“Why Alabama is the Best & Oklahoma is Just OK; 2 Programs That Went In Opposite Directions”

 

nick_saban_09182012

What a difference 10 years makes.

As I looked over the Oklahoma media offerings this last week, I read 19 articles on the reason the media said Oklahoma lost to Ohio St.   Only 2 writers got it right.   Let’s go on a 10 year journey for answers to why Oklahoma is just OK, and Alabama is the best program in the country.

The Reality in Norman:

Dozens of Sooner fans either blocked or unfollowed me on Twitter at the start of the season when I said this was a 3 to 4 loss Oklahoma team.   In my mind it was a mistake that people had them as the #3 team in the nation. In fact at the start of the season I had Houston and Alabama playing for the National Championship. I’m a closet Sooner fan; I still have my throwback Billy Sims Jersey in my closet; but we need to look at the facts.

Bob Stoops
Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops comments on his team during the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

When Bob Stoops Arrived at Oklahoma:

When Bob Stoops and his defensive coordinator/brother Mike Stoops first came to Norman, it was a breath of fresh air. With one of the richest football traditions in the country, Bob took over after the John Blake era which was a train wreck. Bob Stoops won a national championship beating four top 5 teams along the way, including #1 Nebraska.

The Stoops brothers were aggressive and they had dominating defenses.  The Sooners dismantled Florida St in the National Championship game 13-2 with one of the great defensive performances in college football history.  It was a magical year in the OK state.

Stoops also embraced the tradition. Here is a school that still holds the record for most wins in a row in College Football history at 47. And he showed great respect for their head coach Bud Wilkinson. Many remember the hitch and trailer play against #1 Nebraska in the National Championship year to honor the team of the 1970’s who used that play to help beat Nebraska in Lincoln. Many also remember on their own 29 yard line in Tuscaloosa, using a fake punt in the third quarter and then throwing a bomb on the next play for a touchdown to help beat Alabama on the road. I remember a lot of great risks and fun payoffs. Those days are long gone.

I also remember Sooner fans booing for 3 hours a couple of years ago watching OU’s CB’s playing 10-15 yards off of the line of scrimmage against Baylor like it was pitch and catch in the backyard. The aggressive magic turned into old man conservatism.

Nick Saban Comes To Alabama:

People forget what a train wreck the Alabama Football program was before Nick Saban. There were several scandals, two probations, wins that were forfeited, and the firing of newly hired head coach Mike Price who was a little too wild at a strip club in Florida.   Add the over-matched Mike Shula’s coaching tenure and this once proud program had become a dysfunctional mess.   All that’s forgotten now.   Saban’s first press conference was filled with excitement.

 

Saban was the conquering hero at LSU in college but in the pro’s the media ate him up; especially during his second year which ended 6-10. Like most college coaches he was used to the college media bubble that can be mostly controlled by the coaches. In the pro’s a coach was like a raw steak in a lake full of piranha. His players didn’t like him, and neither did the media. After he left Miami, for months ESPN and NFL reporters all over the country destroyed Saban. They called him Nicktator and Nick Satan. I’ve never in my lifetime seen a coach so hated in one place and loved in another.   And to be honest he probably deserved a little of both. In 2010 he somewhat apologized for his “lack of professionalism” in Miami but it didn’t help.

The NFL Network has trashed him on several worst of lists including the below video (pretty harsh) naming him the 7th worst college coach to ever coach in the NFL. Many remember him scolding the Miami media for weeks saying he wasn’t leaving when in reality he had been talking to the late Alabama AD Mal Moore for weeks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LNA4eiqw4s

Here is the explanation in the book “Saban; The Making of a Coach”.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/sports/football/new-book-nick-sabans-wife-wanted-out-of-miami-push/nm2Ty/

Oklahoma Going Down, Alabama and the SEC Going Up in Recruiting:

When Saban arrived from Miami, he immediately went on a recruiting blitz. He didn’t have the time the other schools did to recruit his first year; he arrived late; but he immediately improved his first class in 2007 and didn’t just blow the year off. That helped set a tone.  The biggest reason Alabama is the best is because they recruit the best and have the best talent.  CBS reported that 80% of Bama’s players are 4 or 5 star recruits.  That’s unreal.

The SEC has 3 of the best recruiters in college football. Mario Cristobal at Alabama, Tommy Thigpen at Tennessee, and Corey Raymond at LSU.   These are the guys doing the dirty work of visiting high schools, kissing babies, eating mom’s apple pie and talking to dad’s about the good ol’ days. Imagine Mario Cristobal wooing you and then Nick Saban closing the deal.   That’s tough to beat.

Urban Meyer got all the credit at Florida but who was one of his key recruiters?   Charlie Strong the new Head Coach at Texas. Strong went on to great success at Louisville and just had a top ten recruiting class for Texas in 2016.

Another thing Alabama has done in the recruiting wars is dominate the offensive and defensive line position. In the last 3 years Alabama had the #1 ranked offensive line class in the nation.   Their defensive line doesn’t miss out either. They are either #1 or #2 for the last 6 years. The NFL draft shows the fruits of their success.

While most teams are going to finesse offenses using the spread, Alabama for the most part has kept their roots. Saban has allowed OC Lane Kiffin to open up things in the past but when the chips are down, the power running game is what they are all about.

Alabama’s first recruiting class with Saban in 2007 was #17 in the Nation. Then the magic started to begin. It’s amazing what happened.

Recruiting Rankings:

2007:

Oklahoma #5

Alabama #17

 

2008

Oklahoma #8

Alabama #3

 

2009

Oklahoma #11

Alabama #2

 

2010

Oklahoma #20

Alabama #3

 

Now let’s fast forward to the last 4 years.

(www.rivals.com)

2013

Oklahoma #15 (0 five star, 7 four star)

Alabama #1 (4 five star, 13 four star)

 

2014

Oklahoma #15 (1 five star, 8 four star)

Alabama #1 (6 five star, 13 four star)

 

2015

Oklahoma #14 (0 five star, 14 four star)

Alabama #2 (4 five star, 14 four star)

 

2016

Oklahoma #16 (1 five star, 10 four star)

Alabama #1 (5 five star, 10 four star)

 

2017

Oklahoma #4

Alabama #2

In some publications, Alabama just had their sixth straight #1 college football recruiting class. Oklahoma’s highest recruiting class in that time was #14.

In the last four years these are the 4 & 5 star players:

Oklahoma: (2 five star, 39 four star)

Alabama: (19 five star, 50 four star)

There is good news for the Sooners though; Bob Stoops has rebounded in 2017 and OU is now ranked the #4 recruiting class so far. That team from Tuscaloosa? #2 so far. Now many things can happen; some players change teams like the wind so there is still a lot of work to do. Remember you are dealing with teenagers; but hopefully OU is back on track.

Alabama a Step Above:

The #1 thing is obviously they have the best players.  No one recruits like they do.

Innovation isn’t Saban’s thing.  What makes him great is preparation, readiness, teaching quality fundamentals and technique and demanding perfection.  It’s one thing to have the best players but you have to teach and coach them properly.

My dad was a great coach and he taught me so much.  Proper footwork, tackle readiness/positioning, balance; football is more in depth than fans think.  I love watching well coached teams.  From Alabama to Jim Harbaughs teams, to the great dynasty at North Dakota St. in the FCS, I really enjoy watching the teams play. I especially love defense.  The rules in college and the pro’s have made it a federal crime to breath near a WR or QB so passing is much easier in today’s game. That means a great pass rush is VITAL.  While other teams are still only rushing 3 men, Saban and other SEC schools get that a pass rush is important.  Some teams still don’t.

