I think a little reality hit Josh McCown when he saw JaMarcus Russell enter the game, and a little more when he saw Russell perform as well as he did- that his time in Oakland is limited. Daunte Culpepper is auditioning for a starting spot on another team, and as much as he says he loves working with Russell, he’s more concerned about himself. Not to say McCown doesn’t want what Culpepper does, but I think McCown’s more comfortable than Culpepper is with the Jon Kitna approach.
Kitna played his best season (maybe for the exception of his current season) while first overall draft pick Carson Palmer sat in the wings awaiting his inevitable ascension to the starting quarterback position. No matter how well Kitna played, Palmer was going to start his second season. Russell will start next season, and like Palmer, he will not have any competition in training camp. If McCown (who played with Kitna last year in Detroit) is willing to put his personal goals on hold to stay with the Raiders for the next couple of years, like Kitna did for Palmer and the Bengals, then I believe the Raiders will not have to look at signing or drafting a second string quarterback. Quarterbacks who know your system, and who are skilled and humble enough to be a backup, are becoming more and more of a need. The less time the Raiders spend looking at backup positions, the more time they’ll have to fix the starting roster.
But you can’t forget Culpepper; he was the one guy on the sideline not able to play. I’m sure fans have heard by now about the rumor that Culpepper got injured last week in a foot race with University of Houston track star and Raiders corner back, Stanford Routt, but what I found interesting is that it’s probably because of this injury that Russell got into the game at the time he did. The game was too close for Head Coach Lane Kiffin to put Russell in on purpose, so because McCown got banged up during the first drive, Russell got his shot earlier in the game than Kiffin would have wanted. Culpepper isn’t going to be available for this Sunday’s game in Green Bay, which pretty much gives McCown the chance to continue his impressive play from last week. But keep in mind that the weather could end up making him look real bad.
The teams of Super Bowl II: Oakland Raiders vs. Green Bay Packers. Let’s just hope it doesn’t end as bad as that game (33-14, Packers). Between the expected 20-degree weather with snow and high winds, and a talented Packers defense, this looks to be the worst game for McCown to keep his momentum going. If the Raiders running game doesn’t get established early (I think the Raiders need to attack the middle of the Packers defensive line), then McCown will be forced to pass. And between the weather and the Packers’ D, it might not be long after that Raider fans will see Andrew Walter, and an ugly loss. This Sunday I’m going to look at individual aspects of the Raiders offense and defense, and not the final score. I’d love for the Raiders to win, but the Packers have got to be angry about losing last week, and aching to run the score up on someone. If they stop the Raiders running game, then they might just get their chance.
If McCown plays well this Sunday, and especially because it’ll come on the road, in crappy weather, right after a great performance, and with only a three games left season, we might not see Culpepper throw another ball as an Oakland Raider. He denies racing anyone, but he tried to deny any involvement in the Vikings “Love Boat” scandal, so I can’t say I believe anything he says. Hmmm, that’s also when his career started going down the tubes, wasn’t it?