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I could do the entire line-by-line from that movie, but since everybody knows it, why waste my time and valuable space?  After all, we know that one thing I never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever do is waste space with meaningless words.

The bye week.  That horrible week which gives us nothing interesting to discuss. Right?

WRONG!  We've now reached an absolutely pivotal point in our season.  We were humiliated in our first two games and looked like a genuine shot for 0-16.  We were then competitive against the Chargers and looked like we could at least not be a complete joke all year.  We beat the Vikings and looked to perhaps be capable of winning a game or two this year.  Then we came back from a big deficit against the Colts and showed that we may be able to win more than a game or two. 

What now?  Well, there are some questions regarding where we go from here, and I have the answers (also known as opinions, but I prefer not to think of them that way)...

Justin Houston and the mystifying start of Andy Studebaker

Oh Lord, here we are again.  Look, Justin Houston isn't perfect.  He's missed some tackles and at times struggled in coverage.  I get it.  And hey, I'm one of the many that has been SCREAMING for Houston to be rushing the passer on obvious passing downs, so I should be happy with the Colts game, right? 

Wrong.  Well, kind of wrong.  I was glad to see Houston rushing the passer.  And he looked all right doing it at times (although not nearly the life-alter force of nature I was secretly hoping for), or at least better than Cameron Sheffield or Andy Studebaker have looked when asked to do it.  So great (Ok, not great.  NO sacks?  Seriously?  I know they were keeping TEs and RBs back in protection all day, but STILL... not even one?)

Here's the problem though... just as they were finally putting him on the field in obvious passing situations, they were taking him OFF the field in running situations. And in his place... the man... the myth... the legend... the absolute SIEVE against the run... Andy Studebaker.

Now before you tell me all about how Houston missed a couple of tackles against the Vikings (which he did), let me stop you.  Seriously, don't even start.  Because although Houston needs to improve on wrapping up, he holds the edge.  And after watching Studebaker get driven back by TE's time after time (again, as if the preseason wasn't enough), hopefully you can see how important that is.

I did this for Wallace Gilberry, so I'll do it for Studebaker..  If Andy Studebaker was a wasp, a running play is a can of RAID.  Andy Studebaker is to a rushing attack what a piece of paper is to a paper shredder.  The reason Forrest Gump ran so far is that Andy Studebaker was the guy assigned to stop him.  If Andy Studebaker against the run was a car, he'd be a Mini Cooper.

Houston is a rookie, and is having his ups and downs.  But he belongs on the field. 

Jackie Battle

I TOLD everyone here that Battle had it in him!  You haters!  I always liked this guy, and absolutely saw it coming that he'd show up huge in a game by being the power back we've sorely lacked!  Man, I can't believe you idiots doubted me.  After all, who was the one defending him when everyone was saying, "Cut him, he's had almost half a decade to prove his worth and hasn't done so?"  That's right, it was... wait, what?  No way!  I was totally on his side!  You can't prove anything!  What do you mean you can search the archives of AP? 

Well, this is awkward. 

Hey, it doesn't MATTER who was right and who was wrong, right?  All that matters is that Battle made us look like a good running team again for a game.  And looked like he's maybe got it in him to do it again (if you haven't seen Clay's "Battle Axe'd" gif of Battle just plowing over some poor Colts defender, do yourself a favor and find it).  That's great news, because ol' TJ, even in his best game in quite some time last Sunday, still looked about as fast as a dial-up modem (ba duh CHI!).

However, I'd like us to maybe hold off before deciding to go down the "we're a running team" route again.  And here's why:

Jonathan Baldwin

OK, that's oversimplifying the matter.  I know Baldwin's just a rookie and hasn't proven a thing.  But what I'm really talking about is Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston being COMPLEMENTED by "Little Jon..."

(You heard it here first.  Now we've got "Big Jon" Asamoah and "Little Jon" Baldwin. See, it's funny cuz he's actually really big for a receiver.  Get it?  And no, I haven't decided yet whether it's "Little Jon" or "Lil' Jon."  I mean, both have their merits.  The bottom line for me is this: Do I want my receiver to be named after a great warrior and huge man who helped Robin Hood light up the Sheriff of Nottingham?  Or the "King of Krunk?"  I'm honestly a little stumped right now, because I like both.  However, doesn't it seem to be tempting fate just a LITTLE to name him after a guy legendary for being smashed at all times, and for yelling out one-word sentences?  I'm going to tentatively go with "Little Jon" for now, but I could probably be talked into "Lil' Jon" if someone wanted to try.  Anyways, what were we talking about?)

