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“After Week 1; What Are Each Team’s Chances in the AFC West; The Best Division in the NFL “

AFC_West

philip rivers
Philip Rivers calling an audible

San Diego Chargers:

WEAKNESSES: 

The Chargers should be improved and fun to watch, but I’m pretty shocked that so many in the media are so high on the Chargers this year.  They are definitely improved but for years they have had issues closing games.

4th Quarter Fails:

ESPN gave a shocking stat that said that the Chargers haven’t scored in a two minute drill in 22 games.  22 GAMES!  River’s is a good but not great QB and that is a very ugly stat.  Last year it was painful watching him and the Chargers struggle late in games.  In last years opener they were beating the Chiefs in Arrowhead 27-10 with 13 minutes to go in the game; and lost!  Closing games has haunted Rivers and the Chargers for a long time.

Run Defense: The Chargers were 23rd in rushing defense last year and they struggled again opening night giving up 140 yards on the ground.  They will need to control first and second down runs to allow for their pass rush to attack the QB on third down.

Lack of Depth: Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen HAVE to stay healthy.  Branden Oliver is a nice player but he’s no where near as good as Gordon, who is the answer to the Chargers running game.  Gordon can make plays catching or running with the ball and I really like him.  Wide Receiver Keenan Allen is one of the most underrated players in the game.  He brings an attitude and a confidence that is infectious and he is the backbone of the Chargers offense.  If either goes down, then the Chargers are in big trouble.

STRENGTHS:

Pass Rush: With Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, the Chargers have a legitimate pass rush duo that can stand up to any team in the NFL.  If the Chargers can stop the run on the early downs, they will have success on defense.  Ingram is fun to watch.

Playmakers: Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen are the real deal.  Gordon can do anything on the football field and he is as tough as nails.  Keenan Allen is the confidence and swagger that they need on offense.  With them in the game, the Chargers are a different team.  Mike Williams is still hurt, but Travis Benjamin is a speedster that spreads the field out.

Linebackers: I like their young linebackers too.  Jatavis Brown is a comer and at only 23, he is still learning the game.  Hayes Pullard III is 25 and he also has a lot of potential to be good.  Korey Toomer is 28 and plays with heart.  If the DL can keep guys off of them, these LB’s make plays.

PREDICTIONS:  8-8

If the Chargers were in the AFC South they would win the division. I think they have improved but they are in the toughest division in football.  They struggle finishing games and I see them near a .500 team this year.  It’s hard to see them winning on the road in the division but they will make most games pretty close.

alex smith
Alex Smith finding the open man against New England

Kansas City Chiefs:

WEAKNESSES:  Now before you get Super Bowl tickets Chiefs fans, let’s let the euphoria and overreaction to the opening day win in New England subside.  I do like them though and you always have that home field advantage.  New England has 3 Super Bowl wins after losing their opening game.

Alex Smith:  I said it when Alex Smith was doing great with the 49ers; he is an average to good QB but he will never win anything in the NFL.  So far I’m right.  Alex is the perfect QB for an Andy Reid team.  They are the Ichabod Crane’s of the NFL; play not to lose.  Smith’s 1-3 yard passes may work some in the regular season, but if you don’t take risks in the NFL, you don’t go far in the post season.

Age/Health:  Pass rushing stud Tamba Hali will be 34 this year and is already on the PUP list and will miss the first six games.  He has failed to even practice.  He’s admitted he pretty much has little to no cartilage in his knees which greatly limited him to only 2 games last year.  Chiefs fans will remember his torrid and long twitter rant on how upset he was that the Chiefs wouldn’t let him play last year.  Hali can’t have much left.  Safety Eric Berry is lost for the season and this really hurts this defense. Justin Houston’s health is always a concern.  After losing starter Spencer Ware, Kareem Hunt had a great opening day at RB and the hopes are that he is the answer.

STRENGTHS:

Justin Houston:  He finally seems healthy.  He played a great opening day game and if he stays healthy, watch out.  He’s great against the run and as a pass rusher and he’s a game changer.

Pass Rush:  Dee Ford was a pleasant surprise last year ending the season with 10 sacks with Houston and Tamba Hali physically limited.  The hopes are that they can get all three on the field at once in some passing downs.

Run Game: The Chiefs offensive line just keeps chugging along. Doesn’t matter who the running back is, they seem to get the job done on the ground and short passing game.

Playmakers: With WR Tyreek Hill, underrated Albert Wilson and TE Travis Kelce, Kansas City has a lot of weapons to throw to.

PREDICTION:  11-5

I’m not a fan of Alex Smith or Andy Reid but I do like this team. I know it’s crazy trusting a rookie QB, but if somehow Patrick Mahomes II takes over and plays well, then all bets are off.  He really throws a great long ball and accounted for 41 passing TD’s and 12 rushing TD’s his last year at Texas Tech.  Health on the DL will play a big role on where the Chiefs go.  I see them getting into the playoffs again and being a dangerous team that no one will want to play.

von miller
Von Miller celebrates another Bronco win

Denver Broncos

WEAKNESSES:

QB:  I don’t like ANY QB on the Denver roster.  Trevor Siemian is average and always is good for 1-2 bad mistakes a game.  I think they will struggle late in games holding leads and coming from behind.  Denver last year got conservative when they would be ahead when they should have went for the throat.  They have the worst QB’s in the AFC West in my humble opinion.

RB/injuries: This group has to stay healthy.  Jamaal Charles isn’t what he once was with the burst that was seen for years now gone.  CJ Anderson is solid but not great.  The hope is that injured RB Devontae Booker will be back in week 3 or 4.

Offense:  Denver was 21st in passing offense and 27th in rushing offense in 2016.  This defense isn’t what it once was and they won’t be able to carry a team with a struggling offense like they have in the past.

Defense/Health:

Derek Wolfe and Shane Ray have to stay healthy for Denver’s defense to be good.  Shane Ray is on IR and will play in week 8.  Denver was ranked 28th against the run last year and that doesn’t bode well against the likes of the Raiders and the Chiefs.

PREDICTION:  10-6

The Broncos defense is not the same one that won the Super Bowl.  They can still make plays and get after the QB but the dominant run defense is gone.  Offensively they are limited.  They could get away with it in the past with a great defense but those days are gone.  The Broncos should have a good year though. They have talent but they have key holes that will keep them from being an elite team and expose them at times offensively, and when they try to stop the run.

derek carr
Derek Carr looking for receivers

Oakland Raiders:

WEAKNESSES:

Defense, defense, defense: 

First off can the media finally be called out on crazy predictions?  Some were again very high on the Titans.  Not getting that.  Some have the Chargers in the Super Bowl and several have the Raiders going 10-6 or 9-7.

The Raiders defense played pretty well on opening day against a Titans team that isn’t going to wow anyone on offense.  In 2016 the Raiders were last in sacks and 26th in overall defense. The Raiders still have key holes at LB and DB and Karl Joseph still is struggling covering TE’s.  The Titans are so vanilla on offense that the announcers at times were telling the audience what the plays were going to be before the Titans hiked the ball.

Mario Edwards Jr. and Ed Vanderdoes had some good moments in week 1 but for the most part the Raiders pass rush wasn’t a big factor in the game.  Jihad Ward had a terrible first year and he must prove he belongs. The key to the season will be how well this group plays, especially the DL.

