The Oakland Raiders have problems. And, while I am well aware that is the understatement of the century, it needs to be said.
The next step is acceptance.
We don't have to get too emotional or over-analytical about this. Cleaning-up this once proud and now depressed franchise is a lot easier that it looks.
Let's cut the crap, get down to basics, and build a winner:
1. Tom Cable Is Not the Answer
Any guy who smacks around one of his employees is not a good leader. Yeah, he's tough, a badass, whatever. But he's not a good guy and a good leader if he is doing that, being accused of it, or even remotely promotes it.
I'm not saying Cable is a horrible coach, because in all reality, he isn't. He doesn't have much to work with. But still, he's 1-4 this year, and wasn't very good last year, either.
The guy has to go.
So, who's next, then? Well, they can't grab a smart, seasoned veteran coach, because, well, they're all smart. They need a young student of the game, ala Josh McDaniels, or another offensive genius.
They can't keep getting guys who specialize in defense or special teams, either. Their issue is not stopping or slowing down offenses. It's having a clue how to present one on the field.
2. Establish an Identity and Stick With It
This is a lot harder than it seems. And really, if they had even remotely decent receivers and a capable quarterback, it'd make the transition from "crappy" to "not-so-crappy" a lot easier.
But before you can even think about the players, you need your coach (talked about that), and then you need to know your philosophy. As they stand, the Raiders have the talent and the man-power to be a run-first offense with a defense decent enough to help support the cause.
But with an injured and over-hyped Darren McFadden, they're left with...
3. Establish the Running Game
Michael Bush and Justin Fargas are stuck carrying the load, not just of what McFadden left behind, but of Jamarcus Russell and this inept passing offense.
McFadden danced around too much and didn't hit his holes decisively, and when a runner like that comes out of your offense, it takes a while to adjust to a new runner. Change that; two new runners.
The Raiders need to take a stab at some stability here by actually picking a full-fledged starter, and rolling with him through thick and thin.
If it's Bush, then great. Only use Bush on regular downs and maybe at the goal-line, then bring in Justin Fargas on third downs and on passing downs.
But don't add a third back to the mix full-time.
They need to establish continuity, gain momentum, and keep the defense's attention on them. At least, that's the only real goal on offense right now with Russell under center.
Regardless, this could mean trading away one of these backs. Like them or not, having a two-back system of Bush and Fargas would be much more effective than trying to have McFadden live up to his draft pick.
4. The Passing Game Needs to Be Reborn
Not changed. Not molded. Not tweaked.
As in, kill it, burn it, bury it, forget it. And start anew.
Russell is boring, bland, slow, ineffective, inaccurate, ugly, and dumb.
He's the red-headed step-child that lights firecrackers in your nice basement with shag carpeting. He just leaves you saying to yourself, "why? why, kid, why?"
He's got a huge arm and at 6 foot 6' inches towers over defense and can see the entire defense with ease. Awesome, so can a flag poll with a rocket launcher strapped to it.
Drop the big idiot and move on. Jeff Garcia would have been a fine move if he hadn't been insulted. Charlie Frye, God forgive me for saying this, would be an upgrade.
Trading for just about anyone would mean for a parade to be thrown.
Give me Brady Quinn.
Give me J.P. Losman.
Give me Brian Brohm.
Russell is that bad. And it's not just the offensive line. It's not just the receivers. It's a whole lot of Russell, and that's the problem.
5. Follow Steps 1-4, and Repeat if Necessary
I know none of this will happen. I know the Raiders won't keep two solid, productive, hard-working backs, rather than play an over-hyped, athletic, but fundamentally-lacking back that they drafted in the first round.
I know Jamarcus Russell is almost guaranteed another full season of "he's still learning" and "he has no weapons round him", and all of those other excuses that allow horrible quarterbacks to have longer shelf-lives in this league than your average undrafted kicker.
Al Davis needs to forget about "measurables," bitter rivalries, crossed-lines, and the fact that one day, whether he lies it or not, he too, will die.
If he accepts that, perhaps he will finally stop trying so damn hard to not put a quality team onto the field. Lord know the Oakland faithful deserve one.