Browns vs. Raiders: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Oakland
The Week 13 matchup between the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders is officially in the books. Each team had its eyes set on a fourth win of the season, but only the Browns managed in 20-17 fashion.
The Raiders are now officially eliminated from playoff contention. Cleveland and its cast of rookies, meanwhile, surely find themselves with an increased air of confidence after their first road win of 2012.
Let's take a gander now at the final analysis and player grades for the Silver and Black.
Carson Palmer — D
The quarterback position is obviously the most scrutinized area of the field. It receives the most praise, as well as the most derision.
Carson Palmer ultimately deserves the latter of the two.
Palmer’s fourth-quarter interception was one of the primary reasons Oakland lost this game. His 351 yards and two touchdowns are obsolete when evaluating the entirety of his efforts. Throwing a ridiculous 54 times isn’t his fault, but causing a late-game turnover most certainly is.
Juron Criner was open just outside the end zone, but Palmer severely misfired and delivered a total cookie to Sheldon Brown.
It’s simply unfortunate considering how many receivers Palmer utilized and the command he exuded of this offense. He spread the football around, was accurate with the deep ball for the most part (64-yard TD) and completed 10 straight at one point.
He even did well evading the Browns’ pass rush, notably running for a first down on one particular drive.
But fourth-quarter turnovers are back-breakers. He must take responsibility.
Marcel Reece — C+
The man that usually does it all for the Raiders found himself completely underutilized.
Reece tallied just seven carries for 36 yards (5.1-yard average) and added five catches for 20 yards. He didn’t even touch the ball in the ground game following the 10-minute mark in the second quarter.
The explosive hybrid was a bruising presence and provided an effective balance in the early goings. He was also a reliable security blanket for Palmer in the passing game.
Reece simply didn’t get his number called enough and therefore received an average grade.
Jeremy Stewart — C-
The undrafted rookie out of Stanford had the majority of the carries, albeit just nine. Like Reece, he gained an impressive 5.1 yards per rush.
However, Stewart lost two yards on a 3rd-and-1 that would have otherwise advanced a first-quarter drive. The Raiders were on the Cleveland 40-yard line and close to establishing the all-important first lead of the game.
Stewart helped kill that opportunity.
Fortunately, his runs of 14, 11 and 10 yards fueled a few different offensive series for the Silver and Black.
Darrius Heyward-Bey — C-
Heyward-Bey contributed with two 11-yard catch-and-runs on separate scoring drives. The first set up a field goal, while the second preceded the team’s only touchdown.
But the overall production by Oakland’s purported No. 1 wideout was not commensurate with his lofty title. Heyward-Bey had his third-lowest output on the season with a mere 40 yards on four receptions.
Top-rated Browns cornerbacks or not, DHB was far from the type of game-changer that Oakland so desperately needs.
Denarius Moore — D-
The No. 2 wideout for the Silver and Black couldn’t live up to his title either.
Moore did his best rendition of the “Drop City” moniker that so aptly describes the 2012 Raiders. He either dropped or put forth minimal effort on seemingly countless well-placed passes.
His 2-to-8 catch-to-target ratio was the official damning number.
One could certainly attribute the void in big-play production to the second-year receiver.
Moore’s one saving grace was a 20-yard scamper following a Palmer throw deep in Oakland territory.
Rod Streater — A-
Streater flashed some serious street credit with his performance against the Browns.
Oakland’s other undrafted playmaker hauled in three passes, including a phenomenal 64-yard touchdown. The play required an acrobatic over-the-shoulder catch. He later turned a five-yard throw into a big 19-yard completion.
The only knock on him was an illegal formation penalty in the fourth quarter.
Streater enjoyed his most productive day by far on the gridiron in 2012. We expect an increasingly more important role out of him as the season moves forward.
Juron Criner — D
Criner was more liability than asset in Week 13. He fumbled (luckily recovered) and then failed on a third-down pass in back-to-back plays. He produced four catches for a meager 26 yards (10 targets) overall.
Derek Hagan — INC
Hagan caught his one and only targeted pass for six yards.
Brandon Myers — A-
The Raiders tabbed Myers as their MVP against the Browns.
