“Final Oakland Raider Grades v.s. San Diego Chargers; Week 7:”

SJM-RAIDERS-1013

Arizona Cardinals  24 (5-1)

Oakland Raiders  13 (0-6)

Quarterback:

Derek Carr had a so so game missing on a few passes that he should have hit.  He also had a couple of drops that hurt.  He was unable to hit many long passes as he did against San Diego.  His weakness in college was handling a pass rush and he had mixed reviews with the blitz happy Cardinals.  He was 16-28 for 173 yards and no TD’s or interceptions.  Arizona is near last in passing defense so this was disappointing.  I HATE the Raiders routes.  The middle so often is wide open and they don’t utilize it.  They have to get the tight end involved to help out Carr.

GRADE:  C+

Carr seemed reluctant to go down deep and when he did he either missed or the Raiders weren’t open.

Running Backs: 

Again, another team that is making the Raiders throw the ball.  For much of the game Arizona had 7-8 men on the block daring Oakland to throw.  They took away the running game and the Raiders were unable to take advantage of this.  McFadden was banged up, and the Raiders didn’t have the injured Marcel Reece which hurt them.  Maurice Jones-Drew wasn’t a factor.

Grade C

Arizona’s game plan was to take away the run and they did.  Unfortunately the Raiders were unable to hurt the Cardinals with the pass, which was disappointing.  The Raiders running backs blocked fairly well picking up the blitzes.

Offensive Line: 

They had a lot to deal with today with Arizona doing everything to rush the passer and take away the run.  Arizona blitzed on almost every play and the line overall did well protecting Carr.  With Arizona crowding the line there wasn’t much of a chance to run.  The Raiders line gave up only 1 sack.  Overall not a great game but they also didn’t get much help from their teammates.

Grade C+

They did a good job picking up the blitzes but the Raiders just didn’t have the passing game to win.

Wide Receivers: 

Andre Holmes had his weekly drop which is frustrating because he has so much talent.  He has to concentrate.  Brice Butler had a long 55 yard catch that needs to happen more.  James Jones is Carr’s favorite receiver.  He had 8 targets but caught only 4 for 35 yards.  The Raiders really had chances to go deep and they have to spread the field like they did against San Diego.

GRADE:  B

They had a few more drops and that can’t happen.  Butler and Holmes are inconsistent and Carr threw to the tight end twice all game.  The Raiders have to go to the tight end and utilize the middle of the field with slants as well instead of just fly patterns and deep outs.  I really hated some of the routes today, and the game plan overall.

Defensive Line:

If you take out Khalil Mack out of the DL equation, they really are non existent.  Lamarr Woodley got his weekly 1 tackle and the leading tackler on the DL was Pat Sims with 2.  They are too easily blocked and just aren’t getting to the quarterback.  The Cardinals ran for 123 yards and during two drives, the Raiders literally could not stop the run.

Grade:  D+

The Raiders DL is just not a factor and this has to be fixed this off season.  The Raiders have 5 sacks all year.  Detroit leads the NFL with 20.

Linebackers:

The linebackers played their best game of the year.  Khalil Mack had his best game by far with 11 tackles and 3 for loss.  He still doesn’t have a sack in 6 games and that is troubling.  He got beat twice on passes as well but overall, a very encouraging game.  Sio Moore had a controversial penalty but he also had a good game with 5 tackles with one being for a loss.  Miles Burris had 5 tackles but missed big time on a couple of runs including a touchdown run.

Grade B-

This unit has struggled big time in the past but they are getting healthier and it shows.  Not a bad game and it’s good to see Mack finally making a difference.

Defensive Backs:

These poor guys are playing their hearts out.  They are on an island due to the terrible Raiders pass rush and they are trying to hold their own.  TJ Carrie has his good moments and he has potential.  Usama Young and Charles Woodsen are taking a beating on running plays and they are having  to make too many tackles in the run game.

Grade C+ 

The Raiders struggled at times getting off the field on 3rd down and it killed them.  Several times Carson Palmer hit key passes for first downs.  These guys are not going to last long physically having to make so many plays.  Even though he’s healthy DJ Hayden is not a factor which should tell you something.

Coaching:

Greg Olsen encouraged me last week, but this week it was same old song, different dance.  The Raiders have to start using the middle of the field and start using the running backs and tight ends more.  The offense is too wide receiver heavy.  There are some routes that show the wide receivers just running down the field and I really don’t get it.  Carr needs safety valves for help.

