It's no secret the Raiders are in a complete tailspin right now. Don't argue otherwise, after a great game against SD, the Raiders have given up over 140 yards rushing to the Chiefs and over 200 to the Broncos. Which shows Marshall's offseason plan of working on discipline has fallen apart and that it's not just discipline but the personnel. Basically what ever Raiders fan has been saying since 2003.
The passing game, I can't really say anything since Schilens is a big difference maker in the passing game because he's a comfort zone on the scale of Miller for Russell. But in all honesty, Russell should be comfortable with guys like Murphy and DHB after a whole offseason working with them.
Running game? Not enough of it and misuse of the backs' respective talents. Also, the lack of a passing game is ruining what should be a top-5 rushing attack.
Pass D, this falls on run D. When you're first and second instincts are to rush to the line to tackle a back, of course you're going to slip in coverage. In no way is this a personnel problem, other than that there should be some better nickel and dime corners, but I won't dwell on that.
So how do I think the Raiders can remedy their ailments, read on to find out.
Like I said, we'll wait to see how this looks when Russell gets Schilens back this week. Until then, this can still be worked on. All it comes down to is Russell, if he really cared about winning then he'd have taken time from his apparently busy day to work with the receivers after practice and on off-days.
After all, this is what successful QB's do. You think Rodgers magically got amazing with his receivers overnight? He had to work on it, he had to get his timing down.
Now let's stop right there, what exactly do people mean when they say timing? It simply means learning where the receiver will be at what point on every single play. Sticking with the Green Bay example, Jennings is clearly a faster receiver at this point than Driver. So he'll be farther in his route than Driver will be at, say, 5 seconds into the play. Learning the speed, agility, and acceleration abilities of your receivers is a big factor.
Another part of timing is knowing where to throw it to each receiver. Unless it's a curl or screen, you always throw the ball in front of where the receiver is, aka where he's going to be instead of where he is. However, you have to know how fast the receiver will be running to know how far ahead of them to throw. Throw it to far ahead and they won't catch up to it, throw it behind and they'll have to somehow stop and go back to it.
I've read plenty of articles about guys like Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, etc who's receivers have talked of how those QB's have pulled them and the other receivers aside to work on extra passing practice and to watch film on how each guy runs and moves.
If Russell wants to be successful, he has to be willing to work at it. His mechanics and footwork are problems, but timing to me is the one thing he should be good at by now.
If he isn't willing to work at it, then he clearly needs to be off this team. To anybody who says that's too harsh or I'm Russell bashing, I have to restrain myself from buying a plane ticket, going to where you live, and screaming in your face.
Plain and simple, if Russell isn't motivated enough to work on his craft, to work with receivers, and basically do some work for once, then bench him for the year and draft a QB next year. This is the plan I'd like. He's gotten much worse this year despite having much better receivers and pass protection. So it's not anybody at WR or on the O-Line (not even Green who is actually a great blocker this year) it's just Russell.
Cable (cough I mean Davis) clearly doesn't want to admit that Russell is quite plainly, a lazy pouty kid and therefore refuses to bench him. Gradkowski is actually motivated and has his mechanics figured out. Timing will come when he actually starts.
I've defended Russell for too long, but until he gets his act together, if he ever does, I'm hoping for Gradkowski to start and for this guy to be our first round pick next year:
I'd like to see how the running game plays out when, which means if, the passing game gets put together. Till then, this facet of the offense can be worked on.
For one thing, don't just mix up your running backs, mix up your running plays. Instead of changing it every drive, change it with each couple plays. Then again, a couple plays is usually the extent of a Raiders drive.
What I mean though is, pound it up the middle, then go off tackle to the left side, try to pound it between the left guard and center, then go for a sweep to the right when the D is focused on that left side, maybe even misdirection it to the left on that sweep play. Just because you've dumbed the passing game down for Russell, doesn't mean he isn't capable of handing it off on a misdirection or throwing a pitch.
After all, Russell isn't this man:
Just because you're unable to mix up the passing game, doesn't mean this should simplify the running game. If you watch the great running teams in this league like the Ravens or the Giants, they're constantly diversifying their running attacks. The O-Line is blocking very well and the backs can run very well. Just a simple matter of fixing up your playcalling.
Speaking of those backs, let's talk about how to properly use McFadden and Bush since it makes Cable cry to actually have to think.
McFadden is a speed guy, and though he should definitely be developed to be able to do so, he's not a guy you should be using to pound it up the middle every play. We'll get to that runner in a minute.
Use McFadden's speed to execute plays you couldn't execute with Bush. Hand it off to him in the shotgun; the defense will be spread out and McFadden has the speed to get out of the backfield before the defense gets there. Run stretch plays with him. You have athletic O-Linemen who can move to wherever the run is going to create a path for Mcfadden to blast it outside and turn the corner. Same goes for sweep plays, especially since O'Neal is your lead blocker.
The only time I'd use Mcfadden to go up the middle is if you have three or four WR's on the field to spread the defense out and leave room in the middle for Mcfadden to burst through. Actually, if you've been running all these stretches and pitches, the defense should already be spread out to watch the sides, thus allowing you to keep a lead blocker for the middle runs.
Mcfadden needs to work on tough running and holding onto the ball, but he's a hard working guy so I'm not worried about that.
First of all, you should actually run this guy. More so than McFadden. Bush is a much tougher runner, can pound it up the middle like Cable likes to do, and he's actually pretty fast.
And like I said, he can pound it up the middle. If Cable is so in love with running up the middle, at least use the guy who's 245 pounds and stronger than most linebackers not named Ray Lewis. Plus he can do a lot of the off-tackle running I mentioned earlier. Give him some chances on those runs in between the guard and tackle because Bush is capable of getting out of the backfield decently quickly. Bush can easily find the holes, fire through them, and keep pushing forward.
