Taking the Chiefs Challenge

The mentor became the teacher last week. Josh Allen and Derek Carr are from the same region of California. Allen mentioned looking up to Carr and his older brother. However, it was Allen who was throwing strikes downfield.

It is Allen who went from laughing stock a few seasons ago to the postseason last year. It is Allen who has his Bills looking like a real playoff contender. The technique, mechanics and accuracy have all changed so much for Allen since coming to the league.

That’s not to say Carr was bad versus the Bills. He mixed his usual efficiency with a few good deep throws. One which got called back due to a penalty. Carr played well enough again but the defense continued to struggle.

We still don’t really know who the Raiders are. For the second week, they dropped a game to an AFC East team. Vegas looked solid in the first half of both games.

Yet, the Bills and Pats both pulled away in the second half. That’s the difference between a playoff team and a young team trying to be a playoff team. The Raiders haven’t been a second half team in decades. They need to find an identity that includes more aggressiveness and adjustments in the second.

Right now, they are resting on two wins versus the NFC South. Vegas’ defense was mediocre even in those contests. The offense is good but it is still leaving points on the board. That is not something you can afford when your team is young and your defense is mediocre on the best days.

The Champs Enter The Chat

Moving on to the Chiefs, the Raiders play their toughest division foe. Yes, you want to win every AFC West game and beat the hell out of your long-time rival.

However, is that really realistic? Are you making bets with your friends and family who are Chiefs faithful? Probably, not.

Our Silver and Black haven’t shown much versus the Chiefs in years past. They haven’t shown much to beat them this year, either. The Raiders pass rush and secondary are still lacking too much to disrupt Mahomes and cover all those weapons.

The Best Chance

Sure, the offense put together flashes. Their best chance is keeping the ball out of Mahomes’ hands by controlling the clock with Josh Jacobs and the run game. The run game should improve if Trent Brown and Henry Ruggs III end up playing. Both practiced this week and are listed as questionable.

What won’t help the Raiders is the Chiefs getting their best pass rusher Chris Jones back. Hopefully, Brown in the mix can help limit Jones. You can read more about the Raiders offensive line here.

The Raiders also need Ruggs to take the top off an aggressive Chiefs secondary. Vegas got some sparks from Zay Jones and Nelson Agholor last week. I want to see what they do with Ruggs back keeping people honest on deep routes and play action.

Carr won’t get any favors playing in Kansas City. We all know Carr does better in the Vegas home setting than in the cold at Arrowhead. The Chiefs are also one of the few teams allowing fans into game as they try and repeat as Champions this year. Carr has got to step up or Justin Herbert will surpass him as the second best quarterback in the AFC West.

A Hope

As for the Raiders defense, it all comes down to the defensive line again. The Raiders defensive scheme really relies on those front four causing disruption. Johnathan Hankins is strong against the run but we need more pressure from our tackles in the middle. Maliek Collins has not been as great as we hoped. It might be time to see Mo Hurst get even more snaps as he is the best interior rusher on the team. Clellin Ferrell moving inside should be causing more havoc too.

Our ends have been hit or miss both in the run and pass game. Ferrell is the most consistent versus both but he still needs to do more to get home to the quarterback. You can read more on the Raiders defensive line grades here.

Either way, it’s not the Raiders defensive line’s fault their backers are not filling. It is not the d-line’s fault the safeties are taking bad angles or if the corners get beat.

Regardless, the Raiders have limitations on their defense. The best way to neutralize this, especially versus a team like the Chiefs, is with your d-line finding another gear.

Keep It Competitive

Sure, the Raiders are over matched. That doesn’t matter. It’s the Chiefs. You got to find a way to win your division games, especially when you hate your rivals as much as we hate Kansas City.

Moreover, a win would really get the Raiders’ confidence on track headed into the Bye Week. It will give them a key win. We will also be one step closer to knowing if this team is a playoff team or just a young team who is competitive for one half a week, again.

