Raiders’ Ken Stabler finally gets into Hall of Fame

The late Kenny Stabler finally got into the Pro Football Hall of Fame via video by his Hall of Fame coach John Madden.

It took stabler 27 years to enter the HOF, but his coach Madden has always said he would take Stabler over any quarterback for one game winning drive.

The Snake helped the 1970 Raiders win their first Super Bowl. Stabler also won the 1974 league MVP. He also helped Oakland make four conference Championships in five years. Stabler is still the Raiders’ career leader in passing yards and touchdowns. Best of all, he registered a 96-49-1 record as a starter.

Instead of a speech, the crowd simply cheered as Stabler got inducted. It brought family members tears as they lost the QB to colon cancer only a year ago.

“He were are. His final drive. And there’s a Snake in the Hall,” his daughter, Kendra Stabler Moyes, said later, fighting back emotion.

Brett Favre shared a great memory about attending a Saints game, where Stabler played after the Raiders.

“As I stood, I saw this long-, gray-haired, scruffy-beard player emerging from the tunnel, and I knew then and there, as goosebumps ran up my arm and the hair on the back of my neck stood up, that that was what I was destined to do and be. I wanted to be that player. Well, that player happened to be none other than Kenny Stabler. Of course, I didn’t have many choices. It was football, baseball or bust for me. But I knew then and there that I wanted to be and feel what Kenny Stabler was feeling. What an exciting moment for me.” Farve said.

Further, Stabler is only the second lefty quarterback in the HOF, after Steve Young was inducted in 2005.

As a young fan, I always love reading about Stabler and how he embodied the image of the Raiders.

Here are some good quotes from his teammates:

“Even if you’re covered by a guy he can only cover half of you. Stabler would hit the other half.” Dave Casper once said.

“I hope not,” Fred Biletnikoff said about Stabler getting a sympathy vote. “I’ve asked why he wasn’t in and nobody could give me an answer. Without reservation, a lot of people in the Hall of Fame wonder why it didn’t happen earlier.”

“He was the master,” George Atkinson said, “and he knew every weak link and how to expose it.”

“People talk about Joe Montana; Kenny was doing it before Joe Montana — and he was doing it calling all his own plays,” Cliff Branch said about Stabler’s late game reputation.

“I kept hitting him, and he just looked at me and said, ‘Ted, how come you’re hitting me so hard?’ And I told him it was because he was wearing the wrong color uniform. There are just so many memories I have of him, the good times we had, the smile on his face. Never any envy — always cool, calm and collected.” Ted Hendricks said about facing his former teammate.

Those quotes are from Raiders insider Gerry McDonald. You can find more and some of Stabler’s other nicknames in this great piece.

Check out info on Stabler’s display here.

Don’t sleep on DJ Hayden, just yet

DJ Hayden joined many of his 2013 NFL Draft Class peers as potential 2016 free agents because the Oakland Raiders decided not to pick up his fifth-year option. There were many others in his class that suffered the same outcome.

Some Raiders fans already expressed relief that the team will eventually move on from the Draft bust. However, do not sleep on Hayden just yet.

It is no secret that Hayden continues underwhelming. The Raiders added Sean Smith, and incumbent corner Donald Amerson made a case to be the comeback player of the year last season.

TJ Carrie and Neiko Thorpe also showed flashes. That means Hayden could become the fifth corner on the roster. Hayden got a taste of this fate when he was benched late last season.

Nonetheless, Hayden is not done just yet.

Remember, Carrie and Thorpe were late round picks. That is because they do not have the same god-given tools as Hayden who was selected No. 12 in 2013.

Of course, Thorpe and Carrie bring big bodies which are fits for the scheme. However, Hayden could develop into a prototypical slot corner with his side and speed.

Also do not forget that Amerson ranked as one of the worst corners in 2014. He turned it around in 2014, so Hayden could do the same.

Hayden already battled back from near-death, when a freak accident injured his chest in college. Considering he already battled back, do not take his toughness for granted.

Moreover, missing most of his first two seasons with injuries mean Hayden needs reps. Yes, he got those reps as the starter last year, but who knows what will happen with another season.

Granted, Hayden may come out as the same penalized cornerback with zero ball skills. That is the tape he put together thus far in the pros. I am not defending him.