Myers amassed 130 yards receiving on 14 catches. He exploited Cleveland’s weakness in coverage personnel at linebacker and safety. Only one Palmer throw failed to reach its destination when Myers was the target.
Oakland’s tight end provided a final measure of hope with his touchdown just before time expired. Removing him from the equation would have proved disastrous for the home team on Sunday.
Richard Gordon — INC
Gordon's production amounted to a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on the opening kickoff of the second half.
LT Jared Veldheer — C-
Palmer’s blindside protector often had a tough go at it in the trenches.
Defensive end Juqua Parker beat Veldheer for a QB hit, as well as the only sack allowed on the afternoon. That takedown halted a potential scoring drive in enemy territory.
Veldheer also gave up leverage to Cleveland defenders in some run-blocking instances. Parker and Frostee Rucker recorded two tackles for loss.
That said, Veldheer sprung Reece for a 12-yard gain and Stewart for an 11- and 10-yarder. He performed decently well at the end of the day in front of an offense that threw it three times as much as it ran.
LG Cooper Carlisle — C+
Carlisle held his own to a large extent on the left side of the line. He gained considerable push against Cleveland’s front in the run game and did not give up a sack.
Carlisle wasn’t perfect, though, and was involved with Veldheer in a couple O-line breakdowns.
C Stefen Wisniewski — B+
The Raiders anchor up front logged a fine day under center. He created space for the rare times Reece ran in his direction and opened a running lane for Palmer on a 3rd-and-1 in the first quarter.
There weren’t any fumbled snaps between him and his quarterback either.
RG Mike Brisiel — B+
Right guard Mike Brisiel was quiet for a change—and in a good way.
The lowest-rated Raiders lineman recovered from an atrocious outing against Cincinnati in Week 12. He kept Palmer upright and led the charge for Stewart’s longest run of the day (14 yards).
Brisiel was in rare form in all aspects of the game.
RT Khalif Barnes — C-
Oakland geared most of its rushing schemes off right tackle. Barnes, for his part, did not provide consistent running lanes for Raiders backs.
He opened holes for two five-plus-yard runs but failed otherwise in this assignment. The most glaring example occurred when the Browns dropped Stewart for a loss on 3rd-and-2.
Barnes did not allow any QB pressures but committed a false start near the end of the first half.
T Tony Bergstrom — B
The Raiders extra offensive lineman entered the game in jumbo packages. He reported eligible on three plays in the first two offensive drives.
Bergstrom successfully protected Palmer on his 21-yard throw to Myers and also helped spring Reece to a 12-yard run.
The one negative development occurred when Bergstrom was on the field for Stewart’s third-down fiasco.
Not a bad day overall for the rookie tackle.
DE Lamarr Houston — A-
Houston was the certifiable star of a Raiders defense bereft of quality talent.
He sacked Weeden for a huge loss of 11 yards on the Browns’ first offensive series of the fourth quarter. He also registered two QB hits and two tackles for loss, with one coming against Trent Richardson on third down.
The defensive end went back-to-back with Tommy Kelly in the pass breakup department as well. Two lengthy gains by Montario Hardesty qualified as rare missed assignments.
DT Tommy Kelly — B-
Oakland’s leading defensive tackle ranked second among defensive linemen with three tackles (all solo). He twice stopped Richardson for zero yards and chased down the RB on a passing down.
He displayed great awareness and athleticism with a deflected Weeden pass.
Negatively speaking, Kelly was flagged for an encroachment penalty and helped man the goal line on Richardson’s TD run.
DT Desmond Bryant — B
Bryant filled in once again for the injured Richard Seymour. He kept Browns runners in check for the better part of the game.
His most significant statistical accomplishment, though, was three QB hits. Well, not to mention a blocked field goal that helped inspire a Raiders’ touchdown.
Unfortunately, he was partly responsible for Richardson’ touchdown. He also incurred a neutral zone infraction.
DT Christo Bilukidi — B
The rookie talent from Georgia State played a handful of defensive snaps. He limited Richardson on a one-yard run and broke up a pass intended for tight end Jordan Cameron on another play.