Ultimately, we need this game to be competitive. It will catch the attention of every one if the Raiders surprise the Chiefs this week.

Plus, no one wants to get blown out by their division rival. That might happen versus Mahomes and a high powered offense. In that case, the Raiders have a Bye Week and more out of conference games to lick their wounds.

Point is, the Raiders don’t have much to lose. At the very least, I want them to take some chances and make some adjustments in the second half. Show something different. Do something surprising you haven’t done before this season. Bust out all the stops versus the juggernaut contender.

Don’t forget that Raiders swagger and heart. Just Win Baby! Don’t got out like no punks versus the Chiefs. Don’t quit even if the scoreboard isn’t in our favor.

Should we expect them to win? Probably not. But will we be cheering, praying and hoping? Fuck Yes! It’s a new chapter in one of the oldest rivalries written. Vegas Baby!

Raiders Versus Bills Preview

Las Vegas had a real chance at beating the Patriots. They left too many points on the board by not converting touchdowns in the redzones. Settling for field goals versus a well coached Patriots team is not the answer.

Still, the defense forced a turnover with Johnathan Abram’s interception. Maxx Crosby registered a couple of sacks. Josh Jacobs averaged over four yards a carry. Devonta Booker gained some big chunks. Derek Carr was efficient again with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a high completion percentage. The team missed their rookie receivers.

Either way, the Raiders went into the half with a momentum gaining score. They failed to build on that in the second half. Carr’s second TD also came with the game seemingly out of reach. New England had Sony Michel averaging over 10 yards a carry while Rex Burkhead tore up the Raiders from the backfield as a receiver and runner.

Meanwhile, Buffalo fought off a Los Angeles Rams comeback. The Bills were blowing out L.A. 21-3 in the first half. The Rams came back strong in the second half. They scored 29 to take the lead before Buffalo scored on the final and winning drive.

More On The Bills

Buffalo is 3-0 and looking like a real threat in the AFC East. Josh Allen is second in the league in passing yards as well as completing 70 percent of his passes. He has thrown 10 touchdowns to only one interception. PFF ranks him among the top QBs.

Receiver Stefon Diggs brought a new outside weapon to his team. He’s caught two TDs and two passes form ore than 25 yards. Cole Beasley and John Brown are also playing well. Their running game is also solid with Devin Singletary. The Raiders have their hands full again this week.

On defense, the Bills are strong on the edges with veterans Mario Addison, Jerry Hughes and Trent Murphy. Rookie A.J. Epenesa also registered his first sack. They are deep in the interior with Ed Oliver, Quinton Jefferson, Vernon Butler and Harrison Philips.

Buffalo’s secondary is among the best in the league too. Jordan Poyer is PFF’s top rated safety. Safety Micah Hyde, corner Tre’davious White and corner Levi Wallace are playing at a high level.

Matt Milano is a force at outside backer with both an interception and sack so far this season. Tremaine Edmunds is an athletic freak. Both will be needed to cover the Raiders’ tight ends.

How The Vegas Defense Stacks Up Against Buffalo

LB Nick Kwiatkoski will return. Our defense was missing him the past two weaks. Cory Littleton needs help.

CB Damon Arnette will miss this game too. Arnette could be out a couple of months.

Buffalo’s biggest weakness is their interior offensive line. That means the Raiders will need DT Mo Hurst, DT Maliek Collins and DE Clelin Ferrell to push the pocket from the interior.

Tackles Daryl Williams and Dion Dawkins are both playing well for Buffalo. Las Vegas will need their ends to step up and apply pressure. It can’t only be Crosby all year.

The Raiders rush defense also looked bad last week. Buffalo may turn to Singletary early and often. RB Zack Moss could also play through a toe injury and give the Bills added physicality at the tailback spot. We can’t afford to let Buffalo establish the run when they already have such strong passing threats.