All I am saying is do not count Hayden out just yet. Let him battle through offseason and camp before we cast him away with a big fat bust label.



Oakland Raiders dominate Free Agency

The Oakland Raiders caught everyone’s attention by signing corner Sean Smith, lineman Kelechi Osemele and linebacker Bruce Irvin.

Unlike past years, it was a refreshing feeling to sign the players that the Raiders were connected to. Best of all, the Raiders signed versatile and hardworking players without overpaying.

I’ll admit the Raiders even exceed my own fanatic expectations. Clearly, the Raiders are building something that people will buy into.

Osemele said the team is committed to the trenches. Smith said the power is shifting in the AFC West. Irvin is busy trying to recruit other free agents like Eric Weddle and Donald Penn.

The self-proclaimed Baby Reggie is finding ways to spend the leftover $34 million.

Raiders need to sign Donald Penn

Speaking of spending, the Raiders need to resign Donald Penn. Do not get it twisted.

Penn is a huge reason behind last season’s resurgence. He held down the left tackle position the past two years.

Granted, I do not like paying Osemele $12 million as a guard. He started six games at left tackle for the Ravens. He has enough athleticism to do the same for the Raiders. However, why not continue Penn in the role if the price is right?

The price should be right considering he said Oakland is the lead to keep him, even after they signed Osemele.

Raiders must fill other holes.

The Raiders are going hard at Weddle. They need at least one safety via free agency. Hopefully Weddle is that guy considering he is the best available.

The Raiders still need some help at offensive line, running back and middle linebacker. A pass rusher might also help.

Oakland could fill those needs in the draft. However, they are hot so why not ride out the momentum?

Chris Long, Jerrell Freeman, Rashad Johnson and Geoff Schwartz are names to keep an eye on.



Oakland Raiders: Free Agency Blueprint

The Oakland Raiders regime consistently adds competition to their roster through Free Agency. The Raiders will continue this trend by addressing each need with a capable starter or solid backup.

This formula helps steady the blue-worker culture of Jack Del Rio’s roster. It saves owner Mark Davis money by not cashing huge checks for any single Free Agent. Plus it gives general Manager Reggie McKenzie freedom in the draft.

Here is how the Raiders can win the NFL offseason, as the official NFL new year begins with the opening of Free Agency. Expect them to hone in on the running game and pass defense in the 2016 offense. They worked on run defense and passing attack last year.

1. Resign Donald Penn

The Raiders need someone ready to grow Derek Carr and Amari Cooper on offense. Unfortunately, that guy is not in free agency. The closest thing is Russell Okung, but he is not worth spending big bucks on. Also, count the Raiders out of the bidding war for Osmele.

It seems unlikely Penn returns because the sides could have signed a deal during the season. However, he is the perfect two year stop gap as the team drafts his replacement.

2. Sign a linebacker

The Raiders can cut Curtis Lofton now or before the season. Either way the team needs to upgrade the linebacker position. These players could be found in the draft. However, this talent group is top heavy at the position. Add  Danny Travathan, Jerrell Freeman or Bruce Irvin. Good age and plenty of experience. The Raiders got the cash to make this fast and easy.

They may also select a linebacker in the draft. Regardless, signing a starting caliber linebacker is a priority.

3. Grab some safeties

Forget your opinion on Nate Allen. Plus, Taylor Mays and Larry Asante are best as special teams. Therefore, the Raiders need to add at least two safeties via the draft or free agency.

The Raiders will make a run on a starting safety like Eric Weddle, Tashaun Gipson or George Iloka. After locking one up, they’ll add a fringe starter to the mix like Sean Richardson, Walter Thurmond, Hussain Abdullah or Michael Griffin.

4. Add a pass rusher or two

It is the old chicken or egg debate. What came first, the poor secondary or poor pass rush? I know the Raiders pass rush was decent last year, but expect the team to build on the strength. Del Rio and McKenzie both like building teams from the inside out.

Olivier Vernon and Malik Jackson spark a lot of interest for the Raiders. However, Oakland will probably pass on their high price tags. The Raiders should try adding someone like Jason Pierre-Paul on a fair market deal. That could move Khalil Mack into full-time linebacker duty. Either way that is an upgrade to the pass rush.

