Sticking to the Script versus the Chargers + One Last Goodbye/Homecoming

The Oakland Raiders have to beat the Chargers this week. There is not much to play for this week for either team as both AFC West teams are virtually eliminated from the playoffs. You might even argue that a win here would hurt the team’s draft pick.

However, the Raiders are still a young team. They got to teach their young players that you beat those Bolts and the AFC West no matter what. That is what Raiders fans want, because we hate those long-time rivals. It is also a message that makes business sense if the Raiders want to build a contending culture.

Think about the Pats. They make the playoffs every year partly because their division has been so bad.

Speaking of scripts, we know how this game goes. Chargers special teams or Philip Rivers makes an error that costs the Chargers the game. The Raiders just need to keep themselves in the game so they can capitalize on that error, whatever it is.

That will be challenging with Jacobs and a couple of starting offensive linemen missing the game. That’s why we will once again turn to Derek Carr. The past couple of weeks showed us Carr is not our only hope. However, it is not all his fault.

We also got to see the coaching step up. The Raiders have been so bad in the second half and part of that is coaching. You must adapt and make adjustments or you will get your chain snatched.

One More Awkward Goodbye

Not to mention, this homecoming and a goodbye. The Raiders played an era in Los Angeles. They almost built a stadium where the Rams are building a stadium. They almost linked up with the Chargers to build a stadium. They won a Super Bowl in the Rose Bowl. They reportedly sold 10 percent of their tickets in Vegas too.

“We were born in Oakland, and Oakland will always be part of our DNA,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said by phone this week per the L.A. Times. “But there were some great years in Los Angeles that will also be part of our DNA, and we’ll never forget that.”

Davis also talked about what he learned from the L.A. Raiders and their efforts to relocate:

“I learned a big lesson in L.A. when we were there the last time,” said Mark Davis, in a column this week about the Raiders return. “I was ready to return because I understood the difference of how we approached it when ‘Just win, baby’ was good enough.

I get that Davis is saying it isn’t enough to just show up in a new market and say we’re the NFL team, we’re winning and please support us.

However, Davis is omitting what his fan base wants most. That is winning.

It is not called a commitment to mediocrity or just stan baby. Raiders fans have always been about winning, whether you’re a Panther or Hell’s Angel. Black or White, Raiders Nation always been about winning.

We are all desperate for success, especially in our modern era of draft busts, stadium rumors and coaching mediocrity. It’s been almost twenty years. This decade is going down with the 90s as the only two eras the Raiders did not make a Super Bowl. Damn.

So the Raiders got to do right by L.A. by closing it out with a win even if they couldn’t do that in Oakland. Here is a few exerts from my FullPressCoverage.com op-ed which tied Southern California Raiders fans to their neighbors in the Bay.

We all are sad and feel for Oakland because we know what it is like to watch them leave, we know what it is like for the NFL to ignore us even though we did nothing right and we know what it is like to be in a market without the NFL. Here it is modified to just the blog and opinion part:

Oakland is Home Even For L.A. Raiders Fans

Raiders fans in Oakland aren’t the only ones sad about the Silver and Black leaving their home in the East Bay. Fans from neighboring Southern California know what it is like to lose the Raiders too.

Since the Vegas rumors emerged I’ve taken the stance that the Raiders belong in Oakland here and on various blogs. Yet, I’ve always tried to understand the greatness of the L.A. Raiders. 

Why do so many people across my region follow a team that hasn’t given them a real reason to in almost two decades?

More importantly, would this community follow a team that broke their heart to another new frontier when they have other NFL options, the Chargers and Rams, in closer proximity? 

Oakland is Home

The Oakland Raiders played their final home game in the East Bay on Sunday. It was the day we were dreading since the Silver and Black announced their future plans for Las Vegas a few years ago. 

An already sad occasion got worse when the team lost in the final seconds to a playoff irrelevant Jaguars team. Fans booed, threw trash and showed their disdain for a garbage product that has the audacity to leave them for greener pastures. 

There is no doubt the East Bay will miss the Raiders the most. I’ve always said Oakland is Mecca for Raider Nation. That won’t change. 

Oakland paid for that team to return from L.A. in the 90s and they are still paying for it. The city inspired the team’s names, color and attitude. That community supported the Raiders through their worst decade ever, the 2010s, despite all the constant relocation rumors. 

However, the team leaving their home will be felt throughout Raiders fans, including those fans in the team’s former place of residence, Los Angeles. Oakland is the foundation. 

Since the Vegas rumors emerged I’ve taken the stance that the Raiders belong in Oakland here and on various blogs. Still, I’ve always tried to understand the greatness of the L.A. Raiders and how the presence of two NFL teams, not the Raiders, changes their lives. 

Most of the marketing about the Vegas Raiders surrounds its proximity to both the Bay Area and Southern California. In fact, the stadium’s name rights owner Allegiant Airlines plans for major promotions in those markets to get fans too Raiders games. Vegas is even closer to for Los Angeles drivers L.A. because it is only a 3-4 hour push depending on traffic.  

That doesn’t mean Los Angeles is jumping for joy that their neighbors in the Bay are losing their team to another state. Many forget the Badasses won a Super Bowl XI in the Rose Bowl as the Oakland Raiders. Others forget they are L.A.’s only Super Bowl Champs as the winners of Super Bowl XVIII. You might also remember the current site of the Rams and Chargers SoFi stadium was almost home to the Raiders first

Still, Raiders fans in L.A. and Southern Calif., know what it is like to lose their favorite team too. Many people like me didn’t even know what it was like to have an NFL team until a few years ago. 

Southern California’s Connection to the Raiders

A column from the New York Times in 2016 went into the disappointment Raiders fans felt when their team would not return to L.A. because the Rams and Chargers got selected:

“But while Rams fans seemed to go into hibernation during the team’s absence, Raiders fans continued to wear their colors. They remained drawn to their team’s brash play and menacing image even though its performance on the field was often uninspiring. Many Raiders fans in Los Angeles remain attracted to the team’s mystique — its silver and black colors, the pirate logo, the team’s longtime owner, Al Davis, who died in 2011 but who in his prime strutted the sidelines in leather and snubbed his nose at the football establishment.”

An L.A. Times article by Dylan Hernandez described the Raiders return to L.A. in the 2018 preseason. Hernandez said Raiders fans outnumbered Rams fans at least three to one.  

The 19-15 loss was the Raiders first game the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in almost 24 years. 

“Even when the Rams ran out, they were booing them. It definitely made us feel right at home. Truly appreciate them. Wish we could’ve won a game for them.” Former quarterback EJ Manuel said after that preseason game.

Former Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie was at that game too. McKenzie spent his first four years in the NFL as a Los Angeles Raiders linebacker. 

