Talking About Everything But The Broncos

Everybody wants to talk about the Donkeys, the burros. It makes sense since Sundays in the late Summer and Fall are what many in Raider Nation look forward to. Mondays are much better after a victory.

It’s been two weeks since we last tasted that sweet smell of victory. Our Raiders lost two straight and now they will battle the Broncos for second in the AFC West. A win over Denver is exactly the distraction we need as Raiders fans. It’s why many of the team reacted to the resignation of their head coach with comments about moving forward, accountability and professionalism. The rest of the season will test all of that now that Jon Gruden is no longer steering the Raiders organization.

Make Gave and Took Away

This past Monday is one many of us will want to forget. Not because Khalil Mack registered 8 tackles against us while nursing injuries the day before. Five-deuce reminded us one more time he never wanted to leave Oakland by throwing up the iconic “O” after stopping a two-point conversation. It a sack vs the Raiders but a tribute to the Mecca of the Silver and Black. 

This moment was the eye before the Gruden storm right when everybody wanted to brush past the DeMaurice Smith comments and racial trope. Mack reminded the Raiders they sold him and Oakland out for an Oasis in the desert. Gruden traded Mack as soon as he got to town. Mack countered by giving Gruden his final loss as a head coach. As if a game with enough Bear fans to catch the attention from those in attendance wasn’t enough of a reminder.

Bigger Than All The Takes

“No one is bigger than the Raiders shield,” they all say. Yet, we all must look back with revisionist history when we look back at those great Gruden teams. You hear all the former players and coaches shocked and confused. Some supporting a friend and mentor while others reached for their “I told you so,” strap.

We understand why so many vets and young players walked in and out the building. J.G. was a control freak that pushed out the Raiders Black G.M. Reggie McKenzie. McKenzie was the mastermind behind the Raiders last playoff run.

Gruden promised us all winning. When it didn’t happen, he should’ve stepped away like he said he would. All those misses in free agency and the draft was enough to do him. Instead, he got exposed in the worst way. It was a spit in the face to everybody who bought what he sold. With Gruden gone, he answered questions about the long-term vision of this team. It never had one. The foundation built on Gruden turned into Quick Sand.

No Surprises

It shouldn’t surprise that Gruden’s dated mentality exists in football coaches because we all experienced this at every level we played. Yet, Raiders fans must look back at the last time our franchise was great with shame. That’s the part that hurts us who don’t identify with the groups Gruden offended. Can we honestly say we deserved to win we look back at the Tuck Rule or the game when Siragusa sat on Rich Gannon? Maybe Al Davis was right thinking Gruden got ahead of himself. Davis made the trade when he needed somebody else to get him over the hump.

Either way, this is one more reminder that culture doesn’t change as fast as we want. The organization with a history that includes the first active gay player, first Black coach, first Hispanic head coach and highest ranking female executive was not saved from an insidious culture that enabled mediocrity and bigotry.

Raiders fans left the old Coliseum behind but this is one more reminder we can’t have nice things. One more reason for us Raiders fans to become divided. One more black eye from a long bout with the entire league carried with us. Another time for us to remember Mark Davis is not his father. 

The truth is, nothing should surprise us from these thousands of emails from the Washington Football team. This boys will be boys culture is as old as the game. Why do you think the NFL doesn’t think they are news?

Same Old NFL

Still, it’s pretty ironic that only the Raiders had emails from their head coach leaked. Maybe that’s cause Gruden is one of the last standing pillars of the old guard. More likely, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The iceberg that might finally put the Raiders into the position the NFL has always secretly wanted. They strategically released the emails mid season when they knew about them early in the summer. Checkmate Davis Family. 

Does that whole nobody is bigger than the shield motto include the family that built it? While I agree Mark Davis doesn’t seem like a bad guy, at the very least he is guilty of not knowing who his friends really were. That’s not a liability the Raider Nation or NFL can afford. Mark found us a home but maybe he was only meant to take us this far. I am not saying to cancel the guy but perhaps he needs to retire like many do when they move from Cali to Southern Nevada. Enjoy the equity and casinos. 

Process This

The point is, there are many layers to this Gruden situation. If we as fans need time to process this, how do you think these players and coaches feel? As much as I want to move on, I want to talk about everything but the Donkeys. Gruden takes most of the good memories I have as a Raiders fan with him.

Remember when Mark Davis said they always wanted Gruden even when they hired Del Rio? Mind you Del Rio grew up a Raiders fan and steady the ship during an uncertain time. Talk about tainting what it means to be a Raider. All of us had a peace that hoped Gruden would work out.

Obvious Questions

I don’t know what the team will look like with a new play caller who was actually Carr’s old offensive coordinator. Perhaps they both spring from the Gruden influence cocoon like butterflies. I don’t know much about Rich Bisaccia’s coaching philosophies.

Is Gus Bradley staging a coup and can his defense sustain with Mayock making the bulk of roster decisions? Will this team win for their exiled coach or will it show they won in spite of him? They could also waive the red flag and start getting ready for the future. But if the Raiders quit, I really won’t know what it means to be a Raiders anymore. At that point, I’ll really think the essence of the Silver and Black was left at some off strip slot.

Regardless, there are more questions than answers at the moment. Let’s see if this team plays hard and consistently fights for 60 minutes like they never could under Gruden. That’s the start.

We all know what it will take to beat our division foes. Running the ball, making big plays, sacking the quarterback and limiting the run. It’s not rocket science.

Can this Raiders team pull themselves out of the darkest hole? Does this team and coaching staff have the leadership with think it does? Will they make us feel an ever deeper bottom by playing bad the rest of the season?

Raiders Reminders

Nothing is more Raider than winning admit all this adversity. Raiders accept who they are and who they are not. They are not Jon Gruden’s Raiders anymore. Praise God.

Vegas is limited up front, banged up in the secondary and flawed enough to get exposed in bad spots on defense. They can push the ball down the field and rely on their dominant tight end to move the chains. The offense finds another gear when Josh Jacobs and Derek Carr find their highest gears.

Defensively, they need turnovers from the secondary. That’s what they relied on early in the season. A consistent pass rush versus a Denver team that wants to get the ball out is also important. Plus, you know the Broncos always want to run the ball versus the Raiders.

This week we find out exactly who this team is post Gruden. How will they come out fighting versus a familiar foe? The Raiders have their backs are against the wall and nobody would blame them for losing this game. Will they take the out like Gruden did?

What needs to happen is basic and written all over the walls. Commit to excellence, will your way to win and find just the right amount of autumn in the wind. Remind us one more time what that shield stands for by playing hard versus Denver and winning. Mark Davis show us you have the light when we need it most.

This football team must give us a reason to talk about football again by winning Sunday. Show us your professionalism beyond saying the right things in the press conference. Stop talking about how you’re ready to move on and show us that possibility. Make us proud to wear the Silver and Black. Take our colors and culture back from some overrated and dated coach who clout chased it all the way to exile.

Keys For Battling The Mack Attack And More From A Weird Week For Raider Nation

Forget about the Raiders and Chargers on Monday Night. It is not worth remembering the poor line play, ineffective running game and our QB falling into old ways.

Vegas got 21-0 skunked in the first half after the lightning delay. They came out and made plays but they never really got the offense rolling on full cylinders. Former Raiders TE Jared Cook also cooked em. One more reminder the Raiders have a long history of not covering tight ends. 

Truth be told, I won’t remember much about the game thanks to the food poisoning I got from that SoFi hotdog. What I will remember is all the Silver and Black surrounding the stadium in rain and shine. I will remember Hunter Renfrow looking like a safety making a play on fourth down. There were also notable highlights from Henry Ruggs, Darren Waller and Derek Carr. 

Still, the defense was not horrible. They kept getting in bad spots thanks to poor offense. Their secondary was also banged up. The offense took too long to wake up and they did not capitalize on a few big plays.

