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“Most Experts Predict Doom & Gloom in Buffalo; Looking in Depth at the Better than Advertised Buffalo Bills of 2018-19”

sean mcDermott
Buffalo Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott

After the last Super Bowl, I made a decision to write more on a national level.  Even though I knew something on every team, I realized I had to have in depth knowledge on all of them so I’ve spent the last 6 months analyzing each team.

As many of my new followers are finding out, I think for myself. I’m not a homer and I just don’t go by what others say. I actually try to do research and base my decisions on facts and not hope or any biases I may have. It doesn’t matter if I like or dislike the player or the team; I tell it like it is. In today’s sports world that is rare, and at times not very popular but that’s why people follow me. Be entertaining, be right, and be honest I say.

First off I love history and I LOVE the AFL.   It was before my time but I’m fascinated by it and Buffalo was definitely a part of those AFL days.  They’ve also put their stamp on the modern game as well.  From Jack Kemp to Joe Ferguson to Joe DeLamielleure to Jim Kelly, the Bills have an amazing tradition.   John Madden says to this day if an old AFL team gets into the Super Bowl, surviving members of the AFL will often call them before the game to wish them luck. It still matters.

Even though a dreaded ex is from upstate NY, I’ve learned to really appreciate the people there. Resilient and hearty and they love their football. When it comes to the NFL it’s hard to find better fans.   With some of the worst weather in the country, to be a football fan in Buffalo means to be there through wind, rain or snow.   I’ve forgiven Scott Norwood but boy I wish they would have won one of those Super Bowls.

When I began looking into the Buffalo Bills 2018-19 season a few months ago, it was amazing for me to see how so many national publications and writers had them doing so badly in 2018. Sports Illustrated was the harshest. They eventually had the Bills going 2-14 and getting the #1 pick for next years draft after being the worst team in the NFL. I read other national publications and they didn’t have much better of a tale. Even biased Bills fans that were writers were not very happy with their prospects.   I decided to again, look into the Bills of 2018-19 to see if I had missed something because I never thought they were that bad. Let’s take a look at their position players and see if we can figure out if they are as bad as the experts say and if I dropped the ball on this one.

bills fans snow
“Loyal Bill’s Fan’s Enjoying The Game”

 

How to Prognosticate a Teams Season:

The problem with 90% of prognosticators in my opinion is that they only look at how good the team is. I think it’s more complicated than that. I think you evaluate an upcoming season by 3 things; how good is the team, how tough is their schedule, and how tough is their division. Take the Raiders for instance. Two years ago they had the second easiest schedule in the NFL and went 12-4. They won a lot of close games against a lot of bad teams. Last year they had the second hardest schedule and went 6-10.   Let’s face it, if you have a bad game it’s a lot easier to beat the Cleveland Browns than the Eagles or Patriots.   Now lets look at these 3 things in regards to the Bills.

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Quarterback:

The Bills signed free agent AJ McCarron.   Most feel he’s a stopgap for the Bills and I agree. I see him more as a backup than a starter but he will do in a pinch. I never thought Nathan Peterman was much of a prospect to start in the NFL, but wow I still remember his game at Death Valley when Pittsburgh beat Clemson for their only loss of the year. Tyrod Taylor was never the answer in my mind and the Bills agreed, but is Josh Allen?

josh allen bills ss
The Buffalo Bills #1 draft pick Josh Allen

There are two camps for Josh Allen; those that think he will do well, and those that think he has bust written all over him.   I personally think he was a horrible pick but time will tell. In his last year at Wyoming he was average at best. Three times he threw for under 92 yards in a game and only once did he throw for over 234 yards and that was against Gardner-Webb University. I just don’t get how a QB can be average in a smaller college conference and then all of a sudden be a world beater in the NFL.   Again, time will tell who is right.  He has a powerful arm and that can’t be debated, but accuracy and reading defenses will be his challenge.

ESPN did a great article showing just how bad the NFL experts and teams had become in drafting players and the position they drafted the worst was quarterback. If you are tall and have a big arm, it seems that you are an NFL QB prospect.

http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/23039883/history-tells-us-nfl-terrible-evaluating-quarterbacks-means-2018-draft-prospects

I still remember years ago being kicked off of a large Oakland Raiders website for pointing out how newly drafted Jamarcus Russell was going to be a big bust because he struggled so badly against pro style defenses in the SEC. Three years later that site apologized to me and asked me to come back (always follow people that are right most of the time). That being said I think McCarron handles the QB position for at least part of the year if not most of it.  Injuries do happen though and I’m sure Allen will play some this year.

