Miller feels the fans' pain

In a sign of the growing frustration surrounding the team's lack of success on the field, the Raiders had their smallest home crowd since moving back to Oakland in 1995. Tight end Zach Miller doesn't blame the fans for staying away, either.

One of the more disconcerting sights from Sunday's 38-0 loss to the New York Jets was the Oakland Coliseum, which was more than one-third empty at kickoff. Rows and rows of tickets went unsold, and at one point, there were only a handful of fans sitting in entire sections.

The reason is simple. For six straight seasons the Raiders have failed to win more than five games, and following the shutout to the Jets, Oakland appears heading down that same path once again.

Fans who were once willing to shell out their hard-earned cash even when the team was struggling are no longer agreeable to the idea, not when the product looks like it did on Sunday. And Raiders tight end Zach Miller completely understands their position.

"They have every right to be mad. I would (be) too if, we've had quite a few blowout losses here and then this one was at home," Miller said Monday. "I'm just as mad and maybe a lot more than some fans of how we're playing as a team, how we're not being competitive at times. We're just letting teams put way too many points on us and as an offense we're not scoring any points."

Miller has been one of the few consistent bright spots for the Raiders this season. Though he had only two catches for 15 yards in the loss to the Jets, Miller leads the team with 23 receptions for 369 yards and one touchdown despite being the constant focal point of opposing defenses. His 16.0 yards-per-catch average is also tops among all NFL tight ends.

But much of what Miller has done is getting overlooked as the losses continue to mount for Oakland, which fell to 2-5 following the game against the Jets.

Those fans who did show up made sure the offense was aware of their unhappiness, booing quarterback JaMarcus Russell and the other players lustily throughout the afternoon.

"I feel a lot of their pain," Milller said. "We just have to do what we can to go out there and win games and fix what's wrong here."

Many fans believe a change at quarterback would do the trick. JaMarcus Russell was benched in the first half against New York but has already been named the starter for next week's game against San Diego.

Miller, who was part of the same draft class as Russell, hopes the young QB can take something positive away from getting benched.

"Hopefully it will fire him up so then it doesn't happen again, that he'll work that much harder and really put in all the effort that he can to make sure that doesn't happen again," Miller said. "Any competitor should want that to never happen. I would never want to be benched. I don't think he would either."


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