Oakland Raiders vs. St. Louis Rams: Full Report Card Grades for Oakland
Bad. Ugly. Pathetic. Embarrassing. Pick any negative term you want to describe the performance of the Oakland Raiders Sunday, and you'll be right. There's really no other way to describe how they played in a 52-0 loss to the St. Louis Rams.
A team almost has to try to play this poorly for four quarters. There isn't a single thing in this game that went well for Oakland.
There's not one positive.
The Raiders were coming off the high of finally getting their first win of the season. With that performance to build on, plus extra days to prepare, this looked like a winnable game. And it should have been.
Instead, Oakland turned in one of the worst performances in its history. Aside from Marquette King and Justin Tuck, not one player on the Raiders roster has anything to take away from this game.
Here are the grades for each position group. And brace yourself. Much like Oakland's performance, these grades aren't pretty. But unlike Sunday's game, at least these grades come with a warning.
So much that has gone wrong with the offense this season is the result of the bad play-calling. But the players also share a big part of the responsibility, and Derek Carr is no exception. He had two interceptions on bad throws deep in Oakland territory. That's all on him.
Several times in the game, the Raiders were facing a manageable third down, but Carr threw short of the first-down marker. Sometimes, that was the call, but there were other times when he rushed the pass and didn't let the play develop. He opted to go with the checkdown too often, and it led to a lot of punts.
He also failed to go through his progressions at times. Given how much pressure he was under, it was understandable that he was looking to get rid of the ball quickly. But this also negated the possibility of bigger gains.
Matt Schaub stepped in during the second half, but it made no difference. In less than two quarters of action, he threw a pick-six and fumbled the ball twice. As bad as Carr played, Schaub was worse.
This entire season has to become one big learning experience for Carr. He's shown potential, but he also has a lot to improve on. Despite the limited chances to make plays, he hasn't done enough with the ones he's had.
If you've watched any Raiders football this season, Sunday's performance by the running backs and the play-calling didn't surprise you.
When the running game was finally effective last week, it was because of the play of Latavius Murray and Marcel Reece. Murray missed the game with a concussion, but Reece was available. So of course Reece would get plenty of touches, right?
Reece finished the game with four carries. He was Oakland's leading receiver with 48 yards on six catches, but that's not where he's most useful. He needed to get more carries, but he didn't.
The coaches instead opted to once again go with Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew. As has been the case all season, they were ineffective. Jones-Drew did average 4.2 yards per carry, but he only rushed the ball five times. It wasn't nearly enough to make an impact. McFadden finished with 27 yards on 11 carries for a paltry average of 2.5 yards per attempt.
The rushing attack has struggled enough as it is. And with the coaches refusing to play to the unit's strengths, that isn't going to change.
Mychal Rivera had a quiet game, and he disappeared into the abyss that was Oakland's day on offense. He did have three receptions, but they came on eight targets. That's too many unproductive targets for the team's starting tight end who's supposed to excel as a receiver.
The biggest issue for Rivera at this point is trying to figure out what exactly his role is supposed to be in this offense. Is he supposed to be a deep threat, or is his role primarily as a possession, move-the-chains type of pass-catcher?
Too often, he gets lost in the shuffle of the offense. He's always a threat, but he isn't a primary target, even on downs when the tight end should be.
A great example is on manageable third downs. The Raiders often found themselves on third down with five yards or less to go. The tight end should always be a threat in these situations. Instead, the Raiders went to wide receivers in tight coverage, and Rivera was nowhere to be seen.
He has the potential to make an impact every game. But like so many other players on offense, he'll continue to struggle until the team figures out a way to consistently make use of his skills.
Oakland's biggest weakness at wide receiver was exploited by the St. Louis defense. The Rams showed no respect for the group and no fear of ever getting beaten deep. The Raiders wide receivers were unable to do anything to prove them wrong.
Andre Holmes has been designated Oakland's No. 1 receiver, partially because he looks the part and partially because there's no one else to play the role. He's supposed to present a deep threat—someone who can take the top off the defense. But he finished with 28 yards on three catches.
That might be OK for someone further down the depth chart, but not for the receiver who's supposed to be the go-to pass-catcher.
James Jones had another solid day, but he managed to turn six catches into only 33 yards. He's more of a possession receiver, and he played like it.
Brice Butler once again forced everyone to ask the question, "Why are Kenbrell Thompkins and Vincent Brown getting Butler's snaps?" He seems to do something productive whenever he's on the field.
The Raiders don't have too much on offense that they should carry over to next season. Butler is one of the exceptions. He's not a No. 1, but he's a very good depth receiver who will produce if given the opportunity.
The group was hurt by the poor play of the offensive line and the quarterbacks. It also hurt itself because it couldn't stretch the field and opened up more space to catch passes. This is a talented group. But it can't consistently make plays given the current circumstances.
The offensive line has been one of Oakland's most consistent units. Even when it has struggled, it has still managed to at least be somewhat effective. But against St. Louis, it was completely dominated for four quarters en route to its worst performance of the season.
The line gave up six sacks, and they were mostly due to breakdowns in protection. Things really got bad in the second half when it seemed as if there was a St. Louis pass-rusher coming free on most plays.
Injuries did play a part in the line's struggles. Menelik Watson went down with an ankle injury, which forced Khalif Barnes over to right tackle and Gabe Jackson back in at left guard. But this lineup has played together for much of the season, and it never seemed to find any sort of rhythm. Whether it was Carr or Schaub in the game, the quarterback never had enough time to throw.
The offensive line was on its heels all game, and the Rams made the Raiders pay for it.
The defensive line had a great opportunity on Sunday to have a big game against a backup quarterback and a suspect Rams offensive line. Instead, it was manhandled and embarrassed.
The unit was pushed around all game, giving up gaping holes for the Rams to run through. It wasn't any better rushing the passer as Shaun Hill completely picked the Oakland defense apart. To negate the Oakland pass rush, St. Louis opened up with a lot of short, quick passes. But the defensive line couldn't be effective no matter what it did.
The one redeeming element of the defensive line was the play of Justin Tuck. He picked up a sack and was able to get his hands on a few passes. But his play had no impact on the game given how bad the rest of the line played.
The line performed better in the second half, but that had a lot to do with the Rams basically running out the clock for two quarters. And even then, St. Louis got what it wanted up front whenever it wanted to. The defensive line did play a little better against the run in the second half, but that was relative. It was a bad performance overall.
This was the defense's worst performance of the season, and the linebackers were a major reason why. They were non-existent. The only time they did show up, it was on a replay showing how out of position they were.
There are lots of ways to explain what went wrong, but the easiest is to look at a replay of Tre Mason's 89-yard touchdown run. On a simply run up the middle, Miles Burris and Sio Moore should have been there to meet him. Instead, Moore went left, Burris went right, and Mason ran right through them.
Khalil Mack had one tackle on the day, but he's had low tackling numbers before. Even in those cases, he's still gotten into the backfield and been disruptive. But that didn't happen Sunday. He disappeared from the opening kickoff and made no impact at all.
Like the rest of the team, this was the linebackers' worst game of the season. They combined for only 10 tackles. Given how young they are, the best thing to do with this performance might just be to forget it ever happened.
The Rams came out with a very clear plan on offense. To counter Oakland's pass rush, they were going to go with a lot of quick passes to get the ball out of the quarterback's hands. Once the ball was out, the receivers would get a chance to make a play.
It was a simple enough plan, and it worked like a charm.
This game was over before the end of the first quarter due in large part to the secondary's inexplicably bad play. St. Louis has a weak group of receivers, yet they were constantly open. And once they had the ball, they regularly ran free for extra yards. Tarell Brown, DJ Hayden and T.J. Carrie spent the entire game chasing receivers rather than making tackles.
The most glaring drop-off in play came from Charles Woodson. He's been Oakland's best player on defense all season, but he was nowhere to be found on Sunday. He was frequently out of position and uncharacteristically bad in tackling. His play exemplified that of the secondary as a whole.
The St. Louis passing game ended this contest in less than 15 minutes of game time, and it was because of how flat the secondary came out. This unit shouldn't be blamed for the team's overall performance. But it is where the problem began, and the Raiders never recovered.
Sebastian Janikowski had his least active game. Aside from kicking off to start the second half, he didn't step on the field. He gets an "Incomplete" grade for the game.
Marquette King had another busy day, finishing with eight punts while averaging 44.1 yards per attempt. The Rams averaged 4.8 yards per punt return, which made him Oakland's only truly effective player of the day.
The Raiders have looked for ways to somehow make use of Denarius Moore's immense talent. He had fallen out of the offensive plans as a receiver, so they tried making him the featured return man. But after fumbling a punt last week, he was a healthy scratch from this game.
To make up for his absence, Oakland promoted George Atkinson III from the practice squad. While he had some success returning kicks in the preseason, it was always a big ask to expect him to step in and succeed in this role now.
As expected, he struggled. He had trouble catching the ball and made poor decisions when choosing to bring the ball out or take a knee. This hurt the offense's field position, making the unit's bad day even worse.
The Raiders were coming off their first win. For the first time all season, they had some momentum. Add to that the fact that they had extra time to prepare for this game, and this should have been a winnable game.
There's absolutely no excuse for the team coming out this flat and unprepared. The coaches have to be held responsible for that.
Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver should be given credit for the work he's done with the defense since the bye week. The unit has played much better, and it's kept Oakland in a lot of games. But it was run out of the building Sunday.
It's bad enough to be down 28-0 in the first quarter. But it's even worse when it's that easy. Players were constantly out of position, and the defense couldn't give up big plays fast enough.
After Sunday's play-calling, offensive coordinator Greg Olson has zero chance of returning next season. He was already as good as gone, but now it seems as if he's sprinting for the exit.
The offensive game plan was so bad that it's baffling. Despite last week's performance, Marcel Reece didn't see an increase in his workload. The running game was off again, and too many third-down passes were short of the first-down marker. The offense failed all game, but it never really looked like it was given a chance.
The players like interim head coach Tony Sparano, but he's been too reluctant to side with them and challenge his coordinators. While the offense has struggled, some of the ways to fix it have been obvious. Yet Sparano has let Olson continue to call ineffective games.
This entire coaching staff will be gone at season's end, and this game is a microcosm of why. The coaches are simply not capable of doing the job and turning this roster into a winner.
|Positional Unit||Overall Grade|
For only the third time in their storied history, the Raiders lost a game by more than 50 points. Sometimes, the score lies. But not this time. Oakland lost 52-0 because that's how it played.
The frustrating part is that the Raiders are much better than what they showed against St. Louis. The final score resulted from Oakland being completely unprepared for Sunday's contest. Before they knew what happened, they were down 28-0, and the game was already over.
This team isn't good enough to play itself out of such a bad start. It got worse as the game progressed, and the bad plays and turnovers piled up. If you're a fan, this game was impossible to sit through from beginning to end. It was painful to watch.
The best thing that happened in this game was that it eventually ended. The Raiders can now spend the next week trying to forget about it as they prepare to redeem themselves next week.
Unless otherwise noted, all stats taken from ESPN.com.
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