Thursday, September 10, 2009

This is why I drink: 2009 Raiders season preview Part One: Offense

To the surprise of no one, the Oakland Raiders are a fucking disaster. Again. Al Davis and his ongoing battle with senility have resulted in a roster that is equal parts horrifying and amusing. He used the 7th pick in the draft on a receiver who can't catch. He threw some big money at aging defensive end Greg Ellis, while trading a first rounder for fellow defensive end Richard Seymour, who, by the way, has yet to report to the team 4 days before the first game of the season. Head coach Tom Cable's only notable accomplishment during the preseason was punching the shit out of now former defensive assistant and suspected Al Davis mole Randy Hanson. In other words: not a damn thing has changed. Here's the best preview someone as jaded as myself can muster to put together. I'm not giving grades this season because, well, no one else gives a shit about the Raiders so why should I? Revel in my sorrow.


Jamarcus Russell, the much maligned face of the franchise, is the undisputed starter. He's kinda fat. He can throw a football really far. He's... well that's pretty much it. I'm not nearly as down on Jamarcus as seemingly everyone who isn't one of his friends or family members seems to be. In fact, I saw a lot of things that I like out of him. He did a decent job of managing the team and didn't make too many stupid mistakes. He fumbled a lot, but when Kwame "Turnstile" Harris is watching your blind side, that's to be expected. But let's face reality. It doesn't matter how good or bad Jamarcus is if he has nothing to throw to. This is going to be the year where the Raiders find out once and for all if he's the guy they can build around. Backing him up are disgraced former starters Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye. In other words: No one is backing him up.

Running Backs

Darren McFadden is dynamic. He's a game changer. He's versatile. He's also injury prone and puts more balls on the floor than, God, I don't even know where I was going with that one. A lot of people are picking him to be a breakout star this year which would be possible if the Raiders had taken ANY steps towards fixing their passing game and o-line play. They did no such thing and thus McFadden will continue to disappoint. His running back mates Justin Fargas and Michael Bush are also talented players. Fargas, when healthy, has been a reliable option who is capable of moving the chains. Unfortunately the guy gets hurt getting out of bed. Bush is an absolute load who could start for over half of the other teams in the NFL, yet in Oakland he finds himself as part of a 3 headed running back committee. One of these guys is going to have to go sooner or later. I already assume Al has been on the phone with the Patriots about sending them Bush in exchange for a bag of magic beans. Former practice squader Louis Rankin won a roster spot after a good preseason and will probably see time on special teams. Oren O'Neal and Luke Lawton are the fullbacks and are serviceable at best. This is the strength of the team. Yippee.

Receivers/Tight Ends

Ugh. OK. Last year I mentioned how a certain 7th rounder was going to have a slight impact on the Raiders passing game and was going to set himself up to be a big part of the future. Well, Chaz Shilens made me look smart for a while. During the offseason he worked his ass off and made it apparent that he was ready to be THE GUY this year for the Raiders. So naturally he then broke his foot and is going to be out for a while. I also said last year that Johnnie Lee Higgins was a bust and needed to show the Raiders SOMETHING to avoid becoming the new Carlos Francis. Well, he did just that, becoming one of the NFL's most dangerous return men while also working his way into the role of deep threat in the passing game. He has the makings of becoming a fine #3 receiver. Javon Walker is still hanging around, somehow. I still can't believe Al talked him out of retirement before last season. I have zero expectations of him this year so he'll have to do his damnedest to disappoint me. They spent the #7 pick on Darrius Heyward-Bey for reasons that defy all forms of logic. He's fast and tall but has a hard time catching a thrown football which is kind of a big deal when your job is to, you know, catch a thrown football. He looked pretty over matched in the preseason so I'm sure he'll have no impact this year. Well, no POSITIVE impact at least. In fact, 3rd round pick Louis Murphy pretty much outplayed him this preseason. The coaching staff is really high on undrafted rookie Nick Miller who reminds me of Wes Welker in terms of being a short white dude who plays wide receiver. The comparisons stop there. Todd Watkins is also on the team for some reason.

Zach Miller is an absolute stud. He and Jamarcus have a nice rapport going and he's one of the few tight ends in the NFL who you have to account for on every snap. He's not much of blocker, but then again, neither are any of the o-linemen so who can blame Zach? He would be a pro bowler if he played anywhere else, and now that Tony Gonzalez is out of the AFC his time to shine may be upon us. He deserves better than this. Tony Stewart and rookie Brandon Myers back him up.


A few years back Al Davis decided to spend the #2 overall pick on Robert Gallery in hopes of securing the left tackle spot for the next decade. Turns out he instead ended up spending the #2 overall pick on an OKish left guard. You shouldn't spend the #2 overall pick on an OKish left guard. He is nowhere nearly as shitty as he was his first couple of years in the league when he could be counted on for 2-3 holding calls and 3-4 false starts a game but he'll never be a pro bowler. Cooper Carlisle and Paul McQuistan will probably take turns filling in for each other at right guard this year. The team has had high hopes for McQuistan for a long time but he can't stay healthy and tends to make some bad decisions at the worst possible time. Carlisle is pretty solid and can play tackle if need be. Mario Henderson didn't see the field as a rookie but didn't look too bad last year. This may have been because he was replacing Kwame Harris, so in comparison a tackle dummy may have looked like an upgrade. I actually have hope that Henderson will develop into a solid left tackle. Cornell Green returns as the starter on the right side. He's a vet and fairly solid but, like seemingly everyone else on the line, can't stay healthy. The Raiders seemingly acquired a new starting center when they traded for Samson Satele before training camp began, yet he currently sits as #2 on the depth chart behind Chris Morris. Chris Morris is not a starting center in the NFL. I'm guessing Tom Cable is a huge supporter of his and that this was the one roster decision Al let him make. Khalif Barnes and Erik Pears round out the rest of the o-line and neither one of them is worth a shit.

No comments: