Welcome to another addition of Pressures, Hurries, and Knockdowns as it applies to our beloved Silver & Black. Even though they played well last weekend and are coming off a big win, there are still concerns, obviously. Let's get to it.
The defense won the game for us last weekend, but Russell showed a lot of poise, leadership, and confidence when he was on the field.
He has been much maligned this season, and I myself have called him out for an apparent apathy toward succeeding. A decent game last weekend (although spectacular by his standards thus far this season) does not answer all of our questions.
But from the outset against the Eagles last week, he looked like a different player. He seemed to have regained his confidence. He was moving around in the pocket, feeling the rush, and getting rid of the ball.
He made excellent usage of his check-downs to Gary Russell, and would've had an even better game if it weren't for the usual drops in the first quarter by our green and inconsistent wide receivers.
Now, Russell needs to show that this offense can put up more than one touchdown. Because the defense, stout as it is and I expect it to continue to be, cannot be expected to hold teams to under 14 points every game.
Russell needs to step it in insofar as making more consistent plays down the field. He took a step in the right direction last weekend, but this offense is one of the worst in the NFL, and Fargas' running, coupled with the stellar defense, helped shield this reality against the Eagles.
JaMarcus Russell is under pressure to show that he can put points on the board and have a large hand in winning games.
The Raider Nation knows what we have in our defense, we expect the return game to get on track soon, and our running attack is believed to be great (although that's been an unfortunate mirage thus far, Fargas excepted).
The only piece of the puzzle left is the play of Russell. Without him making more plays more consistently, great efforts by our defense could possibly be wasted. He's already shown this season he can play well in the fourth quarter when it counts.
But the game against the Eagles, and the subsequent confidence and talk from the locker room, has raised the bar in Raider land, and Russell's occasional flashes just won't cut it for much longer. He can do this; just more often is what we need.
Once again, the bar has been raised on the defensive side of the ball, and the pressure is on the D-Coordinator to, well, keep the pressure on.
We all loved the snarling, pin-your-ears back attack we saw last weekend. It was refreshing, swarming, and deliciously vicious. It was a thing of beauty.
Granted, the Eagles abandoning the run and having a less than healthy offensive line made them the absolute perfect opponent to blitz, but suffice it to say, Raider Nation finally saw it. And we liked what we saw.
If Marshall goes back to straight man schemes and 4-man rushes, and it doesn't work as well as last week's mixed bag of defensive marbles, then there will be a lot of unhappy fans. And, I daresay, unhappy defensive players.
- Chaz Schilens suffered a setback in practice on Friday, and as of today was still questionable. I've been saying this for weeks, this might be the week, but we need him so badly.
- Been hearing talk of Langston Walker or Khalif Barnes at right tackle, but haven't found anything around to substantiate it. Cable has indicated Walker's conditioning has improved, and Barnes is healthy. It remains to be seen what's going to be done with the RT spot, especially if "Turnstile" Green returns anytime soon.
- Regardless of who plays RT, Erik Pears did a pretty good job last weekend. In fact, for a patchwork line thrown together, they did a hell of a job to a man last weekend.
- I knew drafting Zach Miller in the ninth round of my fantasy league would pay dividends one of these weekends. Here's hoping that he and J-Rock keep it going, and of course not just for fantasy purposes.
- Speaking of fantasy, I also drafted Darren McFadden in the seventh round. That one hasn't worked out so well. It's strange; with his lack of production earlier this season, and his subsequent disappearing act during his injury, he's become somewhat of a forgotten man in Raider land at the moment.
Cut Justin Fargas; NOW!
Nope. Huggy Jr. was back with a vengeance last weekend, running with that ol' familiar demolition-derby style, chewing up clock and yardage, and even leaving some Eagles in his wake.
The blood-and-guts Justin Fargas we all know and love was on full display with hard running between the tackles, bone-crushing blitz pickups on linebackers and linemen alike, and even a catch out of the backfield.
Many Raider fans were calling for Fargas to be tossed aside altogether. I wanted him to play a reduced role, but knew the coaching staff loved him and he was essential for blitz pickups, so he wasn't going anywhere.
After he injured his groin earlier in the year and missed time at the beginning of the season, it was apparent that he was falling further behind both Bush and McFadden, and that the team would most certainly phase him out in favour of the younger dynamic duo.
But Fargas, as always, kept quiet, went to work, hit people, ran hard, and got his chances last weekend, where he made the most of it.
A key factor for Raider success is playing excellent defense and ball-control offense, and Fargas gives the team the best option at the latter right now. His running style simply wears the other team down.
Welcome back, Huggy, and keep up the excellent work.
Cable Guy is Going to Jail
Raider Nation: Hello folks. Tonight's special will be crow, served piping hot. Your waiter tonight will be Randy. Please don't look at him directly in the eyes; he's a little unstable and quite frankly we don't know what he's capable of.
Let us know when you're ready to order.