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

AFC_West

philip rivers
Philip Rivers calling an audible

San Diego Chargers:

WEAKNESSES: 

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

4th Quarter Fails:

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

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

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

STRENGTHS:

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

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

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

PREDICTIONS:  8-8

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

alex smith
Alex Smith finding the open man against New England

Kansas City Chiefs:

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

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

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

STRENGTHS:

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

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

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

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

PREDICTION:  11-5

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

von miller
Von Miller celebrates another Bronco win

Denver Broncos

WEAKNESSES:

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

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

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

Defense/Health:

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

PREDICTION:  10-6

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

derek carr
Derek Carr looking for receivers

Oakland Raiders:

WEAKNESSES:

Defense, defense, defense: 

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

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

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

Bad Drafts & Signings Adding Up:

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

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

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

STRENGTHS:

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

PREDICTION: 12-4

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

marshawn lynch

Final Oakland Raider Grades @ Tennessee Titans; Week 1:

Tennessee Titans: 16 (0-1)

Oakland Raiders: 26 (1-0)

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

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

derek carr

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

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

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

Quarterback:

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

GRADE:  B+

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

Running Backs:

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

Grade: B+

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

Offensive Line:

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

Grade: B+

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

Wide Receivers:

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

GRADE:  B+

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

Defensive Line:

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

khalil mack

Grade: B

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

Linebackers:

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

Grade:  B

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

Defensive Backs:

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

Grade: B  

A solid day with no major issues.

Coaching:

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

Grade: B

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

Special Teams:

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

Grade:  A

Excellent day for the special teams unit.

Conclusion:

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

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Oakland Raiders

Next Up; hosting the NY Jets:

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

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

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

Outlook:

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

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

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

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

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

Oakland Raiders v New Orleans Saints
Derek Carr

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

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

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

Grade:  A

deandre washingto
DeAndre Washington breaking a run against the Titans

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

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

Grade:  A

Panthers Raiders Football
Raiders LT Donald Penn

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

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

Grade:  A+

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

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

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

Grade:  A

jared cook
New Tight End Jared Cook

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

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

Grade:  B+

khalil mack
Khalil Mack rushing the QB

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

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

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

Grade:  C+

corey james
LB Corey James

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

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

Grades:  D 

david amerson jjj
CB David Amerson

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

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

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

Grade D:

joseph-raiders
Safety Karl Joseph

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

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

Grade:  C

marquette king
Raiders punter Marquette King

Special Teams:

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

Grade:  A (for now)

Jack Del Rio
Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio

Coaching/Front Office:

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

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

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

Grade:  A-

AFCwest

The State of the AFC West:

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

raiders win

Detractors to Defenders:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

courtney agnes1
Courtney Agnes

Please follow Courtney @:

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

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

Follow Me @:

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

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

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

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

http://www.aloneinthewilderness.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

courtney agnes traditional
Courtney showing off some amazing traditional clothing

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

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

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

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

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

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

courtneys confirmation
Courtney and her dad Pat at her Confirmation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“Glen Campbell Performances: From Elvis to Johnny Cash & his last appearance on Stage In Napa, CA”

 

glen campbell

On a day that his fans and those close to Glen knew was coming, Glen Campbell passed away quietly today in a Tennessee long-term care facility for Alzheimer’s patients. Glen Campbell was one of those voices that transcended all music genres and put smiles in people’s hearts.

With the help of his talented kids in the band, in 2012 he played his final live concert in none other than Napa, California to an adoring crowd at the Uptown Theater.

In 2014 Glen Released the Movie “I’ll Be Me” which chronicled his battle with Alzheimer’s and a behind the scenes look at his farewell tour. Below is the trailer.

And here is an excerpt from this inspirational film. His vulnerability and courage in fighting it head on are amazing. “I kept going into the kitchen and then forgetting what I came in there for. So I solved the problem; I stopped going into the kitchen!

The Alzheimer’s Association has said what Glen is doing is unprecedented and his humble courage has been an inspiration to both families and patients of the dreaded disease.