Bad Drafts & Signings Adding Up:

In the salary cap era all teams have weaknesses.  That’s why it’s so important to hit it big in the draft and in free agency.

NO ONE defended Reggie McKenzie more than I did when Raider fans were asking for his resignation.  After the 2014 draft all was forgiven and Raider fans said “In Reggie We trust”.  The Raiders failed picks and signings though are piling up.  There is DJ Hayden, Jihad Ward, Shalique Calhoun, Clive Walford, Connor Cook, Sio Moore and Tyler Wilson as fails. And if Edwards can’t stay healthy or excel, you have another swing and a miss.  In fact, take out the 2014 draft and the Raiders have had many more misses than hits.

Sean Smith and David Amerson signed big contracts and could not be cut because they would have combined for a $17.5 million cap hit if they were let go.  Remember Curtis Lofton, Nate Allen, Matt Schaub and LaMarr Woodley?  Reggie has done some good things but he’s had some big misses too.  The Raiders need to clean up these bad draft picks and signings and improve the defense and add depth.

STRENGTHS:

Offense, offense, offense.   The Raiders could beat teams like the Titans in their sleep.  It’s the teams that can score that they worry about.  They have a top 3 OL, the best depth at RB in the NFL, and one of the best group of WR’s in the NFL.  Add an excellent QB who usually get’s all day to throw and that spells success in the regular season.  In the post season though your defense is a huge reason for success.  Right now the Raiders do NOT have a championship defense but this offense will always keep the Raiders in every game.

PREDICTION: 12-4

Save the homer/hater stuff.  If I say good things about the Raiders, then non Raider fans lose their minds saying I’m a homer.  If I tell the truth about a Raider weakness then some Raider fans attack me.  When you use facts and tell the truth, it’s not as popular as being a homer or a hater.  My record speaks for itself.  If I was wrong all the time I would be embarrassed for 43,000 people to follow me on twitter.

The Raiders should go 7-2 or 8-1 in their first 9 games (obviously nothing is for sure).  The final 7 games though is a brutal stretch.  With their ability to score, that alone will win games.

If the Patriots don’t completely shut down Atlanta for most of the second half of the Super Bowl, then Brady doesn’t lead a comeback. Offense puts butts in the seats but defense wins championships.  Again, the Raiders don’t have a championship defense.

The Raiders will go as far as their DL and defense takes them.  I think they lose in the Championship game to either Pittsburgh or New England, but the hopes are that their defense will rise above and take them to the Super Bowl; but that is a big hope.

In a game where injuries, ego’s and even sheer luck can change outcomes, teams fortunes can change in an instant.  It’s nice though that the AFC West is back on top.  Now if only the teams would stop moving.

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“GRADES: Raiders Tweek Defensive Approach; Both Sides of the Ball Shine in Week 1 Win Against The Titans”

 

marshawn lynch

Final Oakland Raider Grades @ Tennessee Titans; Week 1:

Tennessee Titans: 16 (0-1)

Oakland Raiders: 26 (1-0)

The Raiders started the season well with a solid win against the Titans on the road.

The Raiders did a couple of small defensive changes in their approach to the Titans that seem to be lost in the media.  Let’s face it, these types of changes aren’t very exciting or dramatic, but they are noteworthy in this opening win for the Raiders.

derek carr

I’m still scratching my head how most sportsbooks had the Titans winning by 1-2 points.  The lack of respect in the early part of the season for the Raiders is puzzling.  Many have the Raiders going 10-6 or 9-7.

As far as Tennessee goes, I think they are an overrated team with an average to slightly above average QB.  They are in the worst division in the NFL and they just don’t have the DB’s, WR’s, or the identity that winning teams have.

girgio tavecchio week 1
Giorgio Tavecchio is all smiles after hitting a 52 yard field goal

Quarterback:

Derek Carr had a good game to start the season.  He was sacked a couple of times and his timing was off a bit with Amari Cooper, but he was solid.  In one play where the Titans forgot to cover Marshawn Lynch when he was put wide left, Carr over threw him by 5 yards and Marshawn did a flip to show his disappointment.  They had first and goal on the Titans 2 yard line and they threw 3 straight incomplete passes to Amari Cooper.  Both blamed each other for the 3 failed passes.  Why have Lynch if you are going to do that?  Even if the plays were called, Carr should have audibled at least once to run Lynch.

GRADE:  B+

Solid outing by Derek who must be licking his chops looking at the Jets next week.

Running Backs:

The Titans tried to stop the run and the Raiders gained 109 yards on 29 tough carries.  When the Raiders needed to, they grinded out yards and iced the game purely on the ground.  I think Oakland has the best set of RB’s in the NFL and they and the OL wore out the Tennessee defense.

Grade: B+

There was no spectacular numbers, but this was a good, solid game for them.  Their ability to pick up the blitz is so overlooked but they pass block better than any set of RB’s in the league.

Offensive Line:

Same stuff different day.  They did give up a couple of sacks but overall another good game.  They were dominant at times in the 4th quarter and wore down Tennessee.

Grade: B+

A nice start for a group that is the key to the Raiders success this year.

Wide Receivers:

Michael Crabtree looked in mid season form and was a man among boys at times.  He’s as physical a WR as there is in the NFL.  Cooper had a TD but he was out of synch with Carr catching only 5 of 13 targets.  Their new tight end Jared Cook caught 5 passes for 56 yards with two catches being in heavy traffic.

GRADE:  B+

The WR’s exploited the weak Titans secondary and at times they did what they wanted to.

Defensive Line:

Their numbers weren’t eye popping but they had a solid game. The DL did a pretty good job of controlling the run game (21 rushes for 95 yards) and they did get a sack even though the pass rush wasn’t consistently good.  Mario Edwards Jr. had 3 tackles and a 0.5 sack but overall the DL played fairly well, but not great.

khalil mack

Grade: B

The Titans offense doesn’t scare anyone but overall this was a good start for a group that has struggled big time in the past.

Linebackers:

Realizing the Titans were a basic run between the tackles offense, the Raiders pinched in their LB’s to stop the between the tackle runs and it worked.  Tennessee did little to adjust and the LB’s had a solid game.  Cory James was nursing a bad knee and was taken off the field once.  They played Marquel Lee on running downs and brought in Tyrell Adams (7 tackles) on passing downs and that also helped this group.  Not a bad day.

Grade:  B

Tennessee was successful in their few outside the tackle runs and when Mariota kept the ball in the read option, but overall they did little to mix things up to adjust to the Raiders changes.  The LB’s took advantage of that and played well and stopped the runs up the middle.

Defensive Backs:

The Raiders other wrinkle was to play Joseph up 5-10 yards off the line of scrimmage near the LB’s.  This helped with the between the tackle runs and Joseph ended up leading the team in tackles with 9.  The Titans still haven’t figured out their WR issues, and the Raiders played very physical against them.  Mariota threw for 256 yards but overall it wasn’t a bad showing by the DB’s.  Covering the tight end is still an issue though.  Delanie Walker had 7 catches for 76 yards and was missed twice by Mariota on longer passes or his numbers would have been even better.  Joseph is still much better in the running game and is still learning.

