Saturday, October 3, 2009

Raiders at Texans: Which teams’ young players will step Up?

A battle of two 1-2 teams takes place in Houston, when the Raiders and Texans clash. This isn’t the game of the week in the NFL but is sure is for the Raider Nation and the Texans faithful.

The sad reality is once the final gun sounds one team is going to have a record of 1-3; coaches and players alike will be forced to walk the plank by their Owners, the media and most importantly their fan base.

As it is with every game in the NFL there’s a tremendous amount on the line. Both teams at times have shown glimpses of success, moments of ineptitude, reasons to cheer and cause for concern in this young season.

This game has the potential of being a very competitive game but in this writer’s opinion a must win for both teams. In week 16 of the 2008 season the Raiders beat a hot Texans team that was on a roll. The Texans were in the process of attempting to extend their win streak to five straight but the Oakland Raiders weren’t having any of that winning 27-16.

The best thing about the game for Oakland was that it showed that this team has some playmakers and even better than that was the fact that the young players showed up and had an impact. The Raiders won with a total team effort playing well in all three phases of the game.

From that moment I was under the impression that this team would continue to build upon the success of this game and become much more competitive. Several key players that helped Oakland beat Houston in 2008 will not participate this Sunday; gone and definitely missed are C Jake Grove, LG Robert Gallery, FB Justin Griffith and WR Chaz Schilens.

Flash forward to 2009 and my vision of the team’s future has changed. To say that the Oakland Raiders have struggled would be an understatement but this week gives the team a great opportunity to right the ship. Houston is at or near the bottom in several defensive categories and Oakland needs to take advantage of that fact.

Offensively; now is the time for the Raiders to run the ball at least 35-45 times. Oakland needs to get all of their runners involved. Fifteen carries a piece for Michael Bush & Justin Fargas and a total of 15 touches for Darren McFadden would be nice to see.

The Raiders should be able to get the passing game going against the Texans but it is time for the team to use Louis Murphy & Javon Walker as the starters. I’m bringing up Walker because of the fact that he is a veteran and he’s being paid too much money to be a spectator. At the very least he can catch the ball and run precise routes.

The development of Darrius Heywood-Bey needs to continue but not as a starter in this game but he needs to be in the rotation. This should allow more much needed room in the middle of the field for TE Zack Miller.

Defensively the Raiders need to stop the run with either seven or eight guys in the box whatever it takes. Oakland gave up 215 yards rushing last week; it is a must that the Raiders get off of blocks and tackle well. Houston has averaged 29 points in their past two games to stop that number rising to three Oakland needs to display a pass rush and get after Texans QB Matt Schaub.

This is another area that the Raiders have struggled in but this can be corrected with a heavy dose of blitzing from the linebackers & secondary, stunts from the defensive lineman. Pressure right the middle will throw off the timing of any quarterback. The Raiders need to get to the quarterback hit him, make him rush his throws.

As fans we saw the Raiders put on a spirited effort against the Chargers on opening night so we know it can be done but this team needs to find a way to play well and finish games. Every team needs an identity and Oakland is searching for one however their identity is as a running team this Sunday Oakland will leave their calling card.

I’m looking forward to a few key match ups:

(Hou) WR Andre Johnson vs. (Oak) CB Nnamdi Asomugha

Two of the best leagues best at their respective positions.

(Hou) DE Mario Williams vs. (Oak) LT Mario Henderson

The battle of the two Mario’s call it round two in round one last year Mario Henderson held his own and was able to make Mario Williams a non factor doing the same thing two years in a row could go a long way to establishing Henderson as the LT of the present & future for the franchise and help win this game.

(Hou) MLB DeMeco Ryans vs. (Oak) RB Michael Bush, Justin Fargas & Darren McFadden

The Texans have used a lot of 1st round picks on defense and still can’t seem to stop anybody. DeMeco Ryans was a 2nd round pick and is one of the leagues best MLB’s and the leader of this defense. He will have his hands full against a team hell bent on running the ball early and often.

(Hou) LT Duane Brown or Rashad Butler vs. (Oak) DE Richard Seymour

Duane Brown a 2nd year player who had a solid rookie season and has been more than adequate so far. Butler is a swing tackle a good back-up that can play on the left or right side. Neither has the experience to handle the challenges that Richard Seymour presents.

Prediction: 24 – 20 Raiders

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