Oakland Raiders: Grading Every Starter's Season in 2012
The Oakland Raiders finished 2012 with a sour taste in their mouths. A very sour taste.
There were brief moments when the team looked like it could do make a name for itself in the AFC. But for the most part, 2012 was a failure for the rebuilding silver and black.
The Raiders were plagued by offensive and defensive problems and did not have a single player selected to the Pro Bowl.
It's yet another year in which the Raiders will be watching the postseason from home, and a Oakland squad without Greg Knapp as offensive coordinator is sure to be much more exciting in 2013.
Let's take a look at how the starters fared this season.
In his first full season as Oakland's starter, Carson Palmer finished with more than 4,000 passing yards and 22 touchdowns.
Since the running game struggled to develop and the defense constantly gave up points, Palmer was forced to take on the entire offense by himself.
He helped the Raiders become one of the top passing teams in the NFL, but he failed to be consistent. He also made highly questionable decisions that led to drive-killing turnovers.
Still, it can't be taken away that he was Oakland's offense. Palmer threw for more than 300 yards six times and completed 61 percent of his passes.
Darren McFadden suffered the most under Greg Knapp's zone-blocking scheme and failed to stay healthy for the entire season once again.
McFadden only averaged 3.3 yards per carry and only had three games with more than 100 rushing yards. 2012 was definitely a down year for DMC.
Marcel Reece: A
During McFadden's absence, Marcel Reece flourished as the Raiders' starting running back. He finished with 104 yards of total offense in his first start and ran for 103 yards on 19 carries against the New Orleans Saints.
It's a shame the Raiders couldn't find a way for him to co-exist with McFadden once DMC returned from his injury.
Brandon Myers: A-
Oakland found a diamond in the rough in Brandon Myers and he quickly became Carson Palmer's favorite target.
Myers finished with 806 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He also had four games when he was targeted at least 10 times.
Unfortunately, his numbers dipped toward the end of the season, and he had a couple of key drops that cost the Raiders in the red zone.
Nevertheless, he made defenses give him another look when he was on the field.
Darrius Heyward-Bey: D
2012 was a major disappointment for DHB, as he finished with nearly 400 fewer receiving yards than he did the year before.
He also failed to record 100 yards in any game and even went three games without a single catch.
Denarius Moore: B
After a fast start to the season, Denarius Moore faded as quickly as he had emerged. He failed to eclipse the 50-yard receiving mark in his final seven games and had a few dropped passes that cost him in the end.
Oakland's two young receivers have the potential to be solid wide receivers in this league, but they still plenty have maturing to do before it can happen.
Collective Grade: C-
Oakland's offensive line had a difficult time adjusting to Greg Knapp's style of play. The running game never really got going as the line struggled to create holes.
Carson Palmer seemed to be under pressure every time he dropped back to pass, which contributed to the high number of short dump-offs that Palmer was forced to make.
Tackle Khalif Barnes and guard Mike Briesel seemed to have problems all season, and aging guard Cooper Carlisle is sure to be replaced by Tony Bergstrom next season.
Collective Grade: D+
Even with Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour leading the Raiders' defensive line, the team only managed to record 27 sacks, a number only good enough for 27th best in the NFL.
Lamarr Houston showed that Oakland has a young talent at defensive end, and Desmond Bryant filled in nicely for Seymour while finishing with three sacks in the month of December.
Unfortunately, the Raiders were unable to get consistent play from their line. Opposing quarterbacks had all day to throw the ball because the line couldn't win the battle at the line of scrimmage.
The 2013 draft class is loaded with explosive pass-rushers, and the Raiders would be wise to take one with their first-round pick.
Philip Wheeler: B+
The former Indianapolis Colt finished with a career-high and team-best 109 tackles. He was one of the few bright spots on a struggling Raiders defense that finished in the bottom half of the league against the pass and the rush.
Wheeler had four games with at least 10 tackles, including his 11-tackle performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a game in which he also forced two fumbles to help Oakland get its first win.
Miles Burris: B
The rookie out of San Diego State came out of the gates strong, playing well in the Raiders' opener against the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football.
Burris had his highs and lows, but played well for a rookie who was part of an overall disappointing defense.
Rolando McClain: F
What can be said about Rolando McClain that has hasn't been said already? His numbers dipped drastically this season, and his off-field problems have made him more of a liability than anything else.
Not to mention that he publicly blasted the organization on his Facebook wall.
Collective Grade: D
It's no secret that Oakland's secondary was atrocious this season.
Michael Huff was forced to convert to cornerback, Matt Giordano was consistently beaten, and Tyvon Branch didn't exactly blow away the competition in his first year after getting the franchise tag from the Raiders.
Oakland finished 20th against the pass, but that number does not reflect how poorly it performed. The secondary was embarrassed by rookie quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Ryan Tannehill. Even the anemic Blaine Gabbert looked solid against the Raiders in Week 7 before he got hurt.
The defense was so bad that both the Ravens and the Saints brought in their backup quarterbacks against the Raiders in consecutive weeks.
Not very good at all.
Sebastian Janikowski: A-
Once again, Sebastian Janikowski proved that he is one of the best kickers in NFL history.
Sea Bass did miss three field goals in 2012, but they were all longer than 50 yards, one being a 64-yarder. In Weeks 15 and 16, he scored the Raiders' only points, kicking seven field goals in that span.
Shane Lechler: B
For as bad as Oakland's offense was this season, Shane Lechler got his fair share of work. He has always been a consistent punter since he broke into the league 13 years ago.
He averaged 46.7 yards per punt, but only put 21 inside the opponents' 20-yard line, a number that uncharacteristically puts him near the bottom of the league.
The Raiders have one of (if not the) best special teams units in the NFL, as Lechler and Janikowski have spent their entire careers in silver and black.
It's a rare commodity for Oakland to have such dedication from two players who play positions that are highly recyclable in the league.