Greg Olsen seemed to go away from throwing deep against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL.  The Cardinals were next to last in pass defense but the Raiders could not exploit it.  Arizona is using 3rd stringers so they have to blitz but the Raiders still could not shore up their passing game.

On defense, the Raiders just don’t have a good defensive line and they had another 1 sack game.  There just isn’t much of a scheme that you can use when your defensive front isn’t good.  The Raiders are next to last in sacks in the NFL with only 5 all year and their DL is probably the worst in the NFL.

Grade C

I felt the Raiders were too conservative.  They have to throw deep, if just to keep the defense honest.  Do a no huddle when you get a couple of completions, especially playing against the Cardinals who have a thin defensive line.  The Raiders are limited talent wise on defense, and I didn’t expect them to win, but this was a little disappointing.

Special Teams:

Sebastian Janikowski must really hate Marquette King.  Whenever he misses, King catches flack.  Matt Schaub now holds for Janikowski.  He was 2 for 2 for field goals and hit a 53 yard kick.

TJ Carrie is a good return man.  You wonder if it’s smart having him return though.  He is taking a beating at times trying to stop the run as a defensive back and you wonder how long he can last.  He did have a bone head play that looked like a punt hit him but the refs ruled it didn’t.

Marquette King was solid as ever punting.  Not a great day but he was solid.

Grade B-

Special teams didn’t play a huge factor in this game but the Raiders did a good job.

Next Opponent:  @ Cleveland Browns (3-3; last game, loss @ Jacksonville Jaguars 24-6)

Outlook:

This week was one of those games that the Raiders needed to show their fans that they are really back on the right track.  Unfortunately this loss really makes the mood dark in Oakland; again.  The Raiders are now 53-129.

In their next 4 games the Raiders will play at Cleveland and at Seattle, and then come home to Denver before flying to San Diego.  Not many teams have a tougher stretch.

The weather will be a typical cool, fall day in Cleveland with no rain and temperatures in the 50’s.

The Browns are very inconsistent with big wins at home over the Saints and the Steelers but they’ve also lost big to Jacksonville on the road.  They are playing much better at home than they are on the road.

Brian Hoyer had a terrible game against Jacksonville and so did the defense which gave up 183 yards rushing.

Look for the Browns to play much better at home.  This is a game the Raiders have to win.  From this point on the Raiders play one team that has a losing record, and the rest are at least @ .500.  The Raiders will also have games in Kansas City and Denver in mid to late December respectively so cold weather is ahead; maybe snow.

The nightmare continues and another high pick will probably be seen by the Raiders.  Hopefully the NFL will show mercy and hide defensive backs NFL combine 40 times to help the Raiders pick a good 1st round draft pick.

Azel Grasty, AKA Oaktown Raider; Iconic Raider fan’s Memorial Page

I don’t normally do this but I wanted to give people a chance to donate to iconic Raider fan Azel Grasty St. AKA Oaktown Raider.  Here is his memorial page.  If you are blessed and doing well, please follow this link and show your support to his family.

Thank you so much, Jim

http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/honoring-oaktown-pirate-azel-grasty/248925#.VD_-l_1E-1K.twitter

“A Tribute to an Iconic Raider & NFL Fan Azel Grasty Sr.; AKA The Oaktown Raider”

Azel Grasty kid

Today was just one of those days where not much goes right.  Then I came home tonight and found out news that one of my favorite Hispanic actresses Elizabeth Pena was dead at 55.  What a great career and what a cool lady.  I then got another shocker; one of the all time iconic Oakland Raider fans had also passed.  I couldn’t relax before writing a little about him.  His name was Azel Grasty Sr., AKA the Oaktown Raider.

The Oakland Coliseum; (I’m not calling it that other name) is the most unique environment in the NFL.  I’ve been to other stadiums and what I love about Oakland is the diversity of the fans.  Let’s be real; if you watch a game in places like New England, Denver, and New York; most of the fans are white.  In Oakland, all walks of life are there.  Black, brown, white, red; and with so many that dress up, silver and grey too.

I remember my ex girlfriend was a snooty Denver Bronco fan.  I remember us going to a night game in Oakland once and her telling me, “man there sure are a lot of black and Hispanic people in the crowd”.  I knew then we were doomed.

