As usual, I have been a very optimistic Raiders fan during the past six months. I hated the Heyward-Bey pick when I heard it and rationalized it later. I'll admit I wanted Michael Crabtree, so I'm certainly no genius.
I rationalized in my mind that the Raiders will run over top teams and take a load off Russell to allow him to do what he does best—throw deep.
The first pre-season game gave me something much better than I had expected. I watched Chaz Schillens look like a legitimate wide receiver stud. My only real concern appeared to have been solved.
JaMarcus Russell actually had someone to throw to. Realistically, I knew Heyward-Bey was not going to take the league by storm but I was and am confident he will be a valuable asset to this offense for a long time.
I assumed with able bodies and a new coaching scheme, the Raiders would not get gouged by the run.
In one week's time I found myself overwhelmed with disappointment. Chaz Schillens' injury is absolutely going to hurt. Unless the Javon Walker miracle is true, the Raiders will not start a proven wide receiver until Schillens recovers.
To make matters worse, the Raiders will have already played two division games by the time Schillens is in the lineup.
To make matters worse, the run defense appears to be worse than ever. The Raiders front seven did not attack a single San Francisco rush.
The linebackers hit their blockers as if they expected to be stood up. It looked like a group of guys who had somewhere else to be.
In fact, they probably did. I know it's the pre-season so the intensity is not always there, but the Raiders need to prove to themselves they can stop the run.
Running backs tend to do well in preseason since the offensive line is usually more aggressive than the defensive front.
With that said, the game reminded me too much of last season. I was underwhelmed by the lack of pursuit from the Oakland defense.
From where I sit as a fan, it comes across as nothing so much as a lack of effort. This defense needs to dictate the game and not react to plays as they unfold.
I've never placed a lot of stock on the pre-season, but Oakland's problems last year will not fix themselves. The personnel is very much the same as last season, which means we are expecting more from guys who underachieved in 2008.
From what I saw this last week, Tom Cable has some work to do. The Raiders do not have the leadership on the field at this point for him to sit back.
The coaches have preached fundamentals for three weeks. Going into the third week of preseason, it's time for Cable to light a fire under these guys.
I'm holding out that the best is yet to come.