Chargers 38 â€“ 26 Raiders: Performance Breakdown
David Wilson – Jan 2, 2012The Oakland Raiders squandered a golden opportunity to win their division and enter the playoffs for the first time in nine years yesterday, as they lost a heartbreaker at home to the San Diego Chargers.
It started out so well, with Oakland stopping San Diego and scoring on their first drive. They ran the ball well at first, and the 12 play, 95 yard drive seemingly was a look at what they would do for the rest of the game. It wasnâ€™t to be, as Oakland struggled to run the ball when they needed to later in the game, and had no answer for Philip Rivers when the Chargers had the ball. Defensively, Oakland did nothing, and this performance must have sealed the fate of defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan.
I canâ€™t remember how many times I saw Oakland predictably run the ball inside on first down, but it was a lot.
There were key moments in this game, and none of them went Oaklandâ€™s way.
The short pass to Louis Murphy to end the first half when the Raiders were already in field goal range was inexcusable, and I donâ€™t buy Hue Jacksonâ€™s post game comment that it was on him. That was just bad play, and it would have been better if Murphy had just dropped the ball. For me, that one was on Palmer, period. Having the kickoff returned 105 yards for a touchdown was also a killer. You have momentum with you and have pulled the score back to 14-10, and all of a sudden a missed assignment on special teams puts you 21-10 down. That hurts, and takes the heart out of the team just when they were getting up.
The real kick in the teeth though was the four play, 99 yard drive in the fourth quarter to effectively put the game beyond reach.
Special teams put the defense in the best position they could at the half yard line, and at that point it is a one score game. Under three minutes and four plays later, the Chargers are in the Raider end zone again. Inexcusable.
I said in the game preview that if the Raiders didnâ€™t get to Rivers they would lose, and they didnâ€™t get close to him all day, not even close.
Anyway, here are some individual performances, both good and bad.
Carson Palmer: Palmer had 28 of 41 passes completed, for 417 yards, 2td, 1i. The third highest total in Raider history, and that includes having 3 passes dropped. His only interception came on a miscommunication at the end of the game with Jacoby Ford, and he generally took care of the ball well. His deep pass to Denarius Moore that went for 78 yards was as good a deep ball as I have seen thrown this year. It hit Moore perfectly in stride, and showed what Palmer can bring to this team given the weapons to work with.
Darrius Heyward Bey: Another excellent outing by Heyward Bey with nine catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. His 64 catches for 975 yards on the year is the most by any Raider receiver since Randy Mossâ€™s first year here. One again he showed that he can run good routes and get open on a regular basis. I thought the touchdown catch was going to come back, and I think he got away with one there but I wonâ€™t complain. He plays with emotion and passion, and this season has been a far cry from that awful rookie year when everyone laughed at the Raiders for drafting him. A triumph for hard work and dedication over pure talent, and a good way to end his season.
Denarius Moore: This is who Denarius Moore is, he is the big play guy who gets open deep. His ability to track the ball through the air on those long throws and then haul it in makes him a real threat downfield, and it was evident just how much the Raiders missed him when he was injured for three games. Three catches for 101 yards to end the season second amongst Raider receivers with a total of 33 catches, but first with touchdowns with five.
Lito Sheppard: I just donâ€™t know what this guy brings to the team, I really donâ€™t. He gives up catch after catch, short and deep, inside and outside. He gives ten yard cushions to receivers on 3rd and three, and was targeted all day by Philip Rivers. If I was Rivers, that is exactly where I would be going every chance I got. Once again, a terrible performance. This guy was a Pro Bowler?
Kamerion Wimbley: Iâ€™m not putting this one on Kam Wimbley, but the defensive coaches use of him. When these teams last played, Wiimbley had 4.0 sacks, three hits, and seven pressures in what was probably the most dominant pass rushing performance on any player this year in the NFL. In that game, the Chargers were weak at left tackle. This time around they had Jared Gaither, as good a pass protector as there is. We line Wimbley up, every down, over Gaither. On the other side, Chargers right tackle Jeromey Clary is a bad pass protector, and a good mismatch for Wimbley, but at no point do we try that out, and get no pressure all day. When we arenâ€™t putting Wimbley over Gaither, we have him in single coverage on Antonio Gates. Words fail me, they really do.
Chuck Bresnahan: I will say it again. There is a reason that Chuck was working with the Florida Tuskers, and that is because he just isnâ€™t an NFL calibre defensive coordinator. His awful handling of Kamerion Wimbley (as above) shows just how little he understands what needs to be done. When you have Lammarr Houston covering Antonio Gates across the middle, please donâ€™t tell me it â€˜isnâ€™t about schemeâ€™, and that plays were there to be made.
Time after time Lito Sheppard was burned, but nothing changed. Could promising rookie DeMarcus Van Dyke have done any worse? I donâ€™t think so, and at least it would have been something different for Rivers to contend with.
You put your best players in a position to succeed, by letting them do what they do best. No pressure on Rivers all day, no imagination, no production. Bresnahan is a big reason why Oakland isnâ€™t in the playoffs this year. A complete failure to get the best out of his players or adjust in game to anything the opposition does.
Iâ€™m sure Chuck Bresnahan is a nice guy, and I donâ€™t want to hate on him. But just do the decent thing Chuck, fall on your sword and resign with what is left of your dignity.
These defensive collapses, and failure to defend a lead have cost us all year.
Look at it this way, if the Raiders had made the playoffs with the defense playing the way it has, it would have been an embarrassing loss to a quality team like the Steelers or the Ravens. This is as bad as I have ever seen a Raiders defense play. When the offense puts up 520 total yards and has six scoring drives in the biggest game of the year, you would expect to at least be within a score at the end.
Calling jack Del Rioâ€¦..seriouslyâ€¦..
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