Pack’s best shot is to abandon the run

I’m taking the Steelers, but truth be told, would rather see the Packers win Super Bowl XLV today.

And since everything in this space revolves around the Raiders, the advice for Green Bay is to cue up the tape from Sept. 15, 2002, Oakland vs. Pittsburgh at Heinz Field.

The Raiders were in their second game with Bill Callahan as head coach and Marc Trestman as offensive coordinator, having traded Jon Gruden to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In the opener, the offense was much as Gruden would have it _ 423 yards of total offense, 221 rushing, 202 passing, 13 first downs rushing, 12 first downs passing. The very picture of balance in a 31-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

In the days leading up to Pittsburgh in Week 2, Callahan talked about the need for similar balance against the Steelers. No way the Raiders could survive such a ferocious defense without it.

Of course, Callahan and Trestman had other ideas. New England’s Tom Brady went 29-for-43 for 294 yards and three touchdowns in beating Pittsburgh 30-14 in the opener, with the Patriots running the ball only 18 times.

Turns out, Callahan later said they had been game planning for Pittsburgh since the offseason, essentially turning the ball over to Rich Gannon and letting him control the game with his passing.

In one of the more memorable Raiders regular season games I’ve ever covered, Gannon threw 41 passes _ by halftime. He completed 29 of them, for 257 yards and a touchdown. They had only five running plays in the half, one of them a 36-yard TD run by Charlie Garner. By game’s end, Gannon was 43-for-64 for 403 yards and the Raiders prevailed 30-17. Oakland had spread Pittsburgh out and attacked through a series of short passes which helped negate the Steelers pass rush (they still sacked Gannon five times).

The Raiders had 20 third down attempts and converted 12 of them.

Green Bay doesn’t have much of a running game and would be best advised to abandon it shortly after the National Anthem. Let Rodgers put the ball up 50-plus times and have his arm be both the passing game and the running game.

The Steelers’ defensive coordinator in 2002 wasn’t Dick LeBeau, in his last year with Cincinnati as head coach, but Tim Lewis. However, it was still a similar 3-4 and even has two starters still intact in nose tackle Casey Hampton and inside linebacker James Farrior.

Some of the most notable success against Pittsburgh this season came from elite quarterbacks who controlled the game with their passing. Brady was 30-for-43 for 350 yards and three touchdowns in a 39-26 win on Nov. 14. Drew Brees was 34-for-44 (including 20 of 22 in the second half) for 305 yards and two touchdowns in a 20-10 win on Oct. 31.

As the father of a teenage daughter, I’m all for Rodgers winning over Ben Roethlisberger, although my first instinct is that the Steelers will win.

So my advice for Green Bay _ get lots of ice for Rodgers’ arm. Do this right, and he’ll need it at the postgame party.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • Carl Weathers

    I just read this and hadn’t heard it before… Hey Jer, whats up?!

    ~Raiders new head coach Hue Jackson had hoped to interview New York Jets secondary coach Dennis Thurman for the Raiders’ defensive coordinator opening but was denied permission, according to news reports.~

  • RaiderRockstar

    so all the staff is missing is a QB Coach & DC, right?

    we all feel that Moss or Perry could be the next Raiders DC, btu what about QB Coach?

    Jim Zorn, Danny Southwick, John DeFilippo ???

    How about Jason Brooks or Craig Ver Steeg from Baltimore?

    Bob Bratkowski from Cincy?

  • RaiderRockstar


    can you imagine Bratkowski coaching up your boy Gradkowski ???

  • phatcable

    RaiderRockstar Says:
    February 7th, 2011 at 8:51 am
    so all the staff is missing is a QB Coach & DC, right?

    we all feel that Moss or Perry could be the next Raiders DC, btu what about QB Coach?

    Jim Zorn, Danny Southwick, John DeFilippo ???

    How about Jason Brooks or Craig Ver Steeg from Baltimore?

    Bob Bratkowski from Cincy?
    ……………..RICH GANNON QB COACH..Adam Schefter D/C

  • LA to TheBay

    D Smooth.

  • RaiderRockstar

    RICH GANNON QB COACH..Adam Schefter D/C


    Adam Schefter probably gets paid more doing what he does. plus he hates Al Davis

    … but if he were hired as DC that would be a testament to Al Davis still runs the Defense, as rumors swirl every year about that and Jhill shoots them down

    Rich Gannon might welcome a coaching gig in Oakland … once Al Davis steps down or well, you know

  • RaiderRockstar

    What would Rich Gannon have been without Al Davis and coaches like Gruden, Trestman & Callahan ???

    He’d be competing with Tui for a job at Lady FootLocker

  • phatcable

    Update: 2011 NFL Mock Draft: Ricky Stanzi, Impressing Early at Senior Bowl A Mid Round Steal For 49ers or Raiders?
    2011 NFL Mock Drafts have Ricky Stanzi projected as a mid-round pick. He is in the process of raising some eyebrows at the Senior Bowl. He would certainly be an intriguing pick for the Raiders and 49ers, who are both in need of a QB roster infusion.

    The Senior Bowl is as much about the practices as it is the games. Scouts watch every pass with great attention. Wes Bunting of the National Football Post has been covering the Senior Bowl practices and had to say about Stanzi:

    Overall, he’s the one quarterback on the North roster who seems to always be in control of his surroundings, does a nice job of deciphering information quickly and has the kind of ball placement and arm strength needed to make him one of the more intriguing QB prospects in this year’s draft. Looks like a guy with starting potential at the next level that could be had for a bargain in the mid rounds. It’s been a very good week for Stanzi in Mobile.

    If this assessment is anywhere near accurate, one of our fine Bay Area teams needs to snap this guy up if he is still available in the mid-rounds. The Raiders have a horrible track record at developing their own QB talent, but if they have a head coach who has spent time as a QB coach and an offensive mastermind/stickler for details in Al Saunders as an offensive coordinator.

    The 49ers are also in a position to take a flier on a project QB. While they could certainly use someone more starter ready, they have room to let their ex-QB head coach groom a youngster.

  • phatcable


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