There is a reason I compile Ballers & Busters in the way I do. And while that formula is not one I will divulge in specifics, suffice it to say it is devoid of emotions in the process. If it weren't, then this week's B&B would be a sort of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" meets "Seven" mashup montage in which I would be like Hunter S Thompson leading you all on a drug trip while you scream "What's in the box?!"
After all, there is a reason Hunter S Thompson was a Raiders fan. He identified with the plight of the Raider Nation and the rollercoaster that comes along with it. And though this team's fearless leader, Al Davis, is no longer here to keep the "Fear and Loathing" alive, this team remains as bipolar as ever.
So, now is when I let you see what's in the box. Even though you already have a pretty good idea of what it is (no, it's not Gwyneth Paltrow's head).
Believe it or not, having no Ballers has happened just once before in the five seasons I have been writing this series. I don't give consolation prizes here. Either you went above and beyond or you didn't. No one did that this week. I saved the decent performances for the honorable mentions.
He did what was asked of him. He had two field goals to make and he made them. They were essentially chipshot field goals from 38 and 24 yards out respectively so nothing special. He also had two touchbacks and a kickoff that was stopped at the 15 yard line.
He led the team in receiving with 4 catches for 71 yards. His longest catch being a brilliant 37-yard catch with Tracy Porter in very tight coverage. That catch set up one of the two field goals for the Raiders. He might've had more if the throws had been on target.
He caught the most passes on the day from Palmer with 5 for 54 yards. Most of those yards came on one catch in which he had wide open field to run for 31 yards. It set up the Raiders' other field goal. His blocking deficiencies were on display however. He was partially responsible for a sack as well as McFadden's woes in the running game.
He gets a mention here for his hustle. Most notably his hustle on one play. After Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas caught a short pass and ran for 40 yards, he fumbled the ball. And out of nowhere to recover it was Lamarr Houston. Let me reiterate that-- 40 yards downfield, the defensive end recovers a fumble. Not a corner or safety or linebacker. A 285 pound defensive end. That's hustle. If it weren't for his getting left in the dust by Willis McGahee a few times, his overall performance would have been better.
Again, a non-factor in the run game. But he had a series in which he had three batted balls. The Broncos were in first and goal at the four yard line, looking to score their second touchdown of the day. But on two straight plays, Seymour batted the ball at the line for an incompletion. Then when the Broncos lined up for the field goal, he got up and tipped that too. Unfortunately, the ball grazed off his arm and went through the uprights anyway.
He is showing he is quite a good gunner on special teams. To start the game, he had four straight tackles on returns. The first two for no gain and a loss of one. His final tackle, he was called for a facemask, but at least he was there for the tackle.
The entire secondary
It was impossible to narrow it down to just one or two guys in this secondary. They all deserve Buster status for this game. This massacre was from start to finish. On the Broncos first drive, they were in third and seven and somehow Brandon Stokley was wide open for a 26-yard gain. It appeared Matt Giordano should have been there but it was hard to tell due to just how open Stokley was. The drive ended with a touchdown in which Giordano was late coming over from his safety spot.
The next drive started with Tyvon Branch giving up a couple of catches to tight ends. Then Michael Huff gave up the biggest gainer on a 24-yard catch to put the Broncos in field goal range. One more 9-yard catch given up by Giordano and the Broncos kicked the field goal to take a 10-3 lead.
The next drive, Pat Lee was victimized and Giordano was blocked while Demaryius Thomas took a bubble screen 40 yards. They were bailed out when he fumbled with no contact and Lamarr Houston recovered it. But the Raiders would still start the drive at their own four yard line.
In the second half things got much worse. On the Broncos' first drive of the third quarter, Joselio Hanson gave up a first down catch on third down and it was finished off with a catch given up by Huff which, after he and Lee were blocked easily, was taken 17 yards for a touchdown.
The next Broncos possession started at the Raiders' 15 yard line. Hanson missed a tackle for an 11-yard run and two plays later, it was another Broncos TD.
The following drive, Huff gave up a catch and Hanson missed the tackle to give up a 24-yard gain. The next play, Branch missed a tackle on a 24-yard run. The Broncos scored another TD three plays later.
The next two drives resulted in field goals and they saw Hanson give up a 12-yard catch, then Eric Decker wide open on a 19-yard catch and Giordano give up a 10-yard catch on third and six.
