Sunday, September 20, 2009

Closing Time

Raiders 13 - Chiefs 10

Last week the Raiders lost to the Chargers yet the game was a buoy line to the Raider faithful. In a loss, there was a feeling of hope and better days to come. The next step in climbing the competitive ladder was for the team and coaching staff to learn how to close out a game.

Today the Raiders earned an ugly win vs. the Chiefs yet the game was a beautiful sight for the Raider Nation. In a win, and in spite of a dismal showing by the offensive unit, the team learned how to close out a game.

This game demonstrated why professional football is the ultimate team sport. The Raiders special teams unit playing a near flawless game. Kicker SeaBass nailed both of his long field goals attempts (48 yards; 54 yards). His long kickoffs prevented the Chiefs from netting a single yard on their returns for the entire game. Punter Lechler had an exceptional day (7 punts; 56.9 average) which was pivotal in the field position battle.

The Raiders defense gave up 409 net yards to the Chiefs. This might seem like a big chunk of yardage to the naked eye. However, if you watched the game, you realize that the D made big plays at critical junctures (2 pivotal sacks + 2 game altering interceptions). The defense also showed resiliency by minimizing the Chiefs to only 10 points in spite of a time of possession deficit of 38:39 to 21:21.

It is also clear that FS Michael Huff has taken a BIG step in his career progression. Huff has 3 interceptions and 1 fumble recovery in the 1st 2 games. His tackling and field awareness is leaps and bounds ahead of his previous 2 years in the league.

With the Raiders down 10-6 and 2:30 left on the clock, it was time for Russell to put the previous 57:30 behind him and find a way to elevate his game. This game deciding series is where ugliness gets a much needed face lift. During the course of the game, the Raiders offense only got in rhythm on 1 series. Russell was in the midst of his worst game in his young career. Somehow, some way, Russell blocked out the ugliness of his performance and the unit's performance and focused on winning time.

Thanks to a superior job by the special teams and an admirable job by the defense, the Raiders had an opportunity to win this game. 2:30 on the clock and 2 timeouts, the Raiders needed to march 69 yards to paydirt. On a key 2nd and 15, Russell connected with WR Murphy for 19 yards. On the play of the day, facing 3rd and 15, Russell found WR Watkins for 28 yards. McFadden closed out the drive with a 5 yard scamper after a fake to the upback and a pitch from Russell.

After 2 games, I'm sure many Raider fans are worried or upset about the performance of QB Russell. He has struggled with his accuracy and getting into rhythm. I'm looking at the Russell struggles with a silver lining. In both games he showed his ability to raise his game when the team needed him most. In spite of these struggles, I am confident that Russell will overcome the upcoming 2009 challenges. In my mind, Russell has showed his true leadership by fighting through his adverse times and keeping his eye on the prize.


Blogger Danna said...

Great take on JR..I am one of those worried fans, for sure, but if he can take that "the game in on the line" pressure at the end and somehow spread that out throughout the game, he's got a chance. It is just so disheartening to see him struggle like this. The only way to go is up from here though..Huff rules. period.

12:00 AM  
Blogger raiderpirate said...

Calico Jack i love reading your blog best on the net.But JR looks and plays like a 3rd QB not a #1 I hope things turn around for him but im very very concerned with his lackluster play GO Silver Black!!!!

7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Russell is awful, how is it that a 6'6 guy can not float the screen pass over the onrushing lineman.

If it was not for a little luckthe Chiefs would have had two pick 6s. Russell does two things well he does not panick or get scared in the pocket or loose his cool but that sure is not enoguh to be a pro quarterback.

I am sorry CJ I know your are an optimist but come on man completing 35% of your passes the guy is lost

Go Raiders

11:13 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

I undertand the cause for conern with Russell. There is no question that he has really struggled these first 2 games.

One of the reasons I'm keeping the faith that Russell will turn things around is how he performed in the last 7 games of the 2008 season;

62.5% completion rate
7 TDs to 4 INTS
88.5 QB rating

We all know that he has the ability and athleticism. It is clear as day that the guy is 'Cool Hand Luke' with the game on the line. He has shown a remarkable resiliency to rise up in the most pressure filled junctures of the Chargers and Chiefs games. This trait cannot be taught. Having a short term memory and moving on to the next play, series, or even game will serve him well.

I look at Russell's struggles as a natural part of his development. Every QB in their early part of their career faces adversity. How he handles it will determine if he starts taking steps foward and starts to play with the accuracy and consistency that we expect and need from our franchise QB.

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Sure hope you are right about JR. I am not meaning to pile on since I said plenty in your last blog. I will say this though.

