A blind man could have seen what was coming on Sunday. There were no secrets. The world knew the Jets were going to take the pressure off struggling rookie Mark Sanchez by giving Thomas Jones, Leon Washington and Shonn Greene the rock over and over again.
Surprise! The Raiders couldn’t stop the most basic of running plays and lost 38-0 to the visiting Jets.
There was no game plan, no adjustments were made and no answer was found for a ground game that punished a sleep walking defense.
Not that it mattered, but Washington broke his leg in the first quarter. Enter the rookie Greene who made the Silver and Black defenders look like one of the Big 10 defenses he faced in college just just a year ago.
JaMarcus Russell completing the hat trick in turnovers in the first half didn’t help any either. Russell’s third year in the NFL is looking like it could be his last if he doesn’t step up as a trusted leader in the coming weeks.
This team is young, but that does not excuse such terrible efforts as this the one on Sunday.
The irony is that the Raiders best bet for victory over the Jets was to run the ball. But when your defense has to defend its own end zone from the one yard line after one snap, the results are rarely good.
None the less, veteran runner Justin Fargas still managed to gain 90 yards on just 11 touches. His presence in the running attack has been undeniable in the last two games. Unfortunately, he alone cannot cure what ails this franchise.
Seven straight seasons of miserable run defense is inexplicable. The players have changed. The coaching staff has rotated like a NYC subway turnstile. Still, nothing has changed.
Tom Cable made a change on Sunday when he finally benched his young quarterback in favor of Bruce Gradkowski after watching JaMarcus snuff out the faint presence of momentum with an errant throw. Later, Russell would unload on his target – Todd Watkins – for not making a play on the ball. Maybe a veteran receiver like Javon Walker – and his million dollar paycheck – would have made a better effort. We’ll never know since he’s been given a paid vacation in ’09.
Gradkowski didn’t fare much better, even pulling a Russell by being far to cavalier with the ball when trying to avoid the pass rush. The Big Gradkowski proved to be every bit the momentum killer that Russell is.
When the Raiders finally did have a chance to put some points on the board, the Jets kept them out of the end zone with a goal line stand. Darrius Heyward-Bey dropped what would have been his first career touchdown on a crucial third and goal.
Where does this team go from here?
Cable hopes his young QB has learned a lesson from his benching. Meanwhile, Raider fans just hope that someone besides Fargas and Nnamdi Asomugha will start playing with heart in the near future.
There is little less than pride to play for these days. The playoffs are as big a long shot as the Coliseum being sold out anytime soon.
The offense is dismal; the defense so porous that Marks Sanchez had time to down a hot dog with condiments on the sideline. Next is a trip to San Diego where Tom Cable’s Raiders lost 34-7 last season.
How much worse can this brutal display of supposed professional football get?
If this whole season is going to be nothing more than a paid scrimmage for JaMarcus Russell then at least admit it publicly now instead of trying to convince us all that this is about winning because it is not. This is about robbing fans blind and not apologizing for marketing an inferior product. There is too much talent on this team to be losing like this. There have been too many top 10 picks given multi-million dollar deals to not be earning their checks any longer.
Cable had better get a handle on things now before he loses his grips on employment. His boss might be stubborn but he’s not going to tolerate bull headed decisions anymore than the fans who now are staying away from the Coliseum in the thousands.
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