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Raiders’ concerns over the final seven

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Saturday, November 13th, 2010 at 12:41 pm in Oakland Raiders.

A few potential roadblocks as the Raiders attempt to make a run at the AFC West title and get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2002:

Injuries_The easiest and most obvious obstruction for any team. The last few times Al Davis made public appearances, he talked about injuries and their effect _ and thats when the Raiders weren’t nearly as good as they are now. It’s one of the first things brought up by Jason Campbell when asked about continued team success.

The Raiders beat the Chiefs in their pre-bye game without cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (ankle sprain) and tight end Zach Miller (arch), who only happen to be their two most consistent players over the last four years on defense and offense.

The hope is both will be ready to face Pittsburgh, but we really don’t know for sure. When Cable went out of his way to talk up Brandon Myers and how well he played against his Chiefs, my first thought was, “Uh, oh. He’s laying the groundwork for the possibility that Miller could be out awhile.”

Could be I’m reading between the lines and seeing something that’s not there. In any event, foot injuries are tricky and there’s only one tight end on the roster unless Khalif Barnes is getting a uniform number in the 80s.

Another concern is the offensive line, center in particular. Cable says Samson Satele is on the mend, and the Raiders aren’t inclined to add another center at the present time. That means if Satele is hurt, then Jared Veldheer, who has shown great promise since taking over at left tackle, moves to center, and Mario Henderson is back at left tackle. It weakens two positions in a unit that has shown much progress over the past few weeks.

Penalties_ The Raiders lead the NFL with 91 penalties for 794 yards, a pace which would give them 161 penalties for 1,411 yards at the end of the season and erase the existing NFL records of 158 penalties for 1,304 yards _ both set by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1998.

If the Raiders lead the league in penalties, it will be the 16th time in franchise history _ tying the Chicago Bears for most times leading the league. The Bears led the league for the first time in 1941, the Raiders didn’t even exist until 1960.

History says they’re going to get their penalties. A good sign was overcoming 15 flags for 140 yards against the Chiefs, because history also says that good Raiders teams overcome penalties.

But the Raiders aren’t that good. It’s not the 1960s and 1970s when the talent disparity was huge. The occasional penalties of aggression can be lived with. But false starts, encroachment, lining up in the neutral zone, illegal formations and mental penalties need to be reduced if not eliminated.

At some point in a tight game, a third-and-2 that suddenly turns into a third-and-7 (or vice-versa for the defense) may be the difference between winning and losing.

Quarterback play_ Campbell has done some great things in terms of quarterback rating during the three-game win streak, but there’s a reason Cable waited until the most recent game to make the public statement that he would probably be going with the hot hand rather than switching back to Bruce Gradkowski.

He’s not completely sold on Campbell. Gradkowski, on the other hand, is the quarterback who saved his job last year.

I’m not sold on either quarterback being “the guy” for the future and chances are you’ll need both of them to get through the season. You’ll need Campbell because the last 11 times the Raiders have played, Gradkowski has made it start to finish twice and been knocked out of two other games. You’ll need Campbell because he can be a solid, methodical game manager who minimizes turnovers and can occasionally stick a difficult throw when it matters.

You’ll need Gradkowski (when healthy) because there might be days like against St. Louis in Week 2 where the Raiders need a spark they’re not getting from Campbell.

Take a look at the teams competing for AFC playoff spots and the quarterbacks involved, then insert where “Campkowski” fits in.

In no particular order, there’s Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger and probably Mark Sanchez who are better, and that’s without even bringing Matt Schaub and a fading Houston team into the equation.

Tennessee seems stuck between Vince Young and Kerry Collins, and the Chiefs have Matt Cassel, situations which Oakland may be able to claim superiority at the most important position on the field.

Wide receivers_At this point, anything you get from Chaz Schilens is a bonus, and even if he does return, the elephant in the room will remain Darrius Heyward-Bey until the Raiders get some consistent production that goes beyond running clear-out routes. He had a big game against Seattle, 5 catches for 105 yards and his first deep strike, a 69-yard touchdown. Heyward-Bey needs to have more of those days. As long as he is not, and Jacoby Ford is cooling his heels on the sidelines after the return of Louis Murphy, then it’s a problem.

