Tony Sparano, Greg Olson, Jason Tarver
Every single facet of this game was an outright disaster for the Raiders. It's games like this (for which there are very few) where the most difficult thing to do is pinpoint what exactly went wrong. Because nothing went right. Thus we begin with the guys who supposedly prepared these players for the game and who put together the game plan - the head coach, offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator.
For Sparano's part, overall this team suffered a serious letdown. They appear to have been resting on their laurels so much from their big win over the Chiefs last week to stop their 16-game losing streak that they came out completely unprepared and overconfident. As for the game management itself, there is one big thing I place on Sparano's shoulders - the shutout.
The Raiders didn't have to get shut out in this game. They had an opportunity to put three points on the board. It's not a lot, but it's preferable to a fat goose egg. The Raiders were down 21-0 in the first quarter and they mounted their first drive into field goal range. They opted to go for it on fourth and one from the 32-yard line. Can't blame them for that. But then Marcel Reece was called for false start, pushing it to fourth and six. That would have been a 55-yard field goal attempt for Sebastian Janikowski, who is more than capable of hitting from that distance. But for some reason, Sparano sent out the punting unit. Inexplicable.
The offensive game plan was hard to figure altogether. They began the game with three-straight three-and-outs. Then with less than a minute remaining in the first quarter, they got their first first down. On those four drives, they were in third and one three times. The first two they passed the ball, the third they ran McFadden up the middle. They converted just one of them on a one-yard completion.
And despite McFadden proving time and time again he is NOT a short yardage back, Olson went with him again... right up the gut... for no gain. All the while Marcel Reece, who essentially won the game against the Chiefs by punching the ball down their throats, did have a single carry. Reece didn't get his first carry until midway through the second quarter and it was on first down.
The first half ended with a pass for no gain on 3rd and 16. They just rolled over. You need 16 yards and you throw right to the line of scrimmage.
All the while the offense was going nowhere, the Raiders defense was giving up touchdown drive after touchdown drive. The Rams didn't punt in the first half. They scored five straight touchdowns and then added a field goal. The defense could stop nothing.
The most interesting part about it was how the Rams were doing it. Shaun Hill threw 22 passes in the game and just 4 of them went more than ten yards in the air with only 2 of them completed. He completed just 13 passes which means 11 of those were within ten yards of the line of scrimmage. He was screening the Raiders to death. Toss in a couple end arounds, and pitches and the Raiders defense was so completely duped, it was beyond belief.
The Rams first touchdown went 35 yards on a screen and there was simply no one there to defend it. Their second TD was a quarterback bootleg run off of play action that the Raiders completely bit on. Shaun Hill is not fleet footed in the slightest and he didn't need to be. He walked in for the score. Their third touchdown was an end around. Just your garden variety, but again there was simply no one there to defend it and Tavon Austin went 18 yards to the endzone. If you liked Latavius Murray's 90-yard run last week, then you loved Tre Mason's 89-yard touchdown run in this one. Same situation, once he got through the line, he made one man miss and was gone. 28-0 in a blink.
And third down? Psh. Who needs it. The Rams lined up in third down TWICE in the first half. They were gouging the Raiders so much, they didn't need third down. By the way, they converted the first of those two third downs and the second resulted in the field goal to take a 38-0 lead at half.
I never thought I'd see a game like this from Woodson. Certainly not days after being named AFC Defensive Player of the Week. Talk about climbing the mountain and then falling off a cliff. Every one of the Rams scores early in the game featured a mistake by Woodson. He was blocked on the 35-yard touchdown screen. Some have said they thought he was held but it looked like a clean block to me - one that I have seen Woodson fight through before. He gave up the very next defensive play on an 8-yard catch in the flat to begin the second TD drive.
Oh, and that third touchdown drive. He was brutal. The first play he missed a tackle on another catch in the flat to give up 26 yards after the catch. Three plays later, on third and 8, he missed a tackle again on a 16-yard catch. He went for the missed tackle trifecta on the 18-yard end around for the score.