Glen began his career dropping out of high school at 14 and eventually becoming a great studio musician in Los Angeles playing for some of the great performers in the music industry like Waylon Jennings, Elvis Pressley, The Beach Boys and Johnny Cash. He broke out in 1967 winning 4 Grammy’s.

Included in his legion of fans are The Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and President Bill Clinton. Tom Petty once said, “Glen’s songs really weren’t hip enough for the 60’s but then you’d listen to how good they were and how great he played and you soon loved it.”

Not everything was peaches and cream for Glen. There were public battles with drugs and alcohol along with arrests and the ups and downs of the music industry. He was front page fodder with his controversial cocaine induced relationship with Tanya Tucker who was 22 years his junior. He had a variety show from 1969 to 1972 but that was cancelled. He had 3 failed marriages until he got clean during his 4th marriage with his present wife Kim. He ended up having 8 kids.

It was hard to let go of Glen even during his worst times. His personality, kindness and charm were hard to let go of. A writer on his variety show; future star Steve Martin; said that Glen was fun and easy going and never took himself too seriously. “He was up for anything and he was so much fun to work with”, said Martin.

In 2011 Glen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As a way to say goodbye to his fans and to tell them that was going to be ok through this journey, he went on tour. In a People magazine interview, Glen and his 4th wife Kim said that they wanted to come out and talk about the Alzheimer’s so fans would not be alarmed when he occasionally forgot words or lost his place in a song. With social media and online publications, they did not want rumors of drugs or alcohol to tarnish his new good name.   Below are some amazing performances with Glen and many of the giants in the music industry that are sadly gone as well.

Here is Glen Campbell on the Johnny Carson show in 1985.

Glen Campbell talking about the loss of his good friend John Denver.

John Denver and Glen Campbell singing on John’s Variety Show in 1977.

Elvis Presley and Glen Campbell sing a duet.

Glen Campbell and Johnny Cash just having fun.

 

A goodbye interview with Glen Campbell and his wife and daughter.

I would like to thank Glen’s social media team who have always been so kind to me whenever I brought Glen’s name up online. They have been very supportive and pro active with all of his fans and they are a reflection of his fighting spirit and positive attitude.   I hope that even with Glen being gone, that they work harder than ever to help his fans celebrate his talents and his life.

And finally thanks to Glen and his family for their kindness, truthfulness and vulnerability.   Glen’s music will live on forever and the bond between he and his fans will never be broken because of the way you handled this terrible situation. Rest in Peace Glen.  And thanks for sharing so much.

“From Super Trolls to Sexual Trolls; How to Handle Social Media Trolls”

internet-troll-650

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2017/07/21/update-my-horror-stories-why-im-no-longer-an-open-book-online-privacy-overview/

For me the internet has been a blessing and a curse.  In my previous article (found above), you can see the nightmares that I’ve endured being naïve about my internet activity.  From dating, to business to every day life; the internet is like riding down the Amazon river.  It’s beautiful but there are a lot of things around you that can hurt you.  One of the dangers are the internet Trolls.  These trolls can hover around the internet like Dementors in the Harry Potter series hovering overhead just waiting to be offended or angered.

dementors

What a Troll IS and ISN’T:

Society has changed a lot.  People in general are much less into facts or what is really happening.  Some people in general are much more insecure as well.  They are into their own biases and want to be around those that feed that bias.  They don’t want to debate; they want to hear what they want to hear and they want to be followed.  That’s why people watch certain news channels.  Preaching to the choir.

Television producers have seen how the new generation LOVES drama.  Reality shows; even though they are staged (I know some reality show participants and all of them say this) some people treat them like they are fact.  Will anyone watch a show of kind people loving one another?  No way.  They want fighting, arrogance, selfishness, yelling and insanity.  Usually the nastiest people are the most popular.  Well, that is the desire of an internet troll; to create drama and feed off of it.

A troll is someone that goes onto forums or social media posts and likes to stir it up anyway they can.  Most go way off topic and they try to entice others to challenge them.  They want chaos, anger, dramatics and any other kind of conflict.  They are outraged at pretty much everything people say, and they have the victim mentality.  They want to ruin reputations and are often wrong but never in doubt.

