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Familiar Challenges

The Raiders dominated the Eagles offensive line to win the game in Oakland last Sunday. It was unique game for the Raiders, who in large part didn't have to respect running lanes with the pass happy Eagles in town.

No one every would accuse the Raiders front four for failing to be good pass rushers. They criticism is always run stopping ability. Last Sunday, the Raiders defense pinned their ears back and dominated a dinged up Eagles offensive line. The Eagles line just wasn't athletic enough to handle the Raiders front four along with some blitzers.

Will the fans see a lot of the same this week? Be careful.

The Raiders face one of the NFL's best run blocking offensive lines. Left tackle D'Brickashaw
Ferguson, left guard Alan Faneca, Center Nick Mangold, right guard Brandon Moore and right tackle Damien Woody.

This line has churned out the leagues second ranked rushing attack in front of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington with a 163 yards per game. The average yards per rush is 4.9 yards, tied for third, so this isn't just because the Jets are running a lot to protect rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Despite the few rushing yards surrendered last week, the Raiders are still ranked 28th in rushing yards allowed at 145.3 yards per game and ranked 20th in yards per rush at 4.3 yards per attempt.

This is a recipe for disaster for the Raiders coming off a big win. The Jets are going to pound the ball against the Raiders and the Raiders defense must rise to the challenge.

If the Jets can run the ball with good success against the Raiders, the defense may simply wear out by games end as they may be spending a lot of time on the field. This is a wise gameplan for Rex Ryan, as he wouldn't want to subject his rookie quarterback to another four of five interception day and all the criticism that could follow.

Know this, Raiders have a challenge on offense as well. The Raiders are facing Darelle Revis, who is probably the second best corner in the league behind Nnamdi Asomugha.

The Raiders best chance is to run the ball better than the Jets and hope Russell can avoid Revis by tossing the ball to some of his weapons.

That means whichever receiver isn't being blanketed by Revis must catch the ball. This isn't a tough concept. Schilens, Heyward-Bey & Murphy. This could be especially important for Heyward-Bey as the comparisons officially fire up with Crabtree across the bay and his starting spot is in jeopardy with Schilens back into the fold.

If Schilens can restore more of Russell's confidence this week, maybe this offense can again get on the right track.

Russell had a very good day last Sunday despite the lack of points and significant stats to back it up. He made a couple questionable decisions and on one of those also made a bad throw. I have no problem with him using his arm to fit passes into tight spaces. Lobbing a short pass into triple coverage on the other hand, isn't what you want to see.

Russell was again victimized by the dropping ability of his receivers. These guys need to develop softer hands to catch Russell rockets or this offense isn't ever going to start clicking. Schilens has proven his ability to catch anything Russell puts in his area and maybe that will start to rub off on the younger receivers.

If Gallery plays, that could be a huge shot in the arm for the running game as the Raiders can again rush left and gain three to fours yards a pop on just about every play.

It will be interesting to see if Samson Satelle has done enough to hold the job at center. The Raiders will be forced to decide between Satelle and Chris Morris when Gallery returns from injury.


Erik Pears - He actually looks better than Cornell Green at right tackle. This isn't hard to do in pass protection, but the Raiders also haven't missed Green as badly running right. People don't realize that was Cornell's strength.

Gary Russell - I loved this guy from the second I saw him in the preseason, I thought the Raiders made a mistake keeping Lawton over this guy. Looks like the Raiders now agree with me. He is a football player, plain and simple. This offense will be better with him as the fullback.

Justin Fargas - Much of Raider Nation gave up on this guy. Go with the two younger backs, everyone said. Fargas heart, passion, effort is second to none. This guy runs harder for his size than any current NFL running back. As such, he can do things with a fraction of the talent these other guys have. Can you imagine if Michael Bush ran with such recklessness?

Tyvon Branch - Great in run coverage for a safety, his coverage has come a long way. He looked like a beast out there last Sunday.

Stanford Routt - He fits so much better outside than as a slot corner. Chris Johnson might be a better nickel corner, but I doubt this switch is made.

Richard Seymour - Passion, Confidence, Domination on Sunday. That is enough for me.

Tommy Kelly - He had a really good game last Sunday. Often a punching bag, maybe Kelly is finally punching back.

The Pigeon aka Marquis Cooper - For giving us a laugh, a mascot and some hope. I can't get over this damn bird.


Thomas Howard - He is so excitable, does a dance after every tackle. He had a good game last Sunday, but he needs to start acting like a big tackle, big play, those things are supposed to happen.

Hands - Stop, drop, and eventually your head will roll. Come on receivers!

Return Team - What happened? This group was so good a year ago. Raiders really miss Brian Schneider. John Fassell isn't cutting it. Wake up!


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