Vegas will need their safeties to play discipline this week too. Allen has a big arm and the receiving threats to push the ball deep. The Bills also have Beasley to eat up intermediate junk.

The Raiders Offensive Keys Versus the Bills

Offensively, the Raiders will be down WR Henry Ruggs and OT Trent Brown again this week. WR Bryan Edwards is out with an ankle sprain.

Ruggs and Edwards out means more Zay Jones and Nelson Agoholor. Both have made splashes in the early season. Jones is facing the team that drafted him before trading him last year. Hopefully, he is extra motivated and open this week. They’re going to have their hands full with the Bills secondary.

The Rams threw a couple of big passes to Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee. That means, Foster Moreau and Darren Waller should both find opportunities to eat this week. Carr has also got to push the ball to all his guys again this week.

Vegas also needs to keep mixing Booker into their run game. He looked good last week and could spell Jacobs. Jacobs looks good as always but we need to keep his legs strong for those AFC West battles.

Don’t be too hard on rookie guard John Simpson. It’s still early in his career. He’s shown some flashes but will have his hands full with Buffalo’s rotation.

What A Mean Would Mean For The Silver And Black Stakes

Are the Raiders in a rebuild or a threat for the playoffs? The answer becomes a little more clear with this matchup versus the Bills.

A win versus the 3-0 Bills could put the Raiders back towards the top of the AFC. It would give them some momentum before next week’s division matchup with the Chiefs.

Losing puts the Raiders at .500. It’s a winning percentage the Raiders can live with through the first quarter of the season. However, we still wouldn’t know how good the Raiders. Is the AFC East that good? Is the NFC South that bad?

Nothing really surprising has happened this year. The Raiders offense looks efficient with Carr and Jacobs leading the way. The defense is still giving up big chunks versus the run and pass. They found just enough stops to beat two NFC South teams.

That is what the Raiders need this week. They need something unexpected versus a well coached and talented Bills team. We need a turnover or a big run or pass to really put Buffalo on their toes.

The Raiders usually find a way to beat Buffalo. Vegas is up 14-5 in the all-time series. Adding to that win total is not out of reach. It will just take capitalizing on the unexpected as well as applying pressure on Allen and creating turnovers.

3-0 in sight? Week Three 2020 Preview

Las Vegas opened with a bang as the Raiders upset the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football.

The Raiders weren’t without their flaws. Their pass rush was still non-existent. Alvin Kamara and Latavis Murray were effective as receivers and runners versus the Raiders defense.

Our run game still averaged less than four yards a carry. How much can the team ride Josh Jacobs?

Derek Carr completed passes to a number of different receivers en route to three touchdowns and 284 yards. He was efficient as always but took a few good shots down the field.

We got a good long look at rookie guard John Simpson as Richie Incognito left with an injury. Early reviews are good. Rookie corner Damon Arnette took his lumps again. All rookie corners face ups and downs.

Either way, the Raiders face another tough test this week versus the New England Patriots. They will again face a perennial playoff team today.

We all know how they can start slow in those East Coast early start games. Carr won’t have the safety of a Dome. The Raiders haven’t won in New England since the ’90s.

New England is obviously a different team with Cam Newton. Newton already has four rushing touchdowns this year. The Raiders defense needs to stay discipline with Newton in an offense that features many wrinkles.

Last week, the Pats lost a close game to the Seahawks. Seattle’s Russell Wilson was damn near flawless versus the Pats. Vegas needs a similar performance from Carr this week.

The Seahawks also established multiple runners. Las Vegas needs a similar performance from their offensive line as well as Jacobs.

Seattle also took away the running game as Cam Newton threw almost 50 times. He was also their leading rusher as Sony Michel didn’t do much.

The Pats don’t have the same receiving threats outside of Julian Edelman. Edelman went off versus the Hawks and he could do the same versus the Raiders young corners and over-aggressive safeties.