Not everyone is a troll.  Some call people a troll if they don’t agree with them.  That’s NOT a troll.  If someone brings up facts or a reason why they disagree with a person without saying something offensive, they are not trolling.  They are debating and disagreeing.  There is a huge difference.  Some people just like the sound of their own voice and spew nonsense and then get mad when people call them out on it.  They are not being trolled.

I experience this on Youtube all the time.  Some of the insane conspiracy theory videos from people like Alex Jones and others are scary.  Like the crazy idea that all of these mass shootings are staged and faked.  Or that lizards and shape shifters are living among us and they are marrying regular people to become a part of our society to take it over.  Some of you are shaking your head and smiling but what’s not funny is that they have THOUSANDS of followers, and they believe these are facts.  Some will even post photos saying here is the person that supposedly died in a mass shooting and they are now married with kids so the shooting was fake.

I went on one of the videos forums and all I asked is where is the proof?  I said, “so all of these families are acting and not really grieving?  All of these funerals are fake?”

OMG you would have thought I killed puppies.  Literally dozens of people started attacking me.  They ripped me to shreds, found my email and began to pummel me with “proof”.  I literally had to block several dozen people.  In this case I was not being a troll.  I wanted to know why they thought like they did.  Instead of sending real facts, they attacked me.  Insecure people tend to do that.

How to Handle Facebook Trolls:

Facebook is used more by middle aged people than the younger generation.  It’s a different type of animal.  When I go on Facebook I know I’m going to see the same posts from the same people pretty much every day.  The political posts will be extremely close minded and based mostly on biased opinion.  Even though some adults are still learning and evolving like you should, for the most part a middle aged person is NOT going to change their mind on things.  Thus it’s pointless debating them.  If the person is open minded and will think about things, then it’s fun to debate.  For the most part though, I try to avoid political comments all together.  It’s also sad to like people and then find out how extreme and bad their points of views are on politics or society.

comments

To combat trolls, personally I would stay away from political comment unless you like wars.  Trolls love political posts and you will almost for sure be attacked.  If you are, just stop commenting.  If they email you or try to egg you on, just ignore or even block them.  If you are still going to post, then remember that just because someone disagrees doesn’t mean they are attacking you.

I remember one lady from Texas (always Texas) started emailing me on Facebook every morning telling me what posts she liked and didn’t like.  She would also leave comments in my posts.  She then started to demand I take some of my posts down or she’d report me to Facebook.  Huh?  She was a friend’s mom so I didn’t want to block her but I finally had to.  She once demanded I take a dog’s photo down because a dog had once attacked her cat and that it was inappropriate.

cyber bully

Another important part is some employers SCOUR Facebook to see comments on their employees.  I know many HR people and don’t think for a second that this isn’t happening.  I know one guy that was flat out told that his sexual posts on Facebook were the reasons he didn’t get a job.  Don’t be naïve.

How to Handle Twitter Trolls: 

Twitter is fun.  It is more hip and used by the younger generation a lot.  Usually half of the top 10 trends on Twitter are based on young people’s topics.

That being said, you have to be careful on Twitter.  Before you get the hang of Twitter, start slow.  Be positive in your comments and don’t be too confrontational.  If someone says something really stupid or crazy, it’s not a rule that you have to respond.  People with big ego’s or who love to give their opinion all the time can struggle on Twitter.

Remember trolls want to get a rise out of you; they want you to get mad.  The key to Twitter? NEVER get mad.  I never tweet something when I’m really emotional or angry.  I remember posting something on a kid that had cancer.  A troll literally started laughing saying one less ^^^%%.  The child was an American but they were of Mexican descent.  All of a sudden the troll flooded my post with anti-Hispanic tweets that were extremely racist while calling himself a patriot.  I didn’t battle him.  I said, get some help; good luck to you; and in 30 seconds I blocked him.  He got my message and now he can never see or react to my posts.  No 20 minute battle; no anger; no stress.  Just get some help and that’s it.  So if a troll tries to hijack your post, don’t argue; don’t stress; and don’t battle!  JUST BLOCK.

troll dont be mad at them

How to Handle Sexual Trolls:

This is a tough one because so many young women are addicted to the attention they get from strangers when they post photos of themselves or “selfies”.  I know one middle aged woman who is really pretty and she posts photos of herself just about every post.  Not all attention is good.

