Raiders fans waited for this moment for 20 years

Finally, the Raiders made the playoffs. No hurt quarterback asterisk on this playoff berth. No second-half season collapse derailing a winning season.

Vegas finished the season with an OT win over the Los Angeles Chargers. The Raiders’ biggest win in 20 years almost resulted in a tie. That would’ve let the Chargers in the playoffs instead of the Steelers so I am not sure many would have complained. Still, forget your timeout theories. It is just win baby, not just tie maybe.

The biggest difference maker in that win included the Raiders pass rush and run game. Chargers QB Justin Herbert nearly erased all that with his straight up skills. This week the Raiders draw an equally young and poised quarterback in Joe Burrow.

Looking For Revenge

Last time these teams faced, the Bengals clapped the Raiders in Vegas. The Silver and Black will travel to Cincinnati for this round. Honestly, I am not sure the Raiders could have gotten a worse opponent.

Joe Mixon is a big and physical runner who can break one on any play. He carved us up for over 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Bengals pulled away late thanks to the toll Mixon makes defenses pay.

Burrow completed 20/29 passes in the regular season game. Cincinatti brings size and speed on the outside. This could cause matchup problems as the Raiders secondary been banged up all year.

The Bengals defense is a sleeper. Eli Apple got a pick last time these teams played. They also threw in a couple sacks while a defeceit voided the Raiders run game.

Nonetheless, the Bengals are beatable. They lost to the Chargers and got swept by the Browns. Cincinatti barely beat the Jaguars and lost to the Jets and Bears early too. Their key victories include wins over the Chiefs, Broncos, Steelers and Vikings. They narrowly lost to the 49ers and Packers for what it is worth.

Which Squads Shows Up?

All that doesn’t really matter entering the playoffs. It’s win or go home and the Raiders have had just as many peaks and valleys as the team in stripes. Vegas is going to need a spectacular outing from their entire defensive line. Burrow is among the best versus the blitz so the entire defense must stay discipline. The Raiders registered three sacks along the line in the November game. Let’s double up this time.

One of the reasons the Raiders won 5-of-7 down the stretch is Josh Jacobs’ resurgance. His 132 rushing yards last week versus the Chargers helped them control that game. He also rushed for over 100 versus Denver but the Raiders have found ways to win even when Jacobs is ineffective.

Derek Carr has been mostly up this season. He is top-6 in passing yards and top-12 in passing touchdowns. Carr is also top ten for interceptions. Burrow is right behind him for yards and picks.

Versus Los Angeles, Carr did not have a crazy stat line. However, he didn’t throw any interceptions and scored two touchdowns. That’s exactly the Carr the Raiders need on Saturday. Take calculated risks. Move the chains and score touchdowns. Don’t make mistakes. He threw an interception versus the Bengals but was otherwise efficient.

Hopefully, Darren Waller is available. Waller’s last 100 yard receiving game versus the Bengals. They are a different team when they have Waller stretching the middle of the field. With Foster Moreau, tight end is probably the Raiders’ biggest mismatch over any team left in the bracket. The Raiders got to enable those guys to perform.

Hunter Renfrow must come up big despite everybody keying in on him. Bryan Edwards and Zay Jones must keep up their performances on key downs. We all know the chemistry they have with Derek Carr. That has been on display the past few weeks but it was absent when the Bengals came to town a few weeks ago. Desean Jackson will need to make a big play. He still has one in him.

No drops, fumbles or illegal formations from this entire receiving group. Win those matchups versus Trae Waynes and Eli Apple please. Take shots and try to get calls on them downfield too.

None of that will matter if the offensive line doesn’t step up. Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson both tore up the Raiders tackles last time these teams faced off. The Raiders offensive line is playing better now.

Cincinatti is also beefy on the inside with defensive tackles DJ Reader and Larry Ogunjobi. They are stout against the run across the front four so the Raiders and Jacobs will need to earn every yard.

On the other side, Vegas needs their defensive line to come up big. The starters got to stay fresh even if the Bengals move to a no huddle. Reserves Clelin Ferrell, Solomon Thomas and Carl Nassib will have added responsibilities with Darius Philon sidelined. One of them needs to step up and get a sack. Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue are the primary rushers but they run out of gas. They apply pressure but don’t always get home. Added help from the supporting cast makes their job easier and converts those pressures into lost yards.

