Oakland Raiders Still Have a Solid Team

Bret ArmstrongAnalyst INovember 20, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 15:  Nnamdi Asomugha #21 of the Oakland Raiders warms up before their game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 15, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Oakland raiders may be 2-7 for the year, but if you looked at only the roster, you would have to ask yourself why, right Chad Ochocinco?

"I don’t know man, I don’t know. Dude, watching the Raiders on (expletive) defense that front line is awesome, the corners are awesome. I can’t for the life of me understand how they are not winning. I don’t get it. I don’t get it. Because what I see on film, the record does not show. Because they look a lot better than their record shows so I’m not understanding what’s going on," said the receiver formerly known as Johnson.

I have to say, in spite of the recent JaMarcus Russell benching, they still have a good core group of quarterbacks. I especially like that Bruce Gradkowski speaks clear and precise English, not some weird southern form of "Mr. Coolguy."

Charlie Frye has said that he feels like he has grown a ton since his days in Cleveland, where he was traded the day after opening day. I believe him. He also said he believes they are one of the hardest working groups of Qb's in the league. He and Gradkowski have been around a while and I'm sure they've had this discussion, so I kind of have to believe him there too.

Heck, since being inevitably benched, JaMarcus has decided that he should stay after practice and work on his throws, oh my!

The halfbacks, I believe, still could be starters for any other team in the league. Justin Fargas has shown some burst and plenty of pop that he has left.

Michael Bush is the only Raiders runner to rush for a hundred yards since Justin Fargas did it week 12 last year against Denver. Bush has had two 100 yard games since then, and might be emerging as the starter at the position, although Tom Cable said he did not like that Bush needed a breather after five consecutive runs against the Chiefs.

Whatever! I'd like to see Tom Cable take five consecutive handoffs against any team...the Rams even.

Darren McFadden has got wheels under him, but so far has been a big time disappointment for Oakland. Expected to be the next Adrian Peterson, he is making Jerry Jones look very smart for drafting his former Arkansas teammates Felix Jones. He's no Adrian Peterson yet, right now he looks more like Reggie Bush running between the tackles.

The tight ends are an underrated groups here with Zach Miller, who is slowly developing as the go-to-guy. He is receiving heavy coverage from people who are looking to make the Raiders throw to their young wide receivers. Once the receivers start catching balls, Miller will become very dangerous.

Tony Stewart is an under-rated player. This guy doesn't mind getting his nose dirty in run situations and he catches just about every throw that comes near him.

Brandon Myers looks to be a late round steal for Tom Cable's staff. Primarily a blocking tight end, he has shown tremendous hands when given the opportunity.

Maybe the Raiders should run more three tight end sets, and forget about going with the three wide receivers for now!

The wide receivers are bursting at the seams with potential though. Chaz Schilens continued to show why people are so high on him. During the Chiefs game, he only got 38 snaps, but he was thrown to four times and made three catches out of those four.

In contrast, disappointing rookie wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was given 54 snaps, thrown at five times and only made one catch. Two plays later, he let a ball go right through his hands and potentially cost Oakland a touchdown on what could've been a game winning drive.

Alas, DHB will still start over Johnnie Lee Higgins, an explosive return man who showed promise in starting three games last season for Oakland, in which he made 13 of his season high 22 catches and had three touchdowns.

This year Higgins has struggled with a shoulder injury since week one, but appeared to be back physically and mentally until re-injuring the shoulder last weekend. It remains to be seen if he can overcome this one faster.

Louis Murphy was another late round steal for Oakland in this years draft. Murphy was being talked about earlier this year as a candidate for offensive rookie of the year, but has been slowed in his production by a lack of confidence from JaMarcus Russell in his receivers. Murphy still has shown tremendous skills in fighting for the ball and fighting for his teammates extra yardage when his number is not called.

The offensive line needs some work, but the good news there is that the left side of the line is in place for years to come.

