Oakland Raiders Week Five: Pressures, Hurries, and Knockdowns
Well I'm back. Sorry I missed last week, I was pretty ill, but I'm all better now. Hope I can still say that tomorrow after the Giants game.
Sorry about the picture too. Getty Images has a somewhat limited selection.
Right to it. Cheers everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving to any of my fellow Canadians.
The pressure is squeezing this cat from all sides right now, and for a guy his size, it's got to be very uncomfortable.
The Randy Hanson situation won't go away quietly; in fact, Hanson's attorney is parroting on about having incontrovertible evidence, and Roger Goodell is talking in code about potentially suspending Cable for a long time if the allegations prove true.
Cable has repeatedly said that nothing happened and denied any wrongdoing, but it's really not looking good for him right now. He needs to hope that this goes away quietly and can be dealt with behind closed doors; with a felony charge looming and Goodell's track record, that's not very likely.
His play-calling has also come into question lately, with many in Raider Nation wondering just what the hell he is thinking half the time. I mean, the run is supposed to be the strength of this team, yet we repeatedly come out passing and put ourselves in and-long situations. It's unhealthy for the offense.
I'll touch on this more later, but his "master motivator" tag needs to be removed, at least for now. This team looked like they were turning it around; they don't so much any more.
The legal situation is one Cable can do little about; he can, however, have his team fired up, ready to play, and ready to pour their hearts on the field Sunday. Something he hasn't done since the opener on Monday night. The pressure is on, and I can honestly say that I've taken a liking to Cable's personality, but I sure wouldn't want to be in his shoes.
Let me make one thing clear: I'm not calling the defense out. They've played well for the most part this season, a couple of lapses in last week's debacle aside.
Nonetheless, we haven't seen the same heart or intensity from them since the San Diego game either. That game the defense gave up a respectable 77 yards on the ground in that game, but in the three games since have given up an average of 170+ yards, including over 200 to the Denver Broncos two weeks ago.
The defense is not fully culpable in their drop-off. They must be on the laundry list of folks who have no faith in this offense, and it's beginning to show. After they left their guts on the field during that goal line stand in the Broncos game, they were gutted again by the offensive inefficiencies. This defense is beginning to lose faith, and it's beginning to show in their play.
The offense is under pressure every single week, and that's patently obvious. What might not be so obvious is that that heaps tremendous pressure on the defense, and it's a pressure they've wilted under the last couple games.
Against a poised and efficient Giant attack, they're going to have to stay disciplined, make solid tackles, and get fired up and enjoy themselves. But if they don't get any help early from a so far stagnant offense, I hope they don't just mail it in. That's my biggest fear, and it will happen after long enough if the offense doesn't shape up.
They are under pressure to bring it. Just want it, taste it, hit em hard, and leave them respecting us. Bring that intensity we had when we first got Seymour and we wanted to stick it to the Chargers. That's what they're under pressure to do: rediscover their killer instincts.
- Reports I've read say that Chaz Schilens is playing this weekend, and then I just read something that said he's doubtful, and then....so I don't know. What I do know is that if he is back, Russell has both his security blankets and no more excuses. The Giants being an excellent team is not an excuse
- Russell made some really nice throws last week, but they were dropped. It seems like the entire offense is snake-bitten even when they execute well
- The offensive line needs to get plenty of rest and eat their Wheaties tomorrow. That Giants front is scary, scary, scary. Speed rushers, bull rushers, hybrids, run stuffers. They've got it all, and our guys are going to have to bring their "A" game.
- Having Gallery back would be nice, but Cable paying extra attention to the line this week is a potential double-edged sword considering all his duties
- I'm glad Michael Bush is getting the start. Last time he got the majority of the carries was the Tampa game last season, and we all know how well that worked out
- Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs are a scary tandem, obviously. But the Raiders have difficulty with shifty backs like Bradshaw, and equal difficulty with hammer backs like Jacobs. Solid tackling and gap discipline is of paramount importance
Tom Cable has Changed the Attitude in Oakland
Now, I think he's begun to, and it's so damaged that it's a definite work in progress. But much like JaMarcus Russell's play, there seems to be a regression in commitment and intensity on this team.
In the beginning, all of Raider Nation—myself included for sure—were ecstatic that Cable was taking out the trash and instilling a new attitude. The players were saying all the right things, buying in, and Jerry McDonald's blog seemed to indicate that things were indeed feeling a bit different.
We all saw the team that flew out of the gates against the Chargers on Monday night. That's what we wanted, expected, and we were all on board. Despite the loss, there was a new attitude in Oakland and this team was going to do some good things because they finally cared; they weren't just picking up a paycheck.
Only are they? After three straight lackluster performances not only on the stat sheet but on the field as well, we're left to wonder whether anything has really changed. Recent comments from Jeff Garcia, Rich Gannon, and Boomer Esiason, although not confirmed by team sources, would suggest that there are players in the locker room with no interest in winning or playing good football; they just want to pick up a paycheck.
With Cable's legal troubles looming, the offense playing terribly under his tutelage, and the team slowly but surely slipping out of his grasp, he has to do something quickly to regain his hold on the franchise and the Nation. Our faith, once so strong in the beginning, is starting to waver. Cable needs to have this team ready and prepared and show us all we aren't the same Oakland Raiders anymore; he owes it to us all.
The Raider Run Defense Has Improved
For one game. That's it. Then, same-old same old. I've already gone into detail about how the offense has heavily contributed to any defensive struggles the team may be experiencing. But this team, so disciplined and smart in the first game, have forgotten their way.
Last week, there was horrible gap discipline. The tackles were getting shoved aside and the linebackers were being hacked up by the O-Line, leaving the secondary to make plays. I'm glad that Tyvon Branch, Nnamdi, and now Michael Huff are good tacklers, because without them there would've been much harsher gains.
The Texans were also stagnating in their run game, until they played us. Then, Steve Slaton remembered who he was. Against Denver, even though they held well on the goal line, the Broncos still marched down the field at will and we turned Knowshon Moreno into a star early in his career. Once again I put a healthy slice of the blame on the offense here, but many big gains in the Denver and Houston games were early and often, well before the D should've been exhausted.
No, much like Cable, the initial positive changes I saw installed by Marshall and his regime in regards to run defense have somewhat evaporated. Now, Board and Marshall have done a good job in getting the line to play strong against the man in front of them; the players just have to remember to do their jobs and not always try and make the big play.
This team has a lot of speed and the run defense is something that can be corrected. With Marshall's experience and the talent we have on the line I expect that to be the case.
The Giants are a tough running team; the game is going to be a huge test. It will also be the first step in showing everyone that this Raider team is more like the one they saw opening night than the one that's showed up since.
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