rashad jennings2

It’s easy to gloss over things the Raiders are doing, mostly because over the years that’s become a reflex for anyone outside of Oakland. By default we mentally block out the unnecessary noise on Sundays, and often the Raiders haven’t been relevant.

But in their backfield over the last few weeks something quite remarkable is happening. That something’s name is Rashad Jennings.

Three weeks ago Darren McFadden went down with a hamstring injury, because of course he did. You’re familiar with his brittleness, but for the public record, McFadden has now missed 16 games over just the past three seasons. You knew this when he was sitting there in the third round of your fake football league draft, but you figured his upside was mighty steep when healthy, and the price was more than affordable.

Then you handcuffed his backup, and you thought little of it at the time, because who the hell would with Rashad Jennings, he of the 2.8 yards per carry last year in Jacksonville. But here’s what you have now: maybe and probably the new Raiders starting running back even when McFadden is healthy, or at least the guy on the high end of a time share.

McFadden won’t return until at least Week 13, but when he does benching or reducing the role of a running back who’s accumulated 431 yards from scrimmage over just the past three weeks won’t happen. That’s a pace of 143.7 yards per game, and 6.3 per touch. Prior to his injury McFadden was averaging only 50.3 yards per game and 3.9 per touch.

There hasn’t yet been a firm commitment by Raiders head coach Dennis Allen to Jennings upon McFadden’s return, and expecting such a thing publicly is foolish. But as Allen himself said, the title of “starter” is irrelevant, as Jennings will see plenty of footballs.

“I’ll say this and I’ll say it again, he’s earned the right to carry the ball. Whether he starts or doesn’t start, I don’t think that’s really much of a factor. He’s going to get his touches.”

As Scott Bair of CSN Bay Area notes, what separates Jennings from McFadden is his power through contact. During his three-game sizzle streak Jennings has averaged a pretty stupid 4.0 yards after contact, while McFadden was only rumbling for 2.0.

But here’s both the highest compliment for Jennings, and the greatest insult for Ray Rice. Even after the Ravens running back began hopefully his redemption campaign this past Sunday with 131 rushing yards, Rice still has only 420 yards on the ground in total this season, which is 60 yards behind Jennings who has 47 fewer carries, and just three starts.

Rice’s fantasy ADP? About fifth overall. Where did Jennings go on average? He didn’t.

More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness

New England Patriots: Masters of subtlety

I can’t at all think of what this cover is referencing. Nope.

Your daily diet of NFL propaganda

Ohhh yeah, that’s what has a few bees in the Patriots’ bonnet. It seems there was a call of some significance Monday night that may or may not have contributed to the result of that game.

Yes, it’s all coming back to me now as I sit in front of a television which is still debating that call (the people on the television, not the television itself). So, what say you Dean Blandino, the NFL’s vice president of officiating? Do you think that wearing Luke Kuechly is a fashionable look for Rob Gronkowski during the dying seconds of a game?

“The issue isn’t the contact. The issue is the restriction. Does it occur when prior to the ball being touched? And at full speed, the officials made a tight judgment call and they determined that the restriction occurred just as the ball was being touched. And again, at full speed, you could see why they made that call.”

Hmmm, that’s odd. My eyes were expecting to read the word “right” in there somewhere. As in “they made the right call”. Surely it’s coming…

“I wouldn’t say that they were wrong. Again, they have to make this call. They used proper mechanics. They got together after the play. They determined that, in their judgment, that the contact occurred simultaneous with the ball being intercepted, and that’s what the officials did.”

Nope, not there either, and if the primary reasoning for the non-call is that the contact occurred simultaneously to the interception, that’s simply incorrect.

But look, we all understand that officiating a professional football at full speed isn’t at all an easy thing, and therefore human error will happen. The sane folk among us can accept and embrace that reality, and move on. That doesn’t make what happened Monday suck any less for fans, coaches, players, or anyone involved in New England Patriots football, though here’s a crazy though: win the game in the other 59 minutes, and don’t place your fate in the hands of a judgement call.

Oh and also, it’s conveniently assumed in all of this that the Patriots would have scored from the one-yard line had a pass interference call stood. In the minds of the football-watching public, that play has already been run successfully. It’s a formality, and will be converted by default.

A marketing case study forever

Say, Steve Smith, I believe you may have a career as a Hallmark card writer waiting for you after football.Variations of “Ice up son!” can be used for every occasion, but for now this seems quite appropriate…

Annnd more inevitable awesomeness

WANT WANT WANT WANT WANT

This does not sound enjoyable

The weather throughout the northeast Sunday was, in a word, horrible, with Chicago receiving the worst of the awfulness. That made the Browns’ flight back from Cincinnati a bit of an experience and perhaps a flirtation with death.

Please describe your dance with the devil, offensive lineman Jason Pinkston:

“It was the real thing. The weather was so bad. We were coming in to land and (the pilot) had to go kind of fast to balance it out and we came down and we hit on two wheels. The (left) wing was literally three feet from hitting the ground. We’re actually pretty lucky to be alive right now, to be honest. We really escaped one. We got away with one last night.”

Hopkins Airport in Cleveland grounded all flights five minutes after the Browns landed, which sounds less than fun.

We’re really asking if Robert Griffin III could be benched?

I get that Robert Griffin III has struggled, and often mightily. And I get that short-term memories in the year 2013 will make us all conveniently forget that he made a swift comeback from a torn knee, and didn’t play a single snap in the preseason.

But outside of garbage time, there’s no circumstance in which RG3 will be benched, or at least not until he does a full Ryan Leaf. Yet that question was actually asked of Mike Shanahan.

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