Grab on the train wreck that is the Oakland Raiders right now, everyone is getting on board, saying things like “Tom Cable is getting fired” at the end of the season for disagreeing with Raiders’ owner Al Davis and such things. “All Aboard for firing Tom Cable?” calls the conductors. They must have some kind of inside information. Sure it is something that is assumed that Cable and Davis disagreed about the direction of the quarterback position. But by saying Davis will or won’t do something? I know Davis will do the exact opposite of whatever I said was going to happen. So I hope you’re ready for another year of Tom Cable.
Speaking of which, during this next offseason the Raiders are not going to bring in a winning quarterback, nor any free agent first-round talent offensive linemen, or any wide receivers that can actually catch a football. They will also not bring in another decent tight end to take some pressure off of Zach Miller. There, I’ve done my part Raider Nation, good luck with whatever else you “don’t want” Mr. Davis to do in 2011.
I mean don’t get me wrong, I personally think Brandon Myers is an underutilized and talented tight end, but who is his back-up? Khalif Barnes, a 300-plus pound offensive lineman is now your back-up tight end…seriously?
Look, Al Davis has certainly not made any decision remotely close to who his head coach will be next year. I know they are down right now, but even though they lost two games in a row, the Raiders still control their own destiny. They just need to learn to beat the teams outside of their division as well as the ones in it. It’s not rocket science people. And if they don’t then Jim Harbaugh’s phone is going to be ringing like crazy and there will be lots of money involved.
I watched parts of a game last night that featured two teams that the Raiders should have beaten earlier this season playing against each other in primetime. Those two teams were 3-7, and each had a win over the Raiders, meaning they had only beaten two other teams this year. The point is that you never know what’s going to happen in the NFL. Everybody across the Bay thinks their 4-7 San Francisco 49ers are going to make a playoff run in a weak division.
If the Raiders had won just these two games, they would be 7-4 right now. Tom Cable would still be the savior of the franchise and they would be leading their division right now…still…after two straight losses. But we shouldn’t talk anymore about should’ve, would’ve, and could’ve.
The fact of the matter is that this is still the same Raiders team that looked so good a while back. Most assuredly, the coaches are still teaching the same things they were teaching before, still studying tape of their opponents the same way as they were before, and still focused on turning this thing around. While it’s kosher to take some of the blame as coaches when things go wrong, the problem with this team is clearly a lack of focus and execution on Sunday afternoon. That is a direct result of a lack of focus during the week. So go ahead and blame Tom Cable for starting Bruce Gradkowski over the equally as lackluster Jason Campbell and in the meantime potentially splitting the locker room, go ahead and blame Hue Jackson for not calling the right plays, go ahead and blame John Marshall for being predictable…but guess what, they don’t take the field, they don’t have the chance to execute the plays on the field, and perhaps most importantly---they are still focused everyday when they go to work. These two losses are on the players, not the coaches. I know Tom Cable is busting his ass to right this ship, because that’s been his goal since he got here. He just needs some kind of “Get up Rocky” speech to hit a home run and get his team’s focus back.
Now, that isn’t to say that all the coaches decisions were the right ones because nobody makes right choices all the time, but you are not fooling me into believing that all of their choices are the wrong ones. You’re not even going to convince me that 20 percent of their choices were the wrong ones. And that’s why this falls 100 percent squarely on the player’s shoulders. And that’s what Tom Cable was talking about before they went on their short break---accountability. The players are not being accountable for their assignments, and you can only preach that; you cannot get in their shoes and do it for them. Before the break they were being accountable, but since then they are clearly not paying attention to their responsibilities and that is what you are seeing on the field.
Now what do they need to do to actually have a prayer in their upcoming game against the San Diego Chargers?
Well before the game on Sunday, I was listening to the Raider Pregame show on the radio. They had a brief interview with outside linebacker Quentin Groves and Groves said, “Every game we play from here on out is a playoff game for us.”
Well in that case, I hope the team isn’t looking forward to watching the rest of this season from their couch because that’s what would have happened this week; they would be watching on television.
But that’s the only way they are going to win the next game is to treat it like it is win or go home. And they won’t have to pretend either because the stadium in San Diego is going to be a playoff atmosphere. They were embarrassed when they lost earlier this season. And these Raiders have a chance to do something that the Raiders have not done in a really long time---Sweep the Chargers in the season series. I don’t care who you are, that would almost as sweet as making the playoffs.
And if I were running the show, I would do exactly the same gameplan as the last time:
- Smack them in the mouth
- Be super aggressive
- Take shots (Jason Campbell)
- Hit them with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush---in heavy doses
- Try to shut their offense with very physical defense
The one thing I would do differently is I would pass to set up the run. In fact, I would pass a lot to start the game off. I would pass so much they would wonder if I were ever going to run. And then after I got them all tired from chasing my super fast wide receivers all over the football field I would pound them with heavy doses of Marcel Reece and Michael Bush. And after that, I would hit them up with some Darren McFadden, swings passes, screens, pitches, and wildcat formations. Wear out the defense, get them tired, and then beat them up.
Sounds like a great plan to me, the trouble will be trying to make it actually happen. But they are capable of doing this if they play like they played against Denver. That team on that day was an NFL playoff team and it had Pro Bowlers on it. This new team though that the Raiders have become, well, let’s just say that nobody likes this “same ol’ team” very much.
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