The average fan says it’s a passing game now and defense doesn’t matter as much. Problem is they are wrong.  The Big 12 seems to feel this way.  In reality though good defenses will beat good offenses most of the time.  Ask the Carolina Panthers and the Clemson Tigers from last year.  Ask Tom Brady how he feels about the NY Giants DL in the Super Bowl.

The SEC Formula; Nick Saban’s Way:

The SEC formula that Nick Saban uses is based on the 1970’s NFL; the greatest era of NFL football. It includes 5 things.

-have great team speed

-stop the run to make offenses predictable

-put great pressure on the QB and control the tempo

-have a great offensive and defensive line

-have a good power running game to run the ball when you need and want to.

Now some will say well of course you will win if you do all those things.  Then why doesn’t everyone do it?

Think about it.  The Big 12 struggles defensively and isn’t physical.  The Pac 12 isn’t physical other than Stanford and they lack team speed.  Michigan & Ohio St. are changing this but for the most part Big 10 teams lack team speed and the ACC; who has the worst winning % in the bowl series of any Big 5 Conference; also struggle defensively and lack physicality.  There are exception but this is the reality of each conference.

While many teams have fallen in love with the spread offense and throwing 50 times a game, Nick Saban goes with what brung him; defense & a physical running game makes him tick.

This is the way the Big 8 used to be when Oklahoma and Nebraska were winning National Championships. Bo Schembechler, Woody Hayes and Bear Bryant did it; it’s old school football that Alabama plays with a little more modern passing offense. None of Sabans QB’s will tear up the NFL, but his defensive and offensive lines will.

Saban’s Way Saved the Mississippi Game:

I tweeted at halftime of the Mississippi Alabama game, “RUN THE BALL, RUN RUN RUN”. Alabama threw 23 times in the first half for 2.8 yards a reception. Bama was behind 24-17 and were lucky to be so close. They put the game’s hands in the arm of Jalen Hurt; a freshman QB; on the road. Hurt isn’t a particularly accurate thrower and he missed on some key passes, but wow can he run.

Alabama passed only 8 times in the second half and ran for over 334 yards and won 48-43. They ended the game with 7 yards per rush, and only 5.1 yards per reception. Don’t think for a second that Nick Saban didn’t tell OC Lane Kiffin at halftime, “we aren’t throwing 23 times this half”.

Bob Stoops To LSU?:

Many in Oklahoma are not real happy with Bob Stoops. There are rumors that he is being eyed for the head coaching spot in LSU. Because of the failures of late, Stoops has taken a beating in the media. I saw one article calling him Big Shame Bob instead of Big Game Bob. OU is now 8-9 in bowl games with Stoops as coach.

It’s hard to see him leaving OU but if he is going to stay he has to hit the recruiting trail. (LSU Job? Tom Herman of Houston is the sexy pick and I’d think he’d come but if he doesn’t, with Chip Kelly in a mess at San Francisco with their lack of talent; Kelly @ LSU?)

Some say Stoops got complacent in recruiting and the numbers back that. So if I were talking to Bob I’d tell him, “It’s ok Bob; you can keep the spread but you have to go back to what made your teams great from the beginning. A great OL & DL & a great defense. I have my 5 part formula above that you can use when recruiting. And if you don’t want to listen to me, get a hold of Nick Saban.  He’s got a copy”.

“Raiders Grades; Positives On Defense; How Do The Raiders Match-Up With Baltimore”

Michael Crabtree, Da Norris Searcy
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) loses his helmet after catching a pass as he was defended by Tennessee Titans strong safety Da’Norris Searcy, left, in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)

Final Oakland Raider Grades @ Tennessee Titans; Week 3:

Tennessee Titans  10 (1-2)

Oakland Raiders 17 (2-1)

On Sunday the Raiders outlasted the Titans 17-10. It was a nice game for the defense which played well.  The Raiders dominated in the first half but did not score in the second half.

Quarterback:

Derek Carr definitely didn’t have his best day. He made some good throws but he missed two long passes and was late on more than a few passes. Twice Amari Cooper had his man beaten deep and Carr missed him. Carr was frustrated with himself after the game. He got rattled a little bit when the Titans began blitzing but overall he had a pretty good game. Overall though he had an ok game.

GRADE: B-

You can’t be really good every game but Carr will have a much stiffer defense to go against next week.   Plus Pro Football Focus in their evaluation kept calling him David. Better days ahead.

Running Backs:

The Raiders multiple headed monster at RB is working well. The Raiders ran for 123 yards. After Latavius Murray’s 22 yard TD run though, he ran 9 times for only 15 yards. He seems to glide through holes while DeAndre Washington (6 carries for 28 yards) and Jalen Richard (6 carries for 37 yards) hit the holes like rockets. Washington and Richard have been in during important parts of games this year, and it’s worked wonders. I like the 3 of them sharing carries.

Grade A-

Murray struggled after his TD run but Washington and Richard picked up the slack. In the first half especially the Raiders were dominating the Titans defense.

Offensive Line:

In the first half it was like a college team playing against a high school team. The Raiders OL flat out dominated. Carr was sacked only once, and for the most part they played really well. The Raiders running game had another 100+ yard game. The problem today was penalties, which lead to a sloppy game.

Grade B

Maybe I’m being hard on them but there were a lot of penalties that hurt drives. Overall though, another good performance.

Wide Receivers:

Michael Crabtree is one of the best WR in the NFL right now. With another 100+ yard game with 8 catches, he’s the best possession WR in the NFL. He’s the glue in the passing game. Cooper had 4 catches for 62 yards but Carr missed him on a couple of long throws. Cooper has avoided the drops for the most part but he dropped a key 3rd down pass that was right in his hands. Clive Walford caught only 2 passes and against good teams, the Raiders have to make him a bigger part of the offense. Seth Roberts caught a TD pass on a nice catch and run, but he also dropped a key pass that was right in his hands.

GRADE: B

Carr wasn’t himself and that hurt them but they had a few drops. A pretty good day but it could have been better. The Titans don’t exactly have speed with their cornerbacks so a long connect to Cooper would have been nice.

Defensive Line:

Khalil Mack had another bad game; only 1 solo tackle, one assisted tackle and no sacks with a penalty.   I’ve never seen a guy start off so slow every year. The pass rush for the most part was absent again; the Raiders had one sack; and now they have only 3 on the season. By himself Von Miller has 5 sacks and 1 forced fumble that lead to a TD and sealed the game against the Colts.

Against the run it got ugly. The Raiders gave up 181 rushing yards at 6.2 yards a rush. Ouch.

Grade: D

You can’t just blame the DL. The LB’s struggled as well and even though S Karl Joseph made some tackles, he made them more downfield than he’d like. Right now the Raiders DL is lucky they are playing lesser competition.

Linebackers:

DeMarco Murray and TE Delanie Walker are pretty much all the weapons Tennessee have. Walker didn’t play. This helped the Raiders greatly because the Safeties and LB’s didn’t have to cover the tight ends much. The Titans lack talent and team speed and the LB’s could play aggressively.   They still were bad against the run, struggling to shed blocks. The Raiders gave up scoring drives of 59, 93 and the last drive the Titans went 71 yards in a minute and looked like they should have got a penalty on TJ Carrie in the end zone.

Grade C+

They had a hit or miss day. Against the run they were awful; against the pass they were better but the level of competition was pretty bad.

