Oakland Raiders: The Highs and Lows Following Oakland's Loss to Houston

Elias TrejoSenior Analyst IIOctober 3, 2010

Oakland Raiders: The Highs and Lows Following Oakland's Loss to Houston

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    The Raiders suffered another tough loss against the Texans on Sunday and are now 1-3 for the season. Though it may not feel like it to the Raider Nation, this 1-3 team is much better than last years 1-3 team.

    Last season the Raiders weren't in many of their games and didn't look like a team that could compete every week.

    This team is putting up better offensive numbers and has had their opportunities to win games late. Now that the Raiders are improving and looking like a team, they must learn how to win and minimize mistakes.

    There were a lot of high's and lows during the game, let's take a look at some of those now.

The High: Darren McFadden Is an Offensive Machine

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    Darren McFadden looked like a pro bowler during first half of the game vs the Texans. His versatility was being showcased the whole half.

    He made a couple big plays through the air and continued to look stronger in the running game.

    He seemed like the Raiders most reliable option along with Zach Miller.

    If McFadden keeps playing the way he is, a pro bowl would not be out of the question. He needs to get in the end zone more.

    If he is among the leaders in rushing yards and can lead the running backs in yards receiving he should make his first pro bowl.

The Low: Darren McFadden Injured

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    Darren McFadden could become one of the Raiders best weapons that they've ever had. He has home run ability in the run game, and he could have the best hands on the team as well.

    He was injured early in the third quarter and that caused him to miss the rest of the game.

    Injuries have cause McFadden's career to slow down and this hamstring injury could be one that lingers for a while. Darrelle Revis has missed a couple of weeks because of a hamstring injury.

    McFadden carried the load for the first four games, now Michael Bush might be asked to do the same while McFadden heals.

The High: Bruce Gradkowski Showed What He Is All About

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    Bruce Gradkowski showed what he is made of during the game against the Texans. He showed his toughness by refusing to slide when he'd scramble.

    He also showed his never quit attitude. The Raiders were down and out for the count, but Gradkowski rallied the team late in the fourth to get them within striking distance.

    He finished 24 for 39 on his passes that went for 278 yards. He also threw for two touchdown passes.

    Had Louis Murphy not dropped the ball on fourth and 16, we could be talking about Bruce Almighty's great drive to tie the game.

The Low: Bruce Gradkowski Showed Us What He Lacks

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    Bruce Gradkowski has been a breath of fresh air for the Raiders. The Raiders are moving the ball well with him under center, but they still aren't winning games.

    He's completed 52 of his 95 passes and has four touchdowns and four interceptions.

    Not exactly the type of numbers you need from your quarterback to win games. I know those numbers are not all his fault, but they must get better.

    He's also made a lot of crucial mistakes as well in the last two games. The Raiders were one yard away from scoring against Arizona and let the play clock run out. Gradkowski admitted he should of called a timeout instead of trying to run the play to get a TD on a QB sneak.

    He also refuses to slide which could cause him to take big hits. While it may show his toughness it also shows he isn't very smart. He almost got taken out of the game by a couple of big hits from the Texans defense.

    He appeared to hurt his throwing arm and went in to the locker room. His toughness made him want to stay in the game, but he threw an interception on the next drive. It appeared that his arm didn't let him make the throw, ande may have been better off taking a drive off instead of throwing a pick.

    He also held on to the ball too long late in the second half and fumbled the ball when the Raiders were in field goal range. He also got flagged for intentional grounding on the final drive that put the Raiders in a tough position.

    Those mistakes must be avoided if you want to be a long term starter in this league.

The High: The Passing Game Is Getting Better

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    Zach Miller showed the world why he is a pro bowl caliber tight end. He caught 11 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Houston.

    Darren McFadden also showed how valuable he is in the passing game on Sunday. He caught six passes for 82 yards in only 2 and a half quarters of work.

    Gradkowski led the league in yards per pass attempt prior to the game. If the Raiders can get better blocking from the offensive line the Raiders passing game could become a strength as opposed to a weakness like it has been in previous years.

The Low: Wide Receivers Still Aren't Consistent.

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    The Raiders receivers are still very young and are in the developmental process. Chaz Schilens is still out with an injury so the Raiders could have a very formidable passing game this year.

    This week the Raiders receivers weren't much of a factor. As a matter of fact,  they dropped the ball on a comeback attempt. Literally.

    Louis Murphy had the first down on a fourth and 16 attempt but he dropped it. That is a tough break for Murphy who has been doing great all season. He's been targeted over 20 times and caught 15 of those. None of the misses have been drops until now.

    The Raiders receivers were only targeted five times during the first half. Darrius Heyward-Bey seems to make an impact when he draws penalties more than when he catches a ball.

    The Raiders haven't had a receiver lead their team in receptions for a long time. That must change if the Raiders want to win.

The High: Raiders Had Two Penalties The Whole Game

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    I could be wrong, but I'm sure this is right. The Raiders were only flagged twice the whole game. The first one came on a punt return and one came on an intentional grounding.

    While they came at crucial times of the games it is pretty impressive for the Raiders to only have two flags thrown at them all game.

    If the Raiders can build on this and can stay flag free they can compete and win more games.

The Low: The Raiders Can't Stop The Run . . . Again

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    This might be a little bit harsh, but I think this should be the main reason Tom Cable gets fired, along with John Marshall.

    The Raiders have made it a goal to stop the run the last two off seasons under Cable and have failed very badly.

    This year they added the personelle they thought they needed and it is still a major issue for Oakland.

    The Texans didn't need their best receiver, Andre Johnson today. They didn't even need to pass it. They ran all over the Raiders and that won the game for the Texans.

    I'm not sure why this is still an issue. Yes, John Henderson was out, but you're starting Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly inside.

    If the Raiders could stop the run, this could be a playoff team.

The High: The Raiders Are Getting Better

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    Watching the Raiders lose is never easy, but they are getting better and it's showing.

    Aside from the first game, the Raiders are giving their fans a reason to watch late in the game. The Raiders could very well be 2-2 right now, but they sit at 1-3 with the Chargers coming to town.

    The Chargers play very well at home and haven't lost to the Raiders in a while, but they play in Oakland where the Raiders almost beat them last season.

    If the Raiders can pull out the win next week, they'll be 2-3 along with the Chargers.

    As I mentioned earlier, this 1-3 team is much better than last years 1-3 team. The offense can move the ball and the defense has shown flashes of greatness.

    If they can pick up a win against the Chargers they could be in good shape. They face the 49ers, Broncos, Seahawks and Chiefs after the Chargers and those are all games they could win.

The Low: The Raiders Are Better, But Still 1-3

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    At the end of the day the Raiders may be better than last year, but they are still 1-3. The talent is developing but this season may not be the season they hoped for if they don't start winning games.

    Turnovers and mental errors are killing the Raiders and these need to stop.  The defense is still having issues stopping the run and at times they play too soft against the pass.

    Even though the Raiders only had two penalties, they are still among the leaders in the league.

    I'm not sure how much patience Al Davis has, but I think Tom Cable is feeling the heat now. Remember he is the guy who said they were an average quarterback away from being a playoff team.

    It has also been well documented that he has been spending time with the offensive line this season and they struggle at times.

    Many people suggest Hue Jackson could be the guy that takes Cable's job. If Cable happens to be fired I think Davis should give John Gruden a call.

    The Raiders season is far from over, but they don't have much room for error after their loss to Houston.

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