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Pre-Game Recon With Silver And Black Pride

This week's edition sees Saint from SB Nation's Oakland Raiders blog, Silver and Black Pride answering our queries about the successor to your Houston Texans for the honor of picking first in the entire NFL Draft.  As always, you can check out my answers to Raider Nation's questions here.  Here are Saint's responses to my interrogatories:

1.  I was shocked to read that you guys are giving the nod to Josh McCown on Sunday; I have to assume this is due in large part to Daunte Culpepper's struggles the past couple of weeks, though I would think a good portion of those struggles can be attributed to a lack of protection.  How long until we see JaMarcus Russell under center for the Raiders?  Within the next few games?  Or is Lane Kiffin going to adopt the anti-Texans approach of letting his No. 1 overall draft pick QB watch and learn this first season?

SBP:  I understand the thinking, but disagree with the call.  This is not saying that Josh McCown is the better quarterback; it is saying that he gets the ball from under center quicker and can run more of the offense.  Daunte has shown great leadership and has put the team in position to win each of the games he has been in. With that being said, he has also fumbled many snaps and has a difficult time backpedaling. This forces him to work about 50-50 from the shotgun. Working from the shotgun eliminates many of the running plays and I bet that this team will run A LOT on Sunday.

Even though Josh may be able to run more plays, he is not an NFL caliber starting QB and he will turn the ball over three times on Sunday.  Daunte gives this team a better chance to win...Period.

Regarding JaMarcus Russell, if the Raiders lose 3 more games this year, you will see him in there. If those three are the next three games, or even the next two in a row, you may see him as soon as the Chicago game.

2. Soooooooo...I hear Nnamdi Asomugha is an unrestricted free agent at year's end.  Do you foresee Al Davis paying what it takes to keep him?  Or do the Texans have a prayer at throwing the GNP of a small country at him to convince him to reunite with his cousin here in Houston?

SBP:  I can only look at how Al Davis treated our last Pro-Bowl caliber DB, Charles Woodson, and say that he will be franchised until he becomes disenfranchised and then will sign for 6 years somewhere else.

3. What's the story with the running game?  The first couple of weeks, it looked dangerous.  Now it seems to have stalled.  Don't get me wrong--I like stalled, what with my squad being positively schizophrenic defending the run and all.  What do you expect out of the running game on Sunday?  And who is the lead dog--LaMont Jordan?  Son of Huggy Bear?  Or Dominic "I Didn't Sign With Oakland To Return Kicks" Rhodes?

SBP:  The bottom line with the running game is that Lane kept on running LaMont even though he was hurt.  Early on, LaMont was running like a bull in Pamplona. Everything was downhill and has was careening off of walls and running into bodies. LaMont was hitting the hole hard and fast, now, he is just running into a wall and falling down.  I don't blame him, because he is in a contract year and he wants to run. But I do blame Lane for not giving backs who were running harder and are healthier the ball.

This team would be 4-3, at worst, if LaMont was told to sit and allowed to heal.  I do not blame the line. Although their pass protection is TERRIBLE, the holes have been there for the running game, as evidenced by Justin Fargas' ability to run against some tough defenses.  As I said above, I expect the game plan to be a TON of running on Sunday. About a 70-30 or 80-20 mix.  Fargas will carry the bulk of the load, as Lane Kiffin has already stated, and Rhodes should carry the ball about 15 times. Jordan SHOULD be unavailable until he heals, but will probably be the #2 or 3 back.

4. What the hell happened to your defense?  Last year, it was one of the best in the league.  This year, it's one of the worst.  Is it scheme?  New personnel playing bigger roles?  Rex Ryan getting a lobotomy in the offseason?

SBP:  They really weren't that good last year. The pass D was overrated because teams did not pass on us.  They could just run and then stop our offense.  A dominant defense is one that forces turnovers and gets stops when you need them.  Last season, the Raider D couldn't stop anyone when it mattered (except against Pittsburgh, when an interception in the end zone that was returned for a TD all but ended that game) and was in the very bottom tier in turnovers forced.  This year, the turnover numbers are up a little, but teams are killing us in our base defense when they attack the safeties.  Huff and Schweigert are players that are on "scholarship" here. No matter how bad they stink, they keep on starting.

I wish that Rex Ryan would have gotten a lobotomy after last season because maybe we could have transplanted it into his twin brother, Rob Ryan, who coaches our defense. ;) (ed. note--I'm a schmuck).

5. Last year, watching our respective teams play was like watching two blind eight year old girls fight.  In other words, funny in a sick way, but more sad than anything.  You'd think a year later, our teams would be better.  So put your name on it:  The final score of Sunday's game will be...what?

SBP:  I was at that game. It was NEVER enjoyable.  I have to list it two ways:

With Schaub: Raiders 27 Houston 20

With Sage: Raiders 23 Houston 3

I don't see the Raiders losing this game either way. But, I have been wrong before. Actually countless times in the past 5 seasons!!!

I'm shocked--SHOCKED!--that Saint thinks the Raiders are going to roll the Texans like that.  It's like he's been watching the Texans play the last three weeks or something.