So much for starting the second half on the right foot! The Raiders fell to the KC Chiefs at home on Sunday, 16-10. Looking ahead, here are my 5 top things to take away from this game. The Raiders have a tough game coming up against the Cincinatti Bengals, and will need to be in top form to compete with a team like Cincy.
Michael Bush averaged over 8 yards per carry on Sunday, and started the game out with a monstrous 60 yard run, setting up the Raiders' lone TD. Bush has the raw power and ability to wear down opponents, and should be looked to as the starter each game. Justin Fargas was utilized properly at the goal line, changing things up from Bush. However, Bush should see the majority of touches for the Raiders, with Fargas getting a significant amount of snaps, and Darren McFadden being utilized at a receiving back for screen passes and sweeps.
See that towel around JaMarcus' neck in the picture? The raiders are just about ready to throw it in. Russell was yanked in the 3rd quarter, being benched for the second straight home game. And, for the second straight home game, Bruce Gradkowski received a hero's welcome by the fans in attendance. Gradkowski was not spectacular, but expectations are understandably lower for him than Russell. If Russell's playing time continues to be cut short, expect the Raiders to look at Sam Bradford or TIm Tebow in the draft.
Shane Lechler is making headlines this year for his pursuit of the NFL's yards per punt record. Lechler had to punt an astonishing 11 times on Sunday, with an average of over 48 yards per punt. His long was a booming 57 yard punt. Lechler has already cemented his place as one of the greatest punters in history, drawing comparison to another Raiders great, Ray Guy. On another team, Lechler could possibly be credited for winning games. On the Raiders, we can certainly at least credit him for keeping the Raiders in the fight.
Welcome back, Chaz. Chaz Schilens made his much-anticipated season debut on Sunday. Schilens should be the starter, along with Louis Murphy. Murphy had a potential 50+ yard touchdown taken off the board due to a penalty by Robert Gallery. Darrius Heyward-Bey caught one critical pass for 22 yards, but on the next play bobbled another catch which led to the game-clinching interception by the Chiefs. Earlier, DHB dropped a long pass by Russell. Heyward-Bey needs to ride the pine for a while while he learns the game, as it is abundantly clear that while Louis Murphy has a lot of work to do, he "gets" the game better than DHB at this point.
Fact 1: The Chiefs scored their first rushing TD of the year against the Raiders on Sunday. Fact 2: Jamaal Charles had his best game ever and eclipsed the 100 yard mark on Sunday. Coincidences? No. the Raiders' run defense is weak and will continue to be exploited weekly. If it were not for the significant QB issues, I would recommend we use draft picks to fix the run defense first. Even so, aside from the QB position, this is the thing that needs to be addressed most in the offseason.
I recently wrote about optimism in Oakland, which I will continue to have because I believe the talent is there. But As much as Tom Cable says the issues were addressed in the bye week, they still appear to remain. The run defense is bad, the passing game is weak, and Shane Lechler has to do double-digit punts. I hope the Raiders right the ship, and I believe they can win any game that they play, if the right team shows up. When that team does show up, though, is anyone's guess.