When Ken Norton was released from being the defensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders, it started the ball rolling. According to some reporters, the ball is still rolling.
With Offensive coordinator Todd Downing being the scapegoat to all of the Raiders offensive problems, he is probably gone. He definitely didn’t do a good job, but there was a lot of blame to go around. People forget the main reason to hiring him was to make Derek Carr happy before negotiations to his huge contract. Carr loved the hire. Todd Downing was not ready for the job but it is what it is.
The blame is also being given to OL coach Mike Tice now which is puzzling. He’s a good coach and I feel something is fishy here and we will talk about this in a bit.
Going back to Downing, Some complained about the play calling but Derek Carr has the final say on what plays are called. He can audible any time he wishes but usually doesn’t. You can’t blame Downing without giving blame to Carr. And that’s the tip of the iceberg on offense and defense.
Is Del Rio Still The Answer?:
When JDR was hired, only a few would say that the hiring of Jack Del Rio was not as great as many thought. Most Raider fans loved Jack Del Rio; “in Reggie we trust; in Jack we trust!” was all you heard all off season on social media. Now the same loyal soldiers are carrying pitchforks and torches.
As is the norm, I took ton of heat for my article on Jack Del Rio when he was hired but many of the things I warned fans about are now coming to fruition. It was a safe hire but there were many others I liked more.
To refresh our memories, Jack Del Rio went through 19 coaches during his 9 years at Jacksonville. Usually when coaches are fired and the head coach isn’t, that means the blame is being put on the coaches instead of the head coach. (Insert Mike Tice’s name here). In 2016 when Mike McCoy kept his job for the Chargers, most of his staff was fired. John Pagano the defensive coordinator of the Raiders was one of them. Frank Reich the Offensive coordinator of the Eagles was also fired by the Chargers, who before their Qb’s injury was the #1 offense in the NFL. His staff was sliced and diced but Mike McCoy Survived another year before he was fired.
Gary Radnich of KNBR 680 and KRONTV fame, is a media icon in the bay area and he never says insider information unless he has facts to back them. When Norton was fired Gary said he knew people in the Raiders front office and there were grumblings about Del Rio. The complaints were mostly about the same issues he had at Jacksonville. Jack was a control freak and didn’t let the coordinators or other coaches do what they wanted. Jack also manipulated people so that he deferred blame to some players and coaches when things didn’t go well. The magical kingdom was crumbling.
The question is will the Raiders give Jack Del Rio three years of free money to go away and get nothing in return? It’s hard to think they will do this but crazier things have happened.
Every teams fan base is pretty much the same. The New York Giants fans last year raved about their front office and coaching staff when they made the playoffs. Now after a terrible season, the fans want their entire front office fired; which most will; even though this was the same coaching staff that lead them to the playoffs last year. I guess they all have Alzheimer’s now and forgot how to coach. The fact that they had more injuries than any other team in the NFL might be more of the reason but that would be too easy. Many fans give all the credit to the players when they win, and all the blame to the coaches when they lose. And if the player is on the field but not playing well, then he has to be hurt. Personally I don’t get it.
And the fact that the Raiders played the 2nd easiest schedule in the NFL last year and had to struggle to barely beat some of these teams with 7 last minute wins means nothing I’m sure. This year they had the 2nd toughest schedule. There are many other reasons but I’ve talked about it at nausea in previous articles. Firing Downing is not going to bring a Super Bowl to Oakland.
Will Jack Del Rio Survive:
As I said previously, it’s hard to think that the Raiders will pay Jack Del Rio 3 years of salary to go away. I think he gets one more year. They have other problems too. The Raiders are near the poorest team in the NFL. The Las Vegas stadium is a mess. If the new GOP tax plan passes, it eliminates any public funds to be used for NFL stadiums. This means the Raiders would have to somehow be grandfathered in, but that will take time and may never happen. That means they may now have to come up with 750 million more dollars. It could get ugly real quick.
At the end of last year there was so much hope, and now there is lots of turmoil. This is the era of the salary cap and this is how things can change so quickly. With the Raiders making changes and getting an easier schedule next year, I see them coming back and having a good season. In reality I hope this makes more fans appreciate the 3 Super Bowl Titles the Raider greats of the past won. Daryle Lamonica was 40-4-1 in his first 45 starts as the Raiders QB. Ken Stabler was 56-13 in his first 69 starts. Oakland was 18-1-1 in their first 20 Monday night games. That’s why the Raiders of the past are so revered. It’s not that easy folks.
The Raiders laid another egg yesterday in a 26-15 loss to Kansas City. Thanks to Alex Smith’s horrible day, he kept it close in a game that really wasn’t that close. Some say how can they be this bad after a 12-4 season. Part of the reason was that they played one of the easiest schedules in the NFL last year and barely won several games. They weren’t as good as their 12-4 record said. Also on offense where teams now no longer give them the easy, short passes, the Raiders have done little to adjust. After this disappointing loss in Kansas City, even though it’s way too early, let’s take a quick look at each position and coach to see who may or may not be back next year.
Mark Davis likes Reggie McKenzie and it’s hard to see him not back for at least one more year. I think the Raiders are frustrated though at another lost draft pick to injury just like DJ Hayden, and Karl Joseph who all missed significant time their rookie seasons just like CB Gareon Conley did this year.
