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“A Football Family Reunion for the Ages; Ken Stabler’s NFL HOF Induction”

 

ken stabler hof bustA family reunion for the ages.

In a night that went as perfect as a last minute Ken Stabler drive, Ken Michael Stabler took his rightful place in the NFL pro football hall of fame. For one last time, Ken Stabler lead everyone on a magical ride that will never be forgotten.

With decades of Raider tradition all around mixed in with a little Southern warmth from the state of Alabama, Canton looked more like Oakland, Ca than the sleepy town that wakes up for a week every year before the NFL season starts.

With several Raiders by their sides and HOF WR Fred Biletnikoff giving support, Ken Stabler’s grandsons unveiled the HOF bust of their beloved grandfather. In one action, all of the emotions that have built up from decades of frustration, anticipation, sadness and hope was released. Tears flowed, and closure began to fill the air slowly like a soft mist on a hot night.   All the years of waiting; all the unjust votes and comments came out in a healing moment that hopefully now brings closure to an amazing career by an amazing man.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-hall-of-fame/0ap3000000681148/Ken-Stabler-Enshrinement

Brett Favre’s Moment:

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-hall-of-fame/0ap3000000681185/Hall-of-Fame-QB-Brett-Favre-shares-a-story-about-Ken-Stabler

Why He’s Loved So Much:

I have many good friends from around the country who ask me, why was there so much emotion and love for Ken Stabler. I think the answer is easy.

When the Snake saw a fan he didn’t care what color you were. He didn’t care if you were famous or rich.   He truly appreciated the adoration that was given him. I think Ken always knew how important he was to the City of Oakland, Alabama and the bay area. That’s why he was so kind to so many. He never judged; never lashed out; he was always good to those that supported him, and shrugged off those that hurt him. Many saw a little of themselves in Ken. Sometimes misunderstood, often doubted, and occasionally misjudged. Ken was an every man and in reality so many people related to the things he went through.

Ken was real. He made mistakes; he failed at times; he was ripped in the media at times; but he ALWAYS dusted himself off and kept coming. He never quit and the harder someone pushed, the harder he pushed back. The Raiders and Ken Stabler smashed people in the mouth and never gave up. That’s why when most teams would have quit, the Raiders usually won due to the never give up attitude of the Snake. Ken was a lot like the fans that supported him. He was a lot like the City of Oakland and the East Bay; always fighting, never quitting.

 

 

Why Younger Fans Should Be Excited:

Some younger Raider fans seem to be in a fog at the great adoration for Ken and this amazing era. Let’s face it, we live in a society where history to some is what pokemon go character you caught last night. If it’s old, society seems to not care about it.

If you are a younger fan, look at the extreme excitement that is seen in social media today for the upcoming season. The Raiders were 7-9 last year and some are nearly losing their minds with excitement. Nothing wrong with that especially with all the improvements, but put it into perspective.

Think about going 56-13 in Ken’s first 69 starts. Think of going 18-1-1 on Monday night football. Think of having the highest winning % of ANY professional team in the U.S. of ANY sport for a 25 year stretch. Think of 3 Super Bowls in 7 years and 5 straight AFC Championship games. For almost 3 decades the Raiders and the Cowboys were consistently on top of the NFL ratings for most watched teams on television. Oh and don’t forget having more wins in the greatest NFL decade of all time, the 1970’s. Could you imagine what Ken and the Raiders offense could do with today’s rules?   Now you understand OUR excitement.   As Raider great Tim Brown said Friday, “When Ken walked into our locker room you saw everyone change. It was like royalty had just come into the room.   The Raiders of that time were just that good; people adored him.”

A Leader to the End:

The reason this meant so much to so many is because Ken really was the Raiders leader in every way.   He was a leader on the field and off.   Players felt he was invincible and looked to him when things got rough. Even after his death he inspired. Raiders greats like George Atkinson, Art Thoms, and George Buehler followed in Ken’s footsteps and decided to donate their brains to the study of CTE and give them to the Concussion Legacy Foundation after they passed away.   Truly unselfish acts inspired by the Snake’s selflessness and the encouragement of his partner Kim Bush.

“When you see your teammate deteriorate a lot through the end of his life, to see him go out like that, it brings us together,” Thoms said in a Mercury News article. George Atkinson has complained often of his memory issues. “Ken meant so much to us and we felt we needed to do this.”

The Closest Team in the NFL:

Many of the retired Raider players talked about how close they were to each other. Many stated how no team was as tight as they were.   Even after retiring, they would meet for dinner often and even if players were out of state, they would fly back to join their fellow teammates. It was important to them to stay in touch with an incredible time that gave them so much enjoyment.

Jim Jamz:

We have many older patients and one is Mr. & Mrs. C who live deep in the wine country (I wont give their name for health privacy reasons.) They used to be a Raiders season ticket holders in the 60’s and 70’s.   I visited them recently.

Mrs. C is the classic sweet nurturing elderly woman who still feels a good meal will solve any problem. Mr. C was a successful businessman who’s health is failing. I go to their house so he doesn’t have to go into the office. I also know they enjoy my visits. Mr. C usually holds court with a scotch in his hand while I get my usual pay for a house call. A cold beer with a roast beef or turkey sandwich or the occasional German Chocolate cake and cold glass of milk.

