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Raiders Week 9: Ballers & Busters

Once again I am forced to pick through the rubble of another Raider catastrophe in an attempt to find the daisies in the dung and the most horrid of the horrible. So this week I will take another approach. Really no one in this massacre deserves a medal of honor. I will however hand out a few purple hearts for those who weathered the storm most admirably. This weeks Ballers are simply the exception to my criticism.

Ballers:

Thomas Howard

Had several run stuffs and tackles for short gains as well as didn’t give up any big catches

Gibril Wilson

Had his usual share of run stuffs and open field tackles including a tackle for loss on a run on fourth and one in the third quarter.

Shane Lechler

He was used WAY more than any of us would have liked but he was his usual spectacular self. His second punt was not caught and was stopped on the 12 yard line. His first punt of the second half after the Raiders were backed up because of a false start and then a holding call, was a carbon copy of the beautiful punt that he had two weeks ago that bounced just along the sideline and stopped untouched on the 6 yard line.

Busters:

JaMarcus Russell

Simply put, he was completely incompetent. He had a total of 31 yards passing! This is getting redundant pointing out the way he under throws, over throws, throws wide, and throws late so often. And he had a fumble AGAIN. He has fumbled in I believe every single game this season. This one just slipped out of his hand untouched by a defender. The Raiders first posession ended with Russell thowing wide of Walker for a three and out. The second posession ended with him over throwing Ashley Lelie for a three and out. He was sacked to end the next posession for three and out. The next posession ended with him throwing a bad pass behind Michael Bush for, yes that’s right, another three and out. Then in the second half, after a nice return by Higgins, his first throw was skipped to Zach Miller incomplete for the fifth straight three and out. Then after his first decent pass which went to Bush for 6 yards, his next pass attempt was after he escaped the pocket and then he stumbled over his own feet and threw the ball away. Then his next drop back was that phantom fumble. Then after a blocked punt and Russell running for a 24 yard gain, he threw an interception in the end zone. I don’t understand how ACTUAL rookies like Matt Ryan and Joe Freaking Flacco can be having success so quickly and virtual rookie Russell looks as if he is regressing. He has been on my Buster list nearly every week. If he runs the table, he may just earn the first four letters in that title I hate to say.

Kwame Harris

AAAAHHHHHH!!! I don’t think I have ever wished injury on one of my own team’s players but if that is the only way to get him out of the starting lineup then somebody get me a damn voodoo doll STAT! I am not taking any responsibility off of Russell but he was all too often not given any time to throw and even when he was given time you could tell that he didn’t expect to have it and was jittery because of it. 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. Then after a nice Fargas seven yard run to start the second half it turned out to be a “false” start because Kwame got jumpy and it ended in yet another three and out. The Raiders next posession looked like it had a little promise and then Kwame couldn’t block his man and Fargas was eaten up for no gain. Then Russell fumbled on the third and long. Then on the next posession after a nice Russell 25 yard run Kwame gave up a tackle for loss and the drive ended two plays later.

Rob Ryan

When specific players can be blamed, it is their fault. But when they ALL look bad then it is the coordinator. But this isn’t exactly a news flash. Ryan has been a big part of the Raiders losing ways for many years now. His schemes never work and they turn prospects into busts and studs into goats. The Raiders first half defensive stat line looked like this: 309 yards given up and TWENTY FIRST DOWNS for the Falcons. He helped make the Falcons defense look better than the Ravens.

Greg Knapp

Perhaps he should think about owning a Bed and Breakfast because this kind of ineptitude has not been seen since Tom Walsh. 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.

Tom Cable

What exactly did he expect to accomplish by telling his players to run out Tds in practice and their teammates to congratulate them like they had actually scored? So they can “visualize” themselves scoring? What?! How did that one work out? I think “Actually” scoring might be a better motivation. And what was with that challenge on that OBVIOUS Russell fumble? So then the Raiders lose the ball AND a time out. Nice work Barny Rubble.

Defensive Line

It didn’t matter who the Falcons ran with. Norwood or Turner take your pick. They both ran through the Defensive line like they weren’t there. They paid special attention to the side that Tommy Kelly occupies. Or I think he occupied it, it was hard to tell if he was actually there. Kalimba Edwards made a couple of nice plays but he also was blocked like he wasn’t there on the Norwood run that put the Falcons up 14-0 and he also had two offsides penalties in the game.

Offensive Line

The running game never got going at all. If it was simply the quarterback getting pressure off the edges then the blame is easier to assign. But when the Raiders gain a total of 21 rush yards from the running backs then it is an overall offensive line problem. Russell had more yards on either of his two scrambles than Fargas or Bush had all day.

Secondary

The first TD was given up by DeAngelo Hall, Aso was blocked nicely on the second TD and Stanford Routt gave up the third one. Hiram Eugene played the run well and made quite a few open field tackles but where was he on these TD catches and run? Hard to say whether he was out of position or if he was where Ryan wanted him to be which was certainly not covering the deep man.

I wish I could break it down to certain players more specifically as I usually do but a game like this is absolutely a team collapse and must be treated as such. I think it is time for this team to follow the cliché of “soul searching”. After this game, it is also hard to see anything improving anytime soon. I am not the doom and gloom type but I am having a lot of trouble remembering what it was like when the Raiders were competitive. The Superbowl season was so long ago and the best player on this team was not drafted until the year after. This was statistically the worst loss in Raider history. So the record books will not let us forget what we saw on Sunday. I came to terms with the game. It could be a long time before I come to terms with this team.