2021: Back and More Silver than ever

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

2020’s Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Offseason Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Draft

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

2021 Hope

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

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

SoFi Stadium

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

AFC West

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

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

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

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

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

Something In the Water

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guess we will find out in Week One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Raiders versus Browns 2020

The Raiders are again .500 after a Tampa Bay loss that got away from them. Against Tampa Bay they showed an ability to make big plays. They will need that versus the Browns today.

Las Vegas’ defense got carved up again. They can not fallback again versus a Browns team down Odell for the season.

Cleveland is 5-2 with big losses to their rivals the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. They blew the games to the contenders but beat the Colts, Cowboys, Washington and Cowboys for what it is worth.

The Raiders have quality wins over the Saints and Chiefs but losses to the Pats, Bills and Buccs that make it hard to see thus team as a playoff squad.

That is why this game is important. The Browns and Raiders could duke it out for the three Wild Card spots in the AFC. Of course, it’s the Raiders and Browns we are talking about so anything can happen.

Las Vegas gets a boost if Trent Brown can play. Although it seems unlikely after his bout with COVID last week. He is inactive with another illness this week.

The offense could also gain Bryan Edwards back. Their offense looks good with Ruggs opening up the playbook for everyone else.

Still, the Raiders have the type of defense the Browns can get into rhythm against. Hunt could pose a problem for the Raiders as a runner and receiver. Baker Mayfield could find his rhythm too.

Defensively, Cleveland could pose some issues for the Raiders. They are down Brown. Kolton Miller is nursing a shoulder and gets matched up with Myles Garrett. The rest of the defensive line is fast.

Don’t forget Karl Joseph in the secondary. You know he is familiar with Derek Carr and wants revenge versus the team that drafted him in the first round.

Vegas will not win any game with Josh Jacobs only rushing for 17 yards. He was limited in practice this week but the Raiders will need him to play and be effective.

On defense, the Silver and Black need their defensive line to step up. Arden Key was also limited this week so Nate Irving might see some time. Either way, the Raiders need to find a way to get to Baker.

Again, the Raiders keys to victory will come down to the defensive line creating pressure. When they are good, this team finds a way to make enough stops.

Their offense is less of a problem but needs a close game. They can’t afford to play from behind because they rely on ball control, running the rock and catching teams off guard with big plays. You need your defense to make stops and that starts with pressuring the QB.

First Wave Free Agency and Pete’s Plan

NFL Free Agency officially starts on March 18th but the legal tampering period allowed them and others to make some moves before the period opens.

I planned on writing an article about how the Raiders should tackle the offseason. However, the world is practically ending so give me a break for missing the deadline.

Free Agency Tampering Reaction

The Raiders mentally read my memo because they attacked free agency exactly how I wanted. Las Vegas addressed their brutally mediocre linebacker corps by adding Nick Kwiatkoski and Cory Littleton. I worried about those two getting out of the Raiders price range but the Silver and Black are willing to pay $56 million over the next three years to make them both their starting linebackers.

Kwiatkoski’s $7 million average contract makes sense for a player who got his first year as a starter last year. Littleton’s price tag is a little much but he should bring some added athleticism and playoff experience to the Raiders.

After Kwiatkoski’s addition, the next rumored move was the Raiders signing Marcus Mariota. Again, Mariota seemed like a logical QB 1B for the Raiders. They could give Mariota a year as the athletic backup or he offers the tools to beat out Mariota outright for the spot. Either way, this QB room won’t have it’s short of rumors as long as Carr remains on the roster.

Plot Twist

Then, things kind of got weird. Las Vegas signed Jason Witten out of nowhere. Witten showed he still had some juice by finishing with over 539 receiving yards and four touchdowns after sitting out 2018. The only issue is the Raiders tight end position was already one of their strongest groups with Pro Bowlers Darren Waller as well as Foster Moreau and Derek Carrier finding their own roles.

Las Vegas continued making moves adding former Cowboys defenders in Jeff Heath and Maliek Collins. Neither were really on my radar but seem like serviceable NFL players to boister the roster competition. Heath you might remember as the player who got credit for Carr fumbling away our playoff hopes short of the end zone a few years ago. He will be 29 next year and brings 54 games starting experience.

