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“Why Jim Harbaugh Said no to the NFL & the Raiders, & the Good & Bad Choices for Oaklands Next Head Coach”

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Now with reports pretty much stating that Jim Harbaugh is moving to Ann Arbor Michigan to coach the Wolverines, who are some of the good and bad choices for the Oakland Raiders head coaching position.  Before we get into that, what the heck happened to Jim Harbaugh?

Why did Harbaugh Not pick the Raiders?

Contrary to what Michigan fans will say, Harbaugh is pretty much taking a step backwards for more money. Why would he do that when a Superbowl is so important to him?

Take it for what you will, but rumors are leaking in the local media that the main issue with Harbaugh is that he was sick of the behavior of the NFL players. He wanted full control over discipline and the 49ers told him no.   Last year in an interview Harbaugh ripped into Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks because they had so many issues with PED suspensions and off the field matters. Unfortunately during this year, the 49ers had several arrests and problems that occurred and Harbaugh was confronted with his statements.   He was embarrassed by the arrests and off the field issues the 49er players were having and when the 49ers didnt’ comment at times or just let things go, Harbaugh was the one that had to answer for the behavior and lack of discipline and it made him look like a hypocrite. It made him look very bad and he didn’t like it.   In a local interview he once said that he would never allow anyone that committed domestic violence to be on his team.

In the psycho world of college football; at Michigan; he will be worshipped and paid and given anything that he wants and he will get to work less hours. To think though that he wont be back into the NFL in 3-4 years would be naive.  For the control freak Harbaugh, he will have all the control he wants.  And to be honest, it’s hard to blame him.

Retreads v.s. Young hungry Coordinators:

Years ago before he took the New Orleans Saints job, I wanted Dallas assistant head coach Sean Payton to be the Oakland coach. The Raiders interviewed him and Bill Parcells raved about him but they didn’t hire him. Many Raider fans and media didn’t want him because they said he had no experience.   Unfortunately hiring coaches with experience losing usually leads to one thing; losing. Sean Payton now has a Superbowl ring and the Raiders in 12 years are 57-135 which is the worst losing stretch in 124 years.

I also love when people say, “the Raiders need someone with post season success and experience”.  Well then bring up some names.  Gruden, Cowher, and other analysts are not leaving million dollar jobs where they barely have to work so they can work 20 hour days and never see their loved ones.  Mike Holmgren is talking about the great times with his grand children so thinking a soon to be 67 year old who hasn’t coached since 2008 and had a disastrous front office stint in 2010-12 with the Browns is going to hop up out of bed and be the head coach or full time GM for an NFL team is naive.  Holmgren does like attention and seems to always like to put his name in the NFL rumor mill like Gruden, but it’s nothing more than that.  I see him possibly being a consultant for some time but even then I don’t see him doing anything full time.  It’s easy to want something but you need to be realistic.

 With Harbaugh gone; these are my 4 best candidates to be the Raiders next head coach.

  1. Todd Bowles Defensive Coordinator, Arizona Cardinals; Bowles is an organized no nonsense guy, who is a great teacher and developer of the defensive front 7. He has the formula to win in the NFL; stop the run and rush the passer. Even with so many injuries this year, Arizona lead the very tough NFC west for most of the year, and their defense again lead the way. The 49ers are already trying to interview him. Maybe he will convince the Raiders to stop drafting so many busts at DB in the first and second round over the last 12 years and concentrate on the front 7.
  1. Dan Quinn Defensive Coordinator, Seattle Seahawks.   Reports are that he”s leaning towards the Jets because he’s from there. He’s another tough minded no nonsense guy who isn’t the flashy Rex Ryan type and doesnt’ like the limelight, but man can he coach. Even with many players leaving Seattle, they now are healthy and dominating on defense like they were last year. He’s an ultra aggressive coach who likes when the quarterback is on the ground. Seattle always is hard to run on as well and he’s very well respected by everyone.   They play an intimidating style that makes the defensive fans from the 70’s drool with excitement.
  1. Ray Horton (My sleeper pick); Defensive Coordinator, Cleveland Browns.   How that defense survives with that terrible offense is beyond me. The Cleveland 3 and outs. Horton has an uncanny knack for evaluating talent and is a great builder of defenses.   Another tough minded guy who is ultra aggressive. He was a finalist last year for the Arizona job which shows how much people think of him.   He’s a diamond in the rough but with Cleveland’s pathetic offense and ownership, he’s not getting the credit he deserves.
  1. Darrell Bevell: Offensive Coordinator, Seattle. Bevell is more laid back than the other 3 but he was the one that talked Pete Carroll into drafting Russell Wilson. When ESPN ripped on Seattle for picking Wilson, Carroll joked and said, “don’t look at me, he’s the Bevell project”.   Bevell changed the offense twice for Wilson the last two years after Golden Tate and others left the team.   He loves the power running game with a mix in of passing variations. He’s a good play caller and Wilson gives Bevell a lot of credit in regards to his development. Derek Carr could do a lot worse than have him as his head coach.

