I have to say, I think Thoughts from the Dark Side is the coolest banner in all of bloguin. I want one!!! Anyways, it’s 8 questions with the enemy…The Oakland Raiders. Of course, if you want to read my answers from their questions, check out their site. For this edition, Levi Damien answers questions about The Raiders defense, the emergence of McFadden, Langston Walker sucking and Al Davis. Enjoy.
Q1) I was really impressed with the way the Raiders defense played Monday night against the Broncos. Dating back to last year, you guys ranked 11th in defense and 2nd in sacks. Where does the credit go for your defense playing so well?
A1) Richard Seymour is the leader of that defense. He deserves most of the credit. Not only did he make it back to the Pro Bowl in his first season at defensive tackle, but he brought up the play of his linemate, Tommy Kelly. A lot of credit goes to defensive line coach Mike Waufle. He was the guru behind the New York Giants’ Super Bowl winning defensive line a few years ago and he has brought that expertise to the Raiders. New starter Matt Shaughnessy also plays well next to him at defensive end and Lamarr Houston was very solid on the other side. The entire defensive line stepped up. I can’t leave out the Raiders sack leader, Kamerion Wimbley. He had a fantastic year and benefits greatly from the play of the defensive line.
Q2) Nnamdi Asomugha was the biggest free agent loss for the Raiders last year. How big of an impact was his loss to your team?
A2) He closed down his side of the field. And while that may not win games by itself, not having him over there can certainly lose them. Stanford Routt is coming into his own on the other side and will actually benefit somewhat from Asomugha’s departure. It will take some pressure off of him. Chris Johnson replaces Nnamdi at right cornerback. Johnson was a one time starter opposite Nnamdi and reclaims his starting spot. He is a gambler and it can pay off at times but often it doesn’t. Overall, Nnamdi’s departure leaves the overall unit lacking depth. With him, Routt and Chris Johnson, the Raiders had three very good corners. Now they have Johnson and Routt with two rookies behind them. If CJ or Routt go down, they are in serious trouble.
Q3) Darren McFadden seems to be the focal point of your offense. I know for the last few years, he was a disappointment for you guys. How has he gone from being a afterthought to being a top 15 back?
A3) He started a new training regiment durign the 2010 offseason with former Olympian Michael Johnson. Early in his career he was a finesse guy who tried to outrun everyone. Now he plays behind his pads, goes between the tackles, and lays into tacklers. It has made all the difference. His training program has him stronger and therefore able to stay healthy.
Q4) To me, the biggest weakness for you guys seems to be the passing game. Last year, your QBs threw for only 18 touchdown passes, what does the offense need to do in order to jump start the air attack?
A4) Better wide receivers. They have that this season so long as they can get/stay healthy. 2. Time in the offense: Jason Campbell is going into the second season with Hue Jackson calling the plays. This is the only time in his career he has EVER had that. No telling what he can do when he actually has had time to gel with his receivers and get comfortable with the playbook and his coaches.
Q5) Alright, what the hell happened to Tom Cable last year? I couldn’t believe you guys fired him.
A5) Hue Jackson was the heir apparent the moment he walked in the building. Tom Cable needed at least a winning season to hold him Hue back from being named the head coach. Hue was on his way up. If the Raiders hadn’t made him the head coach, someone else would have made him an offer. Hue has also always wanted to coach the Raiders. He is a Northern California guy and played QB at nearby Pacific University. Al also credited the Raiders’ turnaround last season to bringing in Hue to coach the offense.
Q6) I feel this unique bond to Raiders fans because our owners are still very much involved in the everyday operation of the team and yet, they both get a ton of heat about how they run the organization. How do you guys view Al Davis in Oakland?
A6) There is a split group among Raider fans. There are the Al Davis thick and thin supporters and those who are angry at how the team has played and blame Al Davis for its downfall. There was a billboard that was paid for from public donation on the freeway near Oakland Coliseum a couple seasons ago that read “Al, hire a GM”. It was met with equal support and ire. But like Ralph Wilson, everyone agrees that this game is what it is today because of them.
Q7) Why the hell did you guys bring in Langston Walker and Trent Edwards? I know they are gone now, but didn’t you guys know they completely suck!
A7) Langston was here before he played in Buffalo. He was a round two pick by the Raiders. He played at nearby Cal Berkeley and at times played some decent right tackle. Edwards’ career was derailed by concussions and the Raiders thought they might find a decent reserve QB in him. He had looked pretty good in camp and preseason but couldn’t beat out Kyle Boller. Edwards is another Bay Area guy and he went to Stanford University.
Q8) Who wins Sunday and why?
A8) That is a really tough one. My prediction for a while has been the Raiders winning this one. But after last week, the Bills look to have made all the right moves in the offseason. I have long said that Ryan Fitzpatrick is a good quarterback. Now finally everyone else seems to see it too. However, the Bills won’t have the same success against the Raiders as they did against the hapless Chiefs. The Raiders would have beaten the Broncos much more handly had it not been for all the penalties (15 for 131 yds). If the Raiders were to lose to Bills, it would be due to stupid mistakes that were capitalized on by Ryan Fitzpatrick. With that said, the Raiders pass rush should mean the difference in this game and I see the Raiders pulling out a close one.