Buffalo Bills (2-0) vs Oakland Raiders (1-1)
SB Nation's Raiders coverage: Silver and Black Pride
Last week, the Buffalo Bills made a statement by defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars in their home stadium, 20-16. Lost amongst the hype this week, however, is the fact that this week's opponent - the Oakland Raiders - made a statement of their own by rushing for 300 yards and stomping the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, 23-8. Think the Raiders might not be a formidable opponent this weekend? Think again.
This morning, we're joined by Saint, author of the Raiders blog Silver and Black Pride, who has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about his Raiders as we prepare for this Sunday's matchup.
Buffalo Rumblings: Clearly, your stable of running backs is, on the level of pure talent, easily the best in the business. Talk about the injuries to Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden and how that might effect the Raiders' ability to run the ball in Buffalo on Sunday.
Saint, Silver and Black Pride: Justin Fargas's job in 2008 was to be a crash test dummy and run into the defense at will in the first half and tire them out. Then he would give way to Bush and McFadden, who would be fresh and dominate the second half. I really like this philosophy, and with a stout defense that forces turnovers and gets to the QB, it is a great recipe for victory on any game day.
When Fargas was injured, however, I was more excited about seeing McFadden get more carries than I was worried about Justin's health. In retrospect, I am bothered by the injury to Fargas because his role is very important in the overall game plan. There is no way that we tally 300 yards on the ground last week if Justin hadn't tired out the defense. McFadden's turf toe also bothers me almost as much for Lane Kiffin mentioning it as the injury itself. Turf toe is one of those injuries that lingers all year. It is a nasty toe injury that most players play through but it does cost them a step. D-Mac was caught from behind on his 50 yard run and without the turf toe, I don't see Bernard Pollard catching him.
The two injuries combined will have an effect on the game on Sunday for the simple fact that since Fargas can't go and if D-Mac is limited, then Michael Bush will carry the load. That in and of itself is not a bad thing - Bush is a freaking stud - but the three headed monster is a MUCH more formidable foe.
Buffalo Rumblings: I'm about to ask the million dollar question: is JaMarcus Russell the right quarterback for this team? What have been your impressions of his play in his first two starts of the season?
Saint, Silver and Black Pride: Coming out of college, JaMarcus Russell did not seem to fit Lane Kiffin's "ball control", "check down" offense, but after watching him make the proper checks and not turn the ball over through the air I have been pleasantly surprised. He has a great target in his favorite receiver, TE Zach Miller, and once a receiver or two step up he will be dangerous. Until that day comes, we will be a running offense that throws about 20-25 times a game in our best performances.
Buffalo Rumblings: Now I'll ask you the billion dollar question: Lane Kiffin We know Al Davis doesn't like him. What is your opinion on Kiffin and the job he's done in Oakland? Can you see any coach succeeding under Davis, who is - for lack of a better term - a difficult boss?
Saint, Silver and Black Pride: There is so much hogwash going on in the media, once again, when it comes to Lane Kiffin and Al Davis.
My take on it is that Lane and Al BOTH have HUGE egos and the owner will always win that battle. I wish that Lane would have just checked his ego at the door and realized that he had a chance to learn from a great football mind from the outset. Instead, he has poked his finger in Al's eye publicly and many don't survive long enough to do that with any regularity.
For a great take on this, read 10-year Raiders vet Adam Treu's article on the matter.
Thanks to Saint for the closer look at the Oakland Raiders. Boy, I'm just not sure I agree on JaMarcus Russell. I think he's got a world of potential, but when a quarterback is completing less than 54% of his passes for about 117 yards per game, that defines "one-dimensional". Avoiding turnovers can only take you so far - just ask Tarvaris Jackson. I have more respect for Lane Kiffin than Saint does, as well - anyone who flips Al Davis the proverbial middle finger is OK in my book.
Be sure to drop by Silver and Black Pride throughout the week as Bills/Raiders game day draws nearer.