwa

This is what people in the football world affectionately refer to as a ‘welcome to the NFL moment’ for Chekwa. After a fantastic game versus the Jets, he was beaten like a drum against Tom Brady and the Jets. He gave up a catch to start the Patriots’ second touchdown scoring drive that went for 24 yards. He was flagged for illegal contact on the next play. He gave up a 21 yard catch to Wes Welker a few plays later. On the next Pats scoring drive he gave up two catches for 26 yards to Chad Ochocinco. He later gave up a seven yard catch on the Pats’ last touchdown drive.

Defensive coordinator

I don’t put an actual name here because it can be hard to know exactly who the defensive coordinator is for the Raiders. Sure there are little things here and there you can place on the man who actually holds the title of defensive coordinator. But the Raiders have run the same man-on-man, right-corner-left-corner scheme since the 60’s. And Chuck Bresnahan was not the Raiders’ defensive coordinator back then. But if there was ever a time to put the Raiders’ best corner on another team’s best receiver, it was this game. Routt lined up on Welker in the slot about three plays in the game that I could see. He defended him well too. On one particular play on the Patriots’ first drive of the second half, Routt was on Welker in the slot and they stayed away from him. But on the very next play, on third and 7, Tyvon Branch was on Welker and he gave up a 32 yard catch to him. The drive ended with another Patriots touchdown. Welker had nine catches for 158 yards and a touchdown in the game. So… that didn’t work.

Tyvon Branch

Speaking of Branch, he had great coverage on Rob Gronkowski in this game. Unfortunately, the rest of his coverage was lacking. He gave up a 15 yard catch and missed the tackle to end the first quarter. A bit later he was blocked on an 11 yard run on a drive in which the Patriots scored their second touchdown to retake the lead. The Patriots’ first drive of the second half was Branch’s worst of the game. After two stops, the Patriots were lined up in third and 7 and Branch was beaten by Welker for a 32 yard catch. That gain was trumped to end the drive when Branch completely whiffed on a tackle on a 33 yard run for a touchdown.

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About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

Raiders Week 4: Ballers & Busters

Oct 3, 2010; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders tight end Zach Miller (80) is tackled by Houston Texans safeties Bernard Pollard (31) and Dominique Barber (34) at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Texans defeated the Raiders 31-24. Photo via Newscom

The Raiders lost another heartbreaker on Sunday. Again, it came down to the final drive to decide the game. The good news is the Raiders showed some fight throughout this game. They fell behind twice in the first half only to come back and tie it. Then after being down 17 late in the game, they came back to within a touchdown and had a final drive to try and tie it up again but couldn’t pull it out.

The bad news is, the Raiders never led in the game and for the first three quarters, they could not stop the Texans’ offense from moving the ball down the field on them. The Texans methodically ran and passed the ball with relative ease and were only slowed down late in the game when they got conservative and tried to simply run out the clock.

This was a game that most everyone expected the Raiders to lose. But after the Raiders were picked to win last week only to fail in the waining seconds, this loss hurts much more. It puts them at 1-3 with sole possession of last place in the AFC West. They have a lot of ground to make up and from the looks of it early on, there is no reason to beleive they will accomplish it. Mainly because their issues are the same as they have been for years– offensive line and run defense.

So let’s get the strong performances out of the way before we get to the weak ones.


Zach Miller

Raider fans have known just how talented Zach is since he came in the league in 2007. But he gets no love in Pro Bowl balloting because he came in the same class and played in the JaMarcus Russell era for his first three seasons. So let this game be his coming out party. He had 11 catches in this game! The last time any Raider receiver had even 10 was Ronald Curry in the first game of the 07 season. He finished with 122 yards receiving and a touchdown. He was the closest thing the Raiders had to a wide receiver as Raider wide receivers totaled just 1 catch for 2 yards in the entire first half.

On the Raiders first second series, he laid a key block to spring Darren McFadden for his 43 yard screen play. Then on the next third down, he had a 10 yard first down catch to keep the drive alive. Good thing too because it resulte in the Raiders first touchdown of the day. On the Raiders next touchdown drive, he had a catches for 17 and a 9 yard first down catch that would set up the touchdown on the next play.

Then in the 3rd quarter, right after the Texans scored to take a 31-14 lead, he had his best drive of the game. With the Raiders on the Houston 36 yard line, looking to score, he had three catches for 28 yards and the touchown. The score was critical to keep this game within reach. On the following drive, he had two more catches to help set up the Janikowki field goal that brought the Raiders to within a touchdown. We often talk about certain tight ends having good chemistry with their quarterbacks. Well, it is becoming clear that Zach would be the best friend of just about any quarterback in the league.

