With the Ballers given their exemptions, we move onto the Busters who can take much of the blame for the Raiders fifth straight loss.
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Each week that passes, there seem to be fewer excuses that can be made for him. He was back to his bloated numbers again this week. But they were not indicative of how this game went. He threw for 354 yards but only because he threw the ball 54 times. The Raiders' running backs were picking up big chunks of yards several times, and yet according to Wisniewski, when the offense stopped running the ball, it was because Palmer got to the line and called a pass play instead.
That all being said, the Raiders were in this game most of the time. The one play that threw a wrench in their plans was when Palmer threw his interception. It was the fourth quarter with the Raiders down just 13-10. They were driving and were already in field goal range at the Cleveland 33 yard line. Then Palmer saw one on one coverage along the left side on Juron Criner so he went for it. The decision was fine. It was the throw that was terrible. Criner had his man beat but Palmer didn't lead him or put the ball up where only he could get it. He threw instead threw a laser right to Sheldon Brown for the interception. The Browns took over at the 6-yard line and drove 94 yards for the game sealing touchdown.
His issues started on the very first drive. First he gave up a 15 yard catch and then two plays later, he was out of position on a 33 yard run. His biggest mistake happened in the second quarter when he was torched by Josh Gordon to give up a 44-yard touchdown catch. He was benched in favor of Phillip Adams until Adams left the game with a concussion. Dennis Allen said after the game that he thought that outside of the Palmer interception, the critical play of this game was a third down conversion on the ensuing drive. The Raiders should have been able to hold the Browns to a three and out to force them to punt from their own 13 yard line. But on third and three, Bartell was way out of position to give up an 11 yard catch. The Browns were able to keep the drive alive and take over six minutes off the clock as they drove for the touchdown. It was a back breaker.
Greg Knapp, Dennis Allen Jason Tarver
It can be difficult to tell during the game whether the call is coming in from Knapp or whether Palmer is making the call. Knapp said on Monday that he will have Palmer put out some dummy calls to get the defense to show its hand before he sends in the play. But overall, there was a major issue in the offense again this week. When a team is getting 5.1 yards per carry, you don't abandon the run. And when there is very little time in the game to move down the field to score and no timeouts, you don't take the middle of the field every time even if that's what the defense is giving you. But most of all, if there is just over thirty seconds left and you need two score, kick the field goal.
The Raiders were in fourth down in scoring position but instead of kicking the field goal, the Raiders went for it. They got it and they got the touchdown too... eventually. But the Browns were more than happy to let them do it because after the touchdown, there was :01 on the clock. Even if the onsides kick were successful, there would be no time to make a play to try and tie or win the game. Not going for that field goal was suicide.
As for Tarver, it is the same thing as most weeks. The defense looks lost and confused so often in games. So many big plays are given up from blown coverages and players being out of position. It can't be pegged to one or two guys. It's a team wide thing. And that 94 yard drive to end the game by the Browns was inexcusable. Yet every week it seems anytime a team would like to do it, they simply do. Brandon Weeden had a career best 364 yards in this game and never seemed like he was really tested. This from the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. Seriously, he came into the game with the worst QB rating in among the 32 starters (70.9). So much for that.
He had a great week last week but the week before that he was a Buster. He returns to the list due mostly to poor tackling. Tarver said essentially that Burris has hit the proverbial rookie wall. That happens when the NFL seasons gets to the point where they have played more games than they had in college and therefore their bodies begin to tire due to the rigors of the NFL season.
Burris gave up a catch late in the first quarter and then missed the tackle to make it a 20 yard catch. That yardage set the Browns up for a 41-yard field goal to put them on the board. In the second quarter, he gave up an 8 yard run for the first down on a drive which led to another Browns field goal giving them a 13-3 lead.
Then on the 94-yard drive, he really had some problems. He gave up a 7 yard catch to start the drive and then later gave up another one to set up third and one. Then on first down he gave up another catch and missed the tackle for a 23 yard gain - the largest on the drive. A few plays later, the Browns scored their touchdown.
His penchant for drops continued in this game and yet never ceases to amaze me. He had three flat out drops in this game - one of which would have been for a very big gain. He also had a couple routes he didn't run sharply or sell the fake which allowed the defender to stay with him and knock the ball away. Both of those play would have resulted in long gains - one for a touchdown. Probably the most telling stat here was he was targeted 8 times but had just 2 catches for 31 yards. He is just not a dependable receiver anymore and it baffles me and I am sure the coaching staff as well. Dennis Allen benched him in the third quarter because of how bad he was playing and deservedly so.