Either way, the Raiders find themselves looking up to the first place Chargers. The Raiders, Chargers and Broncos are all tied for the division’s lead now. It’s early in Justin Herbert’s career but it feels like he already has our number. It is his second time beating us in his young career.

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More Chaos From The Week

Our week got even weirder as Mercury continued in retrograde. First, it was Derek Carr talking about Joey Bosa’s reaction to the win. Carr felt disrespected by Bosa saying he falters under pressure and after big hits. Carr said he did not know why he said that?

C’mon Derek, you don’t know why he said that? Bosa has played and studied Carr as much as anyone as they are only a season apart and played their careers in the AFC West. Carr’s whining just made him sound weak after he got outplayed by a second year QB. It wasn’t all Carr’s fault but he did not sound like a competitor with the Mamba Mentality. There was no need for him to even respond.  

Then, the week got even weirder as the NFLPA director tried to get elected for another term. A report leaked Jon Gruden using a racial trope when describing NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith in 2011. 

Obviously, it is not a good look for the Raiders who have always stood for diversity and inclusion. However, let’s not act surprised.  Our bosses probably say the same shit in their emails. What he said was stupid and offensive but firing someone for an email sent a decade ago sets a bad precedent. 

Regardless, the Raiders shouldn’t get punished because Gruden was not even with the organization at the time. To be determined if anything bad happens.

Moving Onto the Bears This Week

Moving forward, the Raiders face a familiar face with Khalil Mack coming to town. Good teams find ways to bounce back after disappointing losses.

Mack comes into the game with four sacks for the season and he could double that if the Raiders offensive line does not improve from last week. Robert Quinn is also having a renaissance season with 4.5 sacks this year. That’s already more than double his sack total from last year. He is a big part this team leads the league in sacks.

On the other hand, the Bears will be down defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. Hicks really disrupts the middle of the offensive line which makes it easier for the edges and linebackers to make plays. The Raiders will happily take all the help they can get after their front five looked terrible last week. Linebacker Roquan Smith will still be roaming the middle. 

This Bears defense has played together for a while but they are not dominating like before partly due to bad spots caused by poor offense. 

Rookie QB Justin Fields turned in his best game in his second start. However, he has thrown two interceptions and only completed 49 percent of his passes across his two starts and four times playing. The only time he found the end zone was by rushing in Week One. The Bears should intro more QB running with Fields as the full-time starter and the Raiders aggressive defensive line. Fields also brings arm strength to stretch the field which is something the team missed with Andy Dalton. Allen Robinson, Marquise Goodwin and Darnell Mooney offer big play threats. Jimmy Graham could also have an awakening much like Mike G. and Jared Cook found ways to carve up the Raiders the past couple weeks. 

Starting running back David Montgomery is on IR so former Chiefs starter Damien Williams gets the start. It will be his most significant role since he left KC and opted out of last season due to COVID. 

Further, the defense allowed the 11th most passing touchdowns and the 13th most rushing yards. Chicago beat Detroit and Cincinnati but lost to the Browns and Rams. They sit at 2-2. 

How Can the Raiders beat the Bears?

This game could get ugly if the Raiders offensive line does not improve this week. They made a move by starting Brandon Parker and moving Alex Leatherwood to guard. Parker has been up and down his career but he has developed since coming into the league from a smaller school. Parker’s presence should help as long as he doesn’t lose confidence like he did last year versus ATL.

Hopefully all that size and athleticism will help the Raiders maul the Bears defensive line in on the right side. We’ve seen KO, Khalif Barnes and Denzelle Good all hold down the guard spot after playing right tackle so Leatherwood could follow that lineage. That still won’t answer questions at center or the other guard spot. 

This starting offensive line rounded out by Andre James, John Simpson and Kolton Miller is really a cast of homegrown and drafted players. Miller is the only proven starter. The rest of the group must step up to keep the Raiders postseason hopes alive and validate this front office’s questionable draft history. 

Either way, the Raiders should have the edge in the run game with Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake. They need to pound the rock to neutralize the Bears pass rushers and get this offensive line some confidence. 

Otherwise, Derek Carr gets an instance chance to redeem himself versus a great pass rush and a defense that wants to create turnovers. Again, it’s a careful balance between managing the game and knowing when it is time to make a big strike. Carr walks that line between keeping his team in the game and making the play that will help them win.

The running game will help Carr get that balance. It will keep the pass rushers off him and allow him to setup the play action. 

Defensively, the Raiders gotta limit lapses versus the tight end. They will also be down two of their top four corners with Damon Arnette and Trayvon Mullen both set to sit with an injury. This week’s receivers won’t test the Raiders like the Chargers last week. However, they’ve got speed and size to make the Raiders pay if Justin Fields is given too much time in the pocket. Allen Robinson is still one of the best receivers in the game and we can not let him get back on track versus us. 

Raiders Please Make This One Easy

When Was The Raiders Last Blow Out?

Thus, the Raiders must double down and establish their identity at home this week. Let’s see them get an early lead and force the Bears sputtering offense to force big plays. Vegas should run the ball, take deep shots and don’t turn the ball over. Pressure the young quarterback, don’t get beat deep and stop this running game from getting established on your way to a decisive win.

The Silver and Black must show their identity versus a middle of the road Bears team if they want to stay in playoff consideration. Impose your will, dominate this team or whatever cliche you need to eliminate any questions about the Raiders’ legitimacy.

Don’t let Chicago stay in the game by giving up sacks, getting beat for big plays or letting this running game get established. All eyes will be on our corners. Yes, we’re short-handed but everybody got to step up. Great teams don’t lose to so-so or good teams. We will have a better idea where the Raiders fall on the ok to great team scale by how they come out after a loss.

Can Carr and Gruden make the necessary adjustments to help this team avoid another midseason collapse? Prove this ain’t last year with a decisive win over a Bears team that is trying to find themselves. Carr and Gruden need conversations focused on their performances again, rather than the off field stuff too. Just get back on the winning track this week.

Oh, and please stop comparing Mack and Madd Maxx. Totally different players.

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Keys to Blacking Out the Bolts In Prime Time

When the Raiders take on the Chargers tonight, there’s a good reason many anticipate a home game. That’s what Derek Carr called it already and that’s what we’ve experienced each time the Raiders come to Los Angeles. This is the city where they won as the Oakland Raiders won a ring and they are the only team from L.A. to earn a Lombardi for Los Angeles. The Vivid Seat data backs all that up, citing 74 percent of seats sold for this game went to Raiders fans.

There’s a good reason why this is a primetime game. The Chargers are 2-1 and playing well. Las Vegas is 3-0. Both teams look playoff-bound but could easily mess it up. The Bolts always find plenty of ways to lose to the Raiders in a close game too.

Anyways, there isn’t too much to say about the Raiders 3-0 win over the Dolphins. It’s the first time the team has been 3-0 since their perennial playoff days in the early 2000s. Most teams that start that well make the playoffs as well. Nonetheless, they barely beat a team that was down their starting quarterback.

Still, this year feels different. Vegas found a way to win when they found a way to lose to Miami when it could last year. The Raiders ran the ball down their starting running back Josh Jacobs this time. They threw at a variety of receivers. Six receivers finished with three or more receptions. Byron Edwards continues to flash. It was the Silver and Black’s second OT win at home this season.

Their defense wasn’t a total liability. They did get a couple sacks despite losing contain on Brissett. Mike Gesicki had his best game of the season and reminded us of our past lows covers the tight end. This was also the first game in the early season where the Raiders didn’t force an INT. They did bend too much in their run defense as well. Both Malcolm Brown and Myles Gaskin carved them up for more than four yards a carry.