Defensive Backs:

With all of these high draft picks the Titans have used on Wide Receivers, you’d think they’d have a great group. They may be the worst in the NFL. Their only deep threat Kendall Wright didn’t play but even he has had only 1 good year in his short career. Without any speed at WR the Raiders DB’s were not in fear of getting beaten deep and as I said before the game, this is a great matchup for them.

David Amerson played an excellent game and is turning into a solid corner; a great pickup by Reggie McKenzie. Safety Karl Joseph made some tackles but you could tell he’s getting his sea legs. He made a lot of tackles 5-10 yards downfield; in time those hopefully will be at the line of scrimmage or even behind the line. It’s a lot more fun not going up against Julio Jones & Brandin Cooks. The DB’s had a couple of good hits on tackles as well.

The Raiders caught a break on the final play for the Titans which was an obvious pass interference; the second year in a row a controversial call cost the Titans against the Raiders; but the Raiders will not complain. TJ Carrie was smiling in a local interview and joked with the reporter, ”It was a good play right?” The Titans drove down in the last drive 71 yards in 1 minute which was the worst sequence of the game for the DB’s.

Grade B+  

With the Titans pretty much having no deep threat, the DB’s played aggressive and physical. They are not the soul patrol and hopefully they can at least become a pretty good group. I like Joseph.

Coaching:

It got a little confusing in the second half. On 2 third down plays (5 yard and 3 yard), the Raiders ran the ball and then punted.   It was somewhat conservative especially since the Titans DB’s were giving 5-7 yard cushions to the Raiders WR all game.

The Raiders had a chance to put away the Titans in the first drive of the second half and didn’t.   On 3 first down plays the Raiders ran Murray up the middle for 5 yards on 3 rushes. After 7 plays they punted. Very conservative. They should have come out swinging.

Funny how when the Raiders defense does good you don’t hear anything about the coaches. You can’t give coaches the blame when the team struggles and then give them no credit when they do well. Aw fans.

Grade C+

The first half the Raiders looked pretty good. You thought they’d come out blazing in the second half, but again they were predictable and conservative on offense.

Special Teams:

Sebastian Janikowski now has the record for most 50 yard plus field goals. Marquette King gets better each week and had 2 booming punts.   Richard had a pretty good day running back punts. Jones only ran back one kickoff for 16 yards.

Grade A-

The return game was better for the punting team and King and Janikowski are solid.

Conclusion:

The Titans right now are the second worst team in the NFL behind the Bears. The Titans are 2-18 in their last 20 home games and 6-29 in their last 35 games overall.   With all their failed drafts, the Titans are now where the Raiders used to be. As I said on draft day, Mariota has moxy, is athletic, but he’s just not accurate enough for my taste.  Any win on the road is good but the Raiders in reality should have torched them.   Oakland still doesn’t have a dominating signature win yet. If the PI is called and the 2 point conversion fails in New Orleans, this could be a different season. They have to play better.

Baltimore Ravens:

The Raiders are 2-7 lifetime against Baltimore, and 0-5 playing the Ravens on the road. This is a place that has given them nightmares. It’s loud and the Ravens play very physical at home.

While this isn’t the great Baltimore defenses of the past they are still solid so far. They rank #3 against the pass and #8 against the run. They have 9 sacks on the year which is 7th overall in the NFL. They’ve beaten the Bills at home, and the Jaguars and Browns on the road. Not exactly the NFL elite for this year so being 3-0 isn’t as impressive against these teams.

On offense they have Joe Flacco but not a whole lot else.   Backup Terrance West and Justin Forsett share carries, and ageless Steve Smith is still their go to man at WR.   Journeyman WR Mike Wallace is their deep threat. Their TE Dennis Pitta is having a great year and is a big part of their offense. He has 18 catches in 3 games. They are the 19th rated passing team and the 25th rated running team.

Outlook:

The Raiders on defense should have another good game. The Ravens don’t have a lot of speed and are not a team to score a lot of points but they will play a physical style on defense and rush the passer. Running yards may be difficult for the Raiders offense and the OL will be tested.

Look for a physical game in Baltimore next week with not a lot of scoring. The Raiders travel a lot but their schedule is not hard so this game would be a nice win for them.  Look for the Raiders to make a statement.

 

“Raiders v.s. Titans; What to Look For Today & Why Khalil Mack Will Be Just Fine”

Raiders Titans Football

Week 3 Preview; Oakland Raiders (1-1) @ Tennessee Titans (1-1):

The Raiders venture to music city to play the rebuilding Tennessee Titans in an important early season contest.

What to look for on Offense:

The Titans defense has improved a lot from last season. In the first two games they played well. They’ve only given up 1 offensive td on the year.   They are ranked 13th in both passing and rushing defense but their pass rush has been inconsistent.   They do have 4 sacks on the year with all of them coming in game 2 against the Lions. The Vikings offensive line seemed to control the game for the most part against Tennessee’s pass rush.

Look for the Titans LB Brian Orakpo to be the key pass rusher against the Raiders. He already has 2 sacks on the year and he was very disruptive against the Lions.

The Titans have said that they are wanting to stop the Raiders running game.   If that is true the Raiders should be able to throw deep when their safeties are playing up to stop the run.   I question if that is their main game plan though and look for them to mix it up at times & play their safeties back to protect for Cooper and the long ball.

Cooper is averaging an amazing 18.9 yards a catch with a long of 43.   Even with teams trying to stop the long ball, he has had a great start to the season. With the Raiders balanced attack, they should be able to handle the Titans defense. Carr will definitely have his chances to audible today.

The Raiders running game is #2 in the NFL. As I said before the season started, if the Raiders use ALL of their running backs, they will thrive. They have done that and the running game looks fine. Clive Walford saw some targets last week and was effective.   With Melenik Watson back, the Raiders offensive line should do very well.

A key matchup will be Titans CB Perrish Cox v.s. Amari Cooper. The great Dick Lebaeu is the Titans Defensive coordinator and he loves zone blitzes. This should free up Cooper so look for Amari to have a big day.   Perrish Cox is also one of the slower CB’s in the NFL so if the safeties give help on Cooper, this should open up the run game. Carr rarely calls audibles but he needs to do it today if the Raiders are going to continue their high powered offense.

What to look for on Defense:

The Raiders are averaging giving up an unheard of 8 yards a play on defense.   Some have tried to pin this on Ken Norton Jr. and Ben Heeney but to be honest there is a WHOLE lot of blame to go around. Sean Smith has played passively and is really struggling; the safeties have also struggled in their help defense. The pass rush is non existent at times and Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack have a combined 1 sack in 2 games.

Rookie LB Cory James will play for Ben Heeney. At Colorado St. Cory James was a consistent player and quality playmaker but he also has the same 40 times and same speed as Ben Heeney.   James is athletic but not fast.

Look for the Raiders to make QB Marcus Mariota beat them. I see the safeties playing much more aggressively to stop RB DeMarco Murray and his backup Derrick Henry. What makes Murray such a threat is that he’s a great pass catcher as well. Murray has 131 yards rushing on the year but he’s also caught 12 passes for 91 yards and 2 TD’s. Murray will be a handful for the LB’s to cover today.

The Raiders will crowd the box on early downs to stop the run, and try to force obvious passing downs. This will help the pass rush and also make possible blitzes more effective.

Stacy McGee and Jihad Ward played most of the game against Atlanta and that should continue. McGee did get a sack but their effectiveness was definitely in doubt. Justin Ellis and Dan Williams continue to struggle for playing time. It will be interesting to see if that continues.

