When a team looks as bad as the Raiders did this season, there can be plenty of blame to go around. Then again, the blame can sometimes fall on just a handful of really poor performers. I will let you be the judge whether the dishonor has been spread sufficiently. To return to the beginning of this article, click here.
He makes Top Buster for this season with a bullet. He led the team with eight Buster nods including twice being Top Buster late in the season.
By week two it was already becoming obvious there was something seriously wrong with the Raiders offense. McFadden was averaging two yards per carry and the offense had scored just two touchdowns. By week four, the odd play calls that didn't match the situation had become an epidemic. Those play calls would continue throughout the season. And each time Knapp was asked about it, it almost seemed like he was saying "Well, that was working so we stopped doing it."
The week seven win over the Jaguars offered a great sample of Knapp's ineptitude. In the first half, Knapp was calling the plays from the sideline and the Raiders fell behind 20-6 to the lowly Jaguars. In the process Palmer was getting beaten up and McFadden was averaging 1.3 yards per carry. Palmer took over calling the play at the line in the second half and the Raiders outscored the Jaguars 20-3 to win in overtime. Offering the first indisputable proof that Knapp was the biggest problem with this team.
In the Raiders blowout loss at the hands of the Bengals, Knapp's penchant for calling plays short of the first down marker on third and long was on full display. He also was extremely predictable. He would call the same screen pass with the same result several times as if he was saying "THIS time there was NO way they would think we'd be stupid enough to call THAT play again." The Bengals were onto how stupid Knapp's playcalling was and were not fooled.
In a week 13 loss to the Browns, he did what he had done all season - saw what was working and stopped doing it. The Raiders were averaging 5.1 yards per carry in the game and then abandoned the run completely. And on the final drive, Knapp paid no attention to the clock and needing to call plays that went out of bounds which ultimately resulted in a useless touchdown with :01 left on the clock.
As bad as Knapp was all season, he was even worse down the stretch. The win over the Chiefs was great but the Raiders couldn't find the endzone once. They also were held out of the endzone in the week 16 loss to the Panthers. Knapp was a Buster for nearly the entire month of December and his ticket out of Oakland had an early reservation on it.
He did nothing but confirm every bad word said about him this season. Before this season, he still had people making excuses for him. Making excuses for his assault and weapons charges, making excuses for his lack of leadership, making excuses for his evasive attitude with the press, and making excuses for his terrible play on the field. There are no more excuses that can be made.
He played terrible while he actually played. Then he was taken off the field for about half the defensive snaps, then he blew up in practice and was kicked out, then he went on a childish rant on facebook about it and ended his Raiders career. But not before the team took a lot of money out of his pocket with a two game suspension and then made him inactive for the remainder of the season. Buster doesn't cover just how much of a waste of space and talent this guy is.
In week two he was abused by Reggie Bush and by the end of the game he was already jogging out plays like he is known to do. As much as the secondary was ripped through by Peyton Manning in week four, he was loving him some Rolando McClain. Not only was McClain's jogging carried over from week two but he was giving up catches and runs that led to nearly every score on the day. It was the final game in which McClain was the every down middle linebacker.
He was again the Top Buster in week nine when he was the punching bag for Doug Martin who ran for 251 yards. McClain was standing there moonbeaming while Martin ran right by him for a 45-yard touchdown. A bit later, McClain fully engaged with the fullback and was victimized a bit later for a 67-yard Martin touchdown run. On that run, it was as if he was told to take on the lead blocker and in a defiant move, he refused to disengage the blocker and take on the runner. We found out a couple weeks later that McClain was definitely defiant against his coaches.
I have little doubt we will never see Rolando McClain insult the colors Silver and/or Black again.
He was asked to fill in at free safety for Michael Huff who had moved to corner. As needed as Huff was at corner, the play of Giordano had to make the coaches think about putting Huff back at free safety. Giordano was a missed tackle machine and each time, he would seem to get hurt then return to the game a short time later. He was a Buster five times during the season and twice a Top Buster.