The point is, the Raiders still found a way to win a winnable game when that game probably would’ve gone the other way in seasons passed. Now, the Raiders face their biggest test as they take on a division foe that has made their own breakthroughs.

What’s up with the Bolts these days?

Justin Herbert deserves all the hype he is getting. Dude is off a game where he scored four touchdowns in the air and beat the reigning division champion. Mike Williams is finally having his breakout moment after 7 receptions, 122 and 2 touchdowns versus the Chiefs. Herbert registered 956 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions through three games.

Williams could be a problem for the Raiders due to his size and ability. The former Clemson standout registered at least a touchdown and a catch for more than twenty yards in each game this season.

The Chargers offense is still figuring out the offensive line, tight end and running game. They’ve been trying to make Jared Cook a thing all offseason. The Chargers are eighth in yards per game but rank 18th in points per game. Cook has had at least six touchdowns his last three seasons so they hoped he would help them in the red zone. He found the end zone once but it got it reversed. He has no TDS so far this year.

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler has been effective as a pass catcher and runner but he is not on pace for 1,000 rushing yards. Ekeler is averaging over five yards a carry his last two games, along with registering multiple receptions.

Yet, he only has one touchdown and one run more than twenty yards. The rest of the running backs are not even seeing enough touches to know if they’re a threat. Vegas can not let the Chargers running game gain any confidence with big runs or bursts that move the chains on first and second down.

Cook won’t be the only notable player with a past playing in this game. Former Chargers corner Casey Hayward, linebacker Denzel Perryman and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley all hold the same positions with the dark side.

Offensively, rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater seems like the real deal. Otherwise, the rest of the offensive line group is a hodgepodge of veterans. The weakest point is the Chargers’ right tackle with Storm Norton. The Raiders’ defensive ends must take advantage of any 1-v-1 with Norton.

Defensively, Joey Bosa only has 1.5 sacks this season but his impact is still seen on every play. If the Raiders don’t get better play from their offensive line, Bosa could easily build confidence early and often. The Chargers are still trying to figure out the edge spot opposite Bosa, since Melvin Ingram left.

The Bolts could also be down linebacker Kenneth Murray who went down with an ankle injury in practice this week. L.A. already allowed the 9th most rushing yards this season so the Raiders should exploit that by giving the ball to Jacobs or Barber early and often.

Veteran corner Chris Harris Jr. also missed two games with a shoulder injury. He could miss this one too. Asante Samuel Jr. won defensive rookie of the year a few weeks ago so don’t overlook him either. He is part of a pass defense that allows the sixth least passing yards per game.

The Bolts also have safeties that can help contain Darren Waller, at least on paper. It’s hard to bet against the Carr-Waller connection even versus Chargers safety Derwin James.

Conflicts aside, I own Chargers tickets really because the stadium is down the street and it makes financial sense for me to sell the other 8 games just to get a seat for the Raiders each year.

How do the Raiders Beat the Chargers?

This will be a game decided by whichever defensive line can impose their will on the opposing offensive line. Both teams have liabilities at the right tackle spot so whatever team figures out how to patch that leak will win. Whatever team exploits that best will be that much closer to stopping the opposing team’s MVP-caliber QB.

Otherwise, the Raiders must carve the Chargers up on the ground early and often. There is no reason the Raiders should not have a 100-yard rusher, especially if Jacobsplays and Murray is out. Running the ball will also keep Bosa and company on their toes. It protects Carr and sets up big shots in the play action. It also keeps the defense from having to defend Herbert and those big receivers on long drives.

Further, the Raiders must limit big plays in the run and pass. This run game is hit or miss but the Raiders defense must prove they are a hit by not letting Ekeler wear them down. It could also also be the game Jared Cook pays out considering what the Miami tight end did last week.

The last thing you want to do is give the Chargers momentum when they will be playing at home in front of a visiting crowd. That is why the defensive line will be so important again.

This whole unit plays off the energy and hussle of Maxx Crosby. Yes, we need Crosby to beat Norton and Slater for sacks but he also can’t let them get any confidence with run blocking. Defensive tackles Quinton Jefferson and Solomon Thomas are equally important as they must push that pocket and prevent a sneaky athletic Herbert from making anything happen as he steps up in the packet.

If the Raiders can sack Herbert, that keeps the Chargers pass-catchers from exploiting one-on-ones over smaller, less athletic defenders or finding breakdowns in the zone. It also gives the Raiders secondary a chance to make a play on any mistakes Herbert makes. He has not been perfect, throwing an interception in the first two games this season.

L.A. is favored by three points at home which means this game could go either way. Both these teams have pasts that include them finding ways to lose. Each AFC West team is trying to prove those days are behind them.

Either way, a win here could help with positioning since the Chargers are 2-2. The Broncos got embarrassed by the Ravens even if they are both still 3-1. A Chargers win creates a three-way tie for first while a Raiders win puts them in the driver seat of the West almost a quarter of a way through the season.

There is no reason the Raiders can not win if the Raiders can make the Chargers QB go down hard and fast. Double points if the Raiders can establish their will with the run game and deep shots as they have in three wins already this season.

No Trap or Revenge Needed in Week 3 Vs Miami

Is it really different this time?

The Raiders are 2-0 much like last season. This time their defense is receiving a lot more praise off standout performances from Solomon Thomas, Carl Nassib, Maxx Crosby, and more. 

Also, Derek Carr is getting a lot more praise and recognition this time around. Dude is already amidst lots of MVP conversations. The Raiders are also doing it in Las Vegas and with fans in the building. Much different than last year’s COVID season. https://www.getrevue.co/profile/silverandblog

How Did We Get Here?

Listen, I’ll take beating the Steelers any day. However, we got to acknowledge that they were down two key starters with Devin Bush and Joe Haden out. Trai Turner left the game due to his own B.S.

One side of the coin, the Raiders beat two tough AFC North teams which will be critical for playoff seeding. The other side, the Raiders beat two overrated AFC teams with major injuries.

Either way, it’s clear the Steelers are a solid team. I think they took more lateral steps this year than many expected. However, many said the same thing about Baltimore last week. The Ravens just answered any questions about their contention by upsetting the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football.

There were a lot of things to love about Sunday’s win. Trayvon Mullen made a crucial pick that reminded us all our DBs are actually legit now. Casey Hayward still ain’t given up a reception.

Solomon Thomas came up big with two sacks. Mad Maxx Crosby kept up his pressures and hits on the QBs. The run defense improved thanks partly to K.J. Wright. They held Pittsburgh’s key rookie rusher to under 40 yards for the game. Starting tight end Eric Ebron was a non-factor for the Steelers thanks to improved linebacker and safety play.

On offense, Carr was 28/37 with no interceptions. The Raiders quarterback earned his MVP consideration all week. More importantly, he was 4/4 on deep passes. Carr lead PFF and ESPN advanced QB metrics last week.

Henry Ruggs also eclipsed 100 receiving yards and scored a touchdown. Daniel Carlson converted a game winning field goal and had his highest scoring game in his young career.

Otherwise, there were some ugly moments. The tussle between Turner and Crosby earned them both fines this week. Najee Harris stiff-armed Johnathan Abrams’ soul. The Raiders gave up some deep plays to the Steelers.

Our Silver and Black never really established the run game either. The offensive line played well enough but they were far from perfect.

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Keys Versus the Dolphins

Don’t call Week Three a trap game. Yes, the Raiders are favored. Nonetheless, Vegas will need to show they can beat a struggling team without struggling. This will make Raiders Nation feel like things are finally different this time.

We also can’t forget the Dolphins lead a miraculous comeback that ended the Raiders’ playoff chances when these two teams played last year. Carr didn’t play in that game last season but this time the Dolphins will be down their starter. Jon Gruden still won’t call this game a revenge game since Ryan Fitzpatrick is long gone.