Mario Henderson is emerging as one of the best left tackles in the league. he has only given up three sacks through nine games for the Oakland Raiders, now that's saying something. Henderson is only in his third pro year.

Robert Gallery couldn't get it done when he played left tackle, but Tom Cable liked him to be his left guard, and Gallery has been playing at an all-star level at the position. The combination of he and Henderson give the Raiders a great left side that requires no worries from the coaching staff or the quarterback.

There are some good players in back-up roles here as well. Chris Morris filled in at guard while Gallery was hurt earlier in the year. He can play both guard positions as well as center.

Khalif Barnes was brought in during the offseason to challenge Henderson at left tackle, but would make a great right tackle as well, as he has proved starting all four of his pro years at left tackle for Jacksonville.

Samson Satele has assumed his role as starting center and coach Cable said he has been one the few bright spots for Oakland recently.

The defense has looked absolutely awesome at times this year. Ochocinco pretty much summed it up in the previous statements.

Many fans complain about Kirk Morrison in the middle linbacker role, but I contend that Morrison has made a lot more plays at the point of attack this year with a great defensive line in front of him.

However, I have to agree that he is not a pure middle linebacker. I think Morrsion should be re-signed this coming offseason, but I feel like Oakland should move him over to opposite of Thomas Howard and look for a real rugged, tough, and physical presence to prowl the middle.

The defensive line that Chad talked so highly of includes Richard Seymour, Greg Ellis, Tommy Kelly, and 2001's third overall draft pick Gerard Warren.

They are backed up by a solid young group that includes Oakland's sack leader from a year ago, Trevor Scott. Scott set the tone for the upset of the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this year with two first quarter sacks.

There is also 2009's third round draft pick Matt Shaughnessy who is quickly gaining a role as a fan favorite. He shows heart, talent, and commitment on the field. In the last two games he has had nine tackles and two sacks.

Jay Richardson is in there, Desmond Bryant is there—a rookie defensive tackle who has shown a very good upside in his playing time.

The other linebackers, not named Morrison and Howard, are very competitive with each other. Earlier this season, Jon Alston pushed Ricky Brown for his OLB spot and Brown pushed Kirk Morrison for that MLB spot. They could use more depth here, but they have two guys working on the practice squad right now who could be on the roster as early as next season.

The defensive backs who start for this team are a tremendous combinations of guys. Everyone in the league and many fans of other teams know who Nnamdi Asomugha is now. Some can even spell his name and pronounce it correctly.

Chris Johnson has blown a few assignments this year, but when he is on, he is nearly as good as his counterpart.

Michael Huff has come onto the scene, and made it nearly impossible for Hirum Eugene to see any field time this year.

And you really can't say enough about SS Tyvon Branch. He is the real deal. He is great in pass coverage, studies his butt off in the film room, excellent in run support, and even stops by every week at Silver and Black Nation to answer questions and comments from the faithful fans.

This is another area where Oakland could use some depth, especially at cornerback. But like Chad and I said to begin with, if you just look at the roster you have to wonder what the problem is.

Many would say it starts upstairs. I say we just need to continue being patient. The team is in place. The guy upstairs is the reason for that.

Number one thing is that they need time to gel together as a unit. Number two, they are all very young and if they can manage to turn that corner, this is going to be a very good team for a long time.

I was as mad as anyone when they lost to Kansas City. Angry as a wasp on a hot summer day, but I got over it. They will too.

I also still believe they can get over this mountain in front of them stopping them from going places, but it is a mountain at this point, not a mole hill.

Many of these men in the Silver and Black are not at fault for making it that way. Many of them have plenty of room for growth. What impresses me the most is that there is no separation in the locker room. Each one of these young men respects the other and they don't step on toes or throw their teammates under the bus.

To me, that means they are forming a solid foundation of unity. So we as fans should stay untied with them.

See what I think of the QB Change: http://fanhuddle.com/oaklandraiders/2009/11/19/oakland-raiders-a-new-sherriff-in-town/


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