I watch alot of SEC living in Florida and Russell was always very inaccurate in college as well. I just don't think accuaracy is part of his tool kit which in the NFL can be a real problem as we are finding out. Unfortunetly a few bombs a game and lasers down the ahsh marks don't cut it.

On the other hand I thought McFadden would be lighting it up by now based on what he did at Arkansas, oh well what do I know

Whatever this season holds for those two a win against Denver would put the Raiders at 2-1 which would feel great.

Florida Raider

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who do you want to see replace Gallery at guard I vote for that mean and crazy looking red head dude

8:09 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

These are the statements that drive me crazy when everyone who posts a comment has internet access:

(and I'm not picking on you, FL Raider)

"I watch alot of SEC living in Florida and Russell was always very inaccurate in college as well."

Really? "Always inaccurate?"

In Russell's last year at LSU as a junior he completed 67.8% of his passes, 28 TDs, 8 INTs, 9.15 YPA. Does 67.8% sound 'inaccurate' to you? I think not. You are better than that. You are either showing your obvious bias against Russell or too lazy to check the facts. I hate to say it but you lose credibility when you make outlandish, inaccurate statements like above.

As far as the Gallery injury, it looks like he will be back around the bye week (week 9). It looks like the Raiders will employ Chris Morris at LG and Satele at C. As far as McNasty, he isn't really suited for the ZBS.

10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I knew you were going to come back with that. What drives me crazy is that you are a huge apologist for Russell and are quick to isolate a few things rather than looking at the entire picture. BTW How many games of his did you watch in college?

In this case the high completion percentage in college does not really tell the story.

I watched at least 10-12 Russell games while he was at LSU and though it was a pro style offense which I thought should help him in the NFL it was a very simplified passing tree where he had to make minimum throws to the boundry and a lot of the throws were down the seams between the hash marks something he still does well. Not to mention he had Bowe who made up for a lot of bad thropws with his large body and jumping ability.

Touch passes, the deep outs and accuracy on his long ball are where he had trouble in college and continues to have trouble to this day.

Equally important look at some of his college games he seems to have gained a ton of weight since then and though you turn a blind eye to it I am telling you that is a big part of the problem

I wish nothing but success for JR the future of the franchise is tied to him. However, I refuse to wear blinders where he is concerned,the bottom line is that as it stands right now today he is one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Every single analyst says that and if you are so absorbed with stats take a look at his, not just from the final 7 games last year but the whole season and the two stinkers he has put up this year.

Hopefully he puts in the work on his body and mind to change that. Come on man stop drinking the cool aid and tell it like it is he had possibly the worst game in raiders history for a quarterback and you somehow come up with positives talking about lack of credibility you have that market cornered.

You have no problem calling out Al Davis (who at least has a history of success in the NFL) for his shortcomings why not Russell

Your blogs are great some of the best out there and usually very balanced but on the issue of Russell you are way off base

Florida Raider

8:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Florida is hard on Russell. But one point that makes sense is how can you use last year's final 7 games as a measure but not include this years first 2 against two so-so defensive teams. 35% completion rate can not be ignored

Go Raiders

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Russell is a fat and dumb country bumpkin the league is laughing at the Raiders as usual. Bodoggy

9:55 AM  
Blogger Leighraider said...

I am worried CJ, really worried.The only stat I see right now is 35% completions on the season.He just doesn't look like he gets it.I am hoping he gets it soon, and I agree to a certain extent with the comment that people are laughing at us/him, just when the rest of the team looks to have a shot at being competitve.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

I stand behind my comments and posts 100%.

What I've attempted to do is to give some context to Russell's performance and development. Numerous times I have stated the obvious which is he played very poorly in his first 2 games. At the same token, he showed tangible improvement the last 7 games of 2008 and throughout camp & exhibition season.

I wish I could put my finger on why he has struggled so much but the bottom line is that he has been inaccurate, his mechanics have been poor, and there has been no rhythm with the exception of a handful of drives.

The instant analysis, instant gratification, quick to write him off crowd is welcome to share their opinions, disappointment and frustration with Russell's performance. This disappointment is justified.

I believe Russell will overcome these early season woes by working through it with his teammates and coaches.

Whether he continues to struggle or begins to shine, we shall all wait and see.

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally it looks like the Raiders have assembled a nice mix of veterans and young talent and could actually accomplish something for the first time in six years and Jamarcus is holding the whole team back how dissapointing this guy makes Jay Schoerder look like Joe Montana

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you seen this article. I suppose Gannon is part of that instant analysis crowd

you notice he also point to his weight as one of the problems. Is Gannon biased agains Russel. Also check out the press conference with Russell today he threw his receivers under the bus. Geoff

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you mean closing time on the Raiders season thanks Russell

5:49 PM  

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