Regardless, Miami damn near got mercy-ruled last week as the Bills gave them a 35-0 loss. Tua left the game with a ribs injury and Jacoby Brissett entered. Brissett will make his first start since 2019 after throwing an interception in limited action last week. He should find himself under constant pressure as the Raiders defensive line comes to town.

Miami has not done anything too scary on offense this season. Still, Davante Parker is a big name and he brings a big body that should give the Raiders some problems in the end zone. They’ve got a phenomenal rookie and Will Fuller should return this week too. Vegas will have to respect Brissett’s legs and Mike G. at tight end. Yet, the Dolphins have yet to find a featured back.

On defense, Miami features a solid mix of young players and veterans. Corners Xavien Howard and Byron Jones are among the highest paid duo in the league. You add veteran safeties Eric Rowe and Jason McCourty, along with nickel Justin Coleman. This young Raiders receiver group will get tested. There’s a reason why some think this can be a trap game.

Moreover, Christian Wilkins is a beast. John Jenkins and Emmanuel Ogbah compromise a versatile front that could cause problems for the Raiders offensive line that features some inexperienced players due to injuries.

This team is also well coached with Brian Flores. Also, shout out to former Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie who has been a part of the Miami front office since leaving Oakland.

Keys To Beating the Phins

If the Raiders want to beat the Dolphins, they have to establish their identity. That means running the ball effectively enough to get short second and third downs. It means converting downfield shots without turning the ball over. The Raiders have done that for the most part the last few weeks.

Now, their offensive line must step up and do it against a tricky Miami front. They can’t take any steps back just because they are the favorites. We can’t kill ourselves with penalties or let them hang in the game.

One-on-one, the Raiders young receiver corps face a tough matchup versus the Dolphins. They can answer any questions about the group with a solid games versus the Phins. Vegs should win if Carr can continue his efficiency while also stretching the field. Again, Carr’s success will rely on the success of his young receivers, offensive line and hobbled backfield.

This is also a prove-it game for the Raiders’ secondary and defensive line that is capturing national attention for their turnaround. Don’t let Miami find their rhythm in the run game or gain confidence with big scramble plays or pass completions.

Even if he wasn’t the Week One starter, Brissett is not a bad player. He could expose the team if they don’t play discipline. The Vegas defense can’t have any lapses versus a hobbled Miami offense that appears subpar on paper. It’s about establishing their dominance with turnovers and big hits but also playing with enough discipline to keep the Phins from having a chance.

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Ultimately, the Raiders can prove they are not the same team that collapsed in the second half of the last two seasons by dominating a team they should beat at home. They can show their defense is real by a third straight strong performance from the defensive line, along with continued consistency in the secondary and increasingly improved play by the backer.

Offensively, this young group should benefit by many reps versus a stout Dolphins defense. It is up to them to prove themselves in the trenches and one-on-one from the outside. We know what Carr and Waller will bring in terms of efficiency. Kenyan Drake could also use a big game on the ground versus the team that drafted him. Drake has been a weapon in the air but the Raiders will need him to make some big rushing plays as Jacobs continues battling injury.

The Raiders handling the Dolphins should continue building playoff momentum and rhythm for the young Raiders offense and defense. It’s a chance for a statement made over a team that narrowly edged them out over some B.S. last year. A statement that says we aren’t just the same Raiders as last year. Plus, who doesn’t want to be 3-0 heading into Chargers week on Monday Night?

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Good, Bad and Other Takeaways Before Steal City.

Good news, the Raiders won their opening matchup versus the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night. It was an official blessing to the Silver and Black’s new home in Vegas.

Bad news, Vegas almost didn’t win. Even worse, Denzelle Good went down with a season ending injury.

Good suffered the injury in the first game of a new deal and role. He really stabilized the unit with his versatility the last couple seasons. The offensive line was also already a shallow group.

That means John Simpson should start again even if Richie Incognito returns. I still don’t know why Brandon Parker hasn’t gotten an opportunity to kick inside. 

Either way, the guards will be tested versus Pittsburgh veterans that include Cameron Heyward. Reviews about new starters Andre James and Alex Leatherwood were mixed. They made plays but also some curcial penalties and mistakes.

Josh Jacobs and Yannick Ngakoue both sustained long-term injuries too. Jacobs will miss this game but Ngakoue is expected to play hobbled in Week Two.

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Week One Flashbacks

Baltimore nearly sealed the game after the Raiders thought they won off a play that was stopped at the one. Carr threw a pick off a receiver a few plays later. There was a lost kicker too. 

Nonetheless, the Raiders won off a Zay Jones wide open catch. I told you these games against Baltimore usually come down to one play or the finish. 

Familiar rivals like Justin Houston and Sammy Watkins made big plays for Baltimore. Raiders fans will remember them from their days terrorizing us with the Chiefs. Latavius Murray also found the end zone after signing with the team just days before Monday Night.

All week since, Maxx Crosby and Carl Nassib earned praise after the win. Crosby registered enough sacks and TFLs to earn AFC player of the week. He was a constant force against the run and pass. Nassib helped get the ball back with a strip sack towards the game’s conclusion. Finally some turnovers! 

I’ve been critical of Nassib for a while now. He flashes on a play or two but hadn’t developed the consistency. Same for Maxx who struggled last year with more teams scheming for him. Both showed out when we needed them most. Don’t take away from Nassib making big plays in what was first regular season game since coming out. Nassib got his number called and delivered on the field while making history off the field.

More bad news came from the running game with Josh Jacobs getting hurt. He is ruled out versus the Steelers. That is a huge loss as the Raiders need to control the pass rush and clock with the run game.

Either way, Kenyan Drake earned a big contract for this exact reason. It wasn’t just to be an explosive, change-of-pace and gadget player. We knew a time would come where Jacobs needed rest and getting Drake was great insurance. It’s not like the Silver and Black haven’t employed multiple great rushers at the same time.

I don’t think any of us expected to need Drake this early but it is better than not having him. Hopefully, Jacobs doesn’t turn on too much McFadden PTSD with these lingering injuries. 

It wasn’t a particularly good game for either rusher. The best run play of the night came with Marcus Mariota earning 30 yards from his sub-package. The good news was Jacobs found the end zone a couple of times. 

On the other side of the ball, Yannick Ngakoue also sustained an injury. Many thought it would limit him this week and further. However, he practiced this week and he is expected to play versus the Steelers. 

If Ngakoue can’t go, the Raiders will need Clelin Ferrell. Ferrell was a healthy scratch versus the Ravens. 

The Raiders will need him and Solomon Thomas to prove those top-10 draft grades. Gerald McCoy also went down with injury last week. The vet was just gaining momentum and a role in the rotation. Ferrell and Thomas will be needed both inside and out moving forward.

Old School Rivalry

Every one reading this knows the ball hit the ground. However, many of these players in this week’s Steelers and Raiders showdown won’t remember the Immaculate Deception. In fact, there aren’t many familiar faces since the two franchise faced off in 2018. The most prominent returns are the two quarterbacks.

Derek Carr played well enough last week. He had one part where he had seven in completions. He almost sparked a riot on Raiders twitter after that INT. Carr redeemed himself with the winning TD. Otherwise, it was rewarding to see him take and convert shots down the field. I still don’t think the Raiders will win a Super Bowl if he is forced to through the ball 50 times.

That’s why the loss of Jacobs is pretty huge. The Steelers want to run the ball too. They didn’t complete many big shots versus the Bills last week, despite their slew of explosive receivers. Their offensive line is reloading. Big Ben Roethlisberger played well enough last week. At this point in his career, is Big Ben a game manager?

We will see versus the Raiders. Baltimore isn’t exactly loaded at any skill positions, yet they found success through the air and running the ball. Look for Pittsburgh to try and get their offense in rhythm with the run game and some more deep shots.