Grade: B  

A solid day with no major issues.

Coaching:

The Raiders two defensive wrinkles to try and take away the inside running game of the Titans worked and without much of an adjustment by Tennessee, they just kept the same philosophy all game.  I liked that they seem to want to give Lynch 15-20 carries per game.  Running him 25-35 times a game would be crazy.  The three passes on 1st and 2 at the Titans goal line were silly.  Run the ball to Lynch 3 times and move on.  Carr should have audibled as well.

Grade: B

This was a solid game by the coaches against a lesser opponent.  These are the games you have to win.

Special Teams:

It’s pretty obvious that Sebastian Janikowski’s days are numbered in Oakland.  This should be his last year.  In walks Italian-born Giorgio Tavecchio who had never kicked in a regular season game.  While quoting Aristotle pre and post game, all he did was go 4-4 for field goals including 2 kicks from 52 yards out.  The Raiders really liked his leg in pre-season and if he can be consistent, they may have found their new kicker.  Marquette King had a solid day, including having one punt downed at the 1 yard line. Coverage wasn’t needed to be a big factor.

Grade:  A

Excellent day for the special teams unit.

Conclusion:

The Titans are probably a 7-9 or 8-8 team in the worst division in football.  This obviously isn’t an elite team but these are the games you have to win.  Jack Del Rio finally gets this defense doesn’t cut it and they are going to have to do things differently this year.  They put in 2 wrinkles to stop the inside running game of Tennessee’s and it worked.  This is a nice win for the start of the season.  Now the Raiders get a bye; I mean they play the Jet’s next week for the home opener.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Oakland Raiders

Next Up; hosting the NY Jets:

If you are a hardcore sports fan, you know nothing is more entertaining than the NY media when one of their teams suck.  Well the Jet’s suck.  They are probably the worst team in the NFL.  In fact some in the media say the slogan for this years Jet’s is “Suck for Sam”, pertaining to tanking the season so they could draft USC QB Sam Darnold.

Lachlan Edwards was named the team MVP for NY in week 1; he’s their punter.   They have Josh McCown at QB and 31 year old Matt Forte at RB.  Matt looks like age has caught up to him, but Bilal Powell has fallen out of favor.  Their offense is really bad and their defense looks uninspired.  The Buffalo Bills are also rebuilding but they still handled New York 21-12 in Orchard Park in week 1.

No win is for sure, but it’s hard to see the Raiders not wiping the floor with New York.  Look for a big game from the RB’s and Carr and the defense could pile up some sacks in this one.

Outlook:

The second half of the Raiders season is brutal so they need to win the games they should.  I’m still stunned that some people see the Raiders losing 7 games, because that isn’t happening with the offense they have.  The Raiders will play the Jets at home and Washington on the road before a key game in Denver.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2017/09/05/how-far-will-the-oakland-raiders-go-this-year-answering-the-detractors-predictions/

“Will the Raiders Let Sebastian Janikowski Go?  Updating the Situation Between The Raiders and Their Kicker”

sebastian janikowski

ESPN broke the story last night that the Oakland Raiders and kicker Sebastian Janikowski are at an impasse in regards to his contract and that there is a chance the Raiders will let him go.  He is the second longest tenured player on one team behind Tom Brady.

Janikowski turned 39 in March, and he presently is struggling with a bad back and has missed 2 pre-season games.  The Raiders do not know if he will be ready for opening day.

He is in the final year of his contract which will pay him 4 million this year.  The Raiders have asked him to rework his contract and take a price decrease and Janikowski has said he will not do it.  The next time fans complain about a player not “honoring” their contract, needs to be reminded that approximately 90% of the contracts in the NFL are NOT honored by the teams. Many outlets are reporting that the Raiders have held tryouts with Mike Nugent, Josh Lambo, and Marshall Koehn.

Mike Nugent was cut from the New York Giants.  The 35 year old kicker was 23 for 29 last year for Big Blue but his longest FG was 47 yards and he was 0-3 from 50 plus yards.  He also was only 23 for 29 on extra points.

Josh Lambo was 26 for 32 last year for the Chargers and was 0-3 from 50 yards or more.  He was 42 for 46 for extra points.

Marshall Koehn is a rookie from Iowa.  He was 16 for 20 in field goals and 47 for 53 in extra points for the Hawkeyes.  He was also a backup punter kicking 8 times for a 40.9 yard average.

Several reporters are stating online that Janikowski really looks awful and isn’t close to being ready to play.  Take that for what it is worth.  I’ve seen him in reports this pre-season and he didn’t look that hurt but you never know.

The reason the Raiders want this resolved so quickly is that if they don’t rework his contract by 1 pm today, Oakland will owe Janikowski 1/17th of his contract, or $238,000.00.  Even if they keep Janikowski, they will need to sign a kicker if he’s out for any games.

“How Far Will The Oakland Raiders Go This Year? Answering the Detractors & Predictions”

NFL: Oakland Raiders-OTA
Marshawn Lynch & Derek Carr sharing a laugh during practice

What a fun year it will be for the fans in Oakland.  With a fun team and great personalities, there will be many smiling faces all around.  Some have said 12-4; some say 9-7 due to the defense.  Let’s quickly look at each position and get a better understanding of the 2017-18 Oakland Raiders.

Oakland Raiders v New Orleans Saints
Derek Carr

Quarterback: (Derek Carr, EJ Manuel, Connor Cook)

It’s nice for the Raiders to be set at QB.  Derek Carr was the best protected QB in the NFL last year and he sliced and diced his way to a great season.  Carr struggles at times if he’s rushed, but as long as their OL protects him the way they have, he should have another stellar year and will wow the NFL.

Even with today’s rules making passing so easy, the QB position has never been worse in the NFL.  That means an excellent QB like Carr’s value is huge. EJ Manuel and Connor Cook are not waving around a Super Bowl trophy any time soon so Carr’s health is obviously imperative.  No team can win without their starting QB.

Grade:  A

deandre washingto
DeAndre Washington breaking a run against the Titans

Running Backs: Marshawn Lynch, Jamize Olawale, DeAndre Washington, Jalen Richard)

I think the Raiders have the best set of running backs in the NFL.  If Marshawn Lynch can find some life left in a body that has taken a lot of punishment, the Raiders running game should be excellent.  Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington can do it all at a smaller level.  They can run, catch, and are the best pass blockers against the blitz in the NFL.  Add an underrated fullback like Jamize Olawale and this crew is as good as it gets for 2017.

Grade:  A

Panthers Raiders Football
Raiders LT Donald Penn

Offensive Line: (LT Donald Penn, LG Kelechi Osemele, C Rodney Hudson, RG Gabe Jackson, RT Marshall Lawson; T Jylan Ware, G Denver Kirkland, T Vadal Alexander, G-C Jon Feliciano, T David Sharpe)

Donald Penn did what many players used to do in the NFL.  He took training camp off with a hold out.  With him back the Raiders OL is intact.  I’ve seen some on Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports say the Raiders OL is overrated and that’s laughable.  This is a top 3 line in today’s football.  Carr was the best protected QB in the NFL and the Raiders were solid on the ground and they will again be a top 10 offense; maybe even top 5.  This group is the engine and driving force of the Raiders.  This group HAS to stay healthy.