Bruce Irvin was invisible for most of the game and even though Khalil Mack has been absent on the pass rush, he’s been excellent against the run.   Look for Mack to come out swinging to get his first sack of the year.

The Raiders blitzed on several of the big plays for Atlanta last week and it was not very effective. So far the DL hasn’t played well so look for a CB or safety blitz on occasion. The fearful thing obviously is that if the blitz is picked up, this defensive backfield is in trouble.

Titans WR Kendall Wright is their deep threat and he is not going to play.   The Raiders should be able to handle the Titans passing game.

Delanie Walker is a top tight end but he’s hurting and will be a game time decision. That definitely helps the Raiders.

Look for some turnovers today. Mariota already has 2 INT’s and 1 lost fumble (he had 8 fumbles last year).   Mariota’s accuracy is hit or miss at times. He did play well last week in Detroit in the 4th quarter to help them win. Murray will fumble on occasion as well so look for the Raiders to get their first turnover of the season.

Will Khalil Mack be Back?:

In today’s social media environment, people live and die with each game. Seasoned fans know this is a marathon and not a race. What people also aren’t getting is that some players take time to get going, and Khalil Mack is definitely one of the them.   In his rookie year he didn’t get his first sack until week 10.

In the first 8 games last year, Mack had 27 tackles and 4 sacks. In the last 8 games he had 50 tackles and 11 sacks.   In last years game at Tennessee he had 6 tackles and 2 sacks. Look for a good day from Khalil in Nashville.

Interesting Facts:

-Tennessee did not win a home game last year and they are 2-15 in their last 17 games at home; worst in the NFL.

-Titans kicker Ryan Succop has made his last 19 field goals inside the 50 yard line.

-Raiders are averaging 7.0 yards a play on offense, and give up 8.0 yards a play on defense. They are allowing 4.5 yards per rush on D.

-Oakland is one of 3 teams that has yet to get a defensive turnover.

-Raiders return teams are near last in most categories. They are averaging 15.7 yards per kickoff return, and 5.3 yards per punt return.

-Oakland Coach Jack Del Rio is 76-81 in 11 years as a head coach and is 8-10 as Raiders head coach.

-Titans haven’t won a game at home against a non AFC South team since 9/29/2013. They have not won 2 games in a row since 12/22 & 29/2013.

Outlook:

The Tennessee Titans have arguably been the worst team the NFL the last 3 years. Playoff teams do not lose to the Tennessee Titans. In the Titans last 34 games, they are an abysmal 6-28.  If the Raiders can’t win today, this greatly hurts them.  No excuse can make it acceptable.

All the stars are aligned for a big Raider win and that can spell trouble.  In the NFL anything can and does happen. The offense played well last week but you would have hoped for more than 28 points against a bad pass rush which was last in the NFL in 2015.  Especially in a home opener.

The Raiders have come out sluggish in both their games and have not played well in the first half. They need to come out fast and even think of going no huddle. The Titans do not have the offense to score a lot of points so if the Raiders can get out to a big lead, their pass rush can tee off against Mariota.

Amazingly the Raiders are only a 1 ½ point favorite. It’s hard to see the Raiders losing this game but crazier things have happened. This is an early must win game and the hopes in Raider nation is that they will come out aggressive in the first half and take control of the game early. If not, the talk shows in the bay area will be must listen to radio on Monday.

 

“Calling Out NFL HOF Voters; How Future Raiders Can Get In; New Info On Stabler Vote”

 

raiders-after-patriots-win
“Ken Stabler & His Teammates In the Final Seconds of 24-21 Playoff Win v.s. Patriots”

Hypocrite:

A person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs.

Wow did I miss this one. I once told my niece, “when dealing with guys, what they do shows their heart. What they say shows what they want you to think. Always look at what they do.”

During the time when the mild controversy regarding the NFL HOF Nomination of convicted serial rapist and ex all pro safety Darren Sharper was going on, famous SI sportswriter Peter King took to twitter to defend the HOF voters. I was taking some time off and relaxing and I didn’t comment on it or write about it.   Recently though people have shown things that Peter King said and I was floored.

I’ve given the Deadspin article link to you; the only one that I could find; that repeated Kings serial tweets.

Here are some of his EXACT quotes.

The 46 HoF voters are asked to consider only on-field factors for ex-players. That is what I do. 

We would be shirking our duties if we did not consider him. What has happened since should not be factored in.

The bylaws of the Pro Football Hall of Fame forbid the 46 voters from considering players’ off-field lives.

If I said, “I will not consider Sharper for induction because he has been accused of multiple rapes,” I would resign from the committee.

For the sake of not giving Peter King’s worshipers fuel, I say don’t even read the article. Just read his comments.

http://deadspin.com/peter-king-defends-hall-of-fame-s-right-to-honor-allege-1683701729

Ken Stabler and Peter King Ties:

For almost 3 decades starting in the 70’s, the most popular teams in the NFL were the Cowboys and the Raiders. Their ratings were always on top. People loved them or hated them. Sports Illustrated sold a lot of magazines with Raiders stories. Here is a great one on Ken Stabler from 1977 after the Super Bowl win.

http://www.si.com/nfl/2015/07/10/si-vault-ken-stabler-oakland-raiders

That all changed though after Ken Stabler was falsely accused of planting cocaine on Sportswriter Bob Padecky after a terrible year by the Snake in 1978.   Here is my popular article on that story:

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/part-csi-part-breaking-bad-the-real-reasons-why-ken-stabler-is-not-in-the-hall-of-fame/

Paul Zimmerman was a friend of Bob Padecky. He was the king of east coast media and was a voting member of the HOF and senior committee until his stroke in late 2008. He was the first expert to be used by ESPN during the NFL draft coverage. He was the man at SI (Sports Illustrated) and is revered today by most sports writers.   He was the one that had a vendetta against Ken Stabler because of the incident with Bob. Peter King every year honors Paul Zimmerman for an entire week near the time of the HOF ceremonies. He did it again this year.

Below is Peter Kings article trashing Ken Stabler’s HOF credentials.   He said that he only had 5 good years.   Remember one of his best friends and his mentor is Paul Zimmerman.

http://mmqb.si.com/2015/07/13/ken-stabler-hall-of-fame-nfl-peter-king

Peter King probably didn’t vote for the Snake but he was in the minority.   Players, coaches, owners and teammates all said he was HOF worthy a long time ago.

Why Peter Kings Words Are So Hollow:

Peter King brags about his integrity. He sticks out his chest saying that if he took into account things off of the field, he should resign as a voter in the HOF.

The Hall of Fame Voters should be called out. Their votes SHOULD ALL be released to the public. There is no accountability in their votes and there needs to be transparency. I respect the fact that you don’t vote people in; but the fans, media and teams need to know why.

Cris Carter was left out of the HOF for 5 years. Why? Carter was a tool at times. Even fans didn’t like him.

After his first 4 years in Philadelphia, the media, team, and the fans were sick of him. He was their leading WR and he was cut. He also took a beating from writers who talked about his drug use of marijuana, ecstasy, and cocaine. He stopped talking to the media.

He regrouped in Minnesota and had amazing numbers. At the end of his career some said he softened to the media because his numbers might be HOF worthy and he wanted to find favor with them. Sportswriters have long memories though Cris.

Terrell Owens was another one. Of course he’s a HOF player. But he was dramatic, demanding and nasty to the media. One year during a contract dispute in Philly, he refused to LOOK AT media members let alone talk to them. He threw teammates under the bus, blamed coaches for losses and even told Playboy that QB Jeff Garcia was gay.

