Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Time is Now for #2

Bears 17 - Raiders 6
As I watched the Raiders struggle on offense throughout the entire game vs. Da Bears, a feeling of hopelessness washed over me that was undeniable. With Josh McCown at QB, the possibility for big, explosive, down the field type plays seemed next to impossible. McCown's pop gun arm does not allow for the type of plays where big chunks of yardage can be covered. On a simple 3rd and 3 play, McCown had a difficult time getting enough mustard on the ball to reach Jerry Porter. When you factor in sacks, McCown's average net pass play was 2.6 yards. The total net yards passing was 80 yards. The dink & dunk passing offense's chances for success (read as TD drive) is like pitching a perfect game. There is little to no margin for error. It requires a time consuming drive with 100% efficiency. As soon as there is a mistake (read as an incomplete pass, sack or penalty) the offensive drive is DOA.

In spite of a putrid offense that could only score 2 field goals, the Raiders held a 6 to 3 lead with only 4:03 left in the game. Time for the D to shut down Da Bears, right? Wrong. On the 3rd play of the drive (1st and 10 from the Bears 41 yard line), QB Grossman hits WR Berrian with a 59 yard bomb for a go ahead 10 to 6 lead. Chris Carr was called into duty today because of the injury to Nnamdi Asomugha. Lined up in man to man coverage on the speedy Berrian, where on earth was FS Stuart Schweigert? (just look at the picture above). The reason I'm pinning the blame on Stu and not Carr are for the following reasons:

(1) Stu should have been shading Berrian's side of the field knowing full well that the Bears have been targeting Carr's side of the field throughout the day.

(2) It was Stu's responsibility to give Carr help by providing deep, bracket coverage.

What is really sad & pathetic is that once Da Bears scored this TD and went up by 4 points, I never had the feeling that McCown could march the Raiders offense down the field for a go ahead TD. McCown's longest completion for the entire game was a 14 yard pass to Porter in the 1st quarter.

What is really a shame is that the Raiders Defense & Special Teams units played exceptionally well. The Raiders run defense tightened up the screws and held Da Bears to a measly 78 yards on 34 carries for a paltry 2.3 yards per carry. The Raiders pass rush accounted for 3 sacks. Excluding the one big TD play to Berryman, the Raiders defense played inspired football. The Special Teams had by far their best performance of the 2007 season. Devin Hester is arguably the best return man EVER. The Raiders coverage units played disciplined, sound football and effectively boxed in Hester. For the game, Hester had 6 punt returns for 14 yards and 3 kick off returns for 35 yards. SeaBass hit both of his FG attempts including the go ahead 52 yarder late in the 4th quarter.

Sitting at 2-7 with an offense that has scored only 4 TDs in the last 5 games, the only ray of hope seems to be that Kiffin's hand will be forced to take the training wheels off of JaMarcus Russell. To build hope & optimism for the remainder of this year and lay a foundation for 2008, Russell needs to be inserted on to the field. I will gladly take the hope that the flicker of Russell's wrist provides for big offensive plays than sit idly by while McCown misfires his squirt gun.


Anonymous danna said...

Yeah the QB issue is huge, but where are the receivers? I don't see them getting open very often..maybe that's because by the time they've run their routes, McCown has already been sacked or tackled after a forced run. The problem is so much bigger than the quarterback position. At least there were fewer penalties today against good call on Stu. That TD was on him just as much as Carr

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Tooz 72 said...

CJ, good call on the great show by the defense. I liked their showing except for two plays. 1: Schweigert gets the blame 100% for his missed coverage. 2: Chicago punched in for the second TD untouched. Everyone in the Coliseum knew it was coming, and our boys either didn't try, or the Chicago O-line got every single assignment perfect. You decide.

The O-line didn't provide McCown enough protection. It's a bad problem. But even worse is #12 himself. I was looking at his body mechanics yesterday. He was forced out of the pocket a lot so we got a chance to see him move. Either his feet are still hurt or he just is not a quick guy. He looked like he was running on broken glass all day, very tentative and unstable. Add to that his anemic, semi-side arm passing style and complete lack of passing velocity and you start to see how ill-equipped he is to perform at the level we need.