Collins started 55 games in four years with Dallas including 16 last year. He had his best year with four sacks and brings experience playing in both even and odd fronts.

It’s ironic the Raiders went after a few Cowboys since that team underachieved enough to get their coach fired and miss the playoffs. Still, there’s a clear message getting sent to current Raiders D.C. Paulie Geunther that maybe he isn’t the made man anymore. The Raiders are plucking people from D-line coach Rob Marinelli’s tree because he might be the D.C. sooner or later.

Vegas added more defensive help with Carl Nassib. Nassib is hybrid edge rusher with 12.5 sacks combined over the past two seasons. Nassib is only 27 and should be a factor in the Raiders rotation with Collins over the next few seasons. Both these guys were excellent ascending players on fair deals.

What’s Next?

It’s hard to say. The Raiders have about $30 million in cap space currently but that does not include the reported deals for Heath, Nassib, Mariota or Witten. Those additions plus their upcoming draft picks could mean the Raiders are tapped out.

That means Gabe Jackson or Derek Carr getting traded are probably the next one or two steps. Moving Carr could save them $13.6 million in cap space or moving Jackson saves $9.6 million. Both should have markets it’s just a matter of how much. Teams knowing the Raiders could cut either won’t make it easier for Vegas to get the draft pick return they really want.

Either way, the Raiders could afford to add another corner in free agency. A veteran like Chris Harris makes sense. There are also veterans like Desmond Trufant, Ronald Darby or Xavier Rhodes who could also use a redemption year. Nickell Robey-Coleman or Mackensie Alexander could make sense if they want ascending players with experience thriving in the slot.

I also would not be immune to the Raiders adding another veteran pass rusher like Everson Griffen to give them even more chances to sack the quarterback. Something like that probably wouldn’t happen until after the draft or they move some other defensive linemen.

Plus, what about the offense?

The Silver and Black offense was solid but all the issues were not Derek Carr’s fault. He or Mariota could use some added receiving targets.

Emmanuel Sanders is a veteran guy with experience in the Raiders offensive scheme. Paul Richardson played under Gruden’s brother in Washington. Travis Benjamin or Demarcus Robinson are speedster who knows the division. Nelson Agholor needs a new start. Robby Anderson is probably the best of the group remaining and the Raiders almost traded for him last year. Breshad Perriman also wrapped up a breakout year. We also can’t forget Phillip Dorsett who had almost 400 receiving yards for the pats last year. The point is, the Raiders can add speed and deep threats ahead of what will be a very deep receiving class in the draft.

We also can’t forget backup running back. Jalen Richard is a cool guy and special team player but he is what he is at this point. The Raiders should kick the tires on a veteran runner like Carlos Hyde who has always been good at finding the end zone. Devonta Freeman also makes sense as a west coast zone back off a few bad seasons. Freeman is still 28 and could have some trend on the tires if used in situations. Lamar Miller is another veteran low-risk, high reward move or the legend of Frank Gore who would be great at getting downhill with the Raiders.

Pete’s Plan

Moving forward, the Raiders set themselves up to pick the best player available in the draft by addressing their key needs before free agency officially opens.

That means one or two of their first five picks across rounds one thru three will be a wide receiver. In between, they should still take Richie Incognito’s eventual replacement as well as another pass rusher or secondary player. Then, of course, they also got to find a quarterback even if they commit to an open competition between.

 

 

 

 

 

Raiders Rants: Antonio Brown and 17 games

Listen, I’m all in on the once a Raider, always a Raider train. There’s something about the Raiders brand and colors that is an eternal way of carrying yourself. The love and support Raiders Nation extends to the players goes beyond their career.

Except Antonio Brown. I don’t care if he is on a redemption tour texting Jon Gruden or reaching out to Derek Carr. Dude never played an actual game as a Raiders.

I don’t care if he was the star of hard knocks or last year’s offseason. His feet were too busy healing to ever be of real use for us.

Not to mention, Brown’s accusations of sexual assault, misconduct and all the other off field antics. Sure, people are due process. Yes, mentally ill people should get help. I’m not sure where Brown falls on either of those spectrum but I don’t really care because he is not a Raider in my eyes. The ghost of Al Davis and Jack Tatum should stiff arm him every time he reaches for anything with the Raiders shield on it.