Gilbert Manzano Review Journal said you could hear Raiders fans answer when the P.A. chanted, “Whose house?”

“It just tells you how strong Raider Nation really is,” McKenzie said after that game. “Once a Raider fan, you’re always a Raiders fan. They bleed silver and black.”

“I think the combination of Oakland and L.A. will migrate to those games (in Las Vegas),” McKenzie said when he was still G.M. “I think we’re going to get a true Raiders fan base.”

Head Coach Jon Gruden said it was awesome being back in Los Angeles too. 

“(The Raiders) have history here, a championship history here. There’s still a lot of fans that remember those teams, and rightfully so.” Gruden said after the 2018 exhibition versus the Rams.

Even more recently, a L.A. Times article recently described the L.A. Coliseum or Dignity Healthy Sports park as places where you will see all kinds of team jerseys including Raiders jerseys.

Columnist Arash Markazi wrote that the city has plenty of NFL fans, but many might not call the Rams or Chargers their favorite.

Arash adds: 

“It’s not an indictment on Los Angeles as an NFL city but rather an indictment on the NFL’s failure to understand Los Angeles.”

L.A. will always be a part of the Raiders story whether the NFL recognizes it or not. That’s why it is so sad to witness them ripped from our neighbors in the Bay. 

A NFL.com article from Marc Sessler said it well: 

“And while all this history unfurled successfully for a time in Los Angeles, nothing we imagine and feel about the Raiders would have been possible without Oakland — oft-drowned out by the lights and call of San Francisco, but cut from a cloth utterly unknown to any other gridiron home-front.”

I will always take the stance that the Raiders belong in Oakland. However, I will also always try to understand the greatness of the L.A. Raiders and how two present NFL teams, not the Raiders, changes their lives. 

Nothing Like Oakland

For over 20 years. Los Angeles had no football team. That is not something I wish on my future generations in the Bay. Those circumstances make you vulnerable to Cowboys and Patriots fans because anything is better than rooting for the 49ers. I felt a similar disdain for the Chargers despite their proximity. It was in my blood. 

I chose the Raiders and never regretted it despite the constant Sunday headaches from bad play. Every Raiders tailgate I’ve ever been to in Oakland is among the best days in my life. The people are one of a kind. Having a place where you’re not the only weirdo Raiders fan is an epic experience. 

That will always be in Oakland. There’s nothing like it. You can find it in L.A. if you seek it out. Something similar might grow in Vegas but it won’t be the same.  

Don’t feel too bad for L.A. We have two teams for just about every sport along with Hollywood and tons of entertainment options, including close proximity the Strip and Las Vegas. 

Yet, all of that is not enough for Raiders fans in L.A. to forget about our Raiders whether they’re in Oakland, Vegas or L.A.

You can find just the original reporting portion updated here.

A Goodbye to Oakland and Beating the Jags

Oakland is an Experience

Everyday for the past four years I’ve woken up and looked at the Oakland Coliseum, Alameda Coliseum. O.co or whatever it is called. A few years back someone bought me a picture of the stadium printed on canvas.

It’s a reminder of the place I feel most at home.

Gruden hit it perfect when talking about the Black Hole via an ESPN article earlier this week:

“There’s something about these people. They’re nuts. They’re the closest thing to me that I’ve ever seen. We have that in common.”

You get that feeling throughout the entire Raiders gameday experience. Some of the best days of my life are the Raiders games I’ve gone to.

Last month, My friend and his wife along with me and my pops traveled to the Bay for Oakland’s final Thursday Night Football game versus the Los Angeles Chargers. It was my first night game in the Coliseum and a very tight turnaround from early Thursday A.M. until Friday the next morning.

The tailgate was as great as ever but we had to prioritize trunk space in my sedan over bringing the full BBQ and meat experience. Luckily, one neighbor from Sacramento, Ron, was a butcher. He hooked us up with a cowboy-cut steak large enough for our part of four. The tender meat possessed all sorts of flavor from the charred bone attached and the carmelized fat. It literally made our day.

I’d be lying if I said this is the only time I got help from generous tailgaters at a Raiders game. I can’t recall all the paper towels, lysol wipes, utensils and helpful hands setting up I’ve acquired from literal strangers. There is no tailgate like a Raiders game. UCLA, USC, Rams and more are cool but they are no Oakland.

Tailgating is an uncertainty headed to the new stadium. However, the Oakland tailgating experience was one of a kind. It is something you had to experience whether you were a Raiders fan or not. Sometimes, just being there feels like a win.

The Legend of Oakland 2.0

All week, there’s been great reporting from across the Bay Area. Scott Bair, Vic Tafur, Jerry Richardson, and Paul Gutierrez all taking their own angles on The East Bay’s final home game for the Raiders. Those

Various fans and legends have all talked about their favorite moments and pieces of Raiders history in the Coliseum. Of course most of them revolve around Oakland and Raiders Nation.

Kirk Morrison, hit it on the head with this quote via Gutierrez:

“The positive I took from those years was the fans, always showing up. Being a Raider and being a Raider fan is not about sports; it’s a lifestyle. One that says, ‘We don’t take nobody’s s—.”

For me, that’s what I’ll always remember. The great fans. I did not grow up to see the Badasses. I missed Madden, Tom Flores, Marcus Allen and most of the Raiders greats. Heck, I barely recall the first Gruden and Gannon days.

I will remember Raiders twitter. That time we got #DJAXtoOakland trending. Or the many free agents we tried to tamper with. All the second guessing of Reggie McKenzie.

I’ll remember the one playoff season. The taste of greatness I never really got to experience got delivered by a QB from Fresno St. and former NFL Linebacker turned head coach from Heyward.

I will remember the draft headaches from Jamarcus Russell all the way to D.J. Hayden.

I will remember the bit of home gamebreakers like Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Darren McFadden and others gave us. Did we win? Nah, but the only glimpse of hope we had each week came from those guys.

How about standout defensive players like Thomas Howard, Derrick Burgess, Fabian Washington, Stanford Routt or Michael Huff. These alumni might not ever make a Hall of Fame but they’re legends and icons for those of us that never had any.

What about all the veterans that passed through. Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Tuck, Lamar Woodley, Doug Martin, and the list goes on. Sure, we were a blimp in their career but I won’t forget the excitement we sold ourselves.

Remember Charles Woodson’s return? Or the Goat’s final game versus the Chargers on Christmas Eve. Marshawn Lynch’s addition was crazy too in its own way.

Plus, the hoggies like Jared Veldheer, Stefan Wiśniewski or Jon Feliciano. Lamar Houston, Stacy McGee, Desmond Bryant and others we developed through the years. You have to look fondly at those considering all the times we missed.