My worries are that the Raiders will do what they do many times in this situation. They will take forever to make a decision. Paralysis by analysis. The 49ers are already setting up interviews as we speak (or as we read). .

Coaches NOT to consider.

I still dont understand why fans would want a coach that is losing in one place and then think all of a sudden they are going to do great things at another place.  I mean if you have Tom Brady I can understand it, but that is rare.  Losing coaches usually do one thing again.  They lose.  This is a list of those coaches that the Raiders need to avoid.

  1. Rex Ryan, former NY Jets coach: A legend in his own mind that would love to do a movie on himself. He loves the sound of his own voice and at times is more of a snake oil salesman than a head coach. Fans love him because he tells them what they want to hear but they just aren’t listening anymore.  The once darling of the New York media, he is now getting hung by the same people.  As a coordinator out of the limelight he’s very good. As a head coach in 6 years he has only 2 winning seasons and in the last 4 years he’s only 28-38. He’s not a head coach, plus he’s a pain.  His offenses rarely impress and even in his first 2 years they weren’t juggernauts. The Jets get worse the longer he coaches.  Bad sign.
  1. Tony Sporano; present Oakland Raiders coach; I’m not going to get mad. Let’s just say he’s not a good head coach. The Raiders were outscored in their last 3 road games 130-27 and in their last 4 road games they averaged 8 points a game. He was fired at Miami for a reason and his ultra conservative nature is downright annoying. Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler would tell him to open things up he’s so conservative.   And if I have to see him and Greg Olsen on the sidelines any more it may be too much to take. He’s a good football guy; seems like a good person, but he is not a good head coach.  No coach is getting fired from a job to be an offensive line coach so he isn’t staying.
  1. Mike Smith, former Atlanta Hawks coach:

He didn’t seem to be that into the offensive side of the ball. The Atlanta Falcons clock management was awful during his tenure and his record the last two years was 10-22. Not all of it is his fault. I think Matt Ryan is overrated; but Atlanta has become a train wreck with a lack of discipline and mental errors and that has to be put partly on Mike Smith. Some of his clock managements screw ups are of legend in Atlanta.  No

  1. Doug Marrone, present Buffalo Bills head coach:

This would be a waste of time.  He’s a good option but not great so I’d pass.  ESPN put up a story that Bills coach Doug Marrone has a 3 day window where he can go to another NFL team so now some Raider fans have wondered about him coming to Oakland. Marrone has done a solid job at Buffalo and if you take away the defensive injuries the last 2 weeks, they arguably are a good quarterback away from being a top NFL team. Reports back east though say Marrone is not interested in leaving. I find it hard to see him leave a team with a lot of talent; especially with wide receiver Sammy Watkins and that great defense; and go to a team that has the worst DL in the NFL and can’t score. I think he stays in Buffalo so it is kind of a waste of time..

  1. Adam Gase, Offensive Coordinator, Denver Broncos:

The name Adam Gase is beginning to be thrown around the ESPN rumor mill as a possible new head coach in the NFL. Remember whatever some of the experts say to do; just do the opposite.

In 2000 Adam Gase was a graduate assistant at LSU. That means he was pretty much a volunteer coach, which wasn’t that long ago. In his entire life he’s been an offensive coordinator for a year and a half.   He’s an OC on an offense that has a control freak quarterback in Peyton Manning who pretty much runs the offense.   He is throwing behind a really good offensive line and maybe throws to the best group of receivers in the NFL where Wes Welker finds it hard to get playing time. If anyone thinks Adam Gase is the architect for the Denver offense and would be a good head coach then I’ve got a big Orange bridge in San Francisco I want to sell you; real cheap.

