Game Grades: Raiders vs. Broncos

Pass Offense:  Derek Carr continues his learning adventure for this season, turning the ball over three times (two INTs and an ill-advised toss to offensive lineman Khalif Barnes, which was subsequently fumbled away), all on the Raiders side of the field. Carr spreads the ball around terrifically, hitting no less than 10 receivers (not counting Barnes). Yet for all the shots he takes downfield, only two plays went for more than 20 yards (Rivera for 25 and Moore for 28). James Jones had 8 receptions for a grand total of twenty (yes, 20) yards, with a long of 10, which might be a sign that they need to work on their WR screens some more. Third-down efficiency was a miserable 5-18 (27%), due to the down-and-distance circumstances of virtually every possession. Amazingly, though Carr was hurried and hit all day, he was not sacked. Grade: D+

Rush Offense:  Thirteen running plays by the running backs (and two unsuccessful end-arounds, by Moore and Thompkins), versus 47 pass attempts. Grand total of 27 rushing yards, not counting the end-arounds (which netted 1 and -2 yards respectively). You do the math. Can’t even give this a failing grade anymore, there’s just not enough there to fail. Grade: Incomplete

Pass Defense:  This is an area where you have to grade on a bit of a curve, Manning is simply too good and has too many weapons to play with, and the Raiders offense leaves the D on the field too much to hang in forever. After being flummoxed and frustrated by the defensive scheme in the first quarter, and two terrific interceptions by Hayden and Tuck, Manning began figuring it out and exploiting the defense at every opportunity. Pick one:  the end-zone throw to Emmanuel Sanders for a 32-yard TD, the short pick Sanders ran at the goal line to free up Julius Thomas for another easy TD, the back-breaking 51-yard TD on a screen pass to C.J. Anderson, where nearly half the defensive players completely whiffed on tackle opportunities. In a game where Demaryius Thomas has 11 receptions for 108 yards but no TDs, Wes Welker is a non-factor, and Manning still throws 5 TDs, you know the pass defense took a beating. Grade: C-

Rush Defense:  C.J. Anderson, meet the Raiders. Raiders, this is C.J. Anderson. A spot player who had 17 carries for 82 yards and 4 receptions for 34 yards over six games coming into this one, Anderson ended the day with 13 carries for 90 yards and 4 receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown. Aside from Anderson’s 6.9 yards per carry, the Raiders were actually quite effective against the run, allowing Ronnie Hillman and Juwan Thompson just 21 yards on 10 carries total. Still, they never quite had an answer for Anderson, who rolled through them much the way Branden Oliver did back in Week 6. Grade: D+

Special Teams:  Marquette King had something off an off-day, averaging just 37.6 yards on his 9 punts, but that may be at least in part due to having to punt nine times. Janikowski made his lone field goal attempt, though one holds out hope that with as many onside kicks as they’ve attempted this season in garbage time, they might actually recover one someday. The return game was almost non-existent, though to be fair, the Broncos punted only once the entire game. Grade: C

Coaching:  Greg Olson continues to play it safe with his rookie quarterback, which is probably the only prudent course of action at this point. There’s no percentage in getting Carr hurt trying to be a hero. Still, a nearly 4:1 pass-run ratio, even with some of that coming in late game catch-up mode, is not getting it done. The downfield shots almost never work, and the running game is nowhere to be found, so defenses are content to sit back short to midrange with a two-deep shell, and take what Carr gives them. The team is still playing hard, you have to give them that, but at the rate they’re going, Sparano may have to bury some more balls before they shake whatever curse is on them at the moment. Against a team like the Broncos, the Raiders needed to execute perfectly, get some breaks (which they did early on, and got points from them), and create some game-breaking plays. And they just don’t have the players to do those things; it’s hard to expect Olson or Sparano or anyone else to coach game-breaking talent when it’s in short supply on the roster. Maybe use Brice Butler more, and figure out what the deal is with the running backs. Grade: D+

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