Again, the Raiders need to stay discipline upfront. They need their defensive line to have a big week by staying on their keys but disrupting as much as possible.

On offense, the Raiders will need to keep feeding Darren Waller and Jacobs. Those are their biggest weapons. They also gotta do something to not run Jacobs into the ground. They can’t give him thirty carries while he is battling injuries and expect to make a playoff run.

Thus, starting 3-0 comes down to coaching. Gruden needs to get the fired up like it’s opening night on Monday again.

The defense needs to stay discipline and honest for four quarters. They need to find ways to pressure Newton, especially if he throws the ball a lot again. Our d-line needs to step up and find who they were last year.

Offensively, they need to continue mixing it up with different receivers. Let’s keep seeing some more Nelson Agoholor, Zay Jones and Bryan Edwards. All three made big plays on Monday. Jacobs and Carr need all the help they can go.

This is a winnable game for the Raiders as long as they don’t stray away from the young and explosive team we’ve seen the past few weeks. 2-1 is still progress but 3-0 Is another level. We need every win possible in the competitive AFC West.

Raiders Rants: Week Two 2020, Aldon Smith and More

Imagine almost blowing a double-digit lead to the re-tooled Carolina Panthers? That’s exactly what the Raiders almost did last week versus the Carolina Panthers.

They pulled out the Week One win which we will take but they almost lost it due to a second half run. This gives Raiders fans PTSD considering they haven’t been great in the second half under Gruden or JDR.

This week the competition goes up a step versus the New Orleans Saints. NOLA quietly has a conclave of Raiders Nation but this game will be the first one in Las Vegas. It will be sans fans.

A Win in Perspective

Nonetheless, the Saints have been a perennial contender. They looked like that again in Week One. They welcomed Tom Brady to the NFC South with a few interceptions. New Orleans also kept the running game in check in Week One.

However, Tampa bounced back versus the Panthers in Week Two. They got Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette back on track. I tell you that to show you where Carolina, the team the Raiders got their first win against, stacks up in the NFC South.

Anyways, Vegas is still looking to establish themselves. In Week One, the defense left something to be desired with only one sack and zero interceptions versus the Panthers. Tampa Bay made a couple of interceptions and sacks versus Carolina.

Panthers receiver Robbie Anderson went off for triple digit receiving yards and a touchdown versus the Raiders and Buccs. McCaffrey did his thing in Week One with two TDs and more than 100 yards from scrimmage. He did the same in Week two, although he got hurt.

Also for Vegas, Nelson Agholor took some money out of people’s pockets by scoring the Raiders only receiving TD versus the Panthers. Derek Carr took some shots in that game and finished with a pretty consistent stat line.

Carr Driven By Others

Carr will need more help from his young receivers this week versus an established New Orleans secondary and pass rush. Agohlor is the vet of the bunch and should get more looks.

Either way, Vegas will need to lean on Jacobs to control the clock. Jacobs finished just short of the hundred yard mark versus the Panthers but finished three drives for the Raiders. The Raiders offensive line will need to establish Jacobs early to neutralize an aggressive NOLA d-line.

Otherwise, New Orleans thrives in a dome shootout. Their defense likes to take chances and play aggressive with a lead. Shout out to Dennis Allen, the former Raiders coach we all try and forget about.

Still, the Raiders haven’t proven they have the outside talent to keep up in that scenario. The Raiders’ best weapon will be keeping Drew Brees and that offense off the field. They can challenge this Saints defense by keeping the game close and making them play discipline football.

Defensive Keys

On Defense, the Raiders get some help with Michael Thomas expected to miss this game. Raiders LT Kolton Miller played pretty well in Week One. He’ll have an even bigger test versus the Saints edge Cam Jordan.

Regardless, Brees and the Saints have proven they can find receivers. Emmanuel Sanders knows the Raiders well from his extended time in Denver.