All the coaches that passed by. Some too early like Hue Jackson and Lane Kiffin. Others too late like Art Shell and Norv Turner.

The man, the myth and legend that was Al Davis patrolling the sideline in his all white and Raiders gear. The bowl cut infamy from Mark Davis that watches from the box these days. They are the foundation of the story too.

Goodbye to Raiders Nation’s Mecca

Good and bad, we leave an era behind today. No matter what the Raiders become it won’t be the same as Oakland.

A NFL.com article described it pretty well.

A pro football team born in the ebb-and-flow fires of the AFL — tinged initially with threats of bankruptcy — only to morph into a rough-and-tumble underdog puncher predestined to permanently rock the 100-year-long storyline of the NFL.

Whatever it means to be a Vegas Raiders fan it won’t be the same as an Oakland or L.A. Raiders fan. Either way, there is not much we can do but say Goodbye to Oakland.

Goodbye to the place that inspired the colors and names of the Raiders. Goodbye to the City that supported the team through nearly two decades of trash play.

Goodbye to the community this renegade team supports and represents. A place significant to culture. A place important to history whether it is the Black Panthers or Hells Angels.

Goodbye to the place that welcomed the Raiders back when they left. Goodbye to the place that welcomed me and Raiders fans from outside of the area every single week.

That’s why this hurts so much. Oakland has been nothing but great to the Raiders. It is not their fault ownership can not front a stadium like Kroenke and the Rams. This is California in 2020 and no team is getting a stadium built with tax paying dollars with homelessness and everything else on our agenda.

So this blow to Oakland is felt throughout Raiders nation because the team is not relevant. The Raiders need a lot of stuff to happen for them to have a craps chance at the Playoffs. It would have been nice to bid the city farewell with one last playoff role.

Instead, Oakland gets gifted one last mediocre season. They got to watch young talent like Maxx Williams and Josh Jacobs flash only to see them blossom in another city and time down the line. It hurts but might only hurt less if the team leaves on a high note. They got to beat the Jaguars for this to be a true Goodbye.

Either way, it will probably feel far less kumbaya and more like Cleveland, Baltimore, Seattle or any of the times a pro team just up and left the community that berthed them.

Ending On a High Note

Back to the game today. Josh Jacobs is expected to play today. You saw what the team is like without him in the second half last week. They needed a playmaker. Jacobs would’ve worn on the Titans by that point in the game.

Oakland needs better QB play. They need to create more pressure upfront. They need better receiver and DB play. These are all things I’ve been screaming for literally every week. Some weeks it has been enough and others it hasn’t come close.

My bet is that it will come closer to enough this week. The Jaguars are in about the same boat as the Raiders. They have some talent, youth and experience. They lack the QB play to get them anywhere near consistent but they are good for a surprise.

The Raiders can not afford to come out slow. They can not afford to mess around because the Jaguars will surprise them. They matchup well especially with their strong defensive line.

Still, the Silver and Black got to bring it together for a win. They got to come out hot and hyped. They better since it is Oakland’s final week as host. For now, all I’m screaming about. Goodbye to Oakland. But I’d like to toast to one more win in the Easy Bay.

 

No Bye Week Blues, Zay Jones and No Pack No

No Bye Week issues this year minus Trent Brown’s off-the-field civil lawsuit for alleged DV against an ex girlfriend.

The Oakland Raiders beat the Khalil Mack led Chicago Bears in London, the Silver and Black acquired Zay Jones and they’re sitting above .500 in the playoff pick.

Either way, the Raiders are in a good spot in the bye week. Tyrell Williams got an extra week to rest his feet and Gabe Jackson is expected to return from preseason injury.

Zaytoven

I need a Zaytoven signature drop every time the former Bills receiver scores. Because his addition is music to my ears. The six-three receiver can bring the Raiders harmony once they get speedster receiver Tyrell Williams back from injury.

In the meantime, Jone might be the Raiders best receiver. He will make his debut as a key receiver with an extra week passed to have learned the playbook and Derek Carr. Jones never had more than 700 receiving yards in Buffalo but he did set the receiving record in college for career receptions. He was also a solid deep threat and had the agility, strength and explosiveness to be a second round pick in 2017.

It is a low risk move for the Raiders who could not rest on good enough to beat the Bears during the bye. Jones can hopefully bring some depth and possession receiver skills to Oakland’s corps which needs it all.

That means we should get a good read on what Jones will bring to the team, where his chemistry with Carr is and more this week. He could easily be the DaVante Adams (Carr’s college favorite target), James Jones or Michael Crabtree with his size and speed combination. Hopefully he can give the Coliseum reasons to dance when a Zaytoven drop hits after a TD.

No Pack No

Most of all, the Raiders get an extra week to figure out how to stop A-rod and the Packers offense.

The Silver and Black will also get challenged offensively. Green Bay paid for a couple of pass rushers with the last name Smith who are playing well this season. Add in Amos and a young, improving Packers defense is set up to take away Derek Carr’s downfield passing aspirations.

Of course, the Raiders are going to do their best to wear that front seven down with their run game and catch the secondary slipping on play action passes. The game is still gonna come down to Derek Carr matching No. 12 for the Packers.

Bad officiating aside, Monday Night Football showed Aaron Rodgers doing what it takes to help his team win. As long as the game is close, Rodgers always keeps them in the game. It will be Carr’s job to do the same for the Raiders. Carr needs to find ways to keep drives alive and answer the Packers’ momentum in a hostile environment.

Speaking of which, the Raiders haven’t won in Lombeau since the 80s. Social Media is already showing Raider Nation deep in Green Bay. Why Not?

This is an old rivalry of two small NFL teams dating back to Super Bowl II when these guys play. They’re the most iconic names and fanbases in all of sports.

We Talkin’ about Playoffs?

It should be a good game and a chance for a statement win as 5-1 Green Bay could be without several key receivers and Jimmy Graham.

Suddenly, the Raiders find themselves with the same amount of losses as the first place Chiefs who will be without Pat Mahomes at least a bit after his knee injury. Denver and Los Angeles seem underwhelming in the AFC West which gives the Raiders a good shot at the playoffs.

Before all that, they got to figure out a way to tell the pack no on defense. They managed without Vontaze Burfict on defense and kept running the ball with Trent Brown out a few weeks. They will need to do more against a Green Bay team that seems finally ready for Super Bowl contention again thanks to an improved offense and more skill around Rodgers.

This will be a telling game for the rest of the Raiders season. How do they come out on the road after a bye? Are they hyped and ready to go or sluggish? Do they come out with new formations on both sides or is it more of the status quo? What other adjustments can this coaching staff make to keep the Raiders competitive versus a very talent Packers team.