Week one he missed an assignment to give up a blocked punt and gave up a touchdown catch. Week three, was his first starti at free safety with Huff atcorner and he gave up three catches for 48 yards and a touchdown. Week four he joined the chorus of Raiders secondary who were torched by Peyton Manning.
In week ten against the Ravens, he gave up three touchdowns. Not much more needs to be said about that. He was Top Buster in week 12 as he was victimized on a several long plays and touchdowns as the Bengals routed the Raiders.
I really can't recall the last time the Raiders special teams were this bad. They could do nothing in returns and could stop no one in coverage. Hoffman was so bad that he even caused perennial All Pro Shane Lechler to look pedestrian.
Week one, the Raiders were done in when long snapper, Jon Condo, left the game with a concussion. Hoffman hadn't properly prepared anyone to replace Condo should he be injured. Travis Goethel came in and had a horrific day snapping that killed any chance the Raiders had of winning.
In week ten, the Raiders had 55 points hung on them by the Ravens and a good portion of that falls on special teams. The first punt of the day was muffed by Philip Adams leading to a Ravens touchdown. The Ravens next touchdown came off a fake field goal which completely fooled the Raiders. And the final touchdown was a 105 yard kick return. That's the final 21 points of the game given up by the special teams.
In week 11 against the Saints, the coverage team gave up a 75-yard kick return to begin the second half which led to a touchdown. Add to that Lechler was pressured constantly on punts and one caused him to have a rare shank. Coye Francies' poor special teams play was also on display in this game as it had all season and made you wonder why in the world he was back there.
Hoffman closed out the Raiders season the way he started it. The Raiders gave up a 99-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff. Dennis Allen would have been lauded for telling Hoffman to hit the showers right then and not to come back. The Raiders return game on the other hand was still terrible. They gave up a first down on a fake punt later in the game and Lechler had another shanked punt to send off the worst season of his career. What a terrible hire this guy was.
The Raiders defense put it together at the end of the season. But wow were they bad the first 11 games. At that point in the season the Raiders were the only team in the NFL to give up an average of over 30 points per game.
By week three it had become apparent there was a problem with the defense that was being called. Tarver had the defensive backs playing ten yards off the receivers and the offenses were making them pay dearly for it. They had given up over 30 points two straight weeks. In week four, Peyton Manning was finding so many soft spots in the zone, one began to wonder if the whole defense wasn't a soft spot. On top of that, there was no pass rush. Usually teams sacrifice one for the other. The Raiders had neither.
In the week six close loss to the Falcons, the score was tied and the Falcons had just :40 seconds to move the ball into scoring range. But Tarver called for the Raiders to play what looked a lot like a prevent defense which allowed the Falcons to move the ball right down the field for the game winning field goal. The drive went 43 yards in :35 seconds thanks to 5 of 6 passes. The final four catches were taken out of bounds to stop the clock.
A game after the Raiders surrendered 251 yards rushing to Dough Martin, they gave up 55 points to the Ravens. Then in week 12 against the Bengals, they continued to give up big plays to the Bengals. The scheme was becoming noticeably flawed in its design. Most notably the fact that one little mistake would leave huge open spaces to run. Perfection is hard to come by and less than perfection shouldn't result in a giant busted play.
The Raiders blew a shot at beating the Browns in week 13 when the defense gave up a 94-yard touchdown drive. They also surrendered 364 yards to Brandon Weeden who came into the game as the worst starting quarterback (70.9 QB rating) in the NFL.
The shutout win over the Chiefs in week 15 was the first real noticeable change for the Raiders defense. Despite losing the final two games, it was obvious the defense had turned a corner. But even with the late surge, they finished 26th in the NFL in defense and their sack leaders, Lamarr Houston and Desmond Byant, had just 4.0 sacks each.