From Derrick Gibson and Philip Buchanon, to DJ Hayden, the Raiders have been missing on DB’s for a long time. They also have had several signed busts as well. The Raiders front 7 has never been the focus; the DB’s are always the focus and it’s a terrible plan. Shore up the defensive front 7 and your defense will improve immediately. The best defenses in the NFL have stud front 7’s. With the new rules, the days of shut down corners and DB’s like the soul patrol are over. This is a huge off season for McKenzie.
Jack Del Rio:
When Jack Del Rio was hired, I wrote 2 articles saying this wasn’t a great hire. The Raider nation called me a fool. Huh? Oh how the mighty have fallen. All off season and last year you heard in Jack we trust and all of the other corny sayings. Those same people now want Jack’s head. Many fans online are calling for his firing.
KNBR’s Gary Radnich is not one to spread rumors. He said he’s close to some of the people on the Raiders present staff and they are saying Del Rio isn’t exactly the most loyal guy to his staff and he’s a huge micro manager. There are also grumblings that he’s not exactly getting along with Mark Davis and/or Reggie McKenzie. His firing which was once thought to be crazy may happen. Problem is he’s owed a ton of money after signing a 4 year extension in February. Look for Jack to be back for at least one more year. And remember in his tenure at Jacksonville he went through 19 coaches.
He hasn’t’ done a good job but he’s the fans and amateur writers scapegoat. The truth is Derek Carr holds some of the blame too. Carr is the coach on the field and he has the last say on plays that are called. If you are going to trash Downing then you need to trash Derek Carr who seems to only occasionally audible. Carr for this year is the highest paid NFL player. Rodgers, Brady & Roethlesberger to name a few, audible for most of the game.
Downing was in over his head and it’s hard to see him back next year but Carr loved this guy and this was a hire to please him.
Pagano is a solid defensive coordinator and he should be retained. He still has a lot of work to do though. Kansas City’s offensive line and QB Alex Smith were horrible yesterday but they still got a 26-0 lead at one point. Smith in particular was bad with his decision making and accuracy being a mess when the Chiefs should have had 40 points easy.
The Raiders for years have tried to fix the defense by signing and drafting defensive backs; it doesn’t work. If you look at most of the teams that are thriving, the key to their defenses are the front 7. They may have quality DB’s but you have to have a pass rush to win in the NFL. The Raiders don’t.
Fans will lose their mind when a player has a big game but there is no consistency. Khalil Mack had a 6 game stretch this year where he had only 1 ½ sacks and only 27 tackles. The Raiders were 2-4 in that stretch. He once was benched for poor play. In the first 10 games of the year, Bruce Irvin had 2 ½ sacks and only 34 tackles. That doesn’t scare any opponent.
Mario Edwards had a few moments but he also has not proven he’s the answer to the DL issues. Jihad Ward was not a good pick last year and even though he played most of 2016, he had very little success. Even though he’s been healthy, the Raiders have not even had him suit up for some games so already his days may be numbered.
Eddie Vanderdoes is this years Ward and he has not had much of an impact as well with has only 13 tackles all year even though he’s started often. The Raiders have to sign or draft a dominating DT who can put pressure on the QB or they will struggle; AGAIN.
Navorro Bowman loves the bay area and Reggie McKenzie loves him; he did a good job in signing him. Look for Bowman to be back next year. He’s not the player he once was but he definitely is an upgrade to what the Raiders had and he’s a hard worker with good leadership skills. I love him on the team.
To be honest other than Irvin, the rest of the LB core are borderline NFL starters. The Raiders LB’s still struggle a lot in pass coverage. The Raiders need another starter and if I’m drafting next year my first 2 picks are a DT and an LB. The Raiders have to improve their front 7 or not much will change. And to watch the 49ers Reuben Foster have 45 tackles in the last 5 games and 3 for loss, is a little rough when the Raiders could have drafted him.
If there was ever any ammo against Reggie McKenzie, it’s his signings and drafting of DB’s. DJ Hayden was a huge bust and now he finally is starting on a bad Detroit pass defense after being a nickel back for most of the year.
David Amerson did well his first year but teams found out that he struggles covering the deep ball. If the Raiders keep him it will definitely be at a lesser salary. Sean Smith has been a bust and his big salary will be taken off the books in the off season. Reggie Nelson has never been a great factor and his 4 million will also be taken off the books. Whether Gareon Conley is ready or not, he’s going to start next year. He was never good against the run at Ohio St. but his claim to fame was as a coverage man. He will get his chance quickly next year after being another injured Reggie draft pick that didn’t do much his first year.
Karl Joseph is what he is. A hard hitter who is good against the run but will struggle at times in coverage. Covering the tight end is still an issue in Oakland. Joseph had a bad game in KC with some awful missed tackles.
Safety Obi Melifonwu is an amazing athlete and good tackler but he has a lot to learn. His struggles in college were due to a lack of instinct and he also will probably be thrown into the fire next year. That could get ugly. TJ Carrie is an OK DB but he’s never going to be the shut down corner or key safety. He can provide depth though. Due to the wasted money and mistakes, the Raiders will need help in free agency. PLEASE; No more high DB picks. I beg of you.
Derek Carr is now the highest paid player in the NFL and he’s feeling the pressure. He is a good, solid NFL QB, but he will never be a great QB. His reluctance to run and his uncomfortable movements when he’s rushed are obvious even to the average fan. Last year teams gave the Raiders the short ball and this year they took it away and Carr and Todd Downing never adjusted. EJ Manuel signed a 1 year 800k contract so it’s not known if he will resign. To be honest if the Raiders are relying on their backup to win, they are in huge trouble just like everyone else in the NFL.