He's also lost the support of his receivers. On the one play toward the end where McCown scrambled and desperately looked for someone to hit downfield, all his receivers quit. No one came back upfield or moved around to get open. The network announcers (who were pretty good for a rare change) picked up on this and they replayed it a few times. An untalented QB with unmotivated WR's. Lovely.

I'm also interested in your thoughts on why the team seems immune from the high draft pick effect. Typically, crappy teams eventually turn around after a few years of high draft picks. Some improve dramatically, others marginally. In our case, it's not at all.

For now, it's on to Minnesota. It makes me sick that a 3-6 team could look so intimidating right now. But f we bring the same run defense we had vs. Chicago, it could be a game.

And yes. It is time for the Rookie. Give the fans and the team and future draft picks and trade candidates some hope.

12:06 PM  
Blogger clubb66 said...

Stu or the defense is not the reason. The team came to play and stu had a good game. No safety coverage man to man, maybe if porter recognized the coverage a pass would have been delivered.
Kiffen was upset with porter on that one and the reason we lost if NO OFFENSE.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I don't agree that it is time for Russell. There is no way that Oakland will win out to make the playoffs. Lets keep thim learning and go from there. This offense takes time and we'll get him in there when the time is right. Yes I sound like Lane Kiffin but I agree with him. I saw lets avoid putting Russell in until the last homegame of the season and lets put him in in a second half where the Raiders have a chance to win.

1:20 PM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

A little defense for Stu. First off, Carr blew the coverage in that he was supposed to force the receiver inside by covering him outside. Carr let him run down the side-line, making it for more difficult for Stu to get to him. Actually, I thought Stu had a pretty good game this time. The second thing is that Sapp was more than obviously held on the play and there was no call. You can look at the replay at Sapp was just about to lay some serious wood on Grossman. I'm watching that play, thinking it's going to be a huge sack, then somebody on defense undressed Sapp.

I don't think they will start Russell unless it's during the last four or so games of the season. I think it's a good possibility that Kiff will give him a series or two with predetermined plays (which are the best ones Russell runs) until the last quarter of the season. Then, if it looks like Russell will survive without a career ending injury (or manages to avoid the looney bin), he'll get the start.

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The current situation seems hopeless. The undercurrent in your article is how I felt during the game, I had no anxiety because I expected nothing from the Raiders. There seems to be minimal talent. I think they need to put in JR just to give some positive spirit to the team.

The biggest weakness is the o-line, even my man Newberry is playing so-so the rest of the line except Cooper is crap. What I am most depressed about is that it seems like a long long road back to average.

Is there anything to be positive about it besides the linebackers and corners?


Florida Raider

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Tooz 72 said...

This is CJ's deal, but I have to remark on the QB situation.

The team will not win with McCown. That is simple, indisputable fact. He is such an underperformer that he will likely be let go at the end of the season.

Culpepper is an interesting replacement possibility but we've seen him have one good game and other stinkers. And we have to ask whether the rest of the offense is good enough for Culpepper to win with. And whether he's here for the long term. I think the answer is probably no to both.

Is Walter still on the team? Does it matter? Plug his name into the discussion above and see if your answers change.

So, we can use one of 2 or 3 go-nowhere QBs for the rest of the year and toil in futility. Or we can put a promising rookie in a position to gain valuable game experience, to learn and build and be ready for next year. That not only is good football sense, it is good business sense. Butts will be in seats to see the rookie. And more important, it might make us an attractive destination for position players looking to be traded. Heck, maybe we can even mix up the game plan with (gasp) a pass longer than 14 yards. It's not about winning out the rest of the season -- that ain't happening. It's about the future, planning, looking forward and building something better than we have today.

