“Still Some Good Things Seen in Loss To Denver; Raiders v.s. Denver Broncos Grades.”

Charles Woodsen Picks Off Peyton Manning

Final Oakland Raider Grades @ home v.s. Denver Broncos; Week 5:

Denver Broncos 16 (5-0)

Oakland Raiders 10 (2-3)

I know some will say, “The Raiders only scored one TD and 10 points at home and they lost so how are things so good genius”.  In reality though there were some good things seen and with a bye week to get healthy, the Raiders need to work on their issues and grow from their strengths.


Derek Carr showed a lot of leadership with his post interviews with the local media talking about the pick 6 that sealed the win for Denver. He talked about the pass rush coming onto him quicker than expected and he rushed his throw to the WR who weren’t ready.  “I take accountability for my mistakes and I need to and will keep improving”. He said often that he will look at the tape and that he handles every game and every success and failure the same. I was very impressed. Carr’s two turnovers were key in the game though and the hopes are that he will learn from this.

After beating Austin Howard bad, Von Miller just took the ball away from Carr deep in Oakland territory. You’d hope that on the open side that Carr could see him coming but he didn’t and Miller just grabbed the ball from him.  It changed the momentum of the game and was a key play.

For the most part Carr held his own against Denver with a nice drive in the first half which ended with a 3 yard TD pass to Marcel Reece after an aggressive drive.

The Denver pass rush wore down the Raiders and their QB in the second half though. Denver had 3 sacks in the second half and Carr looked more uncomfortable in the pocket in the 3rd and 4th quarter.

The conservative play calling in the second half was noticeable; again.   The Raiders have to open it up more especially against a good defense like Denver.


Other than the pick 6 and the take away by Von Mller which changed the momentum of the game, Carr didn’t play bad. You have to get on him and OC Bill Musgrave though for another week of conservative play calling in the second half.

Running Backs:

I’ve been saying it all year, the Raiders are not sold on Latavius Murray at running back. For the second game in a row, Murray did not see the field late in the game and he was not injured.

I still think Marcel Reece needs to split time with Murray and then have Roy Helu spell them.

Predictably, the Raiders running game was limited against a tough Broncos run defense. Marcel Reece had 7 catches for 49 yards and a TD.   Murray and Helu Jr. added 3 more catches each but for only 30 yards.

Grade C

Murray again was on the bench during crunch time. Marcel Reece needs to get some carries in the backfield, again only getting 1 for 6 yards. All of the running backs were involved in the Raiders conservative passing game.

Offensive Line:

The OL for the most part held their own. Denver’s pass rush in the second half wore down the Raiders and obviously bothered Derek Carr in the second half. Denver took away the run game which they’ve done all season.

In the first half the Raiders controlled the pass rush and they moved the ball between the 20’s. The Raiders struggled with sustained drives all day though. The left side of the Raiders line played well. Gabe Jackson, Donald Penn and Rodney Hudson are becoming a fine trio but Austin Howard struggled all day with Von Miller.

In the second half, Denver had 3 sacks and it was obvious the Broncos pass rush wore them down a bit.

Grade C+

Even though Ware was hurt for most of the game, the Raiders took the Broncos best shot and didn’t do too bad.   It was a good measuring stick.   The Raiders left side is set; the right side had a rough game.

Wide Receivers:

The Raiders didn’t go deep to Cooper until near the end of the game and it was in desperation. Cooper was double teamed and drew a pass interference penalty. The Raiders have to throw it downfield 2-3 times a game to Cooper. Cooper and Crabtree both had 4 catches each for a combined 101 yards.

Seth Roberts is in no way a #3 WR and he should not be playing over Andre Holmes.

The Broncos have good safeties and cornerbacks so if you add a stud pass rush, you are going to take away the WR which Denver did.


It’s frustrating to see such a conservative offense AGAIN in the second half. Don’t expect this to change. Carr doesn’t audible much and Del Rio and Musgrave are long time conservative coaches.

Tight Ends:

The Raiders had a Clive Walford sighting who was wide open on a 31 yard pass play.  It was his only catch of the day though.  Mychal Rivera had 3 catches for 33 yards.  Unfortunately they still are invisible in the red zone and they would help greatly finishing off drives instead of just settling for field goals.


They just aren’t a big part of the offense and the tight end would be so helpful in the red zone.

Defensive Line:

Some of the major networks thought it would be cool to use stats by Pro Football Focus to see how smart and innovative they are. The funniest question of the day was on twitter with a Denver fan after the Raiders game who asked PFF, “You have our starting guards with very high grades and our tackles with positive grades. How then did we not score a TD or sustain a drive against Oakland and only run for 43 yards at 2.4 yards per carry?”. I have that same question.  Liars use stats, and stats often lie.