We find this all out today when Oakland plays the Pack as a 5-point underdog. If the Raiders can pressure Rodgers and get a turnover, they got a shot. That is especially true if  Carr can get the offense rolling again early like versus Denver, Indianapolis and Chicago.

This game will tell us if the Raiders are that team that won decisively in those three games. Or were they the team that got dominated by more talented Vikings and Chiefs teams?

Remember, Green Bay beat the Minnesota team that stomped the Raiders. They also beat the Bears so this game could honestly go either way.

It will be up to the Raiders to come out fast and smart early. They got to prove they’re not overmatched and they’re willing to win a physical game or shootout it a hostel environment. This will be the week where the Raiders show us if they are pretenders or contenders.

If they capitalize on the Packers injuries and find ways to score on offense, they got a chance to join the AFC’s strongest teams. Otherwise, a loss might expose them as the .500 team they are desperately trying to maintain.

Building momentum against the Mack Attack

The return of the Mack is here and this ain’t an Andrew Yang rally. The Raiders are lucky this game is in London and not Oakland. Khalil Mack’s return to the Bay would be nuts especially if the Bears win and/or Mack dominates.

Imagine Khalil Mack getting by Kolton Miller and saying I’m so glad we’re not on the same team, get better. Imagine him telling Brown this is what you gave all that money to?

The reality is, Mack probably doesn’t really even care. There are only 11 players who played with Mack on the Raiders. One of those players is Derek Carr.

What happens if Carr is dead to rights by Mack? Does Carr slide or take a knee? When Mack does sack his former teammate does he help out his bro?

They’ve been publicly nice to each other on social and things didn’t end bad with them. We still have never seen them play against each other.

The real beef lies with Jon Gruden who won’t actually play in the game. Gruden is the one who saw that Mack was traded. Gruden was the one who said he wanted Mack. Gruden is also the one who said he never met Mack not to long ago. It’s business but business is more fun when you get to prove people wrong.

Expect Mack to go full beast mode. I’d expect at least a couple of sacks and maybe a turnover.

The Raiders will do their best to make sure anyone but Mack beats them. That’s how good Mack is though. He can get doubled team and still change the game himself or free everyone else up. I know watching every game of his first four seasons.

I got into an argument at a bar last week. If the Raiders had Mack and Cooper they would be a playoff team. Mo Hurst, Arden Key and Clelin Ferrell are the exact complimentary players Mack never had in Oakland.

Tell me we couldn’t use Amari Cooper right now too. You can argue his motivation to stay in Oakland but don’t argue his impact on the field.

That’s why this game feels personal. This is the first time we will play Khalil Mack. Mack was nothing but a Raider. He played hard, he led by example and he changed games. He came to work every day and is arguably the best draft pick in team history. We shipped that off for Josh Jacobs.

No disrespect to Jacobs. He is balling right now and I’m glad he is here. However, Gruden upset what had already been a treacherous rebuild. We were only 3/4 through a franchise reconstruction before Gruden put the Raiders through another retool.

As much as we all want the Raiders to win, get over .500 and build some momentum, I think there is all a small part of us that wants Mack to stick it to Gruden and the Raiders. Remember, the Silver and Black are leaving Oakland after this year. You’re telling me they didn’t want two more seasons of Khalil? You’re telling me they don’t want to see Mack single-handling beat Gruden just a little?

You’re lying. Once a Raider, always a Raider.

The point is, this will be a can’t miss game for Raiders faithful. Get up early. Besides, the Bears always play us really tight. It wouldn’t surprise me if this is a very close game.

How do the Raiders win?

Upfront, naturally. All eyes should be on Miller and Brown. Both got to finish the game versus a tough Bears defense that ranks in the top five for scoring.

Oakland is going to need to exert their will with Jacobs and the run game. That will help neutralize the Bears rush.

Nonetheless, Tyrell Williams is questionable for this game. Oakland will have a tough time stretching the field without their best receiver. Darren Waller is going to get a lot of throws.

On defense, the Raiders face a similar challenge as Ferrell will probably miss the game due to a concussion last week. Oakland can not let the Bears get in sync like they allowed Minnesota a few weeks ago. Chicago’s offense is bad this year so the Raiders can’t get exposed by them.

That means this game is on the front seven. They’ll have to stop the run without Marquel Lee or Vontaze Burfict. Lee is on IR and Burfict suspended for the year. The D-line also needs to do their part in the run plus push Mitch Trubisky into bad decisions. Defensive backs got to tackle too and limit big run plays or yards after the catch.

In the end, this is a winnable game for the Raiders. It depends what team shows up. Will the Raiders come out fast like last week versus the Colts? Or will they come out dazed from the jump like versus the Vikings?

We will see. Carr and Gruden got to get these guys up. We all know Mack will do his best to get his guys going.

Lessons from the collapse to the Chiefs

What did we learn from the Raiders collapse versus the Chiefs in a 28-10 loss despite the Raiders early loss?

First, the Chiefs are again the class of the AFC West still. Oakland looked like they could be sneaky good when they were up 10-0 early versus their rivals. Then, the Chiefs turned it on for a quarter and that was it. They coasted their way to the win.

Second, the Raiders are better than Denver but not by much. Sometimes, when something like that 10-0 lead seems too good to be true it probably is. Even if the Raiders aren’t as bad as some thought they were that doesn’t mean they’re as good as the elite Chiefs.

Last, maybe the AFC West isn’t as good as any of us hoped. The Raiders have played a third of their division schedule already and split the results. On one hand, they’re better than Denver but the Broncos at least kept it close. The Chargers on the other hand lost thanks to some kicking yet again. They own the same record as Oakland after a loss in Week Two. To be determined.

Either way, the Raiders got to find a way to build around that 10-0 start and forget the rest. Their pass rush and secondary looked closer to last year than the week before. Carr too.

The schedule is too tough. Oakland needs wins fast or it might get ugly. There’s no one that’s gonna save the Raiders. The guys on the trade block are mostly expensive DBs. Sure, Ramsey might help but he ain’t playing defensive end. Oakland already has too much invested in the secondary. You got Joyner’s fat contract. Conley, Mullen, Abram and Joseph are all high picks. Riley, Worley and Harris are supposed to be good vets. Don’t forget the wasted pick on Obi. Oakland can’t afford trading a high pick or paying a big contract for a DB. They need more pass rush and it’s not clear that is out there on the trading block.

The point is, the Raiders got outclassed by the Chiefs. It won’t be the last time they’re overmatched. I think the game was a reality check for the Raiders after they bullied a sorry Broncos team. Oakland won’t be home for a while which means they got to find a way to put that collapse behind them and Just Win Baby!