Raider fans are like no other so when one of the iconic fans passes on, I always remember the glory days.  I love history and the Raiders history is of legend, and in those times there was no place like the Oakland Coliseum.  During the fall the overcast gray skies, the fans dressed in black, and the enclosed stadium made it more like a thunderous tomb than somewhere to play football.  Don Shula and the Dolphins players hated everything Raider; the fans, the players, the colors.  Don Shula once called Oakland hell, and Chiefs head coach Hank Stram said he was going to call the governor of California and make him stop allowing inmates from San Quentin to be released on Sundays so that they couldn’t come to any more games.  Steelers coach Chuck Noll hated the Raiders so much in time he refused to mention them.   He felt the Raiders were the criminal element and evil and so were their fans.  He once called John Madden before a game to complain about rats in their dressing room.  Coach Madden laughed and said, “really?  There are some in our dressing room too!”

I remember many years later being on a business trip in Denver and Cincinnati and wearing a Raider sweater and people by the dozens booing me at the mall.  It was so much fun being hated.  Now I know what Ty Cobb meant.  It was wonderful!

Even though I’m a writer trying to be honest and un-biased, my family’s roots are deep in the tradition of Oakland Raider football.  My father as a young man would go to the Raiders games at Candlestick Park and Frank Youell Field and told me stories of how the Raiders front office staff would go to local restaurants and give away tickets just so people would come.  Their fan base was built from the ground up and in time, the waiting list for tickets was in the thousands.  Many of the players didn’t make a lot of money and most had off season jobs and many became friends with the fans and even work with them.  My dad became friends with a few of them and in his dealings as a Teamster; he had the opportunity to get to know them better.  The bond between Oakland Fan and player was as deep rooted as any sports relationship in history.  The “gatherings” among fans and players in Santa Rosa during training camp still would make a truck driver blush.  It was just a special time.

No place was louder and more intimidating than the Oakland Coliseum.  As the great George Atkinson once said, “you come into our house you better be prepared to fight, and fight all of us”.  No team had a better fan base.

That’s why every year when I hear the news of a great long time Raider fan passing, it really hurts deep.  As the years go by we are losing more and more of them.  Time can be a cruel mistress.

One of those iconic fans was Azel Grasty Sr. who passed away at the age of 57;  much too young of a man to leave us.

Azel was like most Raider fans that dress up; he was unique.  His Raider fan persona was the Oaktown Raider, dressed up in full silver and black pirate gear.  He even had contacts that made his pupils look different.  Many major news outlets like ESPN and Yahoo sports did stories about him and other fans and showed photos of them.  Azel enjoyed kids, and fans of all ages, and loved having a good time.  Azel donated a lot of his time to others and was very proud of his involvement in youth football.  There is a sweet video on Youtube of Azel meeting some youth football players at the Oakland Coliseum.  I met him a couple of times and he couldn’t have been nice and funnier.  He really loved people.

I think what is funny too is that the more menacing, evil, and scary some of the Raider fans make themselves up to be, they usually end up being the complete opposite.  Azel was that way too.  When he was dressed up as the Oaktown Pirate, you would think little kids would be scared of him, but every game kids were coming up to give him high fives, or take a picture with him.  His heart was as big as his smile.

There are so many photos of him on Yahoo, ESPN, facebook and Twitter that you could fill a book.  He never took himself too seriously and loved mingling with others.  He was kind, fun, and showed what being a fan is all about.

I was really appreciative of all of the great things people said about Azel on social media.  Even with the frustration, anger and rants of some Raider fans through all of the losing, they still remain some of the kindest, warm hearted and down to earth people you’d ever meet, especially during bad times.  Azel would be touched I’m sure.

One Twitter follower direct messaged me and said that the Coliseum is going to be a little darker with another one of it’s fun bright lights gone. I thought about it and messaged her and said that she was probably right.  But doesn’t the sky look a little brighter.  Rest in Peace Azel; you were a good Raider fan who made people of all ages smile; but more importantly you were a good man indeed.