DE Matt Shaughnessy — D
The right defensive end tallied a QB hit and corralled Richardson for a negative gain. He couldn’t do the same on his TD run, regrettably.
Surrendering rushing scores and not making tackles equate to a negative grade for Mr. Shaughnessy.
DE Andre Carter — C
Carter saw action on a few defensive snaps at backup defensive end. He recorded two tackles but didn’t generate any pressure on Weeden.
OLB Miles Burris — B-
Burris was quite active on Sunday for the Raiders.
The rookie linebacker hawked Richardson from the weak side and neutralized his effectiveness on the ground. He twice brought him down at the line of scrimmage.
Burris’ work in coverage wasn’t up to the same standards, though. Greg Little and Benjamin Watson both took him for substantial gains.
All told, Burris ranked second on the team with six solo tackles and two of the Raiders’ 10 QB hits.
MLB Omar Gaither — C
Gaither filled in for the suspended Rolando McClain and provided some stability at middle linebacker.
He wasn’t exceptional by any means, but also wasn’t a major source of deficiency for the Raiders. He made two tackles and performed capably in coverage.
Some would fault Gaither for Richardson’s three-yard TD run in the linebacker’s area of the field. However, we believe complicity resides much more with the defensive line.
Sometimes not standing out is just as important as making headlines. That sentiment applied to Gaither on Sunday.
OLB Philip Wheeler — B-
Weeden connected with Richardson for a 21-yard pitch-and-catch on Wheeler’s side of the gridiron. That said, the pass play was not indicative of the strong-side ‘backer’s larger issues in coverage this season.
He broke up another pass intended for Richardson and dropped tight end Alex Smith for a one-yard gain. Problems pertaining to covering dynamic playmakers involved members of the Raiders’ secondary, and not linebackers.
Wheeler also facilitated productive stops in run defense. Richardson did not register any runs longer than nine yards against Wheeler and company.
CB Michael Huff — B+
The No. 1 corner for the Silver and Black actually played up to that standard.
Huff had four tackles (three solo) and made multiple stops on first-down passing attempts. Josh Gordon’s 22-yard catch was the only instance where a Browns receiver beat him for a significant gain.
He represented a source of reliable play that has proved nonexistent in the Raiders secondary.
CB Ron Bartell — F
Enter Ron Bartell for the complete other side of the spectrum.
Bartell surrendered three double-digit completions, including the ultimate back-breaker in the form of Gordon’s 44-yard touchdown catch. The rookie receiver absolutely burned the eight-year veteran. It was a play that exemplified Oakland’s shortcomings in the secondary.
Bartell appeared more like an emergency practice-squad player rather than a franchise’s No. 2 corner.
CB Phillip Adams — A-
The Raiders nickel cornerback made an incredible play on a pass intended for Gordon at the 8-yard line. His interception stopped what would have otherwise been a Browns scoring drive. The deficit remained at one score.
Unfortunately, Adams sustained a concussion when he landed on the sideline with the ball. It was one of many strange and devastating injuries to Oakland defensive backs.
Concussion or not—there was no way we could give this poor guy anything less than an “A-.” Definitely a solution-oriented player in our books.
CB Joselio Hanson — D
Hanson played in a hit-or-miss-like fashion in Week 13.
On the one hand, he ranked second among Raiders defensive backs with five tackles and generally kept Browns receivers in front of him.
On the other hand, Greg Little took him for 13 yards, while Mohamed Massaquoi torched him for 54.
So, on second thought, it was more hit than miss with Hanson. He formed part of the problem—and not solution—with his performance in coverage.
SS Tyvon Branch — D+
Oakland’s strong safety led the team in tackles with 12 (eight solo).
He wasn’t directly involved with any big play in the Browns’ passing game, but really failed at providing coverage over top. A safety generally isn’t doing his job any time an opponent’s tight end racks up nearly 100 yards and when five plays go for 20-plus through the air.
Branch’s performance wasn’t Bartell-bad—he defended the run quite well—but it certainly deserves something less than a passing grade.
FS Matt Giordano — A-
Even though Giordano played just one of four quarters, it was a damn good frame at that.