Otherwise the group can add some bargain bin veterans via the Justin Tuck role. How about Mario Williams or Chris Long? Both players could play all along the defensive line or rush the passer standing up. Charles Johnson might also be someone they add later in the process.

5. Add an offensive guard.

I am willing to believe this unit believes in John Feliciano. That is why they will not pay Osmele $10 million a yer to play guard. Osmele is not the answer at left tackle either, despite him starting a few games there last season.

The Raiders could still add a quality starter at the position. This could include Alex Boone, Jeff Allen or Ramon Foster. Otherwise they will probably take a flier on a veteran like Jahri Evans or Geoff Schwartz. This atleast gives them another year or two to develop Feliciano.

6. Bring in a corner

The Raiders will probably be linked to high end corners like Sean Smith and Prince Amukamara. However, they will probably see what they have in the trio of T.J. Carrie, D.J. Hayden and David Amerson. All three are young enough for another season of consideration. Adding some pass rush will help this group out.

Nonetheless, the Raiders will still sign some talent at the position. They’ll extend serious interest to Casey Heyward, Jeremy Lane, Morris Claiborne or Brandon Boykin early.  Heyward is the best of that group by far, but the rest of the guys could prove themselves in the Raiders secondary. As a consolation prize, the Raiders may give Leon Hall, Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson or Leonis McKelvin one last shot at playing time.

7. Add some skill players

The Raiders should express some interest in young position skill guys. The Raiders are more talented at running back and receiver than past years. However, they can still add a young player to push the incumbents at receiver or running back. Jermaine Kearse, Rishard Matthews and Marvin Jones should be in the Raiders spending. Anquan Boldin, Roddy White or Brandon LaFell might also bring their last bit of gas to the organization. The Raiders need another deep threat to replace Andre Holmes. Adding a big receiver could also spell Amari Cooper into the slot.

At running back it is much of the same. Some okay veterans and okay starters. The Raiders like Latavius Murray off of a Pro Bowl year. The team won’t overpay for Doug Martin or Lamar Miller despite how beast of a compliment they would be for Murray. Ronnie Hillman or CJ Anderson make sense as they are both young. James Starks or Arian Foster will be connected to the organization. No matter who they sign, the Raiders should also add a runner from the top five rounds of the draft. Unless they strike gold with Martin, Miller or Matt Forte.

8. Draft the best player available

The Raiders have no need to reach for a position in the draft. McKenzie does a good job at letting the draft play out. He will do the same by drafting the best overall talent in the draft.

Expect any player the Raiders draft to compete for a starting position. I predict the team will use two of its’ first three picks on defense. That is only if a really good running back or tackle falls into a position they can not resist.

9. Bring back key players

Keep Denico Autry, Seth Roberts and any other players they like from last season. That includes guys who might become career back ups like Tony Bergstrom, Khalif Barnes or Matt McGloin. I’m not oppossed to keeping Matt McCants, Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, Taylor Mays, Neiko Thorpe or anyone else that got significant time last year. If someone else does not value them, give them at least a shot in camp. The Raiders need these guys for role positions, and they played with lots of heart in 2015.

Finally, sign Aldon Smith. Make it Happen. He is too talented to let go.

MY predictions:

  1. Sign Donald Penn
  2. Sign Danny Travathan
  3. Sign Tashaun Gipson and Sean Richardson
  4. Sign Jeff Allen
  5. Sign Jeremy Lane
  6. Sign Chris Long
  7. Sign Jermaine Kearse and CJ Anderson
  8. Draft: T. Decker, Robert Nkemdiche, Paul Perkins, Scooby Wright, Best corner, best receiver, best corner or safety.
    1. Rankins or Nkemdiche are my favorite pickers here. However this is not a bad spot for Jason Spriggs, Ronnie Staley or Taylor Decker depending on Pro Days.
    2. If Nkemdiche or Jaylon Smith land here they are two talented to let fall past the Raiders in round two. Otherwise Kenny Clark, Dorian Thompson or Deion Jones could fit here.
    3. Paul Perkins is my favorite of the second tire backs in this class. Great pass catching option. Otherwise C.J. Prosise or Tyler Ervin comes into play here also.
    4. Best linebacker, linemen or corner in this spot depending on the rest of the draft. A good defensive player like Wright might find himself here.
    5. Draft remains the same through next 3 rounds. Just add some athletes. Maybe a high ceiling guy like Rashard Robinson.