Why do I bring these 2 up? These are just 2 examples of obvious HOF players who weren’t voted in by the writers.   I thought anything off the playing field didn’t matter? Well obviously it does.

Stabler is the worst example of all. Anyone that is buds with Zimmerman knows how much he hated Ken, blaming him for the Bob Padecky fiasco.  How can you leave Stabler out of the Hall? Only 5 good years? Are you kidding me?

Are Hall of Fame Voters Really Biased?:

I was being interviewed by a small radio station in Pennsylvania and they thought I was nuts. “Jim you actually believe that HOF voters will hold grudges for years against a player?”

My answer was simple.

“Yes. Look at people who are staunch Republicans or Democrats. They would blindly support Charles Manson if he was part of their political party.   And if Mother Teresa was in the other political party they’d rip her to shreds with negativity. They have grudges for a lifetime.

Same with some HOF voters. I’m giving you facts not opinions. Zimmerman said in an SI article in 1979 after the Bob Padecky situation that he would NEVER vote Ken Stabler into the HOF as long as he lived. He also admitted Stabler was the only player he ever lobbied AGAINST. Zimmerman was one of the most; if not the most; powerful writers in the country.   SI was king and ESPN was just starting and he was chosen as their NFL and draft guru. Thirty years later in 2009, Zimmerman told the NFL Network again; “I’ll never vote Ken Stabler into the HOF. Facts gentleman; facts”.

Jim drops the mic. Ok I didn’t do that, but I would have if I was in studio!

Just the very fact that Zimmerman; after 30 years; STILL said he wouldn’t vote for Stabler into the HOF shows how right I am about some sportswriters.   Most are great I’m sure; but some?

New Information:

Frank Cooney; who has covered football for over 5 decades; wrote a great article earlier in the year. EVERYTHING I said from Randall Watson to Padecky, to Dr Z to Nick Dudich was confirmed by Frank; and countless others; and my articles were written way before theirs, last summer.

A tidbit that I never knew was Frank finding out that the voters to the HOF “innocently” received a huge binder of information on this years candidates.

One piece was a blog from 2012 by Andy Barall of the NY Times with the famous quote that supposedly Dave Casper said. “Ken took football back 50 years. He didn’t work hard enough at it. He fooled em his whole life”.

Yes I found the blog. Here it is.   Magically it has a link to a book by………..Paul Zimmerman, one of his buddies. This stuff writes itself friends.

http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/29/a-deeper-look-at-the-stabler-hall-of-fame-debate/?_r=0

Dave Casper has been very angry over being misquoted. “I’ve never said Ken set back football. I would vote him into the HOF”. Below is Franks article with Dave Caspers angry retort.

cliff-branch

Jims Jamz:

I’m a realist, and I know nothing is going to change in the voting process.   So what needs to happen is that if you are a fan of a player that is deserving of the NFL HOF, it’s time to act.   Through petitions, writing emails, responding to social media posts and articles; in reality it’s up to you.   So many are working hard for players from the Raiders that deserve to be in the HOF.  But everyone needs to be involved.  Think of the loyal fanbase, families and children of these great players.

Some will say Ken got in so get over it.  But I remember the pain in the Stabler’s families eyes.  I don’t want ANY other Raider or NFL family to go through that.  If you grew up in the bay area the Raiders were not our team; they were family.

How a petition for a Ken Stabler or a Cliff Branch can’t get 50,000 signatures in a month is beyond me. I see a lot of posts online talking about fan loyalty, but in reality it’s going to be up to ALL fans actions to carry the torch.   Keep doing what you are doing to inspire others.  And for those that haven’t been a part of the support, it’s never too late to get on board.  Do your part for these players that gave generations of people so much enjoyment and pride.  Make NFL HOF voters do the right thing; because without you; some won’t.

Myth-busting Ken Stabler’s Hall of Fame credentials

 

 

“Raiders Grades; How to Fix the Defense & Amp The Offense After Loss to Falcons”

crabtree
“Raiders WR Michael Crabtree Scores a 2nd Half TD”

Final Oakland Raider Grades @ home v.s. Atlanta Falcons; Week 2:

Atlanta Falcons  35 (1-1)

Oakland Raiders 28 (1-1)

Whichever way you look at the Raiders loss to the Atlanta Falcons, this was a bad loss. The Raiders have a brutal schedule the last month and a half of the season so playing well in the first half of 2016 is a must. Let’s look at what happened.

Quarterback:

Derek Carr had another good game. The Raiders averaged 6.6 yards per reception though; Matt Ryan averaged 11.6. For the second straight week the Raiders came out sluggish and struggled scoring in the first half.   You’d think at home they would come out blazing but they didn’t. Just like with Julio Jones, teams are doing their best to take away the long ball to Cooper so Carr and the Raiders have to be patient. The slant to Cooper and Crabtree are there all day. Carr made a point to throw to the tight end Clive Walford and he had a nice game.

GRADE: A

Carr made a mistake trying to heave the ball long. With teams trying to take away the deep bal he has to be patient. An interception was taken away due to pass interference which is getting annoying in college and pro ball. Too many PI’s. The Raiders are a little too conservative for my taste but overall the offense rolled against 2 bad defenses. The hopes are that will continue against better competition.

Running Backs:

All off season fans were clamoring for a big trade at RB. They were wrong. The Raiders have a ton of talent at RB and I said that all summer. Jalen Richard and Deandre Washington hit the holes like rockets and Latavius Murray has obviously been motivated by his cut in playing time.   They ran for 155 yards rushing on 6.2 yards per gain. Can’t get better than that.

Grade A-

Murray again was on the bench on key downs. On the 4th and 2 play, Richard took the handoff and not Murray. The Raiders finally get it and using all of their RB’s is the thing I hoped they’d do.

Offensive Line:

I literally cannot wait for the Denver Broncos DL to go against the Raiders OL. Will that be fun or what. Right now no offensive line is playing better. The Saints and Falcons were 2 of the worst defenses last year, but it still is a great sign. The Raiders will go as far as the health of the OL. That is the strength of the team. Carr has all day to throw.

Grade A+

Injuries are their main enemy.

Wide Receivers:

I’ve said it a million times, most teams are now taking away the deep ball to Cooper. The Falcons had one of their safeties shadowing the side where Cooper was on at all times. We laughed on one third down, because one of the Falcons safeties was so far back it looked like he was receiving a punt. Overall another big day for the Raiders WR. Crabtree might be the best possession WR in the game and the slant to him is near unstoppable. How the Raiders drafted DHB over Michael Crabtree is just beyond me but I need to get over it.   Andre Holmes made a great adjustment on the last Raiders TD. Clive Walford had a big day and that really opened up the offense.

GRADE: A-

The only blemish was Coopers mistake of going out of bounds. In the pro’s as long as it’s not an illegal push, the defender can push you out of bounds. Cooper said later he was unsure about the rule.

Defensive Line:

The Raiders do not have a pass rush. On many of the big plays for Atlanta, the Raiders blitzed but it was picked up. Atlanta RB’s did a great job blocking. Many fans say blitz when the pass rush isn’t good but it’s not that easy. If the blitz is picked up then you are really in trouble.

The Raiders have 7 QB hits and 2 sacks in 2 games. They also are not getting the push that is needed. Jihad Ward and Darius Latham took 47 and 25 snaps respectively at DT and Dan Williams and Jelly Ellis took 15 & 17. Unfortunately Ward & Latham could only muster a combined 3 tackles, 0 sacks, 0 QB hits and 1 pass deflection. I think Williams and Ellis need to get on the field more because this present lineup isn’t cutting it.