Johnathan Hankins and Quinton Jefferson will need to help out versus the run but they also can’t be liabilities in the pass rush on long drives. This will help out all other positions on defense.

Versus the run, Denzel Perryman, Corey Littleton and K.J. Wright must step up. These veterans have playoff experience neither homegrown Raiders or Bengals players can relate to. We can’t afford to have any of them exposed. Divine Deablo saw a lot of time down the stretch due to his athleticism. One of those guys needs to make a play.

Our secondary continues scraping by without key players like Trayvon Mullen and Johnathan Abram. Brandon Facyson and Desmond Trufant were damn near out the league. No mistakes from Dallin Leavitt or Roderic Teamer please. Both played better than expected last week but they are flawed. Nate Hobbs, Trevon Moehrig and Casey Hayward all been bright spot offseason additions for the secondary. One of them needs to make a play this week as I expect them to bend and take lumps versus the speed and size of the Bengals receiving corps. If this group can create a turnover, the Raiders have a chance. The defensive line can help by getting home without relying on help from the blitz.

Complimentary Football

In the end, the Raiders need their entire team to play their best game versus the Bengals. It’s hard to imagine them winning if they don’t come out with the same desperation and sense of urgency we saw them with in the last quarter of the season. Let’s see some Mariota again this week.

Part of me worries they will run out of gas and get merked by a team they don’t matchup well with. Yet, that is why you got veterans like Hayward, Facyson, Perryman, Jackson, Wright and Littleton. Leadership will show versus a Bengals team that is equally inexperienced in the postseason.

Otherwise, the Raiders got to stick to their identity. Run the ball, take smart shots, get after the quarterback and create some turnovers. Derek Carr has been waiting for this moment for 8 seasons. He must earn that Mamba sleeve with a clutch performance in the postseason. His stats are great and probably earned him a year or two more at the helm but it does not matter if he can not help this team get over the hump in big games. This franchise goes as far their quarterback. Winning a championship in the Silver and Black starts by proving you can win a road playoff game.

Same thing with Josh Jacobs. He is banged up and off his most inconsistent season. However, the Raiders need him to control the clock and keep the Bengals off the field. When Jacobs is effective, the play action sets up much better for Carr and company. They also need Jacobs to break a big run off and ware the defense down. This offense is missing that spark from Kenyan Drake. Maybe they can get another big run from Jalen Richard. Either way, Jacobs must show he is elite by pulling away from the defense on the biggest stage. That’s especially true if he gets going early. Jacobs got to show he can wear a team down and finish them late.

The Raiders defense was up and down all year but they got to continue to find ways to make plays and get stops. They offer a good mix of veteran and young players at each level. Somebody got to step up and make a play. It won’t surprise me if it is somebody you least expect.

Great defenses play together and don’t rely on any one player to make every play. That won’t cop Maxx or Yannick out. Big time players make big time plays in big time games, Madden would say. We need big plays from our two best defensive players to drive the defense. Ultimately, we will need a great team effort on defense to handle the Bengals explosiveness on the road. Limit the big plays, penalties and mistakes. Don’t get rattled or fall apart now.

If the Raiders can make enough plays on both sides of the ball, they can win this game. Either way, let’s just hope they come out swinging. That’s what Big Red and Coach Flores would want. Afterall, this is the first playoff game in damn near twenty years.

Before that crushing Super Bowl loss to Gruden, the Raiders were among the league’s most winning franchise. The Raiders got to represent because I know the Nation will. Vegas must remind the league what they’ve been missing without their most prolific team playing in January. Just win baby!

Is it really different this time?

Raiders Vs Chargers, RIP Madden and More

That’s the question Raiders fans ask themselves as they prepare for a division showdown versus the Chargers this week. This particular Chargers-Raiders installment will determine one of the final AFC Wild Card spots.

Technically, both teams can get in with a tie or with help from the Steelers and Colts. That would ruin the NFL’s climatic finish to their first 17-game season and three-team Wild Card playoff format.

Raiders fans watched their team collapse into mediocrity in the second half of the last few seasons. We lied to ourselves with playoff scenarios that required us winning out or getting some help.

