Keys to victory: Chiefs at Raiders

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 28:  Charlie Garner #25 of the Oakland Raiders runs  against Scott Fujita #51 of the Kansas City Chiefs during an NFL game at the Network Associates Coliseum on December 28, 2002 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Week nine, in the coliseum, possibly packed for the first time since opening night 2009, when the Raiders nearly pulled out a victory against the hated San Diego Chargers. When you look back on your life (if you were there), was that a good night, even though the Raiders didn’t pull the W? They grew from that game on opening night. Ultimately, they would shed a quarterback who became undedicated to his sport and put in his place this 6’1″ injury prone but efficient quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who actually made an offense that JaMarcus Russell made look pathetic, look pretty good in his own right. Wins over a good but not great Cincinnati Bengals team, good fourth quarter in Pittsburgh to beat the Steelers at home, and a near comeback after playing in only the second half against their opponent this week, the Kansas City Chiefs. Now it appears that they believe they are that team. Not the one who was there with JaWalruss throwing the rock. They are actually playing like that team…on steroids.

The Right Choice

The Oakland Raiders made the right choice today selecting the hot quarterback Jason Campbell to start this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. Jason Campbell is doing exactly what he needs to do right now. No turnovers, throwing touchdown passes, not taking sacks, getting whatever he can get when he rolls out and sees nobody open. Jason Campbell is playing really smart football right now, and the Raiders really don’t know yet, after a week and a half of working out if Bruce Gradkowski is ready to play a game of this magnitude. I think even if he wanted to start this game, the coaches would not have let him do it. And that is the right choice by the staff. It’s a staff that Hue Jackson referred to as a, “solid foundation”.

And that it is. The Raiders staff has done a really nice job and deserves a lot of the credit for the improved play. They really are a good staff of coaches, and I trust they will also make the right choice regarding who starts the week after the bye when they go back to Pittsburgh. Don’t worry Raider Nation; every good team in this league should have two good and smart quarterbacks.

And Two Good HB’s Also

Darren McFadden and Michael Bush are a great one, two punch. McFadden has really come into his own and Bush is now officially 100 percent healthy. The Raiders are now headliners on NFL.com and a lot of it has to do with how well these two guys are playing. 328 rushing yards in Denver, 239 against the 2nd best rushing defense in the NFL, eighth best in overall yardage on offense, fourth overall in points scored are just a few of the words that describe Hue Jackson’s new offense this year.

Quite frankly, I can’t wait to see if they can have some six hundred overall yardage games when they get WR Chaz Schilens back and Louis Murphy is finally 100 percent again. Will it all come together for the Raiders this year? Maybe if they can ride these two horses all year then they’ll be in good shape heading into December. The season is long though and that is why it’s a good thing that the Raiders have depth at a lot of positions this year.

Play Your Role

Two things we must remember:

  • 1. Role players have been huge this year in situational packages.
  • 2. The Raiders need to own the division this weekend

Two very different things so let me explain. The role players one is pretty obvious, now they just need to keep doing what they are doing. Al Davis, and credit Tom Cable also, have done a really fine job in setting this team up. At first I was like, why do the Raiders only have three defensive ends and two tight ends. It’s because of the role players they have this year. Marcel Reece is like the second tight end; Brandon Myers is the third…and sometimes Khalif Barnes. Kamerion Wimbley is the fourth defensive end. Trevor Scott is a swinger who can go between outside linebacker and defensive end. Mike Mitchell has the capacity to learn some linebacker and safety. Very, very, very versatile on both sides of the ball; well played Cable and Davis.

Now the other role must be taken by a team this weekend. Either the Raiders or the Chiefs will become the mid-season favorite to win the division; the Raiders need to own the division this weekend. They need to know their role and prove their role to the division and to the NFL. Yes, men, you have got our attention, now can you prove that’s who you are? Will you go out on Sunday and leave Chiefs scattered about on the field behind you, or even at least go toe to toe with them? Know your role Raiders…and Raider Nation will come.

Advantage of Opportunities

The Raiders have been doing a spectacular job of taking advantage of all over their opportunities during the current two-game win (is it even a streak at two games…really) streak. They need to continue using their opponent’s weaknesses against them. Like blocking two punts against the Chargers and taking advantage of their mishaps. Like playing good defense against the Seahawks in order to wear down their opponent’s defense and pretty much just letting Denver beat themselves.

Wouldn’t be a nightmare if the Chiefs came out and just destroyed them on Sunday? What’s the gameplan, obviously stopping the run has to be number one. Even if Aso can’t go, you still need to take the ball out of the hands of Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles’ hands on Sunday. Make Scott Pioli’s protégé prove that he can beat you through the air. But that will require points early on by the Raiders offense against a tough Kansas City defense. So this week it is very important to capitalize on the big plays. Because if these two defenses continue to play like two top ten defenses then it could end up being a 10-10 tie…or somebody might kick a field goal at the last second of overtime.

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