Raiders vs. Ravens: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Oakland
The Oakland Raiders suffered an embarrassing defeat they'd soon like to forget. The Baltimore Ravens dismantled the Raiders 55-10 at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday. Oakland drops to a miserable 3-6, while Baltimore is sitting pretty in first place at 7-2.
Let's take a gander at the Raiders' overall performance in a letter-grade analysis of each player.
Carson Palmer — B
Carson Palmer was not complicit in his team suffering a 45-point thrashing. He completed 64 percent of his passes, threw for nearly 400 yards (368), produced two touchdowns and finished with a 95.4 rating. His lone interception occurred as a result of a tipped pass.
Despite missing on a few open throws, the game was never for his to command. It’s fair to say he’ll be seeing the terrifying faces of Baltimore’s front seven every time he opens his eyes for the next few days.
Matt Leinart — N/A
Leinart replaced Palmer for the concluding two series of the game. He misfired on his only pass attempt and handed the ball off to Jeremy Stewart for his five other snaps.
Marcel Reece — A-
One cannot say enough about this versatile player. Reece is officially listed as the team’s fullback but served as Oakland’s primary tailback on Sunday. He was the only Raider that gained any meaningful yardage on the ground against Baltimore and also caught seven passes (team-high) for 56 yards out of the backfield. He remained in pass protection otherwise and did a solid job.
Taiwan Jones — *D
The Raiders called his number a total of three times (two rush, one pass). Blame lands on the coaching staff for failing to utilize this dynamic talent. That’s the reason for the asterisk.
Jeremy Stewart — A
We give Stewart an honorary A because the rookie admirably filled the role of, “Hey-you-go-out-there-and-run-out-the-clock-so-we-can-all-go-home” player. No one saw, no one cared. Rough start to an NFL career.
Darrius Heyward-Bey — B+
DHB hauled in five passes for 82 yards (16.4-yard average). He displayed some noteworthy yards after the catch abilities when Ed Reed failed to wrap him up on a 55-yard touchdown. It was the only point where the Raiders put themselves into contention, albeit ephemeral as it was in hindsight. He also dropped a would-be first down pass late in the game. Hard to fault the guy completely with what appeared on the scoreboard.
Denarius Moore — B+
Moore was equally effective as his wide receiver counterpart. He led the team with 90 yards receiving off four catches. He was the recipient of two deep passes by Palmer, with one leading to a beautiful 30-yard score. The unheralded product out of Tennessee in 2005 also brought in a 38-yarder to help set up a field goal in the fourth. Palmer missed Moore in the end zone when he got over top Baltimore’s secondary on the first drive.
Juron Criner — C
The former Wildcat made a nice move on the sideline for a 13-yard gain. He totaled two receptions for 26 yards.
Derek Hagan — D+
Hagan grabbed two passes out of five targets, including a 14-yard catch and run.
Rod Streeter — D+
Palmer delivered an accurate deep ball late in the game that Streeter could have worked harder to catch.
Brandon Myers — B+
The Raiders’ No. 1 tight end was an instrumental target in the early goings. He hauled in a 21-yarder that put Oakland at the Baltimore five with the score at 10-3. Palmer then threw one out of reach when Myers was wide open in the end zone. The refs called offensive pass interference, but it was a highly questionable call. He was second on the team with five catches.
David Ausberry — C+
Ausberry set the tone on the third play of the game. He snared a 21-yard touch pass from Palmer for the quarterback’s first completion. The Raiders seemed to have something going until the drive petered out on a subsequent failed fourth down. Ausberry was quiet otherwise.
LT Jared Veldheer — D
Palmer’s blindside protector did not perform up to expectations. Paul Kruger got the best of Veldheer on multiple occasions. The linebacker beat him for a sack and also brought down an interception when a tipped pass occurred on Veldheer’s side of the O-line. He did not pave any notable rushing lanes either.
