ReFo: Raiders @ Chargers, Week 17
The game might not have mattered but you couldn’t tell from the level of commitment on the field. Both sets of players gave it their all with the Chargers in particular looking as if they wanted to give Norv Turner a decent send off.
Most of the interest, though, centered on how Al Davis’ last draft pick would fare; we’ll get to Terrelle Pryor in a while but for now I hope “better than I expected” isn’t too much of a spoiler.
Overall, an interesting, hard fought game with plenty to talk about.
Oakland – Three Performances of Note
What to Expect?
OK, let’s spare the unnecessary sadism of making you read 500 words more than necessary if this is the only reason you showed up. Terrelle Pryor (-0.9) was the veritable curates egg and while that may be slightly unfair, you got the impression the Chargers were unduly hindered by the lack of representative game film.
Let’s start with the running. After you get over the fact that his version of the read-option looks like he’s molesting the runner and he’s about as likely to hand it off to anyone else as Peyton Manning is to try a left-handed pass, he looked genuinely elusive. The nine second scramble that resulted in him reversing field twice always had purpose and almost came off as one of the plays of the season. However, the fumble was terrible and his slipping in bounds at the end of the half (and hence allowing the clock to run out) in many ways, more so.
When it came to passing, there was larger number of lob passes than expected, although they almost always found their target and it was the passes he really drove where he encountered more problems. Three times balls went behind receivers and although they may have also been drops, it didn’t excuse the throws.
The good news is Russell Wilson’s first game was a lot worse than this, but if he wants to achieve those heights he’ll also need to display that player’s lust for improvement. He showed enough to say “I belong” but now comes the hard part.
You hear this phrase about a lot of players but if you can watch Lamarr Houston (+0.8) for any period of time and it doesn’t come to mind check you are watching the right player. His grade here is depressed by offside penalties based on his eagerness to “get going” — Philip Rivers still has that skill, even if he seems to have lost a lot of others — but Houston’s work against the run was fantastic. Eight tackles and seven stops were both season highs and overall he looked like a player who didn’t want the year to end.
So far this year Brandian Ross (-2.2) has looked like a player to watch and although he didn’t play well here, this game shouldn’t consign the rest of his season to the trash bin. It’s a shame it had to end on such a sour note, but everyone needs a reverse to remember and work to avoid having again. The numbers weren’t too bad (five catches on seven targets for 59 yards), but he surrendered outside release on the corner route TD far too easily and generally struggled with the sloppy conditions.
Chargers – Three Performances of Note
Obviously losing Malcolm Floyd is going to hurt but when you check your notes after the game and find Robert Meachem had played and you’d never noticed, you’re a little unsure whether to feel embarrassed for yourself or him. Six snaps in this game, an average of seven per week the last seven weeks. 14 receptions for 207 yards. It all seemed like a cheap alternative until you realize the production actually makes it a very expensive choice and one you doubt you’d make again. Not that you’ll have that option for a while.
If we are going to hold executives accountable for the poor decisions we need to praise the good ones and signing Eric Weddle (+2.9) to a free agent deal many saw as too rich was excellent business. Unbelievably omitted from the Pro Bowl, this was a great advertisement for just the sort of all-around player he’s become. Although the force and recovery of the Rod Streater fumble was called back on an unrelated penalty, it was still a great example of how he’s making things happen. How many free safeties beat a fullback and make the tackle for loss? (third quarter, 3:49 left)
The coverage on the final touchdown won’t go down on his highlight list, but hopefully a deserved All-Pro selection will.
This was not Shaun Phillips’ best game (-4.2) nor has this been his best season. In fact, since the midpoint of the year it’s been downright appalling. He looks a shadow of player he was before his foot injury last year when he was one of the best all-around 3-4 outside linebackers in the league.
All he could muster against the Raiders on 27 pass rushes was a late hit and hurry, an offside penalty, and no tackles. He did manage to miss one though, when he was unceremoniously stiff-armed by Pryor and ended up rotating around on the ground like a recently spun ball.
– Darren McFadden ran 19 times for 57 yards and broke three tackles – all on the same play – turning a 6-yard loss into a 6-yard gain.
– Philip River’s threw over 9 yards only five times. He was 4-of-5 for 87 yards, two touchdowns, and no picks.
– Like Phillips, Melvin Ingram also missed more tackles (two) than he made (zero).
Eric Weddle is the best player on either side and played like it.
Follow Neil on Twitter @PFF_Neil