Raider-Nation, Stop Buying Into the Hype: All Is Not Well in Oakland

Ramone BrownSenior Writer IDecember 10, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 22:  Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable speaks to his new starting quarterback Bruce Gradkowski #5 while newly benched quarterback JaMarcus Russell #2 looks on during their game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 22, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

All seems well in Raider-Nation. At least to a good deal of fans who somehow believe all of the Raiders' problems have been fixed with a victory over the defending Super-Bowl Champion Steelers.

Do these fans have selective memories? Do the other eleven games the Raiders have played this season not matter? Did they forget that we are still 4-8 and at the verge of being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs? Have they forgotten about all the distractions, the bill-board, and the horrendous blow-outs?

Sure the Steelers won the Super-Bowl but what about the fact that Troy Polamalu, arguably the teams best defender, was absent? Or that they are on a four game slide losing to the Bengals, Chiefs, Ravens, and now the Raiders?

Then there are those who are suddenly sold on the coaching staff. What about the constant coaching blunders, especially on the offensive side of the ball? Have these fans forgotten about the constant criticism the team has received from its own players?  About questionable play-calling?  A pass happy offense?  Giving up on the run too early?  A vanilla defensive scheme?  The list goes on.

Or what about how the coaching staff has failed to properly utilize the skills of Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, and even JaMarcus Russell?

Gibril Wilson and Gary Russell both said the Raiders are the most " talented" team they have ever played for. If the Raiders are more talented than the 2007 Super Bowl Champion Giants and the 2008 Super Bowl Champion Steelers, shouldn't they be winning more games? Assuming the comments by Wilson and Russell are true, I have to blame the Raiders short-comings on the inadequate coaching staff.

But, to not completely throw the coaching staff under the bus, I have to admit their short-comings may be due to the fact that they are fielding an incomplete coaching staff and football team.

The Raiders' coaching staff is without an offensive coordinator and an assistant head coach. In turn, the Raiders are putting far too much responsibility on an under-qualified Tom Cable, asking him to be head coach and offensive coordinator without even an assistant. If the Raiders were to add an offensive coordinator and an assistant head coach and continue to produce the same results then the coaching staff is undoubtedly to blame.

To make matters worse, the Raiders just re-hired Randy Hanson to the personnel staff. Could this be a precursor to the firing of Tom Cable? Is it possible that whatever it was that Hanson said to put Cable over the edge had some truth to it or that Al Davis actually favors Randy Hanson? Why rehire an assistant who got in a fight with your head coach, filed criminal charges against said coach, and now has a civil suit pending?

The Raiders' roster is still without a nose-tackle or any veteran leadership on offense.

Without a real nose-tackle you can't be sure whether or not Kirk Morrison is able to succeed at middle-backer, and the run-d will always be a weakness.

And without a veteran leader on offense, who will hold players accountable for dropped passes, missed blocks, and bad throws?

Many have suggested that Bruce Gradkowski can fill that leadership void. As he is often vocal on the field and gave an ear full to Mario Henderson. Henderson deserved an ear full as he was admiring his blocking from the last play on the big screen.

Sure, I admit that Gradkowski gives us a better chance of winning than Russell did. But, I don't buy that he is our savior, or as some have dubbed him "white jesus", and it is sickening how much of a hard-on so many Raider fans now have for him.

Sorry to break it to you, but Gradkowski isn't the next Stabler or Plunkett, he isn't even the next Gannon.

In three games we have seen Gradkowski make many of the same mistakes as Russell.  He struggles to read defenses, he often misfires, he fails to recognize open receivers and he even throws off of his back foot like Russell so often did. Don't believe me?  Take his game winning drive.  He telegraphed an INT to a Pittsburgh safety only to have it dropped, and just a few plays later he threw up a dead duck which Louis Murphy miraculously came down with over three defenders.

Gradkowski is on a contract year and if you honestly think he will receive a new contract worthy of an NFL starter you are fooling yourself. At least, not with Al Davis and the Raiders all in on JaMarcus Russell. The only thing that may keep Gradkowski in Oakland is ties to Raider QB coach Paul Hackett.

Gradkowski is not the answer.  He is nothing but a band-aid, a temporary fix.

As far as everyone who matters in the Raider organization are concerned, JaMarcus Russell is still the Raiders' future and we haven't seen the last of him.