Brown was supposed to be the star of our offense. An offense setup to compete for the Wild Card. They did anyways without his dynamic playmaking or him carrying the bulk of the load and doing the junk underneath work. He let us down, went to the Patriots and laughed in our face. The worst part is, he tried to sue us for our money and didn’t even finish the season with the Patriots or on an NFL roster. Again, a slap or spit or whatever disrespect to the face of the Raiders.

The point is, Antonio Brown was never a Raiders and he needs to stop pretending he was. He should donate whatever free gear he has left from the team last year. Each time he wears it, he is disrespecting the greatness of all the people who wear that iconic symbol every Saturday for decades.

For what it is worth, Randy Moss actually played a few seasons as a Raider. We all remember him saying he wasn’t a Raider before Monday night. Guys like Warren Sapp have had their beef with the fanbase. Many will take a big contract from the team and not talk about their time their even when they do get into Canton. It’s all good though, those guys earned that right having actually worn the Silver and Black. All those guys are more Raiders than A.B. ever was.

Either way, Antonio Brown shouldn’t be wearing Raiders gear. I know it’s just a hat or just fashion but he’s excommunicated from the fraternity of Raiders for sure. So please don’t comment once a Raiders, always a Raiders on the next troll pic Brown posts anywhere near the elements of the Raiders brand.

17 Games

Everybody wants to talk about 17 games as the NFL and NFLPA workout a new contract. That’s cool and all but the two-sides should stop playing and workout a deal for 18-games. We all know that’s what the NFL Owners want, more revenue. They’re gonna keep pushing towards a longer season.

The Players mine as well concede now before we have to change the record books again in ten years. It’s hard enough to add one game to the regular season. That’s why they haven’t messed with the schedules in decades. Thus, if you break what isn’t broken mine as well do it all the way.

The same thing goes for the preseason, the fourth game was already joke. The NFL makes players pay a regular gate price for a game that is usually reserved for the backups. That’s an easy game to cut or get rid of in an effort to concede the preseason in favor of more postseason action and an extra regular season week.

Again, coaches like Sean McVay and teams like the Rams already proved you don’t need any preseason action to begin with. So if you’re gonna change the preseason format that has been intact for a while mine as well cut it in half or get rid of it entirely. That’s what we actually want yet cutting one game just feels like easy and half-ass appeasement again.

Moreover, the new CBA as constructed would also add two more playoff teams total and one more game on each side of the bracket. If the goal is to add more playoff games and team, why don’t they actually do that by extending the field to 8 teams from each conference versus 6 like it is now or 7 under the new CBA.

All seven postseason seeds does is penalize the seven seed. Half of the drama about the division playoffs comes from two teams having a bye facing two teams who did not have a bye. Which team is healthier, hotter and more focused?

Usually it’s the divisional team off the bye. Now, that reward is reserved for only the best team from either conference. The NFL is literally creating a oligopoly each year with one team and everyone else fighting each other.

So again if the goal is to add more playoff teams and games, they should just do that by adding two more teams to the field and doing away with bye weeks period. That’s the winner take all postseason we actually want to see. Move us there instead of making us wait two decades and/or CBA negotiations in the process.

More Raiders Notes on the CBA

Never going to knock anything that might give current Raiders more and pension options or anything that would increase health and pension benefits for former Raiders period.

Lord knows, there are many prominent and lesser known players who gave their heads and bodies for the brand of football the Raiders have always played. Anything that helps them is good for the game of football and the brand of the NFL.

Moreover, there are expected revisions to how the league tests for THC and punishes people caught with the weed ingredient in their drug tests. Let’s not pretend that a team who has played in Cannabis capitals like the Bay and Los Angeles hasn’t had it’s fair share of closet smokers. I’m sure that will continue in Vegas which is gaining its own legal seen so again this is something could benefit for the Raiders.

Not to mention, the added details on players data is going to be good for players and teams. There’s a lot of uncertainty around that as wearables and analytics integrate into teams. The last thing we want is any MLB situation so hopefully players and teams will get educated on these fields. Although I’m not sure how the money splits.

There should also be some added language  about gambling and gambling sponsorships since sports betting is league in a few states and Nevada now hosts an NFL team. I haven’t yet seen anything about that in reports around the CBA but there could be some since it might still get revised.