Grade:  A+

Crabtree-extension-12-09-15
Michael Crabtree warming up before a home game in Oakland

Wide Receivers: (Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Cordarrelle Patterson, Johnny Holton)

The Raiders have an excellent core of WR (maybe the best) with the addition of speedster Cordarelle Patterson.  This is a huge upgrade to Seth Roberts who the Raiders are infatuated with.  Johnnie Holton is solid and plays a key role in special teams.

Grade:  A

jared cook
New Tight End Jared Cook

Tight Ends: (Jared Cook, Lee Smith, Clive Walford)

Bill Musgrave gave me a headache.  His WR heavy and at times conservative offense has been replaced with new offensive coordinator Todd Downing.  So far I like what I’ve seen.  The Raiders tight ends were near the bottom in attempts thrown to them last year.  Can’t have good TE if you don’t throw to them.  Lee Smith is the best blocking TE in the NFL and can catch the ball when needed.  The Raiders are excited about the addition of Jared Cook from Green Bay.  Clive Walford is set at #3 but should see more time in obvious passing downs.  Walford has been a bust so far and he needs to show he belongs.

Grade:  B+

khalil mack
Khalil Mack rushing the QB

Defensive Line: (DE Khalil Mack, DT Eddie Vanderdoes, DT Justin Ellis, DE Mario Edwards Jr.; DE/LB James Cowser, DT Darius Latham, DT Treyvon Hester, DL Denico Autry, DL Jihad Ward)

The Raiders were last in sacks in the NFL last year and 26th in overall defense.  Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin are fine but then what?  Justin Ellis looks good at times but he hasn’t had a sack in 3 years and is inconsistent.  Jihad Ward started 13 games last year and played in all 16.  In those games he only had 16 tackles, 14 assists and no sacks and was invisible at times.  If he can’t step it up this year, it may be another draft bust.

To bolster the DT position the Raiders drafted Eddie Vanderdoes out of UCLA.  He was hard working and tough against the run, but not a good pass rusher. He had 4 sacks in 4 years.  Mario Edwards Jr. comes back for a key year but it remains to be seen if he’s the answer.  A bright spot this pre-season has been Treyvon Hester out of Toledo.  He has been a quality pass rusher with a big motor.  He had 5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss his senior year at Toledo and was a great pick at #7 this year.

Grade:  C+

corey james
LB Corey James

Linebackers: (SLB Bruce Irvin, MLB Marquel Lee, WLB Cory James, Tyrell Adams, Nicholas Morrow, DL/LB James Cowser)

Jack Del Rio has told the media several times that the Raiders haven’t put as much into LB’s than they were able to.  “When you have only so much money, you can’t fix everything”.  Many times Irvin rushes the passer so he’s kind of a hybrid LB/DL.  A couple of publications have said the Raiders linebackers are the worst in football.  The biggest knock on this group is that they play passively and are more finesse than physical.  To be fair, these guys give huge effort, but it’s obvious there needs to be improvement.  Cory James has had his moments and the hopes are that he’ll keep improving.  Free agent Jelani Jenkins is now out for the year on injured reserve.  Rookie Marquel Lee has good mechanics and he may start but he lacks speed and coverage skills.  Shalique Calhoun; the 75th player taken in last years draft;  was recently cut and signed to the practice squad.  A wasted pick.

Grades:  D 

david amerson jjj
CB David Amerson

Defensive Backs: (LCB Davis Amerson, RCB Sean Smith. Backups–Gareon Conley, TJ Carrie, Antonio Hamilton, Dexter McDonald)

For several years the Raiders have tried to fix their pass defense by constantly drafting and signing DB’s.  It hasn’t worked & it’s a bad philosophy.  I think if they spent the same money and drafts on pass rushing DT’s and tough LB’s, things would be a lot better on defense.  I’ll take a great front 7 over stud DB’s any and every day.  With today’s rules making it so easy to pass, DB’s have no chance if there isn’t a pass rush in front of them.

It took teams a year to realize David Amerson struggles against the deep ball.  It took teams a week to find out high priced CB Sean Smith was a lot better with Chiefs safety Eric Berry and the Kansas City Pass rush in front of him.  TJ Carrie has really struggled.  Gareon Conley was drafted out of Ohio St. but missed all of training camp and pre-season.  To get a rookie corner to jump in with out much preparation and expect him to excel is a bit much.  He’s a straight cover guy and isn’t a good run tackler but people are excited about his potential in coverage. With all of the money and picks the Raiders have spent on this group, it’s been a big disappointment.  The hopes are Conley will be a mainstay.  Raider fans on social media have also pointed out that it’s hard watching 49er’s rookie LB Reuben Foster look like a one man wrecking crew as well.

Grade D:

joseph-raiders
Safety Karl Joseph

Safety: (FS Reggie Nelson, SS Karl Joseph, S Erik Harris, S Shalom Luani, S Keith McGill)

Obi Melifonwu has been placed on IR today and the Raiders have signed veteran Erik Harris.  Karl Joseph is a tough player and has looked good against the run, but he’s struggled in coverage.  He seems more passive and has to improve his positioning on tight ends.  Reggie Nelson is good for interceptions every year but he’s far from great.  Draft pick Obi Melifonwu is a physical specimen and a great athlete.  He’s a good tackler but lacks instinct in coverage and is a project.  I like Shalom Luani a lot.  He has good size but also has amazing instinct and a nose for the ball, something that seems to be getting rare in the NFL.  With the NFL so obsessed with size and athleticism, the Raiders think that they got a huge steal getting Luani who was a great player at Washington St. Look for Luani to get more playing time as the season progresses & maybe even take over for Nelson.  I’d like to see him and Joseph play together.

Grade:  C

marquette king
Raiders punter Marquette King

Special Teams:

The Raiders are set with Marquette King but the Raiders want Sebastian Janikowski to rework his contract & he said no. The Raiders are worried about his bad back and age (he already looks to be out for week 1) and they have been working kickers out. He’s getting 4 million in this, his final year of his contract.  I give you permission to slap all of the Monday morning quarterbacks in the back of the head who say that players should honor their contracts when 90% of the contracts in the NFL are NOT honored by the teams.

Grade:  A (for now)

Jack Del Rio
Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio

Coaching/Front Office:

The Raiders have a solid coaching staff lead by Jack Del Rio.  With the defense lacking talent in areas, look for Ken Norton Jr. to be on the hot seat all year with fans.  They say change the scheme.  WHAT SCHEME? If the Raiders blitz, now their DB’s who struggle in coverage are playing man to man and they will be exposed.  If they play zone, the Raiders have a poor pass rush so the QB has too much time to throw and will pick them apart.

