Category Archives: charles woodson

Game Grades: Raiders at Chiefs

Pass Offense: Derek Carr had 21 completions in 33 attempts, for 194 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and two fumbles. Carr finished the season just 13 yards shy of becoming the first Raiders QB to reach 4,000 yards since Rich Gannon in 2002. Offensive line issues continue to define the final part of the season for the team, as Carr took six sacks today, ending the season with a respectable total of 31 sacks. However, 19 of those sacks came in the final five games, and 10 of those were in the two Kansas City games. In both Chiefs games, Carr showed difficulty in figuring out Bob Sutton’s aggressive, man-coverage defensive scheme. Michael Crabtree once again proved to be the reliable outlet for Carr, with a great 31-yard grab for the team’s only offensive touchdown. Amari Cooper was still banged up, held to just 20 yards on two receptions.
Grade: D

Rush Offense: Normally we don’t add in Carr’s scrambles to the rushing yards total, because they are usually not designed runs, but broken passing plays. Might as well add Carr’s two runs for 12 yards this time around, since even then the Raiders’ grand total comes to a measly 48 yards on 16 total carries. Latavius Murray was rarely used and mostly shut down, gaining 31 yards on his 11 carries, with a long of 9 yards. Roy Helu was the only other ball carrier, with 3 carries for 5 yards and a long of 3 yards.
Grade: F

Pass Defense: Alex Smith ended his 2015 season with just 7 interceptions, but two of them were in this game, and David Amerson took his in for a pick-six. With Charles Woodson retiring, Amerson is the best remaining player on the Raiders’ secondary right now. The Raiders held Smith to just 14-24-154, but he also had two passing touchdowns. Considering the Raiders defense was on the field for almost 35 minutes, it could have been worse.
Grade: B+

Rush Defense: When Alex Smith couldn’t damage the Raiders with his arm, he victimized them with his legs, racking up 61 rushing yards on just nine carries, frequently at critical third-down points. Spencer Ware also had a field day, going 16-76 with a touchdown. Charcandrick West got into the festivities as well, gaining 34 yards on 13 carries. Jeremy Maclin’s 18-yard end-around pushes the grand total up to 189 rushing yards, a real step back for what had been an improved run defense. But again, 35 minutes on the field and very little offense, and that’s what happens.
Grade: C

Special Teams: Sebastian Janikowski made his lone 29-yard field goal attempt, and both extra points. Marquette King had a (for him) off day, averaging just 35.6 yards on his 6 punts, although one of them was a 57-yarder. Taiwan Jones had a 70-yard kickoff return. Kick coverage continues to be solid, giving up nothing longer than 14 yards.
Grade: B-

Coaching: While the Raiders this season have shown themselves to be much more competitive in general and against division opponents, both Kansas City games were by far their weakest division efforts. For whatever reason, they appear unable to handle Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s scheme and packages. As Denver and San Diego appear to be fading in the AFC West for at least the next couple seasons, it becomes even more critical for the Raiders to figure out the Chiefs and adapt. This will require developing a much more balanced rushing attack, and a complementary back to Latavius Murray. The days of the 35-carries-per-game workhorse running back are over; ideally Murray should get around 20-25 carries max, and the other RB should get 10-15. The 2:1 pass-run ratio today (33 pass plays, 16 running plays) is a surefire indicator of where the offense’s deficiencies lie. An adaptive game plan, especially after what happened in the first Raiders-Chiefs matchup on December 6, would have taken some of the load off Carr and spread it around in a jumbo-formation running package, to slow down the Chiefs’ front seven.
Grade: C-

Game Preview: Raiders at Chiefs

It’s the end of an era, as Charles Woodson suits up for his final NFL game. And of course the Raiders will strive to send him out on a high note. The Chiefs are already in the playoffs, so there’s no spoiler role to be had in this final game of the 2015-16 regular season. But that doesn’t mean that Oakland can’t use this game as a barometer of the direction the team is heading, and how quickly and effectively. Kansas City is red-hot, winning nine in a row after a 1-5 start, and will win the AFC West with a win against the Raiders, and a loss by Denver.

The Chiefs have continued their winning ways with the steady play of Alex Smith, the next-man-up approach of the running back corps, and the usual tight defensive play. Defensive back Marcus Peters is a legitimate contender for the Defensive Rookie of the Year. Kansas City is top-10 in their rushing attack, and second in the league in defensive points allowed.