“Super Fast and Easy Pumpkin Mousse”

pumpkin mousse

Super Easy Pumpkin Mousse

Prep Time:

10 min

Inactive Prep Time:

20 min

Cook Time:

5 min

Level:

Easy

Serves:

6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (if you dont have it do 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp all spice, 1/8 tsp nutmeg.  The nutmeg and cinnamon are essential)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Ginger snaps, for garnish (optional)
  • Candied Ginger for garnish (optional)
  • Chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)
  • Whip cream for garnish

Directions

Combine pumpkin, 1 cup cream, sugar and spice in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Cool fully and then put it into the refrigerator to cool completely.

Whip remaining heavy cream and vanilla to soft peaks and fold into cooled pumpkin mixture. Pour into a serving dish and crumble the ginger snaps over top before serving.

Suggestions:

You can also put the ginger snaps on the side and eat them with the mousse.

Top the mousse whip cream and then with candied ginger and/or chocolate.

It also would be great with Amaretto cookies.  Eat it all year long!

“Bob Wilkins Blazed Trails and Helped Introduce Anime to the U.S. and Made Creature Features an Institution”

bob wilkins 4

“Bob Wilkins Blazed Trails and Helped Introduce Anime to the U.S. and Made Creature Features an Institution”

I write this in memory of the great Bob Wilkins who was the host of a Sacramento and San Francisco Bay Area television institution, Creature Features.  Most areas in the country had shows like this but none were as influential as the great Bob Wilkins version.  He had a massive following which included fans like Tom Hanks, George Lucas, & Vincent Price who he would occasionally interview.  It was shown on Saturday nights after the news.  Creature Features on KTVU often had higher ratings than the wildly popular Saturday Night Live which was in it’s heyday.  In time, Mr. Wilkins was credited with introducing Anime to the US television and movie viewer, showing things like Ultraman and other Japanese productions.  He was famous for his Godzilla and monster movie genre that he liked to show as well, along with Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robots.

He also blazed trails by showing the Original Flash Gordon series from the 1930’s in between the movies and even showed the first Batman Series from the 1920’s called the Bat-Man or Dark Knight which was actually silent.  From Ed Wood movies to campy horror films, Bob would fearlessly show them all and his eager audience gobbled it up like buttered movie popcorn.

Creature Features was created by Bob and it was originally shown in Sacramento KCRA, until he was wooed over to San Francisco’s KTVU in 1971.  KTVU was a hip station that liked to try new and different things and the match was made in heaven.  The show was so popular that bay area ratings went through the roof and people were shocked when it started to beat out  Saturday Night Live.  The local tv market took notice.  Every 70’s and 80’s kid loved it and creature feature reruns were still very popular.

Bob’s famous saying was, “Watch Horror films; keep America Strong!”  The funny thing was every nutcase would call Bob.  Many people claiming to be zombies, witches, warlocks and even a vampire would contact Bob.  A man claiming to be a real life Vampire once called him at the station and asked if he could be interviewed.  Bob agreed and told him to meet him at the studio the next day at 2 pm.  The vampire agreed.  Bob said, “Aha!  I’m not going to interview you.  How is it that you are a vampire and you want to meet in the middle of the day!”

Bob also would “warn” his fans if there was a bad movie.  In the promo’s for some of the bad movies he showed, he would literally say, “get some sleep tonight and don’t stay up late.  We have a real schlocker of a stinker of a movie tonight with Billy the Kid Meets Frankenstein.”  He would hold up signs showing the ratings of the bad movies with the letters PU.  Of course the more he ripped on the movie, the more viewers had to watch.  Bob’s sarcasm was way before it’s time, and he would even show Ed Wood movies including Planet 9 From Outer Space and the Japanese cult classic, Attack of the Mushroom People.  Attack of the Mushroom people was not widely released in the U.S. and he gained many Japanese movie fans for showing it.  Bob once said the movies were getting so bad that he was going to quit and start an ant farm which had more of a future.  He would also threaten to quit unless people stopped watching.  Of course the ratings went through the roof.

Bob was soon at every convention and gathering and was adored by his fans.  His big cigar and soft spoken, humble nature made him even more loved.  His wit was dry and he was sarcastic before it became cool.

If you get a chance look him up on Youtube.  He was a great interviewer and people called it a badge of honor to sit with Bob on Saturday nights.  He interviewed the likes of Vincent Price, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Ray Harryhausen, and Christopher Lee just to name a few.

Wilkins was so popular that the 10 o’clock news on KTVU begged him to be their weatherman.  He did so but quit after 2 years saying he was kind of bored of it and it didn’t give him the freedom he wanted.  He did win an Emmy though.  He did a ski report from South Lake Tahoe and put in footage of James Bonds skiing scene from the movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and people could not stop laughing.  The news at that time was very dry and straight forward on other networks but it was never a dull moment with him around.

