Thank you Raider Nation for the numerous, wonderful, supportive, and informative blogs on my first post. Not all of my posts will be so cerebral as this one but I suppose there are many of you who really want to see the Raider problems as viewed through the eyes of a psycho from what I gathered in my first post. My training is in clinical, or people with poor mental health problems, so I am kind of going out on a limb as I venture into sports psychology although I am sure I know well enough to give you a sufficient understanding of what might be going on. I am speaking theoretically, and am referring to the work of a well-known sports psychologist in the psychological community. On that note, I'm going to let my psychological bones rattle in this post and will clarify questions if you have any.
In sports psychology there is this concept called "flow," or "being in the zone." I would not doubt some of you have heard about it. Flow has actually been measured carefully among baseball home run sluggers. Briefly, the players have said that when they hit a home run, even though the ball travels to them at close to 100mph, they see the ball approaching as though it were traveling in slow motion, and this is how they experience flow. As soon as they hit the ball they know it is a home run, which is why, rather than running like hell to first base, they just stand there and stare at the ball because they are probably still in the zone. I won't go into the full physiological details as you will probably be overwhelmed, so briefly, what basically happens is that there are trillions of neurons (actually 10 to the 18th power) and some of those neurons become aligned to create a memory trace that actually develops in our brain's memory store and nervous system. Neuron is the scientific name for nerve cells. This is also called "learning," and to provide an example of how the body learns, consider your overuse of hands so they blister and over time you develop callouses. Same thing happens in the brain and in the innervation of the body. Baseball players that hit the most home runs have developed their memory traces so powerfully that the body adjusts to the point of perceiving the ball as traveling slowly. This is what the saying, "practice makes perfect," is all about.
Let's extend this theory to football. Louis Murphy has talked about how it is difficult to perform with the shifting of the quarterback so often. He said that wrs have to have the time to learn to adjust to the qb. In other words, it is difficult for him to experience "learning," or the development of memory traces that are sculpted to fit the particular style of the qb to allow him to get into the flow and catch the pass. Murphy has stated that JC and Grad have different patterns or styles of throwing the ball. In addition, he had to suffer through the Russell fiasco. The problem is that the flow has not been created between him or any of the qbs that have thrown to him and the end result is dropped passes. Murphy, DHB, and the rest of the receiving corps have dropped passes, and if they were such poor receivers, how the hell did they ever make it to the pros? I reassure you this was not Murphy's experience when Tebow was passing to him because he and Tebow were in the flow (I am suggesting that in football flow is a 2-way street). By now Murphy and possibly the other receivers have become frustrated, possibly demoralized or depressed, because Murphy believes the world is labeling him as a poor receiver especially when he was used to so much glory at Florida U. He learned back in high school the importance of learning to adjust to the qb, which is why lately he has been saying "this is not high school" as a reference to what is currently happening. At this time, I refuse to acknowledge that our wrs are as poor as many people are making them out to be and such criticisms is causing them to tank (become demoralized), which only compounds the problems. Tanking causes them to lose the self-esteem and motivation which contaminates their ability to catch the ball and become prolific wrs. I am not trying to negatively criticize our fan base over this issue but I am trying to elucidate the damage that a lack of flow causes.
Let's extend the theory to the qb. Even JC has said that the process of the musical chairs has prevented him from becoming more familiar with his wrs. It is bewildering to see how inaccurate JC has been at times and I doubt he was as inaccurate when he played at Auburn; otherwise, he too would not have made it to the pros. When a quarterback has developed strong flow with his receivers he is so familiar with his style of catching, method of running, faking, changing directions, etc because of the strong development of memory traces regarding each particular wr. This is what is happening with Manning, Brady, etc., which is why they can be so amazingly accurate even when there are 2 or 3 defenders on the wr. They have had years of developing flow between them and the wrs. Rivers has developed his own flow so strongly that even when the starters are not playing he is profoundly accurate even with the second and third stringers whom I am sure are familiar (in flow) with his style. Let me present an example of flow that perhaps many of you have witnessed. I have seen quarterbacks drop back and before they have had a chance to see the receiver they throw the ball to where they know the wr is going to be and make an extremely accurate pass. The flow can be so strong that they throw the football blindly and no one is there sometimes because the wr was held or slipped and fell, but had the unfortunate event not had happened the pass would have been completed. I'm not saying that if JC is given enough time to develop flow the problems would end - that depends on how fast JC develops and if he has the gift of developing strong flow. Russell apparently never developed the flow and Davis gave him more than enough time. I hope you all can now more fully comprehend the damage done through musical chair qbs.
Finally, let's look at what happened to the whole Raider playing. OK, this is where I really go out on a limb. Flow is something that can develop among other players including the linemen. Recall how when the season started out so awkward and all aspects of Raider football were criticized? The team sputtered, then there was the win streak, and then they failed again. Note how phenomenally both sides of the line were playing dynamically synchronized during the win streak and they became a real terror? I seen the defensive line playing so unsynchronized as though they were like chickens with their heads cut off. Then suddenly, they looked like Davidson, Keating, Oates, and Lassiter playing together again. Gallery could not perform by himself, but suddenly with Veldheer, he and Veldheer developed a real dynamic flow that unleashed McFadden and the rest of 0-line, and McFadden seemed to suddenly know just what to do. Flow might be a team phenomenon where every player seems to know what every other player on the field is doing, which may be why every aspect of Raider football looked so good, and I believe this is what the bye week contaminated. This article is long enough so I'm getting out of the zone. I may look more closely at the evolvement of the passing game or qbs next post. This was hard work - can someone get this info to Al, our coaches, wrs, or qbs? I hope I shivered at least some of your timbers.