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Raiders-Bucs _ what to look for

A few things to keep an eye on when the Raiders face the Bucs Sunday:

– A decent start.

Can the Raiders keep the game within a touchdown or less early on? Jon Gruden loves to get a lead and then sit on it with the run.

It used to make me laugh when he was classified as this “West Coast offense” coach when Gruden liked to employ double tight ends and pound the ball between the tackles.

“The best thing about a 4-yard run on first down,” he would say, “is you can run it again on second down.”

– Pressure on JaMarcus Russell.

Defensive end Gaines Adams has been called out this week. They want him to pressure the passer. Russell’s game against the Houston Texans last week was light years ahead of anything he’s done before.

The quickest way to undermine a quarterback’s confidence is by getting someone in his face. Going back-to-back with measured, solid performances would be huge.

Mario Henderson plays a big role here. If he were to have his third straight solid game, it could influence the Raiders’ strategy with regard to the draft and when to take a tackle.

– The Raiders’ level of enthusiasm and of being prepared.

Yeah, I know, Tom Cable already sleeps with the fishes in the minds of most.

But what if the Raiders come out and play an inspired game and either win or push the Bucs to the wire?

As noted Friday, the Raiders have no peer with regard to playing poorly in December on the road when forced out of California. If they manage to summon up something impressive out of the blue _ something they didn’t do even in the good years _ it’s worth taking notice.

Rob Ryan’s contract is up. Do you blow out the entire offensive and defensive staff?

– Russell’s performance overall.

Directly related to the pressure placed upon him by the Bucs, yes.

But he is the Raiders future. Let’s go ahead and assume Greg Knapp is out the door after he made it clear he didn’t want to be the head coach, and then had his play-calling duties stripped.

Quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo is also in his final year and was a Lane Kiffin guy.

If Russell is suddenly looking on the verge of doing something special, Cable is the last link to continuity. You blow him out, and the entire system changes.

– Stopping the run.

It may be too late on this count. Tommy Kelly stays by virtue of his contract, but Terdell Sands and Gerard Warren have got to be on notice given Oakland’s sieve-like middle.

Any chance they have of being part of the 2009 Raiders _ if that’s what they want _ could be enhanced by closing off the run.

– Nnamdi Asomugha’s role.

His locker as well as Shane Lechler’s, was cleaned out Friday. They are represented by the same agent, Tom Condon. Didn’t see any other free agents cleaning out their lockers, with the team meeting Monday morning in Alameda.

Asomugha went out of his way to show up to training camp when he didn’t have to as an exclusive franchise free agent. Does his change in agents represent a shift in strategy? Or perhaps that stiff neck is worse than the Raiders are letting on.

Either way, with Antonio Bryant to defend, the Raiders could use him.

– Does Lane Kiffin show up?

Once he hears Al Davis won’t be there, young Lance might not make himself so conspicuous. If Davis were there, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him plant himself in a strategic area and have a few things to say.

According to MrSEC.com, Monte Kiffin has told Lane not to come to the game because his presence would serve as a distraction.

Have no ideal of the validity of the report, but no one loves distractions quite like young Lance.

I’ll check in after the game . . . it makes sense for one of the beat writers to stay behind after a cross country trip to be available when players check out Monday, as well as the postseason press conference.

(The added bonus being I can watch my son’s game Sunday afternoon in a CYO tournament championship game).

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • #24 Aka Huff24

    The offense has made a case for itself as of late.

    QB – Russell has improved.
    RB – Bush proved himself and McFadden is a playmaker.
    FB – A healthy Griffith and/or O’Neal make it good.
    WR – JLH and Schilens make things more competitive.
    TE – Miller is JR’s savior.
    OL – Henderson makes the draft interesting.

  • DarthPirate

    By the way, I was on the Bucs message boards, they were giving Russell big ups. They seem to think he’ll be pretty good.

  • Unknown

    MR

    Please admit that Cable did a decent with kiffy’s losers?

  • vann mcelroy

    if gruden gets fired, then hire him. End of story.

