Oakland Receivers Not Catching On

No team in the NFL has completed fewer passes this season than the Oakland Raiders, and frankly, it's not even close. That's probably not all that shocking to you, seeing as how JaMarcus Russell is a second-year quarterback, and the Raiders are, for the most part, a running team blessed with a deep backfield including Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. Naturally, like any team, they're going to stick with their strength.

Still, Russell has struggled at times, while also showing flashes of the potential that made him the No. 1 overall pick a year ago. Perhaps one of the problems he's dealing with this season is the fact his wide receivers are, well, for lack of a better word -- terrible.

Jason Jones of the Sacramento Beepointed out today that the Raiders haven't had more than one wide receiver catch a pass in a game in four weeks, and that Michael Bush, a 245-pound running back -- who is now playing fullback -- is second on the team with 18 receptions.

Sounds pretty bad. But it gets worse.

As a group, Raiders wide receivers have combined to catch only 56 passes through their first 11 games. Just for comparisons sake, there are 17 individual wide receivers around the NFL who have caught at least 56 passes this season. The Arizona Cardinals, for example, have three.

The good folks over at Football Outsiders track the catch percentages of receivers in the NFL, and here are the results for the Raiders:

Ronald Curry: 44%
Ashley Lelie: 28%
Javon Walker: 47%
Chaz Schilens: 40%
Johnnie Lee Higgins: 40%

If you want to include tight end Zach Miller, who is leading the team with 32 receptions, his percentage is currently 64%.

Obviously, those numbers are not just a reflection of the receiver, Russell -- or Andrew Walter -- also plays a role. But in the case of a guy like Lelie, who is hauling in passes at an abysmal rate, even for Raiders standards, there's obviously a problem at the position. Especially when guys like Walker and Curry are combining to make $16 million this season.

Clearly it's one of the many positions for the Raiders that is in serious need of an upgrade this offseason. I hear there's a pretty good wide receiver at Texas Tech that could eligible for the NFL draft this April. In the meantime, if I were Raiders head coach Tom Cable, I'd be calling Zach Miller's number on just about every pass play.

Oakland Receivers Not Catching On originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Sat, 29 Nov 2008 13:35:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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