LeSean mccoy
LeSean McCoy

Running Back:

In the last 3 years, Buffalo’s running backs have lead the entire NFL with 4.6 yards per carry. New offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will have to rely on LeSean McCoy to man this offense like he did last year. McCoy is still one of the best in the league. A very underrated signing that Bills writers need to talk more about is the signing of veteran Chris Ivory. He’s a physical runner who makes plays and is a great backup for McCoy.

kelvin benjamin
Kelvin Benjamin

Wide Receiver:

If Kelvin Benjamin is your third option you have a nice array of WR’s but when he’s the #1 option, you may have problems. The wildcard is Zay Jones who has been a huge disappointment so far and had a bizarre domestic issue to deal with. Tight Ends Charles Clay and Nick O’Leary will definitely get their targets with a very average group of veteran WR’s in the fold.

Offensive Line:

Here is where most experts say the Bills are in trouble. Some feel versatile Ryan Groy will take over at center if newly signed Russell Bodine doesn’t work out.   Bodine didn’t exactly wow the NFL starting for the Bengals. After guard John Miller struggled and was benched, Vlad Ducasse took over at right guard for the rest of the season and played fairly well, but in the spring he’s been at mostly left guard. If Groy goes to center, Ducasse will be a key player at the guard position.   Rookie Dion Dawkins played well at left tackle last year. There are still questions on who plays where and the pre season will clear that up.

NFL: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
Shaq Lawson with a sack against the Patriots

Defensive Line:

Now let’s look at the bright spots of the Bills and it starts with the DL. The Bills way overpaid for DL Star Lotulelei, but he’s good against the run and that was a weakness last year for the Bills. Harrison Phillips out of Stanford was a sleeper pick in the third round. As with most Cardinals, he is well coached, physical and makes plays. He’s not much of a pass rusher but he’s excellent stopping the run.  I love this pick and with he and Star in the game, running against Buffalo probably just got a lot tougher.  Bill’s fans will love Phillips personality as well. He was a fan favorite at Stanford.

Kyle Williams has lost a step but he’s still an excellent player. Trent Murphy has to get healthy but he can help if and when he gets on the field.   Shaq Lawson is the key. The hopes are for him to have a breakout season to help the pass rush and I like him to improve his numbers.

tremaine edmunds bills
Bills LB Tremaine Edmunds

Linebacker:

Buffalo traded up for Tremaine Edmunds and head coach Sean McDermott has handed the keys of the defense over to the 20 year old.   Edmunds was an uber athlete at Virginia Tech with an amazing football IQ. As a kid he actually began breaking down film with his father, ex NFL tight-end Ferrell Edmunds. The Bills hope he will be a mainstay at MLB for years to come. Matt Milano was a pleasant surprise and he will man the left side spot and hope to continue to improve. The right side will be wide open for competition with 34-year-old Lorenzo Alexander hoping to start.

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Tre’Davious White intercepts a pass against Kansas City

Defensive Backs:

The Bills have excellent versatility with safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer leading the way. They are good in coverage and against the run.   Tre’Davious White had a great rookie year and he can only get better. Vontae Davis was signed in the off-season and is recovering from groin surgery which sidelined him for much of last year. With the depth of the Bills DB’s, this will be one of the best groups in the NFL if Davis can regain form.

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Overview:

I like their coaching staff, and if they can stop the run and put consistent pressure on the QB, this could be a really good defense. There are a lot of holes in their offense and that is going to be an issue off and on all year.

Schedule & Division:

Now the bad news. The first 8 games of the Bills schedule are brutal. They will have road games with Baltimore, Green Bay, Minnesota, and Houston, and then have home games with New England, San Diego and Tennessee. If some how and some way the Bills can go 3-5 or 4-4, they could get into the playoffs.   In the final 8 games, they have very winnable contests playing the Jets and Dolphins twice each, and hosting the Bears and the Lions. They will also host Jacksonville and play at New England.

https://www.buffalobills.com/schedule/

The AFC East scares no one outside of New England and even they are not the same team they once were. The Patriots should win the division but the Bills could sneak into the playoffs with some breaks and a huge year by their offense. These are all big ifs. If Tom Brady gets hurt or breaks down at 41 years old, this division is very wide open.

