Oakland Raiders: Finding Bright Spots in a Black Hole

Shortly before the 2009 NFL regular season, many Oakland Raiders fans, including myself, shared a sense of optimism about the team's future. The Raiders closed out the 2008-09 regular season on a high note and seemed to be poised for a decent 2009 season.

Well, with the regular season now over and the playoffs in full-swing, Raiders fans are left scratching their heads as they look desperately for answers to a NFL mystery.

Since the Raiders' loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Superbowl XXXVII, they've managed to win only 29 games and have suffered 83 losses during the course of the past seven seasons.

In 2009, the Raiders managed to win five games, matching last season's total, but were outscored by opponents, 197-379, in a mostly disappointing season that was surrounded by controversy.

The dysfunctional silver-and-black renegade never quite found a leader over the course of the season—even though most thought JaMarcus Russell would lead the Raiders in the right direction.

But Russell's raw talent and potential couldn't outweigh his unpreparedness and lack of discipline. Russell's ineffectiveness prompted head coach, Tom Cable, who was surrounded by controversy of his own, to bench him.

Russell eventually lost his job to Bruce Gradkowski, who was decent in the games he started. Gradkowski finished the year completing 82 passes of his 150 attempts (54.7%) with 1,007 yards, 6 TDs, 3 INT and a QB Rating of 80.6.

JaMarcus Russell, who was paid handsomely by Al Davis before even trying on a pair of NFL shoulder pads, finished with 120 completions out of 246 attempts (48.8%) with 1,287 yards, 3 TDs, 11 INT and a QB Rating of 50.0.

And as ugly as the Raiders were on offense, they did not go without having some bright spots on the field.

Tight end Zach Miller led the team with 805 yards receiving and finished the year with 3 TDs. Also a nice surprise was Louis...

About the Author