  1. Jack Del Rio, Defensive Coordinator, Denver Broncos:

He’s a local boy from the bay area. He is beginning to be a popular choice for the Raiders job recently.   I’m not a huge Jack Del Rio Fan.   I think he did an alright job at Jacksonville but he had issues too. I like him as a defensive coordinator but as a head coach, there are much better options. His career record as a head coach is 68-71 and in 9 years the Jags only had 3 winning seasons. On the positive, for the most part most of the years he coached the Jacksonville defenses were fairly good but his teams always seemed to struggle offensively over the course of a season. He went to the playoffs twice in 9 years and was 1-2.  I think he’s another one of the well liked ex-players who always seems to be talked about as a head coach because of his popularity..

History of Bad Coaching Decisions by Oakland: Looking back, part of the Raiders issues when hiring a coach was control. Al Davis wanted nothing to do with a coach that wasn’t a yes man. That’s why he and Gruden eventually parted ways. Another problem is the Raiders wait too long to find a coach.   Again; Paralysis by analysis.

What has happened in the past with the Raiders is that they take their time; sometimes a very long time; to pick a coach and in today’s NFL that is a huge mistake.   Usually all of the good coaching prospects are hired fairly quickly, and they are left with retreads or young assistants with no clue to what is going on. Many also have not paid their dues through the assistant ranks and they really are in over their heads when they get hired as head coaches.

If Oakland takes too long, they will end up with another Norv Turner or Dennis Allen type and this time next year they will again be looking for a coaching option. Time is of the essence if the Oakland Raiders are going to rebuild this franchise and they need to take a chance on an up and coming assistant who have paid their dues in the NFL.  The NFL is a better place when the Raiders are doing well.  And to be honest I am tired of writing about all of the losing the Raiders have been doing over the last 12  years.  Happy Raider fans are more fun than angry and depressed ones.

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“The Truth About Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49er Fan Violence”

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“The Truth About Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49er Fan Violence”

In 2011 the Raiders played the 49ers in an exhibition game at Candlestick Park.  It was one of the most violent football games in a long time.  Not from player violence, but from fan violence.  There were shootings, stabbings and several arrests.  The violence was so shocking that the NFL talked about ending the Raiders/49ers pre season games.

Let me see if I can put this delicately.  First off, ANY fan that goes to any sporting event and fights is a TOTAL loser.  You should be jailed, and your kids, parents and grand parents should have to see video of what a drunken idiot you are.  You should have to work at a homeless shelter for 1000 hours and that is after your jail time.  You should have to wear a sign that says, “I’m a violent tool that can’t control themselves”.  Was that nice enough?

Second of all I’m sick of the San Francisco media including the SF Gate, the San Francisco Chronicle, and KNBR acting like the 49er fans are these artsy laid back pot smoking hippies that wouldn’t hurt a fly.  You get more real news from Youtube than you get from the San Francisco media who have made hiding Giants and 49ers violence an art form.  If I hear Gary Radnich of KNBR call the San Francisco fans sophisticated one more time I’ll throw up.  Some of the most violent and slimy people that have ever fought at a football game are 49er fans.  Youtube should have their own channel for them.

Local NBC bay area did a great story on the truth about fan violence in the bay area.  Even with a higher socioeconomic type of fan base at Levi’s Stadium, the Santa Clara police department reported that there were 25 arrests per game at Levi’s stadium in the first part of the season.  In contrast, the Oakland Raiders were reported to have only 12 arrests per game.

Now I’m not a mindless homer, and I’m not naive.  Some Raider fans are far from angels.  The Raider fans violence really took off in the days in Los Angeles.  The fights among L.A. Raider fans and opponents were of legend.  So many pathetic idiots committed violent assaults because someone didn’t like their team.  There were stabbings in the Los Angeles Coliseum and @ San Diego games as well as occasional shootings outside the stadium.  In Oakland before the move, the Raider fans could be nasty but they weren’t this violent.  You didn’t see fights every game or craziness.  The fans were loud, abrasive, and vulgar, but they weren’t Mike Tyson on roid rage.

What bothers me even more is what cowards these fighters are.  ALL of the videos that I saw online; and I watched about 30 of them; had one side outnumber or outsize the other one.  Most punches were thrown by losers hitting people from behind or the side or in situations where they outnumber the people they were fighting.  Wow, that kind of “courage” is pathetic.  And these people have or will have kids?  This type of parental guidance we don’t need.  No wonder America is so screwed up.

Our society is a mess right now.  Violence and vulgarity is the norm and many think it’s cool.  I just watched a 10 minute video of about 10 female 49er fans fighting 2 female Raider fans.  Stay classy.

Whenever I think of sporting fan violence I think of Bryan Stow who had his life ruined because of 2 thugs looking for trouble at Dodger stadium.  Or what about the 49er fan who was beaten by two pathetic losers in a bathroom because of a nudge?  His injuries are permanent.  His life is changed forever because of two nobody thugs.  There are dozens more experiences out there that are forgotten about quickly.