Miles Burris, Sio Moore, Khalil Mack
The Raiders starting linebackers were a complete non-factor in this game. Mack may have been the least effective of all. The Rams focused on neutralizing him and they did for sure. He didn't have a single hurry in this game and finished with just ONE tackle.
While Mack was being a non-factor, Burris and Moore were simply getting smoked. On the 35-yard screen for the Rams first touchdown, Sio was in the area but for some reason slowed up when he got near Tre Mason and Mason ran right by him up the right sideline. If Sio had kept going full speed, he may very well have been able to at least knock Mason out of bounds.
On their third touchdown drive, Burris and Mack both missed tackles on the first play which ended up going for 26 yards after a catch in the flat. Mack gave up a 7-yard run on the next play. Burris finished it off by missing a tackle on the 18-yard end around for the touchdown.
The way in which the 89-yard touchdown by Mason was like the 90-yard touchdown run by Latavius Murray last week was they both made the middle linebacker miss. Burris missed the tackle on Mason and he was gone for the score.
The Rams had one touchdown drive in the second half. Miles Burris gave up an 6-yard run on the first play, and Mack missed a tackle on the 8-yard run for the score. That gave put the Rams up 45-0.
Donald Penn, Gabe Jackson, Stefen Wisniewski, Austin Howard, Khalif Barnes
That is the entire offensive line. Menelik Watson started the game but left with an ankle injury early in the second quarter so he manages to escape this one.
Again, I did not simply throw a blanket over the issue here. Each of these guys had their share of mistakes to earn their spot here.
The first drive featured Gabe Jackson getting beaten on the block to give up a run stuff for no gain. On the next play, Donald Penn gave up inside pressure which forced Derek Carr throw the ball away.
The Raiders first mounted drive ended in part because on third and one, Stefen Wisniewski allowed a free rusher to the inside to hit Darren McFadden in the backfield to stop him for no gain. The following drive ended with an interception because Khalif Barnes gave up pressure on Carr who tried a desperation throw.
Just before halftime, the Raiders had another chance at putting points in the board. But their efforts were thwarted by some shoddy offensive line play. Barnes was at right tackle at this point and on two consecutive plays he gave up a run stuff and a pressure for an incompletion. After the Raiders managed to convert on third down, Jackson didn't get downfield on a screen to Marcel Reece which allowed him to get hit hard and knock the ball in the air. Then, instead of knocking the ball down, he opted to dive and catch it for a 6-yard loss. He was channeling his inner Barnes. It led to third and 16 which they couldn't pick up.
Things got worse for the offensive line in the second half. On the first offensive play, Howard, Penn, and Jackson all got beat and they swarmed and crushed Derek Carr in between. Two plays later, Barnes gave up the sack on third down. The first play of the next drive, the Raiders entire interior line was outmatched to give up a tackle for a loss of one.
Penn gave up sacks on the next two drives. The first on Carr, the second on Matt Schaub. That one was a strip sack and a fumble. Jackson gave up pressure up the middle on the play which collapsed the pocket. Barnes also gave up a run stuff on that drive.
The Raiders final drive was a three and out which began with Jackson giving up a run stuff and ending with Barnes giving up a pressure that resulted in another Schaub fumble. This one was recovered by Kevin Boothe. Welp.
I realize most quarterbacks struggle without a run game. But at this point, Carr shows no ability to function without one. He appears incapable of carrying the team even for one full scoring drive. He certainly was on this day. The play calling isn't helping, but I really start to wonder if he is even willing to change the play that is called if the defense shows him something different.
The Raiders went three-and-out on their first three possessions. The first one was of no fault of Carr. The second one ended with a pass on third and one that was under pressure for an incompletion. The third ended with another incompletion to a covered James Jones on third and three. The fourth drive got going in part because Carr got help from a couple Darren McFadden runs and a 13-yard run by Maurice Jones-Drew (his longest of the season). Carr followed it up with a 2-yard pass. Down 21-0 and throwing 2-yard passes. The drive was stopped a few plays later.
