After the Oakland Raiders meltdown at the end of the game against the San Diego Chargers, head coach Tom Cable said the Raiders needed to learn how to finish games. They followed that up by playing horrible for the first three and a half quarters, but putting it together in the end and doing just enough to win. The key for the Raiders would be for JaMarcus Russell to play for an entire game the way he has played at the close of the last two games.
Their offense has sputtered offensively in both games. JaMarcus Russell has been incredibly inaccurate in both games, but somehow was able to find a way to give the Raiders go ahead scores late in the fourth quarter in both games. The difference in both games was that the Raiders gave up a tit for tat touchdown against the Chargers, but were able to stop the Chiefs from rebounding after the late touchdown.
The question becomes, can the Raiders young signal caller put it together and play an enite game?
The linchpin to the Raiders success will be consistent play from JaMarcus Russell. Against the Chargers he was the very definition of inconsistent, and against the Kansas City Chiefs he was the wrong kind of consistent. He was consistently missing all of his throws except for two drives. Fortunately for the Raiders, one of the two drives was the final drive where he was able to go 4-7 and lead the Raiders down for their go ahead touchdown.
It is heartening that Russell has been able to find his stride toward the end of games. However, a repeat of his performance against the Chiefs will not win games against good teams. He has to take that mojo he has been getting late in games and extend it to all four quarters.
So far, Russell has shown the beginnings of chemistry with fourth round pick Louis Murphy who is tied with Zach Miller for the team lead in catches with 6. Murphy made the highlight reels when he caught Russell’s 57 yard touchdown pass for the late score against the Bolts. He was also the only Raider to have more than one catch in week two. It should help when Chaz Schilens returns from his injury, which seems to be slated for week four. To close last season and in the preseason Schilens looked like he was going to be the best receiver in Silver and Black.
Russell has this year to show that he is the man and the leader he was expected to be as the top pick in the 2007 draft. If he doesn’t, then it will be time for the Raiders to reevaluate their situation at quarterback.