Keys to Blacking Out the Bolts In Prime Time

When the Raiders take on the Chargers tonight, there’s a good reason many anticipate a home game. That’s what Derek Carr called it already and that’s what we’ve experienced each time the Raiders come to Los Angeles. This is the city where they won as the Oakland Raiders won a ring and they are the only team from L.A. to earn a Lombardi for Los Angeles. The Vivid Seat data backs all that up, citing 74 percent of seats sold for this game went to Raiders fans.

There’s a good reason why this is a primetime game. The Chargers are 2-1 and playing well. Las Vegas is 3-0. Both teams look playoff-bound but could easily mess it up. The Bolts always find plenty of ways to lose to the Raiders in a close game too.

Anyways, there isn’t too much to say about the Raiders 3-0 win over the Dolphins. It’s the first time the team has been 3-0 since their perennial playoff days in the early 2000s. Most teams that start that well make the playoffs as well. Nonetheless, they barely beat a team that was down their starting quarterback.

Still, this year feels different. Vegas found a way to win when they found a way to lose to Miami when it could last year. The Raiders ran the ball down their starting running back Josh Jacobs this time. They threw at a variety of receivers. Six receivers finished with three or more receptions. Byron Edwards continues to flash. It was the Silver and Black’s second OT win at home this season.

Their defense wasn’t a total liability. They did get a couple sacks despite losing contain on Brissett. Mike Gesicki had his best game of the season and reminded us of our past lows covers the tight end. This was also the first game in the early season where the Raiders didn’t force an INT. They did bend too much in their run defense as well. Both Malcolm Brown and Myles Gaskin carved them up for more than four yards a carry.

The point is, the Raiders still found a way to win a winnable game when that game probably would’ve gone the other way in seasons passed. Now, the Raiders face their biggest test as they take on a division foe that has made their own breakthroughs.

What’s up with the Bolts these days?

Justin Herbert deserves all the hype he is getting. Dude is off a game where he scored four touchdowns in the air and beat the reigning division champion. Mike Williams is finally having his breakout moment after 7 receptions, 122 and 2 touchdowns versus the Chiefs. Herbert registered 956 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions through three games.

Williams could be a problem for the Raiders due to his size and ability. The former Clemson standout registered at least a touchdown and a catch for more than twenty yards in each game this season.

The Chargers offense is still figuring out the offensive line, tight end and running game. They’ve been trying to make Jared Cook a thing all offseason. The Chargers are eighth in yards per game but rank 18th in points per game. Cook has had at least six touchdowns his last three seasons so they hoped he would help them in the red zone. He found the end zone once but it got it reversed. He has no TDS so far this year.

Chargers running back Austin Ekeler has been effective as a pass catcher and runner but he is not on pace for 1,000 rushing yards. Ekeler is averaging over five yards a carry his last two games, along with registering multiple receptions.

Yet, he only has one touchdown and one run more than twenty yards. The rest of the running backs are not even seeing enough touches to know if they’re a threat. Vegas can not let the Chargers running game gain any confidence with big runs or bursts that move the chains on first and second down.

Cook won’t be the only notable player with a past playing in this game. Former Chargers corner Casey Hayward, linebacker Denzel Perryman and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley all hold the same positions with the dark side.

Offensively, rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater seems like the real deal. Otherwise, the rest of the offensive line group is a hodgepodge of veterans. The weakest point is the Chargers’ right tackle with Storm Norton. The Raiders’ defensive ends must take advantage of any 1-v-1 with Norton.

Defensively, Joey Bosa only has 1.5 sacks this season but his impact is still seen on every play. If the Raiders don’t get better play from their offensive line, Bosa could easily build confidence early and often. The Chargers are still trying to figure out the edge spot opposite Bosa, since Melvin Ingram left.

The Bolts could also be down linebacker Kenneth Murray who went down with an ankle injury in practice this week. L.A. already allowed the 9th most rushing yards this season so the Raiders should exploit that by giving the ball to Jacobs or Barber early and often.

Veteran corner Chris Harris Jr. also missed two games with a shoulder injury. He could miss this one too. Asante Samuel Jr. won defensive rookie of the year a few weeks ago so don’t overlook him either. He is part of a pass defense that allows the sixth least passing yards per game.

The Bolts also have safeties that can help contain Darren Waller, at least on paper. It’s hard to bet against the Carr-Waller connection even versus Chargers safety Derwin James.

Conflicts aside, I own Chargers tickets really because the stadium is down the street and it makes financial sense for me to sell the other 8 games just to get a seat for the Raiders each year.

How do the Raiders Beat the Chargers?

