Week One Welcome Back

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

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

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

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

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

New Defensive Era, Please

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

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

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

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

Offense Leading The Way

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

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

A Thought On Drafting

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

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

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

Week One Matchup 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vegas Days

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

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

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

Raiders trade options at the deadline, Texans and RIP Willie

The Raiders have moved every first round player from the Reggie McKenzie days, except Karl Joseph. However, Joseph could still get moved before Monday’s deadline.

This week Oakland traded Gareon Conley after missing some crucial tackles last week. Rumors say the talks went on for weeks but the timing makes even Lane Kiffin’s infamous departure from USC even seem prolonged.

Conley was a first rounder in 2017 and one of the better players on the Raiders roster. The Silver and Black traded that for a third rounder from the Texans, the very same week they play them?

Again, the timing seems off. Trading Conley isn’t crazy considering the purge Oakland has done of McKenzie’s draft picks but trading him to your upcoming opponent is awkwardness Mark Davis’ haircut doesn’t even want part of.

Plus, the Raiders are essentially battling the Texans for a Wild Card spot right now. Houston has made several trades to get players to help them win this year, as the AFC is open outside of the Pats. Meanwhile, the Raiders have even better standing, with less talent, but are trading away players instead of acquiring an extra piece to put them in the playoff hunt for their final season in Oakland.

Still, this gets even weirder when you look at the Raiders roster. Oakland’s corners weren’t good with Conley and it will be surprising if they get better without him. Frankly, you look at the defense and see an NFL defense that comps to Al Davis’ most delusional days.

That’s why Raider Nation shouldn’t rule out anything this upcoming trade deadline. San Francisco and New England already looked like favorites for the Super Bowl but even they made moves for veteran receivers who will improve their chances.

Oakland could do the same after they beat Houston. The Raiders could also head for fast sales again if they get dominated by the Texans. The Silver and Black could become buyers or sellers based on this upcoming game. Here are players the Raiders should target before the deadline.

Leonard Williams

This one has been obvious for a few seasons and gets more obvious now that Leonard, on an expiring contract, is being phased for Quinnen Williams. That discounts the Jets asking price majorly, especially cause the Jets are having an underwhelming season.

In the past, Jets have wanted a first round pick for Leonard. Oakland should try and get him with one of their third round selections.

Leonard Williams would instantly make the entire Raiders defense better. His motor and athleticism would free up other solid Raiders players who are probably playing in more situations then they should. Williams gives the Raiders depth to play young players like Mo Hurst and PJ Hall in selected situations they can win instead of every down.

Plus, Williams never really been utilized as a three technique or strong side end like Oakland would use him. He’s been a stand up rusher and two gapper and still been impressive despite never playing his natural position. His versatility, athleticism and connection to Cali makes him a dream trade target.

Vic Beasley

Vic Beasley is probably a more logical trade prospect. Atlanta is even lousier than the Jets and Beasley is underperforming too. The Falcons have been shopping Beasley around a while.

He has not had more than five sacks since his double-digit sack year in 2016. Beasley pays hybrid linebacker roles and his low asking price makes him logical for the Raiders.

If the price is right, I don’t see why not. The Raiders reportedly think he is too small but he might still be Oakland’s best pass rusher the moment he steps into the building. Make the deal if it only costs anything less than a fifth round pick.

A Bengals Player

The Bengals should make some traded because they are really rebuilding in the post Marvin Lewis era. They should look to get some picks for players on big contracts from that regime like Dre Kirkpatrick, AJ Green, Geno Atkins or Carlos Dunlap.

All those players play premium positions. Green and Atkins are among the best at their position. Green is over the age of 30 but he will probably command a first round pick considering Sanu got moved for a second. That’s still hi for Green who deals with injuries every season.

Cincinnati probably holds onto Atkins too. He is under thirty and one of the best players at his position. The Bengals would want at least a first rounder. Dunlap is obviously a perfect scheme fit for Oakland but he is probably also unavailable. Kirkpatrick is also overpaid and battling injuries. The Bengals probably ask for too much and keep all these guys.

They are more likely to move guys like Tyler Kroft, Gio Bernard or Tyler Eifert. They are not the same household names but solid NFL players. I wouldn’t count out trading for any of those players considering Oakland’s ties with the Bengals through Paulie G.

A Dolphins/Redskins Player

Speaking of mining bad teams for talent to trade for, Oakland could call bad Miami and Washington deals for talent. But they don’t really need T Trent Williams from Washington who is on the block. Maybe Josh Norman but is he available? How about Paul Richardson who has been eh since going to Washington?

Then, you look at Miami’s Kenyan Drake or Davante Parker. Parker could be solid but we have been saying that for years and Oakland does not need another big possession received. They need a speedster. Drake is a speedster out of the gate but he is neither a big scheme fit and the Raiders are good at running back with Jacobs.

