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A Season of Hope

Well, we are less than two weeks away from the beginning of the regular season and as with all teams and their fans it is a time for hope. Each team has their keys to success and their question marks. The Oakland Raiders are no different. The most agonizing thing about the Oakland Raiders is that they always seem to have a certain level of talent. A level of talent that should garner them greater success than what their record reflects by the end of the season.

The Raiders enter this season with a core group of talented players and a number of other players with the potential to be included in that core group. Nnamdi Asomugha, Robert Gallery, Zack Miller, Michael Bush, Darren McFadden, and Shane Lechler (yes I know he is a punter but he is one of the best in the game) are a small core group of talented players that that can be used as a foundation in order to build to a successful season.

The keys to ultimate success will rest in the hands of JaMarcus Russell and a defense that has been unable or unwilling to stop the run. JaMarcus Russell although not being classified as a bust as of yet, seems to be the greatest mystery in Oakland since Amelia Earhart got lost in the Pacific. Russell is a very quiet young man who has shown flashes of great ability. The questions that have dogged him throughout his short career are those of work ethic and leadership. Because JaMarcus is so quiet no one knows if he wants to succeed or simply cash his pay checks. Being a leader does not mean that you have to yell and scream but you do need the power of E.F. Hutton. When you speak the whole room must have a desire to listen. This has not been evident with the young Mr. Russell to this point.

Although JaMarcus Russell has been a mystery the run defense has been like a screen door in a submarine. No one in Oakland seems to know how to play against the run or they do not have a desire to stop it. I think that desire is the key word here. You play defense with heart. It is a matter of self respect. I truly believe that John Marshall knows how to coach good solid defensive schemes and packages.

If my assumption is correct then question comes down to execution, desire and physical talent. When your defense gives up 45 points in an exhibition game even the most casual fan can see that something has to be done whether it be adjusting the scheme to fit your personnel (which will never happen in Oakland) or endlessly searching the wavier wire for anybody that might be able to help stop the bleeding.

With as bad as the run defense was last year the Raiders still came within three touchdowns of a 500.00 record last season. Coach Cable started out training camp this year the same way Vince Lombardi started his first year in Green Bay. Coach Cable went back to the very basics of the game. It is also worth noting that after the 45 point debacle against the Saints there was a level of embarrassment and remorse coming out of the Raider camp that has not been seen in a long time.

This is my call to the 2009 Oakland Raiders it is time to look inside yourself, to search your own heart and decide what you want to be as individual players and as a team. Yelling and screaming may give you short term courage, but, it is only when you look inside your own heart and soul will you find the man and team you hope to be. It is time to be held accountable.

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