Quarterback play no longer the problem

The quarterback issues Oakland Raiders coach Lane Kiffin faces three-quarters of the way through the season are nothing like the ones he had a month ago.

In early November, Kiffin couldn't find one good enough.

Now he has two, plus the people's choice, No. 1 overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell.

The beauty of it is the Raiders have won their last two games with two different starting quarterbacks, as Daunte Culpepper led the team to victory in Kansas City and Josh McCown guided Oakland past Denver on Sunday.

Kiffin said he's not sure yet which one will start Sunday at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers.

If the system of football he is putting in place has truly taken hold, it won't matter.

Culpepper had his best game against the Chiefs, completing 15 of 22 passes for 170 yards and no turnovers. McCown, who started against the Broncos when Culpepper suffered a midweek quadriceps injury, completed 14 of 21 passes for 141 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

"I like to think that's part of things coming together, it's part of guys playing together in a system, and the guys continuing to improve as they learn it," Kiffin said.

The Raiders even put Russell in for two series against the Broncos, and the rookie completed four of seven passes for 56 yards and didn't turn the ball over.

McCown, unpopular with fans who first preferred Culpepper and now pine for Russell, got the home crowd on his side by putting the ball in the end zone on the game-opening drive, and again on the first series after Russell's appearance.

All the perimeter plays and bootlegs that were in evidence in training camp but never materialized with any consistency in the regular season were on display. McCown has been injured most of the year, and Sunday wasn't any exception.

Only this time, McCown had a dislocated left pinky on his non-throwing (left) hand, but his mobility and play-making ability were intact. Earlier, McCown had foot issues that changed his game.

"This is obviously the way we all expected it to go," McCown said. "We all expected it to play out better than this. I got injured in Week 3, and I think we really didn't get it going like we thought we would. This is what we envisioned early on."

Culpepper's injury didn't manifest itself until Wednesday evening, and Kiffin was impressed by the way McCown took over.

"To jump right in there as a last-minute starter and play as well as he did was really exciting to see," Kiffin said. "And to deal with all he deals with -- the guy goes out there on the field and gets booed. (Russell) comes in and the place goes crazy. Then he goes back in, they boo again.

"He's done a great job handling the whole situation. There's nothing phony in him. Every day he's helping JaMarcus. He just wants to win. He's a great guy."

Oakland Raiders Top Stories