Denis Savage, Publisher, Silver & Black Illustrated: The only reason Walter took over was because of the injury to Brooks. The Raiders came into the year with some high hopes, based on an improved defense and an offense that still had weapons. Brooks was supposed to just keep the ship guided, which didn’t happen. Brooks returned to practice this week but it is Walter’s show – for now. Walter has a great arm but is still learning the nuances of the game, from reads to progressions. He is the future and the reason they passed so easily on Matt Leinart. If the season is lost there really isn’t any reason to bring back Brooks.
Doug Farrar: The Raiders currently rank last in the NFL in total offense, but that’s primarily the fault of the passing game. With the rushing productivity in the middle of the pack, how does the dual attack of Lamont Jordan and Justin Fargas work? Who does what, and how well?
Denis Savage: It was Jordan’s show until he got hurt and until then they really hadn’t implemented much of a two-back system. With Fargas’ success, we should see both get carries. Jordan is the traditional bruiser that has Steven Jackson type ability. Fargas, meanwhile, has a great burst of speed and can reach the edges with his jets. The problem, however, is that they are both running behind a terrible offensive line that gets little push in the running game.
Doug Farrar: Oakland’s aerial attack is practically nonexistent. Still, ownership and the coaching staff have been feuding with, and benching, Jerry Porter just about all season, and the team traded Doug Gabriel, who has been doing well for New England, in September. What’s the plan here?
Denis Savage: Great question and one many have asked. It doesn’t matter how much talent is on the outside if the quarterback doesn’t have time in the pocket and isn’t making the right decisions. The receivers aren’t to blame. They have talent in Randy Moss, Ronald Curry and Porter has now returned. It is still a strength but again…
Doug Farrar: Are Randy Moss’ days as an elite receiver over? Do you think he would still be a great player on a better team? And should defenses be paying more attention to Ronald Curry?
Denis Savage: He remains a player that can change the game. As stated above, the problem isn’t necessarily him. When you complete five passes all game it points to another area. Moss has regressed some. He remains an emotional nightmare that still takes plays off. But, if you throw the ball to him odds are he will come down with it. On a team that spreads the ball around a little bit, Moss would be the elite receiver we have seen. If a team schemes against him and you aren’t hitting other receivers then sure it appears he has lost his magic but it really isn’t the case. Curry is a talented receiver but they still need someone to get each wideout the ball more consistently.
Doug Farrar: Oakland’s offensive line has taken a lot of shots this year. Robert Gallery can now be seen as a terrible disappointment, and the problems seem to start upfront. With a head coach who may have been the greatest tackle of all time in Art Shell, and a Hall of Fame position coach in Jackie Slater, what are the problems, and why isn’t the message getting through?
Denis Savage: The problem really isn’t the scheme as much as the execution. Prone to penalties and beset by injuries, the group has regressed. They simply aren’t communicating effectively and are getting burned. Slater and Shell will fix the line but it will take time. With Langston Walker back in for Chad “False Start” Slaughter, things should be better.