Just my humble opinion. But jeez it sounds better than watching the same old product we've seen the last several years.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Danna: One of the reasons the WRs have a difficult time getting separation is because the vast majority of passes from McCown under center are short passes. The opponent's D doesn't respect McCown's arm strength and are playing closer to the line of scrimmage. The short zone coverages are flooded. You are right about the problems being bigger than just the QB position. However, good QB play is vital to an efficient offense. The field needs to be stretched both vertically & horizontally to create space for throwing lanes and open targets. McCown simply doesn't possess the arm strength for an effective, diversified passing attack.

Tooz 72: Our D played fairly well the last except for 1 key breakdown. The 2nd TD was a gift provided by the McCown fumble. You right about McCown's poor mechanics. I have seen more than enough of McCown to realize that he has no business being on the field anymore unless it is an emergency situation. He is not starting material nor will he ever be. A decent backup at best.

Club66: Stu played fairly well vs. Chicago but the Berrian TD was inexcusable and the difference in the game. Stu is a good guy but he lacks the ball hawking, read & react skills to be a good FS.

Mike: Your position on not playing Russell has merit. I just believe that Russell has the physical skills and mental makeup to handle the pressure & adverse conditions facing him. I would prefer Russell gaining valuable experience now so that he will be that much more ready in 2008. On top of that I have no doubt whatsoever that it would create a spark to the offense, fill the seats, and give our fans so tangible hope for the future.

BR: Thanks for stopping by. You make some very good points. No doubt Carr blew his coverage but I believe Stu should have been more aware of the circumstances and put himself in position to make a play on the ball. My guess is that Culpepper will start vs. Minnesota but Russell will get a series or 2. Depending on the outcome of the Minnesota game, Russell could be starting in game #11. I'm really looking forward to seeing Russell under center. I think he has the wherewithal and poise to hold up well under less than ideal conditions. We shall see ...

Florida Raider: I share your feeling of hopelessness especially concerning our offense. I honestly think that hope will be rekindled once Russell steps on the field because we can finally get started with building our future. I'm also excited about Michael Bush getting his feet wet.

Tooz Part 2: I'm with you 100%! The time is now for Russell.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

i'm having a hard time believing that in these short routes, the wr cannot get separation. in a short passing game, you have a short window to make a pinpoint accurate throw with some zip on it.
i don't the problem is separation, as much as it is mccown being hesitant to make the throw. he is not an pinpoint passer, nor does he have any mustard on his throws. so in the short passing game, he seems to be waiting for that glimmer of hope when a receiver can get some separation so he can place it in his hands. if he wants separation, he needs to develop his long game.
i cannot count how many times he double clutched the football, not pump fake, but double clutched hesitance.
if kiffin doesn't want to start russell, then he should give walter a chance. yes, walter doesn't move around the pocket. but neither did culpepper. the difference, walter moves out from under center quicker than culpepper; and has zip on his passes for the short game, unlike mccown. he won't be hesitant to make those throws.
we won't win another game with mccown at qb; so it's time to move on.

7:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is it me or is Stuart Schweigert one of the worst if not the worst safety's in the league?

9:26 AM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

One more defense of Stu...

According to Kiffin, on the 59 yard strike, the defense was not set with two safeties deep, and Stu was actually the short man. It was therefore vital that Carr force the WR inside in order for Huff to have a shot. Stu showed good hustle to just be in the picture. We can't always judge people unless we know what their coverage assignment is.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Nonsense. Stu was in 'zero coverage' meaning the Raiders were in man for man coverage. Carr on Berrian, Routt on Muhammad, Huff on Olsen (or TE). Stu was the only safety playing deep. In this coverage he starts off in the deep, middle of the field. As the play begins to develop, he needs to make a quick, read & react decision.

Free safety Stuart Schweigert "If I could do it again, we talked about 80's their speed guy, I would've cheated over there."

Bottom Line: His instincts suck. He is slow to react to the ball. He is slow to make decisions. He does not have a knack for being around the ball.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody is going to like to hear this. But yes Walter is a better quarterback then McClown. But none the less either one of them shouldnt make an NFL team roster if that is saying anything.

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Tooz 72 said...


Just added the other Tooz's website to my favorites. Too f'ing funny. And unfortunately too accurate.

1:23 PM  

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