It has been a rough year for the Oakland Raiders with Kiffin's job insecurity going into the season and eventually fired in week 4. Tom Cable stepped up and had some struggles and tried some things that they'd been practicing for quite some time and be the end of the season we started looking like a football team.
I was most impressed with Johnnie Lee Higgins and Chaz Schilenz stepping up in the receiving game during the last 2 games giving Jamarcus Russell two more reliable targets in the passing game in addition to TE Zach Miller. Trevor Scott was the most impressive rookie to me sharing the team lead in sacks with Kalimba Edwards at 5. He also shared the lead in the NFL in sacks by rookies with two other players and I think he could be spelling THE END for Derrick Burgess. An undrafted rookie that I was impressed with was DE Greyson Gunheim. Although he didn't get much playing time, his first career sack saved a victory for us over Tampa Bay. I really think he could emerge if given the opportunity.
Tom Cable manned up and didn't worry about what Al Davis would think if he coached the football team like a football team. He started by letting Deangelo Hall go despite having the team lead in INTs at the time, he also got beat the most in the pass defense. Then he sat Michael Huff on the bench in favor of Hiram Eugene and Rashad Baker. Chris Johnson won the starting corner job after Hall's departure and finished the season tied for the lead in INTs with Baker. Tyvon Branch was another safety that I was impressed with but unfortunatly his season ended early with an injury.
Cable also manned up on the offesive side of the ball on the line. At one point he wasn't happy with the play of any of the offensive tackles but they were the best he had to work with. At one point he was rotating Harris and Henderson on the left side but eventually stuck with Harris. However he got sick of Harris's false start penalties and went back with Henderson who showed massive improvement the last 3 weeks of the season and our penalties were cut down amazingly in the last 2 games.
The difference in this last season and the 5 previous seasons is that we finished this season with pride and poise. I think it was a step forward by not finishing last in our division. Plus we finished this season on a high note by winning back to back games with our youthful players stepping up in place of veterans most notably at the WR position. I was weary of signing Walker and more optimistic about Lelie, plus we still had Ronald Curry. In the end it appears that they were good mentors for Chaz Schilenz and Johnnie Lee Higgins and we had a passing game established the last 2 games and I think they will be our starters next year and we can cut the others for cap space.
I've said this for the last several years but going into next year I feel more optimistic about it...I think we will win more football games this year and we are on the rise back to our winning ways. I think Tom Cable is the right man for the HC job and a lot of young players are coming alive under him and we need youthful speed and skill to dominate in the NFL this day in age. Hopefully this football team will keep the pride and poise they played with these last 2 weeks and we will JUST WIN BABY!!!!!