It’s OK to be in a developmental mode playing out the string. It’s an issue when you’re trying to make the playoffs.

Sebastian Janikowski_ Cable noted that when Janikowski hit the 33-yard field goal that beat the Chiefs, it came from the same spot on the field as did the miss in Arizona (actually from 32 yards) that kept the Raiders from having a 6-3 record. It officially put the Arizona loss to bed.

Janikowski, however, has missed seven field goal attempts in nine games and is 22-for-29 at 76 percent. That’s No. 27 in the NFL. The most field goal attempts Janikowski has ever missed in a season is 10 (22-for-32 in 2000, 20-for-30 in 2005).

If the Raiders hope to make a playoff run, Janikowski’s percentage will need get near or over 90 percent for the last seven games and include some clutch, long-distance kicks, possibly in bad weather.

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  • 100PercentRaider

    Thoughts about Denver-KC

    I guess once you lose to SF, you get pissed off

  • hwnrdr

    Anything can happen…but with a 35-0 lead right now, will be in first! Only problem is that the race got that much stiffer…If Denver holds on…
    OAK 5-4
    KC 5-4
    SD 4-5
    DEN 3-6
    Raiders will have to play dam near lights out to win this and I believe that they can, and most importantly…the team believes they can, also!

  • hwnrdr

    What game was that in the 90′s…was it Buffalo/Houston where one of those teams came back from 35 down to win? Can’t remember but it was a playoff game!

    # djohnnyg Says:
    November 14th, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Denver can’t blow a 35 point lead can they?

  • 504 Raider

    448.djohnnyg Says:
    November 14th, 2010 at 2:25 pm
    I would have guessed the 26 yds. receiveing. IMO he’s overrated.

    ————————————————————————————————————–

    Well today he did both.

  • aig-raiders

    We can handle Den and KC. Den in our home should not be a problem. KC is not any good. But SD is where my concern is.

  • DaRayduh

    449.aig-raiders Says:
    November 14th, 2010 at 2:25 pm
    I dont think the Giants are the number 1 team some people think they are.

    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I know. WTF is up with Dallas? Maybe JJ pulled out a good old fashion ass rippin out of his back pocket and slapped it on the team.

  • hwnrdr

    I agree AIG…SD is doing another one of those second half runs again…

  • 504 Raider

    Yeah that was Moon blowing that playoff game to Frank Reich.

  • DaRayduh

    Damn. I wanted the shut out. Lot of game left.

  • http://oaklandtribune.com r8dr4lfe21

    Lmfao!@441 haaaaaaaa.

  • YoungAmerican

    Tyler Thigpen looked good in limited action for Miami today. Led the Fins to an 80-yard TD drive.

  • lefty12

    Hwnrdr-it is tighter but as Cable says we worry about ourselves,not what everyone else does.If we take care of business it doesn’t matter what those BELOW us do.

  • 100PercentRaider

    Aig,
    I agree. SD is scary, they always get hot and Gates has been uncoverable this year. KC is going to fade, they have been exposed as the frauds they are. But if we can beat SD again, that should snuff out their chances. Cant wait to hear what all the talking heads say about KC now, the ones that said they are still the AFC west favorites and picked Haley for coach of the year.

  • aig-raiders

    Darayduh,

    I do believe it is about coaching in Dallas. I thought they had way too much talent. A lot of the current guys made the probowl last year. I never considered Norv Turner or Wade Philips HC material, especially Wade. He was so indecisive in Buff with the Rob Johnson and that other little midget at the time.

    With the right coach, they can be pretty good next year.

  • SnB Production

    I guess Peyton Manning must be slowing down seeing how the Colts didn’t put much points up against this Chiefs defense.

    YOu guys in your HATE for Jason Campbell hae reduced yourseles to saying that Campbell should have made the throws that Orton is making.

    I am speachless

  • http://raiderchaos.blogspot.com RaiderChaos

    The Final 7… Our Season Wrap Up game by game…. http://raiderchaos.blogspot.com/2010/11/wrapping-up-seasonthe-forecast.html

  • 100PercentRaider

    Troy Smith looks like a real QB, btw. Has the pocket presence that A Smith, Russell and the like will never have. Wasnt someone on this blog pushing hard for Troy Smith this offseason?