The Raiders offensive line struggled all season as a whole. None struggled more than Brisiel. He was a Buster four times during the season for giving up run stuffs and pressure on the quarterback. The odd thing about Brisiel having such problems is he was the one guy on the line that was supposed to make a seamless transition to the zone blocking scheme because he came over from the Texans who are a zone blocking team. The Raiders made him their top free agent signing for that reason. He was supposed to be their best offensive lineman and turned out to be arguably their worst.
Week two he gave up several run stuffs and pressures as well as a tipped ball at the line. Week three he gave up a couple run stuffs, the only sack of the game, and had a false start.
In week nine, with the Raiders on the verge of a huge comeback against the Buccaneers, Brisiel was blown up to give up pressure in Palmer's face as he threw. It caused the pass to float where it was intercepted to kill any chance of completing the comeback. He also had a holding penalty in the game.
In week 10, the Raiders were lined up in 4th and one at the Ravens 44-yard line and Brisiel stepped on Palmer's foot to give up a sack. So not only did the Raiders not score, but the Ravens got the ball in Raiders territory and scored instead. He was also called for holding twice, a false start, and gave up a sack late in the game. He gave up another sack a couple weeks later as well as being called for clipping to add to his team leading penalty number (10)
Remember this guy? He came in to start seven games in place of the injured Khalif Barnes. He was a Buster three times in those seven games for getting Carson Palmer destroyed on numerous occasions. His play had us appreciating Khalif Barnes and most people didn't think that was possible.
Week four, as hard as it was for the Raiders to overcome the deficit Peyton Manning was creating for them, Carson Palmer was getting no time to throw. Smith gave up five pressures, three hits, and a hard sack/forced fumble on Palmer. The Broncos' pass rushers were having a field day with Smith at right tackle.
In week six Smith faced off against Falcons defensive end, John Abraham and got destroyed. On the Raiders second offensive possession, Abraham beat Smith to sack Palmer. A few drives later, Smith was called for holding to bring back a 21-yard McFadden run. On a series in the third quarter he was called for holding twice in three plays. The first one brought back a 14-yard Mike Goodson run and the other was declined because the 7-yard run was not enough to make up the yards he had lost on his initial holding penalty.
In week nine he gave up two sacks and had two holding penalties. One of the holding penalties he STILL gave up a pressure on Carson Palmer. The other holding penalty called back a Palmer touchdown pass.
He played just three full games and was a Buster three times. He was injured in the opener and placed on partial season injured reserve, came back in week nine and was a Buster. He was a Buster again in week 13 in which he was benched and then returned after an injury to his replacement. He was back in action in week 14 and was embarrassed by Peyton Manning. He was then released days later. Pretty terrible showing for the guy who was supposed to be the Raiders number one corner this season.
I can't put three coordinators on the Buster list without also having the head coach here too. Aside from being the guy who picked and hired those coaches, Allen had his issues during the season as well. It had him named a Buster four times and Top Buster once.
In week four, Allen kept Carson Palmer in the game with four minutes remaining and a 37-6 Broncos lead. There was no reason to have him still in the game. The result was a hard hit on Palmer to force a fumble that could have gotten him badly hurt. In a close loss to the Falcons in week six, he sent in the punt team on what would have been a 58-yard field goal attempt by Sebastian Janikowski. That is well within his range and that missed three point opportunity ended up being the difference in the game.
The Raiders had ten penalties in their week 10 loss to the Ravens. Also, despite the loss of McFadden and Goodson to high ankle sprains, they also had all week to put out feelers for a proven starting running back and didn't. Allen could also have taken that time to finally give Taiwan Jones a shot and he didn't.
The halftime adjustments all season were downright embarrassing. Allen was getting completely outcoached and 3/4 through the season, the Raiders had been outscored 34-123 in the third quarter.
In the week 13 loss to the Browns, the game management was terrible. The Raiders were coming down to the wire and with :30 seconds remaining, they needed two scores. But instead of kicking the field goal, they kept driving and by the time they had gotten the touchdown, there was :01 second on the clock. That was a no-brainer decision in which no brain was used.