Read the news and you will see some of the most horrendous things done to young women these days.  It’s scary how perverted so many people are, especially young men.  Sexual assault is a huge problem in our country and so is sexual trolling.  There have been many deaths and assaults where the first meeting was on social media.

My friend had his college aged daughter do a video for his business explaining an accounting program that she had set up for him.  They put it on Youtube because other companies had asked her to, because she really explained it well.  Bad idea.  His daughter isn’t a vixen, but she’s cute and did the pervs come out.  By the time they handled the problem, he counted over 189 sexual comments written by men on her video; 99% young men.  They didn’t care about this program, the just saw a cute girl.  Some were EXTREMELY vulgar.

He asked me what to do.  I said turn in the real sick posters to Youtube and block the comments sections.  People can still see the video and you don’t have to worry about all of the nasty comments below.  If it’s on Instagram, do the same thing.  Block, Block and Block.  Don’t be afraid to turn people into the site either if they are very aggressive.  It’s unacceptable to be that nasty.  That’s why I tell some young women to be more secure in yourself as a person in real life, and don’t rely on pervert strangers liking your looks for your confidence.

How to Handle a Super Troll:

I got a super troll on my Twitter account last year that wouldn’t let up.  He trolled many of my posts.  I would block him and then he’d make another account.  He finally made an account that said @Ihatejimjax.  Now to be honest I think it’s kind of funny but what wasn’t funny is that his 36 followers were being fueled by him.  The lies that were spread were of legend.  He then asked for the followers to find out where I lived.  That was it.  I contacted Twitter; gave them all his accounts, and tweets and they deleted his URL from twitter and closed all of his accounts.

Jim’s Jamz:

If you take care of trolls early, then you will have little issues with them.  Blocking or ignoring are your best tools.  Debating is fine but fighting with people that just want turmoil and drama is counter productive and a waste of time.  Don’t be a victim; be pro active and if people are harassing you, then erase them from your social media life.  If you follow this advice, worrying about trolls will be a thing of the past.

“Raider Fans Upset @ Average Draft Grades: Let’s Look at these Players & How They Fit into 2017-18”

ConleyJog
Gareon Conley During Pre-Game Warm ups in Norman, Oklahoma

After the NFL draft, writers and fans LOVE post draft grades.  For me, I don’t like them much.  I feel that it takes 3 years to really know what a draft is about.  I think if a player is drafted in the first 3 rounds, they need to contribute significantly in their second year or you are bordering on bust.  This is the salary cap era and you can’t afford to have guys sit for 3-4 years before they are good.

Most grades for the Raiders from the media have been luke warm.  From Mel Kiper Jr. and others giving them a C, to various others giving them up to a B-.  Overall I like some of the things the Raiders did but was disappointed that certain things were not addressed.

I think the main problem is when you have the worst pass rush in the NFL and you are not good at stopping the run, why draft two DB’s in your first 2 picks?  That didn’t make sense.  Some say well Fosters health is an issue?  Why.  He’s coming off of rotator cuff surgery and will be cleared for all football duties before training camp.  He never missed a game and rarely missed a practice in 2 years at Bama.  The Raiders picked a guy that had late season knee surgery in Karl Joseph so that’s not the issue. McKenzie said they thought Conley was the better player.  I watch a TON of college ball and I’m not seeing that at all.  The SEC championship game MVP didn’t miss a game the last 2 years and was all over the field for much of the time.

Let’s look below at the mostly good, but sometimes bad things in the Oakland Raiders 2017 draft.

1st Round Gareon Conley CB Ohio St.

Positives:  Excellent cover guy who can stick with his man especially going downfield.  Fast; rarely gets beaten badly and is always around the receiver.  He is a solid cover DB in either man, zone press coverage, or even against slot receivers.  Not a spectacular player but very solid in all areas.