Richard Seymour

On a day the defense looked weak, Seymour was not. If you watch the Texans big runs, they almost all went away from Seymour. The Texans know better. They couldn’t steer completely away from him though. He did manage 3 tackles and 3 assists in the game and held his gap to kick the running back outside. He also had a tackle for loss in which he shot into the backfield to take down the runningback as soon as he was handed the ball.

Darren McFadden

He continued his strong play in this game as he had in the first three of this season. He was unable to get over 100 yards again because he pulled up clutching his hamstring after a 23 yard run in the third quarter. But before that, he was a powerful weapon for this offense. He had 82 yards receiving on 6 catches to go along with his 12 carries for 47 yards rushing.

His biggest play was a 43 yard screen on the Raiders 2nd drive that led to their first touchdown. The Raiders also didn’t waste his longest run of the day either. He may have gone out of the game after that 23 yard scamper but the Raiders would score on that drive as well and McFadden was big part of that.

Michael Bush

What a luxury this team has now that Bush is healthy. Granted they can’t seem to have both he and McFadden healthy at the same time, but at least when one goes down, the other can come in and there is nothing lost. Bush had 40 yards rushing in the game, nearly as much as McFadden. But Bush did it in just 7 carries. He also had a touchdown to go along with it and a couple of catches for 16 yards as well. The ability for the Raiders to capitalize after McFadden’s 23 yard run was thanks in large part to Bush. The final six plays of the drive went like this: Bush pass block to prevent a sack, Bush 9 yard run, Zach 9 yard catch, Bush 7 yard run, Zach 6 yard catch, Zach 14 yard catch. On the final two drives of the game for the Raiders he had touches of 11, 7, 6. The Raiders final mistakes were not putting the ball in Bush’s hands. As is so often the case.


Michael Huff

You want to know just how worthless a stat number of tackles is? Look at Michael Huff’s numbers in this game. He led the Raiders in tackles. And yet if you were watching this game, it seemed like he spent most of his time missing tackles and chasing after opposing players as they ran by him. His tackling deficiency have become infamous. It used to be that he hit hard but didn’t wrap up. Now he just looks confused. As if the coaches are trying to teach him to walk and he has yet to crawl. His tackling is the football equivelent of the Washington Generals trying to stop the Harlem Globetrotters. He got things started early too. Texan running back Derrick Ward took the ball off right guard and shot down the sideline. Huff met him about 5 yards from the line, Ward made one cut and Huff was left standing there reaching for air. As usual, he didn’t even slow him down as Ward raced 33 yards for a touchdown.

Two drives later, the Texans were knocking on the door again at the Raiders 11 yard line. The tight end came off the line and was left completely uncovered while Huff stood there staring at him. He caught the ball and easily pushed through the Huff tackle attempt to score.

Then on the 2nd play after halftime, Huff really blew it. Arian Foster took the ball off right guard and shot down the sideline. Huff looked to have the bead on him about 15 yards downfield but he dove and just slid down Foster like a grease pole. As again he didn’t even slow him down as Foster raced 74 yards for the touchdown.

Giving up three touchdowns in one game that he should have been able to prevent makes being top Buster the last of his worries right now. Keeping a starting job or even a roster spot is more what I would be thinking about.

Lamarr Houston, Quentin Groves

I put these two together as Busters because they were persona non grata for runs that went to their part of the field in this game. Every…single… big run on this day went right through them. The Texans studied their film and decided their best chance was to just keep running off right guard all game. And they were right. First big one was the 33 yard touchdown run in the first quarter– untouched. Next one was a 23 yarder with Houston out of position and Groves missing the tackle– ended in another touchdown. Then there was the 74 yard run by Foster where Houston was blocked and Groves was no where to be found– again untouched. It will take even less homework on the parts of all the Raiders’ future opponents to figure out where to run the ball for success.

Louis Murphy

A classic case of one play making or breaking a guy and therefore the game. The Raiders needed him to make one catch on this day, and he blew it. The Raiders weredown by a touchdown, with one last drive attempt to tie it up. Faced with a4th and 16, Gradkowski dropped back and threw a perfect ball in traffic to Louis Murphy over the middle that would have resulting in a first down to keep the drive going.ButMurphy let it bounce right off his shoulder and into the arms of a defender. Game over.

Daniel Loper

After playing last week like he was the only decent offensive lineman the Raiders have, he comes out this week and turns the tables on us. And it took him all of three plays to do it. After a fine 64 yard kick return by Jacoby Ford that set the Raiders up in field goal range at the Texan’s 38 yard line, he got completely toasted by a Texan Dlineman to give up the sack. It took the Raiders out of field goal range and being that it happened on 3rd down, they were forced to punt. To start the 3rd quarter, he was beaten easily again to get McFadden smothered in the backfield for a four yard loss, which is as good as giving up a sack. Later in the 3rd, he gave up another run stuff.

