Editor’s Note: We’re very lucky here at BLD to be part of Fansided, a wide-reaching network with blogs for every NFL team (as well as a huge selection of NBA, NHL, MLB, and other blogs as well). We’d be dumb not to take advantage of these resources, so welcome to our new feature: Behind Enemy Lines. Each week, we’ll be checking in with the staff from the Fansided blog representing the Bills’ opponent for that the week.
This week, we’re checking in with Chris Shellcroft, the lead writer of Just Blog Baby, Fansided’s always-entertaining Raiders blog. A big thank you to Chris for taking the time to answer some Raiders questions for us as we get ready for the Bills’ home opener against Oakland Sunday.
Q: How are Raiders fans feeling about the Hue Jackson coaching era so far?
A: So far things are off to a good start. Winning in Denver and on Monday Night was a great way to get the Hue Jackson era going. There are still plenty of questions out there like if Coach Jackson is spreading himself too thin or if he’s protecting the decisions made by Al Davis. Overall he’s doing well. The teams likes and respects him and he’s got a great swagger to him that keeps the spirits high in the locker room. Mr. Davis made the right decision to fire Tom Cable, no doubt about that. It was just the timing of the move that was awkward. But hey, we all know the way to Al’s heart – just win, baby!
Q: We know the Raiders can run the ball. Is this team going to be able to throw it at all in 2011?
A: That is the elephant in the room. Jason Campbell has all the tools to be a productive passer. The problem is he plays it safe far too often by checking down or just giving what the defense gives him. Put it this way, if Brett Favre is a gambler then Campbell is the dude who drops one quarter in a Vegas slot and walks out of the casino after one pull. To be fair JC is dealing with a young group of receivers still learning the pro game and growing into their roles. He’s also without his top target, Zach Miller, and only got a brief moment to work with Miller’s replacement Kevin Boss before he went down with a kneee injury. At some point Campbell’s arm is going to have to carry the Raiders to victory. Relying on the run only works with a lead or in close contests.
Q: Oakland definitely got a tough break here by not playing until late Monday night and then having to play in the early game Sunday all the way across the country. Are the Raiders going to be ready for this one?
A: Good call. The schedule makers did the Raiders no favors with a short week, cross-country flight and earlier start time (relative to Pacific Standard Time). Coach Jackson has found creative ways to prepare his team. In week 1 he had the Raiders practicing under the lights at night to prepare for playing on Monday Night in Denver. Still, it is difficult to adjust your body and mind to playing football at what is essentially 10am. If the Raiders aren’t ready it could be very troublesome. The Bills are in a groove right now after rolling through KC so they’ll be fired up by the home fans. I think the team will be ready, the question is can they match the energy of the Bills?
Q: Seriously, how the heck are both Ralph Wilson and Al Davis still alive? Are they both still actually alive?
A: I have a theory on this. Let’s just say it involves time travel, stem-cell research and Romanian vampire blood. But I’m afraid I’ve said too much already. I think its best we move on from this topic before either of us disappears.
Q: Any Raiders we haven’t heard of nationally yet that could be poised for a big game Sunday?
A: The Raiders have some young talent that is really flying below the radar. The guy that is poised to play in a Pro Bowl one of these days is defensive end Matt Shaughnessy. He’s not going to be sneaking up on too many people as he pops out on tape every week and will soon be known as one of the game’s better up-and-coming pass rushers. Now with the injuries to the receiving corps the guy Raider Nation wants to see is rookie Denarius Moore. He was a 5th round pick out of Tennessee but played like a first rounder in training camp. He’ll get a lot more snaps this week and hopefully will make the most of them.
Q: How about a prediction for Sunday’s game?
A: This is a tricky one. The Bills could suffer a letdown after last week’s win and the Raiders could be out of sorts due to the travel and time difference. I’m thinking we’ll see an uneven game that will produce some late drama. Both teams have playmakers and one of them will be the difference. Oakland’s got the mega-leg of Sebastian Janikowski which I think will prove vital in the Raiders’ 13-10 victory.
Big thanks to Chris. Be sure to check out Just Blog Baby for your Raiders-related needs.