Last Game But Not Last Hurrah
Happy New Year to the Raider Nation. This last game of 2007 was bitter sweet. Finishing the season at 4-12 leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of Raider fans, players, and coaches. Seeing our franchise QB, JaMarcus Russell, play well in his 1st career start is sweet.
San Diego 30 - Raiders 17 > Calico Jack’s Quick Six:
1. Game Deciding Factor:
The Chargers won this game by winning the turnover battle (+3). The Raiders turnovers led to 17 San Diego points.
2. Russell Shows The Right Stuff:
Besides the opening snap where he threw an interception on a short pass intended for Rhodes, Russell played exceptionally well for his 1st career start. Completing 74% of his passes (23-31, 224 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), Russell did a good job reading the SD defense and checking down to his backs and tight end. The 32 yard TD strike to Porter displayed Russell's amazing skill set.
3. Rhodes Earns A Roster Spot:
Starting the last 2 games of the season, Rhodes put up back to back 100+ yard performances against 2 of the tougher run defenses (JAX & SD) in the league. Against JAX, Rhodes carried the ball 27 times for 115 yards. Versus SD, Rhodes piled up 122 yards on 29 attempts in addition to 6 receptions for 42 yards. This sets up the Raiders to go into the 2008 season with 3 viable RBs (Fargas, Rhodes, and Bush).
4. The Security Blanket:
TE Zach Miller quickly became JaMarcus Russell's favorite target (8 receptions, 84 yards). Miller runs good routes, has excellent hands, and an innate ability to find open spaces/seams in the zone coverage. Having a reliable, sure handed TE like Miller to move the chains gives Russell a valuable tool to sustain drives.
The Raiders defense did their part to keep this game close. The run defense hunkered down to contain LT to 56 yards on 16 carries. With the inevitable firing of DC Rob Ryan and retirement of DT Warren Sapp, it is time for Kiffin to retool this unit in terms of the coaching staff, personnel, and scheme.
6. Farewell To Mr. Sapp:
It looks like Warren Sapp will be announcing his retirement in the next few days. In his amazing 13 year career, the QB Killa racked up 96.5 sacks, was named to the Pro Bowl 8 times, was recognized as the Defensive Player of the Year (1999), and earned a ring with the Bucs. I will remember Sapp as an animated, fun loving man who treasured the game of football and was an inspirational leader on the field of battle.
Kiffin & Russell are joined at the hip in our future success. Both of these young men are the alpha dog leaders of the team responsible for driving this franchise forward towards future glory. I’m looking forward to a productive off season of reshaping and improving the 2008 unit. Here’s to a happy, prosperous and healthy new year.
“Better were the days when mastery of seas came not from bargains struck with eldritch creatures... but from the sweat of a man's brow and the strength of his back alone. You all know this to be true! Yo ho, haul together, hoist the colours high/ Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die!" - Captain Barbosa