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Raiders week 12 report card vs Broncos aka UFC Bay Area Edition

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NFL: Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders
Cordarelle Patterson shined when Oakland needed him most
Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

At 4-6 with only six games to go the Raiders came into Sunday’s game going 1 of 2 directions; top ten draft pick contention or threatening playoffs. They remained 2 games back of Kansas City in the AFC West and then the Chiefs lost the 5th of their last 6 games. Suddenly just like that the Raiders had a golden opportunity yet again to pick up a game on the Chiefs and this time they would seize the moment.

This game started with major fireworks as Aquib Talib again grabbed Crabtree’s chain leading to an all out brawl getting Talib, Crabtree, and Gabe Jackson ejected on the Raiders 2nd series of the game. Derek Carr and Co. suddenly find themselves at 5-6 and only 1 game back of Kansas City with a bad Giants team coming to town next weekend and Kansas City the week after. Oakland owns it’s playoff destiny with the win against Denver with 5 games to go.

Passing Offense

The passing offense was not awesome in this game but it wasn’t awful either and that was difference between a win and a loss on Sunday. Derek Carr put the team on his back with Michael Crabtree getting ejected in the 2nd series of the game, and Amari Cooper being knocked unconscious 4:43 before the half. Unfazed Carr went to work with the likes of Seth Roberts, Cordarelle Patterson, Johnny Holton and Jared Cook.

Carr would finish 18 of 24, 253 yards 2 TD’s and a 136.3 QB rating without his two star receivers. You cannot ask for better than that, despite some questionable play calling at times by maligned OC Todd Downing. Carr played a fantastic game against a top tier defense without Crabtree, Cooper and star Guard Gabe Jackson.

Grade: B+

The only thing keeping this grade from being an A is play calling. At times it was as though it didn’t matter run or pass the ball was going to Marshawn Lynch and the defense knew it. They left some points on the field in a must-win game but when it mattered most this team answered the call.

Rushing Offense

The Raiders rushing offense was not great, in fact it started out horrendous and very predictable. Marshawn Lynch was given 26 carries in this game but only produced 67 yards but that 2.6 yards per carry was not on Lynch. The Raiders offensive line was getting mauled Zach Kerr and Domata Peko Sr., but an injury to Peko changed the game.

Once Peko was injured the Raiders seemed to find a renewed ability to gain yards on the ground. The overall stats aren’t pretty but the Raiders were able to get Lynch in the end zone. When the Raiders needed to run out the clock though they came up well short rushing for -3 and 5 yards on the last 2 carries of the game.

Grade: D

The Raiders only averaged 3.15 yards per carry and that was largely thanks to 2 runs by Jalen Richard who averaged 8.5 yards. Deandre Washington only was able to average a meager 3.8 yards per carry with his 6 carries. The lack of use of Richard is puzzling as he is much more effective than Washington but seems to get lost in the rotation.

The Raiders have to do a better job of running the ball as they once again came out flat in the run game. Oakland is in playoff mode every week till the end of the season, they have 5 games to close strong and figure out their issues. If they can do that they will be a real threat in the playoffs.

Passing Defense

This was truly a tale of two different defense so they will be graded as such. The secondary was again awful but luckily for Oakland Denver elected to start Paxton Lynch and he was horrendous and looked lost until leaving with an ankle injury. Trevor Siemian brought the Raiders defense back to earth when he came in, but not before Navarro Bowman finally got the Raiders 1st INT of the season from Lynch.

The defense is just an absolute mess but with Ken Norton Jr. getting fired after last Sunday’s loss to the Patriots the pass rush finally showed up. The Raiders were able to sack Lynch 4 times and Siemian 1 time for a total of 5 sacks, easily their best performance of the year. Unfortunately the secondary was still horrendous and appeared unable to cover anyone.

Denico Autry was an absolute force in this game along with Bruce Irvin with each taking advantage of the attention to Khalil Mack and posting 2 sacks each. This is what has been missing from the defensive line all season allowing teams to triple team Mack. Irvin and Autry played amazing when the team needed it most against a division opponent.

Grade: B+ (vs Lynch)

The defense was fortunate against Lynch as he was clueless and missed wide open receivers frequently. This helped mask the awful coverage often as the Raiders were able to fool him with disguised blitzes and coverage's. New DC John Pagano did a great job of disguising the defense than his predecessor and it appeared to help the pass rush tremendously.

Grade: F (vs Siemian)

The Raiders defense looked like they were putting it together against Lynch but his injury led to reality. Siemian came in off the bench and put up 2 TD’s against the unit in the 4th quarter when they should have closed the game out. Siemian posted a 107.0 QB rating so the Raiders were if nothing else fortunate he didn’t play the whole game or this may have been another loss.

Rushing Defense

The run defense found it’s way back to the team after going A.W.O.L. after the bye week. Justin Ellis and the rest of the interior was a force and allowed the Denver running backs no room to run. Oakland allowed only 39 yards rushing to Denver running backs for an average of 2.6 yards per carry, that is getting it done.

The Broncos became one dimensional and it helped the pass rush tremendously, outstanding job by the Raiders defense to swarm to the ball. The effort that was questioned a week ago was out in full force. Reggie Nelson made some big hits on runners and appeared to have gotten the message about effort with fan favorite Shalom Luani stealing some snaps from him.

Grade: A+

Holding the Broncos to only 59 total rushing yards (2 scrambles by Lynch made up for 20 yards) was a huge win for the Raiders defense. The Raiders needed to help their secondary and they did by making the Broncos one dimensional. This type of effort will be needed weekly if the Raiders want to continue to stack wins because their secondary is inept.

Special Teams

Marquette King was a star on Sunday, he appears to have recovered enough from a groin injury to put together his best day in weeks. King punted 6 times and had 4 of those punts downed inside the 20, he kept the Broncos in bad field position consistently. Field position was the difference in a closer than it should have been game.

The coverage units were solid with Patterson downing a punt at the 1 yard line on a spectacular play by him to keep himself from going into the end zone. The return units did almost nothing of note and Giorgio Tavecchio missed what would have been a game clinching 35 yard Field Goal. Special teams almost cost this team a win with that Field Goal miss, that can’t happen going forward.

Grade: C

Marquette King and the coverage units saved the grade on this unit as Tavecchio’s miss could have been disastrous. The Raiders were trying to clinch the game and the Field Goal unit blew a 35 yard attempt. Tavecchio has been lights out all year, the weather was not great on Sunday and the field was a mess likely leading to the miss.

Coaching

Jack Del Rio has to get his team under control, you can’t come into this game with your season on the line and allow what happened with Crabtree to happen. Still somehow on only the 2nd series for the Raiders the entire starting offense ended up in a brawl with the Broncos. The Raiders at this juncture in their season have to play better than that and Jack has to have them understanding this.

Todd Downing again came out and called an awful game with his job on the line. The Raiders put up 21 points but it appeared to be in spite of Downing rather than because he called a great game. He just hasn’t gotten the job done and it is looking like the team may need to move on from him.

New DC John Pagano acquitted himself well enough against Paxton Lynch but the defense went back to business as usual against Siemian. The Raiders face Eli Manning and the Giants next week in what will be a bigger test for the defense. The pass rush was much improved thanks to Pagano’s ability to disguise blitzes but the coverage was still awful.

Grade: D+

The players won in spite of the coaching in this one with the exception of the defense. Jack Del Rio let the team get out of hand to start the game with the season on the line and that is just not acceptable. Pagano did a much better job with the defense than Norton but the problems are still very evident in the secondary.