We are violent and out of control and right and wrong has little meaning anymore to many.  Social media has exposed our society as shallow, insecure, hyper sensitive and ready to rip on someone or attack someone in a second.  People don’t care about truth anymore, they care about their biased opinion and perspective.

The same people that are committing violence are also the same ones that I’m sure rip on Ray Rice and are outraged by Ferguson.  Their standards for the players and others are much higher than themselves.

This IS A GAME PEOPLE.  People are dying of deadly diseases.  Children are suffering from terrible cancers.  Big business corruption is running rampant.  Colleges are getting rich off of raising tuitions to ridiculous levels while lining their pockets.  There are school and mass shootings, sexual assaults and rapes, and so many other tragic things to be outraged about.  Yet some fans feel passionate enough about their team to get sloppy drunk and fight? Lol wow.  Use that passion and buy some toys for a children’s hospital or donate to a homeless shelter instead.

I’m so sick of fans bragging about how awesome of fans they are.  Insulting people or fighting isn’t what being a good fan is.  This isn’t high school.  There are lots of good fans but please stop being so naive.  If you were broke and needed your bills paid, none of the players or owners would help you.  They wouldn’t cross the street to shake your hand and if you were sick they wouldn’t be making you soup and getting you medicine while you are whining about how you don’t feel good.  This is a game.  Be passionate about your team and have fun with it but stop acting like your life depends on it.

To all fans that can’t hold your liquor and get into fights and bully people, I wish terrible evil karma on you.  To any fan that witnesses these types of situations; call security and make sure these scumbags go to jail.  It’s time to make a change.

“What the Raiders Should Do About the Good & Bad of Derek Carr”

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“What the Raiders Should Do About the Good & Bad of Derek Carr”

The Oakland Raiders have a lot of problems.  Their defense is not good and they are last in sacks and they have trouble stopping the run.  The offense is so vanilla some fans can call the plays before they happen.  The Raiders lack long ball threats and the ones they have they platoon.  You can’t blame all of their problems on one player or one key thing.  The way to turn a team around quick though is to have a quarterback that is really on his game.  The question is how can they get Carr to step up and be that player.

I just watched the end of the San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens game.  San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers had an amazing series which ended up being the game winning touchdown.

Rivers was blitzed by the Ravens on almost every play.  He barely had time to breathe let alone throw.  He handled it very well.  He threw the ball away 3 times, and then passed for quick hitters to wide receiver Keenan Allen and it was very impressive.

Right now that is the difference between a Phillip Rivers and a Derek Carr.  Carr can’t handle a pass rush.  Experience does matter of course, but ask the 49er fans how they feel about the lack of improvement with Colin Kaepernick.

Part of the blame goes to the NFL.  They have a cookie cutter for an NFL quarterback.  They want the QB to be tall and have a rocket for an arm.  If you have those qualities, you will get lots of chances to play in the NFL.

The problem is the NFL is full of tall quarterbacks who have rocket arms, but have average to bad quarterback skills.  Does anyone see RGIII, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton or Jay Cutler holding up a Lombardi Trophy any time soon?  Yet some of these players are making staggering amounts of money.

I’m different in my evaluation of quarterbacks.  I think the most important qualities in a quarterback are:

  1. Accuracy
  2. Can handle a rush/pocket awareness & footwork
  3. Can read a defense
  4. Good arm

Some say give him time, but time alone doesn’t make a player better.  There comes a time when the player has to take responsibility.

In college, Carr looked great when there was no one rushing him, but he struggled mightily when he was rushed.  So often did he hurry his throws, not step to the side to avoid a rush, and/or miss a wide open player while throwing to a covered wide receiver.  So far in his first year, Carr hasn’t improved in this area.  When he’s blitzed instead of getting the ball off quickly, he often back peddles which limits his lateral agility and can cause sacks or bad throws off his back foot.  He also seems to panic and sometimes throws to the wrong outlet man because he made the wrong read.  It’s what separates the Tom Brady’s from the Jay Cutlers.

Teams now know that if they stop the Raiders running game, for the most part the Raiders are toast.  The play calling would make Woody Hayes roll over in his grave because even he would think it’s too conservative.  The Raiders have thrown less passes downfield than any other team in the NFL; and it’s not close.  This includes Mr. Safe himself, Alex Smith of Kansas City who may lead the league in 1-2 yard check down passes.