This year the Raiders have a chance to win to get in the playoffs in the final week. The last few games have been must wins and they actually found ways to pull it out. That’s on top of all the crazy off-field controversies this team pushed through all season. Will the Just Win mentality continue versus the Chargers?

Either way, this is a game between teams that know each other well. Both teams love to get their respective fan bases’ hopes up before deflating them in an epically tragic way. Well, one team has to win to get in.

Last Time on Chargers VS Raiders

The last time the Raiders and Chargers played, Vegas came out flat. They almost came back but fell short. However, that was a head coach and receiver ago.

Los Angeles rode out of that win on a massive high. They looked like contenders. That tapered off thanks to some losses and injuries.

Yet, L.A. still holds enough talent to be taken serious. Herbert is a serious alpha at QB, despite his calm exterior. This could be his chance to take the reigns of the AFC West’s No. 1 contention spot. Kansas City won another division spot. It really wasn’t that close even with them starting slow and everyone else starting hot.

All the Stakes

For the Raiders, it’s hard to deny Derek Carr or Rich Bissaccia a re-up if they sneak into the playoffs for only the second time in twenty years. Even if the Raiders could make some noise in the playoffs, they still need more playmakers before they’re a perennial contender. A rebuild with a new coach and quaterback might be the inevitible regardless how this season turns out but a playoff berth and win kicks that can down the road a bit. Otherwise, it’s hard to be optimistic about this team if they’re swept by both K.C. and L.A. this year.

Thus, there is a lot at stake on Sunday night. Don’t forget that shit Joey Bosa was talking after the Bolts defeated the Raiders on Monday night. He shared the blue print for beating Las Vegas by saying Carr cracks under pressure.

Regardless, the Raiders are a different team. The past few weeks, the Raiders are finally playing desperate. We are seeing the Mariota package along with Carr’s raport with Zay Jones and Hunter Renfrow. The defense is competent even if they bend a ton and get caught slipping.

Win it for Madden

Not to mention, can we lose the same season John Madden died?

Madden is a true Raiders icon. You know the anecdotes about the chairs. You know his reputation as a broadcaster and player coach. You know the Super Bowl win, Playoff appearances and winning record. There was only one Madden and nobody else in this metaverse could have dealt with all those bad ass personalities and a maverick owner like Al Davis.

Davis took a chance on a young coach. He knew his players needed to maintain a certain edge and lifestyle. He believed in veterans and cast offs. He let his players win. Madden embodied the commitment to excellence and he just won baby! Go look up the stories.

The Bigger Picture

Still, do either of these teams have real hopes to beat the Chiefs in a playoff game? Will they make any noise in the playoffs? More than likely, not. However, it would be a win for both first time head coaches and hungry fan bases.

Speaking of which, I went to the Chargers and Broncos game at SoFi this past weekend. Lots of Bolts fans were saying they were gonna take over Allegiant the same way Raiders fans took over SoFi on Monday Night. Multiple sites have said it will be majority Californians and Raiders fans in attendance.

People forget the Raiders are still the only NFL champs to call L.A. home. Madden also won a ring with the Oakland Raiders. Plus, the ties to West Coast hip hop make the Raiders L.A.’s prodical son that got away.

More than bragging rights, these teams will be lobbying for a lot of the same fair weather fans when they face each other again on National TV. Both teams will want one more shot at the Chiefs deep in the playoffs.

Who will Win?

Ultimately, this game will probably come down to the final possession. Special teams will be important as this matchup often comes down to field goals and field position.

Both teams will need to create turnovers. Each squad should make sacking the quarterback a priority. Therefore, both offensive lines will get tested. The Chargers recently got their center Corey Linsley back which will helps them.

Either team could strike with a big play given how both defenses. Raiders have allowed the tenth least passing yards and the Chargers gaveup the 13th least. Their rankings are similar for passing touchdowns.

L.A. allowed the third most rushing yards while the Raideds are more in the middle of the pack. It is pretty much the same with rushing TDs. Meaning, the running back matchup will be key. Austin Ekeler and Josh Jacobs are both versatile runners and border line Pro Bowlers. It looks like Jacobs is finally healthy and his offensive line is rolling. Ekeler is critical to the Chargers red zone efforts and he is a game breaking pass catcher. We know that,

Vegas is also looking forward to getting Darren Waller back. The league’s premier tight end has been questionable during this winning stretch. They will need his size and speed to run off those safeties and fast linebackers.