Darrius Heyward-Bey

He had all of one catch in this game for 2 yards on the very first play of the game. He was invisible the rest of the game. You can’t blame it all on the lack of protection for the quarterback either. On the Raiders 2nd drive, Gradkowski threw to him in the endzone. DHB leaped in the air to catch it over the defender only to have it bounce off his arms. Sure, it was a bit of a touch catch, but not really. He had position over the defender as any decent receiver should. But unlike any decent receiver, when he got up there, he couldn’t pull it in. There is no excuse for him not coming down with it. Just like there was no excuse for him to not come down with a couple of catches he dropped in last weeks game. His catch on 4th down in the final drive was the only thing that kept him from being a buster last week too. His route running is his other problem (I know, hands and route running? What else is there really?).

In this game, just like in previous games, the opposition has read the book on stopping him. They simply cut off his route and he is dead in the water. On the Raiders next drive after DHB’s first drop, the Raiders needed 7 yards and they went to DHB on a short route. But he couldn’t shake the DB and they met at the ball for an incompletion. He still has a long way to go before he even resembles an NFL wide receiver. If he ever gets there at all.

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About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

Raiders Week 4: Ballers & Busters

I said last week that this game against the Texans was the last best hope for this Raiders team before they head into a tough stretch of games. It was their last shot at showing that there is some potential in this team to improve upon last year’s result. Well, that train has left the station…and it plowed over this team on it’s way.

The Raiders showed up in Houston to collect their paychecks on Sunday. Some of which were out to earn those paychecks and others…not so much. And still others tried real hard but are either being used improperly, can’t overcome the weak links around them or just don’t have the skill set necessary to succeed.


Here are a few numbers for you to consider from this game:

4: Raider drives of more than four plays. 3 of those 4 went for 15, 17, and 17 yards.

3: Raider posessions that ended after 1 play or less. Fumble, Safety, Fumble.

2: Raider drives ended in a score. Both were field goals.

1: Sustained drive for the Raiders in the game.

0: Touchdowns in the last two games for the Raiders.

-3: Yards on the ground for starting running back Darren McFadden.

Now it is my dirty job to attempt to pick through this turd and figure out who’s the fiber and who’s the waste. Ok let me get my latex gloves (snap), my respirator, and my protective eyewear. I’m going in.


Tommy Kelly

It isn’t usual that a defensive tackle leads a team in tackling. But with the Texans knowing how the Raiders struggle in stopping the run, excel in pass coverage, and don’t score much on offense, their game plan was simple; Run the ball. Tommy Kelly was certainly up to the challenge on this day. He had 9 solo tackles and 4 assists on the day. Those a typically middle linebacker totals. The Texans did break off a few runs but they were always around the edges. They had almost no success in the middle of the line. 9 of those 13 tackles were run stuffs for little or no gain and one was for a loss.

Ricky Brown

He was certainly giving maximum effort out there which is all we can really ask for at this point. Control what you can control as they say. His first play was a pass defended in the end zone on third down to hold the Texans to a field goal (their first). Then the next Texans scoring drive, he teamed up to stop Andre Johnson on a short 4 yard reception on third and 8 and force another Texan field goal. At this point, it was 6-3 Houston and the game was still well within reach. But that was the last time. The next Texans drive ended in a 32 yard run by Steve Slaton in which Brown missed a tackle but he was certainly not alone. Then later after two straight touchdown scoring drives for the Texans, he had a pass defended that was nearly an interception. The next drive for the Texans he stopped the running back for a short gain on third down for a three and out. He had two other tackles on run stuffs in the game.

Sebastian Janikowski

Again, he did what he was asked to do. While it is sickening that he has given the Raiders the bulk of their points this season, at least the Raiders know they can depend on him when he is called upon. He had a 46 yard field goal and a 33 yard field goal. Kicked off three times. The first was a designed pooch kick. The second went to the endzone. The third was fair caught for no gain.


Tom Cable

God loves ya Tom. And the Raider Nation loves ya. But that second relationship is getting more and more strained each week. This offense is the worst run offense in the NFL right now and it is mostly your fault. I just mentioned “Control what you can control”? Well, Tom, it is in your control to start who needs to start and play who you need to play. And you are not doing that. McFadden has three fumbles last week? Start him. Receivers can’t catch a parasite in a puddle in Tijuana? Put the same dudes on the field. Offense predictable? Run the same plays. Earlier in the week I laid out several ways that this team could do to turn the season around and he instituted NONE of them. So this result, while frustrating, comes as no surprise to me. Does it shock to him? In his post game press conference Cable mentioned that two thirds of this team played poorly on Sunday. Well, he forgot one. It should be three fourths because he left out coaching. Several times, the Texans linebackers were seen calling out the plays. They knew exactly what was coming on seemingly every single play. So while other pathetic teams that had less potential for a turn around have achieved positive results with virtually the same players, the opposite is true for the Raiders. And Cable is mostly to blame.