Look, I know Matt Cassel is our quarterback.  I know he's not always that good.  Crap, I'm the one who recently refused to take him back, so why are you bringing this up while my heartache is still so fresh?!  You insensitive clod!  Anyways, I'll just give you a numbered list why we need to try and open up the offense to start our next few games.

1)  Everyone is expecting us to try and run the ball and/or throw dink-and-dunk passes.

2)  If everyone is expecting the run, it's tough to run when you don't have an all-universe back like Jamaal Charles.

3)  The combo of Breaston and Bowe looks insanely legit, and is the best thing we have going for us right now on offense.  You get the ball to your playmakers.

4)  Getting the ball to those playmakers will loosen things up for those draws and screens to Dexter McCluster that Muir and Haley are obsessed with.  So they might actually, you know, work.

5)  Having a giant WR with a 40" vertical who has shown (in admittedly little action) an eye for the ball sprinting down the field will only give those playmakers more room to operate.  And in addition, maybe the big guy can even haul down a long one or two.  Be honest, how badly do you want to see Haley say, "Screw it, we're gonna play action and bomb to Baldwin the first play of the game.  Let's see if the kid can come down with it and force every single DC we're playing the rest of the season to change how they approach our game."

6)  Finally, after all this, we come back to the premise that once the field is spread out, we'll be able to run again.  Which sets up the pass again.  Which sets up the run again.  I think you can see where this is going.  I know conventional wisdom is to run to set up the pass, but here' s a news flash: that only works if teams think you can pass the ball and aren't gunning for the run at the beginning of the game.  We've GOT to get teams to respect our passing game. 

7)  And yes, I know this means relying on Matt Cassel, all right?  But what better way to either once and for all run him out of town or prove him to be our conquering hero?  Either he comes through (which I doubt.  Sorry Matt) and our offense starts firing on all cylinders, or he fails and we know we need a QB.  Win-win (well, in that second scenario there probably won't be a lot of winning, at least game-wise.  But I mean an overall, long term win).

Tyson Jackson

I'm throwing this in there for Kalo, who is just too darn nice to say anything.  And yeah, many people seem to have realized this.  But I've still seen a couple of references to T-Jax being a bust here on AP as recently as this week, so I'm going to say this RAWKC-style so as to leave no doubt. 


"But MN, our defense was terrible the first couple of games!"

Yeah, I know.  And he was hardly getting any snaps.   God knows why, but I don't.  He's since received a much higher percentage of our snaps, and in a stunning turn of events, our line has looked 10 times better.  Let me again spell this out for you as clearly as humanly possible:  Tyson Jackson is no longer fodder for "bust" talk or even "yeah, but he's only average" talk.  He's been playing great football for us.

If you disagree with me on that, fine.  But for the love of God do some legwork to prove me wrong.  Read Kalo's front 7 reports.  If that doesn't convince you, watch the game tape and focus on T-Jax.  If you come back after doing both of those things and are still calling Jackson a bust, then I'll listen. 

Because I've read Kalo's reports, and I've watched the tape.  And the man is rock solid up front.

Carson Palmer and the Raiders

This is looking more and more like a reality (and the story actually popped up AS I was writing this) and let me tell you, it's not a good one.  People are dogging Palmer as overrated and not an improvement over Campbell, but they're wrong.

Last year, with a completely dysfunctional team and a receiving corps that was a shadow of its former self, Palmer STILL threw for almost 4,000 yards while completing over 61% of his passes.  He's also, in case you don't remember, a guy who can throw the deep ball better than Campbell.

Think about that last part for a second.  Carson Palmer can throw a decent deep ball.  Now take a moment to look at the Raiders WR corps.  They're BUILT for a vertical attack.  The problem is they haven't had a QB who could make it happen.  Throw in Darren McFadden, and you have a deadly group of weapons, the likes of which Palmer hasn't had in years.  The last time he had weapons like this?  He was considered by pretty much everyone an elite QB.Is he the same now?  Maybe not.  But he's still a guy who was pretty good last year and the year before.

Even worse, they had a weakness at QB with Campbell in there, but still had a dangerous offense.  Now they have (at the very least) a non-weakness at the most important position on the field.

Yeah, they gave up too much for him.  But that's not what matters right now, from our perspective.  I don't care how it affects them long term.  I care how it affects us for the next 4-5 years.


I'm going to leave it at that for today.  After all, it's the bye week, and there's nothing really interesting to discuss.  Right?

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