What good is it to have a strong armed quarterback if you won’t throw downfield?  The Raiders almost always run off tackle on first down and their play calling is so predictable it sometimes looks like the opponent’s defense is calling the plays.  Going into a jumbo short yardage package and then emptying the backfield and pretty much telling your opponent that you are going to pass the ball would make Rod Serling wonder what the heck was going on.

What should the Raiders direction for Derek Carr be:

  1. How long do you give him? I think the Raiders should give him 2 more years.
  2. The key to Derek Carr’s future is improvement. He must show improvement in handling a rush, choosing the right outlets to throw to, and he needs to audible more and audible correctly.
  3. Derek Carr reminds me of a Brett Favre type. If I were the Raiders or Carr, I would have some talks and meetings with Favre to go over tape and to see where he can improve.  Favre was fast enough that he could make yards with his feet, but Carr’s footwork in the pocket is so bad at times he can’t run. If Carr can start making yards by running some, he will open things up and keep the defense honest.  I would also buddy up to Aaron Rodgers and get all the information that he will give them.  They are alike in style.
  4. Get an offensive minded coach in here that will be a good play caller and who will use the middle of the field. Slants are impossible to stop with today’s ridiculous NFL rules and the Raiders rarely do so.  Greg Olsen is just awful and they need an offensive coordinator that will work with Carr on how to react properly to pass rushes.  He has to learn how to throw the ball away instead of taking bad sacks and terrible chances with throws off his back foot.  You can’t scramble if you are back peddling.  It would be nice to not run off tackle on first down 95% of the time too.
  5. It’s obvious they have told him to not audible much, but they need to let him do it more. He needs to read the defense and then audible.  If there are 8 guys in the box you don’t run up the middle on first down.  You play action pass and go deep.

There is no guarantee Derek Carr is the answer in Oakland, but he has shown a good work ethic and a humbleness that usually is a great atmosphere for learning something.

He has a good arm, a good attitude, and has shown an accuracy when he throws on the run.

You will always have the lunatic fringe members who dub him a good quarterback or say he’s terrible and he needs to go now; but in reality he has potential and lots of room to grow.  Whether you want to admit it or not, the Raiders support Derek Carr and he’s going to be here for a while.  To what extent he will succeed remains to be seen.

“The Greatest Defensive Backfield of all time! The Oakland Raiders Soul Patrol”

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There will never be a defensive backfield like the Oakland Raiders Soul Patrol of the 1970’s ever again.  They were the most intimidating and greatest group of all time.

The 70’s will always be remembered as the greatest era for the NFL.  It’s the era when there were many great teams and great quarterbacks.  Without a salary cap some backups on the great teams could start elsewhere.  Defenses could do as they please with little to no protection for QB’s and WR’s.  Television helped make the Superbowl become a must see event.  Teams like the Raiders, Steelers, Dolphins, Chiefs, Cowboys and Vikings made this a decade of excellence.  The Steel Curtain, the No Name Defense, Doomsday, and the Purple People Eaters are all revered names in NFL lore.  When the Steelers met the Raiders in the mid 70’s, there were no less than 22 hall of fame coaches, owners, and players on the field at one time.  That will never happen again.

“There was nothing like them”, said HOF QB Fran Tarkenton about the Soul Patrol in a KNBR radio interview.  “In 1979 the NFL created the 5 yard chuck rule because of Atkinson, Tatum, Brown, Thomas and the Raiders.  Wide Receivers could not get off the line of scrimmage against them.  Atkinson and Tatum and the rest of the gang were so physical and strong that I’d have to wait and hope my guys could get open before I got killed”.

The wide receivers of the 70’s never get their due because their numbers weren’t the pinball numbers of today.  In today’s NFL, if you exhale near a receiver it is a penalty.  In the 1970’s it was literally survival of the fittest.  They had to worry about the great physical play of the era and you could not be a wide receiver unless you could go over the middle. I’ve seen pass interference penalties in today’s game where a defensive back literally brushed by a player.  The rules are so comical now that records are being broken almost weekly.  The 70’s on the other hand was an extremely brutal and tough era, and the most talented and toughest defensive backfield of them all was the Soul Patrol in Oakland.

Oakland the King of Professional Sports:

The center of the sporting world in the 70’s was Oakland California.  In 1975 a team lead by superstar Rick Barry silenced all the east coast and their writers by sweeping the Washington Bullets for the NBA title after writers practically laughed at their chances.  The Oakland A’s dynasty had an amazing 3 straight World Series Championships beating national league royalty in the Dodgers, Reds, and NY Mets.  And then oh by the way, for a 25 year stretch the Raiders were the winningest team in all of US sports with several division titles, and 3 superbowl wins.  No city ever had so many titles in such a short time.

