Ballers & Busters for Raiders Week 4 matchup with Chargers

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It was a fourth straight slow start to a game for the Raiders on the season. Only this time, the start was too slow. They were down 21-0 at the half with just one first down to their names.

They looked like they might make a game of it early in the third with consecutive TD drives to pull it to 21-14. But they were unable to score again and the Chargers added a late TD to seal it.

Let’s look at the best and worst performances in the Raiders’ first loss of the season.

Ballers

WR Hunter Renfrow

Just like last week, everyone is talking about Hunter Renfrow. Last week it was for a filthy triple move he made on All-Pro Xavien Howard to catch a TD on him. This week, it’s Renfrow’s crazy play on special teams that has everyone buzzing.

Late in the first quarter, Renfrow was sitting back to field a punt from the Chargers. But just as it was to be punted away, Renfrow sensed something was up. He was right, it was a fake. And the moment he saw the punter square up to throw, he took off and got to the receiver the moment the ball arrived and blew him up, knocking the ball out of his arms.

Renfrow was the only one who could’ve stopped that play from turning into a touchdown. And he did that and a whole lot more. Check out how far he had to run to make that play.

That play was so awesome, no one is talking about the fact that Renfrow pulled that triple move again. And it was for a touchdown again. The Raiders’ first TD of the day from 13 yards out. The DB simply doesn’t know what to do with that move.

Renfrow finished with the team lead in receptions (6) for 45 yards and the TD. He also saved a TD and had a 17-yard punt return with a horsecollar tackle that tacked on 15 yards that put the Raiders in scoring position in the first half, but they opted to go for it on fourth down instead and didn’t pick it up.

CB Casey Hayward

Hayward had some things for his former team to make them regret letting him go. On the opening drive alone, Hayward made a tackle on a short catch, a tackle for loss on an end-around and cut off the outside on a run that resulted in a tackle for loss. They didn’t test him much the rest of the day. And the few times they did, led to incompletions.

DE Maxx Crosby

Most of Crosby’s work didn’t show up in the stat column. But his presence was felt.

The first Chargers’ possession of the second quarter ended with a three-and-out. On third down, Crosby put on a bull rush that drove RT Storm Norton into Justin Herbert’s lap and caused him to overthrow a wide-open Mike Williams on a deep route that would have been an easy touchdown.

On three consecutive drives starting in the late second quarter and going through the third quarter, Crosby had a QB hit to force an incompletion, a batted pass at the line to put the Chargers in third and long and was held on a third-down rush (it was declined). He also added a run stuff in there.

DT Darius Philon

It was apparently Philon’s turn to put up multiple sacks in a game. Certainly, it was no coincidence it was against his former team. The first came late in the first quarter. The Chargers got things moving on a 21-yard end-around that put them at the Las Vegas 39-yard-line. Then Philon came flying into the backfield to sack Herbert for a five-yard loss. That would ultimately lead to the fake punt that Renfrow blew up.

After the Raiders scored to open the third quarter, the Chargers were trying to answer. They converted on a fourth and two, but three plays later found themselves in third and ten. Philon blew past his man into the backfield again to sack Herbert for the second time. The Raiders got the ball back and drove for their second score to pull it to a one-score game.

T Kolton Miller

While the rest of the Raiders’ offensive line is a gaping wound, Miller is the lone bright spot. He didn’t give up even a pressure in this game that I saw. Certainly no sacks of QB hits. In fact, he hasn’t given up a sack this season. Miller had one bad play and it was a run stop. He’s allowed one bad block on. run. Especially considering how he’s been lights out in pass protection.

LB Cory Littleton

Littleton tied for the team lead with 12 tackles (eight solo) in this game. He even added a couple of special teams tackles. His first tackle was for a loss on the opening drive. The next possession, he came flying in on the blitz to force an incompletion to start a three-and-out. He ended the next possession with a tackle on a four-yard catch on third-and-15 to force another punt.

Littleton’s worst drive was the Chargers’ final drive of the first half. He gave up a nine-yard catch and missed a tackle on a 13-yard catch and run that put the Chargers at the 25-yard-line. They scored two plays later.

He would recover in the third quarter to make a run stuff for no gain on third-and-two. He would give up one more first down catch in the game, and none on the ground. Two first downs allowed is a solid performance.

P AJ Cole

As seems all too often, Cole was doing his part to make the Chargers earn their scoring drives. He had a 54-yard punt stopped at the 24, a 45-yard punt go out of bounds at the 40, a 49-yard punt fair caught at the ten, a 56-yard punt stopped at the 20, and a 52-yard punt fair caught at the 31. All in the first half to give him a 51.2-yard average and a 47.2-yard net. Only two punts were even returnable with the longest return going 11 yards.