If the Raiders come out aggressive and stick to their gameplan this game is theirs to lose. They matchup well versus the Chargers if they can protect Carr enough to stretch the field for Jacobs and the running game. At some point, it is going to come down to which team is more physical, holds the most will and stays healthy the longest. The Raiders should hold the edge given the playoff draught, lofty expectations and the fact they have been playing for their lives for weeks now.

Regardless, I hope the team comes out taking chances like they have the past few weeks. Win lose or tie I want my team to play with pride. Field a gameplan that will make Madden and Davis smile from the heavens.

Worse case scenario, the Raiders come out flat at home and it turns ugly for everyone. Running out of gas wouldn’t be surprising given all that this team has gone through. However, you never want to let the Chargers sweep you or end your season.

Beating the Chargers will come down to Raiders football. Take the deep shots. Run the ball. Control the clock. Make them throw. Bring the quarterback down. Force a turnover. Just win. Playoffs baby!

TOO MUCH BYE BLUES FOR MORE BAD NEWS

This is not the badass Raiders your Dad and Grandpa watched. You can’t as easily sneak out of a motel after curfew for a few extra broads and brewskis before a big game. Police don’t just escort people home after drinking and driving anymore.

The Henry Ruggs tragedy is a reminder that times are different. Forty times won’t keep you in Silver and Black.

Drinking and driving kills. It only takes one time.

There’s no doubt it is 100 percent preventable, especially when you’re a professional athlete. You add all the other details and you wonder how can Ruggs not serve time? You’ve read about the high speeds, gun and BAC. You’ve seen those videos.

It’s still crushing to watch a 22-year-old fuck up his life. Ruggs went from playing the best football of his life to looking like he may never play again. Plus, all the guilt he feels from taking a life and letting down people relying on him. This is probably the craziest situation I’ve seen in terms of a professional athlete.

I don’t blame Derek Carr, Rich Bisaccia or Mark Davis for saying they love the person and stand by him. I can’t blame them for releasing Ruggs. Same goes for fans who want to see him punished and those who feel for him. It’s a rough situation but I life was lost from a preventable accident that happens far too often. Whatever happened in that car doesn’t change the fact that Ruggs is ultimately responsible.

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More Rain

The bye week got worse when news dropped that Damon Arnette was facing a lawsuit for a hit and run acr accident en route to a meeting last year. News broke about separate incidents with a valet and instagram live. People must be held accountable. You can’t play with guns like the ’70s anymore.

This is a lot for a fanbase that just accepted a move. You add that to the Raiders track record of losing. Don’t forget we just got embarrassed by Gruden’s dated and misogynistic locker room talk. One email can mess up your entire wikipedia. A mediocre second tenure didnt help.

Football is changing. You can’t do whatever you want anymore. You can’t say whatever. It’s a new time and the Raiders are in a new state.

AND the Raiders are not winning. It’s been almost twenty years since we won a playoff game. Being a renegade is only fun when you win.

The quest for a new home and stadium finally ended. Now, it deserves a playoff squad. There is also an addition playoff team and regular-season game this year.

Moving Past the Past

We saw the Raiders collapse in the second half of the season under Gruden. They started good but flamed out at the end. They missed the playoffs narrowly. Their struggles after the bye week are well documented under Gruden. We’ve also been bad traveling east for a minute.

That said, I feel great about Bisaccia. The team went into the bye week looking good. They got some rest. Then all these distractions happened.

We went from talking about the extra element Ruggs gave the offense to discussing Desean Jackson or Odell Becham Jr. Vegas zoomed with Jackson but they aren’t expected to add receiver this week.

Still, Bisaccia steady the ship. He was empathetic, commanding and honest with the media. It seems like the team is rallying around him and a more established Derek Carr.

This Carr isn’t the same 2016 MVP candidate. This Carr has to play like he is battling for his job. This Carr has been through two mediocre seasons. He lost his head coach and best receiver. Carr and Bisaccia give the team a fighting chance through adversity.