The Soul Patrol embodied what the Oakland Raiders were all about.  They were tough, borderline dirty, intimidating and extremely confident.  Each member played their role in a defense that still today is revered.

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George Atkinson Jr.:  (“Butch” 6’ 0”; 180 lbs.)

There may have never been a tougher Raider than George Atkinson.  Listed as 6 feet 1 inch tall, many say it was more like 5’ 11” but no one had the guts to tell him that.

Atkinson was an intimidator that roamed the field like a lion ready to pounce.  He was the trash talker of the group often seen taunting and intimidating players that were much bigger than he was.  He once broke Russ Francis nose with a vicious forearm hit, and his hits against Lynn Swann of the Steelers are a part of NFL history.  He had blazing speed and in fact still holds the single game record for punt return yardage for the Raiders at 205 yards.

Atkinson took it very personally when someone tried to block him low.  He learned from Tatum to go after a Wide Receiver if they tried to hit their knees or ankles.  In some films you can actually see Raiders defensive backs going towards blockers to actually hit them after they tried to hit them low.  All time great Paul Warfield once said when you went over the middle against Oakland and didn’t account for Tatum and Atkinson, you would not be in the game long without being carried off the field.  Against the run, he could go through blockers and make amazingly hard tackles.  If you ran wide against the Raiders, their DB’s would make you pay.  Atkinson loved to make players pay.

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Willie Brown:  (6’ 1”; 195 lbs.)

Amazingly Hall of Famer Willie Brown was never drafted when he graduated from Grambling St.  He was signed by the Buffalo Bills who cut him and then he was picked up by the Denver Broncos.  He soon became an all star but was traded to the Raiders in 1967 where he played for the rest of his career.  Unlike the other 3 members of the soul patrol, Brown was fast, graceful and laid back.  He wasn’t a talker but a great defender who was a shut down corner. He had good size and played the run very well, but he was a master of the bump and run man to man game that the Raiders loved so much.  His famous interception in the Superbowl with the great announcer Bill King’s call of old man Willie is as famous as any highlight NFL films has.

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Skip Thomas CB (Dr. Death; 6’ 1”; 205 lb.):

In a day when cornerbacks were just as important in attacking the run as they did the pass, Skip “Dr. Death” Thomas role was to make everyone that came near him remember that he hit them.  What is funny is he was nicknamed Dr. Death by Raiders great Bob Brown who said Skip Thomas looked like the cartoon character Dr. Death.

Skip Thomas was a vicious tackler who was the king of the clothesline tackle.  Many times his padded arm was seen knocking the ball out of wide receivers hands.  When he hit people, sometimes he would actually launch his whole body and his arm swung like a Russian sickle.  It was intimidating, violent and sent the message to not come his way.  He had a two year stretch of 6 interceptions per year.  Due to the great talent of Willie Brown, teams would try to pick on Skip Thomas and usually the results were not good.

People forget that in the Super Bowl, Minnesota moved their fine wide receiver Sammy White around so that Thomas mostly guarded him in the first half.  White didn’t  catch a pass in the first half and Thomas was on him like glue.  As the great Raiders announcer Bill King once said, “the Raiders have 3 safeties when Dr. Death was playing cornerback”.

Sadly and ironically he passed away too soon in 2011 also at the age of 61, but he will always be remembered for his talent, toughness and personality as one of the great members of the Soul Patrol.

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Jack Tatum Safety (Assassin; 5’ 10”, 205 lb.):

If Atkinson was the voice of the Soul Patrol, Tatum was the heart.  Ronnie Lott called him his inspiration and the standard bearer for all NFL safeties.  John Clayton said there was never a harder hitting safety in the NFL.  Once during the Super Bowl break, the NFL Show with Cris Collinsworth and Chris Berman were discussing players that should be in the Hall of Fame, and to a man they all said the same name; Jack Tatum.

He may have been the most intimidating force in NFL history this side of Dick Butkus. John Madden said many times he was mentally saddled with the hit on Darryl Stingley which paralyzed Stingley for the rest of his life.  Many close to Tatum said he really never got over it up to his death in 2010 at the age of 61 due to complications from diabetes.

