Posted Thu Sep 13th by Monty
Getting ready for each week’s game, I’ll be inviting a fellow writer from across the blogosphere to a little Q&A to tell us about his or her team. This week I invited Sean at Raider Take to answer a few questions, and he’ll be sending some my way in the near future.
Just like he stated over at his blog, lets take the high road people – no need to go spamming his site. Classy, like Broncos fans should be.
1. Over the past few seasons, the quarterback situation in Oakland has been a big question mark on the team. What did you make of the team signing Daunte Culpepper, and do the fans favor him starting in lieu of Josh McCown?
I can’t really speak for the Raider Nation, I can only speak for myself, and I wasn’t one of those booing McCown last week. The Raider Nation is very diverse and very educated about their team and football in general, which means that not only will you find a lot of different opinions in the Raider Nation, but also some very good arguments to back them up. I’ve heard good arguments favoring both McCown and Culpepper as the starter.
In addition to leading the team to three touchdowns, McCown led them to three missed field goal opportunities. That should have been 30 points on the board—which is about three times as much as we scored on average last season. So I can’t complain about McCown. Our defense and our kicker lost that game.
That said, I believe that Culpepper has more upside, and I’d like to find out if I’m right, especially now that McCown has an injury to his finger. Regardless, the signing of Culpepper added some much-needed dimension to our QB corps, especially in the wake of JaMarcus Russell’s holdout.
2. Do you think the Raiders addressed the present and future of their quarterback situation with the additions of McCown, Culpepper and Russell this offseason? When do you expect to see your #1 overall pick on the field?
I think that Broncos fans can answer this for me: Would you rather come to Oakland and face a QB depth chart consisting of Aaron Brooks, Andrew Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo or Daunte Culpepper, Josh McCown and JaMarcus Russell?
So yes, I think the Raiders did a great job of addressing both the present and future. Obviously, Russell’s development has been delayed as a result of his holdout, so I’m doubtful that we’ll see him this year. Never say never, though. I didn’t expect Jay Cutler to show up in the heat of a playoff race last year, either.
3. Last year’s Oakland’s defense ranked among the highest in the league, particularly its pass defense. Naysayers will mention how the team didn’t get passed against often because opponents would either have big leads or rely on their running game to lock a win. How would you respond to such comments?
I don’t think it was an illusion at all. For example, the Broncos beat us by a combined total of 14 points over two games last year, including one game by just four points. Since when does Mike Shanahan not want to run up the score and humiliate the Raiders? The Raiders also lost a game by four points to the Chiefs, and another by seven points to the Chargers.
As bad as the Raiders’ offense was last year, I doubt any of these three divisional rivals would jeopardize their playoff aspirations by sitting on small leads against the Raiders—just one turnover or miscue away from a tie or loss that could mean the difference between going home or advancing to the postseason. I understand that there are some effective ball-control strategies that can be used late in a game to protect a small lead, but I don’t believe these teams were happy to not score more in the first, second and third quarters. I’m sure it wasn’t for lack of trying.
This argument about the Raiders not getting passed against last year is specious. Over a four-game stretch in the middle of last year, for example, the Cardinals threw 32 passes against us, the Steelers 37 passes, the Seahawks 30 passes and the Broncos 31 passes. If teams stopped throwing on us later in the season, it was because they realized it wasn’t working.
That said, the Lions carved us up on Sunday, just as the Chargers carved us up during our home opener last year. There’s room for improvement.
4. What about Lane Kiffin excites you, and what, if anything, causes you hesitation regarding your young head coach?
Nothing causes me hesitation. Coach Kiffin has the moxie and energy and ability to build a winner. Al Davis’s track record with identifying young up-and-coming coaches is remarkable, inclusive of Madden, Gruden and even Shanahan. I believe that Kiffin will extend this legacy.
Watching our offense last Sunday compared to last year was like witnessing the difference between junior high school and Harvard law school. I’m not saying we’re an offensive powerhouse just yet, but the offensive curriculum has returned to the 21st century. Team unity is vastly improved, too. The offensive line is functioning again, the quarterback position is much stronger, and the running back corps is much deeper. The turnaround has begun, whether or not the Raider Haters want to believe it, and I’m sure they don’t.
5. Finally, what are your expectations for Sunday at Denver and for the Raiders season?
I expect them to beat the Broncos, but it won’t be easy. I never predict a loss for my team, but I’m not going to predict a 15-1 record, either. The only thing I’m going to predict with absolute certainty is vast improvement over last year. As for Sunday, if our defense tightens things up compared to last week, we’re going to have a great game on our hands.
Thanks again to Sean over at RaiderTake.com for answering the questions. Next week I’ll be scraping up a Jaguars blogger to answer a few questions – but I want you to join the party! You’ll have the opportunity next week to submit questions for consideration as we continue this type of correspondence throughout the year.