If the Steelers can contain the Raiders’ rush, that could spell some confidence for the Pittsburgh passing game. However, they’ll only go as far as the offensive line and run game goes. This should be an old school game with both teams trying to establish the run and dominate the trenches.

Versus the Steelers, the Raiders defensive line faces a cast of new faces. Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro and Andrew Villanueva once held down this offensive line. All those names are gone from Pittsburgh’s roster. 

Insert Trai Turner, Joe Haeg and JC Hassanauer. All experienced players written off by their former team. The Steelers swung last year’s starting right tackle to the left side. Point is, the Raiders should make Roethlisberger uncomfortable. He was sacked by the Bills twice last week. 

Najee Harris caught the attention of many fantasy owners before the season. However, he underwhelmed in his first game. Harris averaged less than three yards a carry. Pittsburgh should look to get him touches early and often. The Raiders surrendered rushing yards last week.

Pittsburgh rush defense wasn’t much better. They surrendered 65 yards to Devin Singletary. Again, Drake is going to be huge this week. Whatever team can establish the run will win this game.

The Steelers did sack QB Josh Allen three times. Pittsburgh also kept Stefon Diggs and the Bills receivers from scoring or completing a deep pass. This means the Raiders could have trouble completing the deep passes they converted on Monday Night.

The Vegas offense completed several passes over 20 yards to a variety of receivers. Can they do that with TJ Watt rushing on every play? 

The Major Key Versus Pittsburgh

Both teams should make big plays as both defenses can bend. The real test will be which defense lasts the longest and doesn’t break. Double critical that both defenses find a way to create turnovers and get stops in the red zone.

Ultimately, the deciding factor will be the run defense. Both teams have a slew of receivers they want to feature. However, the pass rush from both teams should neutralize that. Both secondaries seemed improved although it is early.

Regardless, the team that can get the run going will get the opposing defense on their heals. That also controls the clock and forces these offenses to take big shots. Well both teams want to convert big plays, I’m not sure either will be comfortable if they find themselves in a situation where they must force big shots if either one is down big.

Instead, I suspect both teams will setup their shots strategically of the run game. Both teams will benefit from protecting a lead and allowing their pass rushers to just get up field and create havoc.

Vegas is on the road though. They’re also down their best back. That means they will rely on big play passing game a bit more.

In the end, we’ll take beating the Steelers no matter what. Let’s protect that 16-13 all-time record. Plus, this game could have potential AFC Wild Card implications given the strength of both divisions and the added game this season.

Whatever quarterback can make a play without costing their team usually wins this game. Big Ben and Derek Carr have both had their shares of comebacks and big plays. They’ve also come up short or turned the ball over in big spots. None of that got anything to do with Sunday so whatever quarterback can balance the game managing with occasional gun slinging will win.

Whichever quarterback can use their run game to control the clock and pass rush will find themselves more easily converting downfield plays too. Coincidentally, an opposing offense playing catch up usually makes it easy on the leading team’s defense.

Bottom line, the Raiders need a win here to make everybody feel a little bit better about barely beating the Ravens. The world was watching and Vegas barely squeezed one out. This time a decisive win over an old rival could get all the haters to see the new commitment to excellence.

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2021: Back and More Silver than ever

Last season doesn’t really deserve an exit blog post. That is why you won’t find one on this blog. It’s also cause I’ve spent the last year raising teenagers. Thus, this is probably the least I’ve written about the Raiders over the last five years. Time to make up for lost time before the Raiders officially welcome fans to Allegiant for Monday Night Football..

2020’s Conclusion

Insert your favorite failed milk carton challenge and that’s what last year feels like for Raider Nation. The Raiders headed towards the right direction despite us all knowing it was built on a crooked foundation.

They reset the team pretty hard after a 6-3 start resulted in another missed playoff attempt. Many thought that would finally mean a new quarterback. Sike. Derek Carr is still leading the helm. At one point, they were even talking about extending dude. It’s not bad given the Lions got two first-rounders for Matt Stafford. AKA there was a premium even on solid-good quarterbacks.

This time the offensive line took the blame. Gone is staple Gabe Jackson. Trent Brown, once a marquee free agency acquisition, shipped for greener New England Pastures. Rodney Hudson is out of here too. Watch Hudson and Jackson both fill missing pieces for their respective NFC West teams. Davontae Booker and Nelson Agoholor are not returning on offense and that hurt a bit. Both were real bargains turned bright spots. It’s not surprising they left for more money and better opportunities.

Last season, our secondary never came along. The young players like Arnette and Abrams struggled along with many others. At least, Erik Harris and LaMarcus Joyner finally left the Silver and Black behind. Daryl Worley is gone too. Nevin Lawson is finally out as of the preseason. We were tired of seeing them in other team’s highlights.

Jeff Heath surprisingly got his walking papers. Despite getting picks, he was let go. Fellow former Cowboys Maliek Collins was not brought back. Raekwon McMillan, Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley never did much for the Raiders so they are out too. No use crying over spoiled defenders.

Arden Key and Mo Collins joined the 49ers after the Raiders wouldn’t even give them a shot to compete for a job. It’s ok because they underperformed but it was not that long ago we thought they would be still. Sorry to Reggie McKenzie’s draft picks. Derek Carr is the best one left.

Offseason Recap

Jon Gruden went out and hired one of the best defensive coordinators, Gus Bradley, to make this unit competent. He wasted no time putting together a new defense. Yannick Ngakoue joined as the marquee pass rush signing, despite all his previous Raiders trolling. Quinton Jefferson came from the Bills as a cap casualty. Soloman Thomas is a redemption project. The former top-five pick is still trying to stay healthy mentally and physically as he ascends in the league. Johnathan Hankins was brought back as the run stuffer.

Darius Philon was out the league but he is back with Bradley, his DC from the Raiders day. At least, David Irving is gone…

Safeties Trevon Moehring and Tyree Gillespie were added as good values in the draft. Rasul Douglas and Casey Hayward were added as vet corners to compete. Douglas didn’t make the roster. Karl Joseph came back after a really good year in Cleveland. It was surprising how cheap too.

On offense, their best signing was backup running back Kenyan Drake. The Raiders got a lot of flack for the signing since they were already good in the backfield. At least, Drake and Jacobs are good friends and know how to work together.

The team also drafted a right tackle with their first pick. Many people saw Alex Leatherwood as a developmental tackle taken too high. Many people, including me, thought the same thing about Kolton Miller but we were wrong. Either way, the tackles taken above Leatherwood are both banged up right now. Not a bad pick after all?

Otherwise, the team tried to replace Agoholor with John Brown. Brown asked for his releases after not being happy with his role. They also added veteran Willie Snead for some veteran presence and junk work. Zay Jones was brought back. It’s not the huge moves Raiders fans hoped for but they really believe in Hunter Renefrow, Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs III taking the next step. Cough, if you have three, you have no alpha. Either way, I think Snead is a versatile backup who fits the group. Jones and Carr get along well. The young guys hopefully take the next step developing as consistent starters.

Anyways, Denzelle Good is also back. He saved us in many OL crunches. Shoutout Khail Barnes! Andre James is also getting a lot of hype as Hudson’s replacement. Free-agent signee Nick Martin was supposed to push him in camp but I do not think that happened. There’s been a lot of talk about Andre James’ chemistry with Derek Carr this camp. Patrick Omameh and Richie Incognito are back. Incognito is already banged up and Omameh has never been more than depth. Omameh didn’t even make last roster cut. Hopefully, Jon Simpson can take the next step so we don’t rely on them.

Oh, Marcus Mariota also came back. The Raiders may trade him before the year ends or they put in a package just for him. They could use him like Baltimore used RGIII in spots or how the Saints used Hill in gadget formations.