Jared Cook was also a Pro Bowler with the Silver and Black. Alvin Kamara can impact the game as a receiver and runner much like McCaffrey in Week One. New Orleans also utilizes the Tay Train, Latavius Murray. Any of them could have a big game versus the Raiders defense with Thomas’ touches.

Keeping that offense in check will be a matter of disrupting Brees and the backfield. The Raiders defensive line has to keep improving. Please get a sack or a pick this week.

BTW, the Raiders are paying their linebackers and safeties a lot of money. Let’s see some turnovers to give the offense an advantage.

Will the Saints March Into Vegas?

The point is, the Raiders face an incredible challenge versus the Saints this week. It’ll take incredible discipline and everything going right to stay competitive.

What the Raiders do have going for them is momentum from a Week One win and the hype for opening a new Stadium and market. A win here could have the Raiders looking like a contender again as they were early last year. A loss could have them stumble to the middle of the pack with only a win over Carolina.

The good news is that it is still early in the season and the Raiders have more non-division opponents after this game. That gives them plenty of time to establish themselves before the games mean a little more in the AFC West.

More from the AFC West

Speaking of which, what if I told you rookie Justin Herbert almost lead the Los Angeles Chargers to a win over the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. That shouldn’t be surprising since the Bolts have been playing the Chiefs tight the past few years.

Still, Herbert looked good. He took chances that kept drives going. He showed his toughness and leadership on scrambles. Their running game also continued to look good as well as their receivers. The Chargers could quietly have the best QB not named Mahomes if Herbert keeps developing.

One Final Shoutout

Also, shoutout to Aldon Smith. The former Raider who only played a half a season before receiving an extended ban returned to the field for the Cowboys. He lit up the Rams in Week One with a sack, TFL and several more tackles.

Smith came back to reality in Week Two but just seeing him return to the field after battling alcoholism, D.V. allegations, weed and a bunch more stuff is great. I’ve been rooting for him since Day One so I had to shoutout his success one-time.

Anyways, I’m ready for some football and I think Vegas is too.

Week One Welcome Back

There’s a lot to talk about ahead of Week One 2020.

Unfortunately, I haven’t met my duties as a Raiders blogger this offseason. Between COVID and taking in my two brothers and sister, I’ve been busy. I was covering the Lakers, doing a two-times weekly podcast and started my own newsletter. 

However, that all came to a stop when my 14-year-old brother couldn’t go anywhere else and when my 16-year-old sister felt so abandoned by her adopted mother that she ran away 2,000 miles across the country without telling a soul. Them two and my twelve-year-old brother are home with me now.

Football takes on a whole knew meaning when you’re in the Dad life. It’s no longer just entertainment. It’s the time of the week to see friends and be left alone. It’s a past time to share with your family. 

Anyways, back to the Raiders. The Silver and Black have long been my Sunday escape. I probably need it more this year than ever.

New Defensive Era, Please

I am looking forward to finally having a steady group of linebackers. We know the two big free agents Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski. They should make not covering the tight end a legend left in Oakland. I am also interested to see Raekwon McMillan in the mix as a run stuffer. 

The defensive line should also improve with another year experience and some dead weight let go. Maliek Collins has been one of the talks of camp. They gave a lot of money to Carl Nassib who should see a lot of snaps. Arden Key and Mo Hurst got to show some gains to stay in the rotation. Maxx Crosby needs no sophomore slump.

Speaking of which, I still would’ve signed another vet like Jadeveon Clowney. They still need that massive disruptor that makes every one else better. I’m not sure if Clelin Ferrell is that guy but they need to give him opportunities all on the d-line to find out.

The back end should also be interesting. The Raiders didn’t make a move there based on the development of Trayvon McMullen and the potential of Damon Arnette. LaMarcus Joyner also go double-digit million reasons to improve. Jonathan Abram needs to stay healthy and deliver on last year’s Hard Knocks hype too.

