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Published on 09/13/2007 at Thu Sep 13 10:43.
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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 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.

  • hercules rockefeller

    He’s delusional about Coach Lunch Money. He’s Davis’ lap dog, and that’s what Davis wants from a coach – a guy that will do what he says, when he says it.

    Davis can finding good young coaches like Gruden and Shanny, but he ships them out before they get good enough to seriously compete w/ the rest of the league.

    Wow, you actually put up some points on the worst D in the league last week? Congrats!

  • E. Halsey Miles

    That offense was a ton better than last year, there’s no doubt. On the other hand, it could have been twice as good as last year and still ranked #32, because they were that bad.

    I’m a little surprised the defense gave up so many points, but the Raiders’ defense, while good, is not a complete defense yet.

    Also, having kept the Broncos score low last year was not a major success — last year’s Broncos’ offense was in pretty bad shape. Between Smith running on a bum hip and Plummer not being able to see the field while looking over his shoulder, that offense just did not have a lot of gas. Still, I agree that the Raider’s D was good last year, and I think the Raiders are probably going to not be the bottom of the division this time around.

  • Pantyraider

    BT….nice to see you do something to bridge the gap between OakTown and MuleHigh….I am a regular poster over at RaiderTake and posted a good reply that I recieved from a Donko Fan at the DenverPost saying it proves that all Donkies are not MuleHeaded and suffer from “Low Oxy Syndrone”….only the majority….

    However after posting severl times last week I have been lurking in the shadows waiting for the opertune moment to send more “hateMail” to the Donkey sites….but here you go and throw a very nice block so I will have to bite my toung….but not for long….

    I enjoyed talking to you last week and I hope that promted you to take this action….a class act is easy to reconise even when it’s an “AniMule” roming around in the pasture grass…..look out for those “RoadApples”….there all over the ground….


  • TesticulousMaximus

    It’s common to think Al just wants a puppet to control, but it really isn’t the case. Al has been a little more curious this year than in recent years, as evident by his attendence at training camp. But even then I don’t see any indication that he’s been sticking his nose too far into the football side of things.

    We Raider fans have seen many, many small things this offseason to suggest Kiffin has full control over his team. We’re running an offensive style that Al doesn’t particulary care for, and his long-time favorite players have, for the most part, been released on Kiffin’s “No Scholarship” policy. Hell, he’s even re-decorated the place. Everything is different. So believe what you want but these types of assumptions can bite your team in the ass later.

    As for us “shipping coaches before they’re good”. It appears Gruden was shipped just in time. Yes, he did manage to win with Dungy’s team, against the team he’d built himself. But it appears he’s lost something since then. Not to mention the compensation we got made history. Madden was not fired, he retired after a great career due to ulcers. And (touchy subject) Shanahan was rightfully let go IMO for 1) Not being fully ready to be a head coach, and 2) Trying to change the Raiders’ culture too much with odd things like trying to fire Art Shell. I suppose if you see Art in last years’ form, this might not be a bad idea. But back then it was not right.

  • Mulecaboose

    THe raiders will face their arch rivals this afternoon and most likely loose as they are supposed to. But what if? What if they win, lets take the scenario of a win and disect it for a minute. That will mean the raiders run defense is much improved and perhaps means it was on the field too much last yr. Culpepper is the answer to the raiders at QB and Josh is solid back up. The raiders defensive unit would have had to come up w/ turnovers. The secondary needs to make some noise since their quit debackle of last week. Burgess & Sapp need to get to Cutler.DT Sands needs to plug the middle. In this game bronco will learn who TE Zach Miller their second round pick is.
    A lot of ifs are required if oakland is to win. Playing any other place but mile high and these things could have been remotely possible. At mile high for their first home game, it is not only doubtful but down right improbable!