A win and more draft busting

Last week the Oakland Raiders beat the Arizona Cardinals in a close game. Nothing to boast about considering the Cardinals started a rookie QB who the Raiders basically traded to Arizona for nothing. Still, Oakland’s defense made enough plays to win the game.

Of course, that cost the Raiders in the race for the No. 1 pick. The Cardinals are in the driver seat for the top pick with that loss.

Derek Carr doubled down on the team’s success by saying he wants to continue winning games. Carr said he wants people to be mad at him for ruining the team’s chances at a top pick.

See this wouldn’t be a big deal if the Raiders hadn’t traded two of their best draft pieces. Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack were both trade for first round picks. However, the homegrown talent now has their current team’s in the playoff race. Mack has the Bears looking like a Super Bowl caliber defense. Dallas is back in the playoff picture since acquiring Cooper. That means Oakland’s added draft capital is going to come in the middle to back end of the draft. It’s hard to find impact players that late especially when you consider both Mack and Cooper were top five picks.

Nonetheless, Carr needs to just play good. Forget the wins and losses, Carr just needs to elevate his game and prove us wrong that way. We’ve seen what Carr can do with no talent around him. He’s not that kind of player.

Sure, it’s not all his fault he’ll beat his brothers record for the most losses in their first five seasons. However, he doesn’t not deserve blame either.

The point is, Carr needs great players around him. That’s what the Raiders did in 2016. Unfortunately, I don’t know if they’ll be able to get that talent around him again before his confidence gets ruined on another losing team. The draft is crap shoot and the Raiders would need to hit instantly on all three picks to look like a contender next year. They’ve abandoned too much draft capital over the past few years so they lack talent in many places on the roster.

If Carr really wants to prove people wrong, he better elevate his game. DC is my boi and he would be great on another team with talent. He has the great leadership and talent to thrive somewhere he isn’t the focal point. Carr lacks that ball placement, pocket poise and decision making you want in an elite QB.

That means, Carr must use these next six games to show he’s an elite player and convince Jon Gruden he doesn’t need to draft a QB. Otherwise, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Raiders cash in their very good player for the chance at a great one in the draft.

The key to stopping Lamar Jackson

In other news, it’s looking more like Lamar Jackson will make his second start this week versus the Raiders. Jackson had the most rushing yards for a QB since Colin Kaepeenick. Jackson also showed some throwing ability which shouldn’t be a surprise given his history as a Heisman Trophy winner.

This is probably going to be a real challenge for the Raiders who have already lacked pass rush and discipline across the defensive line. Expect Baltimore to do a lot of misdirection to keep the Raiders defense on their toes. Containing a dual threat player like Jackson means applying pressure but also being discipline when plays breakdown. Players like Arden Key have got to step up.

Key has the length and acceleration to be a real disruptive player. However, he’s gotta work on his awareness. That will be tested this week as the Ravens rely on spread option and play action concepts meant to take advantage of Key’s aggression.

If Key can stay in his lane and react well, he should get some opportunities to make plays versus another rookie. Either Way, the Raiders have their hands full with Jackson in front of his home crowd. He can use one play to ignite his whole team which makes him a true phenom.

Other things to watch versus the Ravens

Seems like the Raiders have played the Ravens every year the past few seasons. Last year’s matchup ended in a narrow win for Baltimore but the Raiders won the previous two season’s close contests. This game should also be close. The Ravens looked like a contender than lost a bunch before Jackson emerged as a new hope.

Now, they’ll play an Oakland team off a nice win and looking like they finally have a bit of an identity. We can’t forget Michael Crabtree playing against his old team. However, most of the team and coaches he new left with the changing of the guard.

Regardless, the Raiders secondary looked improve last week. The Ravens receivers have been hot and cold. That will be a key matchup of inconsistent players.

Are the Raiders the Worst in the NFL? Battle of the Bay, no trades before Halloween and more

I can’t believe I’m happy to say that we competed versus the Indianapolis Colts last week. It’s truth though. Last Sunday was the first week I enjoyed watching the 2018 Raiders.

Their adjustments and talent weren’t great, sure, but I finally saw young players like Gareon Conley and Karl Joseph playing. Were they great? No, but you want to see young talent playing from a rebuilding team.

More importantly, Derek Carr played hard. He didn’t let all the distractions effect him. He looked like he was finally having fun again. That’s a long way from the dude who was ‘crying’ only a few weeks ago.

It was honestly the first time I felt like Gruden’s plan was in the process. I felt the buy-in from the squad even if it didn’t result in a win.

Are the Raiders the worst team in the NFL?

Only two seasons ago we were talking about them being the best and now we’re talking about them being the worst. SMFH.

Either way, the Raiders are among the worst teams in the standings. They look like by-far the worst team in the AFC West. Moreover, they aren’t really set at any position. They’re filled with wholes at the key positions including RB, QB, OL, DL, CB, LB and damn near every position. QB is the only position you could say the Raiders have set but even that depends on how he plays and meshes with his coach moving forward this season. Oh yeah, there is LT too with Kolton Miller and some of the OL depending what happens after this year.

Outside of that, they barely beat the Browns who fired the coach this week. Cleveland has 1.5 wins more than Oakland. They also have already found key players on the d-line, in the backfield, at receiver and in the secondary.

Further, comparisons to sorry teams don’t fall in the Raiders favor either. Buffalo has one more win for Pete’s sake. The Colts also beat us even if they looked like trash in the process.

In the NFC, there’s the Cardinals. Sure, they only have one more win but they have a QB, RB and possibly a WR to build around. There defense was also great not too long ago and still has a lot of players with name recognition.

Even the Giants, who have the same record as the Raiders, appear better. New York at least has a franchise savior at RB and WR. Their defense is grossly overpaid and overhyped but still has more talent than Oakland.

Then you have the 49ers…. Even they have a QB sort of. Jimmy G has a limited sample size of success but don’t tell that to 9ers Stans. They also have key young players throughout the defense that give them a nice nucleus for the future. They’ve also been in the lottery a lot more than some of the other sorry teams this season mentioned earlier.

Battle of the Bay

Well, we will certainly find out this week, tonight, versus the 49ers. Oakland has another toilet bowl on their schedule as both teams enter the game with only one win.

Sure, it’s the battle of the bay and supposed to be a rivalry game but does anyone actually care outside of the bay? Again, who knows.

I’d expect a physical game even if it isn’t a good game. The Raiders should win consider the 49ers are depleted by injury and starting a third string QB whose name I can’t even recall.

On the other hand, a loss here would be horrible for the Raiders. If you win one game this season it better be versus the 49ers. Moreover, we all know who wins the fight after and the drinking battle before, #RaiderNation.