The next drive began with a miscommunication that had Carr with a play fake right while McFadden ran to his left. Carr then scrambled out of bounds for one yard. Then under pressure on third down, Carr made a terrible throw that floated over the head of MJD and right into the arms of a defender for an interception. The Rams got the ball at the Raiders' 24-yard line and added another touchdown for a 35-0 lead.
Carr's response to this was to throw a second interception on the next drive. He anticipated Vincent Brown was going to come open and he didn't. Brown ran into the defender and Carr threw the pass into double coverage for an easy interception. Some blame goes to Brown but Carr can't throw that ball. Even if Brown hadn't run into his man, there was no guarantee he would have come through traffic open on the other side. The Rams added a field goal off the turnover for a 38-0 lead.
The final drive of the first half ended with a pass to James Jones for no gain on 3rd and 16. That pass should not have been thrown. It was pointless. The Raiders all went left and so did most of the Rams defense with them. So there were plenty of defenders there to see to it Jones would never have picked up 16 yards. In fact, he got none. Meanwhile, there was a huge gap in the line to the right that, had Carr looked off Jones, he may have been able to run for the first down. The odds certainly would have been higher than that pass for no gain.
After four more stalled series in the third quarter, going 1 for 4 on third downs, the Rams added another touchdown and Carr was pulled in favor of Schaub for the fourth quarter.
Speak of the devil. Schaub had three series in this game. They each ended like this for Schaub - fumble, interception returned for a touchdown, fumble. Had the Raiders not recovered the last fumble, Schaub will have turned the ball over on every single series he has played for the Raiders. Prior to this game he had one pass on a fake field goal that was intercepted. The dude is a turnover machine. He also, of course, couldn't go without throwing a pick six. That seem pretty much a given. The funny thing is, he was very nearly picked off two plays before that. The Raiders' $8 million savior, folks.
For whatever reason, Shaun Hill was picking Hayden apart in this one. On the team's second drive, Hayden gave up three-straight catches - an 8-yard catch and run in the flat, a 13-yard quick slant, and a 16-yard catch. Bang, bang, bang; 37 yards. They scored the touchdown three plays later. Hayden was also blocked to allow the Rams first touchdown on the 35-yard screen.
A couple touchdowns later, the Rams were threatening again. In 3rd and 6, Hayden was called for holding in the end zone. It set the Rams up in first and goal at the 4-yard line and they scored on the next play to take a 35-0 lead.
This team is dead in the water without Latavius Murray. This line is not very good. What they need is a back who can get through initial arm tackles and get positive yards. They also need a back who can find the seam and make cuts to get around defenders. You know, those things running backs do. The first series ended with McFadden stuffed at the line, following by him giving up pressure on the blitz on 3rd and 10. The next drive ended the same way - McFadden giving up pressure on the blitz. He just stood there looking around while the blitzer went after Carr.
The fourth drive of the day actually saw some production from McFadden with three runs for 15 yards. But then he was sent up the middle on third and one - something he doesn't do - and he was stuffed for no gain. And what was the play action fake all about? Carr turning right and McFadden going to his left? Now they're just feeding the trolls.
George Atkinson III
Field kicks much? Newly called up Legend player ‘GA3' was there to do one thing - return kicks. And he completely blew it. He muffed his first attempt. It just simply bounced off his shoulder pads. Kenbrell Thompkins had to pick it up and try to make something out of it, returning it six yards to the 18-yard line. His second return, he fielded from the back of the endzone. He should have either let it go or downed it for a touchback. But he decided to bring it out and was stopped at the 14-yard line.
His next kick return attempt, he muffed it again. This time he picked it up himself and was nailed at the 4-yard line. The Raiders were already down 38-0, they didn't need to be backed up against their own goal line. The Rams actually punted in the second half. Then GA3 was a blocker. And he was called for an illegal block penalty. One more kick return for GA3 and yet again he decided to bring it out from deep in the endzone. And AGAIN he was stopped at the 14-yard line.
It was probably the worst overall kick return performance I have ever seen. It would only have been worse if he had turned the ball over as well. But overall, complete fail on that debut.