Earl Campbell said no one ever hit him harder than his touchdown run where he and Tatum hit head on.  Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton said he thought Tatum knocked Sammy White’s head off in the Superbowl hit that Tatum laid on him when the Raiders dominated the Minnesota Vikings.  Even his counterpart George Atkinson said once, “he hit a tough Denver TE Riley Odoms so hard it sounded like a gun shot.  Odoms was in agony and his eyes rolled back.  I thought he had killed him”.

I remember a story that Ahmad Rashad told.  He said that days before the Vikings were to play the Raiders in the Superbowl, Tatum had walked into a room where the Vikings were relaxing and playing cards.  Tatum walked into the room and into the closet and just stood there for a couple of minutes.  He then walked out of the closet and left.  Rashad said that not one Viking laughed or said a word until they saw Tatum walking out of the building.  Rashad said that it was a mind game of intimidation and he said it worked.  He said, “we laughed; we just made sure Tatum couldn’t hear us”.

Tatum was a linebacker playing safety.  He also was dominating against the run and would take on guards and tackles at any given notice.  Many game films show Tatum chasing blockers trying to hit them before the blockers would try to block him.  Tatum was vicious, fearless and ready to hit anyone.  He epitomized the great physical play of the day, and what the Raiders defense always tried to do; stop the run and make the quarterback go down, and go down hard. With a good pass rush, the Raiders defense was hard to beat as was seen in their dominance.  I would like to do an in depth article just on Jack alone in the future.

Jim’s Jamz:

With today’s rules there will never be hits and aggressive play like the Soul Patrol did.  Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers pretty much do as they please and the Soul Patrol would not be allowed to do what they did best; intimidate, make plays, and be legends.  In the most physical era, the Soul Patrol was like a pack of wolves ready to take down any sized prey.  They remain the greatest defensive backfield of all time.

“Oakland Raiders Final Grades v.s. Kansas City Chiefs”

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Final Oakland Raider Grades v.s. Kansas City Chiefs; Week 12:

(7-4)  Kansas City Chiefs  20

(1-10)  Oakland Raiders  24

First of all how about an A + for the energy and support of the crowd.  It was absolutely pouring down rain at times and the fans were so into the game.  If on earth there was ever a fan base that deserved this win, it was the Oakland Raider fans.  Wow!

Quarterback:

The conditions at times were awful with the rain, especially in the first half.  Derek Carr had his ups and downs but the thing that will be remembered is the last drive.  People wondered if he could make it happen in the clutch when he had to and they found out the answer.

The Raiders threw 6 of 8 times on first down in the first half, and it opened things up for the run.  Carr was off at times and still showed impatience, especially in the first half when he gave up on plays too early.  What was very encouraging though was his patience on the last touchdown pass to James Jones to win the game.  The offensive line gave great protection and it was a great play.  The crossing pattern is so hard to beat and I love it a lot over the popular fade.  Carr showed he has what it takes and is learning.

GRADE:  B

The last drive was great to see, showing that Carr can keep his cool and be patient enough to wait for his WR to get open.  This OL protects him well and it showed.  He only threw for 5.0 yards per catch AND was 18-35 for 179 yards though but hopefully those were somewhat due to the conditions.

Running Backs: 

Central Florida’s Latavius Murray was not even invited to the NFL combines even after a great career in college.  This shows how ridiculous the NFL combines are.  A healthy Murray was given the chance to shine last night and he did come through.  His two touchdown runs were decisive and the offensive line dominated the Chiefs at times.  Murray’s 90 yard run was a direct minded runner hitting a hole and having the speed to beat the defense.  Murray had a break out game but had to leave early due to a concussion.

Grade:  B+

The Raiders fans have been crying out for Murray to get a chance and he finally did.  The elitist NFL not even letting Murray be at the NFL combines shows why there are more hits than misses sometimes in the draft.  I loved Murray in college and I think he’s ready to make his mark in Oakland.

Offensive Line: 

The offensive line has been wrongly getting the blame for the running games failures.  The Raiders in the first half threw the ball 6 times on first down which in itself was a miracle.  It opened up things for the offense.  It made KC have to respect the pass on first down and helped the Raiders in the running game greatly.  Unfortunately they went back to their old ways after half time.  The Raiders announcers rightly called out the Raiders coaching staff in the second half for their predictability.  The coaching staff went back to the run in the 3rd quarter with 6 of 8 first downs being runs up the middle.  The Raiders struggled in the third quarter offensively and the correlation is not hard to see.

