While head coach Hue Jackson keeps preaching he wants to “build a bully,” this Raiders team has morphed into a band of jackrabbits – a group just as likely to run around, as over, an opponent.
As the Raiders Monday turned their backs on an 0-4 preseason and began focusing on their Monday night regular-season opener against Denver, Jackson again kept up his mantra from his bully pulpit.
“We’re going to build that bully,” Jackson told reporters. “Trust me when I tell you I’m going to build this bully. I know people don’t see it yet, but that’s OK. … We’re going to be a bully. We have the ingredients to be a bully.”
But a big part of that winning formula is speed.
As Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group noted in his blog Monday, this season’s team could “feature a collection of fast players that is unmatched in Raiders history.”
There’s veteran running back Darren McFadden, who claims he’s the team’s fastest player. There’s rookie Taiwan Jones, who lived up to his roadrunner nickname when he got a chance to play in the third preseason game. There’s also wide receiver/kick returner Jacoby Ford, receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and rookie receiver Denarius Moore.
Offensively, the Raiders have a legion of lightning-quick weapons to pick from.
“You see me smiling, right?” Jackson told Corkran. “I’m very happy, very excited about our football team. This is the team I envisioned we had the capability of being when this thing all started. The fun part is, now they’re all healthy, almost all.”
Said McFadden: “It’s like wse can have a track meet on the field with the guys we have out there.”
With an offensive line that came together better than anticipated in the preseason, and a quarterback in Jason Campbell who appears more comfortable and confident in his second year in Oakland, the team could be poised to make the best of that speed.
But speed thrills only when everyone else does his part, says defensive tackle Tommy Kelly.
“We’re pretty fast,” Kelly told Corkran. “But, like I said, we’ve got to execute it. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s like a nice piece of chicken that’s sitting on the plate. If you don’t even touch it, you won’t be able to enjoy it. So, we’ve got to execute the game plan and whatever coach calls, the line’s got to line up there and block and the quarterback has got to put it there on time and the receiver’s got to catch it.”