Raiders change quarterbacks – can’t change the outcome

New York Jets v Oakland Raiders
Mark Sanchez didn't look good, but he didn't look bad either.

After coming away with a solid victory over the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday, many had renewed faith that the Raiders would come out and play well against the Jets.

That didn’t happen.

From the beginning of the game, through the final seconds on the clock, the New York Jets throttled the home team, giving them a whipping never seen in Oakland. The Jets capitalized on turnovers, rushed for 316 yards, and dominated the Silver and Black in every facet of the game in a 38-0 victory.

Lucky for the Raiders, there wasn’t many on hand to view the historic defeat. Along with the history they made on the field, the Raiders also made history off of it. The Raiders announced their smallest crowd since coming back to Oakland in 1995. The announced figure was a ‘not sold out’ paid attendance of 39,354 for the game.

On the Raiders’ first offensive play, former left tackle Khalif Barnes–who made his first NFL start at right tackle–was beaten around the edge by Calvin Pace. Pace came around and sacked JaMarcus Russell from behind, stripping him in the process. The Jets recovered the fumble on the Raiders’ four yard line.

You know during the course of the game it got a little different but the first play of the game was just unacceptable. I sat out there, I had the guy set up on me. I just didn’t use my hands well and he didn’t even use a move. I lost balance in my feet and I take full responsibility for that. You can’t let the quarterback get hit on the first play of the game because I think that would do something to their psyche. As a lineman, that first touchdown’s all on me.
– Khalif Barnes on the Raiders’ first offensive play of the game

Even starting at the Raiders’ four, the Jets struggled to move the ball. It took all four plays of the series to get the ball into the end zone and go up 7-0 with 12:48 to play in the first quarter.

The Jets would get another gift minutes later when JaMarcus Russell threw an interception intended for Zach Miller to Jim Leonhard. Leonhard returned the pick to the Raiders’ four yard line. This time, the Jets took only half as many plays to put another seven points on the board. Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez, from the shotgun formation, rushed up the middle and into the end zone for the score. The touchdown capped off a two-play, four yard drive.

I thought he was great. He protected the football, had that great run on the quarterback draw. He was just smart with the football. I think sometimes he probably could have put the ball on a receiver, but he was making sure that ball wasn’t intercepted. He missed some throws I think he could have put in there. It was great to see him respond.
– Rex Ryan on Mark Sanchez’ play

At that point, the Raiders were down 14-0, and things only got worse. The crowd at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum turned on their quarterback, booing unmercifully. Every time Russell stepped on the field to begin a series or off of it after the series failed, Raider Nation let him have it. Russell, along with his fumble, was 6-11 for 61 yards, and two interceptions.

After completing his first series of the second quarter, Bruce Gradkowski got the nod. On his last play, Russell escaped the pocket, ran to his right, then inexplicably threw across his body to the center of the field. The ball sailed just wide of an outstretched Jets safety, who nearly picked it off.

By the time Gradkowski came in, the Raiders were down 21-0 and playing with little urgency. Little spark was provided by the Raiders’ backup quarterback as he was unable to move the ball on his only series of the half. After the punt, the Jets extended their lead to 24-0 just before the end of the half.

The loudest that Raider Nation got all day was when Gradkowski entered the game. While he may have won the crowd’s support, he did little in the way to prove he should be the starter. For the game, Gradkowski completed 10 passes on 19 attempts for 97 yards, with one interception, and zero touchdowns.

The only thing that Gradkowski accomplished was putting an end to the booing and the chants of, ‘Russell sucks,’ from the crowd. Unfortunately, that was the only change he effected on the day.

JaMarcus handled it well, and I liked the way he handled it. I’m there for him when he’s there and he was there for me today when I went in. It’s a good feeling, knowing we have each other’s back because no matter what happens in the course of a game, we’re just trying to win the game. Whatever we can do to help this team win games is what we’re going to try to do.
– Gradkowski on how Russell handled being pulled from the game

After the game, Tom Cable mentioned Tony Stewart as the only injury. Stewart, “has a chest injury of some sort,” said Cable. Louis Murphy left the game for a time after sandwiching a defensive back between himself and Stewart on a completed pass play.

One of the questions Cable had to answer was whether or not his team continued to play hard after being down by 14–especially since they know the offense has trouble scoring any points. “I don’t think I think we’re talented enough on defense that we can make a play and even points on the board defensively, but again, we get a couple of drives going there in the first half, it’s 7-0, it’s 14-0 and we don’t convert,” said Cable. “Threw the interception in the end zone, things like that. We’ve got to keep working. We’ve got to keep working, take from last week what we should have. Obviously, we didn’t.

When asked why he pulled Russell, Cable explained, “I thought he was, for the first time I thought he was really out of sorts early in the game.” His quarterback didn’t agree.

When asked if he was ‘out of sorts’ in the locker room, Russell responded, “Actually I wasn’t. The first interception was a matter of a guy coming across my face and getting to the spot.” The quarterback continued, “I tried to get it down but it was too late. As far as the second one, I thought I gave the guy a chance to make a play on the ball. As far as what I was seeing. I didn’t see him come down with it. The ball in the air had a 50-50 chance, we just didn’t come up with it.

The two will have to work things out rather quickly, because Cable has already named Russell the starter for their game in San Diego next week. In his postgame press conference, Cable was clear of his intentions regarding the quarterback situation. “JaMarcus will continue to be our starter and there is no issue there,” said the head coach.

Many in Raider Nation won’t be happy to hear about that.

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This article has 2 Comments

  1. What a joke we have become. i said it before and will keep saying it…. please stop attending raiders games..the lowest crowd ever showed up in oakland, 39,354??? why the hell did so many people go see this joke of a “pro team”??? we need to hit al davis where it hurts, the pocket book. stop going to the games. stop buying raiders merchandise. until al davis does what he’s suppossed to do. get a real gm and coach. till then we dont spenda dime!!

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