Creature Features was the first television show to ever show the original movie “Night of the Living Dead” and John Carpenter’s classic “The Fog”.  KTVU got clearance to show Night of the Living Dead at the delight of the loyal bay area audience.  The movie is a total classic.  It had come out in theaters 2 years earlier and it was unheard of to have a movie shown on television that quickly.

Bob was a loyal guy to the local sports teams and KTVU had a real bias to the Oakland Raiders.  He also wouldn’t be above giving a jab or two or ripping on a Raider opponent when the Raiders won, which was most of the time.

Bob’s last bay area Creature Features show was in 1987 when he came back to show The Fog.  It was like old times with Bob being given a piece of paper in the middle of the show saying that President Reagan had a really important message to give to the people from the White House.  It ended up being a commercial Reagan did years ago for Boraxo hand cleaner.  It was during the Iran Contra scandal, and after Reagan washed his hands and the commercial ended, Wilkins thanked the president for this important message commenting that it was the first time President Reagan had come clean about anything all year!

Bob also did a daytime show called Captain Planet geared towards kids and the Star Wars craze.  He dressed up in a space suit type outfit with his trusty side kick robot 2T2. Bob launched even more Anime productions with the hugely popular Ultraman series, and even showed the kids the old serials like Flash Gordon.  He liked to show Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.  After two years he ended the show because he literally did everything and he tired of it.

Sadly on January 7, 2009 it was announced that at the age of 76, Bob Wilkins had passed away quietly in Reno, NV from complications of Alzheimer’s.  It ended the life of one of the most beloved men in bay area entertainment history.

Thank you Bob for all you did.  My mom and I had great memories of staying up late watching the good and bad movies late on Saturday nights.  A snack, Creature Features and Bob Wilkins was a guilty pleasure that even today makes me smile.  Rest in Peace my friend.  The joy you gave others will never be forgotten.

“How to Realistically Make The Oakland Raiders a Winner Again”

oakland coliseum

“How to Realistically Make The Oakland Raiders a Winner Again”

What is sad is that Raider fans under the age of 35 really have never felt what the aura of the Raiders is.  The Raiders; other than for a few years; have been losers for almost 2 decades.  Here is a no-nonsense realistic way for the Raiders to get back to being a successful franchise.

Management And a New Stadium:

The Aura of the Oakland Raiders was one thing and one thing only; winning.  Al Davis was passionate about pro football and created his career, his team, and the aura of the Oakland Raiders through success.  With his passing, his son Mark was given the mantle.  Mark isn’t Al Davis.  There are more than a few that think Mark is in over his head.  He also isn’t savvy or knowledgeable about the NFL landscape or business like his dad was.  Al Davis was a renegade that did what he wanted and he blazed trails that no other owner had the guts to do.

I think the Raiders ownership should meet with cheapskate, I mean Oakland A’s Owner Lew Wolff.  I would tell him lets work together to finance a dual sport stadium with a small shopping area mall, or condo/housing in Oakland right next to the Coliseum.  The Warriors are all but gone.  There is NO chance that the City of Oakland is going to be able to help out with one stadium, let alone 2.  Sell the rights to just about everything to companies in silicon valley and then get corporate sponsorship to pick up the rest of the bill.  Moving to L.A. will be about 2 billion dollars and the Raiders don’t’ have the money.  In the mean time they should play at the University of California’s field in Berkeley.

Moving to L.A. also would be a death sentence.  There is a reason why the 2nd biggest television region in the U.S. has lost 3 NFL teams and hasn’t had a team there in years.  Of course there are some very diehard, Chargers, Rams and Raider fans in Los Angeles. This statement isn’t for them; but L.A. is a front running town that only loves a winner.  The Lakers had the worst television ratings of any NBA team after they started to lose big last year.  The Dodgers weren’t drawing well until the new management took over.  L.A. is a “I want to be seen” type of place; a lot like Miami; and pro sports does well ONLY as long as you win.

The City of Oakland has no money.  They had to lay off part of their police force just to afford the Raiders payment.  It’s a depressed place with little business influence and the crime rate remains high.  The City of Oakland is so poorly run with a clueless mayor and we need to be real.  The Raiders and A’s also need to pay for the stadium themselves.  The days of lazy and greedy owners wanting cities to pay for their stadiums while they own it, are over.

