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Raiders 2014 season Ballers & Busters: Part two

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


Miles Burris

Where to begin. Let's start with the fact that he was never meant to play the middle linebacker position. He is a weakside linebacker and wasn't really all that good at that. He was thrust into starting due to the concussion suffered by Nick Roach in preseason. And despite Kaluka Maiava backing up Roach all off-season and training camp, Burris somehow leapfrogged him to take the job.

It may not have mattered much because Maiava once again ended up being lost to injury as well. But regardless of the circumstances, Burris was a big reason for the Raiders defensive issues. He can't fight off blockers sufficiently and often times when he is in position to make the tackle, he misses.

As a result, he led the team as an 8-time Buster without a single Baller mention despite starting all 16 games. This included being named a Top Buster three times.

He was a Buster from the opener, and was name Top Buster in the week 2 home opening rout at the hands of the Texans. His mistakes included giving up 49 yards on the ground on the opening drive that resulted in a touchdown for the Texans and was confused on the following drive as to where to line up and gave up another 16-yard run.

In week six despite a four TD game by the Raiders offense, the defense couldn't stop the Chargers from taking the lead back. It became obvious Philip Rivers was searching for where Miles Burris was on the field and going at him.  With the Raiders up at 28-21 late, Rivers went at Burris on the first pass for 16 yards, caught Burris out of position on a 20-yard screen pass to set up a field goal. Then the Chargers would win it with a late touchdown thanks to Burris giving up a 10-yard scramble, and a 10-yard run that put them in first and goal at the 7-yard line.

He was Top Buster again the following week against the Cardinals. On the second drive, he gave up a catch and completely whiffed on a tackle to allow a 37-yard gain. The Cardinals third touchdown was almost exclusively due to miscues by Burris. He was blocked on a six-yard run, called for pass interference, lost in traffic on a 13-yard run, out of position to give up a six-yard run to the 4-yard line, and then he missed the tackle to give up the touchdown run.

For Burris' part, he was a Buster four more times in the season, but was no longer a Top Buster the remainder of the season. I guess that's progress.

His lowlights included week 10 against the Broncos when he was the initial missed tackle that gave up a 51-yard touchdown run by CJ Anderson that demoralized the Raiders and became the first of 5-straight TD's.

In the 52-0 disaster in St Louis, Burris missed a tackle on the 18-yard end around for the touchdown and missed a tackle on an 89-yard touchdown run by Tre Mason.

In week 14 the 49ers didn't get a lot of yards on the Raiders, but Burris gave up a lot of them. He began the 49ers first touchdown drive by giving up a 23-yard catch. Later he was out of position on a 17-yard scramble by Colin Kaepernick. In total Burris allowed 58 yards rushing which was more than half the 49ers total for the game (97).

In week 15 against the Chiefs Burris gave up a catch to Kniles Davis out of the backfield and couldn't even manage to lay a hand on him as he raced 70 yards for the score. That was the back breaker of the game.

Greg Olson

Olson was the ‘mastermind' behind the NFL's worst offense. No, seriously, it was statistically the worst. They were dead last in yards and 31st in points. He was a Buster eight times this season, five times over the final eight games. And that's saying a lot considering the Raiders already had the NFL's worst offense at the halfway point of the season.

He was a Top Buster right from the start for the season opener against the Jets when he chose not to test the Jets' weak secondary, instead going after the Jets' elite run defense. As a result, the Raiders punted eight straight times in that game.

He was a Top Buster again in week eight against the Browns with another bizarre offensive game plan. Early in the game the Raiders were having success against the Browns porous run defense. So, of course they went away from it. One drive featured a poorly concocted Wildcat play, a two-yard pass play on 3rd and 14 followed by a fake field goal that resulted in Matt Schaub throwing an interception.

It continued with plays into a stacked box, short passes on 3rd and long, running it with Jamize Olawale while Marcel Reece stood on the sideline. It was the opposite mistake as he made against the Jets. They passed twice as often as they ran it... against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL (That's the LAST thing they'd expect!).

And for the shutout in St Louis, Olson got Top Buster billing again. Olson several times was faced with 3rd and short and in each case he either passed the ball or handed it to Darren McFadden. As usual, leaving Pro Bowl fullback, and proven short yardage back Marcel Reece on the sideline. It was cause for a great many three-and-outs.

In week 15 against the Chiefs, Olson was up to his usual tricks. That is to say, he wasn't tricking anyone. Stop me if this sounds familiar: Against one of the worst run defenses in the league with one of the best pass rushing duos in the league, Olson called for 60 dropbacks to 16 designed runs. That included just 12 runs by Latavius Murray who had gouged the Chiefs last time they played. Carr was sacked on four of those dropbacks and hurried 11 times.

Week 17 was Olson's farewell game and he left the season just as he entered it - a Buster. The Raiders were predictable and unimaginative. They passed the ball on 3rd-and-short and Carr was sacked, threw a screen pass on 3rd-and-15, and as a result didn't convert a 1st down until midway through the second quarter. Then on the next drive, passed again in third and one. It's like each game Olson forgot all over again that the Raiders had a running back who can convert those 3rd and short plays.