The defensive line played well.   Denver’s offensive line is struggling with injuries and just isn’t getting it done. The Raiders stopped the run and put pressure on Manning who did not look very good at times. With often double teams on Dan Williams, Mack, and Smith at times, Justin Tuck and Mario Edwards were let free and both played well. Tuck left the game with an injury.

Grade: B+

A couple of more sacks would have been nice but for the most part the Raiders DL did a nice job and it helped the defensive backs. Stop the run and rush the passer with 4 players and for the most part they did that.


The Raiders LB’s were active all day and did a great job against the run. The Raiders put LB Neiron Ball on Broncos tight end Owen Daniels and for the most part it was a good move.

Grade B

A nice game by the LB’s.   The hopes are that against a better offense that the quality play will continue.

Defensive Backs:

Charles Woodsen still has the best hands of any defensive back in the NFL. There is a reason Michigan used him at WR back in the day. He had his first and second ever interception against Peyton Manning who’s balls just floated at times.

The best safety tandem for Oakland is Charles Woodsen and T.J. Carrie. With LB Neiron Ball covering the Broncos TE, it allowed Woodsen to be more acting and free wheeling in the passing game.

The Raiders CB’s still struggled giving up 14 catches to the Broncos #1 and #2 WR for 166 yards but thankfully for the Raiders they did not give up a touchdown.

Grade B-  

The pass rush definitely helped this group and the safeties played well with them being freed up from covering the #1 TE. The CB’s had good and bad moments but they didn’t give up a big TD which helped keep the Raiders close.


The second half play calling always is more conservative than the first half and for the most part this is why the Raiders stats are worse after half time.

The Raiders again went to a conservative game plan in the second half. They didn’t air out the ball to Cooper until the very end. Carr did not want to make a mistake but at times you just have to air it out. The Raiders offense again was mostly hoping for a TD but settling for a FG and that can’t happen. You have to be more aggressive and go for touchdowns.

The Raiders put LB Neiron Ball on the TE and he did a good job in coverage and it freed up the safeties. It will be interesting to see if he continues to play well against a better offense.

I liked Marcel Reece getting more involved in the passing game but I’d still like him to get 5-10 carries a game at RB. He’s a great weapon that can’t be wasted.

Grade C+

They did a few good adjustments but not throwing deep to Cooper 2-3 times a game is a big mistake.

Special Teams:

To his credit; just like Derek Carr; Sebastian Janikowski had no excuses for his 1 for 3 field goal day.   Marquette King had a big day averaging 52 yards on 4 punts, helping the Raiders in a field possession game. The return game wasn’t a big factor.

Grade C+

King had a great day; the return game wasn’t much of a factor and Janikowski had a really bad day on a day when they really needed him.


It’s not a bad loss and it was a winnable game. The Raiders have now played 2 good teams and lost both of those games at home.   They’ve played 3 bad ones and are 2-1 in those. Right now the Raiders are 2-3 and I still think they are on their way to an 8-8 season.   They are improving, but from the coaching staff to the players they need to be more aggressive in the 2nd half and stop their conservative play calling and play.

Next Opponent:   after a bye week; San Diego Chargers (2-2); playing @ home against the Pittsburgh Steelers 2-2 tonight)


The Chargers defense has struggled at times and I see this being a high scoring game.

The Chargers so far this year have lost to the Bengals and Vikings on the road and have beaten the Browns and Lions at home. San Diego is again a pass heavy team and is below average in the running game.   Antonio Gates returns from his month long suspension due to PED’s tonight, and he has had some great games against the Raiders.  The Chargers OL has struggled for much of the year and should be a good matchup for the Raiders.

This is why stats are so misleading sometimes and sites like Pro Football Focus miss the mark. PFF showed many stats on why the NY Giants were so great against the run. Well they are #1 against the run because no one runs on them; they don’t need to because the Giants are so bad in pass defense. The conservative 49ers just ran for 124 rushing yards against the Giants last night at almost 5 yards per carry. Along with that, NY made Colin Kaepernick to look good which takes effort.   Some people are saying that the Chargers are good against the pass but this same mentality can be seen with them because they are not.

They have struggled mightily stopping the run so some of their high ratings on defense against the pass are misleading. This defense is not very good and the Raiders should do a physical run game plan along with some quick hitting passes which have really hurt the Chargers this year.

The AFC West is down this year and with all everything RB Jamaal Charles now out for the year for Kansas City, games against the Chiefs and Chargers are very winnable. I look for another good game between the improved Raiders and the Chargers in San Diego in two weeks with the Raiders having a good chance to get back to .500.

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