Tuesday, January 01, 2008

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.

5. Defense:
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


Blogger Leighraider said...

We just need to get Russell some assistance now CJ.WR looks like a massive need in the offseason, whether in FA or via the draft.Oh and some big boys up front to keep him in one piece.I see us being busy.

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Last question until after the draft. Would you rather see the Raiders end up with Chris Long (D-line) or Jake Long (O-line) in this draft. I am assuming you do not think we need McFadden based on your blog.

Thanks again for all the great blogs throughout the year

All the best in 2008 to you and your family

Florida Raider

7:02 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

FR: I'm 100% behind the Raiders drafting Chris Long aka SOH (son of Howie) and here's why:

I would prefer an upgrade at OT via free agency. I believe a 2nd tier FA who is a good fit in the ZBS could be plugged in from day one.

I think SOH is a rare DE prospect in that he is a true, old school DE who plays both the run and pass equally as well. By adding SOH, the Raiders rush D and pass rush improves. Guys like Burgess & Clemons are more 1 dimensional, speed rushers but below par as run defenders. Fixing our run D is paramount to our success. You also have to factor in that the Raiders rely on the front 4 for the bulk of the pass rush. Going forward, our DL would be:

DE Burgess
DT Warren
DT Kelly
DE Long

DE/situational pass rusher: Clemons
DE/DT depth: Richardson
DT/situational run defender: Sands

Of course, if somehow Glenn Dorsey (DT, LSU) slips to our pick, I would take him and move Kelly to DE.

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

i think we upgrade our dt in the free agency market as well with the signing of veteran albert haynesworth who is unhappy in tennessee.
ibasports is reporting that kiffin is talking to bucs db coach raheem morris to replace ryan when it is official that he is gone.
i still think that kiffin pulls in ken norton, jr for the d-coord spot. norton has spent his time as linebacker coach at usc, and has done a great job there. like kiffin, norton knows what it takes to win, and is not afraid to make some gutsy calls. he knows how to run multiple defensive schemes, which he has learned under pete carroll.
bringing in raheem morris, again limits our defensive knowledge to only running a cover-2 zone; which teams are starting to figure out how to pick it apart.
the one defensive scheme they have not figured out how to beat is the man-zone defense. this is the defense that the talent the raiders have, is designed to run. regardless of running a 4-3, or 3-4 scheme, the speed of the corners should allow them to play man-to-man, while the linebackers and safeties should be in a zone. it's what the patriots, steelers, vikings, bears, chargers, titans, jaguars, and ravens run. man-zone, learn it, love it, use it.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Great points, Raider Nate.

Former USC DC Ed Orgeron would also be a candidate who is very familiar with the principles behind an attacking/flex D. The Raiders will need to act quickly on Norton before UCLA scoops him up for their DC.

7:41 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

i don't know if norton leaves usc for the cross town rival, especially when pete is 100 times better coach than neuheisel will ever be. i'd be very surprised if he did so.
not sure if orgeron wants to depart for another dc gig, even if it's in the nfl. i think he's looking to become hc somewhere. that would be the only thing preventing the raiders landing norton jr, is if orgeron leaves usc for a hc job somewhere else because then ken would be promoted to dc at usc.

11:57 AM  
Blogger RaiderRealist said...

Norton went to UCLA, so he might have that urge to try and "go home again" rather than come to the Raiders or stay at USC.

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

that's true rr, but ucla isn't going to go anywhere with neuheisel. again, i think that is dependent on what is/isn't offered to him. the only way he leaves is if: 1. orgeron doesn't go anywhere and 2. if the raiders don't offer him a d-coord position.
i think he weighs his options before deciding whether or not to join ucla (a failing football program that will continue to get worse under neuheisel, my opinion). if he goes to the raiders and does well, and neuheisel shows why he has been out of college football for awhile; then i think norton becomes hc of ucla.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Raider Nate:
Ed Norton Jr. is a LBs coach. It would be a major promotion if he takes the job of DC at either UCLA or with the Raiders. Since he played at UCLA there are obvious ties there. Orgeron was at USC from 1998 to 2004 and left to become HC at Ole Miss. He was recently fired. His ties to Kiffin are from 2000 to 2004. Orgeron has coached LBs, DL, been Asst. Head Coach, Head Coach, recruiting coordinator, and a strength and conditioning coach. IMO, Orgeron is more qualified than Norton. However, if Kiffin is leaning towards a younger DC without as much coaching experience but a ton of attitude, energy, and something to prove, Norton just might be the man. It will be an interesting off season.

6:17 PM  
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