EDITOR'S NOTE:Texans fan Alan J. Burge will be writing a "Voice of the Fan" column throughout the 2004 season. His latest installment is below. Alan's views do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization.
Bring on Raider Nation
I'm nervous about this one.
I get nervous about them all but this isn't Bill Callahan's Raiders coming in here on Sunday. This team is more like "Chucky's" Raiders from two seasons ago as opposed to the underachieving silver and black bunch that went 4-12 last season. What a difference a coaching staff makes.
No, I don't think Norv Turner is a great coach by any stretch, but I think his approach was enough of a breath of fresh air to many of the Raiders players that they are actually starting to believe that they are a good team. That's what I'm nervous about.
Adding key free agents like Warren Sapp, Ted Washington, and Kerry Collins into the mix with star players like DB Phillip Buchanon, a huge offensive line which includes top pick Robert Gallery, and a rejuvenated Tyrone Wheatley seems to be just what the doctor ordered for the Raiders who at 2-1 share the AFC West lead with Denver.
Yes, I said Kerry Collins.
Don't think just because starting QB Rich Gannon goes down with a broken neck that this game will all of a sudden become easier with Collins at the helm. Collins has a big arm and he is every bit as capable, and maybe even more capable than Gannon in executing Norv Turner's passing attack. Our secondary will be very busy trying to keep track of Jerry Porter, Doug Gabriel, Jerry Rice and Ronald Curry. Glenn Earl better be ready to defend Raiders TE Doug Jolley, who is an integral part of the Raiders attack. Erase any memory you might have of Collins when he last visited Reliant in 2002 with the Giants. This isn't Jim Fassel's Kerry Collins either.
The Raiders defense is also formidable but they will take risks. I was listening to David Carr this morning on SportsRadio610 and he was saying the Raiders will typically bring eight (defenders) or drop eight on every play. There's no in-between. Carr's challenge will be to recognize coverages and disguises quickly. The line will really need to step up the pass protection, and when the Raiders do drop back, Carr will need to be patient against their deep zones. The Raiders will "bring the house" at Carr more than once but if the line is able to hold their own, there is a good possibility that the DBs will be stuck in man coverage against Andre Johnson, Corey Bradford, Jabar Gaffney, or Derrick Armstrong. The Texans' running game with Tony Hollings will also be a key to taking pressure off Carr.
One of the streaks must give on Sunday. The Texans will be trying to win consecutive games for the first time ever (no hair references please), and the Raiders will be trying to win their first road game since 2002, having lost 10 in a row on the road including their season opener this year at Pittsburgh.
The Raiders could actually be in a letdown situation. They have been a bad road team and they are going on the road as favorites after a huge emotional win over their former coach in prime time. They couldn't possibly be looking past the Texans to their game next week with Peyton Manning and the Colts could they? Probably not. I think the Raiders will be ready to play and it will be up to the Texans to take it to them.
That's where we come in. Yes, we the fans. After all, this is a column by the fans for the fans right?
Here's my standard request: Let's make some noise! (at the appropriate times of course)
I know a few people who traveled to Arrowhead last week and they said the place was absolutely deafening. We need to do the same at Reliant on Sunday. When the Raiders have the ball, let's bring the noise like never before. Encourage others around you to do the same. Conversely, when the Texans have the ball, let's abide by the "Quiet Please, Offense at Work" sign that will hopefully be shown again on the big screen. Believe me, it will help our cause.
Also, if you are going to the game, don't miss the pre-game introductions. It's a great chance for fans to get warmed up by yelling out the last name of each Texans player as he is introduced. That helps create a festive and intimidating atmosphere in Reliant and it really gets the players fired up.
I think we can win this one but it will be tough. Let's do our part and hope that the players and coaches do theirs.
P.S., Keep the Roof Open
- Did you know that Raiders star DB Philip Buchanon ran track at the University of Miami with Texans WR Andre Johnson?
- While perusing depth charts, I noticed that Grant Irons (#96) is a back up defensive lineman for the Raiders. Irons is a local product who attended Notre Dame before entering the NFL.
- The Raider Nation fan clubs from across America are converging on Reliant Sunday so be aware that there will be a lot of KISS look-alikes running around the parking lots and the stadium.
You can email the "Voice of the Fan" at: firstname.lastname@example.org* *