LG Cooper Carlisle — C+
Carlisle generated significant push on the Ravens’ D-line on those rare instances where the Raiders actually gained positive yardage on the ground. He was also responsible for multiple pass breakups and failure to provide Palmer with an open passing window. This was a common theme among Raiders’ linemen.
C Stefen Wisniewski — C-
Wisniewski was called for a holding penalty. He did not allow a sack and was fairly proficient in pass protection. Then again, he did not prevent the Ravens from winning the battle of the trenches (i.e. more tipped passes). Palmer needed a better performance from his center.
RG Mike Brisiel — F
Oakland’s right guard could not have done any more to hurt his team. Two holding penalties, a false-start, facilitating tipped passes on his side of the field—this was one awful performance by Brisiel. His most egregious offense was stepping on Palmer’s foot when the Raiders’ went for a fourth-down conversion on the first drive of the game. Palmer went down, and the Raiders turned it over on downs.
RT Willie Smith — C+
Like Carlisle, Smith pushed Marcel Reece for some first-down yardage. Like Carlisle, he was also at fault on occasion for the Ravens collapsing the pocket. However, he was one of the better linemen at the end of the day, especially by operating on less that full strength.
Note: Ray Rice’s seven-yard touchdown run (untouched) came when the Raiders called for a play defending the pass with Flacco in shotgun. Blame goes mostly to Oakland’s play-caller (and credit to Baltimore’s) on that one.
DE Lamarr Houston — C-
Houston was largely absent from the box score on Sunday. He registered three tackles. He did not generate any effective pressure on Joe Flacco. Was not a liability in run defense and held his own from the left end. Called for neutral zone infraction that gave Baltimore better field position for fake field goal conversion.
DE Andre Carter — B+
Carter also had three tackles (one for loss). He was one of just two Raider linemen to put a hit on Flacco. He also successfully covered Vonta Leech out of the backfield.
DT Tommy Kelly — B-
Kelly contributed towards two tackles. He gained consistent penetration in the backfield. Stifled Baltimore’s running backs throughout the game. He did not put any pressure on Flacco. Hard to cast aspersions on either Kelly or Bryant for Flacco’s QB sneak for a TD—the D-line had little chance of stopping the goal-line rush.
DT Desmond Bryant — A-
The backup and Sunday’s replacement for an injured Richard Seymour was the Raiders’ best defensive lineman. Bryant made two tackles (three for loss), did not commit a penalty and was a force on the gridiron. He accomplished these feats after having just recovered from a heart issue the week prior. Big-time kudos to Mr. Bryant.
DT Christo Bilukidi — C
Played well against the run in limited action. He recorded three tackles.
DE Matt Shaughnessy — B+
Oakland’s right defensive end was his typical destructive self against the run. He made two tackles (one for loss) and recorded the second of two official hits by a lineman on Flacco. His tackles for loss came in the passing game.
OLB Miles Burris — C
The rookie weakside linebacker was proficient in run defense. He totaled five tackles and brought pressure on Flacco (one QB hit). He failed in coverage against Rice and tight end Dennis Pitta, surrendering first-down gains.
MLB Rolando McClain — C-
It was an uneventful day for McClain. He recorded two tackles and performed well against the run. As one of the purported Raiders’ leaders, however, any sort of a positive influence went unnoticed. The team needs more from their middle linebacker.
OLB Philip Wheeler — D+
The Raiders best defender thus far this season failed to show up for the majority of this game. Despite being tied for the team lead with seven tackles, his effectiveness went relatively AWOL after the early goings. He committed two personal fouls totaling 15 yards. Both helped lead to 10 points for the opposition. Flacco also exploited him in coverage on a deep pass to Ravens tight end Ed Dickson. At least he maintained stout play against the run.
OLB Aaron Curry — D-
In his first game back off the PUP, Curry didn’t produce one of his best outings on the NFL gridiron. He registered a tackle for loss (with the Raiders down by 35), but also committed a senseless late hit on Rice. The personal foul helped jumpstart a touchdown drive for Baltimore. He also committed a PF on Oakland’s first punt.
