Offensive Notes & Quotes

The Oakland Raiders offense continues to struggle to find a quarterback to lead them, a running back to depend on, and any form of consistency.  I’ve put together a collaboration of notes and quotes from one of the media members that I respect the most, and added my own input for contrast.  You’ll find everything from assorted views on last weeks Raiders-Bears game, updates on the Raiders quarterback carrousel, the weekly running back drama, and what it all means to Head Coach Lane Kiffin.

If Josh McCown was a word in the dictionary, this is what the definition would be: A person who does not exhibit the ability to perform beyond mediocrity.

Last Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears was another example of McCown’s inability to play at a high level.  McCown’s counterpart last week was Rex Grossman.  Both quarterbacks played like they usually do; poorly.  But one play, one long pass from Grossman was the only thing that separated the two pitiful quarterbacks.

Photo Credit: contracostatimes.com

 

Notes and Quotes from the Raiders-Bears game, by Jerry McDonald of Inside Bay Area.

So much for the oft-repeated coaching cliche, “There are three phases to a football game _ offense, defense and special teams. Win two out of the three and you should win.”So what happens? The Raiders manage 193 yards in total offense _ their first sub-200 effort of the year _ and lose anyway.Josh McCown, who was struggling with every movement following the Bears loss, seemed to be moving much better and was optimistic about his chances to be ready to face Minnesota.Later, when addressing a question about the dilemma of wanting continuity at quarterback against the need to switch, Kiffin may have offered a clue as to his intentions.

“You’d like to have the same guy start every game and play every snap for you for all 16 games and go to the Pro Bowl and everything would be great,” Kiffin said. “Unfortunately that hasn’t been the situation and we’ve gone back and forth and we may be going back again here.”

McDonalds notes bellow are a good way to understand the Raiders quarterback situation for this weeks game in Minnesota.

Josh McCown was not present (Wednesday) as the Raiders went through warmups and drills, making it all the more likely Daunte Culpepper return to Minnesota this weekend as the starting quarterback

McCown had his right quadriceps heavily taped following the Chicago game and said it was a severe bruise. He appeared to be moving better Monday

Daunte Culpepper will start at quarterback against his former team, and was given the word by phone call from coach Lane Kiffin Tuesday.

Josh McCown wasn’t practicing with a quadriceps injury, but even if he had, it sounds as if Culpepper was going to get the nod, anyway. The last time Culpepper faced a former team happens to be the last time the Raiders won a game, a 35-17 win over Miami.

As he did leading up to the Miami game, Culpepper remained gracious and did his best not to stir up any bulletin board material.

Andrew Walter, and not JaMarcus Russell, will be the backup quarterback when the Raiders face the Minnesota Vikings Sunday in the Metrodome.

Coach Lane Kiffin said during the week Russell’s improvement has been steady, but apparently it’s not enough to give him the edge over a No. 4 quarterback who has largely been a spectator over the past few weeks.

In listing his quarterback depth chart, Kiffin said Friday it would “most likely” be Culpepper, Walter and Russell, but the qualification had more to do with Josh McCown’s availablity at No. 2 than it did moving Russell up.

Dominic Rhodes continued his one carry a game average, and it’s hard to figure out whether LaMont Jordan is just to banged up to compete for the starting job, or has just worn out his welcome with the coaching staff.  Justin Fargas ran well against the Bears, but until some form of passing game is assembled, no ones going to know how good of a starter he can be.  We don’t know if Fargas can block a pass rush that is determined to get to a well performing quarterback.

Here are some notes from McDonald on Oakland’s running back situation.

At this point in the season, Dominic Rhodes figured to have 50 to 60 carries and maybe a dozen receptions, numbers befitting his first five games as a Raider when taking into account the $1.5 million signing bonus he received and his $765,000 in pro-rated salary.

Instead, Rhodes has 10 carries for 23 yards and has caught one pass for 10 yards. Nine of those carries came in one game, against Kansas City. Throw in seven kickoff returns for 149 yards and, well, it isn’t exactly what you’d expect from someone who gained 113 yards rushing in the last Super Bowl.

It seems unlikely Kiffin would sit someone who could help a sagging offense just because he told the press he wanted to play.

So that leaves the following possibilities:

He was pushed aside by the emergence of Justin Fargas.

Fargas became a much better runner in the zone blocking scheme than most anyone envisioned, and go ahead and assume that includes the coaching staff as well.

Kiffin noted last week that Fargas essentially attatched himself to running backs coach Tom Rathman and made big improvements in his game from the day the new staff arrived.

