After Sunday there will be no more excuses. Tom Cable has given JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden every opportunity to prove themselves in 2009. Now it is up to Russell and Run-DMC to repay their coach for his undying faith.
If the Raiders are going to get this runaway train wreck of a decade back on track then it must start with the opening kick on Sunday afternoon.
There could not be a more perfect scenario for the struggling youngsters of the Raiders offense than a trip to Houston where the NFL’s worst defense awaits.
Cable’s offense is predicated on the run which just so happens to be the weakest link in the Houston Texan defense. Houston has been run over by Thomas Jones, Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew as all three men have cracked the 100-yard barrier against the Texans. Johnson put together a dazzling 197-yard masterpiece during week two, though it should be noted that the Texans won a 34-31 shootout against the Tennessee Titans that day.
Raider Nation is all too familiar with being witness to horrible run defense. The Raiders and Texans both struggle to stop the run, it just so happens that the Houston folks have the NFL market cornered on bad run support this year.
The two teams share more in common than being terrorized by opposing runners.
Both the Raiders and Texans enter the game with identical records of one win against two losses. Both teams are winless at home having posted a 0-2 mark in front of their own fans. Both teams are banking on their young runners to bust out of a sophomore slump.
Something has got to give.
Steve Slaton had a banner rookie year but has done his part to frustrate fantasy football aficionados and Texan fans alike with his performance. As for McFadden, well, he’s still looking to announce his arrival in the NFL.
McFadden won’t be alone as Michael Bush and Justin Fargas should feature prominently in a game that has the makings of a t-ball contest. If Cable’s offense is unable to move the ball on the ground with his three headed running attack then it might be time to hit the panic button and put the game in the hands of JaMarcus Russell.
Russell needs a big game in the worst way. Even if the Raiders win in spite of another wretched performance by the young quarterback, expect the name Bruce Gradkowski to become a hot topic during the ensuing week. Last year Russell carved up the Texans with a 236-yard, 2 TD performance during a 27-16 win in Oakland.
Russell threw those two TDs to Chaz Schilens and Johnnie Lee Higgins who are both without a single catch in 2009. Schilens has the excuse of being injured whereas Higgins has just been MIA.
For the Raiders, this is a make or break moment.
Gaining confidence will be paramount for the young Raiders this Sunday. From here on out the road to redemption only gets tougher.
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