No trades at the deadline

Apparently, the Raiders biggest trades already happened. We all know the squad already moved franchise cornerstones Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack but they were expected to keep making trades anyways. Derek Carr, Karl Joseph, Gareon Conley and others were rumored to get moved. It made sense if the Raiders were going all-in for tanking. Besides, one team’s trash is another persons treasure.

However, nothing happened and it is okay. I don’t know if I could have stomached another trade. It is a little disappointing that guys like Rodney Hudson, Bruce Irvin and Kelechi Osemele are stuck playing for a sorry team this late into their career. However, they’re all compensated well and professionals. It will be interesting to see how they and other veterans factor into the Raiders plans after this season.

Nonetheless, I’m sure Oakland tried to move those players. They just couldn’t find good value and figured they’d be better off saving those chips and letting them play out. Who knows, maybe young guys Karl Joseph and Gareon Conley can turn their careers around and get Gruden to believe in them.

Ultimately, a team can only take so much change. The Raiders couldn’t afford to make another deal just for the sake of it. Their team is another roster move away from being the laughing stock of the league so keeping their talent should’ve always been a priority.

Petty Pete’s Points: Hue’s Revenge and more thoughts headed into Week Four

Once again, the Raiders are headed into a must win and they couldn’t have a more ironic game. The Browns come into town giving Baker Mayfield his first NFL Start. Hue Jackson also returns to Oakland riding the high of his first win in damn near two years.

Moreover, Hue returns to the team that fired him after an 8-8 season. There’s an argument that he deserved it because he abused his power and Reggie McKenzie was bent on changing the culture. Now, the entire culture that McKenzie built is in jeopardy with Jon Gruden now having the biggest salary, ego and shot-calling rights. Still, a loss here would signify that the entire seven seasons was a waste. Not only would it redeem Jackson as a coach but it may cost McKenzie his job as Gruden continue pointing fingers for this 0-4. A loss here could bring the Raiders full circle and back to square one. What a way to end an era and have the bottom fall out of a franchise… You couldn’t make up this much irony in a story.

Hue’s Revenge

Yes, a loss here would signify Hue Jackson’s revenge. It would prove the old man, Al Davis, was right when he believed Jackson could lead and team. Remember, Al took a chance on Hue after limited OC experience. Jackson was the last coach Davis would hire and he kept the team in the playoff hunt until the final week (Sorry, for the hard memories).

Still, Hue also got blackballed from head coaching jobs for a few years after the fall out of the Raiders.  A win for Hue might also lead Raiders fans to second guess why they even let the man go after a .500 season.

In Reggie we trust, right?

Well, now it appears Reggie and most of his guys are in the rear view like Hue was when Reggie came in. Karma is a b… but Reggie should understand a new head honcho bring in, ‘his guys,’ since that’s exactly what he did.

Moreover, you don’t have to be an NFL insider to understand what is happening in the Raiders locker room. There are reports that Gruden is already phasing out McKenzie and his guys in roster decisions. Gruden is listening to his own advisors and personnel people instead of McKenzie’s scouting and personnel people. McKenzie re-did that entire group when he came in not too long ago so I don’t think it would be a good thing to start over again.

Of course, you could make the argument that phasing out Reggie isn’t a bad thing. Fact is, he hasn’t drafted or developed well over the past few seasons. Mack was the best thing he ever did and he is gone. Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson, Amari Cooper and Karl Joseph were once seen as hits but they’ve regressed under Gruden so far. The jury is still out on Gareon Conley and other draft pick still on the roster. Otherwise, many draft picks aren’t on the roster anymore. Shout out to Jihad Ward, Mario Edwards Jr., David Sharpe, Obi Melifonwu and many more. The point is, maybe Gruden is justified in phasing out McKenzie who has only seen one winning season.

The Step Parents

Again, it isn’t that complicated to understand what is going on in Oakland. Anyone with step parents can understand how players favored by McKenzie might feel.

Gruden is the sexy, new stepdad swooning Mark Davis. Davis is so happy he is willing to give Gruden as much power as he wants. On one hand, you could stay loyal to the person that put you on the team, Reggie McKenzie, but you risk the backlash from Gruden or Davis in terms of losing your roster spot. You could also sellout and behave with the new sheriff in town.

Either way, it’s a conundrum where you get your ass beat either way. You can say Gruden ain’t my dad as much as you want and tell your mom that he ain’t it but that isn’t going to do anything but make you look immature. You can stay loyal to McKenzie but soon enough you’ll be out in the cold with him.

Ok, Back to Clevland

That’s enough family laundry. Let’s look into the actual game this week.

Offense

The offense is lead by the combination of Hue  Jackson and Todd Haley. What do these men have in common? A philosophy that has always included running the ball and using multiple backs. They’ll also use the RB as a pass catcher so expect Duke Johnson to see mismatches versus the Raiders all day. They will also take their shots downfield, especially with Antonio Callaway and David Njoku creating speed nightmares versus the Raiders safeties.

Moreover, I’d expect some adjustments this week. Cleveland should go full RG3 rookie year by utilizing Baker in bootleg play actions and plenty of reading options. The Raiders ends are undersized and overaggressive. They and their spin moves will get out of their passing lanes and lose contain. They also struggle to keep the edge as we learned with that jet sweep versus the Dolphins and the stretch play versus the Rams. Both Key and BI like to chase backside too so expect Baker to get some yards on keepers as well as the RBS having cutback seems for days. The Raiders ends will need to step up and pressure the QB without sacrificing their assignments if Oakland has any chance in this game.

Defense

Greg Williams has orchestrated a Super Bowl defense previously in New Orleans and set the foundation for another potential one in L.A. Either way, he’s in Cleveland now and finally putting together all of his athletes into a real defense. The Browns are top ten in points and top twelve in yards. They’ll get after the QB and create some turnovers.

Williams is notorious for taking chances with aggressive blitzes and coverages from a base 4-3 defense but they’re calculated risks. In this game, Williams should be able to lean on his front four to get a rush. Between Myles Garrett, Emmanuel Ogbah and Larry Ogunjobi. The Raiders offensive line has been stout but they’ll need to do more to finish drives. Oakland’s offense has mostly been dink and dunk but last week we saw them hit on some big plays. Still, they left too many points on the board. They will need to convert those especially as their defense wears down in the fourth quarter.

Ultimately, this won’t be an easy home win for either side of the ball but the Raiders need to figure out a way if they have any hopes of keeping the bottom from falling out of the season.

Petty Pete’s thoughts before Week Three

I wasn’t always this petty. I didn’t always attack the Raiders. I didn’t always make jokes about being a Rams or Chargers fan. Scroll through my archive. You’ll find some combination of objective optimism and standom. I always found a way to believe the Raiders could find a way to win no matter how obviously overmatched they were.

