|Raiders rely on run, not pass, for success|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 18 September 2008 14:15|
Passing the ball has been a whole different issue.
With a quarterback who had only one career start heading into the season, an offensive line full of question marks and an unproven group of receivers that has had difficulty getting open, the Raiders have been unable to move the ball consistently through the air so far this season.
``I couldn't tell you right now that we could go out and win a game throwing the ball all around,'' coach Lane Kiffin said. ``We haven't been able to show that even in preseason when we tried to at times. We'll continue to work on it and find ways to manufacture yards in the passing game.''
That could be especially important this week against a Buffalo team that has proven to be stout against the run and figures to stack the line even more than usual because of Oakland's struggles with the pass.
Justin Fargas questionable because of a groin injury and heralded rookie Darren McFadden nursing a turf toe injury, the Raiders don't figure to be as strong on the ground. That could put additional pressure on quarterback JaMarcus Russell and his receivers.
Russell is just 23-for-43 for 235 yards in two games this season, with most of his success coming late in a blowout loss to Denver in the opener.
``It's not that we're not a passing team because we don't want to be. We'd love to be. I'd love to throw the ball all the time,'' Kiffin said. ``That's not a situation we're in right now. ... I'd love to throw the ball all over the place. You can move it a lot faster by throwing it than you can by running it. That's not where we are right now with the development of our offense. I just don't think that puts us in the best position to win.''
In last week's 23-8 victory over Kansas City, the Raiders ran the ball 47 times for 300 yards in their biggest rushing game in 21 years. Russell threw the ball just 17 times, completing only six passes in the victory. Since the merger in 1970, the Raiders have completed fewer passes in a game just seven times.
While Russell admits he'd like to throw the ball more often, he understands that the end result is most important.
at game, I'm going to be that team player and go out there and help out.''
Most of Russell's passes so far have been to his backs and tight ends. Tight end Zach Miller is the team's leading receiver with six catches and the running backs have combined for nine.
Russell has thrown 25 passes to his wide receivers so far this season, according to numbers compiled by Stats LLC. Only eight of those have been completed for a total of 95 yards.
The play at receiver has been an issue for Oakland since the start of training camp. It only got worse when Drew Carter went down with a season-ending knee injury in the exhibition season.
Javon Walker, who signed a $55 million contract in the offseason to be the No. 1 receiver, came into the offseason workouts out of shape and then had another setback when he was beaten up during a robbery in Las Vegas in June. He contemplated retiring during training camp but was talked out of it by owner Al Davis.
Walker missed the opener with an injured hamstring and played only briefly last week because of the injury, not having a single ball thrown his way. He has been slowed again this week in practice and his status for the game against the Bills is unknown.
f get to the point where you can't wait to get back on the same page as what they're doing. You look at them, they're all teams that have been together and jelled together for a couple years now. So eventually, looking at this team and the talent we have, we're going to be like that in no time.''
Ronald Curry has just two catches in two games, as his late-season struggles have carried over into this season. He was limited to 11 catches in the final five games of the 2007 season.
Curry has dropped two passes already this season after having seven a year ago, which is a surprising development for a player who had been known for the ability to make spectacular catches.
``It's unique because he's dropping the easiest ones. He's actually making the harder catches,'' Kiffin said. ``We just have to keep working on it, we have to get his mind right. We've talked about different ways to approach it, different ways for him to visualize his routes and his receptions happening. Like we said after Week 1, this is just two games, so we're not going to make a bunch of huge statements about who we are or who one of our players is just off the two games.''