Emotional Raiders set for bout with Jaguars

Apparently, we’ve been using the wrong type of analysis on the Raiders. Instead of measuring their physical ability, we should have been testing their emotional temperature.

When they were rolling on a three-game win streak before the bye, everything was coming up roses.
Then, after the bye came two dispiriting losses. The Steelers, one of the NFL’s top teams, shut them down completely in Pittsburgh. Not terribly surprising, but then, the Miami Dolphins did the same in a game played in Oakland — and the Dolphins were just a .500 team coming in. The Raiders also lost quarterback Bruce Gradkowski for the season with a reinjured shoulder.

Last Sunday, the San Diego Chargers seemed poised to end the Raiders’ postseason hopes.

But the Raiders’ emotional thermometer was up again. They were sky high for the game. Head puppet Tom Cable was jumping up and down on the sidelines — did anybody check to see if Al Davis was holding strings in his box? — and it was comical to see him trying desperately to get off the ground, without success.

So, how will the Raiders approach Sunday’s game in Jacksonville? I haven’t a clue. In a league where teams try to stay on an even keel week after week, the Raiders are emotional yo-yos.

One thing is certain: There is no longer any quarterback controversy; with Gradkowski sidelined, Jason Campbell is the guy. His backup is now Kyle Boller but, though Boller has the ability to throw the deep ball Davis loves, he can’t consistently complete the other passes needed to keep an offense going. He won’t play unless Campbell is
injured.

Campbell has looked like a Pro Bowl quarterback at times this year and like an Arena League reject at others. He was in the first category against the Chargers and, in many respects, had his best game.

By now, we know what kind of quarterback Campbell is. If he’s supported by a solid running attack that makes play action passes feasible and has good pass protection, he’s an accurate passer who can also run for good gains if the opening is there. His fake and bootleg for a touchdown against the Chargers was a thing of beauty.

But if the running game is not effective and protection breaks down, Campbell can’t elude the rush and often fumbles when he’s hit.

So, the Raiders know exactly what they have to do against the Jags, but it’s anybody’s guess whether they’ll bring their “A” game again.

Even after last week’s impressive game, the Raiders still trail the Kansas City Chiefs by two games, so they have to start making up some ground. They got a break this week when Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel had to have an appendectomy, which would seem to rule him out for Sunday’s game against the Chargers in San Diego.

The Raiders have one advantage in this race: They have a perfect 4-0 record against division rivals, so if they tied the Chiefs, they’d have the tiebreaker.

They also have to face the Chiefs in Kansas City in the final game of the schedule. No question, they’ll be up for that one.

But, the Chiefs will be, too.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.

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