Receiving Options

Otherwise, Las Vegas promoted receivers Dillon Stoner and Marcell Ateman. Zay Jones is the veteran who really needs to step up into a starter role. Jones holds great chemistry with Carr as they always practice together in the offseason. More pressure falls on Bryan Edwards and Hunter Renfrow without Ruggs’ speed stretching the field every single play.

If OBJ is free, you sign him based on his age and upside. The shoulder injuries worry me but his lower body seems recovered from previous injuries. However, I’ve always wanted to see Jackson as a Raider. He is healthy and still brings speed. Jackson doesn’t have the same ability as Odell but he would fill Ruggs’ shoes better.

The Raiders could honestly use both if they’re serious about boosting the offense for a playoff push. They need Jackson at least. I’m also curious why they didn’t bring back John Brown since they also signed him for his speed.

We can’t forget the team stayed quiet at the deadline. I can’t blame them given everything with the team. They also believe in Zay Jones and their practice squad guys. Let’s see if they can get better in free agency or internally. They have done both this season already.

New York, New York

The Giants aren’t a great team but they do get teams to play down to their level. New York is 2-6 but they lost three games by one score or less. Saquon Barkley is ruled out but the Raiders know Davontae Booker can pop off. Receiver Kenny Galloday is questionable which means the Raiders secondary should dominate. Nate Hobbs and Casey Hayward are among the best rated at their positions.

Few teams need receivers like the Giants. Look at their injury report. However, the Raiders are still bad at covering tight ends. New Yorks’s Evan Engram is athletic and could torch the Raiders under the right circumstances. Engram was on the trade block too.

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I wouldn’t go as far to call it a trap game but the Giants do have enough to beat the Raiders. Leonard Williams and Dexter Jackson could give the Raiders run game some trouble. They can also be effective against the pass with James Bradburry and Adoree Jackson as a balanced corner duo. Our o-line looked improved a few weeks ago but they must maintain that growth on the road after a week off. The receivers must also step up without Ruggs taking the top off the defense.

Either way, the Raiders have a chance as long as their defensive line pressures Daniel Jones. The Raiders’ defensive line depth is their greatest asset. They face a Giants line with three players in the bottom ten at their position, per PFF. Everybody is healthy and rested again this week. The Raiders should have a full rotation.

Carr has to keep playing efficient football. The challenge will be finding ways to make big plays and strikes without Ruggs. Carr is going to need someone else to step up as his ex-factor. Look for more Foster Moreau, Kenyan Drake and Alec Ingold. Carr should spread the ball around a lot this game. He must rely on finding mismatches more without Ruggs beating his defender every play.

TMC

The point is, the Raiders know what they need to do. They must build their identity around their defensive line. Their secondary must continue making plays. Don’t screw up by giving up big chunks on penalties or blown assignments.

The offense must continue running through Carr and a strong run game. Vegas has a cast of characters who can help Carr drive the ball downfield. He can’t press too much. Lean on Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller. Find Hunter Renfrow on third down. Carr must develop trust with new players since Ruggs is gone.

Bisaccia should continue leading with poise and confidence. He should keep relying on his coaches as well as letting his players play.

Vegas plays the Chiefs in a game that will have meaning in a heated AFC West race. You can’t overlook the Giants but you want to be healthy and rolling into that game confident. Once again, let’ put a win between us and all this off-field mess.

RIP Tina Tintor and her puppers Max

Hello Victory Our Old Friend

Right before our season completely bottomed out, the Raiders ended their two-game skid by whooping the Broncos for their first division win. Coach Bisaccia became the first coach to win his debut since Hue Jackson.

Lessons From The Donkies

We got glimpses of the Ruggs and Carr combo we all dreamed about. Kenyan Drake and Josh Jacobs finally brought the 1-2 punch finally. Jacobs mixed physical running with Drake’s explosive play making.

Jacobs said the sideline had a much more professional feel minus Gruden yelling at all the players and coaches. It felt that way as the Raiders made noticeable adjustments. They never felt complacent or panicked which is how playoff teams play versus lesser division teams.

The Defense made big plays when needed. Solomon Thomas forced a crucial strip. Shout out to him for donating 8k per sack this year. Our defensive backs got back into the interception column too.

Well the Raiders sat in the driver seat by scoring on their first drive, Raiders PTSD made it feel like the game could turn at any moment. Las Vegas never really put Denver away even after the turnovers. 