This will be a game decided by whichever defensive line can impose their will on the opposing offensive line. Both teams have liabilities at the right tackle spot so whatever team figures out how to patch that leak will win. Whatever team exploits that best will be that much closer to stopping the opposing team’s MVP-caliber QB.

Otherwise, the Raiders must carve the Chargers up on the ground early and often. There is no reason the Raiders should not have a 100-yard rusher, especially if Jacobsplays and Murray is out. Running the ball will also keep Bosa and company on their toes. It protects Carr and sets up big shots in the play action. It also keeps the defense from having to defend Herbert and those big receivers on long drives.

Further, the Raiders must limit big plays in the run and pass. This run game is hit or miss but the Raiders defense must prove they are a hit by not letting Ekeler wear them down. It could also also be the game Jared Cook pays out considering what the Miami tight end did last week.

The last thing you want to do is give the Chargers momentum when they will be playing at home in front of a visiting crowd. That is why the defensive line will be so important again.

This whole unit plays off the energy and hussle of Maxx Crosby. Yes, we need Crosby to beat Norton and Slater for sacks but he also can’t let them get any confidence with run blocking. Defensive tackles Quinton Jefferson and Solomon Thomas are equally important as they must push that pocket and prevent a sneaky athletic Herbert from making anything happen as he steps up in the packet.

If the Raiders can sack Herbert, that keeps the Chargers pass-catchers from exploiting one-on-ones over smaller, less athletic defenders or finding breakdowns in the zone. It also gives the Raiders secondary a chance to make a play on any mistakes Herbert makes. He has not been perfect, throwing an interception in the first two games this season.

L.A. is favored by three points at home which means this game could go either way. Both these teams have pasts that include them finding ways to lose. Each AFC West team is trying to prove those days are behind them.

Either way, a win here could help with positioning since the Chargers are 2-2. The Broncos got embarrassed by the Ravens even if they are both still 3-1. A Chargers win creates a three-way tie for first while a Raiders win puts them in the driver seat of the West almost a quarter of a way through the season.

There is no reason the Raiders can not win if the Raiders can make the Chargers QB go down hard and fast. Double points if the Raiders can establish their will with the run game and deep shots as they have in three wins already this season.

2021: Back and More Silver than ever

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

2020’s Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Offseason Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Draft

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

2021 Hope

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

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

SoFi Stadium

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

AFC West

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

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

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

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

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

Something In the Water

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guess we will find out in Week One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Just Don’t Lose, Please

Almost everything hit the fan a few days ago when the Raiders got dominated by the Colts. Big runs broke, safeties got beat and the Raiders gave up 40 points.

It was the latest memory we have of Derek Carr driving meaningless down the field while down more than two scores. He and the offense struggles in the red zone, turning it over and not finishing drives with touchdowns. Philip Rivers showed what he can do with a defense that can create turnovers paired with above average skill players and line. The only thing the team did right was establishing Jacobs early and firing their defensive coordinator after the game ended.

Now, the Raiders face an AFC West rival Chargers team down significant depth. Anram, Arnette, Lawson and Heath out mean the secondary is paper thin. Morrow is quietly only competent backer and he will sit. Ferrell missing the game hurts the rush and pass defense.

Both teams only got a few days rest. Yet, the Chargers will play hobbled Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Austin Ekler could play too. This team is playing better than when Vegas barely beat them on the road. Justin Herbert keeps improving and Joey Bosa won’t sit this game out. Los Angeles might not be playing for the playoffs but damn straight they want to eliminate the Raiders’ playoff chances.

Baker Mayfield and the Browns did not due us any favors when they lost to the Baltimore Ravens. There are four teams within a game for that last spot. The Raiders’ only chance to make the playoffs is by winning out. They got to beat the Bolts, Dolphins and Broncos. Based off last week’s performance, it is hard to see them winning this game let alone two more. However, this team is at home and desperate for success Year One in Vegas.

Rod Marinelli enters the fold at defensive coordinator. He is one of the most well respected coordinators ever but his d-line has been far from great this year. The defense he managed in Dallas last year died as the season went on. Marinelli’s opening press conference talked a lot about discipline but he should start with his own unit.

The good thing is, the Chargers o-line is far from perfect. Vegas should make a statement by attacking the line and young QB with more blitzes but that will be hard with limitations in the back end. How will the Raiders matchup with Williams and Allen? Even hobbled they have speed and size to embarrass the Raiders’ best DBs.

Offensively, the Raiders need to attack too. The Chargers can give up big plays and they struggle with the run. Vegas needs to come out strong with their identity. Run the ball and take shots deep. Find that sense of urgency again.