Erik Pears

Pears had more mistakes than Cornell Green mainly because he played the whole game and Green only played the first half. In the first half, while Pears was still playing left guard, he was called for holding on third down which was declined in favor of a punt on a three and out. The Texans had a short field on the ensuing drive and scored a touchdown. Then he stunted any chance of a score before halftime when he was called for a false start. After halftime with him playing at right guard (his “natural” position) with the Raiders pinned at the one yard line, he was pushed into the Raiders backfield where Fargas ran into him and was tackled for a safety. His coup de gras was when he was left in the dust on a sack that happened so quickly, Russell didn’t see it coming and fumbled the ball to put the Texans instantly in scoring position. As if they needed another score.

Cornell Green

With the Raiders already down 20-3 and halftime coming up soon, he had a false start on third and 7. Then a few plays later, after the Raiders converted on fourth down to keep the drive alive, he was tossed aside easily by the oncoming rusher and Russell wisely threw the ball away to avoid a sack. The Raiders would get no further and settled for their second field goal. After halftime, he was not in the lineup which we found out later was because he was injured. Eric Pears moved from left guard to take Green’s place at right tackle, Chris Morris moved to left guard, and Samson Satele was put in at center.

Darrius Heyward Bey, Louis Murphy

I must lump these two together this time because they may as well have been the same person on Sunday. Louis Murphy had 3 catches and 3 drops. DHB had 1 catch and 2 drops. Their inexperience and lack of knowledge shows every week. Murphy showed his lack of knowledge on another play in which he was supposed to go in motion on an audible and didn‘t. When Russell tried to yell to get him in the correct position, Murphy was confused and it cause a false start on the Oline.

Chris Johnson

Sure he made a few nice plays on the day, including his interception in the end zone. But he was beaten quite a few other times for very large gains. On the first Texans drive he was called for holding. On the second Texand drive, he was beaten on a 62 yard completion to Andre Johnson to set up their first score. Two possessions later he gave up a 41 yard catch to Kevin Walter which set up the Texans second score. Two possessions later, he gave up a 44 yard catch to tight end Owen Daniels. The drive ended in the Texans second touchdown and essentially put the game out of reach for the Raiders and their impotent offense. Add these numbers up and you see that 157 yards of offense went through Chris Johnson in the first half alone.

JaMarcus Russell

Initially I thought to myself, “This may be the first loss that isn’t Russell’s fault”. Afterall, there were a great number of drops by his receivers and the run game was nearly non-existent. But then I thought better. Because like many things to do with the failures of the Raiders in recent years can be traced back to Al Davis, the faults in this Raiders offense can usually be traced back to Russell. I mentioned before this game that the fact that the Texans had the next to worst running attack and the worst run defense in the NFL would mean absolutely nothing. And that is mainly because of Russell. He present no threat of success in the passing game. Any team can look like a good rushing defense when they put 8 men in the box. As long as Russell continues to be inaccurate, teams will focus on the run. You go with what works. And it is not like Russell had a great day outside of the drops anyway. He still fumbled the ball and many of his completions were on third down, shorter than what was needed for a first down.

Luke Lawton

He has two jobs, block and catch, and he couldn’t do either one on Sunday. He wasn’t opening any holes for the running backs that is for sure. 31 total rushing yards by the running backs has to fall on him at least a little. On a drive in the first quarter he straight dropped an easy catch at the line of scrimmage that was right in his chest. The next play he missed his block and McFadden was tackled in the backfield for a 3 yard loss. A couple drives later, he threw a half hearted block on an incoming blitz and Russell was forced to throw the ball away.

Todd Watkins

Sure, he had two catches. However, one was for 9 yards on third and 11 and the other was an 11 yard catch on third and 20. Not much good in either of those plays. The play that landed him as a buster though was the 95 yard touchdown return by Jacoby Jones. Watkins was the first guy down there and he just stood there without making any attempt to tackle Jones. If Watkins had even dived at Jones, it would have made him change direction and/or slowed him enough to keep the return from resulting in a touchdown. And speaking of which…

John Fassel

The special teams looks like a shell of it’s former self. Not only does the kicking team give up huge chunks of yardage on nearly every return but the return team hasn’t been able to gain any good field position on their returns. Whatever he is or is not doing, it is nothing like what Brian Schneider did before. A 95 yard free kick touchdown is inexcusable.

About Levi Damien, Senior Writer