Ultimately, the Raiders will continue their trend upwards with this draft. They add plenty of B and C plus signings before killing the NFL Draft. This team would definitely compete in the NFL Playoffs.

Free Agency Radar and Big Board

Finally, free agency. The Oakland Raiders bring the second most cap to the party at just over $70 million.

The team will look to build on last year’s success by adding starters and players who can immediately compete. Although the Raiders found key players at key positions, they still have many wholes on their rosters.

Below is a list of free agents the Raiders should target. Omitted are their own free agents. Notice the list is build from the inside out, because the team will build the trenches first.

These players are ranked based on age, dollars, injuries, scheme fit and play, as well as team need.

Offensive Line
Kelchi Osmele
Russell Okung
Alex Boone
Alex Mack
Brandon Brooks
Jeff Allen
Andre Smith
Anthony Davis
Ramon Foster
Geoff Schwartz
Mitchell Schwartz 
Kelvin Beachum
Jermon Bushrod
Richie Incognito
Jahri Evans
Evan Mathis
Defensive Line
Malik Jackson
Oliver Vernon
Jason Pierre-Paul
Damon Harrison
Jaye Howard
Chris Long
Mario Wiliams
Tamba Hali
Robert Ayers
Steve McLendon
Nick Fairley
Terrance Knighton
Haloti Ngata
Derrick Shelby
Adrian Clayborn
Charles Johnson
William Hayes
BJ Raji
Ahtyba Rubin
Danny Trevathan
Bruce Irvin 
Derrick Johnson
Jerell Freeman
James Laruinaitis
Nick Perry 
Tahir Whitehead
Sean Weatherspoon
Steve Tollach
Demeco Ryans
Chad Greenway
George Illoka
Tashaun Gipson
Eric Weddle
Rodney McLeod
Mark Barron
Sean Richardson
Reggie Nelson
William Moore
Walter Thurmond
Rahim Moore
Husain Abdullah
Rashad Johnson
Louis Delmas
Sean Smith
Janoris Jenkins
Prince Amukamara
Casey Hayward
Jeremy Lane
Antonio Cromartie
Brandon Boykin
Adam Jones
Morris Claiborne
Leon Hall
Leodis McKelvin
Jerraud Powers
Kyle Wilson
Travis Benjamin
Rishard Matthews
Rueben Randle
Marvin Jones 
Jermaine Kearse
Roddy White
Brandon Lafell
Anquan Boldin
Marques Colston
Greg Jennings
Andre Johnson
Nate Washington 
Mohamed Sanu 
Brian quick
Percy Harvin
Running Backs
Lamar Miller
Doug Martin
Matt Forte
Chris Ivory
Alfred Morris
CJ Anderson
Ronnie Hillman
Charcandrick West
Arian Foster
Joique Bell
James Starks
Chris Polk
Tim Hightower
Bryce Brown

Six Pro Bowl Players is great for the Oakland Raiders brand

Bleacher Report columnist Michael Freeman recently wrote about the 2016 Pro Bowl being the biggest sham of them all. According to the article, this Pro Bowl is the most declined ever.

More players were invited this year than any other year. Many players rejected the opportunity for injuries or simply not wanting to play.

Who cares? That is more opportunity for young players. The Oakland Raiders had 3 players voted in. Marcel Reece, Charles Woodson and Khalil Mack earned enough fans votes to play in the game. Derek Carr, Latavius Murray and Amari Cooper were selected as alternates.

This is great for the Raiders. The franchise is in search of a new stadium and they need exposure. Fans need to see what the Silver and Black is about in the modern era. Now they will get a taste with six players were the silver helmet in the Pro Bowl.

Mack, Carr, Murray and Cooper will all make their first appearance in the game. Hopefully, it will not be their last appearance in the game. Next year Murray, Cooper and Carr should have enough exposure to get fan votes on their own.

Even though the Pro Bowl game is full of patty-caking and soft play, it will help us gauge our young players against some of the league’s elite. Eitherway, I am sure all six players are excited to get a small Pro Bowl bonus.