Marshawn Lynch is signed for one more year and the Raiders are solid with DeAndre Washington Jalen Richard. Jamize Olawale is also a good player. I like these guys. Lynch is not a consistently good pass catcher though so when the Raiders are behind, his presence will diminish. The Raiders are not a zone blocking team and many have said so.
Cooper and Crabtree are solid but both have struggled with drops. Cooper needs to get more physical and with DB’s now playing on the line, he’s had issues getting into his routes. He’s a hard worker and has too much talent not to come back next year. Cordarrelle Patterson runs the worst routes in the NFL but he can run fast downfield and also is great on reverses. He makes plays and is a great return guy. Johnnie Holton is a wild card who can make plays but he doesn’t show consistency. He’s also a fumble machine if he’s hit after the catch. Seth Roberts is liked by the Raiders but his days may be numbered as the #3 WR. With issues in other areas, WR can be fixed easier than the defense.
The Raiders OL is set for at least another year. They’ve played better in the second half of the season and they are a huge key to the success of the team. Using a zone scheme on running plays has hurt this team. They need to go back to the power scheme and Marshawn Lynch needs to accept it.
First off the draft positions change like the wind. These are players that I like early on. Oakland almost always picks a DB in the first 2 rounds so this may be wishful thinking. I haven’t agreed with a lot of their draft picks especially the DB’s, but it is what it is. Here are a handful of names that may help the Raiders.
Roquan Smith LB, Georgia:
The Raiders defense would immediately improve with this guy. He’s probably the best LB in the draft and he’s been a huge key to making Georgia a top defense. Many feel he should have gotten more Heisman hype than he got. A big playmaker that can start immediately. He would be great beside Navorro Bowman and can play all downs.
DaRon Payne DT, Alabama:
Payne has really come on this year after working hard in the off season to shed a little weight which has improved his speed. At 6’ 2” and 310 pounds he runs a 4.93 40 and is a freakish athlete. He can play in passing and running downs and can create pressure on the quarterback.
Maurice Hurst DT, Michigan:
Hurst has had a good season and is solid as a run stopper and a pass rusher. He’s very athletic and is projected as a first rounder by some, a second rounder by a few.
Clelin Ferrell, DE Clemson:
The Raiders really need a DT that can push the OL back and put pressure on the QB, but Ferrell is an excellent pass rusher that they might not be able to pass on.
Like I said, social media has a lot of people that love a player and coach one day and then wants them fired the next. In reality this is business. You evaluate long and short term to see if the person or player in the position will eventually be the answer to the problem.
Also the salary cap plays a role. You can’t fix everything so you need to fix the biggest issues and do your best at other positions.
This has been a disappointing year for Oakland but they played a much tougher schedule than last year. Last year the Raiders beat a lot of bad teams and often in the last minutes of games. I think the Raiders were not as good as their record was last year and they’ve now come back down to earth.
The defense has huge issues though and that has to be fixed. The Raiders also need to get an OC that will challenge Carr to be more of a game general out there. He will never be a running QB but a scramble now and then would help as well.
This off season will see changes and lots of decisions. Time will tell if the Raiders have the people to make the right ones, and the players to carry them out.
With so many expectations, the Raiders are a disappointing 3-5 half way through the 2017-18 NFL Season. Let’s look at why this has happened, and how and when it can be fixed.
You heard a whole lot of Raider fans using the expression, “In Reggie We Trust” this off season. Many are now looking for him to either be fired or put on the hot seat.
I’ve written about McKenzie in the past. He’s done some good things but he’s also had some really bad signings and drafts. For every Derek Carr & Khalil Mack, there are the DJ Hayden’s, Jihad Ward’s and Clive Walford’s. Reggie has missed on several high picks and it’s hurt the Raiders.
The Raiders philosophy of trying to fix the defense with DB’s is wrong. They’ve been doing it for years. The Raiders need to stop pouring money and high draft picks into DB’s, and start building a dominating front 7. If you can’t rush the passer, you can’t stop teams in today’s NFL.
Khalil Mack’s contract is now up and Oakland must pay him. This will make things even harder for the Raiders and they can’t have so many misses in their signings and their draft picks.
The Raiders need a physical front 7 that can stop the run and get to the passer. They need to draft and sign players to fix this part of the defense. McKenzie has to dump many of the contracts that are coming off the books in the off season including Reggie Nelson, Sean Smith, and David Amerson. They need to get tougher as well.
I’d love to see the Rams disgruntled stud DT Aaron Donald on the Raiders. He may be the most dominating player in the NFL today. A pass rushing DT would be my first priority. If I’m GM the teams defensive identity would be a physical one that gets to the QB. On offense I’d run a power running game with an emphasis on throwing deep. With their financial belt tightened you better be right on who you sign and draft.
Jack Del Rio:
Another popular phrase this off-season was in “Jack we trust”. Now many are questioning whether he is a winner and if he’s a good enough leader.
When Jack was hired, I was of the few that really wasn’t into this signing. Del Rio is a very popular coach with the owners and players. He’s likeable, says the right things, and makes sure the guys writing his checks are happy. He also has limited success. In 12 years of coaching Oakland and the Jags he has only 4 winning seasons and one playoff win. At Jacksonville things got worse the longer he coached. In his last 4 years coaching the Jaguars he was 23-36 and was let go during his last season with them.