CB Michael Huff — D-
After the Raiders waived Pat Lee, Huff made the move back to cornerback—and it proved disastrous. His interception and four deflected passes masked an awful performance. He gave up completions of 11, 18, 20 (TD), 47 and 47 (TD) yards. If not directly, all assisted on Baltimore scoring drives. Backbreaking plays negated any quality ones Huff made on Sunday. Wide receivers simply had their way with him. His interception kept this grade from being an F.
CB Ron Bartell — B
Bartell enjoyed a fairly successful return to the field. He made three tackles, covered wideouts consistently well and broke up a deep pass to Torrey Smith on third down. A nine-yard completion to Anquan Boldin for a first down was one notable blemish.
CB Joselio Hanson — D+
Pitta burned Hanson (in addition to Huff) for an 18-yard catch on Baltimore’s first touchdown drive. Boldin later overwhelmed Hanson for a 19-yard reception. He notched two tackles on the day.
SS Tyvon Branch — F
Oakland’s leading tackler (seven) won’t write home about that achievement. Branch one-upped Huff on the regrettable-day-at-the-office meter. Dickson absolutely schooled him for 40- and 19-yard completions. Both plays came one snap before a Ravens’ touchdown—and both scores showcased Branch’s failures against the run and in coverage on Sunday. Later on, he was one of three Raiders unable to cover Smith on his 47-yard TD catch. Three of Branch’s tackles came in mop-up time.
FS Matt Giordano — D
The free safety logged an impressive stop on Rice at goal line in the first quarter. Unfortunately, he was also jointly responsible for 26- and five-yard (TD) completions to Pitta, and a 47-yard score to Smith. His play was indicative of a Raiders’ secondary being stretched thin.
SS Mike Mitchell — C-
Mitchell did not help the Raiders’ cause when the defense implemented packages with extra personnel in coverage. He also wasn’t the man primarily responsible. He logged one QB hit.
K Sebastian Janikowski — B+
Janikowski performed his role adequately on kickoffs with touchbacks off booming kicks into the end zone. Anthony Allen returned the only one that didn’t for 18 yards to the Baltimore 30. Jacoby Jones’ 105-yard return for a touchdown did not have anything to do with the Raiders’ kicker. He connected on two field goals and two extra points.
P Shane Lechler — A
Lechler averaged 54.8 yards per punt, including a 60-yarder and one pinning Baltimore near the goal line. Jones had just three returns. His longest went for an innocuous 13 yards.
KR Coye Francies — B+
The San Jose State product made smart decisions in the return game. He consistently executed solid run-backs, including one for 31 yards. He averaged 27.2 yards per return.
PR Phillip Adams — F
The backup corner did not generate a single yard on any punt return. What he did do, however, was cough up a fumble. His mistake cost the Raiders a chance at making an early second-half run. Instead, Flacco hit Smith for a 20-yard touchdown and a 41-17 lead.
Coaching — F
Let’s face it: Oakland was a massive underdog from the very beginning—winning this game would have required a miracle.
To his credit, Greg Knapp initially came out with a balanced game plan even without his top two running backs. Dennis Allen authorized a fourth-down conversion attempt in the first quarter that, if successful, would have been a legitimate momentum-swinger for the Raiders. The schemes against Rice in run defense seemed to work as well.
All that said, we must hold the coaching staff accountable for a score that read 55-20. That entails Allen, Knapp, defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman and the rest of the group. They utterly dropped the ball in all aspects of the game.
Trite coach-speak notwithstanding, they ultimately failed to put their players in a position to succeed. They let things get out of hand and fell into a defeatist apathy before the game officially ended. The Ravens’ coaching staff took them to school, continually using superior personnel packages. And 10 penalties for 105 yards rang disturbingly familiar.
With the offensively explosive Saints looming on the schedule, one can only imagine the type of quandary this coaching staff has found itself in heading into Week 11.
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