What kind of offensive game plan suggests a rookie second round pick drop back to pass 635 times? That's seventh most in the NFL. Late in the season Tony Sparano had to tell Olson not to abandon the run or the Raiders may have lost to the Bills in week 16. It Boggles the mind.

Austin Howard

Overall Howard was named a Buster seven times on the season. It began with the opener when he faced his former Jets team. Among his mistakes in the game was missing a block so badly that Maurice Jones-Drew was literally decleated in the backfield causing the ball to come out and was inadvertently kicked in the air where Derek Carr luckily was able to recover it. Later Howard was bull rushed into the QB to cause a batted ball at their own 7-yard line.

Two weeks later in New England, he gave up three run stuffs. One of them was a tackle for no gain on a third and one which forced a three and out. The Raiders ran to right guard seven times in this game for an average of 1.7 yards per carry.

In week eight against the Browns, Howard gave up a sack, a run stuff tackle for loss, and was called for holding. On the day he wasn't credited with a single key block on a run play.

He was a Top Buster in week 10 along with his fellow interior linemen. Aside from the ground game averaging just 2.0 yards per carry on 15 carries, Howard would end it when he gave up a pressure on third down to force an incompletion. Just two of nine interior runs went for more than 3 yards.

He was back the following week in San Diego giving up run stuffs on the first two series, missing a block to give up a free rusher on Carr, and giving up a late sack to kill the Raiders chances of driving for a comeback score.

Two weeks later in the dreaded shutout in St Louis, the entire line was a Buster. He cleaned things up a bit in the final few weeks but it wasn't enough to make up for the first 13 weeks of dismal offensive line play. In case you were wondering, he was ranked 59th among guards by Pro Football Focus and the 9th worst starting right guard.

Jason Tarver

Even with the Raiders defense looking respectable for a stretch in the middle of the season, they still had some historically bad defensive statistics. One of which was giving up over 450 points for the second straight season for the first time in franchise history. In the worst of those weeks, Tarver was a Buster six times.

The first six games, the defense was brutal. Despite facing Geno (freaking) Smith and the Jets near the end of last season, Tarver and the Raiders defense seemed clueless as to how to stop him. After allowing Smith to put up his best numbers of last season, Tarver gave Smith his only win over his first 11 games this season. Ryan Fitzpatrick also had a repeat win over Tarver's defense the following week.

Tarver made Top Buster again in week four against the Dolphins. The most specific example of his incompetence was the several times the Dolphins would line up with three wide receivers on one side of the field and the Raiders would counter with two defensive backs. The first time we saw this alignment, it resulted in the Dolphins' first touchdown from 13 yards out. The next time it resulted in a 17-yard pick up and set up the Dolphins third touchdown. One more time we saw it, it resulted in a 6-yard gain.

In week 13 Tarver joined Sparano and Olson as Top Buster when the Raiders had 52 points dropped on them by the Rams. 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 and Shaun Hill was screening and dinking and dunking the Raiders to death. The Rams lined up in 3rd down TWICE in the first half. They were gouging the Raiders so much, they didn't need 3rd down and were up 38-0 by half time.

In week 17, Peyton Manning once again told Tarver to roll over and play dead. And Tarver obliged. Routinely the Raiders were either offering cushions of 10 yards or more along with enormous soft spots in the zone. It was just too easy.

Menelik Watson

Watson took over for Khalif Barnes at right tackle in week four when Barnes left with a quad injury. In his first three starts, he was named a Buster twice. In week 8 against the Browns, he gave up a sack, a pressure on third down forcing Carr to throw the ball away, had a false start, and an illegal hands to the face penalty.

In week nine, he gave up 5 run stuffs -- two for a loss -- and a sack.

In week 11 he gave up run stuffs on consecutive drives early in the game. Then again later on two consecutive drives, he gave up a pressure and a hit on Derek Carr and another pressure which Carr escaped initially but was stopped for a one-yard loss. Late in the third quarter, Watson gave up one final run stuff.

In week 12, despite the Raiders getting their first win, Watson still didn't play well. On a drive late in the second quarter, he gave up a tackle for loss. Early in the fourth quarter, he was called for holding. Then on the Raiders final drive, he gave up a sack on Carr (the only time Carr was sacked in the game). The lost yards ended up causing the Raiders to have to go for it on fourth down which they were fortunately able to pick up.

Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew

These two were supposed to be a two-headed monster that would get the best out of both of them as well as the Raiders run game. That idea failed miserably. It failed historically with the Raiders having their worst yards per game in franchise history. Even with Latavius Murray showing up later in the season and having some decent games, the damage had been done. The two of them combined to be Busters 8 times over the season.

McFadden again finished the season with 3.4 yards per carry. Well, technically, that's 0.1 better than he did the past two seasons, but his yards per game were the second worst of his career.

MJD came to the Raiders for his big homecoming and looked like his old self at times in the preseason. Then the season started and he was going nowhere. There have been few players who were less of a factor this season than MJD. By midseason he was averaging 2.1 yards per carry and in week nine he actually averaged negative one yard per carry.