You can make a ton of money with concerts, sporting events, and special conventions.  Get rid of the grass and put in the new type of artificial grass that looks real.  Many stadiums use it and it saves a ton of money and won’t look so bad when the Raiders and A’s games overlap.  A great shopping mall with good restaurants in a safe environment right next to BART would be epic.  People would spend their money before and after games, and it would help a very depressed area.  Armed security would be partially paid by the stores that would be included in the fee to be there.  The city of Oakland would more than want it because it would bring money to the city and would not cost tax payer money.  During the Bash Brothers era in Oakland, it was fun to go to Jack London Square after the games.  A fun place with restaurants like Dave and Busters and a festive atmosphere would do wonders.

Dealing With the Past & Present:

The owners and the fans need to realize that things will never be the same.  In the glory days for a time the Raiders were 47-9.  For 24 years, the Raiders had the highest winning percentage of ANY team in all of sports with 3 Superbowl wins.  There was no salary cap and the Raiders were one of the great drafting teams in history with player personnel director Ron Wolf and Al Davis listening to no one and drafting and signing cast offs who would become future hall of famers.  At that time the Raiders were the only team that wouldn’t exchange game films with other teams.  When asked why, both Ron Wolf and Al Davis said the same thing.  “Because we know more than anyone else so why should we”?  Aw the olden days.

If Reggie McKenzie doesn’t stay, I would give a nice chunk of change to Arizona’s Player Personnel Director Jason Licht as GM.  Behind the scenes, he remains a huge up and comer who learned under the likes of Jimmy Johnson, Bill Belichick and Andy Reid.  He has paid his dues and was originally a scout.  He was the finalist for the Bears GM job.  I love this guy and think he would do a great job in the draft and in signings.  He’s a good evaluator of talent and has a proven history.

I’ve written an article about the coaches the Raiders should look at and you will have to look at for my thoughts there.  Jim Harbaugh heads the list.

In ending, the old Configuration of the Oakland Coliseum made the stadium really loud.  The sound reverberated all over the place and it was very enclosed and one of the worst places to play for opponents.  With the addition of mount Davis and the changing of the configuration it’s no where near as loud as it was.  Don Shula once called the old Oakland Coliseum hell and Kansas City Chiefs coach Hank Stram said he was going to call the Governor because it was wrong that San Quentin would let out their inmates on Sundays just to watch Raider games.  There wasn’t a ton of violence like today’s fan; it was just loud and crazy.  To see old ladies screaming their heads off and women wearing shirts with Superbowl or bust was a Sunday staple.  Raider games were an event and their winning % at home was amazing.  The players didn’t make the money they did now and many became friends with the fans through their jobs in the off season.  The bond was unequal to any fan base.  The parties in Santa Rosa during training camp are still of legend.

Player Personnel & Schemes:

First of all they have to start drafting properly.  Stop all the nonsense of drafting DB’s and WR’s due to 40 times and NFL combines stats, and start worrying about what they do on the football field.  Stop listening so much to the NFL combines and start drafting players that do it on the field.  They need to start bulking up their defensive front 7.  Every good defense has a dominating front 7.  Rushing the passer with 4 players and stopping the run is the key to playing defense in the NFL.  Start drafting stud defensive linemen which will immediately make the defense better all around.

QUARTERBACK:

Derek Carr is your quarterback of the future.  Stick with that and move on.  Matt McGloin stares down every one he throws too but he’s an adequate and reliable backup with a lot of heart.  Carr played well against the Chargers and fans remain upbeat about their quarterback.

Running Back:

Running back is also fine.  Darren McFadden, Marcel Reece, and Maurice Jones Drew are very good.  With McFadden and MJD splitting time I think they will have longer and healthier careers.  The Raiders need 1-2 more offensive linemen but so far they are not bad.  Gabe Jackson will be a good one and with many changing positions, time will tell if they gel into a good unit.  Menelik Watson has stepped up his game and has played better this year.

Wide Receiver:

James Jones was a great signing.  He’s not a #1 WR but he’s solid in the red zone and has great hands when you need a big catch.  Andre Holmes has huge potential and I think he should be playing more.  Rod Streater is a nice #3 or #4 WR but on a good team he’s not the answer at #1 or #2.  Denarius Moore is a back up in my book.  They still need a stud #1 that can stretch the field and they need to get him next year.  I think Andre Holmes, James Jones, and Brice Butler should be the starters.

