The Redskins are coming off of a disheartening loss to the Saints that seemed to sum up their season. They played very well and probably should have won that game, but sometimes you run into the brick wall of fate and it seems the Saints just might be that brick wall this year. On paper, they’re good; I wouldn’t give them much more than that. A look at the roster shows sufficient depth, a strong defence and other than some obvious play calling problems (sorry Jim) their good. I would even go so far as to say they have played to that level, but unfortunately in the NFL good isn’t good enough these days and the mistakes they have made have caught up to them and their record reflects it. Most recently the news broke about Shaun Suisham being cut this week, prior to which Tony Dungy even stated, “I’d have to cut him before he cost me my job.” The guy is a good kicker and it’s too bad, but missing a 23-yard field goal is exactly the type of mistake they need to cut down on.
Tom Cable’s squad, on the other hand, is coming off an improbable win in Pittsburgh that was one of 3 improbable wins this season. The Philly and Cincinnati wins earlier in the year were quite a bit different though, as you got the feeling that those teams played down to the Raider level and they were still close to winning. However, the first portion of this season, which we will call pre-Bruce and the second, post-Bruce, have been vastly different for this club. Pre-Bruce the Raider defence and run game was being over-utilized and over the course of the game it wasn’t hard for the opposition to wear them down. More importantly, win or lose they weren’t scoring and that eliminates a lot of the appeal for the fans. Post-Bruce they can score and that can make any time spent watching the game not seem as much of a waste. Again, Bruce Gradkowski isn’t going to be the man for this team, but he has inspired a confidence and brought the leadership necessary to be competitive at the very least from week to week. On the Raiders official website there is a clip of him speaking to the media Thursday morning that shows just how much he gets this game, “We have to give them hope, we have to give them something to look forward to.” Referencing the fans, it’s clear he understands that the effort level needs to be there to show they care as much about being Raiders as we do about cheering them on.
So the two teams come into game with very different experiences in the last week, but both playing reasonably well. I know better than to try and predict what Raider team shows up, but I’ve been pleased with the effort level in the last few weeks and if it keeps up we might be looking at another win, if not a close game at the very least.
A few things came up this week from the Raider staff, not game related, that caught attention around the league more for amusement than anything else. First was the news that Tom Cable was “surprised” when he heard that Assistant Coach Randy Hanson was back with the organization. Hanson had accused Cable of assault for allegedly punching him in the face, so I would imagine that Hanson is back in some capacity other than Assistant Coach, only because that would be a seriously uncomfortable coaches meeting prior to game day. Lastly, JaMarcus Russell felt the need to let us know he was “embarrassed” by his being bench. Good, he should be.
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Written by Luke Mirza