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The Fans, McFadden, and Howard
KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 20: Thomas Howard #53 of the Oakland Raiders looks on during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on September 20, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Oakland Raiders are playing with more confidence than they have for a very long time. But sellouts garner confidence also and this week’s game against the Denver Broncos will not be one. Although the Raiders are having their best season in nearly a decade of football, it appears the Oakland “faithful” are not completely sold on this being the beginning of something special to come for their team.

Perhaps they are still butt hurt by the move from Oakland to L.A. nearly three decades ago. Or maybe they are just reeling from the poor economy that has gotten the best of the best American families recently. It’s really hard to say which the real answer is. For those keeping track at home, this makes 82 blackouts in 127 home games since the Raiders moved back to Oakland from Los Angeles in 1995.

This current local television blackout will be the sixth one this season. This one is a bit shocking to me though, because there is a chance the Raiders could pull some record breaking stuff like they did the last time they played the Denver Broncos. Really Raider fans… you don’t want to be there to possibly witness history first hand? To be able to say that you were a part of it, just click the link above to Dark Side tickets. Levi assures me that it is the best price on the internet.

But on another note let’s talk about Darren McFadden for a minute. Seriously if this guy doesn’t make the Pro Bowl this year then you fail as fans, Raider Nation. How could you not vote for this guy? If McFadden doesn’t make the Pro Bowl and Michael Vick wins the MVP award I’m not watching the NFL anymore. So it’s up to you to make sure that at least one of these two things happens… or doesn’t happen depending on how you read that last sentence.

McFadden is on a rampage and quarterback Jason Campbell says, “You know anytime you got a running back like that behind you as the quarterback, you always feel confident because you know he’s going to make big plays for you. You could be out there and he’ll take a ten yard check down and go for fifty, there are not many players in the league that can make plays like that. I think he’s one of those special guys and his stiff arm is probably one of the best I’ve been around.”

McFadden really does deserve a lot of credit. He looks like a completely different halfback this year and has completely changed his image that was attached for the first two seasons of his pro career. If you were smart enough to draft him this year in fantasy football then you got one of the steals of the year. He is bruising the Raiders’ opponents this year and is largely responsible for the Raiders’ offensive success, not only on the ground but also through opening up passing lanes on play action plays. Not only is McFadden not going down on first contact, he is also running with reckless abandon and not taking the easy way out like some tailbacks do by running out of bounds.

Personally, I’m really very happy with the progress he has made and although I’d like to see the ball get into Michael Bush’s hands more often, I really can’t blame the coaches for calling the personnel the way they have this year with regards to the running backs.

But defensively, it’s been a bit of a different story. I mean, I know the guys on the staff are fond of Travis Goethel and they are doing a good job of getting all of the 2010 draft class involved on the playing field this year. However, when the season started, they decided to make Quentin Groves the starter at weak-side linebacker over the previously penciled in Trevor Scott. It wasn’t a bad choice because they felt that Groves was working his butt off and Scott was not living up to expectations. Lately they have been (according to Tom Cable) giving Travis Goethel a 50-50 split in playing time with Groves and I just want to say that move is baloney.  

If anybody in that linebacker corps deserves a chance to prove they can do a better job, Thomas Howard deserves a shot. I just want to put that out there right now. Howard has worked his tail off for this franchise and I don’t think it’s fair that when his replacement turns out not to be that great of an option, two other players get the nod over this guy. I mean we were talking about Michael Vick for a second before, and on that note, doesn’t Thomas Howard deserve a second chance? Or no, we are just going to leave him as another specialist on the squad who just happens to be officially labeled as a linebacker?

Speaking of things that don’t make that much sense, I’d just like to say that Coach Cable is doing some things right this year and some things that really make me scratch my head. In fact, his head scratching moves are making my head burn I’m scratching it so much. But that’s another story for another day… and most likely a day that will come sooner rather than later.

For now, let’s just pray for a San Francisco 49ers victory and hope the Rams show up on Sunday against the Kansas City Queens… err, I mean Chiefs.

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