And with DB’s getting penalties for being anywhere near WR in today’s NFL, no DB is going to be able to cover for that long of a time.  If you take out the 2014 draft, the Raiders have had a ton of busts with signings and draft picks.  Hayden, Calhoun, Ward, Woodley, Schaub, Walford, Smith, Amerson, Lofton, Allen and many other names are adding to the list of busts.  I defended Reggie when few would and here is part of his history.  Some good, some bad.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/how-reggie-mckenzie-turned-around-the-oakland-raiders-what-lies-ahead/

Grade:  A-

AFCwest

The State of the AFC West:

While Philip Rivers is being lauded by many in the press, they forget how bad he was in the 4th quarter last year and that he lead the NFL in interceptions with 21.  The Broncos still don’t have a QB & have questions at OL.  On defense they have to rely on the health of often unhealthy Shane Ray and Derek Wolfe for their defense to thrive.  The Chiefs have an aging defense (pass rusher Tamba Hali literally has no cartilage in his knees) and a conservative offense that is built, “not to lose”.  It took them this long to see Alex Smith will never win anything?  They also lost their starting RB to a season ending injury.  What this means is that the Raiders are prime to take over the AFC West.  If they don’t, this will be a disappointing season.

raiders win

Detractors to Defenders:

I think it’s ridiculous for some writers to say the Raiders are overrated.  Larry Kreuger of KNBR had them going 9-7 and missing the playoffs and some have them 10-6.  Not a chance.  With teams struggling to score at times, and with the QB position so bad in the NFL, (Matthew Stafford gets 27 million and he’s 5-46 in his career against teams with winning records) the Raiders offense will shine and be the key to their quality season.  They will flat out beat teams with their offense.  That style though doesn’t work in the post season.

Now I get the detractors.  The Raiders will have some good moments, but overall this looks like a really bad defense. I get that the Raiders won close games against some bad teams last year and that their schedule is much tougher (4th hardest) but their offense is better and they are more balanced.

They start off the year with 3 very winnable games that could get them on a roll.  The first 9 games are a lot easier than the second half and they should go 7-2 or 8-1 (again, no win is for sure).  In the last 7 games though they play New England in Mexico and host Denver, Dallas and the NY Giants.  They have to play 2 cold December games, at Kansas City and then on Christmas at Philadelphia before ending the season in San Diego. Christmas in Philly? That’s a rough second half.

My Prediction:  11-5; AFC West Champs; losing in AFC Championship game

Calm down non-Raider fans; I’m not saying Derek Carr is as good as Dan Marino, but the Raiders remind me somewhat of the 80’s-90’s Miami Dolphin’s.  This defense is no where close to being a championship defense.  Offense excites the fans and puts butts in the seats, but defense wins championships.  If the Patriots defense doesn’t completely shut down Atlanta in the second half, Tom Brady doesn’t get the chance for a come back. And as Matt Millen said several times, the Raiders defenses dominated in all 3 Super Bowl wins.  In the future they have to get a pass rushing DT, a physical LB and to a lesser extent another CB before they can get to the next level.  If somehow a DT comes out of the ashes this year to have an amazing year putting pressure on the QB, then something magical can happen.  I don’t see it but crazier things have happened.

With the Raiders ability to score, even with the tougher schedule I don’t see them losing anything more than 5 games.  If the AFC West tanks, then a 12-4 season is possible. Getting home field advantage is vital because winning in New England or Pittsburgh in the Winter is near impossible.

With the Raiders in full lame duck mode before their move to Las Vegas, this will be a wild ride, so hang on.  And loyal Raider fans of all ages, keep your wits about you.  If you thought Bay Area millennials jumped on the Warriors bandwagon, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  So move over and let people on because NOTHING about this NFL season will be boring in the city of Oakland.

“Part 2 of My Interview With Yukon Men’s Courtney Agnes; Girl Power the Tanana, Alaska Way”

courtney cuppy archie and carrie
Courtney, Cuppy, Archie & Carrie

Here is Part 1:

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2017/08/21/part-1-of-my-interview-with-yukon-mens-courtney-agnes-girl-power-the-tanana-alaska-way/

 

We all have a story.  It doesn’t matter if we think we are exciting or not; all of us have a story.  Courtney Agnes is no different.  People probably see Courtney as a tomboy who is just like one of the guys, but she is much more than that.

Courtney is a self proclaimed “girly girl”.  “I just don’t have any fashion sense” she admits.  Courtney is a good athlete as is displayed by her talents in sports.  She is also a highly skilled artist in bead work and crafting, creating amazing clothing and jewelry.  This skill was encouraged by her grandmother Carrie who always seemed to supply her with amazing material to work with.  How about Courtney’s Native Craft’s for an online store name?  Her love for her culture and the Athabascan way of life is embedded in her heart through generations of tradition and respect for the land and what it provides.  She works at keeping that way of life alive in the future generations to come.

Courtney and Carrie at the Tanana Chiefs Conference

Jim Jax: Describe your relationship with your dad Pat and how has it changed since you were a kid?

Courtney Agnes:

I was always my dad’s baby. I even told mom and dad that they couldn’t have anymore kids because I had to be the baby forever.  From the first moment I had him wrapped around my finger.  He was the one to get up with me in the middle of the night when I cried and he would spoil me rotten.  I am now getting paybacks with my two girls and my husband, Archie.  I find that Cuppy and Carrie pull the same tricks that I used to do when I was their age with their dad and I feel like my mom did back then. Nowadays, I get really upset when my dad leaves town without telling me.  He also really relies on me to help him around the dog yard, or to even ground him in his busy life. We really enjoy doing things together, like planting his huge garden that’s almost as big as the bottom section of my house.

courtney pat 7 braedon
Courtney, Braedon & Pat

Jim Jax: What type of amenities do you have at your house.  I.E.  Television, cable, wifi/internet, running water, electricity, etc…..

Courtney Agnes:

I lived my entire life without running water until I moved out of Tanana.  About half of the homes in Tanana finally got hooked up to the water system in 2006-07. My home has cable, wifi, and electricity; all of the comfortable amenities. The only thing I miss about city life are the readily available fresh groceries. We have to plan for shopping excursions and freeze, dry, or blanch veggies and fruits to make them last.

courtney little
Courtney Practicing her Guilty Look

Jim Jax: I always think about the normal every day things.  As a teen and a young woman, how hard was it to date with so few men around, and what activities as a young person did you have to do to meet people? 

Courtney Agnes:

When I was a teenager, I was kind of awkward and geeky.  I always had straight A’s and had my nose in a book (I have bad eyesight from it).  I wasn’t really interested in boys; nothing serious anyways; and I wasn’t really that popular.  That really didn’t bother me though. Living in a remote village, it’s kind of common to play sports or travel, or to date someone if you already hadn’t found someone to hang out with in your own village.  Most people are related to each other in our small rural populations, so it’s easier to date outside of your hometown. I always played basketball just to get out of work and chores, so I met new and interesting people that way.

Courtney is all smiles at a dog mushing race.JPG
Courtney is all smiles at a dog mushing race

Jim Jax: What is your favorite food to eat that you can only get in Alaska?

Courtney Agnes:

My family and I just got back from a vacation in Hawaii, and I have to admit the girls asked for moose meat as soon as we got home.  Luckily my best friend had moose roast in her fridge in Anchorage while we hung out there for allergy appointments to appease the girl’s cravings.  I’m pretty sure I couldn’t ever live without moose soup either.  The only other food that I couldn’t live without is Yukon King Salmon.  I’m sure it’s because I grew up eating it, but no other salmon compares. All of the people that I grew up with here in Tanana are pretty picky about the salmon that we eat, and pretty much don’t really like any other kind.