The Draft

Once again, this draft could be defined by who the Raiders did not take. They kept the status quo at receiver and quarterback despite the blog-o-sphere hating it. They drafted more offensive linemen and defensive backs because their track record with developing those players is bad the past decade. Sorry Tanner Muse, another wasted third round pick. Muse should fit in Seattle though. Time will tell how we remember the 2021 class but the Raiders need Leatherwood to dominate instantly if they want to have a shot at the playoffs.

2021 Hope

Speaking of hope, the Raiders have some for the first time in a bit. Allegiant Stadium and the practice facility in Henderson are state-of-the-art. Hopefully, their A.C.s are too with that Vegas heat. LOL.

Right now, tickets in the blackhole are selling like at over $700 each. It’s a few hundred dollars just to get in the seats. Raiders Fans have been to games at Allegiant but imagine the playoffs? Hope we can all afford to make the trip. I’d hate to see the stadium gentrified with corporate betting sponsors and not Raiders fans. Well, I guess it’s better than shit on your feet from overflooded toilets when you’re peeing at halftime.

SoFi Stadium

Speaking of new stadiums, SoFI is everything good and bad that you heard. Yes, there’s traffic and it’s also the best football viewing experience I have ever felt. Corporate sponsorships are everywhere but that place was packed with Raiders fans when I went to watch us play the Rams. It’s definitely worth going to, especially when the Raiders play the Chargers on Monday night. Catch me in section 211.

AFC West

In Kansas City, the Raiders hold confidence as they nearly beat the Chiefs twice last year. However, that team should be just as good. Meanwhile, the rest of the Raiders’ AFC Rivals got better.

As for the rest of the AFC West, the Chargers do actually look good. I caught a few of their practices since I live in L.A. Justin Herbert might be the best quarterback in the AFC West, not named Pat Mahomes. The defense should also get healthy but to to be determined.

The Broncos added Teddy Bridgewater which should make them legit. Their defense also gets Von Miller back. Bridgewater with those weapons will be decent at the least.

Thus, the Raiders can’t just pencil in four division wins. They are going to win. If they don’t it should cost Jon Gruden his head. The coordinators and roster took the fall the past two years. It’s Gruden who should next if the Raiders can’t bring a playoff game to Vegas this year.

Those are high expectations but they come with having the most tenured quarterback and highest-paid coach in the division. If all you need was a defense, Bradley and the new additions should solve that… Right?

Something In the Water

You’ll notice I left Denzel Perryman and Gerald McCoy out of the acquisition segment. Why?

I wanted McCoy five years ago and Perryman two years ago if not when they came in the league. They always had the athleticism and chip on their shoulders to be Raiders.

Unfortunately, McCoy is off an injury. He joined the team late so he must have some juice left if they liked his workout? Or, they have no confidence in all the defensive line help they enlisted in free agency. It just felt weird.

Same for Perryman. They could’ve signed him this year or last. How did he not win a job in Carolina? The Raiders have invested in free agency and drafted the position in the past years. Usually, I go for adding veteran leadership and seeing what a player can bring.

Except for this time it feels like Vegas must not feel like they have enough if they traded for Perryman this late and flirted with K.J. Wright. They brought in Wright after final roster cuts. We will see what these guys have left when they have to chase LaMar and those AFC West Tight Ends.

I get Gus Bradley wants guys he knows, who also know his scheme. However, do you go back to your thing from two or three years ago if you got a better one five years younger? Hell Nah…

Guess we will find out in Week One

The Ravens come to Vegas and it will be a real test for the Raiders. Baltimore and the Raiders usually end in a dramatic fashion. This one shouldn’t be different. Lamar Jackson is a God and they added Sammy Watkins and Rashod Bateman to give him more weapons. Bateman got hurt but Hollywood Brown should be back. Good tests for the Raiders improved secondary and pass rush.

Baltimore also features veterans across the offensive and defensive line. Our revamped units will have a real tough matchup. The Ravens’ biggest test includes figuring out their own pass rush on the edge.

Oh yeah, Marcus Peters also comes to town. Although it’s not his town, you know he always has extra gear for the team he grew up loving. Let’s see if he can pick off Derek Carr and take one to Vegas’ end zone for Oakland. I’d hate and love to see that for the town. (Tear I wrote this before he got hurt! Prayers for Peters for real.)

The Ravens also had several injuries in their running back room. Their top-two runners both went down with injuries. They signed former Raiders runner Latavius Murray after dude refused to take a paycut in New Orleans. Murray has been solid since leaving the Raiders for shared roles in Minnesota and New Orleans. It looks like the Tay Train will make a stop in Vegas only a few weeks after the Raiders thought about signing him.

As long as the Silver and Black come out flying around and running the ball, they should be able to win Week One. Many bettors are calling Vegas a lot but Raiders fans know better than to get excited about that. The opening game usually comes down to heart, excitement and execution as many teams are far from finished products.

Either way, it could be a nice statement win to show the AFC that the Raiders can take down playoff contenders. All eyes will be on Gruden and the Raiders Monday Night as they start their quest to finally make the playoffs under their legendary coach.

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The Exclamation on 2020

Last week was the first week I missed publishing a column this season. It was part I forgot about the Saturday kickoff and part my disgust with the team. It’s one thing to miss the playoffs but it is another to miss it off an overtime national loss to your rivals. If the Raiders can pack it in so can I.

Things got worse when I heard Derek Carr was starting versus Miami. No disrespect to Carr as he is by far the best Raiders QB that I have seen. It is not his fault the Raiders have collapsed the past two seasons. However, he hadn’t been the solution either.

Marcus Mariota really provided a spark when he entered the Chargers game. I get you don’t lose a starting job to injury. Yet, the Raiders have routinely replaced QBs after injury. That is a commitment to excellent. The best players play.

It would’ve been nice to see Mariota play again after a full week’s practice. He gave the Raiders an added element with his legs. That is a weapon I wanted with the season on the end, especially in the red zone. Plus, they would’ve won the Chargers game minus Gruden’s conservative call in the red zone.

Still, Mariota doesn’t play safety. He couldn’t have bailed out a defense that gave up a game winning touchdown to Miami in a matter of seconds thanks to a blown coverage and unnecessary roughness call.

Yet, the difference was Miami having the balls to change quarterback. Tua is their guy long-term but Fitz helped them a little more and matched up a little better. With their backs against the wall, the Raiders went the QB with nothing to lose. Vegas did not.

The loss to Miami hurts even more since the Raiders lost to Miami a few years ago too. After that, the season unraveled as did the Jack Del Rio era. That Dolphins team made the playoffs. They were bad a few seasons in between but here they are making the playoffs again. Basically, they made the playoffs more recently than the Raiders and they rebuilt and turned it around faster than Vegas too.

Don’t forget former Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie is with Miami. The kicker in this is that Lynn Bowden Jr. for a fourth and then that fourth for Raekwon McMillan. So yeah the Dolphins are ran better than the Raiders.

Moving forward, the Raiders close their season in a division game versus the Broncos. It is basically a meaningless game besides the historic rivalry element. The Raiders will also start Carr and reports indicate they have no plans to move on from the QB who put up one of his best seasons statistically.

That’s cool and all but even Carr’s best year is only good for 8-8? Either the roster is so bad that Carr is the only reason they are 8-8 or Carr is really just an 8-8 QB who can be extraordinary with great weapons around him. Both options scream the roster isn’t enough.

It’s also what many of us screamed before the season. The only real selling feature of this team was Ferrell, Jacobs, Mullen and Crosby getting another year better. Abram, Ruggs and Arnette were supposed to be instant spark plugs. Joyner and Brown were supposed to be healthy. All of that made this team a sleeper playoff pick.

