“Everything looks good on paper,” Jordan said. “There’s a lot of teams that look good on paper but you need to take care of business on the field. We look good on paper but now it’s time to come together and show what kind of team we can be.”
No more than one day after the trade for Moss became official; the Raiders inked Jordan as a free agent from the New York Jets for five years for $27.5 million dollars according to ESPN.com. That’s a lot of coin for someone who has been a role player throughout his career. Nonetheless, Jordan continues to eagerly anticipate his chance to be a featured ball-carrier – but he’s not hung up on stats.
“If I don’t rush for 1,200 yards but we throw for 400 yards a game, I could care less,” Jordan said. “I’m not one of these guys who’s going to worry about my stats. I feel I can get the job done by getting 23-26 carries a game. If teams are committed to shutting our running game down and I have to pass protect all day long and we’re winning games,
that’s all that matters.”
Nonetheless, it stands to reason that a big cause for Oakland signing Jordan was to rectify what was a shoddy ground game, to put nicely, in 2004 on the way to ranking dead last in averaging 80.4 yards per game. The Raiders upgraded their offensive line through last season’s draft by selecting tackle Robert Gallery in the first round and center Jake Grove in the second. Oakland was counting on a combination of Tyrone Wheatley and Amos Zereoue to produce a solid running game but neither was healthy or consistent enough. Both have since been released.
For a running game to be successful, any team needs a back that it can consistently count on for 15 or so carries per game. Whether or not Jordan is that player, however, remains to be seen. Jordan showed promise in his four seasons as a backup to probable Hall-of-Famer Curtis Martin. Jordan carried 93 times for 479 yards, both career highs, and two touchdowns last season. Then again, the flip side of that concern is that Jordan does not have the excess wear and tear of every down backs.
“I tell myself to go out there and be myself,” Jordan said. “You don’t want to step outside your character. It’s just a new uniform, new team, new coast. I’m getting excited about the opportunity.”
Jordan, however, is not totally starting over because current Raiders offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye served in the same capacity with the Jets for two seasons. Plus, Jordan saw head coach Norv Turner run the same offense from afar in his two seasons as an offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins, whom the Jets play twice per season.
“He reminds me of a number of guys I’ve seen because he’s good,” Turner said. “He’s a talented guy. A lot of people get caught up in size, speed and strength but he has that knack.”
As much of an upgrade as Jordan appears to be over Tyrone Wheatley and Zereoue,
there remains one unanswered question: How will Jordan respond to the full-time duty that calls for say, 15 or more carries per game? Keep in mind; Jordan rushed 93 times for 479 yards, both career-high totals, and two touchdowns.
“A lot of it is how we do in the games,” Jordan said. “If I do my job, I don’t worry about what my tight end is doing. It’s my job to do my job. Football is the ultimate team sport. I’m only as good as my line. The receivers are only as good as their ability to get
open. I know that if I do what I have to do and the other 10 guys do what they have to do, we’ll be fine.”
The Raiders figure to throw the ball deep with strong-armed quarterback Kerry Collins firing away to Moss and Jerry Porter. Jordan could help Oakland’s passing game in a different way -- play action passing.
“It definitely will make for a good chance to run the ball but I know that at some point during the season, if I’m doing my job, teams are going to try to shut our running game down and try to double team Randy and JP,” Jordan said. “There’s nothing that’s going to happen that’s new to me other than the uniform, and the coaches with the exception Jimmy Raye. This is still the NFL. This is still football.”
Vince D’Adamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org