A Corner

Finally, there is the corner market. This is probably where the Raiders should make a move. Chris Harris, Xavien Howard, Patrick Peterson and Xavier Rhodes have all been on the block most of the season. I don’t think you make the Conley move unless you wanted to play here but who knows.

Nonetheless, Oakland is not paying the premium price for the booming secondary market. We saw Peters and Ramsey get moved for prices the Raiders weren’t going to pay.

Harris is a division rival which makes trading for him complicated. Rhodes and Peterson would cost a first round pick to Miami or Arizona. Howard might go for a mid rounder but is he better than Conley?

Other guys like Artie Burns, Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins are also on the board. But one man’s trash or big ass contract is not the Raiders’ gain.

It will be surprising to see the Raiders make any move but anything is possible given the team’s surprising standings and the surprisingly booming NFL trade rumors.

+ The Texans

Back to game day, the Raiders got a big game day coming up versus the Texans. It is big coming after the loss of Raiders icon Willie Brown. Brown was a Walking Raiders historian, mentor and member of the culture for decades. Look him up if you do not know. You might remember Oakland beat the Texans after Al’s death so hope is on their side again this time.0

It is also big for the Raiders race in the Wild Card. Oakland could’ve beat Green Bay or at least competed for four quarters if they did not make some crucial mistakes. However, you could say that for a lot of teams. The margin for victory will be small.

That is why this week will be big. How does Derek Carr rebound from a game where his mistakes cost the team critical possessions? How does the team look against a Houston team going for broke yo try and win by trading picks? What does Conley do versus his old team? Will DeShaun Watson tear up the Raiders defense like Rodgers last year? Does the secondary improve without Conley? Does Zay Jones make a debut for Oakland? Will the pass rush show up?

There are a lot of questions that will get answered in the Raiders final game of the first half of the season. This game could determine if the Raiders are a young team prepping for a rebuild or a surprise playoff team.

Time to rev the Carr

If the Raiders play like they did Sunday it will be a long season. Oakland came out with a 3-and-out faster than you can imagined. The defense wasn’t much better. The Raiders got beat as soon as they got off the plane.

Now, they’ll go into Indianapolis. The Colts are well coached and still strong enough to beat the Raiders.

Derek Carr also needs to play better. His statistics are fine. Carr is playing efficient.

Unfortunately, he’s far too comfortable over matched. Carr is also reverting back to bad habits. The Raiders quarterback is bouncing in the pocket unnecessarily. His footwork hasn’t been the best even when the pocket is set.

Still, he has been a strong leader. Carr has been accurate. He just hasn’t taken enough chances.  The ones he has haven’t been fruitful. I guess this is the narrative on Carr.

The Point is, Carr is the one player who might actually give the Raiders an advantage. He’s got the talent to be a top 10 player at a position. It is his time to take games over and stop optimizing his way to mediocrity.

On defense, the Raiders play more discipline than years past. That’s the problem. They need some game changers who can dominate one-on-one matchups consistently. Oakland has some players who can win in spots. They need more than that.

Indianapolis is 2-1 and they aren’t giving up on the playoffs. The Silver and Black can win this game. However, they need Derek Carr to outplay Jacoby Brissett and the Raiders need their defense to make more than a play.

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!

 

Are the Raiders the Worst in the NFL? Battle of the Bay, no trades before Halloween and more

I can’t believe I’m happy to say that we competed versus the Indianapolis Colts last week. It’s truth though. Last Sunday was the first week I enjoyed watching the 2018 Raiders.

Their adjustments and talent weren’t great, sure, but I finally saw young players like Gareon Conley and Karl Joseph playing. Were they great? No, but you want to see young talent playing from a rebuilding team.

More importantly, Derek Carr played hard. He didn’t let all the distractions effect him. He looked like he was finally having fun again. That’s a long way from the dude who was ‘crying’ only a few weeks ago.

It was honestly the first time I felt like Gruden’s plan was in the process. I felt the buy-in from the squad even if it didn’t result in a win.

Are the Raiders the worst team in the NFL?

Only two seasons ago we were talking about them being the best and now we’re talking about them being the worst. SMFH.

Either way, the Raiders are among the worst teams in the standings. They look like by-far the worst team in the AFC West. Moreover, they aren’t really set at any position. They’re filled with wholes at the key positions including RB, QB, OL, DL, CB, LB and damn near every position. QB is the only position you could say the Raiders have set but even that depends on how he plays and meshes with his coach moving forward this season. Oh yeah, there is LT too with Kolton Miller and some of the OL depending what happens after this year.

Outside of that, they barely beat the Browns who fired the coach this week. Cleveland has 1.5 wins more than Oakland. They also have already found key players on the d-line, in the backfield, at receiver and in the secondary.