  • hwnrdr

    Exactly, and that is why I believe that they can…if we win the west, it will have to be what the Raiders do…not what everyone else does!

    # lefty12 Says:
    November 14th, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Hwnrdr-it is tighter but as Cable says we worry about ourselves,not what everyone else does.If we take care of business it doesn’t matter what those BELOW us do.

  • http://oaklandtribune.com r8dr4lfe21

    A confident team isn’t afraid of sh1t.
    We will play anyone, anytime, anyplace.
    This team has swagger, they know what winning feels like now. They know what it’s like to have people talking, they know what it’s like to have a sold out coliseum. The league needs to watch out, there’s a silver mist, with a black pimp hand coming your way.

  • DaRayduh

    I just can’t help but think the Raiders are extremely confident. Not the kind that they can lose sight of what they need to accomplish, but the kind of confidence they need to pull W’s from any facet of their game.

    And I agree too AIG, SD is not going to fold the tent, but if we can beat Pittsburgh, that becomes more of a concern to SD because they know this team is for real. I’m sure last time Norv took that same tune with him to Oakland, just figuring if he hit us hard we’d roll over. Not any more.

  • aig-raiders

    Guys,

    Realistically, these are problem games….Pitt, @SD, Ind, and @Jax. I think we will go 2/2 in those games and prob win the other wins. I only count Jax because we are playing on the East Coast.

  • http://raiders.com A.B. Paine III

    Aig-Raiders Says:
    November 14th, 2010 at 2:35 pm
    Darayduh,

    I do believe it is about coaching in Dallas. I thought they had way too much talent. A lot of the current guys made the probowl last year. I never considered Norv Turner or Wade Philips HC material, especially Wade. He was so indecisive in Buff with the Rob Johnson and that other little midget at the time.

    With the right coach, they can be pretty good next year.
    ———————————–
    Your are such a joke. Earlier you were criticizing Campbell because he didn’t win with Pro Bowlers in D.C. I brought up Romo and his surrounding talent. You dismissed me. The reason the Redskins were terrible was because of bad management and coaching. It wasn’t because of JC. Aig, you are just sad and pathetic.

  • 100PercentRaider

    I also think Denver will be a tough game, just on the fact that we humiliated them last time and we just cant expect that to happen again in a rivalry like this

  • aig-raiders

    Darayduh,

    Playing against Pitt is like playing with house money to me. We win great. We dont win no big deal. They are ranked as one of the top 3 teams in this league and we are playing at their house.

    It’s the other inferior teams that MUST win.

  • aig-raiders

    AB,

    I tried to ignore you. You are so stupid to even bring up that argument even when I cornered you yesterday.

    1. 2009 – a lot of Dallas Cowboys made the probowl and they had a winning record and playoff experience.

    2. 2008 – a lot of Skins players made the probowl and they DIDNT have a winning record.

    3. 2010 – Can you please predict how many Dallas Cowboys will make the probowl this year on offense? I dare you.

    You see where you are stupid and got your head so far up Jason’s you know what that I try to avoid having a logical conversation with you.

  • http://raiders.com A.B. Paine III

    Aig, why don’t you man up and admit your sad logic. You are a such a p*ssy. First, you want the Raiders to lose against Pittsburgh, now you are dodging me.

  • YoungAmerican

    Christ almighty, not this s**t again.

  • Raiderjambo

    468 & 469. Exactly the approach we need, screw the rest of the league, and take what we want, and we can! We have a bunch of ” young guns” who hate to lose! “JUST KEEP WINNING BABY!”

  • aig-raiders

    No worries AB,

    You proclaimed that JC is the man and will lead us to the playoffs for the next 10 years right? Time will tell. Time will tell whether you are right or not. Easy enough for me.

  • http://raiders.com A.B. Paine III

    Aig, you just said the Cowboys have “way too much talent”. WTF do you think that means? I guess Romo must suck because the Cowboys couldn’t win this year. You sure are one illogical jack ass.