Controlling the clock is one way you keep Herbert out of rhythm. However, it doesn’t matter if the Raiders let the Chargers run all over them. That’s the discipline this team needs. Stopping the run and giving yourself a chance to make a play on the ball. Sure, the Raiders secondary might get beat by elite talent anyways but they can’t beat themselves by doing too much, getting out of position or getting penalties. Limiting those mental eras alone could help the Raiders win this game and save their season. At the very least they won’t lose it.

Ultimately, this division game at a weird time on weird day will come down to will. It’s cliche but true when both teams are tired and hate each other. Thus, the Raiders gotta be themselves but they also got to find ways to not kill themselves. Run the ball, take chances deep, stop the run and give yourself a chance to stop the pass is how the Raiders don’t lose this game or their playoff chances.

Raiders and Chargers: The One With No Fans

This is the game many Los Angeles Raiders fans circled. The Raiders are in L.A. and opening SoFi without the thousands of fans that cheered them as they won a title for the city.

L.A.’s Chargers almost didn’t happen. That would’ve opened things up for a return of the Silver and Black without the Las Vegas title.

Well, that’s for another universe. These days the Bolts field a rookie sensation QB who might be better than the Raiders starter today. They’ve got an underrated defense even down Desmond King who they got rid of faster than a Sears sale.

Offensively, the Chargers bring a solid group of receivers and backs. The Raiders pass defense will be tested again. Herbert can also scramble when things break down. The DEs will need to be discipline when rushing the prototype.

Las Vegas needs to keep running the ball. They got back to that and squeezed out an ugly win in Cleveland. They will be tempted to shoot out with the Chargers in a dome but the Raiders are a run team.

The Silver and Black rush attack will be down Trent Brown. Brown adds aggression to the entire unit.

Vegas will also need a play from their receivers. Look for Nelson Agholor or Henry Ruggs to make a big play to answer the Chargers offense. They also need Darren Waller to help them convert in the end zone.

As for common opponents, the Chargers lost close ones to the Saints, Buccaneers and Chiefs. The Raiders beat 2 of the 3 as well as the Panthers who gave the Bolts an L.

This game could go either way much like most AFC West games. The Raiders should handle the Chargers if they are serious playoff contenders at the mid point. However, the Chargers are more talented than their record indicates. You definitely don’t want to overlook them or their high powered offense.

The Raiders are only favored by 1.5 points. This game will come down to which offense controls the clock best. The Raiders are set up for that.

A problem will arise if the Raiders get into a shootout, especially if Keenan Allen plays. Defensively, The Raiders don’t have the secondary to matchup with L.A. Another big game from the d-line could even the score.

Ultimately, the Raiders want to win all the AFC West battles. You don’t want to give the young Chargers any hope or confidence.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One More Awkward Goodbye

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oakland is Home Even For L.A. Raiders Fans

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

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

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

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

Oakland is Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Southern California’s Connection to the Raiders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arash adds: 

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing Like Oakland

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

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

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

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

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

You can find just the original reporting portion updated here.

How the Raiders Close Out TNF with a Win Over the Bolts

All aboard the Josh Jacobs train. As long as the Raiders have him they will have a chance versus the Chargers. Oakland will need Jacobs to help neutralize the Chargers aggressive ends.

The offense will also need Derek Carr to once again make crucial throws in tight spots on third down and in the red zone. That gives the Raiders a punchers chance.

Expect more Zay Jones at receiver too. We saw him get worked in the offense slowly over the past few weeks. He offers fresh legs the Raiders need.

Marcell Ateman should also see some time if he makes plays like last game.

Of course, Tyrell Williams and Darrren Waller have alternated as the Raiders No. 1 targets. That should continue.

Otherwise, the Raiders will need Trent Brown if Derek Carr hopes to throw deep. Brown left last week’s game early but he and center Rodney Hudson returned to practice this week. Getting Hudson back is critical too as the Raiders are much better in blitz pickup and double teams with Hudson.

Chargers edges Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are among the league’s most dynamic rushing duos.

On defense, the Raiders could also be without corner Daryl Worley. Worley took his lumps but made a dynamic interception. He is also practice this week despite an injury in last week’s game. 

The Silver and Black better prepare for anything. Mike Williams and Keenan Allen could easily have a day. Don’t forget Hunter Henry and Austin Ekeler have also come up with big catches for the Bolts. Plus, the Chargers are getting Melvin Gordon back to speed.

L.A. is still banged up. Both teams are Fighting for their seasons in a tight AFC West. Cliches aside this should be a rivalry game where both teams will fight their asses off for a victory.

