Monday, December 24, 2007

Baptism By Fire For #2

Jacksonville 49 - Oakland 11
The Raiders were completely steamrolled by the Jaguars. The dismantling began on the 2nd play of the game when RB Fred Taylor took a handoff and went 62 yards for a TD. The Jaguars, one of the hottest teams in the NFL, had a sizable lead (14-0) by the time QB JaMarcus Russell took the field late in the 1st quarter.

In his 1st extended play (3+ quarters), Russell showed the rust of sitting for most of the past year and missing training camp. The rookie QB completed only 7 of 23 passes and had 3 interceptions and 1 fumble. Russell didn't find any offensive rhythm until his last series of the game when he led the Raiders on the lone TD drive (12 plays, 70 yards, 2 yard TD pass to Miller).

Is there anything positive to take away from this game? I believe it was important for Russell to gain valuable playing experience in preparation for the 2008 season. Every rookie QB at one time or another goes through a "baptism by fire". ``He was OK, he was happy to be in there,’’ Jaguars safety Sammy Knight said. ``He wasn’t scared. He was focused, and he wanted to test the waters. He made some mistakes, but you expect those to happen. It’s tough when you’re behind and aren’t running the ball.’’

For a rookie QB to face adversity and struggle is to be expected. WR Jerry Porter made a relevant point when he said``With things being out of hand, it was kind of a blessing. You could say, `the hell with the score . . . you’ve got to let him get his nose bloody some time.’’ Although Russell played poorly, he kept his composure. His supreme confidence in his abilities will help overcome the challenges facing him. ``JaMarcus doesn’t get flustered,’’ Kiffin said. ``It’s not in his personality.’’

Getting Russell ready for 2008, even if it includes a tough outing like in Jacksonville, is an important and vital 1st step to rebuilding for 2008. Prior to the Jacksonville game, Head Coach Lane Kiffin made the following comments that puts the 2007 season in its proper perspective:

"Anytime it's your first year together, you learn a lot about your players, how they fit and the changes you have to make in the offseason," Kiffin said. "You don't want to make a ton of moves right away when you get somewhere because you don't know enough to know. You haven't evaluated the players within your system and given them a fair shot.

"I think the most improving is in Year 1 to Year 2 because you have a full year of people. I'm extremely excited about the future here and our first year of building this thing and getting it going and seeing what we can do."

Up Next: San Diego Chargers visit Oakland
The Chargers have won 5 straight games and need a victory to secure the #3 seed in the playoffs. The Raiders have another opportunity to beat a divisional rival and further develop Russell for 2008.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


My impressions on JaMarcus

The Good

1. Did not panic, not scared and no happy feet. He looked poised and tough compared to other young quarterbacks on the league like John Beck and Alex Smith.

2. Actually avoided three sacks by my count due to scrambling or sheer strength

3. Relatively quick release

The Bad

1. Terrible decision making

2. Terrible vision

Hopefully this goes away with experience. I also thought it was an impossible situation to put him in down 14-0 against what may be the second best team in the NFL

Of more immediate concern is the Defense. We play the pass pretty good but are completely hopeless against the run. We need 2 or 3better d-lineman badly. Saftey needs a major ovehaul and though I do not think Huff is best he is a long way from a Pro Bowler. At this point I would not have a problem with Ryan getting the ax would you?

Regards and Happy Holidays

Florida Raider

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant to write I do not think Huff is a bust but no where near a Pro Bowler

Florida Raider

6:44 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Florida Raider:

I would agree with your assessment of Russell. The mistakes he made are correctable with added experience and additional reps. with the 1st team in practice. Having a full training camp will help him tremendously for 2008.

I was pleased with some of the intangibles that Russell demonstrated vs. JAX namely his sense of composure and obvious physical gifts. It is just a matter of fine tuning the game plan and his timing with the WRs.

I look for Russell to be much sharper vs. San Diego.

As far as Rob Ryan, I would be inclined to give him 1 more year for the sake of stability and with additional DLine help. I would love to see us get a FA SS and move Huff to FS. If we can pick up a DT/DE in the draft and free agency, I think we would see much improvement in our rush D. Here's my dream D:

DE Burgess
DT Warren
DT Kelly
DE Chris Long (UVa)
WLB Howard
MLB Morrison
SLB Thomas (or Free Agent)
CB Asomugha
CB Routt
FS Huff
SS Free Agent

Nickel Back: Washington
Dime Back: Bowie
Rotational DT/Pass Rush: Sapp
Rotational DE/Pass Rush: Clemons
Rotational DT/Run D: Sands

C. Johnson
S. Williams

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

P.S. You really ought to consider starting your own blog for 2008. If you ever need any help getting it started, drop me a line. It is very easy.

Calico Jack

1:05 PM  
Anonymous memdf said...


Well said as always.
Jax was the best team the Raiders played this year I thought.
Don't forget the play when Russell ran for a first down that got called back.
If he had only not missed camp!

We can't just draft D.
We need WR's if Porter does not stay. Draft or FA? What do you think?

7:06 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Memdf: The draft is thin for WR prospects and it would be a major reach to go WR in the 1st round. In order to get a true, playmaking #1 type WR, we will need to spend some serious coin on a FA. The 1st WRs to come to mind are Berrian, Bryant, and yes, Ocho Cinco. I know some Raider fans want to show JP the door but I want him back. With a FA like Berrian who can stretch the field plus JP and Curry in the slot, our 3 WR set would be potent & versatile with Russell under center.

Best New Year's Wishes to you & your family.

10:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks CJ happy new year to you and all the best in 2008. Reading your blogs are a pleasure


Florida Raider

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Tooz 72 said...

CJ, just checking some stats this cold afternoon. The Raiders are 19-60 for the last five years, including last week's game. That is a 31.7% winning record. Season high wins are 5 in those heady days of 2004. As a fan, I am pissed off that the team toils in mediocrity year after year. I'm looking forward to what has to be a better year in 2008.

12:57 PM  

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