Cable or Satellite
The Raiders had their most complete game of the season vs. the Texans last week. All 3 units executed the game plan effectively.
Here were some of the keys to an efficient and productive day.
* The offensive unit got on track early with a opening drive TD. Getting off to slow starts throughout the season has been the team's Achilles heel.
* JaMarcus Russell made good reads and was poised and accurate (18/25, 2 TD passes, 223 net yards passing, 0 Ints).
* Russell did a good job of distributing the ball to multiple receivers; McFadden (5), Miller (4), Schillens (3); Higgins (3).
* The offensive line did an excellent job giving Russell enough time to make his second and third reads possible. All Pro DE Mario Williams was shut down and a non factor due to the superb play of LT Mario Henderson.
* Fargas seemed to have an extra burst in his stride. The Crash Test Dummy was decisively making his "1 cut and go" work on 20 carries for 93 yards.
* Cable incorporated Darren McFadden into a bigger chunk of the playbook and didn't wait to ease him into the game. McFadden's presence on the field gave the Raiders a big play threat and more diversity by utilizing him in the backfield, in motion, in the slot, and split out wide. McFadden played 30 of a possible 60 snaps. In my opinion, McFadden needs to be on the field for at least 80% of the snaps since it forces the opponent to account for him and opens up the field for players such as TE Miller.
* The Raiders offensive unit stayed on schedule with down and distance by establishing a balanced offense and most importantly by minimizing their penalties (2).
* The defensive unit played a spirited and solid game for 60 minutes.
* The rush D held Texan RB Slaton in check and kept the rushing totals below 100 yards (90).
* The front 4 created good pressure on QB Schaub ringing up 3 sacks and causing 1 Int.
* When the chips were down, the Raiders found a way to make a play on 3rd down holding the Texans to 3 of 13 on 3rd down conversions.
The special teams had their best game of the season and provided the team with a real boost.
* J.L. Higgins had an 80 yard punt return TD for his 3rd punt return TD of the year.
* Shane Lechler averaged 48.5 yards per punt and positively affected the field position game.
* SeaBass was perfect on FGs (2 of 2) and PATs (3 of 3) and had good distance and placement on his kickoffs.
* The coverage units were outstanding.
Overall, it was the young guns on the Raiders roster who had the biggest impact on achieving this victory. The key performers were Russell, McFadden, Miller, Higgins (2 TDs), Schillens (1 TD), Henderson, Chris Johnson (Int) , and Richardson (1 sack). All of these guys are either rookies or 2nd year players.
So after such a complete and positive win ... why would I be worried about what lies ahead on Sunday vs. Tampa Bay or in the larger scheme of things, in 2009?
The victory buzz lasts for an enjoyable week. Then reality sets in. The reality is that this 1 game performance is just that ... 1 game. The reasons for concern are these 2 simple facts:
(1) The Raiders have yet to play well in back to back games the entire year. In order for this team to make quantifiable progress there needs to be a level of consistency established from week to week. During the course of this season, the Raiders have won 1 game each month (at KC in Sept; vs NYJ in Oct; at Den in Nov; vs. Hou in Dec). The Raiders have had two 3 game losing streaks and one 4 game losing streak.
(2) The Raiders have lost 11 or more games in six consecutive seasons.
There has been much debate in recent weeks about whether Tom Cable should return in 2009 as Head Coach. In Cable's 11 game tenure as Head Coach, here are some of the lowlights and a summary of the games: (There is a special emphasis on offensive numbers since Cable does not shoulder the blame for the Defensive woes.)
* In 11 games, the Raiders offense has averaged 14 points per game
* In 5 of 11 games, the Raiders offense has scored 10 or less points
* No back to back wins (with 1 last chance vs. TBay)
* In only 3 of 11 games have the Raiders scored 20 or more points
* In 5 of 11 games, the Raiders were completely blown out by the 1st half. These games were not even remotely competitive.
* After each Raider win, the Raiders suffered an embarrassing loss
* The offensive unit is 29th in total offense, 32nd in 3rd down conversion rate, 30th in scoring, 29th in Time of Possession, 29th in Yards per Play.
|Raiders 3||at New Orleans 34||L|
|Raiders 16||vs NY Jets 13||W|
|Raiders 10||at Baltimore 29||L|
|Raiders 0||vs. Atlanta 24||L|
|Raiders 6||vs. Carolina 17||L|
|Raiders 15||at Miami 17||L|
|Raiders 31||at Denver 10||W|
|Raiders 13||vs. Kansas City 20||L|
|Raiders 7||at San Diego 34||L|
|Raiders 26||vs New England 49||L|
|Raiders 27||vs Houston 16||W|
Some fans have been making the argument that if the Raiders finish the season with a dominating win at Tampa Bay that Tom Cable deserves to come back as Head Coach in 2009. In my judgment, Cable should come back as the OLine coach where he is the most suited. If the Raiders demonstrated sustained improvement and tangible progress during the course of the year, I might be inclined to endorse Cable's return as Head Coach. My map to rebuild the franchise has not been altered by the one win last week. I still feel strongly that the first step to real progress will be the hiring of an executive GM who has the authority to recruit and select the best possible Head Coach in the market.