Further, comparisons to sorry teams don’t fall in the Raiders favor either. Buffalo has one more win for Pete’s sake. The Colts also beat us even if they looked like trash in the process.

In the NFC, there’s the Cardinals. Sure, they only have one more win but they have a QB, RB and possibly a WR to build around. There defense was also great not too long ago and still has a lot of players with name recognition.

Even the Giants, who have the same record as the Raiders, appear better. New York at least has a franchise savior at RB and WR. Their defense is grossly overpaid and overhyped but still has more talent than Oakland.

Then you have the 49ers…. Even they have a QB sort of. Jimmy G has a limited sample size of success but don’t tell that to 9ers Stans. They also have key young players throughout the defense that give them a nice nucleus for the future. They’ve also been in the lottery a lot more than some of the other sorry teams this season mentioned earlier.

Battle of the Bay

Well, we will certainly find out this week, tonight, versus the 49ers. Oakland has another toilet bowl on their schedule as both teams enter the game with only one win.

Sure, it’s the battle of the bay and supposed to be a rivalry game but does anyone actually care outside of the bay? Again, who knows.

I’d expect a physical game even if it isn’t a good game. The Raiders should win consider the 49ers are depleted by injury and starting a third string QB whose name I can’t even recall.

On the other hand, a loss here would be horrible for the Raiders. If you win one game this season it better be versus the 49ers. Moreover, we all know who wins the fight after and the drinking battle before, #RaiderNation.

No trades at the deadline

Apparently, the Raiders biggest trades already happened. We all know the squad already moved franchise cornerstones Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack but they were expected to keep making trades anyways. Derek Carr, Karl Joseph, Gareon Conley and others were rumored to get moved. It made sense if the Raiders were going all-in for tanking. Besides, one team’s trash is another persons treasure.

However, nothing happened and it is okay. I don’t know if I could have stomached another trade. It is a little disappointing that guys like Rodney Hudson, Bruce Irvin and Kelechi Osemele are stuck playing for a sorry team this late into their career. However, they’re all compensated well and professionals. It will be interesting to see how they and other veterans factor into the Raiders plans after this season.

Nonetheless, I’m sure Oakland tried to move those players. They just couldn’t find good value and figured they’d be better off saving those chips and letting them play out. Who knows, maybe young guys Karl Joseph and Gareon Conley can turn their careers around and get Gruden to believe in them.

Ultimately, a team can only take so much change. The Raiders couldn’t afford to make another deal just for the sake of it. Their team is another roster move away from being the laughing stock of the league so keeping their talent should’ve always been a priority.

2016 Minicamp Quick Updates

The Oakland Raiders wrapped up minicamp this past weekend. Here is what you need to know from the three-day event. 17 undrafted free agents and 20 try-out players participated in the event, as well as some of the Raiders drafted rookies.

Jihad Ward

All reports indicate that Ward is as good as advertised. He was flying around camp, playing fast and being an imposing force.

More importantly, the second round pick remained healthy. Some teams questioned if Ward would need another knee surgery, but the Raiders gave him a clean bill of health.

Max McCaffery

McCaffery was already one of the Raiders biggest UDFA names because of his last name.

The Duke product still needs polishing in the weight room, but his ability to catch the ball was on full display throughout camp.

Connor Cook

All signs say that the Raiders got a steal in Connor Cook. Multiple sources say Cook was impressive in camp.

Of course, it is still shirts and shorts season. It will be interesting if Cook can carry his performance into padded practices.  Could he beat out Matt McGloin for second string duties? Either way, Cook is a great backup option.

Jaydon Mickens

The Washington product is another receiver that shined in camp. Mickens is undersized but he could bring value as a returner. He also comes from years of production at Washington. However, he did not make the roster so far.

Shilique Calhoun

The versatile Michigan state linemen should lineup with his hand in the ground and standing up. That is much of what he did in minicamp. He should fill in until Aldon Smith comes in.

James Cowser

Cowser is a little older for a rookie at 25-years-old. However, he made an impression with his passion, leadership and noticeable hair.

Darius Latham

Latham is a big body, but he also moves well. He could be the next undrafted linemen to dominate for the Raiders… cough.. Denico Autry.

Again, none of this really matters until real training camp begins next month. Still, it is good to see the Raiders adding some practice, depth and talent.

Hopefully, Karl Joseph can get back after training camp. The first round pick should steal all the spotlight.

*All information via Raiders.com.

 

 

 

 

Gambling on the Raiders staying at home

It was an overcast day. That could not stop me from grilling.

I got into the gravel-filled parking lot and found myself parked next to some Buffalo Bills fans. They were blonde-haired and blue-eyed white people enjoying cold cuts. They were nice and peaceful compared to the rowdy college students which we were.

Surrounding us there were plenty of Silver and Black Jerseys. People of all shapes, sizes and ages engaged in chants of, “Raaaiiiddddeeerrrssss!” underneath canopies of all kinds.