Khalil Mack is playing pretty well against the run, but he has had little effect with his pass rush.   He has no sacks and Irvin has only 1.   Irvin also only has 6 tackles in the first 2 games combined. I said at the start of the year, I question whether Irvin is the answer in the Raiders pass rush.

The run defense was also bad giving up 139 yards for a 4.8 yards per rush average. How big is that Aldon Smith suspension now. Raiders DT Stacy McGee got the only sack of the game for Oakland.

Grade: D-

After watching the Raiders DL and then watching Andrew Luck run for his life against Denver, you realize the Raiders DL just isn’t good enough right now.

Linebackers:

The Raiders do NOT have an LB that can be considered a great run stopper or pass defender. Ben Heeney would be great off the bench to add depth and spell a player but he’s not a starting LB. I’ve been saying that since he was drafted. He just doesn’t have the speed. He’s also on the smallish side and teams are now running at him.

With the safeties helping out to stop the deep ball to Julio Jones, this left the LB’s to cover the tight ends. That was a disaster. With Matt Ryan getting time, the Raiders LB’s were overwhelmed. The play action passes opened up the Atlanta offense by fooling the DB’s and LB’s.   Add the good running for Atlanta and the Raiders were on their heels all day. Malcolm Smith struggled as well and Cory James was of little help when he came in for Heeney.

Grade D-

The LB’s right now just aren’t good.

Defensive Backs:

Raiders 1st round pick Karl Joseph was a popular topic in the local media last week. The Raiders coaches tapped dance around the questions but the vibes are that they are bringing Joseph around slowly and that he still has a lot to learn. They are excited about his future but right now he’s going to play mostly special teams.

David Amerson played fairly well but Sean Smith and Reggie Nelson looked awful. Talking to Tim Kawakami, Jack Del Rio also wasn’t really happy with the soft coverage of DJ Hayden late in the game.

Reggie Nelson was responsible for helping keep Julio Jones deep routes in check. You won’t find these in the stat sheet but Nelson was out of position often. On the slant to Jones TD, Smith was looking for Nelson to help in the middle and Nelson was way wide. On the long pass Nelson let Jones get behind him and he took a bad angle to the ball.   Angles are huge for safeties and Nelson seemed very out of sink. Both are also too passive. Smith just lets WR come off the ball without any effort to be physical with them. He and Nelson seem very passive out there.

Smith was a nice player for Miami but he really got his reputation at Kansas City which allowed him to get a big money deal with Oakland. In the 3 years that he was at Kansas City, the Chiefs were at least a top 6 team in defensive sacks. You wonder how much the great pass rush of the Chiefs attributed to Smiths play and reputation.

Grade F  

The pass rush has to wake up or this group is toast. Joseph isn’t ready to play yet. The Raiders need to try something new like bring in TJ Carrie to play a corner position or have him play safety along with Keith McGill. They need to try something because this is ugly.

Coaching:

Some fans hated the Raiders going for it on 4th and 2 but I think it was the right thing to do.   The play call though was bad. If they did a play action pass and throw a quick out to Crabtree or Cooper, they get an easy first down. The Falcons DB’s were so leery of the deep ball they we’re even playing off the WR at the goal line.

If I’m Bill Musgrave I realize what Don Shula did when Dan Marino was his QB. The Dolphins defense sucked but they had a great offense.   Use it. To win you have to outscore the opponent. To score 28 points against a bad Falcons defense isn’t enough. The Raiders need to come out no huddle at the start of the game and play like it’s their last drive of the season. The Raiders don’t seem to open things up or play with urgency until they have to. They have to get a killer instinct. Teams are taking away the deep ball, so nickel and dime them to death. The Raiders did that today but another slow start hurt them.

Ken Norton is taking a lot of flack but if you go back and watch the game, on many of the big plays for the Falcons, the Raiders rushed 5–6 guys. Fans are fickle. If the team does well the players get all the credit. If the team isn’t doing well, blame the coaches.   I don’t know if it’s hero worship or whatever but it’s the way it is. There comes a time though when Irvin, Mack, Smith and Nelson have to earn their money. Right now they aren’t.

Grade C+

Personally I think the Raiders should be aggressive to start the game and create an up tempo to overwhelm teams. Jack Del Rio may call the defensive plays next week but unless he can play LB and Willie Brown and George Atkinson can find a time machine, this defense is in trouble.

Special Teams:

The long punt return resulted in a field goal for the Falcons. Taiwan Jones allowing the ball to bounce off of him on a kickoff resulted in terrible field position. Janikowski missed a 58 yd field goal but it’s hard to get on him for that.

Grade C+

Marquette King is really punting well. The punt return defense struggled on 2 returns and the Raiders return game was not a factor.

Conclusion:

However you slice it the Raiders should not lose to the Falcons at home. This is not a good defense.  The Raiders offense is going to have to be the key to their wins so they need to score as many points as humanly possible and be aggressive for 60 minutes.

I would be much more up tempo offensively, especially in the first half. Defensively the Raiders have to change things up. I’d bring in TJ Carrie to start at CB or Safety. Carrie has had his bad moments too and isnt going to fix this defense, but they have to try something. I’d also continue to be aggressive blitzing but I’d blitz the CB or safety more. The Raiders have to get to the QB to help the DB’s.  Defensive Linemen Dan Williams and Jelly Ellis are too good to ride the bench.

I still think the Raiders can get to 10-6 but they can’t lose games like this especially at home.   Next up is a very winnable game @ Tennessee. The schedule is fairly easy; but the travel isn’t.

“Raiders Win a Thriller; Grades, Atlanta, & What to do With The Defense”

 

raiders-saints
Michael Crabtree Catches Winning 2 point conversion versus The Saints in Sundays win

The Oakland Raiders scored 22 points in the 4th quarter; more points than they scored in 9 games last year; to defeat the New Orleans Saints 35-34 @ the Super Dome in a thriller.

The Raiders found out that they are gaining a winning attitude, a new running game and an excitement that is building. They also need to address why the defense gave up over 511 yards and got only 1 sack.

http://www.raiders.com/media-vault/videos/Cant-Miss-Play-Carr-finds-Crabtree-for-2-pt-conversion-to-take-lead-late/dfcdb276-fbf5-4321-8d88-f8d657e25125

Quarterback:

Derek Carr was sluggish in the first half but rebounded in the 4th quarter. A bad coaching decision by Saints DC and former Raider coach Dennis Allen helped open the door. With the Raiders down by 11 in the 4th quarter, Allen switched to a prevent defense.   The Raiders quickly went downfield and scored. Carr took full advantage of the coaching blunder.

In the entire game Carr called only 2 audibles. Fans ripping on OC Bill Musgrave can’t give Carr a pass because he’s the coach on the field. The Raiders offense in the first half was pretty basic.

In the 2nd half the Raiders smartly threw two quick passes to Michael Crabtree. Carr has a tendency to look to Amari Cooper deep way too much and he did a good job of moving the ball around to other players.

Grade: A

The Saints defense is awful so this isn’t exactly a Super Bowl win but Carr looked more over the middle and to his tight end more than he has in a long time.   They need to do it more and it was encouraging.

Offensive Line:

Carr goes as the offensive line goes. If Carr is rushed he struggles; if he has a lot of time he slices and dices defenses. Two more injuries yesterday coupled with 2 previous injuries and now the Raiders are scrambling for bodies.   They played their hearts out and were the players of the game. They just kept grinding. Carr had little pressure on him and they eventually wore out the porous Saints defense.   A group of mentally and physically tough players.