Negatives:  Other than Marshon Lattimore, it was hard to watch the DB’s of Ohio St. tackle and play the run and Conley was one of those that struggled tackling.  Conley is not physical and even though he’ll line up on guys at the line of scrimmage, he doesn’t like to jam them.  He did give up some big plays against more physical WR and struggled in crossing patterns or slants.

Overview:  A good pick but when Reggie Mckenzie said he went for the best player available and Reuben Foster is still there then I disagree.  Foster was a perfect fit in the Raiders defense and is on schedule to be ready before training camp after his rotator cuff surgery.  I take Foster all day but the Raiders obviously think the keys to a defense are DB’s and not the front 7.  Go figure.

Patriots_Obi_Melifonwu_Josh_Hill_Merrimack_2
Obi Melifonwu

2nd Round:  Obi Melifonwu S Connecticut

Positives:  Some say he’s the best athlete in the NFL draft since Vernon Gholston who the NY media called Adonis.  Obi is 6’ 4”, 220 lb. and is extremely fast.  He’s excellent against the run leading the team in tackles in some games and breaking records for tackles by non LB’s .  His draft stock sky rocketed during the NFL combines.  Very long arms that he uses well when tackling.  He has a long neck and looks a little like a bigger Merton Hanks from 49er’s fame.

Negatives:  As raw as it gets in pass coverage.  Tentative, and lacks instinct.  He has a lot to learn if he’s going to be good in the NFL in coverage.  It will take a year or two to see what the Raiders really have in him.  UCONN was outscored 130-16 in their last 4 games last year and they weren’t exactly playing Alabama so you wonder about his elevated stats, because their defensive front 7 was not good.     

Outlook:  A raw talent who’s athleticism is hard to pass up.  I always worry about NFL combine warriors though.  Karl Joseph is good against the run but just ok against the pass so right now they have a bigger Karl Joseph in him.  I think this is going to be a great pick or a pure bust; no in between.  Time will tell.  With Raiders Safeties struggling to stay healthy we may find out quickly.

3rd Round:  Eddie Vanderdoes DT UCLA

Positives:  He is a powerful, athletic DT.  He had a bad year last year coming off of ACL surgery.  He gained a lot of weight and didn’t seem very motivated.  The good news is that he’s lost 30-40 pounds and seems much more into football.  He was a top ten 5 star recruit out of high school.

A tough guy to block against the run who can handle double teams and keep his ground.  If he keeps his weight down, he has the possibility of being a solid DT in the NFL.  When he’s motivated, he’s fun to watch because of how physical he plays.

Negatives:  Most experts had this pick being too high, which was similar to Jihad Ward last year (I hated the Ward pick last year).  Some had him going in the 4th and even 5th round.  Even with his top billing out of high school, Vanderdoes is not a good pass rusher.  He has only 4 sacks in 3 years and is more suited to be a rotational DT run stopper.  McKenzie said he wanted the DL to get more athletic and they’ve done that with Vanderdoes but he’s not going to help their pass rush.

Overview:  This is far from solving the Raiders DT issue but the pick isn’t a bad one.  Again, DB’s rule the day in Oakland and the Raiders reach for a guy that isn’t a pass rusher.  I think he can help the DL but a third rounder with question marks isn’t going to get you to the next level when you are last in the NFL in sacks.

4th Round:  David Sharpe OT Florida

Positives:  HUGE.  He’s 6’ 6” tall and 350 lbs. and that might be before meals.  He’s a monstrous tackle.  If he can get his hands on defenders, he usually blocks them.  Surprisingly good pull blocker on occasional running plays and has strong hands.  A hard worker that showed up every week.

Weaknesses:  He plays like a statue in pass protection.  Anyone that watched a lot of SEC ball knows he’s not quick and he struggled with the speed end rushers of the SEC.  Florida was only 10th in allowed sacks in the SEC and at times defending the pass rush was a big problem.  Already some are saying he’s a guard trapped in a tackles body.  Think of a little bit stiffer and slower Robert Gallery who also had to be switched to guard after struggling at tackle.

