Judging from a 45-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints Saturday at the Coliseum, the Raiders may be able to throw it a little bit, but as it stands now they can't run, stop the run, stop the pass and they have more than a little trouble holding on to the ball when they manage to catch it.
If this is what the Raiders come up with when they actually put together a game plan for a specific opponent, one wonders what Tom Cable's got up his sleeve for the San Diego Chargers on Sept. 14.
Until Jonathan Holland turned a routine reception into a 42-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Garcia with 6:06 remaining, the Raiders were headed for their worst preseason loss since a 48-0 pasting by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1967.
The record book tells us the Raiders went 13-1 that season and won the AFL championship before falling in Super Bowl II. As much as the Raiders love their storied past, this one had the whiff of recent history.
As in last season's 24-0 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, or a 41-14 season-opening defeat against the Denver Broncos, or the 27-0 loss to San Diego in Art Shell's first game -- all games in which the Raiders put up virtually no resistance while playing in their own stadium.
New Orleans outgained the Raiders 536 to 289 and had a 31-9 advantage in first downs.
The big difference, of course, is it doesn't count.
Not that it made Russell feel any better.
Several teammates used the word ``embarrassing.'' Cable said he was embarrassed as well, and said his team had no zip, no energy.
It was a mismatch from the start as Drew Brees, their personal tormentor since his days with San Diego, set a torrid pace and the Raiders were helpless to stop it. Brees was 14 of 17 for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
And he left with 10:59 left in the second quarter. Brees did that in three series -- touchdown drives of 80, 67 and 78 yards -- and one could sense he had the Raiders on their heels.
``I felt like a lot of times we were getting up to the ball and getting set and they were still trying to get lined up,'' Brees said. ``When you walk away with three touchdowns on three possessions, that's what you want to do.''
The Raiders couldn't stop the pass, and to alter a line from the late John McKay, they made up for it by not being able to stop the run.
The Saints' top two runners, Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, didn't even play. So someone named Lynell Hamilton stepped in and rushed for 95 yards on 16 carries before giving way to someone named P.J. Hill, who had 83 yards on 12 carries.
New Orleans rushed for 232 yards in all, one week after the Raiders promised things would change following a 275-yard effort by the 49ers.
While the 49ers gouged the Raiders with one play over and over, New Orleans romped into the secondary with all manner of rushing plays.
With the first team playing deep into the third quarter, the Raiders couldn't lay the blame on the reserves.
Cable said he thought the Raiders were in the proper positions -- linebacker Ricky Brown said ``Our communication was great'' -- but simply didn't make the plays.
That suggests the Raiders may simply not have the athletes to win the one-on-one battles they insist they're capable of winning.
Offensively, the Raiders showed glimpses that the hard work in their passing game is paying off. Russell was 12 for 18 for 153 yrds and wasn't intercepted. Garcia was 9-for-15 for 111 yards and the lone touchdown.
Russell made his biggest mistake on the first series, failing to get rid of a pass under pressure and losing a fumble in the red zone. From then on, Russell more than held up his end of the bargain while his receivers, Louis Murphy in particular, had trouble holding on to the ball.
``It was a tough situation and for young guys to do that, sometimes they go into a cubby hole, but the thing is, but by you being there for awhile, and being a leader, you pull those guys up,'' Russell said.
The Raiders have spent so much time attempting to upgrade their passing game it's fair to question whether they'll simply be able to flip the switch and be able to run effectively.
Michael Bush, said he understood that Cable wanted to work on the passing game, and shrugged off gaining one yard on one carry in his first start.
``I know this is tough, but we want to make sure in Week 1, on Monday night, that we don't have a show like this,'' Bush said. ``That's the bottom line.''
Staff writer Jerry McDonald can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.