Well players like Philip Rivers and Tom Brady might be bored of Hawaii, I am sure the Raiders young players will enjoy it.

As for me, I finally have six reasons to watch the Pro Bowl! It should be eight because Marquette King and Gabe Jackson also deserve invites… Whatever.

Tony Bergstrom should start versus the Green Bay Packers

Lately, rumors surfaced that Jon Feliciano will make his first start at right guard.

J’Marcus Webb is ruled out with an injury. Oh No!?!

However, Webb ranks as one of the worst starting linemen in the league. He is the only Raiders linemen with a negative grade, according to Pro Football Focus.

However, the rookie Feliciano should not start. Neither should the always reliable and available Khalif Barnes.

Barnes is on the downside of his career and those reps should be used to develop the future right guard.

Tony Bergstrom was the first draft pick of Reggie McKenzie. Out of Utah, Bergstrom played all across the offensive line.

However, he represents the previous regime’s philosophy of quick offensive linemen for the zone blocking scheme.

Thus, he moved from the guard position to the center position. A position he started at while Rodney Hudson was out with injury. Bergstrom shined and also registered a positive PFF grade.

Of course, he was not gonna dethrown Hudson from the starting job. Hudson is one of the best centers in the league.

Therefore, Bergstrom should enter the starting lineup again. I understand he is a little smaller than the other Raiders guards. However, he would help with blitz pickup against a Green Bay Packers defense that is renowned for confusion.

As for the run game, the Raiders offensive line can not play much worst. I’d like to see them bring in Bergstrom so we can see more stretch and zone plays. I like the playcalls because they utilize the speed of Latavius Murray and Taiwan Jones.

Lastly, Bergstrom should start so we can see what we have in him. His contract is ending soon, and it will be his last shot to prove he can be a full-time starter. That alone should motivate him to play his best.

As for Feliciano, the Raiders drafted him as a developmental piece. I do not know if he is ready to start. IF he is not ready to start, throwing him to the Packers will not help his confidence or development.




Don’t call it a let it down: Oakland Raiders show promise versus Pittsburgh Steelers

The Oakland Raiders set the stage for a huge road win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Oakland started the game hot by stopping the Steelers’ first drive.  Then the Raider offense got the ball and scored on just a few big plays.

The Steelers seemed to strip the ball from the Raiders every chance they got. Many times the Raiders were saved by the balls.

However, they could not help themselves on a few occasions. Latavius Murray put the ball on the grown after a hit which led to a concussion.

Back and forth, the two teams battled and exchanged big hits. Antonio Brown ran rapid in the secondary. He racked 180 yards just before the half. DeAngelo Williams did not allow the Pittsburgh offense to miss a beat without LeVeon Bell. Williams charged for more than 170 yards game.

Even with their starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the locker room with an ankle injury, the Steelers seized all the momentum at home.

Eventually, the Raiders found themselves with a 14 point deceit, thanks to a Taiwan Jones fumble after a Steelers touchdown. Oakland seemed headed for a loss.

Then they showed something we have not seen in years. Some belief and playoff fight.

Derek Carr threw seven touchdowns and zero interceptions in the previous two games. Hence, he was due for one.

Nonetheless, he lead a drive that brought the Raiders within a touchdown. Then he helped the team tie the game by throwing another touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree with just over a minute left.

It was not enough to win the game. A 50 yard pass to Antonio Brown delivered the dagger by setting up the game-winning field goal.

Regardless, the Raiders have nothing to be ashamed about from the 35-38 loss.

Yes, the defense played terrible. But what did we expect against the high powered Steelers offense?

We knew the Raiders had a terrible secondary. We knew the run defense was inconsistent. We knew the team had a bad history on the road.

What we did not know is if this team had the confidence to fight back.

The Raiders entered a hostile environment and they got hit in the month many times. Unlike years past, the team did not just get up but they struck back.

Of course it would have been great to win the game. But the Raiders are still learning to win.

Oakland is young at key positions including defensive line, corner back, wide receiver, quarterback and running back.

Forget morale victories or excuses. There are no such thing in football, which requires both teams to leave the field battered and bruised. Hence every football team is disappointed when they don’t get a win.