In a league where it's all about the fight for every inch, you should the put the guy in who fight for every foot.
An interesting theory I've come up with when looking over a lot of film of teams running the ball, I came about something rather interesting. The Giants run Brandon Jacobs from the shotgun frequently.
Why are we not doing this with Bush? He's a tough runner much like Jacobs, and he's actually quite a bit faster. If Jacobs can get out of the shotgun backfield before the defense gets there, what's stopping Bush from doing it even better?
Play to the strengths of your backs, and experiment with stuff like Bush from the shotgun or McFadden in short-yardage when it's during a reasonable point in the game.
I love defense, I love it so much that people have told me that I would be a great defensive coordinator, and this is at age 14 close to 15. And if there's one thing I focus on more than anything else, it's the run defense.
Kinda makes you wonder why I root for a team that does so horribly at what I love most.
And though I probably could be a good D-coordinator, even I couldn't make this team a top-20 run defense in the state it's in.
Two reasons why:
- Lack of an offense to offer a break for the defense
But we're here to focus on #1 more than #2. Kirk Morrison is not a good middle linebacker by any means. He's not strong enough, he doesn't fill the gaps well enough, he doesn't see the field well enough. Put him outside where he only has to watch half the field and where is speed is better suited for outside runs, after all it work for Oakland's very own Thomas Howard. aka the only linebacker I'd keep at his current role on this team if I coached it.
Kelly and Warren have definitely gotten better thanks to Ellis and Seymour, but neither is the nose tackle this team sorely lacks. Look at Minnesota, 3-0 and they have two of the best nose tackles in the league starting.
Brown, I honestly don't know why he's not more successful. He's fast, the same size as Morrison (actually a little heavier I believe), so it must be the same problem Morrison has. He doesn't fill gaps and doesn't do a good job seeing the field.
Ellis and Seymour are perfectly fine, as are the safeties and corners. Especially since Asomugha and Chris Johnson who are two of the finest tacklers at the cornerback position that I've seen all year.
So what to do? Get a nose tackle, hopefully via the draft, and change Warren to a pass rush specialist. Why not Kelly? Kelly's actually been pretty okay for me. He's better than Warren's been and I wouldn't risk taking him off the field if the defense decides to pull a fast one and throw the ball.
Now what exactly do I mean by nose tackle?
Take a good long look at the following pictures:
What you just saw are three of the finest examples of nose tackles in the league, Pat Williams of the Vikings, Casey Hampton of the Steelers, and Haloti Ngata of the Ravens. What stands out other than that these guys are incredibly great players?
They're big yes. But if you look at the size of the shoulders, arms, thighs, and though none of the pictures shows it, the legs, you have to be a muscle man. It's not as simple as getting a 350 pound guy, you need a DT who is strong and capable of throwing the athletic freaks that are the guards and centers of the NFL, to the ground. Nose tackles are guys that can clog the holes, and move O-Linemen so that other holes disappear.
Another thing, and this is Cable's most tired excuse, pad level. He's said it a thousand times, but it's true. You have to be low. DT's have to be low enough that when the ball is snapped they can get under the pads of the O-Linemen and make it harder for them to not only block you, but to push forward. It's easier to push when you're bent down, than it is to be standing upright.
How low are we talking? Take it away my man Ngata.
Though admittedly, even he could get a lower if he used a four-point stance. But for DT's that like to get some extra burst on the snap, that's the perfect stance.
In regards to the linebackers, Morrison must be moved to the outside after this season or do some serious bulking up and work on his ability to scan the field and react accordingly. But if the latter doesn't happen, it's time to draft a middle linebacker. if the latter happens but the former doesn't, draft a better outside linebacker than Brown. if you have that much trouble reading and reacting to only half the field then you're not going to get better any time soon.
The proper middle linebacker has to be big (about 250 or 240 if the linebacker can react and tackle quickly), have the strength of a defensive end in a 3-4 (meaning a 265 to 275 pound man), and be able to play the middle zone. Morrison fits the last part of that perfectly and is great in man coverage, but his reaction skills and strength are the issue. So what's the ideal middle linebacker look like?
EJ Henderson of the Vikings, James Farrior of the Steelers, and Antonio Pierce of the Giants. All are guys who can get through the holes on the O-Line to make the tackles, won't get held up for very long; if at all; by fullbacks, and are fast enough to play the middle zone and even play some man. Notice here, big shoulders, well built abdominals, and bulky legs.
All I can suggest for the linebackers is simply wait till next year and hope you can draft someone like Brandon Spikes or a guy that fits the mold of these three players.
So in all reality, the run defense is so broken this year, that it can't really be fixed until next year.
Really, there's nothing wrong here. The run defense just makes these guys so hesitant to move away from the line of scrimmage that it makes them slow to react to the pass. The pass defense will return to its proper top-10 position once the run defense can stop giving up nearly 200 yards to the likes of Correl Buckhalter.
Now then, I beg and plead to you, the readers of this post, to ask Tyvon Branch to read this article, print out two or three copies, and give one to each of Tom Cable, Al Davis, and JaMarcus Russell. I can guarantee that all of these will translate to success, because it's worked for teams like Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Giants, Jets, etc. Plain and simple, these things work and have worked for just about every team in the league.
If these things don't happen, at least we'll be assured a chance at Brandon Spikes or Colt McCoy. At this point, I feel confident in saying that 3-13 is an incredibly likely record for this year.
Final Note: I ask that anybody that reads and agrees with this rec's this post. The more recs that it gets, maybe the more Tyvon Branch will see how mad we fans are and be more convinced to print this for Cable and Davis.
Wishful thinking I know, but at this point, wishing is all I can do for this team.