Still, that is really nitpicking a road team playing a talented and banged up rival on the road. The Raiders found a way to win and that is all that matters baby. 

Deeper Meeting

Moreover, Fuck power rankings. Who cares if we fell in some made up rankings after staying in the West’s second spot? Our team showed the grit and confidence needed for a playoff push. Whether or not they get there will depend on many things including the offensive line. Rodney Hudson and Lincoln Kennedy ain’t walkin thru that door. 

At the very least, this team isn’t going to be packing it in even if they have all the reason to. Carr said he didn’t think the team could get any closer but that is exactly what happened after the Gruden of situation.

Gruden-Gate

Speaking of Gruden-gate, we heard from many Raiders and league stakeholders pushing for more emails from the WFT. Gruden is reportedly fumed that he got fired from an investigation he had nothing to do with. No shit. Mark Davis also said it was an intentional hit by the league. Probably.

The Raiders would still be controlled by some dated mediocre coach with misogynistic and racist thoughts if it weren’t for the emails. It’s also documented how the Raiders went from one of the most Black teams in the league before Gruden. The percentage instantly dropped when Gruden came to the field.  

Who cares though? The Raiders are off a great win and headed into another winnable match versus the Philadelphia Eagles. No pitty parties for coaches out the club.

Taking On Philly This Week

Some say this week’s matchup sets up a let down. The Eagles have a mobile quarterback along with an explosive tight end. Jalen Hurts is leading the team in both rushing and passing. Dallas Goedert is officially TE No. 1 with Zach Ertz shipped out. Myles Sanders can make plays. 

On defense, they have pass rushers blended with experience on all levels. Philadelphia top 10 in interceptions and passing yards allowed. However, they are in the bottom 10 for rushing yards allowed and passing touchdowns given up. That sets the Raiders up for perfect success since they want to run the ball to setup big pass plays downfield.

Keys to Beating the Eagles

Philly is ranked in the top-10 for yards per first down but they rank in the bottom over the last two games. The Eagles rely on creating manageable third downs for young quarterback Jalen Hurts. They are in the bottom ten for most passing yards in the NFL this year. If the Raiders can stop Myles Sanders from controlling the down and distance, they should be able to get after Hurts on passing downs. Hurts can also kill Vegas with his legs so the pass rushers must stay discipline on fakes and keep contain when getting up field. Getting Quinton Jefferson back should also help pressure Hurts and stop the run. Jefferson’s get-off is missed as he disrupts both the run and pass. It would also be great if the Raiders can force an interception again like last week.

Offensively, the Raiders must exert their will again. Vegas needs another fast start like last week. Forget the last time they looked lethargic at home versus the Bears as all the Gruden stuff loomed in the shadows. Let’s put that behind us by starting fast and getting all the weapons involved. This team is hard to beat when Ruggs is getting targets downfield and Bryan Edwards is making catches in the deeper intermediate route. Carr can find Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow anytime because of their chemistry. However, Ruggs and Edwards give them the big play threat that makes it hard to lock in on Carr’s favorite targets.

Bottom Line

Overall, it won’t matter what the offense wants to do if they can’t get blocking up front. The O-line played better versus the Broncos but they could only go up from where they played versus the Bears. Hopefully, this group can continue improving as they get more reps together. They’ll face real tests with Fletcher Cox and company in town. Philadelphia leaves much to be desired versus the run so this is a chance for the young offensive line to gain some confidence running the ball.

Vegas played with a chip on their shoulder for the first time in a bit. They looked mad and angry. However, they kept it balanced by rolling through the good and the bad. Our Raiders looked like they had been there before even when it seemed like they were going to let Denver back into the game. If the Raiders can maintain the physicality and the professional focus forward, there is no reason why they can not make the playoffs. That starts with handling business versus a beatable Philly team.

Otherwise, a loss won’t be the end of the world headed into a bye week. The Bye Week is the breathe of fresh air we all need. Yet, sitting at 5-2 in first place is much better than tied for second at 4-3. Hopefully, the game won’t be too crazy with Philly fans, although they travel well and Vegas is a transit town.

Either way, the Raiders got to find a way to put good to solid teams away if they really want to legitimize themselves as contenders. For now, I think we’ll all just take 2-0 in the post-Gruden era.

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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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!