 

 

Where are They Now? 2019

Here is a fun read for you all to get you through another Super Bowl Sunday without the Raiders. These players wore the Silver and Black at one point in their career. Here’s how they did this past season and a sprinkle of Raiders’ memories.

Latavius Murray, Saints

The Tay Train rushed for over 600 yards and five touchdowns as a primary backup for the Saints. He added over 200 receiving yards and a touchdown after joining New Orleans in free agency via the Vikings. The same Minnesota Vikings that ended his Saints’ run in the playoffs. PFF gave him a 73.9 grade for the season. He still has a few years on his deal.

Mario Edwards Jr., Saints

MEJ finished this year with three sacks eight TFL and a forced fumble across 14 games for the Saints. The 25-year-old spent last season with the Giants after the Raiders parted ways with the 2015 second-round pick.  New Orleans can cut him this offseason with limited dead money or they can keep him for a $3.24 million cap hit.

Taiwan Jones, Texans

The former Raiders running back, corner and special teams player spent this past season with the Houston Texans. He rushed for only 40 yards in 11 games but he made his biggest impact in the wild card round of the playoffs. Jones caught a short pass and took into 34 yards to bring Houston into field goal range in overtime versus Buffalo Wild Card weekend. Jones spent the last few seasons with the Bills even earning special teams captain honors too.

AJ McCaron Texans

McCaron never made a start in his one season with the Raiders last year, after they gave up a late-round pick for him. However, the 29-year-old started week 17 for the playoff-bound Houston Texans. A.J. completed 57 percent of his passes for 225 yards, no touchdowns and an interception versus the Titans.

Gareon Conley, Texans

Conley is the 2017 first-round pick who should’ve been a draft day steal due to some bad circumstances. The OSU product battled injuries with the Silver and Black before they shipped him to the Texans for a third-round draft pick. Conley got 11 passes defended in eight games with the Texans but did not catch an interception. He also added 27 tackles. The 24-year-old improved with the Texans pass rush but PFF gave him an average grade of 63.2 for the season. He will be a free agent after the 2020 season.

Eddie Vanderdoes, Texans

Vanderdoes appeared in only three games for the Texans. The former Raiders third-rounder battled injuries for a couple seasons before the Raiders said peace out. He had eight tackles in those three appearances.

Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks

Of course, we can’t forget about Marshawn who made headlines coming out of retirement when Seattle desperately needed a running back. Lynch stayed in shape all year. Then he joined Seattle towards the end of the season when all their runners got hurt. Lynch rushed for 34 yards on 12 carries in the regular season, including a TD. He got three TDs in the playoffs but only 33 rushing yards across those two playoff games. Ultimately, he wasn’t enough to help the Hawks beat the Packers in the playoffs.

Neiko Thorpe, Seahawks

Thorpe is in his fourth season with the Seahawks since he and the Raiders parted ways in 2015. Thorpe finished this season on IR after Seattle re-signed him in the offseason. The 29-year-old has mainly been a backup and special teams player the past few seasons.

Obi Melifonwu, Patriots

Practice squad counts? This combine phenom and 2017 second-round pick spent the past two seasons on the Patriots practice squad. They signed him to a reserve contract after the season even though the 25-year-old did not appear in a game last year.

Marshall Newhouse, Patriots

Newhouse spent only the 2017 season as the Raiders starting right tackle. He bounced between Buffalo and Carolina last year but started for the Pats this year. The Saints cut him before the season and Newhouse appeared in 15 games for New England. His playing time tapered off towards the end of the season.  PFF graded him 62.8 across 729 offensive snaps for the Patriots.

Shilique Calhoun, Patriots

Calhoun appeared in 15 games for the Patriots as a standup edge rusher. He registered one forced fumble and 9 tackles. The 2016 third-round pick spent three years with the Raiders before they finally let him walk. he did not play in the final three games or playoff game.

Jared Veldheer, Packers

One of the last great picks of Al Davis, Veldheer joined the Packers late. He only played in two regular seasons game for the Packers. However, he played most of the offensive snaps in the Divisional round versus the Seahawks. The 32-year-old veteran has battled injuries since leaving the Raiders but he is still a solid pro at the final stage of his career.