Grade: A

Great game that should set the tone for the rest of the year.

Running Backs:

As I wrote previously, the Raiders DO NOT have a franchise RB but if you add all of them together, they do have one. The Raiders did not rely on Latavius Murray who was only 15th in yards per game in the NFL in rushing last year (even though he lead the league in % of carries by a RB for a team). It proved he’s not an elite back but he has his moments. Jalen Richard’s 75 yard TD run through a nice hole showed how important the run game is in the NFL even during this passing crazed times.   All the RB’s ran hard including Jamize Olawale who crashed into the end zone on a short run.  Three Rushing Touchdowns.  In my last article I was 100% spot on about the RB situation.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2016/09/01/murray-rbs-tight-end-musgrave-real-answers-to-raider-fans-questions/

Grade: A

Solid game; Bill Musgrave and Jack Del Rio finally have it out of their heads that Murray is a franchise back. He’s not; and they gave everyone a chance to run. Fresh legs look good against a tired defense.

Wide Receivers:

Carr throws way too much to Cooper sometimes and it was good to see them get Crabtree into the game in the second half with 2 quick short passes.   Carr needs to distribute to these guys more and not just looking deep to Cooper. Derek has a little Daryl Lamonica in him. The “Mad Bomber” also loved going deep. There were actually a few Clive Walford sightings which is a need against good teams.

Grade: A-

An excellent game by a talented group. Crabtree is healthy and looks like he did when he was a clutch player for the 49ers.   Other than one play, Walford looked great. Roberts and Coopers dropped balls but came back to help win the game. Still shaking my head at the Raiders and some fans that were happy Crabtree wasn’t drafted and said give DHB time. (OK I’m not over it yet).

Defensive Line:

With it so easy to pass the ball due to the ridiculous rules, you can’t win big in the NFL without a pass rush. It was exciting early when Bruce Irvin caused a turnover with a sack but after that, there was nothing. Irvin was near invisible the rest of the game. Khalil Mack made some tackles in the run game but he was no where near the QB.   This is a huge problem. Mack was a slow starter in his last 2 years so I’m not worried about him. But as I’ve said in the past, is Irvin the answer at the other end? Against the Saints, no. The only other edge rusher is rookie Shilique Calhoun. If only Aldon Smith could stay out of trouble.

Grade: D

When you give up over 511 yards of total offense in the pro’s, you had a very bad game. One sack and few pressures against a hall of fame QB doesn’t cut it. The Saints ran for 88 yards at 4 yards a carry as well.

Linebackers:

Again, as I previously wrote, this group is an issue. Ben Heeney struggled and I just don’t think he’s a starting LB. Malcolm Smith again wasn’t much better on running plays side stepping blocks instead of going through them. Making tackles 5-10 yards downfield isn’t good. He also was poor in pass defense.

Grade: D

This group struggled all day

Defensive Backs:

Sean Smith is making 10 million a year but it looked like money wasted as he was burned so often, coach Jack Del Rio benched him. Some fans tried to say he was hurt but Del Rio admitted he wasn’t.   Smith was beaten bad on 2 pass plays in the pre season and it’s carried over. He was not physical against the Saints. A CB with no confidence is a huge liability. DJ Hayden came in and gave up 2 TD’s, 2 pass interferences and was picked on often by Drew Brees. David Amerson was turned around on 2 plays and looked lost. One of the worst games for DB’s in a long time. The safeties were slow to react and also looked overwhelmed.

Grade: F

Cringe.

Special Teams:

The return game was nothing special but King and Janikowski played well. King had 2 great punts and one inside the 5.   Janikowski hit on 2 field goals and had a huge kickoff late in the game that helped fix the dumb celebration penalty by Crabtree. Coverage was good as well.

Grade: A-

The return game has to improve but this isn’t a bad unit.

Coaching:

The Raiders immediately got Crabtree into the game with 2 quick passes in the second half and that was great. They finally realize Murray isn’t Jim Brown and gave all of the RB’s the ball. Olawazale looked great in a TD run and Richard hit the hole hard and made a key 75 yard TD jaunt. They didn’t throw to the TE until 1 minute left in the first half. Walford needs to get 5-10 looks a game. You can beat bad teams without a TE but you have to have a balanced attack, something the Raiders did not have last year.

I didn’t like Jack Del Rio trolling ESPN on twitter giving himself props for his call to go for two. Some in the local press have said the Raiders have read too many headlines about how good they are and it’s gone to their heads and you wonder. The same people cheering how gutsy and great a call it was to go for two are the same ones that would have had pitch fork and torches in hand if the Raiders didn’t make it. It’s a long season coach.

Grade: A-

Excellent game; offensive line coach Mike Tice motivated the OL through a little turmoil and adversity and every coach seemed to have a good game.

Outlook:

I know the Saints aren’t a good team but this is a big win. The Raiders have 4 fairly easy games to start the season and they have to go 3-1 at least. In the last 8 games the Raiders play the Colts, Panthers, Denver twice, and at Kansas City. Every game is key for the Raiders to get into the post season. The Falcons are up next. Their defense isn’t very good and their offense is alright. Julio Jones is going to be a problem defending so look for lots of double teams against their star WR.

How to Fix the Defense:

Drew Brees is a master at handling a pass rush but it was still apparent that the Raiders did not get much pressure on him. I said it when the Raiders got him. Irvin has never shown himself to be an elite pass rusher; just an ok one. I’m not sold on him.

I still would love to see Dan Williams and Jelly Ellis play together.   Play more 4-3. If you don’t have the talent at LB you DON’T play a 3-4.   You play a 3-4 when you have fast playmaking LB’s. The Raiders don’t have that.

The Raiders played straight up yesterday and it didn’t work. They need to get way more aggressive, something Jack Del Rio isn’t a huge fan of. They need to blitz much more. Be creative and bring a safety or CB once in a while. Heeney and Smith are good blitzers and they HAVE to get pressure on the QB to hide their weaknesses in coverage.

This defense is no where near a great defense and isn’t a Super Bowl defense.   You can’t blame this on coaching either. The players are in the right position, they are just a step late or are just getting burned.

The Raiders can get away with a win yesterday against a bad team but against the elite ones they will need to play a lot better.

Next Game:

Atlanta Falcons (0-1) @ 1:25 pm on Sunday, September 18 @ Oakland

I see a big win for the Raiders at home against another team that isn’t very good, the Falcons. Nothing is for sure though and the injuries on the offensive line are a worry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Real Answers to Raider Fans Questions; Murray, LB’s, Tight End, Musgrave;”

derek carr

 

Raiders Final 2015 Stats:

2015 Offensive Stats:

17th in points per game (22.4)

28th in rushing offense 91.1 yards per game

16th passing offense yards per game 242.4

24th total yards per game

 

2015 Defensive Stats:

22nd yds per game 363.6

12th 104.9 rushing yards per game

26th 258.8 yds per game passing

 

It changed everything.

When the NFL administered the salary cap, it was for 2 reasons.  To limit salaries and spending on teams and to create parity.  Both occurred.

Some fans are predicting Super Bowls every year for their teams; others predict doom and gloom.  The reality is that EVERY NFL team has a weakness.  This isn’t the 70’s where super teams with few to no weaknesses played.  This is an era where the 2 Super Bowl teams have many questions to answer.  Carolina now doesn’t play the 27th hardest schedule in the NFL and their offensive line was exposed; and Denver’s QB and offense is a mess.