In week 12, he had three carries for a total of a loss of one yard. While Latavius Murray was putting up 112 yards and 2 touchdowns on 4 carries and Marcel Reece was grinding out tough yards late in the game, MJD was running backwards.

Khalif Barnes

Barnes began the season as the starting right tackle and played fairly well. He started the first four weeks and managed to stay out of the Ballers & Busters altogether. Then he got injured and when he was put back in, it was at left guard. That's when things started to take a turn for the worst. In his first start at left guard, he was a Buster.

On the Raiders first possession of the second half, Barnes lost his mind. He gave up a pressure on Carr, then turned around to watch as his quarterback was crushed. Carr saw Barnes, thinking he was an outlet and shoveled him the ball. Barnes -- an ineligible receiver -- inexplicably caught the ball and tried to run with it. He was smacked by the defender and fumbled it away at the Raiders' 18-yard line. They would score a touchdown three plays later to take a 27-10 lead. He also gave up two run stuffs and a sack.

Two weeks later, Barnes began at left guard and moved back at right tackle before halftime in relief of the injured Menelik Watson. While he was still at guard, Barnes gave up a pressure on Carr that resulted in an interception.

Once he had moved to right tackle, Barnes on two consecutive plays he gave up a run stuff and a pressure for an incompletion. He later gave up a run stuff and a pressure that resulted in Matt Schaub fumbling on the Raiders final possession.

By week 15, Barnes had jumped to top Buster along with Donald Penn. The Chiefs were terrorizing both sides of the Raiders offensive line. The first drive featured Khalif Barnes giving up a sack on Carr. Then the drive ended when on third and six, Barnes did his best matador impression and Carr threw the ball incomplete. With this, you knew Barnes was going to be jumpy the rest of the day, and on he had false start penalties on two of the next three series.

After his second false start helped stop the Raiders series with a three-and-out, he had three other drives stopped by giving up pressures on Carr; two of which came on third down.

Dennis Allen

It's well past time to blame the failures of this team on Dennis Allen. So, I will try and keep this brief. He had this team so completely lost and uninspired, they were doomed from the start. And they knew it. It was week two and already veterans in the locker room such as Charles Woodson were defeated with no faith in whatever his vision may or may not have been.

The Raiders went 0-4 to begin the season, Allen was a Buster three of those four weeks, culminating in their global embarrassment in London which was Dennis Allen's swan song. The first game after he was fired, you could see the play of this team immediately pick up. Though it would take another six weeks before they would get their first win.

Matt Schaub

There were a few new additions to this team that were supposed to resurrect their careers and the Raiders along with it. None were more key than Schaub and therefore none took the Raiders down in flames with them more than he did.

Outside of his stellar kick holding duties, Schaub appeared in two games this season. And every time he touched the ball, he either fumbled it or had it intercepted. His first appearance came on a fake field goal in which he took the snap, bobbled it, panicked, and threw an interception. One pass; one interception.

The next time he got the ball was in week 13. This time, with the Raiders down big, Schaub had the ball for three series. 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. The dude is a turnover machine. And he even managed to sneak in his calling card - the pick six. It's time to hang ‘em up, Schaub.

Denarius Moore

For Denarius Moore, he may still have something to offer the NFL, but it is probably not with the Raiders. He began the season as a starter. Then in week 3, with the Raiders within a touchdown of the tie in Foxboro, Derek Carr threw to Denarius at the goal line and Denarius let it bounce off his shoulder, where it popped in the air and was intercepted to end the game.

He traveled with the team to London but was a healthy scratch for the game at Wembley. He didn't start again the rest of the season. In week 10, he would get his chance to contribute again as a punt returner. But he screwed that up too. He had a fair catch at the 10-yard line, let a ball bounce that landed at the 22-yard line, and had a pathetic block attempt that had the Raiders start their drive at the 2-yard line.

His troubles continued in week 12 against the Chiefs when the only time he touched the ball was two fair catches at the 10-yard-line and 18-yard-line, and when he muffed a punt at his own 11-yard line, he had those duties stripped too. That looks to have been the last we'll ever see of D-Mo in a Raiders uniform.

Ray Ray Armstrong

Good ol' Ray Ray was picked up off waivers from the Rams who had grown tired of his penalties on special teams. Those issues continued with the Raiders. In fact, he was a Buster twice for his special teams mistakes alone. In week 10 he was penalized for unnecessary roughness on a late hit, a block in the back penalty, and then missed a tackle on a 21-yard punt return.

Two weeks later against the Chiefs, he was called for running into the kicker which brought back the punt and gave the Chiefs a new set of downs just before halftime. Later he missed a tackle on a 20-yard punt return.

By week 16, Armstrong was thrust into starting duties with the injury to Sio Moore. And as a result was a Buster over the final two weeks. His big play given up in week 16 was being beaten on a 29-yard touchdown strike to tight end Scott Chandler. In total he gave up four catches for 61-yards and a touchdown.

In the finale in Denver, Armstrong missed a tackle on C.J. Anderson's 11-yard touchdown run and missed a tackle on a 25-yard touchdown run. In total he gave up 84 yards of offense and 2 touchdowns.

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