Offense Leading The Way

On Offense, there’s no excuses. Jon Gruden and Derek Carr Year Three. Plenty of talent. The Raiders have an elite back in Josh Jacobs and line to support Carr. 

His receiver group will miss Tyrell Williams’ size and speed. They will start rookie receivers in Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards for the first time since the DHB and Louis Murphy era.

A Thought On Drafting

Which BTW, Las Vegas needs to stop drafting developmental talent like Lynn Bowden Jr. If they are unwilling to do everything to develop him. They traded him for a future pick the same offseason they drafted him despite knowing he was a gadget guy who would take time go hit the field. 

As for the tight ends, the Raiders have a top group. Darren Waller, Foster Moreau, Jason Witten and Derek Carrier give them the right blend of size, blocking and pass catching.

This Raiders team is positioned to run the ball and take shots. It will be up to the play caller to make those calls and the QB to execute.

Week One Matchup 2020

Nonetheless, the Raiders face a formidable opponent in Carolina. Teddy Bridgewater is a fellow member of the 2014 Draft class like Carr. Jacobs is not on McCaffrey’s level but both are threats any time they touch the ball. 

The Raiders must do whatever it takes to own the line of scrimmage to disrupt Bridgewater and McCaffrey. Ball will be out quick guaranteed in Matt Rhule’s offense. Shout out to former Raiders receiver Seth Roberts who is on this roster.

On defense, the Panthers are also retooling. They will start two highly regarded rookies. Vegas should dominate these guys early and often.

Carolina also replaces one of the best backers in this generation with Tahir Whitehead. Raiders fans know his liabilities in coverage. Again, circle our tight ends all day. 

Ultimately, this should setup as a nice test for where the Raiders are versus another young team in the middle of a retool or rebuild. It is still hard to look past them given we haven’t seen their offense in the NFL yet. 

Not to mention, we last Bridgewater helping the Saints take command of the NFC. McCaffrey is also the league’s biggest x-factor.

Vegas Days

Regardless, there is no reason the Raiders can’t start the Vegas era undefeated. With or without fans, 1-0 in a new stadium is what our fans deserve. 

We’ve had this looming over us for years, decades really. We finally have a home that is uniquely ours and we can’t even see a game. Damn. I’m also not sure how COVID will impact our tackling or blocking. Will we see more injuries? 

Either way, the Raiders gotta start the 2020s and their tenure in Vegas by Just Winning Baby! This Carolina game sets up exactly like that but it could easily be a trap game if Vegas doesn’t handle business urgently. We are gonna need that confidence from a win versus the Saints and the rest of the AFC West.

Just Don’t Be Racist Baby! 

There’s No Room for Direct or Indirect Racists in Raider Nation

I don’t care what you think about Trump or Derek Carr, there’s one thing Raider Nation should agree on and that’s Black Lives Matter.

The colors are Silver and Black for a reason. Don’t rock them if you’re afraid to acknowledge a team with a history of breaking down barriers.

Remember, those Badass teams in the ’70s were renowned for acceptance with the Black Panthers and Hell’s Angels. Don’t talk about the Assassin, Snake or that era if you forget the unity they represented.

After the George Floyd protests, Charles Woodson chimed in. Josh Jacobs was tweeting a storm. You heard Zay Jones and Tyrell Jones share stories.

How could anyone say all lives matter when they’re telling you they’ve felt like their lives don’t matter? They’re sharing trauma experienced by them or loved ones.

Derek Carr voiced his support and Jason Witten stepped in. Madd Maxx gave his support. Even they understand direct and direct discrimination Black people deal with every day including police brutality. Listen…

Go back in history and you will see that being a Raider means championing diversity and exclusion. They’ve had the most non-white head coaches including the first Black and Latino head coaches. Amy Trask was the highest-ranking female executive in the NFL. This isn’t a coincidence.

Being a Raider isn’t just about being pillaging, looking intimidating or just winning. It’s a commitment to excellence on and off the field.