Not this year. Maybe it’s the move. Maybe it’s the Mack trade. Maybe it’s the fact that key players from last years team are gone while the roster is filled with either veterans or under-experienced. Really, it’s probably the fact that the Raiders leveraged an entire six year rebuilding process for a media personality who hadn’t coached this decade.

Nonetheless, the Raiders are 0-2. One loss was a blowout that was closer than it appeared. The other one was a collapse to a solid but not great Denver team which is lead by a game managing QB and unknown receiver. Point is, it only took one Monday night loss for Gruden to go from winning a ring before leaving Oakland to being happy about his team competing to the end. Since when is a twenty point loss something to be proud of?

Same goes for last week. Two losses without Khalil Mack and Gruden is already talking about hindsight and hoping he made the right decision. Mack is 1-1 with the Bears and looking like a god. We know how Hard it is to find a pass rusher yet Gruden is out here trading generational ones.

Meanwhile, the Raiders d-line offers as much pressure as that professor who always extends deadlines. Shaking my head, does Gruden know what he’s doing more than an aging Al Davis in his final game?

That’s exactly why a loss this week would be so huge. The Raiders barely squeaked put a win over the Dolphins last year. Now, they’ll have to do that despite being a team that has never done well traveling to the East Coast. This might be a win that resets the season and stops the bleeding or it is another loss that will send the season spiraling.

B.I at End is a No-No

Listen man, Bruce Irvin is a hell of a player but I’ve said from the jump he is not a defensive end. I don’t care that he has played the position in spots or played that primarily in college. The fact that he is our primary pass rusher is more of a statement of our pass rush than it is his ability to play end.

You saw it in that viral video. Dude lacked effort in the last game versus the Broncos. A similar breakdown showed its face versus the Rams too.

What did you expect? Irvin is functionally strong and has good length for his frame but that by no means he needs to set the edge and corner QBs every single down. You don’t have to be an expert to know that. The first couple of weeks, Irvin and some of the Raiders ends have relied on spin moves. Spin moves are cool in college but they usually don’t work versus the strength, balance and athleticism of NFL tackles. Usually a spin move is the last resort for when you get beat initially. Of course, there’s some exceptions like Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney who have GOAT spin moves but BI is not in that class. Those guys had a plethora of moves and could fall back on a spin. Plus, they played the position naturally and more often in the pros.

The point is, Irvin isn’t an end. Expecting him to be that this late in his career is a real disservice. After he came from Seattle, he talked about how the move to linebacker saved his career. Now, for some reason we think he can be relied on to play that spot.

It’s not fair. Irvin needs another dominate end who can both handle pass rush and setting the edge. Arden Key is young and dynamic enough to do that eventually. Except he’s not there yet. His size and experience brings its own handicap that is also better at chasing from the backside. Irvin is also better using his speed and instincts to shoot gaps and chase plays from the backside. Put those two players together and you get teams hitting on draw plays and cutting back for long zone runs like we’ve seen the Rams and Broncos do the first weeks.

Of course, I hate to make excuses for a player like Irvin who we know is a pro and stud. However, the truth is he is not a defensive end. He definitely shouldn’t be a teams lead defensive end either. We’ve seen Irvin compete because that’s what he does but the coaching needs to put him in better spots to succeed. Even if that means only playing BI in spots or signing another guy to compliment dude, the Raiders have got to accept the fact that BI was never a linebacker

Trading for a playmaker?

How the the Raiders traded a franchise player, parted ways with most of their recent draft classes and gave up a franchise QB to move back in the draft and still over draft a tackle beats me. At the very least, the Raiders should have a record number of picks or they could’ve snagged an unhappy superstar LeVeon Bell or Earl Thomas who were both holding out. Shoot, they could’ve even got Josh Gordon who goes to a stacked New England team.

Still, there’s a player the Raiders could trade for that would change all of that. Could Antonio Brown be the spark the Raiders could acquire before the trade deadline?

Antonio Brown’s agent denied any rumors that his client wanted anything but to win. This effort to put out the smoke cake after Brown was visibly upset on the sideline in a loss, then joked with a former team administrator on Twitter about trading him and didn’t show up for practice on Monday. One of the league’s best receiver might become more available if the 0-1-1 Steelers continue to underachieve.

The Raiders trading for Antonio Brown would be really ironic. Brown might be just close enough to thirty just versatile enough and just motivated enough for the Raiders to take a chance on him. It would pair Brown back with Martavis Brown. Not to mention, Amari Cooper drew comparisons to Brown for his versatility.

Oakland would have two receivers capable of mismatches across the field. Otherwise, maybe the Raiders send Cooper back to the Steelers in the draft. Remember, Cooper has the same agent as Mack and Cooper will need a new deal after next year. Thus, he probably won’t be untouchable especially if he nets the Raiders Brown.

Brown has been one of the best receivers in his generation. He already has over 10,000 career receiving yards and 60 career touchdowns. He’s had six seasons with more than 1,000 receiving yards. You don’t think Derek Carr could use that kind of player?

I don’t care if Brown says he doesn’t want to get traded. The situation is worth monitoring and the Raiders better consider that move if there is an opportunity.

All that aside, it’s time to just win baby!

What to expect from the Dolphins?

Raiders are going to have to stop the run and contain the quarterback. Miami OC Dowell Loggains spent two seasons as the same position in Chicago and he’s also worked previously in Tennessee. Pro and spread elements will be worked into the game plan. Expect him to utilize Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake both as runners and pass catcher. He’s going to give Ryan Tannehill some movement out of the pocket too. The Raiders will have a long day if they can’t keep the Dolphins from controlling the clock and keep Tannehill off his spots. The Raiders defensive tackles will need to step up and stop the run as well as get pressure from the middle. The Dolphins o-line has been solid but the Raiders can exploit them. Football Outsiders literally ranks them as the 16th o-line which makes them exactly middle of the pack.

On defense, DC Matt Birk has some Paul Guenther ties as he was LB coach in Cincinnati before he held that position and was promoted to DC this season. Expect a 4-3 base defense that isn’t all to different from the Raiders. They’ll try to get as much pressure with their front four. Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn should really challenge the Raiders tackles. Oakland will need their receivers to get open early and often. Their QB can help them out by taking some chances and taking a few shots deep too. I’m not too worried about the Dolphins linebackers on the Raiders backs or tight ends. Speed and coverage ability is something the Raiders should exploit.

Goodbye to Khalil Mack + Raiders versus Rams

Imagine going off the grid and coming back to a bunch of text messages, group chats and push alerts saying the unthinkable was done. That’s exactly how I found out Khalil Mack was traded and I still can’t believe it.

