Ken Norton Jr
It appears as if Jack Del Rio would disagree with this, considering he opted to hold onto Norton and instead fire the DB coach. Perhaps we’ll see next season if the blame was handed to the right guy or not, but for a defense that finished near the bottom of the NFL, the man in charge of it take the season’s Top Buster spot.
Norton was six times a Buster, and four times a Top Buster. Not surprisingly three of those Top Buster spots were losses (week 2, 6, and 17). They were an opportunistic defense this season, but they were just as often the land of opportunity for opposing offenses. This defense gave up over 6000 yards which is third most in franchise history, 4120 yards passing which is second most in franchise history, and had the second fewest sacks (25) in franchise history.
None of that is good.
Here you go. The man who drew a good deal of criticism from his head coach after his performance against the Texans (though he didn’t mention him by name) was six times a Buster and twice a Top Buster. He was the season’s first Top Buster after getting absolutely torched by several Saints receivers in the opener. That should have been a wake-up call for him (or somebody), but from the looks of things, it wasn’t. He was a Buster again the following week in a loss to the Falcons.
To his credit, he had a stretch in the middle of the season where he looked great. He was a Baller four times from week 3 to week 11. But, oh did he ever fall off down the stretch. He was lit up by Philip Rivers in week 15, and was a Buster in each of the team’s final four games, culminating in the ugly Wild Card loss. Extremely disappointing especially for being a near $10 million per season free agent addition.
We expected he would be the weak link on this offensive line. And he didn’t fail to disappoint. He was five times a Buster with three of those coming late in the season. By week 16, Menelik Watson was healthy and Howard had lost his starting job. With the injury to Penn, Watson was moved to left tackle and Howard was a starter again. Which meant he was a Buster again, giving up two sacks in the Wild Card game to Whitney Mercilus.
Sean Smith was worse down the stretch, but Amerson wasn’t so great either. When he wasn’t giving up long catches, he was missing tackles that made a short catch turn into a long catch. In total he was named a Buster five times, including both of the final two games that ended the Raiders playoff hopes. With both Smith and Amerson struggling, it’s no wonder the Raiders allowed a league most 61 plays of 20 yards or more. That was the “explosive plays” stat that had Jack Del Rio calling out the secondary in his postseason press conference.
Completing the trifecta of the top three corners is Hayden. He made it to week 12 as the team’s slot corner before being lost for the season with an injury. He was a Buster four times and Top Buster once in those games. Mostly the was known for his holding and pass interference penalties. He led the team with 12 penalties. In 12 games. The next most was ten and two of those players played nearly every snap over 16 games. Take comfort though; this should be the last time you see Hayden on this list. He is headed for free agency.
A season Baller in 2015, Williams disappeared this season. He was outplayed by Justin Ellis this offseason and was a non-factor most of the season, consistently losing snaps as the season went along and the Raiders looked for the best option for the interior Dline. He finished with a career low 17 combined tackles (11 solo). He was a Buster twice, mostly because he simply didn’t play more.