The Raiders have long excelled at giving back to the community. The Raiders logo it’s self is a symbol of revolt and rebellion.

Don’t call yourself a Raiders fan if you’re ignoring your privilege or the facts about racism and police brutality. You can’t say you bleed Silver and Black if you’re afraid to say Black Lives Matter.

Raider Nation is outspoken and in your face group which is why the Raiders represent counter culture. Raiders fans are a lot of things but we’re not racist.

The point is, we can disagree on Carr or Gruden or Politics but don’t call yourself a Raiders Fan is you still think All Lives Matter when camera phones show us Black Lives don’t Matter.

That doesn’t mean you have to go out and protest or loot or donate or anything else. But it does mean you need to listen and be an ally. Because racists are getting canceled across sports, from announcers to media and players.

Raider Nation won’t be any different. We’re too diverse a group to let direct or indirect racism into our group. We’re voting you racists off the island even if you call yourself “Raiders Fans.”

 

 

NFL Draft 2020: Trade Speculation and Full Mock Draft

It’s Draft Day.  No this ain’t a song and it won’t feel like that for a few Raiders on the chopping block or people who wanted to attend the event.

The Vegas Raiders were supposed to be the hometown favorites today. This draft was their official introduction to the city.

COVID-19 took all that away and now we watch as the event will be a more vintage fantasy draft like everything else that happens over zoom these days.

The spectacle is set for totally different reasons. We will see GMs flexing with ergo-dynamics and man caves. Front offices with the best communication and collaboration will thrive in this remote environment while more legacy clubs get exposed. Analytics are gonna be even more important to fill gaps left from less personal connections.

The Silver and Black will make waves through this draft with their five picks in the first three rounds. They are without a second round pick which also makes them a candidate to move back in the draft.

Remember, the Raiders don’t have late round selections either. Again, placing an incentive on why the Raiders should be active on the trade market throughout the Draft.

There are also rumors they could be in play for an edge rusher like Yannick Ngakoue but that remains to be seen. Trading our 19th pick Ngakoue wouldn’t even be bad given this draft class is deep but might not bring an instant spark like Ngakoue would to the Raiders defense. Obviously, it would be better if the Raiders could get him without forfeiting a Round One selection. That should be easier since he doesn’t want to be there but it depends on what other teams are offering.

Who can the Raiders trade Today?

Beyond their draft capital, let’s start at the top with Derek Carr. Moving Carr gets exponentially easier if the Raiders select a quarterback in the first three rounds. It also drops his trade value if the Raiders invest in a rookie quarterback since they already are paying Marcus Mariota a lot of money to be a veteran bridge and high quality backup. The Raiders would be lucky to get a second or third round pick for Carr which is probably why they will hold onto him for another season.

We also can’t forget Gabe Jackson who is the other player remaining from that 2014 Draft Class. Jackson is still a starting caliber guard and he never received his due. However, his contract and injuries make it easier to move on.

Many thought he would have already been a cap casualty. Either way, Raiders will probably try to draft an interior linemen in the middle rounds like they did Jackson. This will give Incognito a mentee and someone to push Jackson or Denzelle Good. At the very least, drafting someone makes it that much easier to dump Jackson for a late found pick.

Then, there’s the holdovers. We’ve heard talks about P.J. Hall on the trade block. How about Arden Key?

Neither player has really lived up to their draft bills or potential. They were supposed to be high risk, high reward picks in their draft. Now, they’re looking more like additional Reggie McKenzie scraps about to be thrown over board at the highest bidder.

Both guys flash occasionally and that should be enough to warrant a fifth, sixth or seventh round pick for either or both. Look at a team who values length on the edges and strength in the interior as trade partners. How about other defenses cut from the Zimmer tree? The Patriots always love making the most of draft busts on the low… how about the Dolphins who employ McKenzie and hold a plethora of picks? All these teams make sense as a draft partner for Key or Hall.