Anyone miss Khalif Barnes yet? If you didn't before, you should now. The Broncos pass rushers were foaming at the mouth to have their shot at Smith. And their bloodlust was satisfied in this game. Carson Palmer had almost no time to throw in this game. Most of those pressures, hits, and sacks came through and around Willie Smith.
Big Willie gave up two pressures resulting in incompletions on the first drive. The second one was a hit on Palmer on third down to end the drive with a field goal. He gave up another hit on Palmer in the second quarter but Palmer was able to still get off an 8-yard pass to Reece to help move the Raiders into field goal range.
In the this quarter, he gave up a pressure on Palmer which forced him to throw short to Mike Goodson for no gain. The drive ended with a three and out two plays later. He would give up another pressure for an incompletion on the next drive. Then in the final seconds, he gave up a hard sack and forced fumble on Palmer.
Coming into this season, we were saying the Myers was a good all-around player. Not great at anything in particular but proficient at blocking and receiving. Well, thus far this season, he has been quite a surprise. A surprisingly good receiver and surprisingly bad blocker. This game was his worst yet in the blocking department.
While Willie Smith was getting eaten up at right tackle, Myers was getting worked over on the left.
He flashed his hands first when he had a 22-yard catch and run early in the second quarter. That would be his only catch and his only positive mention. On the next series, he would be pushed out of the way on the block to give up a tackle for a loss of three. The series ended two plays later with a three and out.
In the third quarter he would start off the real tailspin when he was pushed back into Shane Lechler to allow his punt to be blocked. The Broncos would get the ball at the Raiders' 15 yard line and score a touchdown in three plays.
Next drive he gave up another tackle for loss. This time in short yardage on third down for another three and out. To start the fourth quarter, both he and Smith's rushers beat them to sandwich Palmer and force an incompletion. Then two plays later, he gave up a sack on Palmer. On the final drive, Myers had his first outright drop of the season to end his perfect season at 16 catches.
I must use a term I heard one of my Twitter followers say to me yesterday here: the "Rolando jogathon" returns. I have lamented McClain's penchant for jogging on plays before. He did it a lot last season and there were those who insisted it was because he had that knee injury much of the season. I would argue there is never an excuse for not going full speed at all times. But that jogging was only on plays that were already gains on runs or catches. First and foremost, those plays had to be surrendered. And a good portion of the time it was McClain doing the surrendering.
Nearly every touchdown drive the Broncos had, they victimized McClain. He gave up a 6-yard catch to put the Broncos in position to convert a fourth and one on their first drive. They converted it and scored a touchdown on the next play. In the third quarter, he gave up a 29-yard catch to help set up their second TD. The Broncos' fourth TD was one in which McClain was completely fooled on a 14-yard catch by the backup running back for a touchdown. That was the final touchdown of the day, at which point the Broncos took a 31-6 lead.
Dennis Allen, Greg Knapp, Jason Tarver
One could argue that since the entire big three are here, the blame really falls on Allen. That makes some sense, but they all deserve blame here so why pin it on the head guy alone? There are a lot of questions here to which I don't have the answer. The problem is the coaches don't seem to have the answer either.
How is it Dennis Allen has no clue how to attack his former team and head coach? Did he over think things? Did John Fox pull a double switch on him? Who knows, but Allen was completely outcoached by his former head coach.
Why is there no pass rush whatsoever? It can't all have been Kamerion Wimbley. A couple seasons ago, every player on this defensive line had a good number of sacks, as did a couple linebackers. Now there is just three sacks in four games with none in this game.
How are there so many lapses in coverage? Sure, the Raiders secondary is depleted. But that is no excuse for such huge holes in the zone and receivers running free through the secondary. There were at least two instances of blown coverages in this game-- both resulting in big gains to set up 10 points.
Why do the play calls rarely match the situation? I get being unpredictable. But there is a reason certain types of plays are called in certain situations. Namely, when you're in third down and need ten yards, you run a play that is designed to pick up eleven. And when you're in third and short, you run a play that is designed to punch through and give the offense another set of downs. All too often I see the opposite and the result on Sunday was 1-12 on third downs. That's ONE first down on TWELVE third downs.
Why was Carson Palmer still in the game getting pummeled with the Raiders down 37-6 with just under four minutes to play? Dennis Allen says it was "to compete" but that's crap. Palmer had suffered enough hits in that game. He was hit hard and slammed to the ground at the end of the Raiders' previous drive and once the Broncos drove to score again, that should have been it. Unless of course, Allen wants to get Knapp's guy Leinart in the game permanently in which case keep throwing Palmer to the wolves. It will happen soon enough.