Taking a Look At Oakland Before the Showdown with Rival San Diego

Bret ArmstrongAnalyst ISeptember 12, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 13:  Running back Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders gives a stiff arm during a second quarter run against Courtney Brown #27 of the Dallas Cowboys during the preseason game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on August 13, 2009 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

· Darren McFadden was named the starter for Monday’s game against the San Diego Chargers. Tom Cable called McFadden explosive and said that is an element that they want to create in this offense.

My thoughts

This is a good move. With Justin Fargas still semi-limping around from a hamstring injury, a healthy McFadden is something the Chargers have yet to see. Many players and coaches have been impressed by the new level of play that Darren has taken his game to this offseason.

He showcased his skills on opening night of preseason action racking up 63 yards on just four carries. If McFadden finds success against San Diego, it could really open things up through the air for JaMarcus Russell and his talented young receivers. 

Having Michael Bush come in and pounds some 'roid raging linebackers heads with fresh legs is also a good thing for Oakland.

· Nick Miller will return kickoffs and be backed-up by Johnnie Lee Higgins. Cable didn’t say who would return punts, although I assume it will be Higgins.

My thoughts:

Johnnie Lee Higgins is an explosive player who brings similar speed to McFadden’s. Every touch of the football he gets, he has a chance to take it to the house.  I imagine kickoff duties were given to Nick Miller so that Johnnie can play more wide receiver and be heavily involved in the offensive rotation.

Johnnie is very dangerous, and the more he is on the field the better it is for not only JaMarcus Russell, but also for the running backs. Higgins will require extra attention, freeing up running lanes for the talented backfield.

A lot of people point out that Higgins led the wide outs in receptions last year, but they always leave out the fact that 13 of those catches were in the last three games.

· Richard Seymour will report to Oakland on Saturday for one practice and a walk through before the Monday night showdown with AFC West Rival San Diego

My thoughts:

I’m a happy camper. Seymour adds another first-round pick, a five-time pro bowl player, and a three-time Super Bowl champion to an Oakland defensive line that was desperate enough to trade a first round pick to get him.

Seymour said that he had personal things to handle that were more important than football, like moving his wife and four kids back to South Carolina. I suspected he was handling family business all along, I guess I was just expecting him to handle it more quickly.

If Seymour can come in and have an immediate impact without much practice time, then it is very clear that he should receive a contract extension ASAP from one Al Davis, before he gets scared away...again.

· JaMarcus Russell’s very good preseason performance is being overlooked by every reporter on every website. This is because the starters only scored 10 points while he was on the field.

My thoughts:

It frankly is not fair to JaMarcus. Coach cable has said several times that the team was focusing on getting pass protection right, and developing the receivers, and the passing attack to be an attribute to the running game that was non-existent during the preseason.

Russell was 26 of 39 (66.7%) for 283 yards and a touchdown while throwing no interceptions. His QB rating was 96.4, but nobody is paying attention to Russell’s stats. As far as the other AFC West QB’s are concerned, JaMarcus Russell’s rating is lower than only Phillip Rivers, basically because he threw three more incomplete passes than Rivers.

Listen, if Russell put up numbers like this in every game, we would go undefeated, with our running game. The run defense that everyone loves to talk smack about would never be on the field. JaMarcus had a tremendous preseason, when he wasn’t being blindsided from Cornell Green’s side of the line.

Raider Nation needs to give him more credit, because the media sure won’t do it.

· The Chargers are coming to town, and apparently, this week is “Raider Week.”

My thoughts:

Raider week is going to be a lot different for the Chargers this week than it has been in the past. This team is more talented, organized, and better coached than the teams they have seen recently from Oakland.

The Raiders talents are nearly even with the Chargers in a lot of positions this year. The advantage that the Chargers have is experience. The Raiders squad is a young group, and many people fail to acknowledge the talent on their roster, because it is, as of yet, unproven.

The advantage that the Raiders have is motivation. I know, and I’m sure a lot of you know too, that motivation can carry someone, or something, to another level sometimes. The “veteran” Raiders on this squad are sick and tired of this losing streak. It will not stick, I know based on that, that this game will not be a blowout.

· LaDainian Tomlinson said recently that the Raiders' run defense has been harder to run on for the past three games he has played against them.

My thoughts:

This could be due to a number of factors. A) The Raiders run defense could actually be improving. B) Tomlinson could be losing his legs. C) It could be due to Tomlinson’s recent injury history. D) It could be a combination of two or three of these things, or even other factors.

I personally believe Tomlinson is gassed. I think his prime as an elite NFL running back is quickly drawing to an end, perhaps quicker than some people accept, or are willing to admit.

The fact is, before Phillip Rivers was developed into the player he is now, Tomlinson carried a heavy load of this teams yardage on those legs. Whether it was from handoffs, swing passes, or screens, L.T. got a majority of the balls.

Nowadays, the Chargers have more people who can share the load, but it may be too little too late for one of the games most explosive halfbacks.

That’s all for now Nation. I’ll have more to come later, be sure to check back, and leave comments. I really enjoy reading and responding to your posts, thanks.


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