Oakland Raiders are a Complex Problem Requiring a Complex Solution

Bret ArmstrongAnalyst IOctober 12, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 11:  Justin Tuck #91 of the New York Giants sacks JaMarcus Russell #2 of the Oakland Raiders in the third quarter on October 11, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants defeated the Raiders 44-7.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The biggest problem in Oakland right now is the massive amount of three and outs produced by the offense.

I know every person watching that game yesterday watched the defense stay on the field for 14 consecutive plays that ate eight minutes plus off of the game clock. The defense, in my honest opinion, did a great job of making the Giants work for every single yard on that drive.

While they did end the drive by punching it into the endzone, the Giants were having a very tough time getting it going on the ground at that point. They were forcing the Giants offense to pass, where Eli Manning would've been a bit of a sitting duck had it continued.

But, I could hear a 100,000 Raider Nation strong take a deep inhale when the offense took the field. Nearly everyone who watches this franchise on a regular basis was thinking, "Watch the offense go out and get another three and out."

And then the inevitable happened.

The first play is a handoff to Michael Bush off left tackle. He dashes ahead with a full head of steam for seven yards. There must be a hex on that right tackle position, as even Eric Pears can't help but false start while he is out there.

So, now Raider Nation thinks, 'Watch them pass twice.'

Alas, how well we know our team Nation.

The Raiders pass two times out of a 2nd down and eight, and end up punting the ball away, so our tired defense can take the field again. But this time it does not take 14 plays, it only takes three plays.

Raiders three and out...Giants score another touchdown...Raiders sack, fumble...the first of many...Giants score again.

What can we do to remedy the problem; which is undoubtedly the offense moving the ball?

The obvious answer is to run the damn football. Seriously, seven yards on first down and then you pass twice, who is calling the plays here?

So now we get to the more in depth answer, to a deeper question which is; Does Tom Cable need to go?

I don't think he is all of the problem, but I do think he is a big part of it right now. I can't grasp how he thought he could play the role of head coach and offensive coordinator when he has never done either of those jobs in the NFL.

A complex problem, though, requires a complex solution.

"Complex problems are uncertain because they do not provide us with reliable quatntitative data on which to base our decision. There is a vacuum of solid evidence into which can rush our most troublesome weaknesses as human individuals.

  • Biases
  • Systemic-errors
  • Over-simplification
  • Snap judgements
  • Short sightedness
  • Wishful thinking

Though we can never exercise these demons from our thinking, by understanding how they work, and by engaging in a process of thoughful and genuine inquiry, we can begin to recognize these foibles and minimize their influence."

The preceeding was brought to you courtesy of: http://www.idiagram.com/CP/vacuum.html.

So what does it all mean?

It means that the problem cannot be absolved by removing one piece of the puzzle. There are many factors causing the problem, and we must identify what they all are unbiasedly and fix them.

The complex problem that the team most needs to work on is converting third downs into first downs.

This is a complex problem because it is due to bad play calling, bad quarterbacking, dropped passes, lack of blocking, lack of vision by halfbacks, and the ability to hold on to the ball and not fumble.

This is not a one part problem, hence it is not a one part solution.

Bad Play Calling:

This problem is mostly caused by the fact that head coach Tom Cable is trying to do too much. Coach Cable thought since this was his job at the end of last season, it would be best for the team to continue on the same path, being that they had some success late last year.

It is not illogical to think this, nor is it irrational. The problem with it, though, is that it is not working. Tom Cable's credit, he has never done either of these jobs before, and therefore had no prior knowledge of how the situation would work out.

To his discredit, he, to this day, refuses to believe it is a problem.

But, I sight these two refrences.

1. The decision to pass twice from our own endzone against Denver.

2. The decision to pass twice after gaining seven yards rushing on our first play against the Giants.

This problem falls squarely on the shoulders on the head coach. First, Tom Cable has to accept that it is a problem. Secondly, he must decide which job he wishes to do, and either promote from within, or hire a new face to remedy this part of the problem.

Bad Quarterbacking:

This appears to be getting a little bit better in regards to the actual passing part of things. JaMarcus Russell started this season with horrendous efforts, and in the minds of most Raiders fans, it solidified his worthiness of the title "J-Bust."

However, his passes have been fairly accurate as of late. In week four against the Houston Texans, Tom Cable said Russell threw 26 catchable balls in his 33 passes, and added that the receivers, backs, and tight ends dropped nine of them.