There are some noteworthy parallels between this game and the season-ender in KC in 1999, for what that’s worth. Probably the main key to victory for the Raiders is to generate a strong running game and ride it for all it’s worth. If they do that, and own the clock enough, they can actually pull this one off and end the season at a respectable 8-8, more than the last two seasons combined.

Week 16 Final: Raiders 23, Chargers 20

Full game stats here.

With both teams out of contention, there’s just as much chance for a game to turn into a free-for-all as a sleep-fest. And this one began as the latter, and ended as the former.

It started out poorly enough, with Derek Carr getting picked early in the game yet again. This time, unlike last week against Green Bay, he managed to stop digging that early hole, and the Raiders found their way back into it. The defense still has trouble stopping Danny Woodhead, but managed to hang in there long enough to gut it out. The late end-around attempt with Charles Woodson, even though it didn’t work, was a nice gesture and a fitting tribute to a great all-time Oakland Raider.

As this was definitely Woodson’s final home game, and possibly the team’s final home game in Oakland, it seems appropriate that this would turn out to be an exciting finish against an original AFL rival. Good game, and a good opportunity to assess the team’s needs as it heads into the off-season.

Game Grades: Raiders vs. Jets

Pass Offense: Derek Carr was just about flawless, going 23 for 36 for 333 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. Amari Cooper was shadowed by Darrelle Revis most of the game, and was held to five receptions for 46 yards and no touchdowns. But Michael Crabtree, who continues to shine as one of the Raiders’ best free-agent pickups in years, picked up the slack with seven receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown. Andre Holmes burned Antonio Cromartie on a terrific 49-yard run-and-catch for a touchdown, and Taiwan Jones turned a simple dump-off pass in the flat into a brilliant play-of-the-week scamper for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Grade: A

Rush Offense: Latavius Murray carried almost the entire workload in this game, and did it well — 20 carries for 113 yards, often keeping drives alive at key moments. Taiwan Jones had just two carries for five yards, but it’s more a function of how effective Murray was throughout the game.
Grade: A

Pass Defense: Like Philip Rivers last week, Geno Smith ended up with respectable numbers (27-42-265-2-1), but again most of that came long after the game had gotten away from them. Khalil Mack, D.J. Hayden, and Denico Autry each had a sack, and Charles Woodson (who else?) had an interception.
Grade: A

Rush Defense: Once again, the Raiders building up a strong halftime lead forced the opponent to become one-dimensional. The Jets had just 21 carries total, and three of those were by Smith and Fitzpatrick; in fact, Smith’s two runs for 34 yards total led the team. Featured RB Chris Ivory, who had been averaging nearly 100 yards per game and 5 yards per carry, gained just 17 yards on 15 carries. David Amerson, who was recently signed to bolster the secondary, laid an especially nasty hit on Geno Smith late in the game, as Smith was trying to run up the sideline.
Grade: A

Special Teams: Sebastian Janikowski made 2 of his 3 field goal attempts, and all of his extra points. Marquette King only had to punt three times, averaging 41.7 yards, with a 52-yard long. Taiwan Jones had decent kickoff returns, while T.J. Carrie had just 4 yards total on 4 punt returns. The return game is one of those areas that should be relatively easy to shore up, if a roster spot can be opened up to sign a specialist, and let Jones go back to gunner on special teams, for which he has made the Pro Bowl.
Grade: B

Coaching: During the broadcast of the game, one of the announcers mentioned that offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave had basically been working 12-14 hour days “cracking the code” on the Jets’ top-3 defense. Whatever Musgrave did, it worked in spades, as the Raiders attacked the Jets’ strong points and pushed them around all day. But Ken Norton, Jr.’s defensive squad has been pulling their weight as well, improving week after week, neutralizing the Jets’ offensive strengths effectively.

There are still areas of relatively untapped potential for the team, especially on the offensive side: Cooper and Crabtree have been so good that the tight ends still haven’t really been worked into the passing game; Murray is having some good games but there hasn’t yet been a complementary running back in the mix yet; and the return game could be beefed up a bit for better field position. That is not a complaint at all, but merely to point out that the team is really good right now, and could get even better without a lot of extra work or talent.

Not to look ahead too far, but should the Raiders manage to get into the playoffs this year — and given the state of the AFC right now, they seriously look like the fourth-best team in the conference — this game will be seen as a real turning point. This is the most complete, dominant start-to-finish game they have played in some time, last week’s beatdown in San Diego notwithstanding.
Grade: A

Week 5 Final: Broncos 16, Raiders 10

Full game stats here.Well, it was very close to being a nice upset game, a chance for a young team on their way up to show that they could run with the bigger (if somewhat older) dogs. And for the first half, as well as Denver’s first possession of the second half, the Raiders did just that.

After that, not so much. From Austin Howard’s completely whiffed chip block that left Derek Carr wide open for a sack-fumble, to Seth Roberts misreading a Carr pass late in the 4th quarter, leaving Chris Harris to take the pick-six to the house, the offense choked on a very winnable game. Throw in a pair of missed field goals by Sebastian Janikowski, in a game that ended up being lost by six points, and it was that kind of day for the Raiders as they head into the bye week.

But Oakland also showed that they could run with the big dogs, holding Peyton Manning to zero touchdowns and two interceptions, both by the ageless wonder Charles Woodson, who amazingly had never intercepted Manning in the 18 years the two have been in the NFL. Denver’s defense is probably the best overall in the league, a veritable buzzsaw that gives grief to every team they face. And for a couple of missed field goal attempts and a bad throw on a bad route, the Raiders might actually have pulled off a huge upset.

So even with a 2-3 record going into the bye, there is cause for real optimism. Aside from the season opener debacle against a Bengals team that is still undefeated, the Raiders have been in every game, are playing competitively and with confidence. They look focused and prepared, and are executing well for the most part. This is just a bump on a long road, they will continue to improve at this rate, with just a few minor tweaks.

Game Grades: Raiders vs. Broncos

Pass Offense: Derek Carr had 26 completions in 39 attempts for 249 yards, with 1 TD and 1 INT, which are pretty respectable stats against Denver’s defense. The offensive line gave up four sacks, however, the worst of which was a whiffed block by right tackle Austin Howard that caused Carr to fumble the ball away. Amari Cooper was held in check; Michael Crabtree was the only Raider receiver to gain over 50 yards (4-54).
Grade: C

Rush Offense: Not much to speak of, as there were only 24 carries for 66 yards total (Latavius Murray went 13 for 39). The Broncos clearly were not going to give anything up on the ground, so Oakland had to devote most of their energies to short passing attempts. Again, while the team made a very solid and respectable effort against a team with a Hall of Fame QB, All-Pro WR, and one of the best all-around defenses in recent years, a stronger rushing attack will give them better balance and consistency.
Grade: D

Pass Defense: Peyton Manning went 22 for 36 for 266 yards, but had two interceptions (both to Charles Woodson) and no touchdowns, a rarity for Manning, who is having an off year so far. Just as impressively, considering how badly the Raiders have been getting burned by tight ends, Denver TE Owen Daniels had no receptions. Putting LB Neiron Ball on Daniels was a good move that paid off, and should be continued. Emmanuel Sanders had 9 receptions for 111 yards, but Demaryious Thomas went only 5 for 55. Manning was also sacked twice.
Grade: B+

Rush Defense: C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman combined for just 18 carries for 43 yards. The defensive line has benefited already from the addition of Aldon Smith, who disrupts just about every play he’s involved in, as well as the continued improvement of Khalil Mack. At the rate these players continue to gel, they will impact games later in the season.
Grade: A-

Special Teams: Seabass had an off day, missing two of his three field goals, which makes all the difference in the world in a game decided by six points. And you can’t even blame it on the damned infield dirt, since the A’s are done and the field is all turf now. Marquette King averaged 50.8 yards on his four punts, with a long of 61 yards. Every time I see Amari Cooper back to return a punt, my heart stops and my stomach tightens up, waiting for the inevitable crushing hit, but Cooper’s sole punt return went for a nice 18 yards.
Grade: C-

Coaching: The coaching plan for this game was simple — keep the game close, and any damage to a minimum. The Broncos’ defense is fast, dangerous, and opportunistic, and even a past-his-prime Peyton Manning is better than most quarterbacks in full stride. The best way to neutralize that defense would be to have a powerful rushing attack and some nice screen plays in their pocket, but having neither of those things, the Raiders settled on a controlled short-passing game, which was pretty effective for the most part. This was just one of those games that hinged on a few crucial breaks, none of which went the Raiders’ way. But the coaches deserve credit for keeping the team focused and prepared against a division-leading rival stacked with talent. There’s no such thing as a moral victory, but this is definitely one of those losses where the team can see how close they came, and make a few adjustments going forward. A very respectable effort.
Grade: B