  • Dakota

    New post up

  • NC Raider

    I think Cable has earned a shot at HC. He got his team up to play in these last two games, and in both they looked legit, unlike earlier in the season when, at times, they looked like the Shell/Walsh debacle. Plus we all know that continuity is key to the development of Russell and other young players.

    It was great to see the young guys making plays: Higgins, Schilens, Bush especially, added to the mix of Russell, Miller, and McFadden, and pretty solid play by Mario Henderson. Clearly there is some talent here to build on.

    Give Cable an OC and a DC to work with.

    Keep Asomugha and Lechler.

    Given the injury problems, keep Bush, McFadden, AND Fargas and Rankin too. We’ll need all 4 to get through a full season.

    Draft an OT and DT or bring them in thru free agency, or both.

    I’m not jumping to playoff predictions for next season, but I do think I see light at the end of the tunnel at least.

    (Please insert oncoming train jokes here …)

    Happy back to back wins for Christmas and Hannukah, bros.

    Go Raiders. Or as my 6 year old son just said, “Dad, your pirate team just beat the other pirate team.” Yeah, Happy Holidays.

  • ENGLANDRAIDER

    Post 846.
    You’re right about it taking injury to put Schielens and Higgins in the game but it was Kiffin who kept them out.
    In this game-Higgins, Chaz and Henderson all did what Kiffin said they couldn’t.

  • Noshadowking

    I think only the special teams coordinater should be back next year. Cable should stay whether anyone thinks he is a puppet or not he has the players actually trying for him and compared to the last 6 years that is a vast improvement. Bring in a decent o and d coordinater. The one area Al needs to shake up is our scouting/talent evaluaters. The good ole boys who know Al need to be kicked to the curb and some decent talent scouts need to be brought in

  • Rollo

    I dont pay attention to most other teams injuries thru the year, but it seems to me we have alot of injuries and how the hell do you get a man that is 6’7″ 350lbs into game shape. Some of these guys are just plain fat. But they can move pretty good but tire easily. It seems that raider backs are always injured and never play a full game.

  • ragin

    MR is a whiner….he is consistent about that!!! Time to pull down your kiffen posters….sukah…,

  • Brien(The Young Guys huh?

    MR you only read things you want to because you are a bitch. Women do that same type of schit

  • Florida Pete in disguise

    since the super bowl season…

    Gruden is a sub-.500 coach…

    he’s not special…

    but ending this season with 2 wins is special…

    this team is turning it around…

    so allow me to be the first to say it…

    next year: super bowl baby !!!

    oh, and who gives two schits if Cable is Davis’ puppet…

    results matter…

    and what i saw today in the second half was the most enjoyable football i’ve seen in years…

    Raiders… for life !!!

  • Mistabrown

    You must have brain damage to come in here touting Fargas.

    Geesus H, some of you need to get yourselves checked out!

  • Mistabrown

    Jerry, take the rest of the year off on me.

    But next year, REG this FK’n blog!

  • http://donprado@comcast.net los angeles raiders

    I say let cable keep his job, the raiders could have easily stuck thier heads between thier tails and called it a season after the jamarcus pick, but instead they showed character and pulled out the victory…Great game but I feel real bad for cadillac, we might have seen a stars career end today

  • Brien(The Young Guys huh?

    Oakland= home of the Raiders

  • Brien(The Young Guys huh?

    Farglass is garbage

  • Rollo

    “Lance” sucked and Monte swollowed! Good win

  • ENGLANDRAIDER

    Things look to be really coming together with Cable.
    They dominated in the first half and scored seventeen unanswered points in the 4th quarter.
    The play calling was aggressive.
    Russell’s composure after the interception was impressive. The last three games he has really developed. Imagine what he can do when he gets good.
    The play makers on this team are amazingly young and can give us years of great football.
    Continuity would be a great plus next year.

    Keep Cable.

  • Rollo

    Whats this I read that the Tuna has an option to leave miami after this year, could this be Al’s ace.

  • Bucs FAn

    Welcome to the Play-Offs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!NOT

  • Bucs FAn

    I wish I was a Raider fan at least I would have a future! All I have is a glorified coach that rode Tony D’s coat tails to the Big Game!
    He is nothing more than a big headed loser!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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