Unfortunately, none of that really happened. We should’ve expected that based on the team making a change at d-line coach despite that group playing great last year. Look at the track record developing picks. Did any of those 2-3 years players actually get better? Maybe Key or Morrow but that is about it.

Look at injury histories Joyner, Williams and Brown. We played ourselves thinking this year would be different.

My issue with the Raiders is they are chasing ghosts trying to remake Gruden’s glory years. That’s fine but they got to stick with it. Those Raiders teams were filled with experienced veterans providing competition. This team cut a lot of veterans opting for young players getting reps. That is fine but it is not a commitment to excellence. Play the best players regardless of age, salary or draft position. That’s what the Raiders do.

Why did the Raiders never try and add a veteran safety? There was so much starting experience at the position in free agency. They never added a pass rusher via trade until Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley. One was lost and the other hurt. The season was also getting away from them at that point. Yet, the Raiders kept fielding the same group expecting different solutions.

Every time we thought the Raiders found an identity they did something to undercut that. One week we thought this team would get driven by Jacobs. The next week we thought they could win off big plays with Carr and company. Another week it was everything thru Waller.

We fooled ourselves into thinking they could win in many ways. The truth is, they were just doing whatever they could to win. It’s fine for just Win Baby but it’s not how you build a culture that demands excellence.

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say we are doing whatever it takes to win but you aren’t signing and playing the best guys. You can’t say your building something when in year three you still don’t have an identity or even a great foundation. Jury is still out on Jacobs, Crosby, Ferrell, Mullen, Arnette and more. However, Littleton, Joyner, Brown, Nassib, and more have not been as advertised.

Frankly, Gruden himself hasn’t been as advertised. He has a worse record than Jack Del Rio. We are also asking ourselves the same questions as when JDR left. Is Carr enough? Who is the No. 1 receiver? Where is the pass rush, dbs and lbs? Is Jacobs really a workhorse?

We expected answers to these questions three years later. Joke is on us because maybe Gruden always was just a .500 coach. A coach who can help guys reach their potential shouldn’t be the end all be all of roster decisions. Gruden deserves some credit for getting this mediocre team playing hard but the proof is in the pudding. The Raiders need to get better from top to botfom.

Thus, the Raiders got one more week to prove they are building something. Prove you are getting better and establishing an identity. Prove you can beat a lesser team no matter what. Prove you can dominate physically and take what you want on offense That’s the Raider way.

This game also has meaning for guys like Maliek Collins and Nelson Agholor playing for their next contract. It means something for guys like McMillan and Joyner trying to prove they can be part of the solution. It matters for fans like us who want to end the season with our pallet cleansed from another late season collapse.

Let’s hope this team can end the season on a win. Sure, many of us didn’t think we’d make it to the end of the season with COVID. However, this new market team needs to give the fans the ending they deserve with a win over the Broncos. Show the world that we really aren’t too far from breaking through. Otherwise, another loss might signal time for yet another rebuild, retool or re whatever you call it.

Point is, we can’t except this 8-8 mediocrity. We also can’t fool ourselves into thinking this team is much better than the record indicates. The truth is the Raiders are probably a middle of the pack road with an above average QB and coach. That still doesn’t mean they shouldn’t beat up on the Broncos and get their young players ready for a playoff run next year. It’s what fans across the Raiders’ three homes deserve.

The fact is the Raiders need to win today not for the playoffs but for themselves and the culture. Get back on the path to excellence instead of enabling the mediocrity. Stop selling hope and just win. Stop making excuses and make excellence. This is the first game of next year as far as I am concerned. Well, I guess it is a new year!

Just Don’t Lose, Please

Almost everything hit the fan a few days ago when the Raiders got dominated by the Colts. Big runs broke, safeties got beat and the Raiders gave up 40 points.

It was the latest memory we have of Derek Carr driving meaningless down the field while down more than two scores. He and the offense struggles in the red zone, turning it over and not finishing drives with touchdowns. Philip Rivers showed what he can do with a defense that can create turnovers paired with above average skill players and line. The only thing the team did right was establishing Jacobs early and firing their defensive coordinator after the game ended.

Now, the Raiders face an AFC West rival Chargers team down significant depth. Anram, Arnette, Lawson and Heath out mean the secondary is paper thin. Morrow is quietly only competent backer and he will sit. Ferrell missing the game hurts the rush and pass defense.

Both teams only got a few days rest. Yet, the Chargers will play hobbled Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Austin Ekler could play too. This team is playing better than when Vegas barely beat them on the road. Justin Herbert keeps improving and Joey Bosa won’t sit this game out. Los Angeles might not be playing for the playoffs but damn straight they want to eliminate the Raiders’ playoff chances.

Baker Mayfield and the Browns did not due us any favors when they lost to the Baltimore Ravens. There are four teams within a game for that last spot. The Raiders’ only chance to make the playoffs is by winning out. They got to beat the Bolts, Dolphins and Broncos. Based off last week’s performance, it is hard to see them winning this game let alone two more. However, this team is at home and desperate for success Year One in Vegas.

Rod Marinelli enters the fold at defensive coordinator. He is one of the most well respected coordinators ever but his d-line has been far from great this year. The defense he managed in Dallas last year died as the season went on. Marinelli’s opening press conference talked a lot about discipline but he should start with his own unit.

The good thing is, the Chargers o-line is far from perfect. Vegas should make a statement by attacking the line and young QB with more blitzes but that will be hard with limitations in the back end. How will the Raiders matchup with Williams and Allen? Even hobbled they have speed and size to embarrass the Raiders’ best DBs.

Offensively, the Raiders need to attack too. The Chargers can give up big plays and they struggle with the run. Vegas needs to come out strong with their identity. Run the ball and take shots deep. Find that sense of urgency again.

Controlling the clock is one way you keep Herbert out of rhythm. However, it doesn’t matter if the Raiders let the Chargers run all over them. That’s the discipline this team needs. Stopping the run and giving yourself a chance to make a play on the ball. Sure, the Raiders secondary might get beat by elite talent anyways but they can’t beat themselves by doing too much, getting out of position or getting penalties. Limiting those mental eras alone could help the Raiders win this game and save their season. At the very least they won’t lose it.

Ultimately, this division game at a weird time on weird day will come down to will. It’s cliche but true when both teams are tired and hate each other. Thus, the Raiders gotta be themselves but they also got to find ways to not kill themselves. Run the ball, take chances deep, stop the run and give yourself a chance to stop the pass is how the Raiders don’t lose this game or their playoff chances.

A Playoff Push Starts With Indy

Did the Raiders win the game or did the Jets lose last week on the final play? It probably depends who you ask.

Mainstream media and the Jets mainly blame the play caller Greg Williams who was fired after the winless Jets stayed that way. However, Vegas pass protected, made the throw and completed the pass.

Either way, you probably screamed as Ruggs III went in for the game winning touchdown. It was a high feeling that came in a game where we all wondered WTF. There’s a universe somewhere not too far where these Raiders gave the Jets their only win. So much for talk about playoffs.

Still, the Raiders are lucky they can still talk about playoffs after that narrow victory. Sure, they played with a lot of injuries including Josh Jacobs sitting out.

Regardless competition goes up this week as they take on the Indianapolis Colts. Indy is duking it out with the Silver and Black for Wild Card position. Damon Armette and Jeff Heath are out, Daryl Worley enters from free agency. Josh Jacobs and Jonathan Abram are both questionable after missing last week too. Isaiah Johnson could also be out which makes the secondary even more depleted.

What the Raiders do got going for them is a familiarity with QB Philip Rivers as he was in their division a long time. Jonathan Hankins was already talking smack after the Silver and Black dominated Rivers twice last year when he was with the Chargers. Colts starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo could also be out with a questionable designation.

