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Morning After Pill: The Davis Doghouse

The aftermath of the Raiders blowout loss at home Sunday was about as ugly as any post game in the past seven seasons.

It rivaled Bill Callahan’s “Stupidest Team in America” and Art Shell’s catatonic press conferences towards the end of a one-win season. The post game press conference was reminiscent of Lane Kiffin defiantly jabbing Al Davis and his scholarship players in the media.

It was ugly.

Things everyone knew, but was no one admitted publicly finally came to light. The dysfunction finally reared its ugly head.

Jason Campbell is Al Davis’ choice at quarterback. Bruce Gradkowski is Tom Cable’s choice at quarterback. Just as sure as Al Davis’ Friday night KFC Cole Slaw, such a differing opinion would be grounds for firing. Especially after such a poor display by the coach’s quarterback.

It probably would be or could be if not for Hue Jackson. Jackson backed Tom Cable’s choice at quarterback saying about switching quarterbacks that, "It was just about a feel - sometimes a coach has a feel and things need to change. We don't like to play musical chairs at quarterback but sometimes you do whatever you think you have to do to win."

Yet, when Bruce Gradkowski obviously could make a throw over 15 yards Jason Campbell did not come into the game.

At what point Mr. Jackson did you feel you could still win the game with Bruce Gradkowski?

Jackson’s siding with Cable’s choice at quarterback will ultimately make any in-season coaching change impossible, with few other head coaching caliber candidates on the coaching staff. It also may hinder Jackson’s chance to prove he can be a good offensive coordinator past this season.

I’d be surprised if Al Davis hasn’t already put a preliminary call into Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh has long been a friend of Davis and has refused overtures by Davis to coach the Raiders in the past. Considering Stanford’s meteoric football rise, Al Davis may make an offer Harbaugh can’t refuse.

I’ll save the entire man crush on Jim Harbaugh post for another time.

Maybe making another move at head coach isn’t the right call this early. It will depend on how the team finishes the season under Tom Cable’s leadership, but Cable has some damage control to do with his boss today.

The very fact that Jason Campbell publicly questioned the decision to go back to Gradkowski with the media shows you the kind of dysfunction that makes the Raiders notorious around the league. It’s embarrassing and it needs to be fixed, fast.

Darrius Heyward-Bey has been benched. Not that anyone is particularly surprised by this development. It’s still interesting the coaching staff would bench last year’s first round pick. Al Davis probably isn’t ready to give up on the speedster, despite the efforts of rookie Jacoby Ford.

I can’t argue with Davis, because the coaching staff does little to help Heyward-Bey, he runs go routes most of the time and the quarterbacks rarely give him a chance even when he is open.

If the pass rush is killing the quarterback, screens and fakes can help. The Raiders have never heard of such things. When the Raiders do call those plays, they tend to work.

And how about Jacoby Ford? He was the Raiders entire offense on Sunday. About the only bright spot of the day was Ford the rookie revelation.

What happened to Darren McFadden and is this the same defense that dominated three straight games?

The running game and the defense was supposed to be the things that sustained the Raiders through the season and they have both evaporated over the last two games.

The defense is loading up against the run. This should open up passing opportunities. The Raiders simply can’t capitalize on those opportunities.

Speaking of defense, whose lame-brained idea was it not to at least make Jeremy Ware active with Chris Johnson injured and with a banged up Nnamdi Asomugha?

I only assumed Ware was nursing some sort of injury, but it was just a coaching decision. While Walter McFadden was roasted again and again and again on Sunday as he has been in the past, Ware was standing in street clothes on the sideline.

Ware had a rough game in Pittsburgh, but has otherwise been solid this season. What rookie wouldn’t struggle a bit with Mike Wallace, Hines Ward, Anwaan Randle El and company? That’s a solid receiver group and the Raiders were without Nnamdi Asomugha, forcing Ware to cover one of the Steelers top receivers.

Instead, Walter McFadden was burnt, DeAngelo Hall-style circa 2008 by mediocre Dolphins receivers. Michael Huff had to play cornerback, which isn’t a bad idea if the Raiders didn’t have another raw rookie coming in to play free safety in Stevie Brown.

It was a total and complete whooping at home. A spade is a spade and this loss hurt more than most.

Cooper Carlisle and Langston Walker are just revolving doors in pass protection. The two take turns allowing rushers to come hit the quarterback on passing plays. Bruce Campbell couldn’t be significantly worse and Mario Henderson could at least get in the way. Henderson would likely be better at right tackle than he was at left tackle.

I’ve stated before it doesn’t matter who the quarterback is for the Raiders, because the Raiders must run the ball to win. They can’t pass protect without the threat of play action and the run game.

I’ve also stated Gradkowski is the better football choice at quarterback, because he can escape pressure and he handles the pressure it better than Campbell. 100% healthy Gradkowski is a rarity, but he didn’t look healthy on Sunday. He said he couldn’t make all the throws. If you can’t make all the throws, you can’t be an NFL starting quarterback. It’s that simple.

Gradkowski reinjured his shoulder late in the game. “Glasskowski” can now be put out to pasture for the season. I love the guy, but he was never the answer or solution to the Raiders woes at quarterback. Neither is Campbell for that matter.

Wouldn’t it be better to attempt to fix the woes on the offensive line than have a quarterback controversy? Who cares if you are rotating offensive lineman? No one.

Bring in Jake Grove who does a far better job at playing 3-4 nose tackles than Samson Satele. Get Mario Henderson going at right tackle and get Bruce Campbell some snaps. Sticking with a bunch of offensive lineman that aren’t getting the job done only tells the team that you can play poorly and still start if you are liked by the coaching staff. Not taking Gradkowski out of the game preaches the same message.

Tom Cable, your season and job is slipping away and now isn’t the time to preach patience. The time is now for the Raiders with a divisional matchup against San Diego on the road next Sunday. The Raiders have been terrible on the road in 2010.

Zach Miller has a fibula injury. The very fact the report is specific to the name of the bone isn’t a good sign. Miller could be out for a while. Kamerion Wimbley also has a hand injury of unknown severity.

Those are two big injuries for the Raiders if the two are to miss any time.

After the three game win streak I preached caution, with a lot of indicators pointing to a second-half decline. I was hoping I was wrong. If the Raiders are to right the ship, it starts today.


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