Defense:

Some Raiders fans have made it an art form defending the Raiders draft picks.  It’s easy to predict the future and then stay quiet when you are wrong.  The hardest thing for Al Davis to do was to say he was wrong; the Raiders have to start doing that.  DJ Hayden is not an NFL CB and looks like a bust; most of their DL needs to be let go and their signings in the off season were just bad.  Khalil Mack has huge issues shedding blockers and it’s not known whether he’s going to be that good a player.  You stick with him but there are still big questions.

The signings for defensive linemen have been bad.  This group needs an overhaul.  The Raiders linebackers are alright but they have huge issues staying healthy and consistency with tackling.  Both have to be dealt with.  The defensive backfield is a mess at times but they are young and have shown glimpses of good play.  Add a good pass rush and they will improve quickly.  Right now I’d worry more about the front 7 and then a year from now deal with defensive backs.  If you have a great front 7, it can greatly help your DB’s.

Offensive Scheme:

The offensive game has changed in the NFL.  The new rules BEG you to throw the ball.  Start using the tight end and full back position again and start throwing to all positions.  Seven of the top 10 NFL passing seasons in history have happened in the last 3 years.  Matt Stafford actually has 2 of the top 10 seasons so anyone can succeed with the new rules.  Use a spread offense at times for a change of pace with a no huddle.

Keep the running game the way it is.  I don’t like the zone blocking scheme.  The Raiders are a power rushing team and that’s how they should keep it.

Overview:

Things are going to take time but the time is now.  Have a 3 year plan instead of thinking you are going to be good every year.  The Raiders are not one coach away or a player away from being good and the denial from the team and the fans need’s to end for the Raiders to move forward.  If you can’t admit a problem, it will never be fixed.

A third of this roster needs to move on.  It’s going to take a ton of work and vision which Mark Davis and the present regime may not have.  With so many things up in the air in regards to a stadium and a coaching staff, the Raiders need stability.  It will be very interesting in the near future to see what happens in Oakland to make them once again a stable franchise.

I

Final Oakland Raider Grades v.s. San Diego Chargers; Week 6: October 12, 2014

raiders vs chargers

Final Oakland Raider Grades v.s. San Diego Chargers; Week 6:

San Diego Chargers  31 (4-1)

Oakland Raiders  28 (0-5)

Quarterback:

Derek Carr had a nice game going 18-34 with 4 touchdowns but he had 1 key interception to pretty much end the game.  He did well with progressions and for the most part took what the defense gave him.  San Diego was down to backup cornerbacks but the Raiders still did a good job.

As announcer Tom Flores brought up, Carr too many times looks for the big play.  Twice he had RB’s wide open in the middle of the field but he went for the longer pass.  He made a bad decision on the final play and threw an interception which ended the game.  He has to stop wanting to score a big play on every down.  Hopefully maturity will fix that.

GRADE:  B+

Carr brings hope to the Raiders that their quarterback search is finally over.

Running Backs: 

A really solid performance by all of the running backs.  The Raiders ended up rushing for 114 yards against a good run defense.  The offensive line was consistent and the RB’s ran with a purpose.  Marcel Reece dropped an easy first down catch but other than that they were very solid.  They also blocked well picking up Charger blitzes.

Grade B+

I think having both McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew splitting time is going to work out great.  They both won’t get beat up and they will be fresh when they come in.  Both can block and catch the ball as well.

Offensive Line: 

Their best game of the year.  San Diego is a good defense and they controlled the line of scrimmage for the most part, allowing for a good run game and never allowing a sack.  Really good job by everyone.

Grade A-

Couldn’t ask for more from this unit.  They have a lot of potential and hopefully they are jelling together.

Wide Receivers: 

The Raiders wide receivers played well and I like the unit they had on the field.  Rod Streater is ok but I like Andre Holmes, Brice Butler and James Jones as the starters.  Holmes and Butler have great speed and Jones tends to make head scratching mistakes at times, but he also is a great red zone threat and can catch anything thrown near him.  Butlers’ 47 yard touchdown catch and run was eye opening due to the great speed he has.  I start these 3.  The tight end position was still not a factor and that needs to change.