Grade:  B+

Some Raider fans and people in the media have wrongly gotten on this OL.  In the first half against the Chiefs when the Raiders passed so often on first down, it opened things up for the run because they now were not predictable.  Murray also helped them by being decisive and hitting the holes when they opened.  The Raiders protected Carr as usual giving up only one sack and this makes Derek Carr the second best protected qb in the NFL.

Wide Receivers: 

For people giving Carr passes acting like the Raiders have no talent at wide receiver, you need to get real.  James Jones is a solid red zone possession receiver and he proved his worth on the final drive.  Andre Holmes was targeted 10 times by Carr who was off on some of his passes.  Holmes ended up with a 5 catch performance and was a step out of bounds away from a big touchdown grab.  He’s proving that he can play in this league.  The Raiders coaches are still clueless not playing the ultra fast Brice Butler more.  Just not getting it.

GRADE:  B

The conditions were rough all night, especially in the first half.  When the Raiders receivers were needed though they came through and they were big when they needed to be.  The Raiders still need a fast #1 wide out but these guys have grit.

Defensive Line:

FINALLY a good game from the DL.  It wasn’t epic, but for how bad they’ve played this year it was a good thing to see and it changed the game.  They still only got 2 sacks with Mack being shut out for the 10th time in 11 games.  He’s just not a great pass rusher right now in his career and that is somewhat disappointing.

Grade:  B

They kept the Chiefs from having a 100 yard game but they did give up 4 yards a carry and only had 2 sacks.  Alex Smith is definitely not Johnny Unitas but it was still a nice showing.

Justin Tucks’ heads up play saved the Raiders after one of the dumbest celebrations ever, especially from a team that has no wins.  Tuck was disruptive and determined and it showed.

Linebackers:

If Khalil Mack burps, the media and some Raider fans say how awesome he does it.  He is totally over hyped.  I don’t deal with hype; I deal with facts.  Mack is not good at rushing the passer.  What he is good at is disrupting the run and making plays against the run.

While Khalil Mack was getting all of the publicity and credit even though for the 10th time he had no sacks and only 3 tackles; Sio Moore and Miles Burris were combining for 21 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack and one pass deflection.

The best linebacker on the Raiders by far is Sio Moore, not Khalil Mack.  When he is healthy, Moore is a game changer which was shown by his 9 first half tackles.  When he blitzed he put pressure on Smith and on the last drive had that key sack.

Grade A-

This unit is the strength of the defense and is carrying them.  Sio Moore is a stud, Mack is great against the run, and even with a missed tackle here and there, Burris has proven to be very valuable and makes plays.

Defensive Backs:

The Raiders defensive backs played well against the run.  They did struggle in the second half but when it counted they came through.  It wasn’t a world beating performance but it was a good showing on a rainy northern California night.  Charles Woodsen and Larry Asante played like this was the last game they’d ever play and were inspiring combining for 17 tackles.  Woodsen alone had 3 tackles for losses.

Grade B 

The Raiders safeties were all over the field at times.  Other than the really bad touchdown pass to Jamaal Charles, the Raiders DB’s played a good game for the most part even with struggling in the second half.

Coaching:

This should be a two part answer.  For the first half the Raiders coaching staff had their second best game of the season.  Six times they passed on first down and it opened up the offense and allowed them to not be predictable.  Kansas City didn’t know what was coming and the first half was dominated by the Raiders.  In the second half, Oakland ran 6 of 8 times up the middle and they struggled.  I also don’t understand why they empty the backfield on short yardage situations which tells the defense they are going to pass.  It makes no sense at all.

Grade B-

The coaches had a good first half but went back into a shell in the third quarter that helped Denver get back into the game.  I have no idea why they are so conservative when the Raiders have nothing to lose.  They finally started Murray and the results speak for themselves.

Special Teams:

Denarius Moore’s punt return fumble could have been much more costly than the 3 points it gave up.  It could have changed the momentum and the direction of the game.  Janikowski hit one field goal.  Marquette King had a good night but when it counted, he hit a low line drive that helped the Chiefs with a nice return.

Grade C+

The conditions played a role but it wasn’t a great day for the special teams.

Next Opponent:  @ St. Louis Rams (4-6; last game, win @ home against the Denver Broncos 22-7)

Outlook:

Next weeks game is usually not a good one for west coast teams traveling east.  The Raiders struggle mightily when they travel back east and with the Rams defense coming into their own, this will be a hard fought game.  Latavius Murray’s health will be in question and it will remain to be seen which team shows up in regards to the Raiders play calling; especially on first down.  This should be a low scoring close game.

“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.

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