Overview:  Raiders like them big at OL and this wasn’t the worst pick but after watching him struggle at times in the SEC with speed edge rushers, it’s hard to think he’s quick enough to play tackle in the NFL.  They will try him there but guard may suit him better, and I like him there.

5th Round:  Marquel Lee LB Wake Forrest

Positives:  Had great numbers at Wake Forrest.  He’s lean and athletic and has the speed to make plays on the outside.  Not bad in pass coverage but not great.  He is a pretty good tackler in the open field using his speed and length to take down runners.  A smart player with good leadership abilities, who was well liked by his coaches.  Consistent player who will always give his best effort and is good to have on your team.

Negatives.  More of a speed/finesse player than a physical player.  Not a physical tackler.  He has great numbers but on a bad team with a bad defense that went 13-24 the last two years.  He’s lean and only weighs 235 so his skill set and body type are more for an OLB and not an MLB.  Again, not really an attacking play maker but he gets the job done.

Overview:  I think he has potential to be a starting OLB, maybe even this year.  The Raiders LB’s have holes in their game and he has a chance for playing time.  Some Raider writers have him starting at MLB already and that is ridiculous in my mind.  They are writing with their heart and not their head.  He wen’t in the 5th round for a reason.  He’s a nice 5th round pick but if he’s your starting MLB, you’ve got issues.

7th Round:  Shalom Luani S Washington St.

Shalom played on a team that used him mostly in zone defenses.  He’s a high effort guy but is a bad tackler and at times WSU actually hid him in their zone defense to allow him to roam over guarding players one on one.  The Cougars aren’t exactly into defense to be honest. Mike Leach teams are about one thing; offense.

7th Round:  Jylan Ware OT Alabama St.

A long term project.  He is 6’ 8”, 290 pounds.  He has to add bulk.  Scouts say he needs more speed and a lot of coaching to improve his technique.  Hard pressed to make the team.

7th Round:  Elijah Hood RB North Carolina

Hood was a star coming out of high school.  He’s had good years at NC but last year he had somewhat pedestrian numbers.  Most thought he would go back to college for one more year to improve his stock.

A straight ahead runner with not much speed.  He might be good for short yardage but he’s an excellent pass blocker and not a bad pass catcher so that may help him get time too.  A banger who isnt’ going to outrun anyone.

7th Round Treyvon Hester DT Toledo

He will have a hard time making the team but they could keep him on the practice squad.  He has potential.  He had a nice senior year and works hard.  Has a lot to learn and is a long term project.  May have the potential to be a run stopping DT in a rotational system.

Reuben Foster, Curtis Samuel
Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster (10) hits Ohio State running back Curtis Samuel (4) in the first half of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football playoff semifinal game, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Jim’s Jamz:

Do I think the Raiders had an awesome draft?  No.  But I also think it wasn’t bad either. Conley is a good cover guy and should be a good player at CB.  The Raiders DB’s have struggled with injuries so he will see playing time I’m sure.  With Sean Smith and David Amerson’s contacts coming up next year without a cap hit, the Raiders are counting on Conley to learn quickly because he will probably be starting next year.  And if Obi can learn how to play safety in the NFL, they may have a great player on their hands.

Since 2001 the Raiders have amazingly drafted a DB in the first round 7 times!  Only 1 of them panned out but that includes Joseph who we don’t know about yet.  That’s a ton of busts. Time and time again the best defenses in the NFL can do 2 things; stop the run and rush the passer.  The Raiders struggled doing either last year.  Vanderdoes might help out against the run but the pass rush will pretty much be the same.

As I said in week one of last year; this defense is not a championship defense and I say the same now, but roster moves could still be ahead.  MLB’s and DT’s are becoming a rarity in the pro game so passing up on Foster was the wrong thing to do in my mind especially when next years draft so far also seems to be void of them both.  That could change obviously but the Raiders said loud and clear that their DB’s right now aren’t good enough and they want an upgrade.  Meet you back here in 2-3 years to see how they did.