It is the day after and most of the talk is about Andy Reid going, well, Andy Reid again with his mismanagement of the clock. The discussion revolves around Donovan McNabb going, well, Donovan McNabb again with his mismanagement of the NFL rulebook.
In fact, if you didn’t watch the Raiders defeat the Eagles, and have only read the synopsis, you’d swear that Philly just rolled over without even attempting to put up a fight.
Quite the opposite. This was a thorough lesson in the fine art of football as taught by Tom Cable.
This was not some instructional course in X’s and O’s. This was the essence of the game; a physical battle dominated by the Silver and Black. Plain and simple.
Yes, McNabb is playing behind an O-line that is substandard even for the UFL. Yes, Reid had another one of his moments of madness when he abandoned the run despite the Raiders being among the NFL bottom feeders of run stoppage.
Don’t confuse the facts though. The Raiders won this game on the strength of a sucker punch delivered by D-coordinator extraordinaire John Marshall and four other very key elements. Here they are:
5. JaMarcus Russell – He was supposed to put this game on a platter for the Eagles. He was supposed to seal his Ryan Leaf status with another sub par showing. Instead, Russell made good decisions, was elusive in the pocket, made plays and took what the defense gave him. Maybe this is not the kind of stuff that is going to take Russell to Canton, but it sure was more than enough to beat the Eagles on Sunday. Baby steps.
4. Jeremiah Trotter vs. Zach Miller – Seriously, who thought this was a good idea? No matter how bad the Raiders may have looked on film, Miller is the one guy who jumps out at you. Taking away Russell’s favorite target s is like taking media attention away from Brett Favre. He just can’t survive without it. One 86-yard catch and run later, you’ve got yourself a full fledged upset alert in the East Bay. Taking advantage of match ups is what the pro game is all about. (Louis Murphy gets props for plowing the road on Miller’s TD but his hands of stone that cost Russell an INT can’t be ignored.)
3. Stanford Routt – Let’s be honest, when Nnamdi Asomugha went out and Routt came it, it would appear that the rout was on. Instead, Stanford did his best impersonation of #21 and didn’t give McNabb any sort of a window to throw at. His coverage was great and were it not for a questionable PI called in the first quarter that took Routt’s pick-six off the board, this game would have been over before it even started.
2. Tom Cable – There have been plenty of jokes out there surrounding the Raiders, their head coach and the broken jaw of a former assistant coach. Say whatever you will about Cable; just know that he could motivate a waif to down an 8-ounce steak and then eat the fat for good measure. Cable wasn’t a happy camper this week and his team responded with a performance that matched the coach’s demeanor. This team still has not yet turned the corner, but with Cable in charge at least you know the players are aware that the road bends.
1. John Marshall – I wish NFL films was following around Marshall all of last week. Just imagine the grin on his face whenever he passed Al Davis in the hallway. Cut to Davis on Sunday, choking on his Diet Coke after Marshall sent Thomas Howard off the edge. Then pan over to catch Andy Reid gasping for breath after seeing Trevor Scott get to McNabb twice before even realizing what just happened. Maybe Davis was on board with this game plan all along. Maybe Marshall went rogue. Whatever the case, the outcome was a masterful scheme that caught the Eagles off guard and sent their entire week of prep down the drain after the first possession of the game. Straight up gut punch. First round knockout scored for the Oakland “D”.
Naturally, the Eagles made major mistakes that cost them dearly. David Akers went Scott Norwood twice in a game decided by only four points. Missing both wide right and left for good measure. You do the math.
This might not be the moment when everything came together for Cable and his squad. There is still a mountain of work to be done. Just remember this game when you’re trying to get a clear image of the playoff picture. Maybe Philly has been exposed. Maybe the Raiders have stepped up to the challenge. Who knows? All I know is that the Eagles were out coached, out played and out right abused by a hungry group of Raiders who were being instructed by a coach in a foul mood.
Rex Ryan, you’d better hope this week was better than last for Tom Cable.
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Topics: Al Davis, Andy Reid, David Akers, Donovan McNabb, JaMarcus Russell, Jeremiah Trotter, John Marshall, Louis Murphy, Rex Ryan, Stanford Routt, Thomas Howard, Tom Cable, Trevor Scott, Zach Miller