GRADE:  B+

They had 4 drops and that can’t happen.  For the most part though, a really good game by all.

Defensive Line:

The invisible man has nothing on the defensive line.  The Raiders had one sack but other than that San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers carved them up for 313 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Branden Oliver ended up rushing for his second 100 yard game and was unstoppable on the Chargers winning drive.

Raiders lineback/defensive lineman Khalil Mack played down low at times and was not a factor.  He remains too easily blocked and when he meets a blocker, he just can’t shed them.  Mack ended the game with only 2 tackles and he just looks overwhelmed with the NFL game so far.  You wonder if he’s another NFL combine darling because usually you can tell if a linebacker or pass rusher is going to be special.  Time will tell.  Lamar Woodley would not be starting on any NFL team other than the Raiders.  He had another 1 tackle game.

Grade:  D-

The Raiders DL is just not a factor and this has to be fixed this off season.  Maybe the worst unit in the NFL.

Linebackers:

The linebackers struggled a lot covering the pass.  When they blitzed they also were not much of a factor.  The Raiders have had a lot of injuries but when your front 7 doesn’t play very good, you are in a lot of trouble.  They also missed on a few tackles when they blitzed.  Disappointing game for this unit.

Grade D+

This unit has big struggles in the passing game and it continued today.  When they did blitz they weren’t much of a factor and they missed some easy tackles.

Defensive Backs:

There was good and bad with this unit but they struggled for the most part.  They did make a few plays against a very good passing team.  Tarell Brown and TJ Carrie had a couple of good plays, but for the most part it was a long day for the DB’s.  They played hard but were just undermanned.

Grade D+ 

They all had their bad moments especially Usama Young.  They played hard and gave it their all but they were undermanned against a good passing team like the Chargers.

Coaching:

I don’t think Tony Sparano is a good head coach but he is a good football man and a heck of a offensive line coach and a good coordinator.  To his credit the offensive line played their best game and the Raiders came out with fire.  It was a good showing and a moral victory.  Unfortunately for a team that is now 53-158, moral victories are a big deal.

Jason Tarver has little to nothing to work with.  This defense lacks talent in a big way and they have no playmakers.  Khalil Mack is struggling big time and Woodley should not be starting.

Greg Olsen seemed to simplify things and finally went downfield which is a must.  It opened up the offense finally and allowed for the Raiders to run the ball.  They have to stretch the field.

Grade A-

The coaches had a good week and the Raiders were mentally as prepared as they could be, which should happen after a bye week.  Tony Sparano is a professional football guy and I think he was a good switch from Dennis Allen who really never seemed to be in control of things.

Special Teams:

It’s hard to get on Sebastian Janokowski but he did miss a long field goal that would have changed everything at the end of the game.  Carr would have had the mindset of getting only a field goal and it may have changed the outcome.  It’s hard to get on a kicker though because that is a long kick, but Jano needs to make that one.

Marquette King has quietly become a consistent and quality punter that looks like a long term answer for the Raiders.  He had another solid game.

TJ Carrie looked good returning both kickoffs and punt and needs to do both for the rest of the year.  In the Chargers only return all day, Keenan Allen set up the winning touchdown with a clutch 29 yard return that really hurt.

Grade C+

Janikowski did miss that long field goal but he also kicked everything out of the end zone on kickoffs.  Carrie looked good on returns but Allen’s 29 yard punt return really hurt.

Next Opponent:  v.s. Arizona Cardinals (4-1; last game, win @ home against the Washington Redskins 30-20)

Outlook:

Next weeks game with the Cardinals in Oakland will tell whether this was a mirage, or if it was a real change in a team that is now 0-5.

In their next 4 games the Raiders will play at Cleveland and at Seattle, and then come home to Denver before flying to San Diego.  Not many teams have a tougher stretch.  Games with the 49ers and another one with Denver are also ahead.  The Raiders have the toughest schedule in the NFL.

Carson Palmer is back for the Cardinals and if you give him time, he can pick you apart.  If you rush him he can be awful.

On the other side of the ball, The Cardinals defense is one of the best in the NFL against the run, but terrible against the pass now being next to last in passing defense.  This game will be an interesting one because the Raiders will again have to work hard to run the ball.  It could be another high scoring game and lots of fireworks will be expected in Oakland next Sunday.

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