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(Above: Some of Courtney’s Jewelry)

Jim Jax: What was your scariest moment while filming Yukon men.

Courtney Agnes:

The scene when I shot the black bear was the absolute scariest moment while filming.  It was slightly raining when I was stalking the bear, and I kept hearing him but I couldn’t identify where the sound was coming from.  We were walking through a small stream, so I had to also focus on being quiet when I moved. It is pretty hard to do with rain gear and rubber boots on. Ryan (camera man) had seen him first and he was headed straight for him, although the bear had never seen us. The instant that I saw the bear, I pulled my gun up to shoot, but he walked behind a huge clump of willows so I had to wait for the shot.  I got him with one shot to the neck and he was only 20 feet from Ryan. So in short, the bear almost ate Ryan.  Although he was packing, it still could have gone way wrong if I hadn’t waited for a good shot.

(Above: Alaskan wild blueberries and kippered fish)

Jim Jax: Your husband doesn’t get to be on camera much; explain what kind of person he is. 

Courtney Agnes:

Archie is a really quiet guy and he’s often gone for his job.  He works on an oil rig up north in Alaska.  He usually works 2 weeks on and then has 2 weeks off, but he has to add 2 travel days to the days he’s gone so we basically get him 12 days per 28 days. He sacrifices so much to provide for us to live here in Tanana.  It’s a really tough work environment that he has to leave us for and we really appreciate him.  He’s an avid outdoorsman like I am, but way shyer than me. He also lives for speed.  He used to race boats in the Yukon 800 race, and now races snow machines in the Iron Dog across Alaska. Both are physically brutal races, but he races them for the physical and mental aspects of it. He’s an amazing dad to our girls, he’s very patient and kind, but he’s also a pushover when it comes to them.

courtney the scarecrow
Courtney’s Scarecrow look

Jim Jax: What is the thing you like most about filming Yukon Men and what is the worst thing about filming it.

Courtney Agnes:

The thing that I love most about filming Yukon Men is that I am paid for doing things that I normally do anyway on a daily basis.  I mean, we always have to get food, wood, fuel, and get ready for winter, so it’s kind of easy to just do both at the same time.  It’s kind of like killing two birds with one stone.  The hardest thing about filming is being away from the girls. I’m a pretty hands on mama.  They really have a hard time going to sitters and not being in their own familiar environment, although we do have an amazing support system here in Tanana.

cuppy courtney and carrie
Cuppy, Courtney & Carrie

Jim Jax: With the new road comes a whole new group of people coming to the area.  Do you ever worry that things will never be the same and it may get harder to survive? 

Courtney Agnes:

I really worry about what kind of people the new road will bring in.  There was a straggler in Manley Hot Springs 20 years or so ago, (which is now 50 miles away from us on the road) who shot and killed 9 people and threw them in the Tanana River.

(Courtney is talking about the famous 1984 mass murders by drifter Michael Allen Silka in Manley Hot Springs.  He was a military marksman and he shot and killed 9 people.  One was a trooper who was flying overhead in a helicopter.  After murdering a neighbor he befriended people in Tanana saying he was a mountain man.  He often camped near the one of the docks.  People were impressed with his skills and he said he wanted to make roots in Tanana.  His victims included a trooper, a pregnant woman and a 2 year old child).

My husband’s family also has land not even one mile away from the road, and we worry about encroachment from trespassers. What people don’t really understand is how resilient Tanana people are, and we will fight for our way of life.

courtneyafdfadf

Jim Jax: What hobby or personality trait do you have that would surprise viewers of the show. 

Courtney Agnes:

I really hate being idle, so I’m always doing one thing or another.  I really love to play basketball, I grew up playing with 6’ or taller guys who had the mentality that you had to be tough to even try to play with them.  I remember getting elbowed or punched in the face and getting told not to cry when I was like in the 10th grade.  Being pretty short (5’5”) enabled them to practically jam the ball down my throat so I had to figure out ways to shoot and score around them. When playing in tournaments in Fairbanks in later years, teammates would tell me, “I don’t know how you get in there and shoot like that”.  Sometimes a ref asked me why I hadn’t ever played college ball (I was too shy).  The only other thing I can think of is that I really am quite girly.  I love make up but I have zero fashion sense.

courtney asdfasdfsdf

Jim Jax: What message do you hope to communicate about your way of life to those that enjoy the show. 

Courtney Agnes: 

When I was in high school, my late Grandmother Carrie used to always tell me to learn to live off the land.  At the time I really did not understand what she was trying to tell me, so I basically disregarded her advice.  It wasn’t until I moved back home and started to hunt, fish, and trap on my own that I learned what she meant.  She was trying to explain a simpler but rewarding lifestyle where she learned intrinsic life values from living off of the land.  This would allow me to be able to care for my family while living off the land.  It is an inherent value in keeping our traditions and culture alive that I will always appreciate.

Jim’s Jamz:

I’d like to humbly thank all of those in the Discovery Yukon Men family for the kindness and trust they have shown me in telling their stories.  Thank you to the fans of the show for their support.  I so enjoy their passion and dedication to the show.  Thousands of people have read these articles and I hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I liked writing them.

Even with all of the amazing positive feedback though, I’ve also received negative responses too.  I’ve been contacted by various publications and websites speaking out against me for writing about Yukon Men.  I’m small potatoes I’m sure but there have even been petitions started to stop the show.

First off I’m not naïve.  Most reality shows are extremely faked and staged.  People always say they know that yet they act like it’s real.  Out of all of the shows though, Yukon Men is right up there with being as real as it gets.  Are some of the scenes enhanced?  Of course they are.  Ask hunters how exciting it is walking in the freezing cold for hours looking to hunt something.  Then you must ask yourself how real was it for George Roberts to lose his life in a snow mobile accident?  Ask if it was real when a young pilot Seth Fairbanks died after his plane went down?  A while earlier he helped find a stranded Joey Zuray who was slowly being surrounded by water and ice.  While the most popular network shows lie to no end; (yes I’ve talked to some of the actors and behind the scenes people and you have no idea), Yukon Men tries to keep an integrity that is rarely seen anymore on television.

The struggles are real.  And while many crews on other shows stay for short times and move on, the film crews for Yukon Men have spent significant time in the area and have tried hard to win the respect of the communities.

Like I said, I’ve seen petitions to try and cancel the show in the past due to the hunting and trapping scenes.  In reality these are not trophy hunters cutting off heads or antlers of animals and leaving the meat.  These aren’t people laughing and partying after killing an animal for show so they can take selfies so strangers will increase their likes on Instagram or Twitter.  These are people who for generations have respected their surroundings and gratefully used the land to survive in one of the most difficult places in the world to live.

As long as I write about Yukon Men I will continue to send the message that the Athabascan lifestyle tries to teach.  Respect and love for your family, with an appreciation and love for what the land provides and gives you through a subsistence lifestyle.  And lastly the constant reminder to never forget the great skills and pride that have been taught through previous generations.  Like I said, we all have a tale to tell so let’s always respect and appreciate where we come from.  And may we always respect each other’s story.

