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.

 

 

Forget AB, for Oakland’s Sake and more game notes Week One 2019

Week One is upon us and Antonio Brown is behind us. The entire, short-lived Antonio Brown situation was nightmare for the Silver and Black. However, the biggest loser in the entire situation is Oakland. 

Without Brown, the Raiders are that much less talented and that much harder to support in their future ex-home city. Oakland deserved a team better than last year and Brown was supposed to be apart of that. Brown was supposed to be a center piece of the Raiders promise to bring Oakland a winning season and new culture. Delivering on these promise from the Raiders gets infinitely harder without a great player like Antonio Brown. Oakland deserved better than what AB and the Raiders did to them this offseason. 

Instead, Oakland got baited and switched. They bought their Brown Jerseys and drafted him as their fantasy player in hopes he’d be a focal point for the Raiders in the next few years. Then he left them hanging and used for clout. He backed the Raiders into a corner and forced them to go from the offseason’s biggest winner to the biggest loser overnight.

Whatever comes next with the actually season here might be worse than the Brown filled offseason circus. If that’s the case, then Oakland will continue to be the biggest loser of the entire Antonio Brown drama.

Oakland is the place that packs out every Raiders Game. It is the community that supports the team through 17 years of dysfunction and heart break. Oakland is still paying for the previous renovation that brought the Raiders back too. They do all this despite the team leaving for bigger and greener pastures in Las Vegas.

Regardless, the East Bay deserved a great player like Antonio Brown this year. They deserved a winner in the final season hosting their beloved football team. They deserved to have a reason for excitement every Sunday like AB.

They got more dysfunction instead. Now, they’ll get an offense built around Derek Carr and a team that is only as good as their infamous coach. Spoiler, we saw how bad that was last season.

Either way, many thought AB and Hard Knocks would be a great litmus test for the Raiders. Except this trial by fire didn’t go so well and it isn’t even Week Two. The Raiders had to put out AB’s sparks of negativity before it could spread like California Fire Season. 

Cutting AB is great for protecting the Raiders locker room but horrible for Oakland. Instead of talking about the final season in Oakland, the media is talking about Antonio Brown and the Raiders front office. They’re talking about the picks given up for the receiver and the headlines AB made in his few months as a Raiders. Media are searching for AB’s replacement and overlooking what the team’s absence will mean to the city.

No one is talking about how the Bay and Raiders culture intertwine. No one is talking about the franchise drawing inspiration for the very name, colors and swagger drawing from the place it called home for the better part of sixty years. No one is talking about the Raiders breaking up with their Mecca and what that means to the community thanks to this entire Antonio Brown distraction.

Raiders Nation and Gruden, remember when Amari Cooper wasn’t alpha enough? The Raiders shipped him out for a pick that would be Jonathan Abram and traded a mid round pick for AB to assume the role as shifty, speedy No. 1 receiver. Was that low price gamble on AB, an alpha, worth the squeeze? Hell no, give me my late round picks back especially if Oakland is gonna suffer through another bad season. 

Nonetheless, this entire Antonio Brown saga is the latest instance of a divide between the Raiders front office. Still, Gruden and Mayock got their shit together and aligned by cutting their No. 1 receiver. Both men looked noticeably irritated simply addressing AB’s latest altercation and suspension even though it is only Week One and Year One.

In the end, it’s the last season Oakland. We should be talking about the Raiders very logo, colors and cultures tied to Oakland but we’re talking about AB. Instead of reminiscing about the decades of great renegade football we’re talking about AB. We’re not talking about the community ties or social justice history of the Raiders either. We’re just talking about AB and that is disrespectful to Oakland which is the Mecca of Raiders football.

Ultimately, there are no winners when your coach and GM beef with each other or when their best player is cut. That’s even more true when you consider AB went to the Raiders’ hated-rival, the Pats. The L becomes even bigger when you read Brown did whatever he could to leave the Raiders and Oakland. Even if you deny that Brown conspired this all along, you can’t argue that Oakland losing a player of Brown’s caliber hurts the city’s entire prospect of having one more good season. 

Unfortunately, Vegas is coming fast and it is time for the Raiders to deliver on all those new culture promises. It’s time to deliver Oakland a decent team not all these headlines and trending hashtags from Antonio Brown dividing the Raiders front office or distracting the locker room. It’s time to move on from AB, for Oakland’s sake. Knock on wood if you’re with me. 

WEEK ONE KEYS VERSUS THE BRONCOS

In other news, football is back. The Raiders are the last team to kickoff their season with the late night double header versus the Broncos. They got to battle their long-time division rivals in what will be Oakland’s last installment of this legendary AFC West rivalry.

What do they need to do to beat the transitioning Broncos? Denver is a team somewhere between rebuilding and the Super Bowl they won less than five years ago. They’ve got their third head coach in four seasons and went the old-school, established vet. coach with lots of experience to make sure the team revamped their defense and didn’t lose any games from small mistakes.

The Raiders must win the game upfront. Oakland will be without their usual starters at guard due to suspension and injury. That means the Broncos should use a lot of twists and blitz to really confuse those guys. The Raiders offensive line will need their tackles to show improvement from last year since Kolton Miller is in Year Two and Trent Brown is making bank. They will need the o-line to consistently compete with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb so that Derek Carr stays clean and poised for most of the game. Good pass pro should also help get the run game going for Josh Jacobs and the Raiders other backs.

Also on offense, the Raiders will need receivers to step up across the board. AB gone puts Tyrell Williams in the uncomfortable spot of proving he’s worth all that skrilla. He must prove he’s a legit No.1 receiver and not only the deep threat he was type casted as with the Chargers. The same goes for the rest of the Raiders WR depth chart which is filled with young and inexperienced gadget-type receivers. Shoutout to Darren Waller who is also going to need a big game as the x-factor at tight end. Carr loves his tight ends and he’ll need Waller to live up to Hard Knocks hype quick. Outside of the o-line, Carr will need his receivers to step up versus the Broncos.

On defense, the game plan isn’t too different. The Raiders will show their inexperience at end with rookie Clellin Ferrell making his first start across from second year end Arden Key. Garrett Bolles and Ju’Wan James might be the Raiders greatest draw at tackle all season. Really, this entire Broncos front line is filled with question marks. Oakland needs a coming out party from the entire defensive line if they want to win this game. That includes versus the running game. Rushing the passer is great until Denver starts hitting on those open run lanes in the zone and scoring with their dynamic backfield. That means the key to winning this game starts with the defensive line.

Further, the Raiders secondary is supposed to be much improved. They added role players and starters through both the draft and free agency. We need some return on investment via turnovers from this group. That’s especially necessary if Joe Flacco or Emmanuel Sanders can turn the clock back. Don’t sleep on Noah Fant or Courtland Sutton who bring the size and athleticism to give the Raiders nightmare for a long time, despite their young age. The secondary is gonna need to limit big plays as well as make their own takeaways.

Antonio Brown shit aside, it’s time to Just Win Baby! What better place to do that than Monday Night Football in Oakland on opening night!

 

Petty Pete’s thoughts before Week Three

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

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

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

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

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

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

B.I at End is a No-No

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trading for a playmaker?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to expect from the Dolphins?

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

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