Stefen Wisniewski, Chiefs

The Wiz Kid was one of Reggie McKenzie’s first draft picks. However, he walked to the Jaguars a few years later. He spent the last few seasons playing guard for the Eagles including their Super Bowl season. The Chiefs picked him up in the middle of the year. He played in limited spots until the final two weeks of the season. He has played a ton in the Chiefs last two contests during the regular season and the two playoff games. He is basically the only former Raiders player in the Super Bowl.

Corey Liuget, Bills

The Raiders signed Liuget after the preseason. He did not get a sack for the Silver and Blak but he did get one along with ten tackles for the Bills in seven games. The former Chargers first-rounder battled a lot of injuries during his time there.

Jon Feliciano, Bills

Feliciano famously said he could start. He got more than $7 million from the Bills in free agency last year to prove that. The 28-year-old played over 900 offensive snaps and got a 64.1 grade from PFF.

Lorenzo Alexander, Bills

This 36-year-old Oakland native spent only the  2015 season with the Raiders. He broke out as a Pro Bowler the next year. The past few years he has bounced in and out of the starting lineup. This year was a down year with only two sacks in 16 games and seven starts. The backer appeared in 48 percent of the Bills snaps which is his lowest percentage since leaving the Raiders. He is a free agent this year.

Lee Smith, Bills

Derek Carr’s former security blanket and expert blocker returned to Buffalo this year. He caught only four passes in five starts across 16 appearances. He did play a ton in the Wild Card game the Bills lost.

Seth Roberts, Ravens

Speaking of Carr’s favorite weapons, Seth Roberts played in 16 games with the Ravens. He caught 21 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns. The 28-year-old signed a one-year deal with the Ravens after the Raiders cut him in the offseason.

Jihad Ward, Ravens

Ward matched his Raiders career sack total in 11 games with the Ravens, registering only one sack. Ward got three last year with the Colts but only stayed three games with them this year. The 25-year-old former Raiders first-rounder is a free agent this offseason.

Justin Ellis, Ravens

Nose tackle Justin Ellis got his walking papers from the Raiders this year. He went on to play in four games for the Ravens this year. Ellis registered six tackles for the year and one in the playoff game versus the Titans. He is a free agent after this season.

Not that you were wondering.

Still, once a Raiders, always a Raiders. Did I miss any?

 

 

 

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.

What we want to see versus the Bengals

The Raiders whooped the Bolts butt and it was amazing. I got to witness the greatness of the Raiders in its native home one last time. Shoutout to the Sacramento butcher who hooked it up with a nice cowboy steak. Also shout out to the dude who stole our compact toll box grill. The compact size was incredibly crucial for this quick turnaround. That is the last ride I guess for the limited edition grill.

Well it is on to the Cincinnati Bengals. A team the Raiders have always had weird ties to. The Bengals are currently headed towards a massive rebuild. Here’s what we want to see as we look to look for as we head to the playoffs.

Can the defensive line keep up the pressure?

Last Week, Clelin Ferrell had his break out game with 2.5 sacks versus the Chargers. A couple of those were discounted sacks due to Philip Rivers holding the ball too long. The Chargers O-line is also pretty bad versus any kind of speed.

All well, we will take it. the Raiders young defensive ends needed that confidence booster at home versus a rival and they should build on that versus the Bengals. They’ll be playing with a young quarterback Ryan Finley and down key players like AJ Green who have been hurt all season.

Hence, the Raiders should get another really strong performance versus the Bengals. Cincinnati also happens to be Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s previous team.

Maintain Offensive Momentum

When I said other key players from years past I meant corner Dre Kirkpatrick who is also missing most of this season. The Bengals defense is already in a transition year with other key players missing time too.

That puts the pressure on the Raiders to score. Let’s see Oakland score early and often. Give Josh Jacobs and Tyrell Williams some load management. They’ve been battling various injuries that need rest and there is no need to kill yourself versus the winless Bengals.

Oakland should use Jacobs to establish themselves early then take their shots with Tyrell and company. I want to see Zay Jones make an impact today too versus the Bengals. Derek Carr should dominate and spread the ball around.