With that said, fans of the Oakland Raiders should be wary of the weaknesses, but also not scream the sky is falling.  In reality every team has issues.  Let’s take a closer look at the Raiders.

Latavius Murray:

In my opinion Murray is a RB by committee player. He’s not the work horse that the Raiders envision him to be.  I like the Raiders loyalty but this is business.  Murray should get 10-15 carries a game and then others should get their touches.

The Raiders have enough Running Back talent to win in the NFL and to be honest, thrive. The question will be will the Raiders use their RB’s properly.  Murray will look great in one game and very ordinary in another. He plays smaller than his size and he goes down too easily at times. In some games he flat out disappears. Giving him the reigns is a mistake. I would start him but play him a lot like Denver or New England plays their RB’s. The Patriots never have had a great starting RB the last 10 years but their RB’s play a role and they do it well. You go with the hot hand.

Marcel Reece & Jamize Olawale need to get carries. Both are too talented not to get touches. Again, I’m not a big Bill Musgrave fan and I have doubts he can do that. He’s a very vanilla offensive coach.

The change of pace guy who the NFL experts said was too small is former Texas Tech star Deandre Washington. At 5’ 8” 213 lbs., he is a wrecking ball with speed. Most Californians are really not that much into college football but he was the go to man at Texas Tech who’s amazing offense has been near the top of college football for about 10 years now. He can catch the ball and run with quickness and authority. He was a steal of a pick in the 5th round. He isn’t a very good blocker in the passing game and that is a big negative though.

I would use him like San Diego and New Orleans used Darren Sproles. A great weapon in the passing game who gets at least 10-15 carries a game.

Jalen Richard has some Raider fans giddy, but in reality he was never even a full time RB in college at Southern Mississippi.  He shared the role but he played well.  He’s shown flashes and looks like he’ll make the team but the “plays like Barry Sanders” stuff?  His speed is hard to ignore.  Wow.

The Raiders have talent at RB, but the question is will they use it.   If they rely mostly on Latavius Murray at RB, the grumbling in Oakland will and should be loud.

Linebackers:

As I said in my preview last year, the linebackers on the Raiders have strengths but each has a weakness. Ben Heeney is not big and he’s also not fast. In college he struggled at times in the passing game.  I think he’ll have his moments but he also will struggle at times. I think he’d be great off the bench but not as a starter.

Malcolm Smith is the opposite. He is solid against the pass; can rush the passer at times; but he’s not a good run stopper. As Matt Millen talked about in a couple of the Raider games, he side steps blocks instead of taking them on and shedding them.

Free Agent Bruce Irvin is pretty good against the run; not great; and not bad in pass coverage; his strength is rushing the passer and making plays.   Something the Raiders want him to do more of. He’s a nice pass rusher but there is still a question whether he can be an elite one which is needed.

In reality the Raiders don’t have that stud middle linebacker; or linebacker for that matter; on this roster that can dominate 1st or 2nd down running plays. The fact is at times the Raiders are going to struggle stopping the run. That’s a problem because then safeties have to make more tackles and they get beat up. The Raiders safeties last year took a beating. With quality defensive linemen, using a 4-3 lineup on obvious running downs may help. Blitzes will also help.

Bill Musgrave/Tight Ends:

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/who-is-bill-musgrave-the-raiders-hire-a-new-offensive-coordinator/

Above was my article when Bill Musgrave was hired. A hire that I’m still a little puzzled about.

Last year before the Minnesota Vikings game in week 8, the Raiders averaged 26.6 points a game. After the Vikings game they averaged 18.2 points a game.

The reason was that Minnesota took away the long pass and played their safeties deep. It’s called a bunch of names; cover 2; Tampa 2, etc…. When they took away the long ball Carr struggled in the medium passing game and so did offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave.

Matt Millen said a couple of times during pre season that Coach Jack Del Rio wants Carr to be a better QB at the line of scrimmage.  What he meant by that is that he needs to start calling audibles much more than he does.   Teams on 1st down would bring a safety near the line of scrimmage.  Instead of changing the play at the line of scrimmage, Carr would often go with the play and the Raiders running game struggled.  You can’t blame the offensive line when the defense is expecting it and you don’t change the play.  

What bothered me a lot with the Raiders offense in the second half of the season, is that Musgrave made no adjustments. Mychal Rivera and Clive Walford played a very minor role in the offense. If the Raiders want to get to the next level, they have to get a mid range passing game to exploit the middle when people play 2 deep. They also have to use audibles and play action passes on first down.

I don’t even know if Tom Brady can throw past 40 yards but he and Drew Brees are masters at the mid range passing game. In fact if you look at the top 12 passing teams in the NFL last year, 7 of them had top 12 tight ends. And that doesn’t include Green Bay’s Richard Rodgers and the Chiefs Brad Kelce who were top 12 tight ends but were on more balanced offenses who weren’t top 12 passing teams.

The Raiders can beat most of the bad to good teams without much of a mid range passing game but against the elite defenses in the NFL they will struggle at times. Musgrave must find a way to make the Raiders offense more balanced.

Even in the last pre season game against Tennessee. The Raiders didn’t even throw to the TE until the last minute of the half when Derek Carr missed Clive Walford. The Raiders tight ends could dominate in the red zone if they throw to them.  Walford especially is too talented to waste.

Derek Carr/Bill Musgrave:

With Carr’s talent and this quality offensive line, Derek will have lots of time to throw and should have a great year. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have things to work on.  If you look at the Raiders stats from last year, they have a ways to go to be elite.

Derek Carr is a lot like Carson Palmer. If you give him time to throw and he can set his feet, he’s very accurate and can tear you apart. If   you rush him you can rattle him.   Protecting him is key.

In the first 8 games Carr threw 19 TD’s and had 4 interceptions. In the last 8 games, he threw 13 TD’s and had 9 interceptions. Teams began to realize how often Carr looked at his outside WR for significant gains and attempted to take them away. Teams also blitzed constantly. In the second half of the Kansas City game, the Chiefs blitzed on every play from the middle of the third quarter on. Denver also blitzed on any 3rd down. There were no adjustments in the game plans by Musgrave and only rare audibles by Carr.

The next time you watch a Raider game look at the offense. Most passes are on the sidelines and they do not use the middle of the field much. For quality passing teams like the Patriots, Saints, Chargers, Panthers and others, the middle of the field are key components against teams with great DB’s and a solid pass rush.

Cam Newton and the Panthers had an amazing year last year and his leading WR was his tight end Greg Olsen who caught 33 more passes than any other pass catcher on Carolina’s top ranked offense. Many couldn’t name a starting WR for the Panthers.

You can’t get on Musgrave without getting on Carr who is the coach on the field.   It will be interesting to see how they grow together.

Jims Jamz:

I’m excited about this year for the Raiders. Every team has weaknesses and it’s important to keep it in perspective.  The Raiders travel is hard but their schedule is fairly easy playing some very bad defenses.  They should excel to a 10-6 record but in reality this isn’t a Super Bowl caliber defense, and the Raiders need to get more balance on offense.  Nothing is for sure in the NFL though.

With social media, the highs and lows of fans should be a reality show in itself.  Coaches and seasoned fans though know that the NFL season is a marathon.  Mostly skill, part coaching, mixed in with a little luck with a lot of patience in between.  But if you think this team is filled with holes, or if you think they are reinventing football and their offense is amazing, I think you need to change lanes.  Stop stressing and get out of the fast and slow lane and put yourself on cruise control.  This should be a fun ride and with so many losing seasons, that is a great improvement. 

 

 

 

 

 

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