Speaking of, Clelin Ferrell battled COVID for a few weeks and came back with aoms new pass rush skills. Ferrell was crucial in two fumbles versus the Jets. That’s exactly the performance the Silver and Black need him to build on in this playoff fight down the stretch. Vic Beasley continues getting hyped up too. Let’s see what they do versus a hobbled or backup Colts tackle.

The secondary will need all the favors they can get. Hopefully, the d-line can convert sacks. We know Rivers will make mistakes but the secondary must capitalize on them by getting ints.

This Colts group doesn’t have nearly the same imposing size and speed on the outside as the Jets. They do have more speed and explosiveness out of the backfield which means the Raiders LBs are on notice. Playoff football means stopping the run and the Colts offer a good foe there.

Offensively, the Silver and Black have their hands filled with a Colts defense that gave up the 8th fewest passing yards and 5th fewest rushing yards. Indy is also top-12 in sacks and top-10 for interceptions.

A lot of that is attributed to Colts linebacker Darius Leonard. He’s one of the best defensive players in the whole league. He does a lot for them all over the field.

The Raiders are also familiar with the Colts front four. Denico Autry continues producing on a modest contract after leaving the Raiders for the Colts in free agency. DeForest Buckner continues is producing in his first year in Indy. Buckner is nursing a hip injury but should play. The point is, the Raiders interior line will have their hands full with this rotation. Long-time Chief Justin Houston has 7.5 sacks with the Colts this year. He is another former division rival with experience giving the Raiders hell.

Nonetheless, the Raiders will need to keep being who they are. These days, a good offense beats a good defense. Vegas needs to run the ball to neutralize the upfield aggressiveness of the Colts. Getting Jacobs back can only help that cause. They can also sprinkle in some screens.

Then, it’s up to Carr to find his receivers deep. The Raiders receivers have a speed advantage on the outside. This is the week the Raiders got to execute those big plays. The Silver and Black need to be themselves. Run the ball and take shots deep. That is Raiders football.

Expect this game to be physical. Both teams are indoor teams and fighting for a playoff spot. Each team has two division games and another potential playoff team remaining on their schedule. Point is, neither team wants to lose. The Colts have one less loss and are still in play for the division crown so they have a little more room for a loss.

A win for either team pads the playoff resume while a loss just makes it that much harder. Don’t forget it is a short week for the Raiders as they play the Chargers Thursday. That means Execution needs to be all that more crisp with less preparation and recovery after this matchup vs the Colts.

If Vegas comes with the same intensity and urgency they kept versus the Chiefs, they can get a statement win. However, they come out like they did the past two weeks versus teams with nothing to play for and their season could be over. Hopefully, being at home helps them overcome any slow start. No east coast travel fatigue to blame either.

The Raiders goal of making the playoffs is within their reach. They just gotta do their part by winning the next four games.

Vegas needs to execute by finding ways to create turnovers and force Rivers into mistakes. They got to stop the run and also control the clock with their own o-line and running back play. Don’t forget a big play in the pass here and there. If the Silver and Black do that in this four game stretch they can make the playoffs. However, that starts with this huge test versus the Colts. Nothing else matters without handling business versus Indy first.

Jet Set on Just Winning

The Raiders did their best to kill any argument they belong in the playoffs. A 43-6 loss puts them in ninth place and outside the postseason. The only good thing is Baltimore lost in their J.V. Wednesday game. Vegas still has head-to-head matchups with the Colts and Dolphins who are ahead of them in the standings so not all hope is lost.

Still, last week’s collapse was oddly familiar to the egg they laid last year around the same time. The seams came undone on that year but Gruden and others swear this is a different team.

Either way, if 2020 was a game it felt like last week. We knew the Falcons were a threat so we did not completely overlook them. We thought we were discipline enough to beat a deadly virus disguised as a common cough. Scoreboard told a different story as the Falcons hit the Raiders in the mouth like COVID hit our entire way of life. The Silver and Black went from being the physical team versus the Chiefs to getting bullied by a team with an interim coach and no playoff chances.

Sure, you can expect a let down after the Raiders came so close to beating the Chiefs the week before. It was a West Coast team traveling East. They had COVID issues too. All good reasons to que the it’s a trap memes!

This week, the Raiders have no excuses. People like to point out that teams have ended losing streaks versus the Jets. Sam Darnold hasn’t thrown a TD pass in four starts. Frank Gore keeps fighting time as he is their feature back off his best game.

It will be cold and Derek Carr won’t get the benefit of the dome. We know how he struggles in the cold but I can’t believe we are talking about him securing the ball this late in his career. He had three fumbles and three interceptions last week. It was his second game with multiple fumbles. His turnovers have been major in all of our losses this year.

Beating the Jets starts with controlling the ball. Vegas will also be down Josh Jacobs who is nursing an ankle sprain. Trent Brown also won’t be returning so who knows what to expect at right tackle. Right when we thought Brandon Parker was turning a corner he gives us a game like last week.

Not to mention, our defense still looked like Swiss cheese. They were still short handed due to the virus and they will be again with Carl Nassib out. Damon Arnette is also out due to a concussion. Maliek Collins ends a disappointing year with IR. Jonathan Abram will also be out.

On the other hand, Clelin Ferrell will return and Vic Beasley makes his debut. Some good news for the Raiders front seven.

Still, this could easily set the stage to the Jets finding themselves and putting together a win. Their coach is on the hot seat and Trevor Lawrence is in their sites which means New York’s effort could go either way.

The Raiders defense is messy and their offense will be down their identity which is Jacobs. Another poor defensive showing should send Paulie G. packing. Injuries can only save so much mediocrity.

On offense, the Raiders need to get back on track versus a Jets defense that ranks towards the bottom of the league. Their secondary is incredibly young so that should mean the Raiders look to get Henry Ruggs involved early and often. They will need his playmaking and speed in the cold. What New York does have is a near unblock-able Quinnen Williams. Blocking him is challenging enough but the Raiders added o-line injuries to Good and Brown could make him a real factor.

Ultimately, the Raiders got to forget about last season and last week. Carr has to put his cold and east coast struggles behind him by finding ways to convert on third down and not turning the ball over. He is the Raiders advantage given Darnold’s struggles. Carr can’t put his already struggling defense behind by turning the ball over.

Vegas’ x-factor is Davontae Booker. The former Bronco is averaging 5.5 yards per carry behind Jacobs rhis year. He earned himself some playing time and this is the game where he may shoulder the load in the cold. Look for the Raiders to give it to him early and often.

Defensively, the Jets do have size and speed at receiver. The Silver and Black are already undersized in the secondary which means the Jets could challenge them down field. Add the fact the Raiders are down bodies in the secondary and they will have their hands full.

New York also features one of the best young tackles in Mekhi Becton. Still, the Raiders figuring out the pass rush is once again imperative to winning. It will be harder given Nassib and Collins are out. Hurst could be out and oh yeah they have injuries in the secondary again.

It’s hard not to sound like the sky is falling after last week’s loss. The challenge is the Raiders have looked good versus playoff teams like the Chiefs, Browns and Saints but also looked bad versus middle of the road teams like the Falcons and Patriots. We are three quarters of the way through the season and should be playing our best ball. Instead, we’re worried about stacking three losses amid all these injuries.

As much as it feels like the Raiders are better and finding an identity, we still don’t know what to expect on a week to week basis. Should the Raiders beat up on a Jets team that is going the other way? Yes. Could they lose on the road to young team with all these injuries. Yes. Predicting what team shows up this week is as good as a guess.

If the Raiders want to make the playoffs they better find a way to make up for their sins with an imposing win versus the Jets. They need the confidence and their reserves need the experience amid all these injuries.

Even if mathematically there is a still a shot, a loss here could signal the end of a lot. The end of the coordinators in Vegas. The end of the Carr chapter. Or at the very least the end of our legitimate playoff hopes. But fuck it Just Win Baby!