  • DaRayduh

    474.aig-raiders Says:
    November 14th, 2010 at 2:44 pm
    Darayduh,

    Playing against Pitt is like playing with house money to me. We win great. We dont win no big deal. They are ranked as one of the top 3 teams in this league and we are playing at their house.

    It’s the other inferior teams that MUST win.

    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    However a win in Pitt would be season defining but a loss definately does not break the season. Nice to have the chance to measure up tho.

    That rotten denver team better not lose.

  • http://raiders.com A.B. Paine III

    Aig, you have been sucking on Gradkowski’s balls way too long.

  • http://oaklandtribune.com r8dr4lfe21

    IMHO! Pitt needs to watch out for us. They have not shown they can beat us yet. So there the team with something to prove. Especially if they lose tonight. Play our game, understand the refs will be one sided. So let’s not give them reason to throw flags. It will be loud, but nothing more then what we heard in Denver before taking the crowd out of it. Rattle big Ben finish the tackles, and not allow the midget Ward to run free.

  • http://raiders.com A.B. Paine III

    Aig, I’m done arguing with you. It is clear you have rocks in your head.

  • aig-raiders

    AB,

    Why are you changing the argument? If you gonna bring it up, then stand up like a mand and defend your position. Please explain to me why Romo was able to create a winning record in the SAME year his mates made the probowl. And why JC couldnt do the same thing in the SAME year his mates made the probowl?

  • aig-raiders

    AB,

    You da man! Yeah bravo bro! I’ll go back to putting you on the mute button but keep on screaming though. Thanks.

  • http://oaklandtribune.com r8dr4lfe21

    Damn! Internet die hards, your both right now dry hump and make up. Geez why not talk about something you agree on if you can’t agree on the QB.

  • http://raiders.com A.B. Paine III

    Aig, thanks for acknowledging my victory over you. I own you.

  • #1 Raiders Fan

    Can somebody explain the reason the raiders have to go to pittsburgh for the second consecutive season? How does that work?

  • aig-raiders

    DaRayduh,

    Yeah, Pitt is going to be a very good measuring stick. The way I see it as follows.

    1. Both running game will be muted due to both good defense. Pitt is only allowing 58 yds rushing per game.

    2. How will JC and the offense handle the blitz?

    3. Can our DB’s hold up against Ben/Ward/Wallace?

  • aig-raiders

    AB,

    You own me. You’re great. You’re the best. Better than all the rest…..

  • http://raiders.com A.B. Paine III

    Aig, by the way, I don’t really think Campbell is that good. Maybe he will get better, I hope so. Grads isn’t the answer either.

  • http://raiders.com A.B. Paine III

    F*ck Tebow!

  • lefty12

    There aren’t many on here that WANT to see us lose,and I doubt AIG does either.He just doesn’t like JC,just as others on here dislike other players and constantly rag on those players.Saying we will lose because Campbell is playing QB isn’t the same as saying he hopes they lose because JC is playing QB.

  • DaRayduh

    AIG, We will need our +AA game from our defense and special teams, and Bush, Reece and Mac will need to run hard, the type of hard running that produces flames shooting out of the asses. Aftr burner sh1t. It will be a physical game.

  • http://raiders.com A.B. Paine III

    LOL, the lights went out in New York.

  • lefty12

    I must admit,I hate the Cowgirls but I love seeing them kick the NYGs arse.

  • aig-raiders

    Wow, backing down now after proclaiming Jason is goign to take us to the playoffs and will be our starting Qb for the next ten seasons?

  • http://raiders.com A.B. Paine III

    Aig-Raiders Says:
    November 14th, 2010 at 3:08 pm
    Wow, backing down now after proclaiming Jason is goign to take us to the playoffs and will be our starting Qb for the next ten seasons?
    —————————
    Aig, I’m not backing down. I was just f*cking with you that whole time.

  • lefty12

    I wonder if Bush ever thinks he could be getting the playing time and touches Reese is getting if he would have made the position change a couple of years ago when he was asked to due to injuries.I also have to wonder if he could have been as effective as Reese is today.