After the recent hiring of offensive coordinator Hue Jackson of the Oakland Raiders I've felt a sense of hope that this offense is going to become more reliable and consistent. For two consecutive years despite shoddy QB play the running game was top 10. Last year when Tom Cable took on the role of head coach, offensive coordinator, o line coach, etc Oakland's running game took a drastic drop despite better play from the QB position once Jamarcus Russell was benched.
In 2007 with a worse O line than the Raiders have now they ran were 6th in the league in total rushing yards and averaged 130 yards a game. In 2008 they were 10th in the league with nearly 2,000 yards and averaged 124.2 yards a game. In 2009 the Raiders were 21st with 1,700 and averaged 106 a game.
What happened, especially since the numbers should've drastically improved once Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye were playing QB instead of Russell? What happened should squarely rest on Tom Cable's wide shoulders. He was dedicated to Al Davis and Russell's development that he assumed the Raiders rushing attack would just flow even if he took time away from practice and the preseason. Well Tom Cable made an ass out of himself because his playcalling was horrible and the rushing attack dropped all the way down to 21st in the league with better O line play and the same RB's.
The hiring of Hue Jackson is going to have the Raiders rushing attack be top 10 again thus relieving the pressure of whoever plays QB. Another RG and RT and this offensive line could take the rushing game to top 5. He'll have Jamarcus Russell, JP Losman, and Bruce Gradkowski to choose for a starter and two backups. Take away the QB positioin and this offense is very similar to Baltimore's offense. Another solid RT and a healthy LG inRobert Gallery and Jackson should be able to mold this offense into something solid. This offense will allow the QB to make less important decisions and allow the QB to grow with consistent production from the rushing attack and solid play from the wide receivers.
People can laugh at the Raiders starting wide receivers, but Chaz Schilens and Louis Murphy make up a young and talented duo that could really grow together if they can both stay healthy. DHB has been a bust so far, but some times it takes receivers 3 years to become good so I have to have some hope he's salvageable. Nick Miller is an unknown from Utah State, but Al Dave saw some reason to keep him on the roster despite not playing a down because he reminds some of Wes Welker with great hands and speed.
The biggest impact we will see by Hue Jackson isn't going to be by numbers and improvements in this offense, it will be by the development of the running backs, wide receivers, and QB's. He's said to be a great positional coach and everywhere he coaches those groups of players do well. Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, Schilens, DHB, Murphy, Zach Miller, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Nick Miller, and whoever they bring in at FB are really going to develop under this OC who's going to become the Raiders next head coach in waiting ala Garrett with Dallas and Phillips. The past two years Baltimore's young offense took off and a huge part of their development was because of Hue Jackson. People love him and he's able to motivate players. Now he's got the same opportunity with this offense. If he's here for two or more seasons I can see his offense and the team really starting to play well. With the right coaching, some good additions from the draft and free agency, this team should do much better in 2010. If he's able to mold a solid starting QB out of Russell, Losman, or Gradkowski or at least one who is serviceable and plays conservative he can really improve this team overnight. If Russell "gets it" this offseason after he has his face-to-face with Hue Jackson then there's no telling what can happen with Oakland. If Russell shows up to training camp a svelte 260 lbs and shows that he's willing to put in the extra work there's no telling what happens with Oakland because if Russell dedicates himself to the game there's no way to measure how well he'll do. If Hue Jackson motivates Russell to be game ready and and in shape then a miracle will happen and the Raiders should be vying with SD for the AFC West Division crown.
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