In week five against the Giants, JaMarcus threw eight completions in 13 attempts (61.5 percent). Not bad, but another problem that he has had reared its ugly head again, fumblitis.

JaMarcus lost three fumbles on Sunday. A big problem for the defense via the offense. JaMarcus obviously needs to work on his awareness in the pocket. He needs to feel the pressure and get rid of the ball.

In his defense, the make-shift front five were not helping his case. Most quarterbacks have a four second clock in their head, perhaps JaMarcus' clock should be about 2.5 seconds until his line gets healthy again.

He needs to throw more touchdown passes too, Oakland hasn't scored throughout the air since the 57 yard bomb that was Louis Murphy's first touchdown opening night.

Dropped Passes:

This has been a pretty serious issue this year for Oakland. Like I said before, against Houston there were nine dropped passes.

There was a big contreversial drop opening night that could've gone for a huge touchdown by Louis Murphy. DHB had two drops on opening night.

These 12 passes alone would take JaMarcus Russell's completion percentage from 42 percent to 52 percent for the year.

They most likely accounted for over 100 yards of total offense, in addition to a countless number of first downs.

Maybe coach Sanjay Lal should blow the dust off the old jug machine, and have his young wideouts practice their catching while rookie safety Mike Mitchell tees off on them.

Lack of Blocking:

The offensive line is injured. I mean, Robert Gallery is injured. The offensive line has shown in these first five games that he is the leader of their group.

Cornell Green is down to injury as well, but most of Raider Nation thinks that the team might be better off without his presence.

There is a lot of interest as to why Kalif Barnes is not making the move to replace Green.

Franchise left tackle Mario Henderson has been a solid option for most of the year, but misses having Gallery inside of him as well.

Against the Giants, the line was awful. Against the Texans, the line was very sloppy.

This is Tom Cable's wrong to right. He is the great offensive line coach, where is that top ten rushing attack Oakland is supposed to have?

There are too many issues here to list. It may be the biggest deficiency in the entire offense.

Lack of Vision By The Halfbacks:

This problem mostly pertains to Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas. Michael Bush has been doing a good job of getting yardage when given the opportunity.

Going into the Giants game, Bush was averaging 4.0 yards per carry. Coming out of the Giants game, he is the only Oakland halfback to score two touchdowns this year, and he still has five carries less than McFadden, who did not play. He is only averaging 8.4 carries per game.

Darren McFadden is attempting to change his nickname from "DMC" to "McFumbles." So far in his short career he has more fumbles (seven) than touchdowns (four).

McFadden is averaging nearly 12 carries per game, but has only amassed an average of 3.1 yards per carry with one touchdown.

Justin Fargas has been heading downhill for about a season and a half now. So far in just two games, he is averaging 11.5 carries per game, and has only a 2.17 yards per carry average.

Fargas is supposed to provide a spark of energy for this offense with his take no prisoners running style. So far he only providing long third down conversion attempts.

The solution to this problem is simple. Take the 23.5 carries per game that are being given to the Fargas/McFadden combination and give them to Michael Bush.

Then take the 8.4 carries per game that Michael Bush is getting, and divide them evenly between McFumbles and Fargone.

The Ability to Hold Onto The Ball And Not Fumble:

This problem is fundamentals. This is a very easy fix. Squeeze it. Pretend it is your child.

Pretend the defense wants to hurt your child. Do not let them touch your child. They are mean. They will hurt your child.

Either that or see if your can set up an appointment with that guy who taught Tiki Barber how to hold onto it.


In closing, I have to say, if the Raiders can figure out the solutions to these problems, then things will become drastically better for their team.

They are very talented players, but they are very young players. They have a lot to learn. They have a lot of growing up to do.

They need leaders to emerge in the absence of Robert Gallery. They need their head coach to get spitting mad in their faces like Mike Singletary did.

When they come off of the field after a three and out they need their coaches criticism. They need to be yelled at.

They need to get their heads on straight and play to their abilities. If they do these things, their potential will be reached.

They will go from being a group of busts to a group that is busting heads and running up the score.

It's still a good team, but they need something to regain their confidence.

Maybe they should take Wednesday and Thursdays practices and go first team offense against first team defense all day long.

Allow the defense to take their aggression towards the offenses sloppy play out on the group that deserves it.

Really, who cares about injuries at this point. It might be good for them.

If they continue to go down this path, then the locker room will split, and Tom Cable will lose his team. That will be worse than the loss of any game in the past 101 games.

Check out why I think it's time to trim the fat: