2019 Raiders Draft Notes from Petty Pete

All bets are off this year for the Raiders draft. No one can really accurately predict what will happen since this is Mike Mayock’s first draft with skin in the game. Not to mention, the Silver and Black and Jon Gruden are always a wildcard.

Here’s what I’m expecting from the Raiders draft.

A trade

Everyone is talking about Oakland’s four picks in the top-35. That’s fine but the team doesn’t have a third or sixth round pick thanks to the Antonio Brown trade. I don’t expect Gruden or Mayock to stay pat with idle thumbs.

That means a player like Justin Ellis, Eddie Vanderdoes, Karl Joseph or another holdover might here their name called in a trade for some mid-round draft compensation. This team is fully in on out with the old and in with the new so I don’t expect the draft to be any different.

Moreover, they could also trade up or trade back. Either of those scenarios are realistic because the Raiders have so much capital and so many needs. Still, I’d side on adding more picks since this team is desperate for help at the starting and depth positions.

An elite defensive player

I don’t care if it is fourth or twenty-four, the Raiders got to get them a player to build their defense around. Devin White, Quinnen Williams, Nick Bosa or Josh Allen would all be vast upgrades early. However, a top-end talent like Montez Sweat, Rashan Gary, Devin Bush, Clelin Ferrell, Ed Oliver or Christian Wilkins all could be top-10 talents too. They have more questions than the first group but they would definitely be steals if the Raiders wait to select one in the twenties or trade into the teens. Even at the top of the second, they might find an impact player like Nasir Adderly, Rock Ya-Sin or any number of DBs who can make an instant impact.

Playmakers across the board

Speaking of playmakers, I said this last year and we walked away with a bunch of hoggies. That’s cool and all but this year the Raiders need playmakers on every level of their defense. They could also afford to add some explosive help around Derek Carr. Regardless of position, the Raiders need to take some productive players with high-upside who can develop into big-time playmakers. It really doesn’t matter the position.

Still, I like Noah Fant or any of the tight ends early. I wouldn’t rule out a RB like Josh Jacobs or Miles Sanders. X-Factors like A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Hollywood Brown and others might be too good to pass up.

A QB

No, I don’t expect Haskins or Murray to the Raiders. I know that hype continues building but please don’t put ass through another young-QB development phase. Still, I think the Raiders take a QB. Their backups don’t exactly jump out of any page except draft busts. I could easily see the old-school Mayock and Gruden taking some sort of QB in the draft. Tyree Jackson could be a steal late or how about Will Grier in the middle rounds? Their nowhere polished but they could develop into something if you believe in Gruden’s genius.

We will find out what a Raider is…

Above all else, I believe we’ll find out what Raider in 2019 looks like. Mayock had that quote early in the offseason talking about how he and Gruden were working together to see what culture they want to build and what players fit that.

After tonight, we’ll have a much better idea what that means in for the Silver and Black. So far, we’ve seen them sign overrated Trent Brown, wild-ass A.B., Vontaze Burfict and a bunch of other experienced veterans like Crowell. There really isn’t a lower common denominator in that equation. However, we’ll have a better idea what that looks like after tonight.

More Questions

Overall, it will be interesting to see how the Raiders attack the defensive line, offensive line and secondary in this draft. Is the team still high on Gareon Conley and Joseph or is it time to ship them out and/or find their replacement?

Oakland addressed the offensive line in free agency but they still need depth and maybe a guard… Oh yea, don’t forget all that draft capital they put into the offensive and defensive line the past few seasons. Does Mayock and Gruden still value those guys like Arden Key, PJ Hall or Kolton Miller? I expect one if not all may compete for playing time (not just starting time) this year.

Moreover, how do politics factor into this draft? Will Oakland accept Nick Bosa if that’s the pick?

Tune in to the Draft all this weekend. It should be a hell of a ride. Hopefully the Raiders don’t burn a third round pick for a receiver with question marks or give anyone a franchise QB for basically nothing, cough 2018 draft.

Check out my full seven-round Mock Draft too.

Super Bowl LIII and more reasons to be Petty

it’s been awhile since I checked in. Let’s be honest, the Raiders haven’t given me much to talk about outside of some quotes from our coach and new GM.

Nonetheless, Raiders fans like myself will once again spitefully watch and binge drink to the Patriots playing in the Super Bowl.

This year is even more awkward. Not because we’re hoping this is the last call for Bellicheat or Brady. Nah, this year features another hidden evil.

New England plays the L.A. Rams in the Super Bowl this year. You thought the Media machines had fun with the Pats, wait until the Rams win a Super Bowl.

Not only do the Ramily play in LA, the home of NFL network, but they feature everyone’s favorite coach Sean McVay. MCVay rose to prominence due to his early success, age, good looks, gutsy play calling and being in L.A. McVay is a reminder of what Jon Gruden was, is and could be. It’s actually more of slap in the face considering Gruden might never get to where McVay is again despite the similarities.

Plus, the Raiders were the most loved team in Los Angeles. You see their influence all over the city. Not only did they win Championships in L.A. hosted Super Bowls but they called the region home for more than a decade. The Raiders almost called it home too until the   NFL green-lit the Rams relocation til LA over the Raiders joint proposal with the Chargers.

Thus, this Super Bowl puts Los Angeles one step closer to moving past the Raiders. For Raiders fans in L.A., a Rams win in Super Bowl means hearing about McVay’s genius in the national media and dealing with the local hype too.

Then there’s Aqib Talib whose had his beef with the Raiders before. Marcus Peters has too but he gets a pass being from Oakland. Don’t forget the Silver and Black’s flirtations with Suh everytime he is a free agent. Plus, Jared Goff is from the Bay Area.

Oh yeah, and the Rams were in a standstill with their elite defensive player Aaron donald, before giving him a record deal to end his holdout. The Raiders were in a similar situation with another generational talent from the same draft class, Khalil Mack. Except the Raiders resolved that situation by moving Mack. Thus, the Raiders ties in this game make it hard to root for the Rams in good conscious.

Further, Raiders fans will never get over the tuck rule. Not only did it berth the Pats dynasty but it also goes down in history as what deprived Oakland of one more Lombardi before the Raiders clout chase Vegas.

So Raider Nation can’t root for L.A. They can’t root for New England. Should we root for the apocalypse?

Nah fam, football isn’t that serious. Just root for not throwing up on your shoes, pop your heart burn medicine and enjoy your family while you drink the pain away of someone not in Silver and Black winning a Lombardi again.

Don’t worry though, as soon as this game is over, Raiders fans can turn their hope to another draft, free agency and season. Hopefully, the Raiders woes are left in last season and not carried on through the draft or free agency.

Because we all know what’s when it comes to the Raiders. The hangover is definitely worse than the pain.

Who you rooting for this year in Super Bowl 53? What’s on the grill?

Bye Week Blues: Coop Gone and More

Listen, it’s been a couple of weeks since I have written here. How can you blame me? What should I say after our season’s first win came in OT of a toilet bowl versus the Browns? Or after that embarrassment to the Chargers in a defacto home game? Or that ass whooping in a London game that got yanked off TV?

My mom told me if I don’t have anything nice to say then I shouldn’t say anything.

This week was supposed to be different. A bye week means we didn’t lose. It means that adjustments are coming and hopefully a surge towards relevancy. Unfortunately, we got some bye week blues today.

Gruden Strikes again

Man, oh man, another week and another franchise player moved unexpectedly. It was only a few years ago that Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack were seen as exemplary, elite and franchise players. I remember the last time I was in the Coliseum. Hearing those, “COOOOOOOPPPPPP!!” chants was an experience. Now, both are gone from the roster.

Cooper’s trade isn’t the same as Mack. With Mack, the Raiders gave up on a contract situation and generational talent way too early. With Cooper, they realized he was wasting away on their roster and cashed in asset before they couldn’t get equal value.

This past season was the first time I’ve noticeably seen Cooper frustrated. He argued with Carr a few times and other times they looked out of a sink. You could see Coop’s body language wasn’t the most engaged even if he never said anything publicly.

Statistically, he’s had a fall from grace the past two seasons. Last year he had under 1,000 yards for the first time in his career and this year he only had 280 receiving yards on 32 targets in six games. Of course, you can’t blame that all on him. You’ve gotta look at how the play calling has changed as well as how QB and O-line played have declined in that same timeline. You also gotta watch how he is open on every play and how he can take it to the case on every damn play.

Stop Saying, Cooper, ain’t worth a first rounder

For real, it is getting corny. The Raiders did not pull a fast one as Cooper is worth a first-round pick. His two Pro Bowl seasons in 2015-16 alone prove that. Not to mention, his blocking, route running, mental processing and competitive toughness are second to few at his position. I don’t care if he doesn’t holdout every year, isn’t six-foot-five, actually catches a TD, doesn’t get hurt often or take pictures with Drake.

Personally, I would’ve asked for a first round pick and another player who can help now. Then again, I’m a stan who understands what Cooper brought to the field as a playmaker and leader. I’m also one who sides with stars and proven-commodities over draft picks because the draft is really a shot in the dark. I know how hard it is to find star players and I know what kind of hope they bring fans. The point is, teams hope they draft Amari Cooper each year and the Cowboys did what they could to make sure they got Amari Cooper.

I don’t even care about the drops or drop off in statistics because Cooper has proven he can play through that. He’s also been exactly what he was build. Sure, he isn’t gonna surprise you with his size or even his speed and jumping. However, he’s gonna bring it every single play. That’s the type of player you build around especially if you’re a locker room like the Cowboys which has way too much off-field and on-field drama. Cooper will shut up, play ball and he might teach that locker room something.

Moreover, he’s probably gonna be better this next season and a half than any rookie receiver who still has to adjust to the game. Hopefully, Dallas can get their line and QB situation figured out so Cooper can thrive and remind everyone that he is an elite receiver still. Dude is only 24 too so he is still getting better.

Fire Sale

Honestly, I’m happy Cooper is gone. He deserves better than Oakland. In fact, I’m hoping everyone with value gets traded. Derek Carr, Kelechi Osemele, Gabe Jackson, Rodney Hudson, KJ, BI, Gareon Conley and anyone else with value should be shopped. As much as I hate saying Goodbye, I’d rather see them get a chance somewhere else than sacrifice their bodies or waste away for a garbage team. The Raiders already command this draft with five picks combined in the first round of this year and next year’s drafts. They mine as well sell whatever they can for more picks and embrace the tank. I don’t see many bright spots on this roster anyways.

A team was formerly known as the Oakland Raiders

All that hard work for nothing. It seems like the Raiders were so close in 2016. Finally, Reggie McKenzie’s process was bearing fruit. All those waiting on draft picks, cutting dead money and not making trades was finally looking good. Remember, Carr, Cooper, Murray and Mack all in the 2015 Pro Bowl? That seems so far from now.

Honestly, the real loser in all this is Oakland. They’re the ones who have to watch this team the next half season and possibly next year. We were all told Gruden wanted to bring a Lombardi to the team on the timeline.

Now, it seems like that timeline is at least double. There are more voids on the roster than bright spots. We’re looking forward to drafting picks over Sundays. Our team continues to move on from previous draft picks. OK, stagnant veterans are being played over developmental players with even a little potential. All things we’ve experienced before.

Of course, that’s the issue. Raiders fans in these past two decades are experts on rebuilds. We know tanking and projects for sure. We’ve learned to accept them and ride anyways. However, we were told and are still being told this team wants to be competitive. We were baited and switched. Betrayed by our own. Gruden was the last great folk hero in our team’s historic legacy and he is letting us down. Our team seemed close and now it seems so far.

Gruden is insulting our intelligence and trying to run misdirection with our minds by making us think he isn’t tanking. He is giving more sound bites in press conferences than meaningful halftime adjustments. Gruden is cashing in what talent we had for assets that will complement his future ego. He is playing his rookies and giving up on young players who were established and developing.

The point is, Gruden clearly has some sort of plan and image. Unfortunately, it doesn’t align with what Raider Nation sees or feels. What would Al Davis think about his team abandoning franchise corner stones? What would he think about Jon Gruden having infinity gauntlet power in Oakland?

Maybe Al was right to trade away his egotistical boy-wonder of a coach in 2002? IT was hard to believe since he was suffering from his own stubbornness and game passing him bye. Ironically, Gruden’s second tenure is starting to feel more and more AL. Giving up on players too young the same way his owner gave up on him prematurely.

Then again, what does it mean to be a Raider nowadays anyways? Al has been gone almost a decade. The team has a handful of winning seasons this millennium. They’re abandoning their home, for the second and last time. It seems the Oakland Raiders are not only becoming physically extinct but maybe the aura and mystique are going away too. Maybe Gruden has that on the trading block too. Who knows anymore?

Either way, good luck at getting excited for watching Carr and the offensive line look like shells of their 2016 versions. Enjoy watching an overmatched defense battle for one half. Good luck looking for big plays from Jordie Nelson and hoping Martavis Bryant knows where to lineup. It’s gonna be a long final stretch for the city of Oakland. I hope fans show up just to boo. Not the players and dudes giving up their body but the front office that continues to let us down in the most tragic ways.

Goodbye, Gruden’s Casualties: OTAS

I know it is OTA’s and it is all about moving forward to the 2018 season but I want to take a few moment to remember the legacies of a few Raiders casualties. You won’t read about any of these guys in Raiders Hall of Fame. They’re the casualties of the lost 2017 season.

Michael Crabtree, Sean Smith, David Amerson, Clive Walford and Marshall Newhouse were all let go before their contracts expired. Jamize Olawale and Cordarelle Patterson were traded even though they flashed at times for the Silver and Black. Don’t forget Marquette King, JDR, TJ Carrie and Denico Autry who will also move on. Otherwise, peace out to Darius Latham and Jihad Ward. 

Marquette King, Broncos

I get it. Marquette King had more followers than some of these NFL teams but let’s not pretend like he wasn’t legit at his craft. And really, to let him go on the first day of the new year when he hadn’t met his new coach? Even if Gruden wants a punter who will be quiet and kick, adding one more roster question doesn’t help Oakland’s cause. King wasn’t the only person that got his walking players.

Still, let’s remember King not only for his dances after punts but all the work he did in the community. Plus, he was the league’s lone punter. He made us forget about Shane Lechler and was actually athletic in a similar way as Raiders legend Ray Guy.

Michael Crabtree, Ravens

Crabtree was the biggest surprise since he’s been Carr’s favorite weapon especially in the redzone. Crabtree’s numbers and relative contract, that had $6 million in non-guaranteed money, made him a likely candidate to stay on the Raiders. Instead, the Raiders cut him.

However, Gruden and the Raiders had other plans. It was clear that Crab fell out of favor with the last staff and for whatever reason, Gruden wasn’t ready to give him a restart. Lookout for Crab to really play with a chip on his shoulder this season.

Either way, let’s not forget Crab for being one of the first players to buy into the new era of the Silver and Black. He took a below market value contract to play with Derek Carr and prove his worth. He was the start of a culture change. Crabtree was more than a gold chain and Talib antagonist. He was a Raider.

David Amerson, Chiefs and Sean Smith, Free Agent

The greatest cornerback duo that never was. Amerson and Smith didn’t live up to their expectations. They were supposed to be the big, cornerback duo that could make plays on the ball. Last season, Amerson couldn’t stay on the field, despite being an underrated addition when he signed a few years ago. Smith couldn’t even get practice time after being a key free agent before the previous season.

As a unit, it took the Raiders nearly the whole season to get an interception. Some of that falls on these veterans. Plus, their contracts, Amerson’s health and Smith’s legal trouble just made it all to easy to start over. 

Marshall Newhouse, Bills

Speaking of upgrades, Newhouse was cut because he really didn’t solidify the right tackle spot. Newhouse was adequate on the right side. He also had experience playing a variety of positions on the offensive line. However, he wasn’t better than average and the Gruden regime wanted someone better for their scheme. Newhouse will always be remembered for recovering that fumble versus Miami and getting flipped when he tried to run and advance the ball.

Jamize Olawale, Cowboys

Here’s another trade that hurt. Olawale hadn’t been utilized by the previous regime. When he was, he flashed running ability like that big run versus the Steelers a few years ago. Otherwise, he was a balanced player with blocking, catching and special team abilities. Olawale was a class act in the community and still relatively young.

Cordarrelle Patterson, Patriots

Speaking of under utilization, Patterson played more than expected due to injuries to other WRs. However, he didn’t always see a lot of designed targets. He did give the Raiders some game changing runs, kick coverage and kick returns. That alone gives him a reason to be on an NFL roster. Now, Belichick gets to use his game changing speed and special teams ability. Patterson should see some extra snaps at RB too. Guess he had to go since the Raiders are deep at WR but we really chose Seth Roberts over him? And all we got back was conditional pick in this trade, SMH.

Navarro Bowman

Oh yeah, Navarro Bowman isn’t signed after a solid year as our runstopper. He is probably not in the plans since the Raiders already signed three veteran linebackers. 

Jihad Ward, Cowboys and Darius Latham, free agent

Here are two players that played a ton their rookie year but injuries and other competition kept them mostly out of the rotation. Latham isn’t too surprising since he was an undrafted player. However, Jihad Ward was a second round pick and he never even sniffed that potential. Both players didn’t seem like fits in the new defensive scheme and both are easily upgraded. Ward was traded and Latham waived.

Clive Walford, Jets

Another tragic draft pick waived. Walford never regained his career projections after he injured himself in an ATV accident before his sophomore season. He played well last year but we all knew Jared Cook was the starter. Walford had all the tools to be both a good blocker and pass catcher. He just never consistently put it all together. That’s why the Raiders always needed to bring in another player to compete or compliment him. Walford is the type of player who might benefit from a change of scenery though.

Corey James, Free Agent

Another player waiver with flashes who battled injuries. Hopefully he catches on somewhere else?

TJ Carrie, Browns and Denico Autry, Colts

Two surprise contributors who got more money elsewhere. I ain’t mad at them even if they’re both sorrier teams. Both Carrie and Autry served and represented the Silver and Black every week. Yes, we could’ve used more consistency out of both players but they both showed willingness to play multiple positions. They both fought for playing time and a roster spot. Plus, they arguably got better every single year. Carrie was undrafted and Autry was claimed from another team. These were too Raiders who I wish the best for moving forward.

Aldon Smith, N/A

An obvious subtraction since he hadn’t played in two seasons. Tragic story where unlimited potential was derailed by demons. Hopefully, he can get his life together.

Jack Del Rio, N/A

The bay area native, living his dream job. We’ll remember Captain Black Jack for his gutsy fourth down calls and weekly media cliches. He should also be remembered for modernizing the Raiders facilities, getting decent free agents and giving this team direction and foundation. The weird thing is, he lost all of that just as fast as he built it.

The truth is, 2017 was a weird season especially to those of us not in the lockerroom. Someone needed to pay the price and it was JDR. Not only did he let players impact the lockerroom culture, but he failed to make weekly or halftime adjustments. He got comfortable and the team got stagnant.

Don’t feel too bad though. He signed an extension before the year and he got cashed out to not work.

The New Guys

Regardless, you don’t really get mad until you realize who the Raiders replaced said players with. For a minute, there was a running joke that they were cutting black players for white players. That wasn’t entirely true but it was a weird coincidence. For instance, they signed Jordy Nelson to take over at receiver for Crab despite his added age and more recent injury concerns. Adding Martavis Bryant helps soften the loss of Crab and Patterson too. 

Smith, Carrie and Amerson were replaced with veterans like Rashaad Melvin, Shareece Wright and Leon Hall. It remains to be seen if they’re upgrades. Reggie Nelson was re-signed despite him getting beat bad a lot last year. Journey man tackle Breno Giacomini replaces Newhouse but that might not be an upgrade either. 

Oakland added Derek Carrier and Keith Smith and re-signed Lee Smith to replace Olawale and Walford in the new offensive scheme. Again, lateral moves at best.

They spent a bunch more draft picks to restructure their offensive line with the roster moves and new scheme. Emmanuel Lamur, Derrick Johnson and Tahir Whitehead will takeover for Bowman’s leadership.

The point is, yes Gruden made changes but it is unclear if any of them are really upgrades. Either way, it is clear Gruden is trying to change the culture and schemes and he doesn’t care where a player was drafted or signed. Hopefully, it all works out, the Raiders win and we forget all these casualties.

Gruden Era Can’t Trust the Process

The Oakland Raiders blew up the process by firing Jack Del Rio and hiring Jon Gruden. You don’t hire Gruden from the booth, assemble of group of experienced and expensive assistants and pay Del Rio off to win a Division title. The expectations for Gruden and company is a Super Bowl ASAP.

Of course, that means the Raiders will need to fill their roster with Super Bowl level talent. They have glaring needs for elite talent and depth across the roster. They could wait for some draft picks from the previous regime to develop but that was the process that failed them in 2017.

The Raiders need to get top level talent in the draft, obviously, but they need to do that in free agency as well. Gruden has been out of coaching for a while so he doesn’t have a pipeline of active players ready to go. He’s got to get a new generation of players to buy into his legends of the 2000s.

Del Rio needed to attract free agents too. He did to some extent. They found budget guys like Perry Riley Jr., Reggie Nelson, David Amerson, Michael Crabtree, Marshawn Lynch and Navarro Bowman. They got top guys like Keleci Osemele and Rodney Hudson. They capitalized on second tier free agents like Sean Smith, Dan Williams, Donald Penn and Bruce Irvin.

Now, Gruden has got to take it a step further. In the past, general manager Reggie McKenzie has been hesitant to pay older free agents or handover big contracts. That will have to change in the Gruden era. They will need take some short cuts and that means signing the top free agents.

We’re seeing it in Jacksonville. The Jaguars spent dollars on elite free agents. They also drafted well and developed those players. Now, they’ve got a deep roster with veterans and young players. Oakland needs to follow a similar format.

On the other hand, we’ve seen teams like Giants sign free agents and take steps backwards. That proves the Raiders need a balance of draft picks and free agents to improve their depth.


When Reggie McKenzie took over this organization, he tore down the roster by releasing underperforming players. He hired Dennis Allen to lead the rebuild.

A few years later, McKenzie started reconstruction. He hired an experienced coach like Del Rio. He started attracting under the radar free agents that offered the most return on their investment. He found veterans willing to buy-in and prove themselves.

Now, the Raiders will enter the re-tool part of the process. They have cornerstone players like Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson and Amari Cooper to build around. They have veterans who have proved themselves like Osemele, Irvin, Hudson and others. Gruden will need to take this nucleus and mold into a true contender.

Gruden is tasked with getting this team an identity. He’s got some talent that he needs to get to buy into his vision. However, he’s going to need to get some more talent around them that fits his image. This is how the team takes the next step.

It means getting rid of players who don’t fit the character or play style that Gruden needs. Those who don’t buy in or fit in will need to be replaced.

That means bringing in talent that elevates the quality of the roster and is willing to fill specific needs. They need elite talented players willing to buy into Gruden’s image of the Raiders. Oakland will need to spend on elite players that compliment the nucleus they already have and will fit Gruden’s identity.

The Raiders can’t waste anymore time waiting for players to develop. They can’t keep players on scholarship. They can’t squeeze round pegs into Gruden’s image.

Hiring Gruden didn’t just speed up the process. Combine that with the Raiders moving to Las Vegas in two years and the entire process is blown up.

Oakland is taking a huge gamble on Gruden. They’re taking a huge gamble moving to Las Vegas. Oakland needs a Super Bowl ASAP.

The Jaguars and Titans both won a playoff game before the Silver and Black. If that is not an indicator that the team needs to speed up the process, what is?

The Raiders can’t stop gambling now. They got to gamble by spending money on specific, elite free agents. Sorry McKenzie, but your entire process is blown up. Oakland can’t wait for you draft picks to develop. You gotta open up that checkbook and take some shortcuts to help Gruden build his identity.

$100 million later, Jon Gruden is officially official head coach of the Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders officially got their white whale. They gave Jon Gruden $100 million over 10 years so the ESPN commentator would return to the sideline. ruden’s assistants are expected to be heavily compensated as well.

It is rumored they’re hiring Rams QB coach Greg Olsen as offensive coordinator and Cowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia and Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will hold the same positions in Oakland.

Why Gruden’s return is good

Every Raiders fan remembers the last time Gruden wore Raiders colors as a coach. It was the infamous Tuck Rule game. If his return reverses that curse, then I’m all for it.Other fans, look forward to the nostalgia of Gruden getting the offense back in shape and making plenty of great sound bites. If the coordinator rumors are true that is great too. Guenther is a true 4-3 guy who will finally give this defense an identity. They won’t hide behind a hybrid scheme. They won’t get pushed around either. Gruden is also a proclaimed offensive guru. That means it will be on him to get Amari Cooper and Derek Carr back on track after both regressed in 2017.Ultimately, the move is a signal from Raiders owner Mark Davis. You don’t give that kind of money to Gruden and eat Jack Del Rio’s contract if you aren’t committed to winning a championship as soon as possible. The Raiders have up to two years left in Oakland and it is clear they want to make a playoff push before that. Having an organization committed to a winning culture is always a good thing. It’s a move that should lift the morale of fans too.

Why Gruden part two could get bad

Remember the last time Mark Davis made a move that fans loved but everyone else questioned. That was the addition of Marshawn Lynch a year after retirement. The jury is still out on that move.Don’t forget it was also Davis who hired Del Rio. Del Rio was a great hire at the time but that turned sour quick.Gruden will have even higher expectations. Ownership will expect a significant playoff push before they leave Oakland. If not, Reggie McKenzie could get his pink slip next. Speaking of that, it is rumored that Gruden may want to make some additions to the personnel department too. McKenzie will stay onboard for the interim. However, it remains to be seen if he will stay with Gruden long term. Then there’s the whole matter of Las Vegas. The Raiders are taking on a lot of debt to make the move happen. They’ll need Gruden to make the team into a winner before, during and after the move. The success of the relocation to a smaller city and new sports town depends on the Raiders on-field-product.Additionally, there’s a huge elephant in the room. Gruden hasn’t called a game in nearly a decade. Certainly, he’s analyzed the game and become aware of new trends as an outsider. However, that’s completely different than leading men and putting together a game plan.On top of that, he’ll lead on Greg Olsen as offensive coordinator. Olsen held the same title with the Raiders during Carr’s rookie year. That’s good for continuity but let’s remember that is the year Carr earned his check down Derek nickname. It also reminds me of the time we rehashed Gregg Knapp. It can’t be much worse than that. Olsen did help Jared Goff develop this year. He probably learned some modern west coast offense from Sean McVay too. But Olsen didn’t do anything in his second stint with Jacksonville. Olsen’s offenses have been average throughout his career. Don’t forget that. Otherwise, John DeFillipo was the QB coach that year and the year before. He’s the real attributed mastermind behind Carr’s rookie year and the year that brought us Terelle Pryor. Except DeFillipo will probably get a head coaching job and not return to Oakland with Olsen. Hopefully, Gruden and Olsen don’t expect to dink and dunk their way to a title in 2018. If that’s the case, expect Raiders fans to turn their morale real quick. On both sides of the ball, the Raiders are going to have to add some guys to help the transition to Gruden’s regime? If it works, is to be determined…

The verdict

Applaud the Raiders for doing what they had to do and gambling on Gruden seems like the sexy bet. It won’t come without challenges because all coaching changes result in growing pains. Nonetheless, it was clear they had to move on from Jack Del Rio. Del Rio looked old and tired as the season went on. He never could find the answers during the games or in post game press conferences. There was a ton of weird drama from Lynch, Carr, the defense and the offensive line. Del Rio couldn’t keep it under control. Reports also said Del Rio wasn’t staying as late as much either. It seems like Del Rio always found someone to blame besides himself. He could never build a defensive culture or limit penalties during his entire tenure. He couldn’t maximize his talent in 2017. Del Rio wasn’t going to persuade any free agents moving forward either.Further, all this offseason lockerrrom snitching proves the Raiders lost their camaraderie. It proves that they weren’t responding to Del Rio. Raiders fans saw that as the team lacked motivation and often looked beaten during games. This prestigious franchise seemed like they were losing the physical battle each week. It was time to move on. Props to Del Rio though. He took getting fired from his dream job in stride. Del Rio got the news directly after a road game but still delivered his post game pressed. I can only imagine the emotions of losing your dream job. As fans, we all dream of doing the job that Del Rio worked his way into. He probably had the same dreams as a kid in the bay. His family and him also did a ton for the community. Del Rio built a foundation and moved the culture forward. Hopefully, Gruden can get the Raiders to the next step. This would be like the Warriors firing Marc Jackson and hiring Steve Kerr. In that same comparison, Gruden has got to win and win fast. He’s got to get this team contending for serious titles each year. He’s got to get a couple of Super Bowls over the next ten years. He’s got to get one with this core group, preferably before the team leaves its home. At the very least, Gruden needs to win a Super Bowl in four years or this could be a huge embarrassment for every one involved.Gruden has got to be more than just an upgrade over Del Rio. Gruden has got to turn the offense around and get the defense playing hard again. He’s got to sell tickets in Oakland and Las Vegas. He’s gotta coexist with Davis and McKenzie to get quality draft picks and feee agents. Can Gruden do all that? That is to be determined.

Raider Nation Rise

If you’re anything like me, than you’re a Los Angeles Raiders fan disappointed you’re not attending the game that is the closest your team has ever been to you in your lifetime.

Nonetheless, the Raiders need a win today. It doesn’t matter that a win will earn them a less important draft pick or another year with a mediocre coaching staff. Oakland needs this win for its fans.

The Raider Nation paying three times regular ticket value to black out the StubHub center deserve a win. The Raiders fans in Oakland facing the fact that they have one more season with their team deserve a win. Those of us who expected a Super Bowl battle deserve a win too.

Sure, all wins matter. This one matters a little more since the Raiders are returning to their second home. The Silver and Black won Lombardi trophies as the Los Angeles and Oakland Raiders in LA. Raider Nation usually packs out Chargers games but this one means more since it’s on our home court.

It also means more cause the Raiders season is basically over. They have nothing to play for but their jobs and coaches jobs. Oh yeah, they have to play for those Raiders and fans who wear the emblem and colors with pride 365 days a year. Those of us wearing our gear in Week 17 with nothing to play for deserve this win. It’s time for the Raiders to play for their fans and it’s time for RaiderNation to rise.

Are the Raiders’ Decision Makers Bold?

The Oakland Raiders suffered an embarrassing loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last week. A seemingly defeated head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t seem like he knew the answers. He insisted that the offense needed to play “Bold.”

Silver and Black QB Derek Carr later said he was going to let it rip because that is what the coaches want. However, I’d push back on Jack Del Rio. How has he or this organization been bold? What example is the team following?

Outside of a few 4th and 1 gambles, when has the coaching staff been bold? Was it bold to fire Ken Norton Jr. after 11 games? He was the sacrificial lamb but he had already had his power compromised by Del Rio and John Pagano. Before Pagano took over, the defense played anything but bold. They were one of the least blitzing teams in the league.

It might have been bold for the Raiders to replace OC Bill Musgrave after he his contract expired. They promoted Todd Downing who never held the title. Downing changed the scheme with more zone blocking and pocket concepts. Is that a bold move or a dumb move?

Was it bold to bring in Marshawn Lynch? Lynch was the hometown heroes of fans. He filled a need at running back.

How about holding onto underperforming players like Reggie Nelson and Sean Smith on defense? Both were supposed to help change the culture of the defense. It is amazing they both find themselves as significant contributors. However, it is an indicator of the talent level on defense. There are hardly any bold playmakers outside of Khalil Mack.

Speaking of the draft, the Raiders have taken some bold gambles. They drafted a corner with off-field incidents and he played well in only two games. Now he is on IR along with our second round pick who needs massive development.

Factor that in with our third round pick in this year’s draft as well as our second and third picks from 2016 and we have a bunch of developmental defensive linemen who might not last in the league. They’ve gotten some flashes from Mario Edwards Jr., Justin Ellis and Denico Autry but they haven’t been dominating enough collectively. Or maybe their coaching hasn’t been bold enough to put them into positions to succeed?

Otherwise, signing Navarro Bowman was a bold move. Except the Raiders were depleted at linebacker which was already the worst position group on the team. Bowman was another no-brainer since he came from a Bay Area native anyways.

The Raiders boldest moves were giving extensions to Gabe Jackson, Jack Del Rio, Derek Carr and Donald Penn. Penn is aging and appears to be on the decline but he is still a solid player. Carr and Jackson have both proven to be franchise building blocks but both have struggled this year. Del Rio had a great year last year but so did this entire team. It actually appears like the team hasn’t rallied around JDR like they have in the previous years.

Ultimately, the amount of money the Raiders dished out to the aforementioned stakeholders was bold. It was bold because it was largely based off one year of elite play and good play the year before.  It’s hard to say it was a worthy gamble considering those stakeholders’ performance this year. Oakland will stick with their investments and that’s pretty bold too.

Thus, the Raiders coaching staff wants the Raiders to play bolder this week but have they been bold? Have they taken risks and let it ripped? It’s arguable that they played it safe by keeping the core of the team together.

Nonetheless, when Oakland did make bold investments and decisions it has rarely paid off. Therefore, don’t blame the players if they play it safe too. Don’t blame them for reinforcing the safe culture established by the coaches.

Don’t get mad at the players for not being bold when you’ve rarely been bold. The coaches need to look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves if they’ve been bold? Because maybe the players are being safe to negative the reckless personnel decisions and safe play calling that has infected the Raiders.

 

 

 

Ravens versus Raiders: How Oakland wins again

The Silver and Black have the privilege of beating the Baltimore Ravens the past two seasons. That means both teams have plenty of tape on each other. There won’t be a ton of surprises but the Ravens are hungry to avenge the past two narrow defeats. Here is how Oakland can win another close one at home.

Tailor the offense to E.J. Manuel 

Let’s get one thing straight, E.J. Manuel came into a hostile situation and played well last week. This week he should be more mentally and physically prepared to play. Hopefully, his receivers and offensive line won’t live him out to dry this week. 