Don’t expect this game to be particularly well executed. Thursday Night Football is infamous for poor games due to the short turnaround. The difference in this game could easily be what team is healthier and which coach does more with less preparation time. The good thing is these teams know each other well enough already that they don’t need a full week for preparation.

Oakland’s other Puncher’s advantage is the home field. The baseball field is gone and there are only a few more home games left before the Raiders leave Oakland for good after this season.

That means the Coliseum should get rocking for their last Thursday Night Football. That advantage should not get overlooked versus a talented and underachieving rival.

i will be in attendance and I am looking forward to taking in Oakland and the Mecca of the Silver and Black one last time. Most of all, I’m looking forward to beating the Chargers.

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.

What is it like to be a Raiders fan in Los Angeles in 2017?

Detailing my experience as Raiders Fan since the NFL returned via the Rams and Chargers: How has your experienced changed?

It’s a chilly October night. A friend invites me to an impromptu Clippers game. I find whatever jacket is in my trunk, and it is my favorite Raiders pullover.

Of course, I’m never afraid to wear my Raiders gear anywhere. Except for this time, it’s different. The Raiders are off to their hottest start in more than a decade. All of a sudden everyone is very receptive to my Silver and Black pride.

Instead of getting sarcastic remarks that trivialize my fanhood and test my patience, I find support. All of a sudden everyone respects the Silver and Black. Is this a product of their success? Does winning solve everything? OR are Angelinos paying attention to the NFL again due to the return of the L.A. Rams?

***

Los Angeles Raiders fans are an interesting bunch. The aren’t afraid to take short flights or long drives to support their team in the Bay. They tell legends of Super Bowls. They acknowledge the number of open seats leading up to the Raiders return to the Bay.

Even L.A. Raiders players like Marcus Allen and Howie Long will remind you that they spent their careers in Southern California and not Oakland. Either way, we are all members of the Silver and Black… Right?

***

You can find Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts dedicated to fans of the L.A. Raiders. For good reason, the team called this place home for 12 seasons. Fans supported them through good and bad.

This specific geographic designation created a divide in Raider Nation, especially when the Raiders quest for a new kingdom almost brought them back to Los Angeles via a joint proposal with the Chargers in Carson.

Even as the L.A. Raiders return died with the return of the Rams and Chargers, this subgroup continues to exist. What does it mean to be a fan of the most successful Los Angeles NFL team, while two other teams try to establish roots in the Nation’s second largest market? Why did ratings for Raiders game surpass those of the newly returned Rams, despite occuring at the same date and time?

***

It is January 2016 and the Rams are officially returning. I patrol the shops of the mall trying to find some new Raiders gear. Cowboys, Patriots, Seahawks and other popular teams’ gear are replaced with the Gold and Blue Rams gear. The struggle to find fresh Raiders gear at retailers persists, despite their upward success and popularity.

I’ve been going to the same gym for years. Now, I’m seeing more Raiders hats and tee-shirts. Are people getting more pride since the NFL is gaining popularity in my home? Am I becoming hyper-aware of casual fans since my team is finally entering the mainstream again? Am I policing bandwagon fans because I’ve been an active member of this culture since we were horrible?

***

It’s April 2017 and I’m enjoying Coachella 2017. Of course, I’m wearing a Raiders hat to protect myself from the sun and conceal my sweaty hair. It also matches my Raiders tank. People walk up to me and tell me it’s a dope hat.

“Go Raiders!” Strangers say.

“Raiders, baby,” they said.

My first instict is to challenge their fanhood. Sure, you’re a Raiders fan. I notice their crisp Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper jerseys. They proceed to tell me how they’ve been a Raiders fan for years.

Where were you when we were 4-12?  Where were you when people were telling me they hate the Raiders.

Only two years before at the same music festival, people said, “Raiders suck!”

Now, Raiders gear is the most popular. Surpassing the gold, yellow and blue of the Chargers and Rams?

***

Although I’ll be the first to admit the Raiders Mecca will always be in Oakland, that doesn’t mean Los Angeles is not the second home of Raider Nation. Maybe, this is because I never saw the Silver and Black patrolling the green of the Coliseum.

Either way, I’ve certainly noticed a difference in what it means to be a Raiders fan over the past two seasons. Do I attribute this to the success of the team in recent seasons or the increased presence of the NFL in Los Angeles?

At least until the stadium opens in Las Vegas, L.A. is the second most concentrated place of Raiders fans in the nation. What does it mean to be a Raider fan in Los Angeles since the NFL is back and the Silver and Black are as good as ever?

Let me know what it means to be a Raiders fan in Los Angeles in 2017 via Twitter or shoot me an email, petedcamarillo@gmail.com.