 

“Part 1 of My Interview with Yukon Men’s Courtney Agnes; Girl Power the Tanana, Alaska Way”

 

courtney agnes1
Courtney Agnes

Please follow Courtney @:

https://twitter.com/SetlonoyegheeLn?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

https://www.facebook.com/CourtneyAgnesTal/

Follow Me @:

https://twitter.com/jimjaxmedia?lang=en

https://www.instagram.com/jimjaxmedia/

My love for Alaska first started when I watched the amazing PBS special “Alone in the Wilderness”.  It was the story of the famous Naturalist Dick Proenneke who went to Twin Lakes and lived mostly alone for 30 years.  He made his own cabin, cache, tools, and anything else you could imagine.  He also filmed his adventures in a 2 part series called “Alone in the Wilderness” and I was hooked.  His cabin and building area is now on the National Register of Historic Places.  He was the king of sustenance living.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYJKd0rkKss&t=400s

http://www.aloneinthewilderness.com/

I don’t watch much network television anymore but when I first watched Yukon Men, I was hooked.  I approached Stan and Kate Zuray for interviews and they graciously agreed. Here are my interviews with them below.  Please support them!

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/my-interview-with-discovery-channels-macguyver-yukon-mens-stan-zuray/

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2017/06/16/discovery-channels-yukon-mens-hidden-gem-an-interview-with-kate-zuray/

Ironically the first person I asked to interview was Courtney Agnes. She had some things come up at the time, but she agreed to do it at a later date.  I enjoyed her personality and her ability to do whatever it took to get the job done.  I also liked her dad Pat a lot (Go Raiders Pat!) and the story of her mom Lorraine was a touching one.  Battling a dangerous aneurysm and arthritis, her mom was now a living miracle surviving a terrible ordeal.  Once the rock of the family, she now has to be the emotional inspiration due to her health issues that have been difficult for all.  The family takes care of her with a dedication and love that can be very challenging at times.  It’s obvious she is a huge part of the foundation for Courtney and her family, and the struggle is a daily one. Courtney’s mom’s amazingly kind and giving spirit has touched many people over the years.

Courtney and her dad Pat with another succesful fish run
Courtney and her dad Pat with a big fish haul

Courtney is the epitome of an Alaskan “girl”.  She is at home in the wilderness and can do whatever a man can do, but she also can show the maturity of a woman, mother and daughter which is needed in such an environment.  She’s done construction, dog mushing and can hunt.  When the family desperately needed a moose, she got it.  When Pat needed help with the dogs, she did it.

I also enjoyed her mischievous and fun nature. Courtney; and Alaskan women in general; show a huge strength and work ethic and passion for their families that is inspiring.  I live in California and though we have a lot of beautiful women on the outside, for some there is something major lacking on the inside. Courtney and many other women in Alaska may not be glamour girls, but their kind and vital spirit and passion for life and family creates an outer and inner beauty that makes the world a more beautiful place because they are in it.  I hope you enjoy learning about Courtney as much as I have.  Here is Part 1.

courtney agnes traditional
Courtney showing off some amazing traditional clothing

Jim Jax:  What were your first memories growing up in Alaska as a little girl. 

Courtney Agnes:  The most prevalent memories that I have of growing up in Alaska as a little girl had taken place at fish camp. I think I started climbing trees at the age of three, and by age 5 I had excelled at climbing.  I would often climb 20-30 foot tall trees.  One time I climbed a smaller willow tree to the top and after it bent over from my weight, I had to scream for my dad and he had to catch me from about 20 feet as I feel out of the tree.  I also have amazing memories of dog mushing with my dad.  He stayed home with me while mom worked and I would ride a snow racer behind a team of dogs that pulled both my dad’s dog sled and I.  We were always outside doing something together; mostly working; but he always made work fun.

courtney cuppy archie and carrie
The fam; Courtney, Cuppy, Archie & Carrie

Jim Jax:  Growing up as a kid, what fun activities did you do outside of working?  Who influenced you?

Courtney Agnes:  Growing up with the parents that I had, we didn’t have much time at all for play, because we were always working.  I mean, my girls don’t even know the meaning of chores compared to my brother and I back in the day.  From the time that I turned 8 years old, I never had a real fancy, huge birthday because we were always cutting fish from 7 am to 12 am in the summers.  We survived from making a living off of selling the fish that we cut.  The fish could be jarred, and put away for the winter so the entire family’s help was vital.

We were super lucky to grow up with thousands of cousins to play with.  We even played baseball games on the airport runway, which was located next to mom and dad’s camp.  I did have a tight knit group of friends who all took turns helping each other do their chores in order to play. We mostly raced our four wheeler ATV’s around town at break neck speeds, jumping them anywhere we wouldn’t get caught. There wasn’t much else to do, other than invent games of our own because we didn’t have the luxuries that the city provided.

courtneys confirmation
Courtney and her dad Pat at her Confirmation

Jim Jax:  Every family has stories; what is a good story while you were a kid

Courtney Agnes:  Here is my absolute FAVORITE story of the adventures of my oldest brother Thomas and I.  When I was about 8 and he was 12, (I was all knees and elbows then) during the summer he and I were left home at camp together.  We always had chores to take care of, like watering the dogs, watering the garden, and many other things.  Mom and dad always went to work and we were left alone to be savages.  Dad found a parachute at the dump that was discarded, and Thomas pulled it out and decided to play with it.

It was a windy day so we strapped him in and he tried to launch himself on the airport runway.  I really do not know what he was thinking, but it didn’t take off, so he said we needed to go down to the beach.  (I was at the age where I had to do whatever he said because he would have killed me if I didn’t).  I stood back and held the parachute end up and FREAKING A if he did not take off like a rocket!  He didn’t take off in the air, but the parachute did and it started dragging his limp butt about a 1/4 mile up the river on the beach over rocks, mud and sticks.  He was moving faster than this skinny ass girl can run after him slipping in the mud the whole way.

As I’m watching him being drug like a limp noodle, he was screaming at me saying, “Siiiiiiiiiiiiis, heeeeeelp meeeeeeeeee.”  He was terrified and I was running so hard that I slipped in the mud too.  At one point I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t even get up out of the mud.  Finally the parachute strings caught on a log and it stopped him. He had bruises and scratches all over his body and was sore for days.  This is just one of the amazing stories I have of my brother.

being silly carrie courtney and cuppy
Funny Face time with Carrie, Courtney and Cuppy

Jim Jax:  Was there ever a time as a teenager where you wanted to leave Alaska and go somewhere for college and leave the lifestyle behind?

Courtney Agnes:   When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to leave Tanana.  I hated it.  I hated being so confined to one place without many outlets which is typical teenage stuff. I always dreamed of going out of state to college, but I didn’t know what kind of career path that I wanted to pursue so I played it safe and went to college in Anchorage.  Before I moved away my dad called it. He said that I’d miss Tanana and I would be back. It took 1 year in Anchorage and 4 years living in Fairbanks for me to decide to come back home. I disliked the monotonous everyday driving place to place, fighting crowds and paying for any kind of small activity that was to get me out of the house. Everything cost money, and here in Tanana all we have to do is buy gas and we’re gone for the weekend camping on a sandbar or crashing through the forests chasing a moose for dinner.  I still love to travel though and Europe is on my bucket list of places to visit.

courtney alaskan traill sunset
Peace; A girl, her dogs and an Alaskan Sunset

Jim Jax:  You have a close relationship with your mom and dad.  We’ve learned about your dad Pat, but please tell people what type of person your mom is?