The smell of moisture and BBQ filled the air. It was my first Raider game. It was against the Buffalo Bills and in the O.co Coliseum.

For a few moments, I wondered if that would be my last Raider game in Oakland. All season, I tried to go to a Raider game.

Something always held me back. Finances, weekend commitments, driving and flaky friends were all great excuses.

Still, I desperately wanted to attend another Raider game. As an Angelino, I attended many sporting events but nothing like this Raider game. The ambiance of the Raiders original home is the mecca for anyone claiming Raider Nation.

I wanted to go to Mecca again, but that was questioned with the Raiders attempt at relocation to Los Angeles.

Despite its’ proximity to my home, I always said the Raiders belonged in Oakland.

Realistically, the team was never going to move to Los Angeles. They had me and many others fooled. The Chargers used the Raiders brand as a ploy to garnish interest in the market for their joint Carson project. The two AFC West rivals rely on the L.A. market, and they felt the Rams stepping on their toes. Their best defense included banding together.

This week, their Carson plan failed. It should not be seen as a surprise. If the Raiders had $550 million for relocation fees and another hall billion for construction, they would use that money in Oakland.

However, they do not have that money. Therefore, the Raiders were never really a threat for Los Angeles. It seemed like Davis’ bluff might have worked if the NFL forced Kroenke to Carson and Davis received a lump sum from Kroenke. Instead, Kroenke got his way and the Davis is stuck in the same place.

Well atleast my gamble on the Raiders playing another game in Oakland paid off. I got one more season to see the team in the Mecca of Raider Nation. I better go next year, because who knows what will happen to the franchise after that.

 

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?

The defensive coordinator fiasco

Can we just hire a coordinator already?

The fact that Raiders have already added staff positions but have yet to net a defensive coordinator is understandably making fans anxious.

The Raiders have already explored options with Eric Mangini and Mike Smith who would have both been good coordinators. Ultimately, both have reportedly spurned the job.

Meanwhile the Raiders have been looking at college defensive coordinators, Todd Grantham also turned down the job and opted to stay at his post for the Louisville Cardinals. It is a testament to the quality of the job, so much as it is him being comfortable in Louisville. Maybe he likes the amateurism of the NCAA considering he had a taste of the league in 2007 with the Browns. Plus that program is turning out pros right now.

Either way, fans should not panic. Head Coach Jack Del Rio is an established defensive mind. He has been apart of Superbowl Defenses with the 2000 Ravens, 2002 Panthers, and 2014 Broncos.

It could be one of the reason why established coordinators are shying away from the job.However, Jack Del Rio was able to work under a defensive mind John Fox, so hopefully he can find another coordinator willing to establish a similar relationship.

Regardless, 60 million in cap space, a top draft selection, and a nucleus of Justin Ellis, Khalil Mack, and DJ Hayden are enough to attract a defensive coordinator. Plus, the players present are versatile enough that a coordinator can build the defense how they see fit.

Another reason to be optimistic is the hope of landing some key Seattle assistants once the Superbowl is over.

Hence, Raider fans do not need to panic just yet. Besides, Suh’s former head coach Schwartz is still out there!

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Bill Musgrave as Offensive Coordinator can’t be worse than previous OCs

Well atleast his name is not Greg.

Today, it was reported that the Oakland Raiders would hire Bill Musgrave as their offensive coordinator.

Some fans were underwhelmed by the hire considering they wanted Marc Trestman as the play caller. Trestman would have been a great candidate due to his work with quarterbacks like Rich Gannon, Josh McCown and others in the CFL.

But come on, do we really want a retread from the 02 season where we were dominated by the Buccaneers?

Either way, Musgrave would be a solid hire for the Raiders. His offenses have never been elite but they have finished in the top half of the league each year. He even did so with a 2013 quarterback disaster of Christian Ponder/ Josh Freeman/ Matt Cassell.

Plus, Musgrave helped Foles transform from a young quarterback into a borderline star. Imagine what he could do with Derek Carr?

Combine that with the fact that his team has finished within the top of rushing attempts and the Raiders have themselves someone who can help the offensive unit build into a bully.

It should be good to see Murray combining with another free agent or drafted running back to carry the load of the offense. Especially if the Raiders can build a dominate defense.

Either way, can he be any worst than the poor innovation and underwhelming play-calling of Greg Olsen and Greg Knapp over the past few seasons?

Musgrave spent a season under Chip Kelly and maybe some of those fast, spread elements can transfer to the Raiders. Further, it gives Jeremy Maclin a familiar face when he explores his options in Free Agency.

Also noted, Musgrave understand Del Rio’s philosophies having worked under him in Jacksonville, and he understands the bay area having been here in 1997. Hence, the Raiders could have done worse than hiring Musgrave.