It finally happened, what many Raider fans have been calling for for weeks. The Raiders benched JaMarcus Russell for Bruce Gradkowski. But it wouldn't make a bit of a difference. As Gradkowski's play resulted in: Four three-and-outs, one fumble, a failed fourth-and-goal attempt, three near interceptions, zero points, and a tired defense.
I don't blame Gradkowski for his performance, nor do I blame Russell for his. I blame the offensive coaching staff, and playcalling.
When Gradkowski came in his first drive was a three-and-out, but he wasn't helped at all by the play-calling as Tom Cable called five pass plays in a row, none of which resulted in a completion.
With the run game appearing to be the strength of the team, why go away from it? In his first five carries Justin Fargas had 62 yards. Yet despite his early success on the ground, and the fact that the Jets were missing their all-pro run stuffing Nose-tackle, the Raiders gave up on Justin Fargas who finished the game with only eight carries.
Including two QB rushes, the Raiders totaled less than 20 rushing attempts as the Jets Top-Two rushers each had more carries than the whole Raider team.
Even with the early deficit you cannot give up on the run. The running game was the only thing the Raiders had going for them, their only chance to score and sticking with the run also would have at least helped keep the score respectable.
Though it is not yet clear whether, or not Tom Cable can be a head coach in the NFL, it is clear that he has no business calling plays. The Raiders are desperately in need of an offensive coordinator, and may even need to revamp the offensive coaching staff as a whole.
You can't blame Russell, or Gradkowski for dropped passes and the constant pressure they saw from the Jets defense. But you can blame the coaches for lack of discipline on the o-line, from the receivers, and even at the QB position.
The coaches are responsible for making sure the line can pick up a blitz, the receivers can catch, and the QBs can read a defense.
Based on Gradkowski's performance he reads defenses just as bad as JaMarcus Russell. He failed to recognize open receivers, nearly threw three interceptions, and didn't even seem to be looking down field. Aside from a pass to his tight-end all off his completions were either check-downs, or quick slants to Murphy against a prevent defense.
You can't blame both Russell and Gradkowski for their inabilities to get the job done with the ball in their hands. You have to blame the coaching staff. Isn't it Paul Hacketts job to make sure his QBs can read defenses, find open receivers, and make accurate throws.
By giving up on the run and passing on first downs you not only take away your biggest threat in the running game. But if the pass is incomplete it limits what you can do on second down to passing again. That results in increased pass rush by a defense who is ready for the pass, which leads to more struggles through the air.
Establishing the running run game can only help the pass game, quiting on a run game that is working will only hurt the passing game. For this I blame Tom Cable and the play-calling.
How do you expect the QBs to make completions when the receivers can't catch or get open. For this I blame the receivers coach and Al Davis for not bringing in a veteran receiver.
Bottom line is the Raiders biggest hole is in the offensive coaching staff