Prediction:

At 9-7 last year, the Bills snapped a 17-year playoff drought but it wasn’t as magical as some are laying it out to be. The AFC last year was not very good and it took a miracle 50-yard TD pass by Bengals QB Andy Dalton on 4th and 12 with 49 seconds to go in Baltimore for the Bills to get in.

That being said I see a 7-9 season.   I think if McCarron plays over his head and they get some momentum in the first half of the season, a miracle playoff journey could happen with a 9-7 record. Worst-case scenario is they tank in the first 6 games and struggle the rest of the way and go 5-11.  With this defense I doubt that happens.  The Bills are also one of those teams that always seem to have their share of injuries and bad luck so it could get ugly fast if they don’t stay healthy.

That first half schedule though is a killer and you will know what kind of season the Bills will have after week 6. Next year the Josh Allen show will start and you will see what the near future will hold. It won’t be pretty but the Bill’s hope to shock all the experts and grind out as many wins as possible in 2018-19 in the hopes for another taste at the post season.  Everyone in the AFC has some sort of issue so there is much hope in Buffalo.  This is the NFL kids and even though it may look like a pipe dream, crazier things have happened.

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“Greg Papa’s Frank Response on Why He’s no Longer The Oakland Raiders Radio Announcer”

greg papa firing

On his show on 95.7 The Game, Greg Papa answered any and all questions about his departure from the Raiders. It was definitely must listen to radio.

Marc Badain the President of the Oakland Raiders texted Greg Papa on July 2nd stating that they had to meet in person.   Papa met Marc on July 5th and at lunch Marc said they were not going to bring Papa back. Greg wondered why now and Badain said he bought Greg a few years by defending him. I’m thinking this firing in late July is a big bite me to Greg. It’s near impossible for him to get a gig doing NFL games so late in the year other than a few here and there.

https://957thegame.radio.com/articles/greg-papa-tells-story-his-departure-oakland-raiders

“On January of 2014 I heard the Raiders were going to interview Mike Shanahan for head coach. The interview didn’t go great so I didn’t think it would happen, but I said it was beyond my comprehension that Mike Shanahan could be interviewed because Al loathed him. Rod Woodsen and Bill Romanowski were campaigning for Shanahan to be the head coach and I couldn’t believe it”.

In his first meeting with Badain when he was first hired, Badain said that Greg had to patch things up with Mark Davis. Greg stated that he called Mark Davis early the next morning. He said the call did not go well after he said he would not apologize to Mark for his comments about Mike Shanahan. Davis hung up on him. Papa has admitted that he warned the Raiders that he would quit if Shanahan was hired and that put Mark over the edge. He said that he felt like he was public enemy number one after that and was taken off some of the things that Al had always wanted him to do.  He saw Davis once and said hi to him and Davis ignored him and just walked on by.

Papa Calls Out Blogger’s/Podcaster’s With the Wrong Information:

Greg said the misinformation that was written about by bloggers was comically wrong. “I’m not much into social media but Boy, some of the crazy stories were so wrong”. He stated that he never was asked to go to Las Vegas and he never said that he would not go. In fact he admitted that he would have gone and that flying to Vegas for the weekend and doing a game was no big deal to him.

Why Greg Is So Loyal To Al Davis:

Al was loyal to the end.   Former Raider executive John Herrera probably said it best in a 2012 interview with SFGATE. “Al was so demanding. He would sometimes call you at 1 am just to see if you were on the ball and if you did what he asked you to do. There were no cell phones back in the day so we had to be around our home phones when we weren’t at work. Once he trusted you and knew you’d do a good job though, you had a friend for life.   He helped people financially, personally and if you didn’t need help he made sure you got tickets when you wanted them”. These stories are still refreshing in a day and age when few can do something nice without posting a video of it on social media.

That’s the relationship Greg Papa had with Al Davis. Unlike the great Bill King, Al became close to Greg. Greg was the new guard in announcers. Fans started to change and most wanted their announcers to be more “homers” than objective and Greg fit right into that mold. He would criticize at times, but rarely was he super negative about the Raiders where Bill King at times would be brutally honest if they played poorly. Greg became very close to Al who appreciated his loyalty and some publications have stated that Greg was a possible front office hire for the Raiders in the future.   “Al was like a second father to me,” Papa said. Many in the media said Greg was the semi mouthpiece of Al when Mr. Davis became very ill.

It must have been hard for Mark Davis to watch his father be so close to some people. The stories about how Al treated Mark at times are uncomfortable to listen to. Let’s face it; if Al thought a lot about his son he would have been in an important job in some capacity. Instead the only job Mark Davis has really ever had in his life is some minor PR jobs for the Raiders.

Who Is In the Wrong:

Probably no one. I don’t think that Mark Davis is a bad guy but he had pretty much little to no work history and now he owns an NFL team.   To be fair, running a business is really difficult even with a lot of experience. Mark Davis wanted respect and loyalty from Papa and let’s face it; Papa doesn’t respect him.

I get what Greg is saying. I love my dad and I’m loyal to the nines. In fact in my first 2 years in business, 2 businesses my father despised wanted to work with us and I declined.   Let’s be real; Mark and Al Davis probably weren’t Ward Cleaver and the Beaver, and Mark’s actions prove it. Like I always say, actions show a man’s heart, and their words are the B.S. to cover over those actions.

I greatly respect Greg Papa and I understand. You remember being down or just starting out and someone takes a chance on you and you make it and it’s something you never forget. In today’s world that type of loyalty means little to nothing to some people. People only look at if that person can help them or not.  To Papa it meant everything.

Greg also see’s one of the greatest minds in pro football history pass away and his new boss is his son who never had much to do with the team and has little or no job history in 6 decades of life. I’m sure underneath Greg wasn’t too happy, or impressed.

I feel bad for Mark in a way.  I can also see Mark’s side and it must have been hard to watch Greg get so close to his father. I don’t blame Mark Davis for wanting to be his own man but I think there are a lot more motives to all these changes than that.

Jim’s Jam’s:

Greg Papa has now gone the way of Hue Jackson, Amy Trask and John Herrera. The changing of the Al Davis guard is pretty complete. The 300-pound gorilla in the room that no one wants to talk about is the complicated relationship between Mark Davis and his father. He wants to literally start over in Las Vegas while pushing the reset button.   Davis needs to realize in the NFL world he has to earn his way and earn respect. With popular Greg Papa, he obviously didn’t.

Mark Davis is trying to find himself as a person and as an owner.   Today’s cynical and shallow age is a hard place to do it in especially if you are in your 60’s. And what I found out is that a radio announcer would lose a job he loves beyond measure for the loyalty of a man, and the very person who is firing him for his loyalty is the son of that man. This is a lot deeper than anyone wants to admit.

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

 

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

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

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

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

Quarterback:

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

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

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

Grade: A

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

Offensive Line:

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

Grade: A

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

Running Backs:

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

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

Grade: A

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

Wide Receivers:

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

Grade: A-

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

Defensive Line:

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

Grade: D

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

Linebackers:

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

Grade: D

This group struggled all day

Defensive Backs:

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

Grade: F

Cringe.

Special Teams:

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

Grade: A-

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

Coaching:

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

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

Grade: A-

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

Outlook:

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

How to Fix the Defense:

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

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

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

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

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

Next Game:

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Ken Stabler Leading Teammates in CTE Fight Even After His Passing; Should Kids Play Football?”

 

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Ken Stabler Being Helped off the Field During Game

Friday it was released that several former Oakland Raiders had agreed to have their brains studied upon their death.  They did this through the encouragement of Ken’s longtime partner, Kim Ross-Bush.  They wanted to follow him in helping to further the study of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) in the hopes of helping future players.  Still today, Ken still is the leader of the dynasty that was the 1970’s Oakland Raiders.

The Stabler Family Tells Their Story:

Kim Ross-Bush, the partner of Ken Stabler for over 16 years; tells the story of how Ken deteriorated over time.  His daughter Marissa also talks about the changes in her father.  ESPN’s Outside the Lines is a great show and I really enjoyed the piece it did a while back on Ken and his struggles with CTE.

You are already seeing players starting to retire at earlier ages in fear of the long term damage football may have on them.

http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/14703416/outside-lines-nfl-great-ken-stabler-diagnosed-cte-death

Eliminate Tackling in Practice:

In a groundbreaking move, the Ivy League coaches voted to eliminate tackling in practices.  Instead they use tackling dummies, bags, and even use tackling robots.  Coaches from around the country are limiting contact in College football.  What’s interesting is the Ivy league now says their tackling techniques are much better and more fundamentally sound and the list of injuries have dropped dramatically.

http://www.ncaa.com/news/football/article/2016-03-04/college-football-ivy-league-limits-tackling-football-practices

My Experience With CTE:

I remember in 2009 being asked to do a house call to check up on a patient who was really struggling with his sleep equipment and his quality of sleep.  I immediately remembered the name.  I’m a huge history guy and I did a check and found out it was the former NFL player that I thought it was.

When I walked into their house his wife was as kind as could be.  She offered me a piece of cake and coffee and I loved it.  Her husband was a little shocked I knew so much about him and it obviously made him feel good.  When I left his wife walked me out.  At the door she gave me a bottle of wine and was near tears.  “Thank you so much; you made him smile and that hasn’t happened much.  Please come visit again soon”.  I told her I would be by next week.

A week later I showed up and it was like a light turned off.  He sat in a somewhat dark room looking out a window; something he did for hours sometimes.  He was rude, irritable and he couldn’t remember a thing we discussed.  I laughed at the start because I thought he was teasing me but he wasn’t.  He talked about his headaches and his sleep being so intermittent that he would be exhausted all the time.  It was hinted he knew he was damaged and he didn’t want to know the truth.  CTE was barely known publicly in 2009.

His wife explained this was their life.  A tornado of emotions with little joy and hope at times.  I tried calling them once but their number had changed & was unlisted, so I never heard from them again and found out they moved. Even today the picture of him sitting in a darkened room alone can bring me to tears.

Owners Still Don’t Get It:

Jerry Jones was quoted last week that he was not convinced there was a link between CTE and concussions.  I’m sure many owners have their doubts especially when it may cost them money to take care of the problem.  Jerry Jones needs to read research and stop acting like a fool.  Another “my opinion is greater than facts” guy.  Money doesn’t make you smart.  It’s the same callousness the NFL showed during the 2009 concussion hearings at Congress.

In the 2014 settlement against the NFL, in a rare action, the Judge was so appalled at the NFL’s offer that he overturned it.  The NFL said to trust their math.  Most of what the NFL has done, they were made to do.

What Has the NFL Done to Help With CTE’s:

Many say I’m too hard on the NFL.  They bring up the 88 plan championed by CTE legend Gay Culverhouse, former President of Tampa Bay.  It’s true; it gives $130,000 a year to players that qualify but read the fine print because I did; the one disorder it DOESN’T cover?  CTE.

The Alumni Association is also working with corporations to set up retirement places catered to NFL players.  In the medical field the dirty secret is that many feel this is going to be a huge money maker in the future with so many NFL players having to deal with brain issues.  Soccer players are now having issues with CTE.  Brandi Chastain has agreed to donate her brain as well.

The owners have given money for research and also changed the rules protecting players more.  It has changed the game drastically allowing for huge numbers by quarterbacks and wide receivers but it had to be done.

The NFL also has adopted a much stricter concussion protocol but it’s already seen failures.  Rams QB Case Keenum hit his head on the turf against Baltimore last year and staggered off the field.  After talking to the trainer, he was shockingly let back in the game to finish it.  Afterwards he was diagnosed with a concussion.  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to his credit admitted they made a mistake.  Damage done though.

I remember watching film of the 1976 Raiders year in review.  In week 9 the Raiders played at Chicago.  The astroturf there was like cement especially when it was cold.  Ken Stabler got a concussion and wobbled off the field.  Eventually he came back into the game leading the Raiders to victory.  You wonder how many times since he was a kid did that happen to Ken.

Breakthrough in CTE Testing?

The problem with CTE is that you can’t diagnose it while the player is alive.  When UCLA lead researcher Dr. Julian Bailes said they had a test that could diagnose CTE in living people, many questioned his findings.  The problem with anything in medicine is greed.  If this is true, they stand to make millions.  Some say that within 3-5 years it will be able to be done. The controversy continues but when they can test players, it can give them a better option into getting out of the game or staying in it.

Should Kid’s Play Football:

One of the key factors with CTE is the duration you take hits.  Usually the longer you play, the worse it is.  Ken Stabler; like many NFL athletes; played as a kid.  You have to limit the length, and the severity of the damage.  Some think teaching good fundamental tackling is the answer but it’s not.  When you hit the ground or get hit; good tackle or not; your head is going to jar.  Its’ like having a minor car accident several times a day.

I think that kids should not play organized tackle football until they are 13 years old.  I also believe that at the most, teams need to have only 1 contact day of practice per week; or 90 minutes.

The State of Texas that brought you “Friday Night Lights” and built a 60 million dollar stadium in the city of Allen, is surprisingly the leader in protecting players.  In 2013, the University Interscholastic League in Texas; the group that makes the rules for high school football; voted to limit contact in practices to 90 minutes a week.  Some said this would ruin Texas football but it hasn’t changed their dominance in any way.

Between 2005 and 2014, 92 high school football players died.  Some by direct contact, and others by things associated with football.  What’s shocking though is that almost ALL states have NO medical regulations mandating high school football teams to have ANY trained medical staff on the field at any time.  Some parents have sued school districts for having their kids lying on a field waiting long periods of time for qualified people to help their kids.  That HAS to change.  They don’t have to have an ambulance on staff, or a doctor or EMT’s or professional trainers.  Epic fail.  This has to change.

I remember in football crazy Napa, California where I grew up, (who ESPN voted had the #2 high school stadium in the country 6 years ago) they always had an ambulance in one of the end zones at Memorial Stadium and EMT professionals at the games.  It helped save one of my friends who actually broke his neck during a game.  He wasn’t paralyzed but he fractured his neck and the quality care on the field saved him.  I hope they still have that same support there now.

Final Thoughts:

The sad part is, we need to have a sure way of diagnosing players while they are alive, and we need to know how better to protect them.  Even if helmets evolved, the jarring of the brain from the hits and hitting the ground are still going to cause damage so it’s a difficult thing to fix.

What also is scary, is that ALS; or Lou Gehrigs disease has also been linked to long term head trauma seen in sports like football.  University of Alabama player Kevin Turner just passed away at the age of 46; of ALS.  He played 8 years in the NFL.

CTE is the scary ghost hiding in the closet that players and their families fear.  Fans and the media need to get involved.  Some didn’t support the cheerleaders fight to get minimum wage.  Many fans didn’t support referees wanting better training and to be full time employees.  The NFL said both were too expensive.  Add the lack of support to retired players by some as well.  In my mind it’s disrespecting the game and those that are associated with it by not respecting everyone that was in it.

All fans and media people associated with the NFL who really care about this wonderful game and the people in it need to act.  Some in the NFL media won’t because they feel backlash from their networks.  We need the NFL to know the lack of support is unacceptable.  The 88 plan needs to include CTE.  Support research and retired players rights.  Show compassion and kindness instead of saying, “well if they don’t want to die early then don’t play”.  The players gave their all; now we need to give ours.

The NFL has shown they will NOT do the right thing unless they are made to.  It’s time that fans now become the voices of the voiceless.  Ken Stabler and all of the players that suffered in silence; along with their families that experienced it; deserve our support.  No more Dave Duerson stories.  A man that texted family to let them know he wanted his brain studied after he shot himself in the chest.  He didn’t want others to go through the torment he did.  No more retired players holding their heads in pain or looking out windows in darkened rooms wondering in sadness what was happening to them.  We can’t expect the NFL to do the right thing to these fathers, son’s, grandfathers and brothers, if we don’t.  The NFL has shown it will listen but we have to speak.

“Oakland Raiders Draft Preview: Players That Can Help Immediately in Round 1”

 

 

NFL logo and set are seen at New York's Radio City Music Hall before the start of the 2013 NFL Draft
The Pre NFL Draft Scene

Are you sick of the words moving, stadium, Schaaf, Davis and Los Angeles?   Are you sick of crazy rumors that always end up to be false? Me too.   Let’s actually look intelligently into the future of the Raiders ON THE FIELD. Come on kids, who’s with me?

The Raiders ended up the season 7-9 and they will be drafting in the 14th spot in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Mock Draft Mania:

I think what bothers me about mock drafts is how mind numbingly wrong so many of them are. I was shocked at some of Pro Football Focus, Bleacher Report and FanSided’s writers mocks, and even NFL.com’s writers mock drafts.   I mean did they ever watch a game in college? They don’t use common sense.   People forget that a few years ago Mel Kiper Jr. got 1; thats right; one pick right in the first round. And this is from a guru that people pay ESPN to check out his insider mock drafts! Insiders are so wrong so often that as a fan, you should take mock drafts with a grain of salt.  Do you actually think NFL teams are going to be honest and tell sports writers what they are going to do?  Al Davis in his younger days would leak fake rumors just to mess with writers and other teams.

What changes this years draft is Hue Jackson being hired in Cleveland.   Many have commented he is not a fan of Johnny Manziel so instead of Joey Bosa you could see California QB Jarod Goff going to Cleveland at #2. Let’s look at some of the talent that could come Oakland’s way next year.

Possible Picks:

Shawn+Robinson+Oklahoma+v+Alabama+SzV8kZrawVrl
A’Shawn Robinson vs Oklahoma

A’Shawn Robinson: DT Alabama

My favorite player in the draft after Jaylon Smith got hurt. Remember; a strong DL covers up DB’s issues. Look at the 4 teams left in the playoffs. Seattle has the best defensive backfield in the NFL but when the pass rush struggles, even they are toast.   Some have Robinson going in the early or middle part of the first round but wow would he be a steal. He’s the best DL on the best defense. One announcer said he looks like a fast vending machine. He is 6′ 3″ 320 and he’s quick; he’s hurdled more than a few offensive blockers in his time too. Many feel he’s just beginning to get his stride as a pass rusher. He could be effective immediately and could play all 3 downs. He’s my #1 DL in the draft even over Joey Bosa; a special talent that can’t be passed up by the Raiders if he is available which may or may not happen.   How about him, Aldon Smith, Kahlil Mack & Ellis rushing the passer next year. For the first time in years I’d be happy with the Raiders DL and so would fans.

 

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Alabama
Reggie Raglund vs Texas A & M

Reggie Ragland: LB Alabama  

Ragland is a rugged and physical MLB who is a good tackler and a popular name for mock drafters. He is fast but doesn’t have blazing speed. He’s also a popular teammate and leader as well. The problem with Alabama LB’s is that you really don’t know if they can cover anyone in the passing game. They play zone and rely on their pass rush so their LB’s rarely play man to man coverage. If he can cover in the NFL he is going to be a good one.

Mackensie alexander1
Mackensie Alexander vs Oklahoma

Mackensie Alexander: CB Clemson

Teams either love him or hate him. Some have him going as high as 6th and some have him going in the second round.   The ACC isn’t the greatest conference as is seen by their lack of bowl success every year but Alexander is the real deal in my book. I love an NFL draft writer on Bleacher Report who complained that he didn’t have an interception this year; well when you give up only 11 catches all year and no one throws your way, you are not going to have interceptions. Too many stat ho’s. He is aggressive, athletic and has great instincts in coverage which will be a breath of fresh air after watching DJ Hayden for 3 years. I’ll miss the DJ Hayden apologists though.   Ok maybe not so much.

11.21.15_MSU FTBL VS OHIO STATE
Jack Conklin vs Ohio St.

Jack Conklin: OT Michigan St.

If the Raiders want to go OT here, some are saying Taylor Decker from OSU, but I like Conklin better. Decker looks better in his uniform and is very tall (6′ 7″) but he isn’t consistent enough for me in the run game and Conklin is a Raider. Conklin plays hard every play and he’s a big physical guy with a mean streak. A bruising OL that wears defensive players down. I see him starting in a year or two if not earlier. He’s smart and physical and I love his game.

ezekiel elliott
Ezekiel Elliott vs Western Michigan

Ezekiel Elliott: RB Ohio St.

I think a few Raider fans pretty much want all pro’s at every offensive position so this is a pick for them. I think teams that draft well are fans of the best player available and even though I don’t think this pick would happen, this still is the Raiders and you never know. I think Elliott is better than Heisman winner Derrick Henry. Alabama always has near the best OL in college and they never get the credit when their RB’s do so well. With Eddie Lacy struggling last year, Alabama RB’s haven’t exactly tore up the NFL the last 10 years. Elliott is big, fast and strong and he’s a work horse. He was never asked to catch the ball much so he’ll have to learn with experience. People forget that Barry Saunders averaged a little over 2 catches a game in his career and he wasn’t in the lineup often for the Lions on passing downs.

Elliott has a little prima donna in him but he’s a physical, talented player. The Raiders could move or let go of Reece and Murray and give the starting nod to Elliott and let Roy Helu Jr. take the 3rd down role for every week and not just week 17. Again, crazier things have happened but it’s a long shot. Eli Manning isn’t the type of QB to carry a team so to me, Elliott has NY Giants at #10 written all over him, but who knows. Again, if he’s there his talent is hard to pass up.

 

Mississippi v Mississippi State
Laquon Treadwell vs Mississippi St.

Laquon Treadwell: WR Mississippi

Think Dez Bryant or Larry Fitzgerald. Personally I think the Raiders need an upgrade at #3 WR but defense is a much bigger need. I had high hopes for Andre Holmes but he’s not getting much playing time. Seth Roberts is ok but when others are double teamed he should be.

 Treadwell has good size and good speed even though he’s not a speedster.   He is a quiet guy but a total leader type who makes big plays in the biggest games. He came back from a horrific ankle injury as good as new. A playmaker in the biggest sense with great hands. He will make one team very happy and has the potential to be a #1 WR. His value is again all over the board. Some have him going #4 to the Cowboys and some have him going into the early second round. Again, the mock draft world.

Shaq Lawson
Shaq Lawson vs Oklahoma

Shaq Lawson: DE Clemson

Another Clemson guy Jim? Yes.   He can speed or bull rush and he can stop the run. He’s a playmaker and a leader and he’s quick as a cat. If he’s still available you just can’t pass him up. His projection is also all over the place. Some have him going #7 and some have him going all the way to #26. Welcome to the guessing game which is the NFL mock draft. Talents like this can’t be passed up though. Ask Denver how fun it is having DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller as rushing bookends.

Please Don’t Pick Them Award:

Robert-Nkemdiche
Roebert Nkemdche vs Louisiana Lafayette

Robert Nkemdiche: DL Ole Miss

He famously fell out of a hotel window while partying with his boys and fell 15 feet and needed an ambulance. They then found 7 joints in his hotel room and he was arrested. To be honest for some of the crimes college players have done or have been accused of, that’s kind of tame in my book.   What worries me more than that is that I think he’s overrated. Many SEC players get way too much publicity and I think this guy is one of those.

When supposed future all world DE/LB Jadeveon Clowney was in the draft, I pointed out to everyone how poor he had played in his last 8 college games.   Oh the hate. One guy called me the dumbest writer he’d ever read. I pointed out that Teams were actually running at him and his stats were not very good. I saw the same thing with Nkemdiche. In his last 6 games he averaged only 2.5 tackles a game and he had 3 sacks all season. I’m not a fan of his but some love this guy. He’s another popular player going to the Raiders in some mock drafts. I doubt he will be chosen considering how the Raiders have concentrated on character guys. I’d pass on him.

 

kendall fuller
Kendall Fuller

Kendall Fuller: CB Virginia Tech

I think Kendall Fuller is this years DJ Hayden. I think his stock will rise at the NFL combines and mark it down; I have a bad feeling this is going to be the Raiders pick. He’s athletic and fast. At the start of the season Fuller was considered a top CB in college. He was torched often in the Ohio St. game and looked overwhelmed and lost. He then got hurt in week three with a knee injury and missed the rest of last season.   Rumors already have the Steelers liking him especially with their weak defensive backfield. I don’t like this pick. His weakness is that he has poor instincts as a DB. Virginia Tech has an aggressive defense but there is a lot of freelancing. Many times Fuller looks at the QB too much and loses track of his man. I just do not like this guy but the NFL combine 40 times have screwed the Raiders for years with many poor DB draft picks and I hope they don’t do it again.   I think Fuller is no where near as good as Alexander.

 

jaylon smith
Jaylon Smith

Jaylon Smith: LB Notre Dame

Before his injury this was my favorite pick in college. Fast, a great tackler, good leader can play all downs; then he had that horrific injury.

The “rome wasn’t built in a day” stuff is old to many fans.   Some fans say that every time a new coaching staff is hired and many Raider fans are done with it after 13 years of non winning seasons. The Raiders need to win now. Smith tore 2 ligaments and in no way will be full strength next year. Smith is all about speed so for me this is just too much of a risk. One ligament maybe; but not two. It takes a good year to fully recover from this injury and it may take 2, and who knows how healthy he will be. Patience isn’t bliss anymore in Oakland.

 

These are just a handful of the names that you will be hearing about.  There are others that I feel would be good picks and we’ll share them at another time.

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

battle of the bay

“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.

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

raiders vs chargers

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

San Diego Chargers  31 (4-1)

Oakland Raiders  28 (0-5)

Quarterback:

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

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

GRADE:  B+

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

Running Backs: 

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

Grade B+

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

Offensive Line: 

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

Grade A-

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

Wide Receivers: 

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

GRADE:  B+

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

Defensive Line:

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

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

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

Grade:  D-

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

Linebackers:

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

Grade D+

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

Defensive Backs:

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

Grade D+ 

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

Coaching:

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

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

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

Grade A-

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

Special Teams:

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

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

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

Grade C+

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

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

Outlook:

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

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

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

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