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2009 Season Review

The crowd's booing grows louder at Oakland Alameda County Coliseum as Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell walks off the playing field after commiting yet another turnover.

The combustible scene is repeated throughout the 2009 regular season.

Russell, once considered a savior to lead the resurrection of the moribund Raiders, has become an easy target for fans and media.

His abysmal 2009 performance — he ranks last in the league in completion percentage and passer rating among starting quarterbacks — is the chief reason for Oakland’s second straight 5-11 season and overall seventh consecutive losing season.

The former Louisiana State star coughs up 17 turnovers (11 interceptions & 6 lost fumbles) and throws only three touchdown passes. His 50.0 passer rating is the lowest in the NFL in 11 seasons, when Ryan Leaf, Bobby Hoying and Craig Whelihan finished below 50.

When Russell is demoted after Oakland plummets to a 2-7 record, coach Tom Cable tells reporters that backups Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye give the Raiders “a better chance to win.”

Russell’s play isn't the sole reason for Oakland’s annual nosedive. The defense finishes the season ranked 29th against the run and allows a league-high 24 rushing touchdowns. Even though the Raiders are seventh in pass defense, opposing quarterbacks complete 59.1 percent of their passes against Oakland.

The Raiders are outscored 143-32 following their five wins.

Feel-good Oakland victories over Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Denver only camouflage too many areas that need upgrading on a Raiders team that has an NFL-worst 29-83 record the past seven seasons.

Here’s a capsule review of Oakland’s 2009 season:

Top Accomplishments

The Raiders rally in the closing seconds to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals (20-17), Pittsburgh Steelers (27-24) and Denver Broncos (20-19). The victories over the Steelers and Broncos come on the road.

Raiders punter Shane Lechler, right, narrowly misses equaling Sammy Baugh's 69-year-old NFL record for single-season gross average. Lechler finishes at 51.1 yards on 96 punts. Baugh set the NFL record of 51.4 yards on 35 punts in 1940.

Lechler becomes only the third NFL player to average 50 yards or more in gross punting in a season. The others are Baugh and the St. Louis Rams' Donnie Jones (50.0) in 2008.

Lechler's previous record (41.9) for gross punting average was set in 2007. The 10-year veteran also improves his league record for net punting average by finishing the 2009 season at 43.9. He set the previous record of 44.0 in 2008.

The Raiders' Sebastian Janikowski kicks a 61-yard field goal at Cleveland on Dec. 27 — the fourth-longest kick in NFL history. The Saints' Tom Dempsey and Broncos' Jason Elam share the league record of 63 yards. Janikowski has his best overall season in 10 seasons in Oakland, hitting 26 of 29 field-goal attempts.

Zach Miller’s 66 catches are most for Raiders tight ends since Todd Christensen had 95 in 1986. Miller has almost twice as many receptions as wide receiver Louis Murphy, whose 34 catches are second highest on the team.

Biggest Disappointments

QB JaMarcus Russell, the top overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft, flounders before being demoted after nine games. He finishes the season with three touchdown passes, 11 interceptions and six lost fumbles.

The Raiders add to their league record of consecutive seasons (seven) with at least 11 losses. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers previously held the record of five straight seasons with 11 or more losses from 1985 to 1989 before being passed by stumbling Oakland in 2008.

Despite changing defensive coordinators after the 2008 season, the Raiders continue to be gutted by opposing running backs. Oakland ranks 29th against the run (155.5 yards per game).

Wide receiver Darius Heyward-Bay, Oakland's top pick in the 2009 NFL draft, has only nine receptions in 11 games before being sidelined because of a foot injury.

Fast Facts

The Raiders fail to win consecutive games for only the third time (1997 & 2003 are the other seasons) since Al Davis joined the franchise in 1963.

The Raiders score 197 points (12.3 per game) and have a league-low 17 offensive touchdowns. Only the St. Louis Rams score fewer points (175) than Oakland.
The Raiders finish with the third-worst differential between points scored and points allowed, at minus-182. The St. Louis Rams (minus-261) and Detroit Lions (minus-232) are the only teams with a worst differential than Oakland. The Raiders' 11.4 per game scoring deficit is second highest in team history.
The Raiders are 31st (266.1 yards per game) in total offense and 29th in pass offense (159.8 yards). They're 26th in total defense (361.9) and 29th (155.1) in rush defense.

By The Numbers:

8-17: Raiders record when QB JaMarcus Russell starts.

8-34: Raiders record the past 42 games against AFC West opposition.

9-19: Tom Cable's win-loss record as Raiders coach.

12.3: Raiders points per game, second lowest in the NFL.

29-83: Raiders win-loss record the past seven seasons, the worst showing of any NFL team over that juncture.

They Said It

"If you want to be a contender in this league, you have to have an identity. That’s where we fall short. You can’t come into each game and wonder which team is going to show up.”

CB Nnamdi Asmougha after a
loss to the Browns on Dec. 27

“It’s pretty clear what he has to do. He has to learn how to take care of business on a daily basis consistently and prepare himself and take care of his development as a quarterback. We'd be here forever to discuss all those things. There's a lot of them.”

Coach Tom Cable on
JaMarcus Russell on Dec. 28

“We all have to do a better job, from top to bottom. Obviously, five wins in a season isn’t going to get you anything. So, let’s not fool ourselves. We all have to get better. That’s up to management to get the right pieces in place, and we’ll just see what happens from there.”

DL Richard Seymour after a
loss to the Ravens on Jan. 3

“I said one of the things that would have to happen for us to get back to being a team that would have a chance to make a run at the playoffs and have success (is) you had to change the mentality and the defeatist attitude that gets in the locker room when you struggle for a long time.

“The thing I’m most pleased about from the season is the fact that our talk now is about we can and we will,” Cable said. “It’s not, ’Oh well, this happened, here we go again.’ That kind of B.S. It’s, ‘We can and we will.’ That’s really a big deal.”

Coach Tom Cable on Jan. 4

“Guys fought with a lot of effort this year, but 5-11 just don’t get it cut, man.

DT Gerard Warren after a
loss to the Ravens on Jan. 3

Did You Know?:

Backup Bruce Gradkowski throws three fourth-quarter touchdown passes in a win at Pittsburgh on Dec. 6 — equaling the total TD passes of former starter JaMarcus Russell during the 2009 season.

Photos captions/credits:
Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell launches
a pass against the Chiefs on Sept. 20, 2009.

By The Associated Press

Updated: 01-12-2010


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