When Kiffin talks about how he doesn’t care about contracts or reputations and draft status, only about practice ethic and production, he need only point to the fearless runner he calls a “Crash-Test dummy” as an illustration that he means it.

Fargas is a poster boy for what Kiffin wants to establish.

Rhodes wasn’t the player the Raiders thought they were getting. If so, it wouldn’t be the first time they misjudged a Super Bowl star. Before riding the (Indianapolis) Colts wave in the postseason, Rhodes carried 187 times and gained just 641 yards, an average of 3.4 yards per carry. Throw in 13 games in 2005 and Rhodes gained 759 yards on 227 carries _ 3.3 yards per carry. Operating behind the same line, rookie Joseph Addai carried 226 times for 1,081 yards _ a 4.8 average.

Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported a few weeks back the Raiders were considering cutting Rhodes. Kiffin said it wasn’t true and even went to Rhodes to talk with him about it.

All Oakland running backs were on the field (Wednesday) with the team _ Justin Fargas, Dominic Rhodes, LaMont Jordan and Michael Bush, still working under a roster exception.

Running back Michael Bush remains on the exempt list. Kiffin said the Raiders have until next Wednesday to activate Bush, or he won’t be able to play this season.

The notes above give a good explanation of the Raiders quarterback and running back situation.  The Raiders are going to continue to struggle at the QB position until JaMarcus Russell becomes an efficient starter, but that’s probably not going to happen until at least next season.  I do not expect Culpepper or McCown this season to perform any different than how they’ve played so far this season.  If the Raiders are going to win any more games this season, they’re going to have to be won by the remainder of the team. And when it comes to the running back position, it looks to me like a crap shoot.  Jordan and Rhodes look like they’re going to gone after the season, and like I said above, there’s still too much we don’t know about Justin Fargas, and at the same time, Michael Bush.

There’s so much uncertainty throughout the Raiders offense that it’s almost too much to handle, and I didn’t even bring up anything on the dismal receiving core (only 4 receivers and one is the newly acquired Tim Dwight).  Jerry Porter and Ronald Curry each need to be dropped from their respective slots in the Raiders line-up.  In other words, the Raiders need a number one receiver.

The offensive linemen for the Oakland Raiders started the season playing well, but now they look like a line that needs rebuilding during the off-season.  Robert Gallery is the only linemen that will defiantly be back next season, but the rest of the line is up in the air.  Barry Sims has been blocking for the Raiders for nearly a decade, and is not fast enough to play left tackle after this year, or even this season for that matter.  If Sims moves back to guard, then he’ll not only have time to get his hands on the guy in front of him, but he’ll lower his penalty ratio (he doesn’t look at the ball while preparing for the snap, he puts his foot against the player next to him, and doesn’t move until that guy moves, but not only does it give the guy he’s blocking a step advantage, he also gets caught offside more often than most left tackle’s).  I’ve yet to see any defender overpower Jeremy Newberry this season, but with the problems he’s had with his knees, how many more years will he be able play, if any.  Cornell Green and Cooper Carlise have played average at best on the right side of the Raiders O-line, and if the Raiders truly want to return to excellence they’re going to have to upgrade that side of the line.

I went into this season thinking this team just needed time (maybe a season or two) to evolve into consistent competitor, but now I’m kind of scared of number of players the Raiders are going to need to acquire in the upcoming free-agency and collegian draft.

I have only a couple things to mention when it comes to the Raiders defense, and it starts with consistency.  The Raiders haven’t been able to get away from the same gut wrenching mistakes (not stopping opponents on 3rd down, and giving up at least one huge play a game), but against the Bears, the Raiders D was able to play their most consistent game of the season.  But all of that was taken away when Grossman completed a long scoring pass to take the lead, and the momentum.  By now every Raiders fan knows of the blown holding call on Roberto Garza during Grossmans pass (Warren Sapp was held by Garza preventing him to get to Grossman), but what fans need to keep in mind is that as much as that play might have lost the game, the defense can’t do it alone.  What concerns me the most is the mental condition of the each Raider defender.  The Raiders offense continues to fail to assist the defense in the pursuit of victory.  How many more games can this Raiders D handle losing?  

Kiffin Quote of the Week.

Kiffin had this to say about failed experiment Mike Williams: “A number of things can happen to guys all of a sudden, especially when you get drafted that high, 10th overall, and a kid is used to having to no money and all of a sudden here is $13 million or whatever it is. So that can affect people and some people can lose their motivation sometimes. I wish Mike nothing but the best of luck. We gave him a great opportunity. I stuck with him as long as I could. He wasn’t able to take it as serious as he needed to be able to stay in this league and it’s really a sad story.”Photo Credit: ESPN.com

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