The free safety tracked down a ball intended for Watson at the 3-yard line. His interception—like Adams’—prevented Cleveland from putting up points on the scoreboard.
And again like Adams, Giordano suffered a concussion that knocked him out of the game.
At least he made a clutch tackle on Watson in the process.
S Mike Mitchell — D-
Mitchell’s five tackles (three solo) definitely went for naught.
The fiery safety perhaps played a bit too aggressively against Cleveland’s weapons in the passing game. Mitchell found himself on the wrong end in coverage of three 20-plus-yard completions.
He facilitated plays of 20 and 22 yards to Gordon, only to later take a blow to the helmet while tackling Richardson on a 21-yard gain in the third quarter.
Merely another source of problems in a thoroughly problematic Oakland Raiders secondary.
Concussions 3, Raiders 0
DB Brandian Ross — D+
Ross being extensively used revealed just how devastated the Raiders’ corps of defensive backs was due to injury.
The man officially listed as a cornerback replaced the injured safety Mitchell who had already replaced the injured Giordano. This crazy scenario began with Huff (also a safety) moving to corner when Shawntae Spencer went down with an injury of his own.
CSN Bay Area’s Paul Gutierrez really puts it all in perspective—complete with a comedic tone that does justice to the zany situation.
On Sunday, however, Ross recorded three tackles and a QB hit, but also helped surrender an 11-yard first down to Gordon and 23-yarder to Cameron. He wasn’t much help to the Raiders’ depleted unit.
Well, guess he deserves some credit by serving as yet another placeholder…
K Sebastian Janikowski — C-
The normally MVP-quality player for the Raiders was anything but in this latest gridiron matchup.
Janikowski missed a critical field goal—albeit 61 yards—in the second quarter. It would have reduced the lead to 10-6 and provided the Raiders with a much-needed jolt heading into halftime.
Instead, Cleveland retained its 10-3 advantage, increased it to 13-3 at the start of the second half and eventually won by three points.
Which means Oakland lost by three points.
We can’t forget the failed execution on the onside kick, either.
It’s rather difficult placing blame on such a normally reliable and valuable player. But the Raiders needed all the help they could get.
One field goal, one extra point and allowing only one kickoff return by Cribbs just wasn’t enough from Janikowski.
Sufficient on most days, but just not good enough on Sunday.
P Shane Lechler — A
Lechler executed his usual brilliance throughout the game.
One of the greatest of all time at his position pinned the Browns inside their 20 and deep inside their 10-yard line on separate occasions. He never outkicked his coverage either, limiting the ever-dangerous Cribbs to two returns for a whopping 16 yards.
His average of 40.4 yards belied what the punter actually accomplished on special teams.
And hey, we have to derive some excitement from this matchup, no?
KR Coye Francies — D
Francies returned the opening kickoff a pedestrian 17 yards after fielding it deep in the end zone. His one solid return of 32 yards did not lead to a Raiders’ scoring drive.
While he didn’t cost his team with any questionable decision-making, he also failed to contribute to the Raiders’ cause with a game changing run-back. It’s becoming a bit of a broken record here in 2012.
Francies averaged 21.3 return yards overall. Oakland did not register a punt return.
Coaching — D+
Devising a scheme that calls for 54 passes next to just 16 designed runs is imbalanced, ineffective and downright irresponsible.
While calling Myers’ name 15 times was an astute move, handing the ball off to the team’s most dynamic playmaker all of seven instances was unacceptable. Reece, along with Stewart, were plenty successful running the ball, yet remained on the periphery.
Play-action wasn’t viable due to that inconsistent rushing game. Cleveland easily game-planned against the one-sided attack.
An interception and game-winning touchdown drive by a beatable foe were the results of this predictable approach.
Double-digit penalties, poor clock management and allowing a trio of rookie opponents to serve as the MVPs were indicative of Dennis Allen’s failures at instilling proper discipline among his players.
He and his staff improperly led an already talent-deficient Raiders team.
Capable personnel notwithstanding, games involve more than just the third quarter and selectively efficient play calling.
Hopefully they can appreciate this now—being officially eliminated from playoff contention and all.
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