Then, there’s Tyrell Williams and LaMarcus Joyner. Both were big free agency grabs last offseason. Now, their contracts look over priced. Williams and Joyner were both leaned on by their units last year. They flashed at times but other times it was a “you paid this guy that” situations?

You can’t put all the blame on them but they certainly weren’t saviors. My point is, the Raiders probably keep these guys another year due to their investment and the fact that no one is lining up to pay those salaries. Not to mention, Williams should improve with an alpha receiver opposite him. Joyner should improve with a much stronger overall defense around them. Their roles as strong complimentary starters is what earned them these big contracts after all.

Full Seven Round Mock Draft

Obviously, this entire projection gets blown up if the Raiders make one or two trades. Either way, my only intent was to make the Raiders better with every pick. They still need a lot of talent upgrades so finding players who can push for starting jobs sooner than later ensures they pack out their new home stadium.

Round One (12): WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma

Whether the Raiders take their QB of the future today or next year, they need to find him a pass catcher. Las Vegas lucked out and found one of the best receivers in the Draft available at 13. This pick gets harder if a top corner is available too.

Either way, you could make a case for Lamb as the most physical receiver in this class. His YAC potential is through the roof. It doesn’t hurt that he comes from one of the top programs in the nation last year too.

Round One (19): LB Patrick Queen, LSU

Again, the Raiders proved last year they will poach the best teams in College as an effort to build a winning culture. This time they grab a defensive playmaker to compliment what they did in free agency by signing two marquee free agents for the other starting roles.

Queen would play weakside backer for the Raiders. Although they signed two coverage backers this offseason, adding Queen might mean they can finally cover tight ends as well as stuff the run.

Round Three (80): S Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne

I know it’s tough to imagine Gruden spending two of his three first picks on defense but the Raiders defense is that bad. Yes, they have Abram coming back and signed Damarious Randall to provide depth at corner and safety with Joyner.

There are questions about his competition level but he showed his athleticism and instincts translate at the Senior Bowl. He can play either safety spot as well as special teams early.  Still, Dugger is a developmental player with traits to be a real boom for Vegas as they need playmakers on defense.

Round Three (81): QB Jacob Eason, Washington

Eason is a real wild card in this draft. Nonetheless, the Raiders and Gruden get a quarterback with the size, athleticism and arm strength to play on Sundays. He is a decent enough athlete too.

Of course, Eason comes with questions about his ability to handle pressure.  That shouldn’t be anything a quarterback guru like Gruden can’t work with, right? We’ve seen him take gambles on QBs with less obvious skill sets.

Round Three (91): OL Rober Hunt, Louisiana

Hunt was the best guard available at this point. He’s a big physical prospect who can develop under whoever the Raiders start at guard as well as push for time immediately due to his size and athleticism. Either way, this would not be a bad pick at all.

Round Four (121): DB Michael Ojemudia, Iowa

Again, the Raiders need versatile and productive players as they continue trying to make that defense competent. Ojemudia is a solid pick up with 6 interceptions since 2018. He still needs to refine his technique and instincts but he offers top end traits that make him worth this selection.

Round Five (160): RB Darrynton Evans, App St.

Finally, running back is a real wild card in this draft. The corps is deep but how they rank and where the position overall ranks in the NFL depends on who you ask. Either way, Evans was highly productive at Appalachian State. He has the size and speed to play all three downs but projects as a change of pace and outside runner initially. That might seem redundant with the what the Raiders already have at the position but Evans would be a nice in-between for Jacobs and Richard. You can also never have enough running backs, especially with Jacobs battling shoulder injuries at the end of the last season.

 

Ultimately, everything is on the board for today’s NFL Draft. It will be memorable because it is the first remote draft and the first time the Vegas Raiders are officially on the clock. However, it should also go down in history as the draft that finally made the Raiders a contender. Right?

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?