This is the next part in our series of previews of the Eagles 2009 opponents. Joining us for this feature is Dave Schwab, who writes about the Eagles at his site Eagles Lincs.
This week the Eagles are going going back back to Cali Cali to meet the 1-4 Oakland Raiders. The men in black haven't given their fans in the infamous "Black Hole" much to cheer about these days. Members of the Giants even described playing the Raiders as being like a scrimmage or practice... Ouch.
Dave tells us more about the Raiders problems after the jump.
After three straight home games, the 3-1 Eagles make their first trip off the year to the West Coast to take on the 1-4 Oakland Raiders in a 4:05 P.M. (EST) start at Oakland-Alameda County Stadium. While Philly is coming off a relatively easy 33-14 easy win over Tampa Bay, the Raiders troubles this season continued as they were crushed by the N.Y. Giants in the Meadowlands 44-7. The Giants thoroughly beat them in all phases of the game holding their offense to a pitiful 124 yards in game where the Raiders had as many punts (7) as first downs. This was their third loss in a row after a 1-1 start. Their problems are across the board, but the biggest one could be possible assault charges being filed against head coach Tom Cable related to an earlier incident involving one of his assistants. The Napa County DA could make a decision to prosecute Cable as early as this week. All of this commotion should add up to another easy win for the Birds.
As a complete team, Oakland is one of the worse teams in the league, but when it comes to offense they may actually be the worst. In their last three games they have scored a total of 16 points with 1 TD. They are ranked at the bottom in yards per game averaging less than 200 yards of total offense. Their passing game is ranked 32nd and their running game is ranked 28th. QB JaMarcus Russell has a passer ranking of 47.1 and a 42% completion percentage. With stats like these, you have to wonder how much longer they can allow him to even play given the fact he has gotten progressively worse each week. Before the season they released veteran QB Jeff Garcia who was brought in as a backup, a decision they may now regret. As you look for some bright spots for the Raider’s offense there are really none to be found. As mentioned, their running game is equally as bad. In the first five games, RB’s Michael Bush and Darren McFadden have combined for 303 total yards on 49 carries.
Defensively, the Raiders currently rank 27th in average points scored, allowing 26 per game and 31st in total yards per game giving up an average of 382. The only bright spot might be their pass defense, as they are ranked 15th giving up an average of 221 yards per game. This game could be a golden opportunity for the Eagles to try and establish their running game which was virtually non-existent in the win over Tampa, given the fact that the Raiders are ranked 31st against the run. You cannot totally blame this defense for giving up so many points as numerous mistakes and turnovers by the offense and special teams have given their opponents incredible field position allowing them to rack up the points.
It is hard to believe how far this once proud organization has fallen over the past several seasons. They have not had a winning record since 2002 and have only won 11 games the past three seasons combined. The prospect for this year already looks bleak as they will struggle to even match their 5 win total from last year. For the Eagles, this should be a great chance to keep fine tuning an offense that is a bit out of balance, but extremely effective none the less. With Jeremy Maclin having a breakout game last week, it will be hard for the Raiders to cover both him and DeSean Jackson at the same time. TE Brent Celek continues to be a go-to- guy on key 3rd and long plays and FB Leonard Weaver is starting to contribute on a regular basis. RB Brian Westbrook has yet to be a big part of this offense, but something tells me this could be the week that all changes.