Still, it would still be a mistake to call the same game plan with Manuel as we would with Derek Carr.

We always here how offensive coordinators tailor their game plans to the personel, but now is the time to see it. I’d love to see Oakland experiment with some zone reads to neutralize their inconsistent tackle play as well as the over aggressive edges on the Ravens. The Raiders should sprinkle in some reverses, shovel screens and jet sweeps to keep Baltimore’s run game on its heals. They probably load the box so it would be awesome to hit on a big play that they do not expect. 

In the passing game, the Raiders should start with some screen passes to Amari Cooper. Cooper desperately needs some confidence and this might help the Raiders take the top off the defense later. Oakland should also call their backs out for routes a lot too. Between Jamize Olawale, Marshawn Lynch, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, the Raiders have plenty of good pass catchers out of the backfield. Manuel should throw to these guys early so he can gain some confidence. Let’s see what they can do in space.

Give the TEs the ball

Baltimore’s biggest liability is their safeties. Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson are known playmakers but they’ll fail on gambles too. Oakland should rely on their tight ends as big targets with the catch radius to make plays for Manuel’s passes. 

Clive Walford should get a bigger opportunity with some three and four tight end sets. These sets are good for establishing the run, protecting the QB and getting mismatched with the plat action pass. Don’t forget Manuel has a rapport with Lee Smith from Buffalo. He should see some opportunities to move the chains. 

Create turnovers 

If your defense is creating turnovers, they’re not giving up points. Our defense reminded us of that last week by keeping the Broncos from putting up points in the second half. They found ways to keep the game close. Oakland needs to do that again this week.

Last season, Bruce Irvin came up with the strip-sack fumble that turned the game for the Raiders. Who will do it in Oaklan this year? 

Jor Flacco will take chances as he’s shown over his career. Even if their offense is more run focused with a back by committee situation, Baltimore is able to hit big plays with their receivers. This could be the game Jeremy Maclin or Mike Wallace gets off this season. Both players have burnt the Raiders at times. 

The defense needs to bend and not bold. Find ways to make plays and get off the field. You know the stereotypical things defenses do. That gives Manuel and the offense a chance to win the game.

Raiders Versus Broncos: How to win Week Four

To be honest, I wasn’t really sure why the Raiders and Redskins were in prime time. I didn’t think it would be a competitive game other than it pitting the Racists versus the Renegades (I’m talking team images of course).

Either way, the country watched as our Silver and Black got smoked mostly due to Derek Carr deflating our team’s offense from the get-go. A fact that Carr has even admitted.

Nonetheless, the Raiders must rebound versus a division opponent. Here is how the Raiders can beat Denver on the road.

Forget last week’s loss

All season long, I’ve talked about the Raiders building a championship winning attitude. Part of that attitude includes responding to the adversity that comes with a big loss. Not to get all football cliche, but Oakland needs to move on from last week’s loss. The worst thing they can do is have a hangover from the blowout loss last week.

Oakland’s receivers especially need to have a bounce back game. It is no secret that the Raiders receivers struggle with physical corners. Josh Norman proved that last week and the Denver Broncos proved that twice last year. Now, the Silver and Black get another physical test versus the best corners group in the league.

The great thing about playing receiver, it only takes one big play to re-gain your confidence. If Carr can connect with Cooper or Crabtree for a big gain, that could be the confidence booster to put this team back in rythme.

Otherwise, the offensive line had their worst game in a few seasons. The Raiders got exposed on national TV and they haven’t been all that great at tackle this year. Some of that falls on the team adapting to Donald Penn holding out. However, the offensive line will continue getting better as the season goes on, especially in the run game. Still, the line has to get it together since they’re facing Von Miller this week.

Khalil Mack’s breakout game

Don’t get me wrong, Khalil Mack has done his thing this season. He’s impacted games even if his stats aren’t stuffed.

Nonetheless, the Raiders defensive line is incredibly mediocre. They’ll rely on Mack to take over the game versus former Raiders tackle Menelik Watson. Expect the reigning defensive player of the year to get a couple of sacks and a turnover. Hopefully, Mack’s presense trickles to the rest of the defensive line. Oakland desperately needs a Bruce Irvin sighting. Ideally, one of the defensive tackles should break out if our Edge players can make some plays too.

Stick to the formula

I’ve already touched on this, but it is that important. The Raiders do not need to change their gameplan. It is simple. Take some shots to get a lead. Run the ball to kill the clock. Give your defense a lead so they can take some chances and get some turnovers. That plan should not change after a fat L last week.

Ultimately, we will learn a lot about our Raiders this week. It is our first AFC West opponent and the Broncos are playing better than people expected. This physical divisional game should let us know if the Raiders are a real contender. Can they beat a tough opponent that their familiar with on the road?

Moreover, how will the Raiders answer after a big loss. This team is more experienced and has more swagger than they have in almost a decade. Will that be lost after one big loss? The answer better be no. The Silver and Black must stay swaggy and confident if they want to beat Denver and continue on their Super Bowl quest.