The Replacements

Oakland’s safety has been fluid for a few seasons now. They lost Karl Joseph and Lamarcus Joyner who were their best players and veteran leaders. They signed edge Dion Jordan and safety DJ Swearinger to help out. Swearinger should see some time but who knows. Erik Harris played the best game of his career and Curtis Riley has played and started for the Giants before playing in spots this season. Opportunities are limited there for Swearinger.

I’m most excited for Jordan because he has the highest ceiling. His tools are something you can’t teach and he flashed two seasons ago with the Seahawks. The Raiders have plenty of solid guys who can play but they need a specimen like Jordan who can win 1-on-1 pass rush on the edge, even if it is only in spots.

Ultimately, the Raiders need to handle their business as the football cliche goes. They need to build on the last game’s big performance, dominate early and lean on some lesser known characters to send the Bengals home one loss closer to the No. 1 overall pick.

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.

A trade doesn’t answer the Raiders problems and keys versus Vikings

Antonio Brown ain’t walking through that door. Neither is Rich Gannon, Jerry Rice or any Raiders great. The only thing that will change the Raiders season is already in the locker room.

Jalen Ramsey ain’t the answer either. The Raiders have already invested too many high draft picks in the secondary over the past four seasons. Don’t forget LaMarcus Joyner’s big contract too. Joyner needs to step up. Gareon Conley and Karl Joseph must fill those first round bills. Pressure is on Trayvon Mullen needs to step up faster than what is fair to him too.

Even if the Raiders could get Ramsey, he isn’t rushing the passer. The Raiders answers aren’t as easy as trading for Ramsey or even Minkah Fitzpatrick when he was on the open market. The Raiders couldn’t afford to send a future pick for a defensive back when the Raiders are already waiting returns on many other DBS on the roster. Ramsey and Fitzpatrick aren’t lining up at DE anyways.

The Raiders young pass rush needs to take the next step. They need to turn flashes into consistency. Oakland needs push and disruption upfront.

Equal pressure applies to the other side of the ball. Those young guards and tackles need to step up. It’s not enough to just run or pass block as the Raiders need a balanced and consistent front for what they want to do on offense.

At the end of the day, the Raiders need answers internally. There isn’t a player they could trade for that would answer all their questions because teams value pass rushers. Oakland needs to find answers up front before they worry about trading for anyone including Jalen Ramsey. On to this week.

Raiders versus Vikings Keys

Don’t beat your self. n

It is gonna get echoed all year. Oakland signed veteran players for a reason, they must be discipline. The Raiders registered 140 yards from penalties but Minnesoa finished with 200. That’s opportunities the Raiders will take advantage of. Oakland can’t shoot itself in the foot with penalties.

Minnesota can win the turnover battle. They’re already plus one for the season in turnover differential while Oakland is -1. The Raiders are not gonna win if Carr tries to do too much and throws two interceptions.

The Silver and Black must rely on JoshJacobs to aleviate that pressure. Everson Griffin and Danielle Hunter might lick their chops against the Raiders tackles, especially if Trent Brown misses any time. Establishing the run game is critical to nuetralizing those ends and granting Derek Carr some time for downfield throws.

Don’t be surprised if this is a total run and defense game. That’s kind of ideal for the Raiders. Don’t forget Adam Thielen and Stefan Diggs still lineup at receiver for the Vikings. The secondary must not get exposed again like they did versus Kansas City. The Vikings haven’t had a great offense thus far this season but the Raiders can’t let them get in rythme. Expect the DBs to get attacked often. If they can step up along with the pass rush, they can take advantage of Kirk Cousins at QB. If not, they can make the infamously inconsistent player’s highlight reel.

In the end, both these teams are scrapping to keep their season from being challenged early with 1-1 records. No one is really sure what either of these teams are. The Vikings seemingly have the advantage as a more recent playoff team but they’re still figuring out what they have at quarterback. A loss hear could put Cousins on the hot seat as well as any of the veterans on that defense.

This game needs to be like Denver for the Raiders. They have to come out fast, with swagger and trying to prove something. If they get down, Minnesota’s defense is too talented to get one dimensional against. Oakland’s defense also needs to not give up any big plays that turn the game into a shoot out. The Raiders need to win upfront and play with great fundamentals if they have any chance to beat this Vikings team.

Again, all the answers are inside the Raiders lockerroom. They’re 1-1 entering a game that could go either way. Just Win Baby!

 

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!