Seeing Mack in a Bears uniform felt like a slap in my face each time. It made me long for going off the grid again.

Last night, Raider Nation sat and watched the entire world marvel at Mack in a Bears uniform. Dude got a strip sack and pick six in one half. Sure, the Bears did not win but the nation watched the impact a player like Mack has on a team. This is the impact Raiders fans watched every single week. Yet, somehow we’re supposed to accept this trade?

Trading a generational talent like Mack takes balls. Think back, have the Raiders ever had a player with Mack’s talent on the edge? You would have to go back to Charles Woodson or Tim Brown to find another player that has had Mack’s impact this early, regardless of position. The point is, you work in the draft to find a Khalil Mack. Giving up on that sort of player sends the wrong sort of message to players and fans. You’re supposed to build around your best players. You’re supposed to pay the ones that work hard, are role models off the field and captains every day. That’s the plan Reggie McKenzie has been seeking us since he came into the picture.

At the very least, this proves Gruden has a plan and he’s not afraid to execute it. I’m unsure what McKenzie’s role is in Gruden’s plan but clearly Jon didn’t see Mack in his vision. That’s the sort of balls and arrogance reserved for teams like the Spurs when they traded Kawhi Leonard. How can a team destroy a relationship with their star player who seamlessly fits the culture?

Either way, the Raiders don’t have the championships or the culture to fall on like the Spurs which makes this trade even weirder. Perhaps, Gruden looked at the roster and realized it was a longer rebuild than he anticipated.

Maybe, he and Davis didn’t picture many of these players in Las Vegas and they figured it would be better to start rebuilding soon. Of course, that would make sense if the Raiders didn’t cut most of their Draft Picks from the last few classes and replace them with old vets. Some of that falls on McKenzie for sure as he has reached on guys and not always had a plan for development.

However, I still don’t know why you would trade the best thing RM ever did. Taking a Buffalo player and turning him into a franchise defender who can play any position in the front seven is amazing. I don’t know what the Raiders plans are now that they’ve traded Mack but they exist.

I guess I’m supposed to move forward. I’m supposed to buy into the nostalgia of the Raiders and trust Gruden. I’m supposed to act like this team isn’t abandoning its roots in Oakland. I’m supposed to act like this team is trying to win now when they traded their best player. I’m supposed to be ready and excited for Week One as we take on the Rams in Gruden’s return to MNF.

Nonetheless, part of me hopes the Raiders get their ass kicked. They need that sort of wake up call. You can’t get by just signing veterans over the age of 30 who no one wants. You can’t win by not developing and retaining your talent.

In fact, what would be more Raider than winning without your best talent or by winning with a bunch of rejects? That’s where the rub is.

Plus, I’m tired of losing. I can’t shake my Raider fandom no matter what and honestly my life is better when the Raiders are good. I get tired hearing what happened to your Raiders. I’d rather get compliments on how great the team is.

Still, what gets lost in all of this is the fact that Al Davis would’ve got this deal done. He would’ve re-signed a small school player who defeated the odds to be one of the best defenders in the league. Al understood talent and appreciated those who represented the Raiders best. Mack would’ve been Mr. Davis’ favorite.

Again, that doesn’t really matter because Gruden is the new sheriff in town. His plan clearly involves retooling around those picks from the Bears. Hopefully, you’re not letting this distract you from the fact that the Raiders gave up a second round pick in this trade so they really only got one first rounder for Mack. Chicago should also improve so they might not be as high selections as the Raiders would’ve hoped.

Don’t forget Gruden gave the Cardinals Josh Rosen and didn’t get enough to trade back. Not to mention, they cut Martavis Bryant who cost them what compensation they did get in the move back. The point is, Gruden has already made a lot of questionable decisions. Shoutout to David Sharpe, Mario Edwards Jr. And few other players that had draft capital and playing time invested into them but Gruden cut anyways.

Combine that with the move and losing, it’s no wonder many many Raiders fans including myself are questioning their fandom. What else are we supposed to do? Is Gruden really worth our blind faith? Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side? I guess we’ll find out on Monday night, especially Raiders fans in LA. Regardless, I can’t talk regular season without talking about Mack first. 

Here’s a Breakdown of the Rams OC

The Rams don’t have an offensive coordinator since they lost Matt LeFleur to the Tennessee Titans. Aaron Kromer is the run game coordinator after being OL coach last year and tight ends coach Shane Waldron is the passing game coordinator. Sean McVay will still call most of the plays. McVay has roots connected to Gruden’s brother Jay in Washington and he is often credited as part of Jon Gruden’s mentee too.

Strengths

Expect a lot of what we saw last year from the Rams. They will rely on the running game and the offensive line to open up the passing game. They like to use a lot of deception out of the backfield. Expect them to find creative ways for the backs and tight ends to get mismatches versus linebackers and safeties. Los Angeles should also use Brandin Cooks to stretch the field vertically while attacking with Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp in the medium and short game. This year, I expect McVay to take more shots deep as Goff continues to develop.

Weaknesses

The offense didn’t get a ton of action in the preseason so they could come out rusty. Moreover, they’re not very deep on the offensive line outside of their starters. They are waiting for a spell back to emerge behind Gurley too. Tavon Austin was dynamic in that role last year but is there anyone else capable of that on the roster now? Moreover, they could use some more consistency at the tight end position between Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett.

Verdict

Ultimately, the Raiders gotta find different ways to get pressure and force Goff into some mistakes otherwise this might be a long day with Oakland getting picked apart.

Here’s a breakdown of Wade Phillips

Everyone knows Wade Phillips is a legendary coordinator. Sure, he’s had mixed results as a head coach but defensively he brings a lot to the table. He’s led great defenses even before the Rams including the Super Bowl winning Denver Broncos.

Strengths

Versatility is huge in Phillips’ scheme. It is a 3-4 defense sure but Phillips uses a wide range of concepts. That should include different fronts since the Rams defensive line is incredibly versatile and the LBs leave much to be desired. The point is, don’t expect all zone blitzes and two-gapping from Wade Phillips. He’s too smart to not like Donald and Suh get upfield and penetrate. He should also get aggressive in coverage because he has a lot of ball hawks across the secondary.

Weaknesses

Run defense has plagued the Rams for a while. Part of that is their aggression against the pass and the other part is their younger linebackers. Either way, they’ll hope Suh sures up some of the run game. Either way, their linebackers should get tested versus a rough Raiders running offense.

Verdict

Expect a battle of wills between the Raiders offensive line and defensive line. Whoever gets more push in that battle should win this game. Oakland’s re commitment to the running game gets a huge first test here.