The hiatus is over here at the pond, sorry to the five readers and my dog but times they were a changing.So here goes.............
During last nights game commentary, as the discussion turned to JaMarcus Russell, it was stated that Tom Cable had said that last year the coaching staff gave their QB only 40% of the playbook to worry about, and this year they had doubled it to 80%.
That is a truly remarkable statement.Our head coach is saying that our No1 pick quarterback, with a full season of starting behind him, and another full training camp, is still not able to grasp all of the playbook.I doubt that there is another starting QB in the league that is less than 100% familiar with his teams playbook, or put another way, I doubt that there is another coaching staff in the NFL that has to restrict their options by 20% based on the ability of their own starting quarterback.
The difference that Richard Seymour made to the RAIDERS defensive line, after only a couple of days in town, showed the effect that one player can have on a unit, and there is no doubt that through three quarters last night the defense played some great football, good enough to give a team a chance in most games.I believe that had the RAIDERS started the game with a serviceable NFL QB, nothing special, you know someone who has the playbook down, who doesn't continually lock onto a primary receiver, or have ongoing accuracy problems, that we would have had that game won.The addition of Seymour on the defensive side of the ball will make people better around him, his play and attitude will instill confidence in team-mates, it seems to have happened already.At no point during yesterday's game did I feel that Russell could have a similar effect on offense and for a No.1 pick that is worrying.Add to the admission that 20% of the playbook is still being kept away from Russell that Steve Young thought that the coaches should make it simpler still.
It may seem harsh to level so much at Russell after one game of a new season, he had a couple of rookie receivers out there which won't have helped but a lot of the eighteen passes that were not completed were way off target.The problem too for me is that he is making the same types of mistakes that he was making as a rookie, there doesn't seem to be a progression.We all know what a capable NFL calibre quarterback looks like, not everyone can be a Brady or Manning but they can run an offense.There are rookies who come in and do well like Flacco and Ryan and look the part immediately, while we are babying a third year guy.If things had gone differently and Al could have resisted the Russell factor, we may have now had Calvin Johnson and Trent Edwards rather than #2, and after watching Edwards operate the Bills no-huddle offense this week oh how I would take that scenario right now, in fact the development of Edwards up to this point only highlights where Russell should be.Edwards was by no means perfect but he lead a more sophisticated offense than the RAIDERS do, and he did it well.
I'm not saying that all the other players in a RAIDER uniform were blameless .There were drops and missed opportunities, some iffy looking kick coverage, some far too soft defensive playcalling in the fourth quarter, and lets not get onto the Murphy TD that then wasn't, maybe you need to hold onto a ball till you get home after the game these days, who knows.DHB wasn't a factor at all, and there are still issues with the linebacking corps, but none of this is as important as Russell.There could be a case to level criticism at the coaches for our franchise QB's lack of improvement, but the RAIDERS did get an experienced quarterback guy in Paul Hackett to help, and that is why I was looking for the difference in Russell this pre-season and especially last night, but didn't see it.I want Russell to do well, I want him to win, he's the quarterback of the OAKLAND RAIDERS, I just don't see him becoming what a No.1 overall pick with those physical attributes should.
There were reasons for great optimism.Seymour and Ellis, Mario Henderson looking the real thing at LT and doing a job on Merriman ( lose the Mohawk, how old are you?), the Bush and McFadden combination, and to see a real intensity on Defense in general, those fellas went and knocked SD around, it was a beautiful thing to see so many Chargers staying on the ground after contact, jesus even McFadden was laying people out.We have Schilens to come back who looks a real player, and Barnes to maybe upgrade the RT position, and we didn't get blown out this year in week one.But all this optimism seems misguided if our supposed franchise QB is a liability, an average QB would give us a chance in the AFC West this year so lets see if he can become average but consistently average, I don't have a good feeling about him though.
Something else that bothered me about MNF :
I get the whole AFL Legacy thing, it's an anniversary and all that, and the throwback jerseys are a nice idea, well if your a Denver or Jets fan that may not be the case, I'm sure those yellow and brown shirts are going down a storm in Colorado!But the RAIDERS in white at home, come on thats just not right, I haven't seen a good explanation for this yet, all I can come up with is that the away shirt looks more obviously retro with the silver numbers and more likely to stimulate sales.Thats all well and good but we play in black, NFL.BLACK.
Onwards and upwards RAIDER NATION, two divisional games on the horizon and an opportunity to feel better after smacking around some Chiefs and Donkeys, and speaking of Donkeys how is it fair that they play that poorly and still win in that manner, they were playing the bloody Bengals for gods sake, you shouldn't need that sort of luck to do that, they lost more games than we did last year!The division is there to be taken if JaMarcus can turn the babying into Just Win Babying.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR THE RAIDER NATION......................
Saturday Sept 19th 2009 is International Talk Like A Pirate day.SHIVER ME TIMBERS.
All self respecting RAIDER fans need to pop a parrot on a shoulder of choice, break out the full pirate regalia and do someting to a mainbrace.AHARRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.
Carrying a cutlass is generally frowned upon by most police forces though, so do be careful.