Courtney Agnes:  My mom worked my entire youth to support our family and was always taking care of something or someone, no matter how tired or exhausted she was. We always had different kids staying with us for extended periods of time, whether they were cousins or kids that wanted to go to school in Tanana (the school used to be pretty big in my youth).  In college, if I ever needed money, $500 would show up in my bank account.  She was always a giver. Before her aneurysm she had a really close relationship with our oldest daughter, Cuppy. Cup would run over to Gramma’s because she would spoil the crap out of her.  The aneurysm really changed mom.  She became fully disabled and unable to do a lot of things, but she constantly still worries about all of us in everything that we do.  She also lives vicariously through me in wishing that she can race dogs still.  She always cries before any of my races. She’s so tough physically when she wants to be though. I really don’t know anyone else who might have survived the scale of aneurysm that she survived.

Please come back tomorrow for Part 2 of my interview with Yukon Men’s Courtney Agnes. 

 

“The Oakland Raiders lose another NFL Hall of Fame Worthy Icon From the Past in Dave Grayson”

 

Dave Grayson Nemiah Wilson willie Brown Dave Grayson George Atkinson
Oakland Defensive Backs Nemiah Wilson, Willie Brown, Dave Grayson & George Atkinson

The Oakland Raiders lost another link to their storied past when AFL historian Todd Tobias announced on Twitter that Raider great defensive back Dave Grayson had passed away at the age of 78.  No cause of death was given at this time.

Dave played for Oakland between 1965-1970.  He played for the Dallas Texans/Chiefs before that, and was originally drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.  Grayson was an undrafted free agent out of the University of Oregon.

dave graysonryreyr

Al Davis Traded for CB Dave Grayson in 1965 (he traded him for future actor Fred “The Hammer” Williamson) from the Chiefs and then traded for Willie Brown from Denver in 1967.  This allowed the Raiders to play the physical bump and run style that has been a trademark of the team for years.

When NFL and former Cowboys personnel guru Gil Brandt was asked who were the 4 best cornerbacks in Dallas history his first 3 were not a shock.  Mel Renfro, Herb Adderly & Deion Sanders.  “I also include Dave Grayson.  He didn’t play with the Cowboys but he’s so good I’m including him.”

Dave Grayson went undrafted because at 5’ 10” and 185 pounds, he was dubbed too small by many NFL experts including Cowboys coach Tom Landry after the Cowboys briefly signed him and then let him go.  Gil Brandt liked him a lot and told the upstart AFL team the Dallas Texans (eventually the Kansas City Chiefs) to give him a shot.  Grayson was a key cog in the KC return game and at defensive back.  Grayson was fast and a ball hawk, something the Chiefs coaches loved.

dave grayson jim tyrer earl faison bud mcfadin ladd
Dave Grayson hamming it up with AFL All Stars Jim Tyrer, Earl Faison, Bud McFadin & Future Iconic Pro Wrestler Ernie “The Big Cat” Ladd

Grayson held the AFL record for the longest interception return for a touchdown at 99 yards against the New York Titans in 1961.  Dave made many other key plays for the Chiefs including his famous interception off of Houston QB George Blanda in the Texans epic double overtime win in the 1962 AFL Championship game.

For the Raiders he was a great player both in the regular season and in the post season.  He ended up with 48 total interceptions with an amazing 933 return yards after his interceptions.  His best year was in 1968 where he had 10 interceptions and 1 fumble recovery.  He was also a quality top 10 kick return man as well.

Other career highlights:

-48 career interceptions with an amazing 19.4 yard return average

-25.4 kick off return average

-6 time AFL all-star

-4 time First team All Pro

-2 time AFL Champion

-Voted on the AFL all time team

-Career interception leader in the AFL

The Greatest Defense Nobody Knows About:

Dave was a part of the amazing Oakland defense called the 11 angry men.  This defense is one of the greatest of all time that never gets their due.

In the amazing 1967 season, the Raiders had an astounding 67 sacks & 30 interceptions.  Teams averaged 3 turnovers a game against the Raiders.  This was also only in a 14 game season.  The record for sacks is held by the 1984 Chicago Bears at 72, and with almost a 5 sacks per game average, it’s pretty safe to say that the Raiders would have eclipsed that record fairly easily in 16 games.

raiders defense 11 angry men
Houston trying to come back from 3 touchdowns behind against the Oakland Raiders “11 Angry Men” in the 1967 AFL Championship Game

Even with only 14 games, the Raiders STILL hold the record for causing the most yards lost while an opponent passes.  This record is now 50 years old.

Another record that stands is that the Raiders lead the league in sacks for 3 straight years.  Another 5 decade old record.  Oakland also has the all time record for leading the league in sacks at 5.  That’s how great they were. The offense always gets the publicity but even in their Super Bowl wins and in the 1960’s, getting pressure on the QB was paramount to the Raiders success.  Offense puts butts in the seats and gets all of the publicity, but defense wins championships.

(Below are the all time stats for sacks by a team; many records are held by the Oakland Raiders)

http://www.nfl.com/history/randf/records/def/sacks

Amazing Names:

With the likes of Ken Davidson and Tom Keating leading the way the Raiders had a huge and ferocious defense.  The names of the past are a who’s who of Raider lore.  Two more underrated DB’s in Rodger Bird, Kent McCloughan and Warren Powers were teamed up with Howie Williams, Dave Grayson and Willie Brown.

Dan Conners played MLB while Bill Laskey & Gus Otto shored the outside positions.  Dan Birdwell and Ike Lassiter, Carleton Oats and Art Thoms; so many proud names of the past that helped the Raiders to unreal records in the 1960’s.  From 1967-69 the Raiders were a ridiculous 37-4-1, the best record in football.

dave grayson 2

Hall of Fame:

I’ve written at length about the biases of the NFL Hall of Fame and why some are not in the hall.  There are many that should be in the hall of fame (i.e. Cliff Branch) and I’ve written about them below.  I’m glad that more people are agreeing with me.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/oakland-raiders-defensive-players-who-shouldshouldnt-be-in-the-nfl-hall-of-fame/

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/what-oakland-raiders-players-are-next-into-the-hof-whos-in-whos-not/

One of the great biases with NFL historians, is their turning their noses up at the AFL saying how it was no where near as good as the NFL.  In the beginning days I totally agree.  As time went on though, that myth was changed when the Jets beat the heavily favored Colts in Super Bowl 3.  More than a few people feel the Raiders and the Chiefs of the 1960’s had more talent and speed than the aging Green Bay Packers but they were overwhelmed in the Super Bowls against a mythical team with the greatest football coach of all time and an aura and mental toughness and a refusal to make mistakes.

dave grayson chiefs

It’s a shame that only 3 all time AFL defensive players are in the NFL HOF.  There are others that deserve it and I think Dave Grayson is one of them.  With his speed and ball hawking skills, he made big plays at big times and he’s never received the credit he deserved, much like the great Raider defenses of the day.

I hope that others will join me in giving appreciation for this great Chief and Raider player.  Another forgotten icon of the AFL and NFL who should never be forgotten.

dave grayson raiders