It is time for a New Direction

After  a 23-13 loss at the hands of the divisional rival Chargers, Dennis Allen’s time in Oakland might be up. Him losing the job is not necessarily a reflection of Allen, but a relection of the orginazation.

When Dennis Allen took the job as head coach, he understood what he signed up for. It was going to be a complete overhaul. This was a team who lost its direction, and lost its legendary leader. The franchise needed to create a new culture of winning. No one said it would be easy, and it hasn’t been. The team faced a horrible salary cap situation, work ethic concerns, and more athletecism than football ability.

Dennis Allen is 8-23 as the leader of this team. The team still lacks a franchise quarterback. There  is no consistent #1 reciever or lockdown corner. The defense and offense are both variables week to week. The Raiders still have problems with penalties as they committed 13 against the Chargers. What has really changed?

Well anyone who has watched this Raider team has seen a difference in how they compete. The Raiders play hard, they have bought into Allen’s regime and vision. Unfortunately, that has not lead towins.

Charles Woodson put it into perspective when he said coach Allen just doesn’t have the things he needs. Even another Raider said Allen puts them into a position to win, but it is up to them to do something with it. Therefore, in Allen’s defense maybe he just hasn’t had the talent to compete at this level. The Raiders were predicted to be a bottom feeder team, as they had a record high dead money salary. Allen was forced to weather that storm, along with other pieces of adversity. Fortunately for the Raiders, that dead salary comes off the books this season, and will give the Raiders $70 million in cap space. Does Allen Deserve another shot to lead the Raiders once they have more talent?

Many reporters and people close to the Raiders have defended Allen and have said he deserves to stay. Even owner Marc Davis has preached patience. However, The Raiders do not owe Allen anything other than the money he is due. 

I understand Dennis Allen has done much of the dirty work by leading a talent defecient team. Maybe it would be fair to see what he can do with a better squad, but no one said the NFL was fair. Hue Jackson got fired after one 8-8 season. The two are different circumstances, but that is an indication of how cut throat this league is.

I understand there are people in the Raiders organization craving stability. Some will say an Allen firing will signal the same old Raiders, and compare Marc Davis to Al Davis. My question is, What stability is there in the organization right now? Every starters job is in question. Even the teams most consistent players could benefit from more competition for their jobs.

The fact is, the Raiders still don’t have an identity after 2 seasons. Sure there seems to be a sense that the Raiders are moving in the right direction, and Allen seems to have a better vision of building a team than previous coaches. However, if Davis really bought into Allen’s vision he would have indicated that by renewing all of the  assistants contracts. If the Raiders do decide to replace  their assistant coaches then Allen shouldn’t be saved either. They either buy into Allen completely, or sell him completely.  If they wait another season then the backlash will be worse. The Raiders will have committed to Allen’s draft picks, Allen’s free agents, and Allen’s assistances, which will lead them to rebuilding again.

Hence, I don’t think the Raiders can move forward with Allen at head coach. Having an 8-23 coach doesn’t exactly attract the big name free agents the Raiders need.Neither do you want the Raiders new draft class having to deal with a coaching overhaul next season. Keeping Allen signifies stability, which is great. But The Raiders need tangible results, which are wins, and they might have took look else where to find that. The Raiders are better off starting the process now, while the slate is blank, rather than waiting for next season.

If the team struggles out of the gate then fans and media will call for Allen’s job. A midseason fire/interim coach situation is not something the Raiders can afford to deal with. Firing Allen and going back to the drawing board will not be that bad because the Raiders still haven’t built anything. Maybe committing to Allen is the start to building something and stability, however, the Raiders should build something with a new leader.

Dennis Allen seems to be widely respected around the league, and I am sure he will find a coordinator position. He should eventually  land another head gig, because his struggles were not all his fault. I do not think his firing is an indication of his ability to lead or coach, as Allen did the best with what he had.  It is an indication of the direction the Raiders are going. Regardless of what he has dealt with, Allen simply hasn’t had the results he wants or deserves. Firing Dennis Allen will be the example of accountability that Reggie Mckenzie has preached since he became GM of the Raiders. The Raiders want to win, and they need a coach who has done that. 

Now that Dennis Allen has moved the Raiders out of the bottom and into respectability, it is time for a new leader to move them into success. The new coach will have a clean slate to mold the team in their vision, as the team has a full slate of draft picks and tons of cap space. Better days are ahead of The Raiders, and Allen deserves a lot of credit for helping this team move out of obscurity.  It may not be fair to Allen, but The Organization needs a new face to lead to excellence.