Del Rio is usually very loyal to his players and coaches and is not one to throw anyone under the bus. That is a good trait, but he’s also not good in press conferences during bad times. His “I don’t know what happened” comment in press conferences have a bad look to it and fans of the Raiders like it as much as Jacksonville’s fans did before.
The Raiders have to get an identity and stick to it and that is Jack Del Rio’s job. Bill’s head coach Sean McDermott has built an image in Buffalo that is equal to his. He’s also gotten rid of players that didn’t buy into his philosophy. The Bills are now tough, physical on defense, and have a good running game. Buffalo does not have a good QB and they are last in the NFL in passing offense but are 5-2 and they straight up believe.
Are the Raiders a pass happy team that doesn’t care about the run? Do they want to be a power running team that can throw deep? Do they want to be a physical defense that gets to the QB? Choose an identity and follow it.
Del Rio also has to be more authoritative and take control. Saying it’s my fault or saying we have to work on a better scheme is a lot better than shrugging your shoulders and saying I don’t know what happened. Some in the media have said he’s played a big role in the defense and it hasn’t helped. If the Raiders struggle for the next season and a half, his job won’t be his anymore.
Even some in the media are now saying Derek Carr might be overrated. That’s way too simple. The truth is Carr is a good but not great NFL QB. He’s also a QB that gets rattled under a pass rush. Carr’s interceptions have got to him mentally. He’s now throwing to the check down receiver much more than in the past, and he’s trying to pinpoint passes in between defenders instead of airing it out and throwing deep. Some have said the Raiders threw deep more than anyone last year and that’s not true. The Raiders were 11th in completed passes past 20 yards and 12th over 40 yards.
There were more than a few bad passes yesterday that were caused by the pressure Buffalo was putting on Carr. He looked like he did when he was a rookie at times. He anticipated the rush instead of feeling it and it showed. Last year he was the best protected QB in the NFL and he thrived. This year the OL has struggled and so has he. NOT a coincidence.
Raiders OC Todd Downing is also getting trashed by many and he deserves some of the heat. He’s made few changes to the offensive scheme and the rest of the league has changed a lot to defend the Raiders. For instance on the turnovers yesterday, each play Buffalo played in the face of the Raiders WR. Instead of airing it out, Carr nervously went for the check down passes or tried to pinpoint the ball in between defenders.
Marshawn Lynch struggled his last year with Seattle, and he’s still struggling. He looks like a 31 year old RB and RB’s usually don’t get better or faster with age. He’s taken a lot of punishment over the years.
The Raiders have solid RB’s that can run, block and catch the ball but the Raiders have to run more. Some fans tried to say after yesterdays game, “see; look how bad the Raiders RB’s are”. Well they ran only 14 times all game with DeAndre Washington leading the way with 6 carries for 26 yards. The Raiders are an amazing 26th in the NFL for the number of rushing attempts so far this year. Last year they ended the year with the 11th most rushing attempts.
Unless Downing steps up, a new coordinator is needed. They also need to back to the power blocking scheme and run the ball down teams throats. Marshawn Lynch enjoys the zone blocking scheme for his OL but it hasn’t worked. The identity of the offense should be a power running game and then use the deep ball with the play action pass. You can’t blame Todd Downing with poor play calling and not get on Carr. Carr is the coach on the field and he’s got to audible more. He has the final say on what play will be called. Part of being a QB is calling a great game and he was fooled a couple of times when the Bills showed blitz but didn’t.
Where do we start. At the start of the year some publications said that the Raiders had the worst LB’ s in the NFL. The Raiders still have 17.5 million guaranteed until next year with CB’s David Amerson and Sean Smith. Reggie Nelson’s 4.25 million will be off the books too. Amerson struggles guarding the deep ball and Smith has struggled with everything. Reggie Nelson is on his last legs and Karl Joseph still struggles defending the passing game. Gareon Conley’s rookie year is pretty much not going to amount to much and that’s another round 1 pick that didn’t help much their first year.
The Raiders defensive line still can’t create a pass rush or stop the run. Khalil Mack had only 2 tackles yesterday with no sacks and was kept out for a small part of the game without any injury. The team has only 12 sacks in 8 games and it’s the same old story, different day.
Fans posting that the Raiders have this amazing amount of talent on defense and all they need is good coaching are ridiculous. They need talent big time on defense. Ken Norton Jr. and Jack Del Rio may not be the answer to fix the defense, but until they improve the talent, NOTHING is going to change.
Blow it up. Get an experienced, quality coordinator. The Raiders want to win now. Mario Edwards Jr. has his moments but he’s not the answer so far. Jihad Ward was a bad pick. Keep Navorro Bowman but they need more help at LB. Let Amerson, Nelson and Smith walk. They have to get a DT that can put pressure on the QB and stop the run adequately. The Raiders have been fooling themselves on the defensive side of the ball for years. What they’ve done for 15 years hasn’t worked. It needs to be fixed yesterday.
Most feel it will take 10 wins to ensure a playoff spot this year. If that is true, Oakland will have to go 7-1 the rest of the way. The Raiders have games left at home with Dallas, Denver, and the Giants and have to play Kansas City, San Diego and Philadelphia on the road. In regards to the struggles the Raiders had with the weather in rainy Buffalo, that is a beach party compared to playing in Kansas City and Philadelphia in December. This doesn’t include a game in Mexico with the Patriots right after the bye week.
Next week the Raiders play at Miami which is always a tough game for them. Realistically they will have to play amazing football the rest of the season to get to the playoffs. The offense can be improved to a point this year with some adjustments but the defense needs a lot more help that must be addressed in the off-season.
The Raiders players have a good attitude saying that they are going to work hard and stay committed. They are sticking together and not throwing blame to each other. They also can’t think about playoffs but they do need to think about the next opponent.
The Raiders will have to play amazing football the last 2 months to make the playoffs. The off season darlings of the NFL are in trouble. The castle that looked so sturdy is now having it’s foundation checked for damage. Time will tell how much work will need to be done to fix the team and if they do it right.
I’ve seen some of the craziest theories for some fans and even writers trying to explain the issues with the Raiders. I’m just not that smart I guess; I break it down to what is and not to what might be so let’s look at the statistics.
If you follow the NFL you know that owners and coaches have 2 flaws. They hate change and when they do change they copy someone. Right now the Raiders need to change their philosophy on both offense and defense to combat the changes other teams have done to stop them. For 4 straight weeks they’ve refused to adjust and it’s cost them against teams with less talent.
What Needs To Change On Offense To Beat the Chiefs:
The Raiders have completed only 2 passes over 40 yards this year and 15 passes for over 20 yards. That is on the same pace for last year.
The problem with that is for the last 4 games teams have begun to play press coverage on the Raiders. Commentators have talked about how teams no longer give the Raiders the easy short throws and the Raiders have to stretch the field. So far they haven’t adjusted to the defensive changes of other teams.
Bill Musgrave is not a genius and he was not a big loss even though some are getting way too carried away with his importance. He’s now the QB coach at Denver and Trevor Siemian is borderline atrocious, and is a big reason their offense struggles. What OC Todd Downing and Derek Carr are not getting is that they need to adjust their philosophy and they aren’t. Teams are taking away the short game so now you have to throw deep.
The first thing I’d do tonight is run a play action pass on first down and throw the deep ball. Even if it isn’t caught, it will give the threat of it. Cordarrelle Patterson is lightning fast and so is Amari Cooper & Johnny Holton. What good is that speed if you are not going to stretch the field? The NFL is a game of adjustments and those that don’t adjust, fail to keep their jobs.
Marshawn Lynch & The Formula to Beat Kansas City:
I was in the 1% who did not like the Lynch signing. He’s not the same player and he’s lost his burst. I like youth at RB; always have. Also the Raiders changed to a zone blocking scheme to accommodate his running style. The zone blocking scheme is more for smaller and quicker OL. The Raiders have a mammoth sized OL and they should be running the power scheme and NOT zone blocking. The running game has suffered for it.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 5-1 against the Chiefs in their last 6 games. Why? Because they stopped the nonsense of throwing 40-50 times and ran the ball down Kansas City’s throat each time. They also took away the run and the short pass to the RB’s and TE’s and tried to force Alex Smith to throw deep which is not his strength.
The Raiders need to run and run often. Jalen Richard & DeAndre Washington have to run the ball more. He’s quick to the hole where Lynch isn’t. If it were me Lynch would not even start, Richard would. I would employ Lynch as a short yardage or goal line back.
What Needs To Change On Defense:
The Raiders are 27th in the NFL in sacks with only 11. Sound Familiar? If you can’t rush the passer your defense will not be good; end of story. Especially in todays game with the rules protecting WR.
The Raiders also lack talent and you can’t fix that mid-season. Navorro Bowman was a great signing for the LB’s but he’s nowhere near what he was in the past. He’s had two terrible leg injuries and his speed has suffered a lot. If he can get there he can make a tackle that is for sure. On the Raiders though he immediately becomes their best LB. Bowman is not a blitzer; he’s a straight up LB and in his prime was as good as anyone in the game. All these ridiculous predictions of multiple sacks and 12-15 tackles and multiple fumble recoveries are fun stuff on Facebook groups I guess but it’s far from the real world. Hopefully Bowman can get into a regular rotation and get his sea legs in the Raiders defense for his first game.
The philosophy for years for Oakland was to sign and draft great db’s to fix the defense. That plan has failed miserably. With the rules today making looking at a WR a penalty, the QB and WR stats are like pinball scores. You have to have a pass rush or your DB’s are toast. The Raiders have failed to emphasize the DL and the LB and focus on DB’s and it doesn’t work. Right now they can’t cut Sean Smith who has around 9 million in cap room. They have to wait until next year. David Amerson who struggles with the deep ball, has 8.5 million on the books. That’s a huge amount of wasted money on limited return.
The Raiders DL still can’t rush the passer and for another painstaking year it’s killing the team on defense. Add that the last 2 weeks Mack has been quiet as well and wasn’t double teamed very much, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
It will take a miracle for the Raiders to win big with this defense but you have to make do. If I’m Jack Del Rio I go crazy with my play calls. The Raiders do not have the talent on defense to stop a lot of teams so I make sure on any third down with more than 5 yards to go I blitz someone. In fact I would blitz a lot but I’d change it up. If the Raiders do not get to the QB their DB’s and LB’s can’t cover. Karl Joseph struggles a lot covering TE and the LB’s coverage skills are so bad, ex-Raider Rich Gannon said he’d throw to the RB’s almost every time. The thought of Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce running wild after catching passes tonight is a definite worry.
The Player The Raiders Need To Change Their Defense Immediately:
Rams DT Aaron Donald is extremely unhappy where he is. This guy at times is unblockable. He’s double teamed often but he still gets big numbers. He is probably the best DT in the game. He’s 26 and in the prime of his career and he want’s big money. Well I make it work. The Raiders overpaid for some free agents and their money is coming off of the books. Sign him and Mack and now you have a special tandem.
I’d play Donald on the same side as Mack. I’d then start moving Mack around when teams figured that out. This would give the Raiders a pretty much unblockable DL especially on obvious passing downs. Now THIS tranforms your defense immediately. Not a DB that you hope works out when you don’t have a pass rush. Will the Raiders give that type of money to the DL along with Mack? Probably not. A man can dream can’t he?
What is Going To Happen Tonight?
If the Raiders do nothing to their schemes and keep throwing short and keep trying to play their defense straight up, then a close loss at home is probable and a 2-5 start will destroy their season.
If the Raiders wake up and start throwing deep and setting that up with a physical running game, then they can score some points. Their defense also needs to become much more aggressive on blitzes to hide their deficiencies in coverage. If they do these adjustments I think the Raiders win. If not, a 2-5 start is assured and this is with the hardest part of their schedule waiting ahead. And if I’m the GM and they don’t make these adjustments for the entire year, both coordinators will be looking for jobs elsewhere. I’d also tell Jack Del Rio he will be next if they don’t adjust. When teams adjust NFL coaches, change is good. I guarantee it.
In a fire storm that some are calling apocalyptic, 670 people are now missing and 3500 homes are destroyed. It’s also far from over. Sadly, as was being reported last night by several news outlets, All-Time Raider great Cliff Branch announced his house was burned down during the Santa Rosa fire storm. He lived near the Coffey neighborhood which looked like a war zone after the raging fire went through the area. All he could get out of his house was money, and his 3 Super Bowl rings. He drove off in one car but lost his other 2.
(below; Mercury News Story on Cliff Branch’s home)
“My house was a Raiders house” said Branch. “All three Super Bowl trophies are gone. We all got replica Lombardi Trophies when we won the Super Bowl. A lot of great Raider history from the 1970s and 1980s is gone.” When Mark Davis saw his home he called it a Raiders museum.
I’m sure all of Raider Nations positive vibes and prayers of support are with the Raider great during an extremely difficult time. At least Cliff is safe.
How to Fix the Raiders On the field:
Yesterday I read on social media some very interesting comments. Let’s address them and see how to make the Raiders as good as they can be to have a successful season.
I have one word for Jack Del Rio and Raiders OC Todd Downing. ADJUST!
The Raiders are running the same plays as last year but teams are attacking them differently. I’ve been saying it for 3 weeks, the Raiders have to change their philosophy. No longer are teams afraid of the deep ball against Oakland, so teams are going from a cover 2 to press coverage. If you look at the films of last year, many games the Raiders got easy short passes due to the huge cushions Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree got.
Former Cowboys QB Tony Romo said it best in the Washington game; “teams are no longer giving the Raiders the easy short to mid range passes, so they have to adjust and look to go deep more often to stretch them out”.
Teams don’t allow Cooper to run free on short passes. They are in his face playing physical and he has not responded well.
How to Fix It?:
The Raiders bragged all off season about picking up Cordarrelle Patterson, the speed burner WR from Minnesota. NOW USE HIM. The Raiders have 3 fast WR; Patterson, Cooper and Johnny Holton who has already caught a deep ball for a TD. Throw to these guys. It’s funny; when you start to hit some deep passes all of a sudden the DB’s start to give you cushions and the offense opens up. Cooper has lost his confidence and if there was ever a confident Raider, him talking to Cliff Branch would not be the worst thing for him. He has to be involved more.
All you heard this off season was beast mode, beast mode, beast mode. I wasn’t thrilled with the signing of Marshawn Lynch and in fact said several times the Raiders committee of running backs was more than enough. I stand by that.
How to Fix it:
The Raiders need to make Marshawn Lynch a short yardage, goal line back. He does not have the burst he did during his younger days. I like youth in my RB’s and Lynch is now 31 and is not the same player. You see the same thing with Frank Gore at Indianapolis. When someone with speed comes in it’s like night and day.
Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington need to start getting the brunt of the carries. Jamize Olawale is an underrated player and also needs 5 touches a game. All 3 are good pass blockers and pass catchers. Lynch is limited and it’s limiting the offense.
After their amazing season from last year, the standards are very high. The Raiders have only given up 12 sacks in 5 games but for this group that’s a lot. Last year Carr was the best protected QB in the NFL and he thrived. This year there have been 12 sacks and he’s struggled. It’s not a coincidence. His weakness is throwing under pressure and keeping him free of pass rushers is imperative to the offenses success.
How to Fix It:
There is only one answer; they need to step up. Oakland is #1 in spending on the OL with 26% of their salary cap spent on this group. You can’t spend more money on the OL especially when the defense needs so much help.
Carr got spoiled last year when he had so much time, and on occasion he has held onto the ball too long this year. He’s now being rushed more and it’s obvious he is not comfortable in the pocket.
How to Fix it:
He needs to audible more and be much more aggressive with the deep ball. Some old fashioned play action passes while throwing a deep pass on first down would stretch the field and make Al Davis up in heaven happy for sure. Dump off passes to the RB would also take off the pressure some.
Linebackers and Defensive Backs:
This group has no interceptions in 5 games. I’m tiring a little with some fans on social media saying how great this defense is and that if they had a good DC they’d be awesome. Ken Norton may not be the answer, but this defense is not talented. Before the season started, Sports Illustrated and ESPN had the Raiders LB’s ranked last in the NFL. Their DB’s are not much better at times and take out Mack out of the DL and it will make any Raider fan cry.
Teams found out David Amerson struggles with the deep ball, and Sean Smith now struggles with any ball. Safety Reggie Nelson really isn’t making much of a difference and Karl Joseph is better against the run v.s. the pass but he’s still learning. Rookie Gareon Conley is still hurt and rumors have him being out for a while, but take that for what it is worth. Conley was not good against the run at Ohio St. and it remains to be seen how good he is covering because he’s missed so much this year. The hope is that Conley is a great cover guy but this may be a wasted year for a #1 pick.
How To Fix It:
Shalom Luani deserves a chance at safety. Allow him to play more. I’d like him to get some time with Joseph because he has such good safety instincts.
At LB, the Raiders are in big trouble. There are a handful of people in the free agent pool but to be honest, there are no answers for this group this year. They need to disguise their blitzes and be super aggressive and get to the QB to hide their week back 7.
Unless you have a pass rush in today’s NFL, you are going to struggle. These rules are so biased for the offense that passing records are falling left and right. As Jack Del Rio has said, they are a few times that they are the Khalil Mack show and not much else. Mario Edwards Jr. has his moments early in a game but he disappears and is not consistent. Bruce Irvin doesn’t have a sack all year and hasn’t had the impact the team was hoping for. Eddie Vanderdoes has also not been as impactful as was hoped and Justin Ellis has occasional good moments but it isn’t enough to make a difference.
How to Fix It:
Again, this is going to have to be addressed next year. Someone on social media was raving about the possible signing of ex Bear DT Jaye Howard but that is beyond positive thinking. Howard played 5 years; 2 missed from injury and he only has 7.5 sacks and no one would sign him this year.
The Raiders HAVE to get to the QB. Start blitzing like mad on 3rd down and long and make sure that you do a better job at disguising it. Also it’s insane to blitz and then give WR cushions because you know a quick pass is coming. Get in the WR faces when you blitz. Sometimes the DB’s are lazy when they are blitzing and they give it up too quick. I saw Nelson and Joseph Blitz against Baltimore and you could see it a mile away.
This is a must win for Oakland. San Diego is not a great team and they finally scored a TD late in the 4th quarter for the first time in 24 games. Oakland should handle the Chargers but nothing is for sure. With the last part of the Raiders schedule being so difficult, this is a must win.
They are running the same offensive plays as last year and teams have caught up. Oakland also has been trying to solve their pass defense for years with DB’s and it doesn’t work. Until the Raiders get a stud DT and a pass rush, get ready for issues up front. And if the Raiders draft an offensive player over a LB or DT next year, heads should roll. Defense wins championships and this defense isn’t winning any championships. Seeing the response online, if the Raiders don’t turn this thing around this is going to get real ugly.
If the offensive philosophy changes and the Raiders adjust, the offense can carry them a long way. The defense will have to take chances and blitz though. It’s put up or shut up time in Oakland and a win against San Diego would be a nice start to a new chapter.
After the Raiders 16-10 loss to the Denver Broncos, there were more questions than answers in Oakland. The Raiders have fallen to 2-2 and this was supposed to be a part of the schedule that was easier than the daunting last 7 games of the season. Let’s look at what has happened the last 2 weeks for the Raiders and how they can fix it.
Washington’s defense played a great game and Denver’s defense is getting back to being dominating, but both teams made adjustments that most teams are sure to do in the future.
Last year, teams were afraid of giving up the deep ball to the Raiders. Almost all teams played off the WR; sometimes 10-15 yards; often giving up easy passes. For all his annoying sayings and talking up each player like they are all headed to the hall of fame, Tony Romo gets what is going on. “Teams are taking away the easy short passes the Raiders are used to getting”, he said in the 4th quarter.
First off, for fans complaining about play calling, remember that Derek Carr is the last coach on the field. He can change the play anytime he wants so if the play is not a good one, he needs to change it. That’s one thing that separates great QB’s from really good ones.
In regards to the passing game, Washington and Denver both played physical, press coverage. For newer fans that means that the DB’s play on the line of scrimmage and are in the WR faces to not allow for easy passes. The last two weeks NOTHING has been given to the Raiders passing game and they are struggling big time.
And no EJ Manuel didn’t all of a sudden play great when Carr struggled. Carr is still really good. What did Denver do when EJ Manuel came into the game? They did what most NFL coaches do; they got conservative and almost blew it. They stopped playing press coverage and it allowed the Raiders to get back into the game. Yes the cover 2 defense helped seal the win with the last interception when the Safety came over to help, but it also allowed Manuel to hit wide open targets who weren’t open at the start of the game. The Broncos kicker missed an easy kick and Denver got conservative which almost cost them the game.
How do you beat press coverage? You throw deep. The Raiders have a lot of speed with Johnny Holton, Cordarralle Patterson, Amari Cooper, and Jared Cook is also fast at TE and can get deep. Wheel routes to the RB’s also would work. Teams have adjusted to the Raiders offense and now they have to make changes. The Raiders are pretty much running the same offense as last year and they need to get that most teams are going to risk getting beat with the deep ball, by stopping their short and medium passes.
Amari Cooper has to step up. He is a talented but passive person and the Raiders lose their mojo and aggressiveness when Michael Crabtree is not in the game. Cooper has to establish himself as the deep threat that he was in his rookie year. When the Raiders start stretching the field with the deep ball, now you pound the ball with 4 quality running backs. A sweep once in a while with those two quality guards pulling isn’t the dumbest idea either.
The OL of the Raiders has basked in a little bit of glory due to their mild success, but they have to get back to work and be physical and play to their potential. This is the engine of the Raiders. If they play well, so do the Raiders. They have to step up and just get back to playing like they are capable of. No real changes other than quality play is needed. Many publications have pointed out that 25% of the Raiders salary cap was spent on the offensive line. No team has spent more money on their OL. This unit is not as good as last year for some reason. Where teams often blitzed last year, that is no longer the case. All night Denver and Washington got to Derek Carr rushing only 4 players. If you get to Carr he struggles like he did with Washington and Denver. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger can handle big rushes, but Derek Carr doesn’t have that skill.
If your passing game isn’t working, teams stop respecting the deep ball and the DB’s play up close to the line. If they are afraid of the deep ball the DB’s play back worrying about getting beat deep. With a bad passing game, the run game becomes predictable.
The play calling has been just that at times, but the run game has also not been the same due to the OL’s poor play and the lack of success in the passing game. Where the Raiders wore teams down, they now struggle running the ball when they have to. The Jets are awful and the Titans defense just gave up 57 points to a rookie QB, but Washington’s is pretty good and Denver’s is elite. The Raiders should handle Baltimore next week but against the better defenses, they need to make adjustments.
Carr HAS to have time. He was the best protected QB in the NFL last year and it wasn’t a coincidence he had an amazing year.
Jack Del Rio said it several times in interviews this off season. “We just haven’t put in the money into our defense. To our defense there isn’t enough money to go around”. This is why teams of today always have some kind of weakness. Khalil Mack is the only player getting to the QB for four quarters. For whatever reason, Mario Edwards looks great in the first quarter of games and then he disappears. If Khalil Mack ever got hurt, this DL would be scary to watch and that’s in a bad way. Many teams do not double team Mack and I think that’s crazy. He is Oakland’s only consistent pass rusher.
The LB’s are struggling big time in pass coverage and aren’t exactly dominating against the run. Trevor Siemian is not a good QB and at times the Broncos seem lost with their play calling. When they tried to run the ball exclusively they struggled. When they started to pass the ball they opened up the run game. Overall Denver’s offense isn’t that good, but the Raiders have good offenses to play in their future.
The DB’s played better but Siemian missed several passes. Emmanuel Sanders was wide open up the middle twice for long passes but Siemian wasn’t even looking at him. The Raiders pass defense struggled again. When teams start passing to their RB’s and TE’s the Raiders are toast because their back 7 can’t cover them. They are going to have to continue to mix up their schemes with blitzes and zones and just hope for the best.
The State of the AFC West:
It’s obvious for right now that the KC Chiefs are the best team in this division. Their offense is better and they can beat you with their quick passing game or their run game. With Justin Houston playing well, their pass rush is back to form. With a deep throwing new hot shot QB breathing down his neck, Alex Smith has finally started to throw deeper passes which has opened up their offense. KC plays Washington tonight, which was the same team that dominated the Raiders so it will be interesting how they do.
Phillip Rivers is a media darling but he’s overrated. He is the poster boy for today’s NFL. The rules have allowed even average QB’s to get pinball passing numbers which makes them look better than they are. The Chargers now have gone 24 straight games without a 2 minute drill touchdown and no team has struggled in the second half and the fourth quarter more than the Chargers over the years. I was ripped on by those that tried to tell me in week one that San Diego was a sleeper team and is a dark horse to get to the Super Bowl and I just kind of laughed. They are now 0-4 and 0-3 at home. Hmmm
Siemian isn’t a good QB and the Broncos are limited offensively. Their formula is to get ahead early, and then rely on their defense to close out the game. Denver is not the type of team to make big come backs and I don’t see Siemian winning many games late.
The Raiders have to adjust on offense. Teams are no longer willing to give them the easy throws. The smart ones are going to try and force them to throw deep which Oakland has to do successfully. Watch the DB’s. If you see them playing up, look to see if the Raiders throw deep to gain their respect.
If the Raiders don’t score, they are going to struggle. This defense is no where near a championship defense and if they don’t score, they don’t win. With quality offenses on the horizon, they need to make sure that they make changes on how to attack the press coverage that teams are likely to use in the future.
Players on the defense have to step up, but you wonder if they have the talent to do that. Even Jack Del Rio has said at times the Raiders D is like the Khalil Mack show. Unless they get a consistent pass rusher not named Mack, the back 7 are going to be exposed week by week. Will the offense adjust to the changes on how defenses attack them? And will Amari Cooper and Carr rise to the occasion behind the offensive line that finally plays up to their talent level.
The talk from fans before the season was all about the Super Bowl. Now they have more questions than answers about the poor start of the Raiders. Unless they make the proper changes, this dream season will be just that; a dream. This winning the Super Bowl thing is not as easy as you think kids.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.