Stefen Wisniewski, Khalif Barnes
The Chargers weren't able to mount much offense in this game. But thanks to Wisniewski, they didn't have to. On the first play of the game, Derek Carr tried to change the play at the line and Wisniewski snapped the ball too soon. The fumbled snap was recovered by the Chargers at the 22-yard line and two plays later, they scored a touchdown. The 7-point hole proved insurmountable. Wiz wasn't helping the Raiders offense much with that either.
While Wiz was helping put points on the board for the Chargers, Barnes was taking points off the board for the Raiders. On the Raiders first drive following the fumble, Barnes was pulled from left to right but was late to get to his block and gave up a run stuff for no gain.
On the next drive, the Raiders moved into scoring position they were in third and 7 at the 23-yard line and went with a pitch to the inside. The same inside pitch worked like a charm the previous week. It would have worked again but Barnes was again pulled from left to right and at the last instant, he saw a free rusher and diverted his path right into where the pitch was to go. The ball bounced off Barnes and to the ground. The play was well designed otherwise and would very likely have resulted in a first down if not more. Instead the Raiders settled for a field goal.
Barnes then gave up a run stuff to start the second quarter to begin a three-and-out.
After falling behind 13-3 in the third quarter, the Raiders found themselves in third and 14. They tried a screen play to get out of it but Wisniewski missed his block and the screen was stuffed for a loss. The Raiders were still behind by two scores to begin the fourth quarter. In third and 7, the Chargers were called for two penalties on defense that would have resulted in an automatic first down, but Wisniewski was called for holding so the penalties offset. The series ended on the ensuing play.
Sure, the offensive line is terrible. But it isn't all them. McFadden's lack of vision and inability to break tackles don't help either. On the first carry of the game, McFadden looked like he may have a good four or five yards, but he suddenly flew back like a slingshot with just one arm by Kavell Conner who was on the ground. No running back should go down that easily, let alone flung backward.
The second series began with another bad run by McFadden. This time he went up the middle despite the Chargers converging on the play. Had he had reacted to his gap closing and bounced left, he would have had a good amount of space to run. Instead it was a tackle for a 2-yard gain.
The first series of the second quarter ended with McFadden and Mychal Rivera in the same area, dragging all of their defenders along with them and it fell incomplete for a three-and-out. Then on the Raiders final possession of the first half, they were set up in third and one and handed it to McFadden up the middle. He had tacklers on him but some push up the middle could have gained the first down. He was easily stopped for no gain to force the punt.
As if the offense wasn't already facepalm worthy, on the first series of the second half, Darren McFadden squirted out to the left but seemed to lose track of where his quarterback was on the play. He was searching around lost as the pass nearly hit him in the back of the head.
He finished with 21 yards on 8 carries (2.6 ypc), while Latavius Murray eclipsed that on his second carry of the game. Just to show it can be done by a back with a little vision and shiftiness.
Menelik Watson, Austin Howard
Adding these two finished off the offensive line with the lone exception of Donald Penn. Wiz and Barnes committed the bigger mistakes, but Watson and Howard had worse games overall. They each gave up run stuffs on consecutive drives early in the game. Then Watson gave up a pressure and a hit on Derek Carr to end the Raiders first drive of the second quarter. To begin the next drive - his very next play on the field - he gave up another pressure which Carr escaped initially but was stopped for a one-yard loss.
Late in the third quarter, Watson gave up a run stuff. The next drive ended with Howard opting for the double team on the inside, allowing a free rusher on the blitz. Carr had to throw the ball away to end the drive. Howard then killed any chance the Raiders had of making a late comeback drive when to begin their final drive, he gave up a sack for a nine-yard loss. It put the Raiders in 2nd and 19 from their own 3-yard line with :42 seconds left on the clock. Going 97 yards was a tall order at that point.
As usual, the offense was completely out of sorts most of the day. We can blame the players on the field for their mistakes but not without mentioning the man who designs and calls those plays. The first play that just wasn't planned well was their final drive of the first quarter. It was a designed pass in the flat to Marcel Reece but there was no one to block the defender on that side or drag him out of the area. He sat on the route and Reece was tackled for a five-yard loss.
Then on the very next drive, somehow Mychal Rivera and Darren McFadden ran routes into the same spot. It was a meeting of receivers and defenders at the ball and fell incomplete.
Late in the first half, the Raiders were in third and one. After abandoning the run for nearly three weeks on third down, the Raiders go with the run this time. The problem is they went with Darren McFadden again and he was stuffed for no gain. I'm not sure how many times they need to see him stuffed at the line to figure out he isn't a short yardage back. Maybe a few more times. It seems odd, especially with big backs like Latavius Murray and Marcel Reece who they could hand the ball and have a greater chance of success. Or rather an actual chance of success.
This offense may not have a lot of playmakers, but there are players with some ability. Those abilities are not being utilized properly. Tony Sparano has said a few times they need to simplify the offense more. I'm not so sure it's the complicated nature so much as it is just a scheme not meant for the personnel. I don't claim to know all the answers, but then again I'm not paid to have those answers. That's Olson's job and the answers he is coming up with only lead to more questions.