That said, I am still proud of my football team after Sunday’s loss. They battled until the final whistle.

Are they perfect? God no.

But the heart breaker against the Steelers shows Oakland is clearly headed in the right direction.  The Raiders showed the competitive fight that you want to see in a young team battling for the AFC Playoffs.

Trade deadline passes and Raiders stay put

Surprise! The Oakland Raiders made no changes before the trade deadline passed.

In four years as general manager, Reggie Mckenzie continues to not make any trades.


Of course fans like myself would like to see him take some gambles. However, the team is winning this year so I’ll keep my mouth shut.

In past years I have been adament about the Raiders making a play on some star power. This year I would have said the same, but the Raiders are in the playoff hunt. Moreover, they have all of their draft picks.

Raider fans know Reggie McKenzie loves him some draft picks.

Some of the names rumored on the trading block included Brian Cushing and Eric Weddle. Who wants some washed up defensive players?

Sheldon Richardson and Jason Pierre-Paul are probably the only names I would have traded for. They have enough off-field risks to warrant a discount price.

But let’s get real. It still would have cost a couple of high draft picks. Not worth it considering the Raiders are young and only getting better.

Plus, McKenzie has done a fine enough job scouring the waiver wire. He found gold in cornerback David Amerson.

Oakland basically resurrected Amerson’s career. Not to mention, he licked his chops with a hit on Geno Smith this Sunday versus the New York Jets.

Then there was also the Week 1 signing of Aldon Smith. Smith faced some legal troubles, but McKenzie took the gamble. Now he might have a cornerstone pass rusher across from Khalil Mack

Hence, we should forget about the trade deadline. Lets just be happy we are winning.


Oakland Raiders Quarterly Report: Defense

via photobucket

On defense, the Oakland Raiders have not done much well. They have faced plenty of growing pains in a new scheme with a new defensive coordinator. Between Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton Jr. leading this group, they should be playing a lot better.

Against the Bengals, Jeremy Hill tore apart the Raiders defense. Versus the Ravens, Joe Flacco looked precise and comfortable. Then against the Browns, Josh McCown kept his team in the game. Even Jay Cutler looked like a good quarterback against the Raiders.

So what has been consistent?

It has not been the passing defense. Everyone knows the Raider can not cover a tight end. Someone on Twitter said they want to be reincarnated as a tight end versus the Raiders, get in line bruh.

Then the secondary has been a mixed back. They make plays but they also make plenty of mistakes.

Here are some more specifics on position grades, after four games played.

Defensive Line: B-

The Raiders defensive line has played respectable. They have not been terrible, but they have not dominated either.

They find ways to create pressure, but not as a unit. To be fair, Aldon Smith just joined the unit. Justin Tuck and Justin Ellis have been on the injury report for a while. Khalil Mack also suffered an injury.

Outside of that, Denico Autry and Stacy McGee proved they are a little more than bums. C.J. Wilson and Mario Edwards should perform better with whatever snaps they get.

Hopefully they can bring it all together before the mid point of the season.

Linebacker: C+

The Raiders made headlines by completely rebuilding their linebacker corps. Gone are starters Miles Burris and Sio Moore from the past regime. Khalil Mack plays defensive end now.

However, the new additions have not been lights out. Ray Ray Armstrong struggled early. He seems to be getting more comfortable, but is he anything more than a depth guy?

Curtis Lofton struggles in pass coverage still. Personally, I would like to see him create some turnovers.

Malcolm Smith has probably been the best in the group. He too struggles in pass coverage though.

As a unit, their best games were probably against the Browns and Bears. Aldon Smith also plays linebacker but he gets a pass as he was a late addition.

Secondary: C

The Raiders secondary was mediocre at best. Now, they are mangled and doing their best to stay afloat. D.J. Hayden and T.J. Carrie both take turns getting picked apart. Charles Woodson and whoever has played in Nate Allen’s void also get beat in coverage.

Kudos to the coaching staff for finding David Amerson, he looks like he can be a contributor.

Nonetheless, the group is banged up. They’ve also saved themselves by creating some crucial turnovers. Against Baltimore and Cleveland, the secondary saved the game with an interception in the final moments.

What do you think about the Raiders defense thus far?