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Busters

HC Jon Gruden

This team had been playing with house money through the first three games of the season. Despite every game starting out with the offense doing next to nothing, the defense has kept them in it until they could find their way late.

The comebacks are great and all, but it tends to make you wonder why they couldn’t have been doing all that early on. And when they might figure out that it’s possible to start the same way they finish. This game, instead of looking like they had learned from the previous slow starts, they got worse.

For the tenth straight time, dating back to week 11 of last season, the Raiders failed to score on the opening drive. And for the past two weeks, their opening possession was a three-and-out.

Gruden started the game thinking he could push around the Chargers on the ground. They are vulnerable against the run, but the Raiders offense isn’t exactly pushing anyone around in the trenches. The first two runs yielded two yards.

The offense had six drives in the first half and got one first down out of it. Then suddenly the offense seemed unstoppable to begin the third quarter, driving for two touchdowns. Where the heck was that offense in the first half? I mean, if they can just turn it on like that, maybe turn it on, I don’t know, EARLIER?

The Raiders’ next drive stalled and the Charger drove for a TD of their own. And by the time that drive was over, it was so late, that proved to be the nail in the proverbial coffin.

In his Tuesday press conference, Gruden pointed to the offensive line as the primary problem. Who was it that traded away the entire right side of the line and put together this ragtag bunch?

C Andre James, RG Jermaine Eluemunor, RT Alex Leatherwood

Speaking of that entire right side of the Raiders offensive line. I can count on two fingers how many key blocks this group made in the run game against this pretty weak Chargers run defense. And many more times that they blew it.

Neither James nor Eluemunor got any push on the first two runs that yielded a combined two yards. The next drive ended with Leatherwood giving up a strip-sack on Derek Carr. On the next play for the offense, Leatherwood got jumpy and was flagged for a false start.

The Raiders final possession of the first half ended with a three-and-out because James and Eluemunor gave up another run stuff for no gain on third and one. The Chargers got the ball with 2:44 left in the second quarter and drove for a third touchdown to take a 21-0 lead into the half.

Leatherwood blew his assignment to give up a run stuff at the line to start the third quarter which the Raiders were able to survive. The next drive, following a big 51-yard completion to Henry Ruggs III, James and Eluemunor gave up another run stuff. The Raiders didn’t survive that one and then missed the long field attempt.

QB Derek Carr

The first quarter finished with the Raiders holding a pretty crazy stat — net zero yards of offense. The breakdown was net three yards rushing and net negative three yards passing. And that was on three possessions. Carr was sacked a couple of times, but he also had a couple of chances that he missed. On throw behind Hunter Renfrow and one in which he simply missed an open Darren Waller, opting for a check down to Josh Jacobs that went for three yards. His longest completion went for 12 yards…on third and 22.

The second quarter was better, but only by the ‘something is better than negative something’ standard. It included a seven-yard pass on third and ten and the only first down of the first half on a 21-yard completion to Darren Waller, giving the Raiders net 51 yards of offense.

Carr had some nice plays to start the third quarter, including a couple of times escaping the pocket and finding a receiver. One on the touchdown to Renfrow. He also held onto the ball too long on one play and was sacked.

The biggest play on the second TD drive was a questionable pass interference penalty on a deep attempt for Henry Ruggs that clearly was going to come up short. But to Carr’s credit, he took advantage with two nice throws to Waller for 18 yards and the touchdown pass from three yards out.

He later had his longest connection of the game on a deep ball to Ruggs that went for 51 yards. But on third down Carr ran into a sack that ended the drive and turned a 47-yard field goal into a 52-yarder and Daniel Carlson missed it wide left.

The Chargers took over and drove for a touchdown and a two-score lead. The response was Carr throwing a pass well behind Waller and right to safety Derwin James for an easy interception.

After averaging over 400 yards per game the first three weeks, Carr didn’t reach 200 yards (196) in this one. The biggest of which came on a drive that didn’t result in a score. And the Raiders converted on just three of 14 third-down attempts.

RB Josh Jacobs

Jacobs was clearly not at his best. It was his first game back after missing two weeks with an ankle injury. And it showed. He gained just 40 yards on 13 carries (3.1 yards per carry) and only 17 yards on five catches. Of the 18 times he touched the ball, he picked up the first down just once.

WR Bryan Edwards

Edward led the Raiders wide receivers in snaps (51). On those snaps, he had one catch on four targets for four yards. That four-yard catch was on third and five on the final drive with the game out of reach. So, basically, he was a complete non-factor. Not what you need from a starter.

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