Jamarcus Russell was the number one pick in 2007 for Oakland, but due to a lengthy holdout didn't really see action until later that season. His first start came against the Chargers when he mostly looked like a rookie, but he did throw one thirty yard dart for a TD. In 2008 Russell has not been called on too much and has continued to make rookie mistakes. In their last preseason game the Raiders tried to go to a passing attack, but neither Russell nor the offensive line held up very well. The Raiders spent some money to bring in WR Javon Walker, but so far he has only caught two passes for 18 yards, that is about $850,000 per catch, nice work if you can get it. Walker was assaulted in Vegas over the summer having his orbital bone broken; he has made some retirement talk and comes across as being unstable. The Raiders are so hard up for wideouts that they have picked up Ashlie Lelie, a bust with the Broncos from way back. Right now their leading receiver is Johnie Lee Higgins with one reception for 84 yards, but that was a short pass with broken tackles. This team just does not have good targets or pass protection right now. The Raiders are truly one dimensional on offense.
The Raiders offense ranks 30th in passing yards but second in rushing yards. With a backfield that includes Darren McFadden and Michael Bush; they have the horses to run. While the offense looked anemic against Denver, it roared back with 335 ground yards against KC. They also put a pretty good Buffalo team on the ropes last week, before the Raider defense folded late and they came away 1-2. McFadden reportedly has a bit of turf toe, so that may reduce his effectiveness and Justin Fargas is likely to be out with a groin injury. Last week against Buffalo the Raiders managed only 98 rushing yards, but Buffalo has a fine defense. The Raiders are averaging 20 points a game and 300 yards; the Bolts 37 points and 375 yards/game.
Despite running the ball well the Raiders offensive line is suspect in spots. They picked up Kwame Harris at left tackle in the offseason, who had a pretty dubious time in San Francisco. At center they have a second round pick, Jake Grove who sat out all 2007 on IR; the Raiders replaced Newberry with him this year. Robert Gallery was the number two pick in the nation, but has largely been considered a bust; he is reportedly out to prove that wrong. Tom Cable, a zone blocking guru has this unit run blocking pretty well, but they just don't stand up well in passing downs.
In the Tight End position, the Raiders must be filling a little weak because they just picked up Ben Troupe. He had two good years when he broke in, but the last two seasons have been a bust. He was released by Tampa Bay most recently. Zach Miller is the Raiders blocking TE but doesn't seem to catch much. From the Chargers standpoint the main concern is that the Raiders strength fits in pretty well with their weak run defense. In this game the Raiders need to establish the run and keep the ball away from the Charger offense; they will also need to play mistake free football, both Bush and McFadden have already lost a fumble this year.