“You know something James, those times were so special and those guys meant the damn world to us.   Players like Tom Keating and Art Thoms; Tony Cline, Warren Wells, Charlie Smith, Raymond Chester. Tatum and Atkinson, Skip and Willie. Otto, Beuhler and Dalby; Upshaw and Shell; Sistrunk and Kinlaw; Rod Martin and Vilipiano. Sumner, Wolf, and Al Locasale. So many great men that gave their all to win. And Kenny was everyone’s favorite. No group of players and fans were closer. The minute you forget this son, you won’t be worth a damn as a writer, or as a fan.”

After a pregnant pause, Mr. C showed a moment of rare emotion. Pointing his finger at me he said softly while winking, “Ken in the Hall of Fame? This one means something son; this one means something.”

It sure does Mr. C.   It sure does.

 

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“Last Minute Rumors & Draft Scenarios For The Oakland Raiders 2016 NFL Draft”

 

oakland raiders war room

Day 1 of the NFL Draft is Here! Or as we call it guys day in.

Go ahead and have some fun with it because this draft is going to be very interesting. Let’s be real; experts, insiders, fans, ex players and even the teams themselves don’t know what players are going to be chosen.   It’s guesswork for everyone so I’m not curing cancer here. Let’s just use common sense and historic facts and look into the 2016 NFL Draft day 1.

The Trade Impact In the First Round:

First off I’m a huge talent over need guy.  Let’s say for instance you need a safety but the only ones that are there are 2nd or third round talents; I pass.  If you look at the Raiders history they’ve ruined drafts picking for needs.

Even with the rules allowing WR to roam free and the QB to barely be touched, the QB position in the NFL is at it’s worst in NFL history. Passing and Receiving records are falling to average players at best who are benefiting from the new rules. I can see the likes of Dan Marino, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice saying, “give me a bucket!”

Here is a good article by quality ESPN Writer Bill Barnwell on Drafting Qb’s:

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/15391775/taking-quarterback-early-round-2-makes-lot-sense-some-teams-nfl

I’m not a big fan of these 2 trades but I understand them.

Let’s look outside the box and stop just regurgitating what the “experts” are saying. Let’s think for ourselves and see what might be the mindset of teams in this years draft.

Raiders Trading Up:

The pre NFL draft is fun. Many sites try to stir the pot with mock drafts and scenarios and NFL combine #’s to keep people interested all year round. It is fun to do but let’s be real; 90% of this stuff never happens.

One of those scenarios is the annual can the Raiders trade up or down in the draft game. In 56 years please give me the list of all of the trades the Raiders have done to move up or down in the draft. Ron Wolf was the architect of many of the Raiders great drafts and he taught Reggie McKenzie all he knew at Green Bay.

Will the Raiders trade up?  No one knows.  But if you look at history it says the Raiders will do nothing and draft #14. When you trade up you are also in the mindset that you are 1 player away from being a top team.  They Raiders still have holes to fill.

The Raiders RB Reality of 2015:

The average fan almost always looks at offense but in reality you can’t win without a good to great defense.   Should the Raiders get a RB?   Yes. In the later rounds. But tell me last year how important the RB’s were in the championship game and in the Super Bowl? The Patriots were literally getting RB’s off the street; and the other 3 teams mostly used backups who didn’t exactly play like Walter Payton. What all 4 teams DID have were the 4 best DL’s in the NFL. New England had more sacks without blitzing than any other team in the NFL. Look at the history of the NFL; for the most part Defensive lines and defenses win championships; not RB’s.

The Raiders struggles last year began when Minnesota played a cover 2 defense and took away the long ball.   The Raiders medium passing game is bad and they never adjusted to other teams that did it as well. That’s not on the RB’s.

San Diego Chargers Pick Will Control the Draft:

Everyone has Ole Miss T Laremy Tunsil as the Chargers pick but let’s hold on.   The Chargers need to win now, and QB Philip Rivers is not getting any younger. The Chargers also paid a lot of money; some guaranteed; for tackles Joe Barksdale and King Dunlap. They also arent’ getting off cheap on their guards either. They could move one of their tackles to guard but now you are spending a ton of money on an OL when the defense is one of the worst in the NFL.

While the Raiders have a history of not trading up or down in the NFL draft, the Chargers have a lot of history. In recent year’s and in the past. (Rivers and Ladanian Tomlinson to name two). Chargers GM Tom Telesco is a wheeler and dealer for sure; for better or worse.

The Miami Dolphins are in big need of a franchise RB and rumors are swirling out of Miami that a trade with the Chargers isn’t out of the question. The Chargers have a kin to Notre Dame picks and they like OL Ronnie Stanley. They could trade down, get an extra pick or two and still get Stanley who other teams aren’t as high on.

If they do pick there, a defensive player like CB Jalen Ramsey or DL’s Joey Bosa or DeForest Buckner going to the Chargers would not shock me.

Ezekiell Elliott  RB Ohio St.:

Jerry Jones loves his badboys. I warned everyone that Randy Gregory DL out of Nebraska was an athlete playing football and of course Dallas took him in the 2nd round last year. In 12 games last year Gregory had 11 tackles and 0 sacks. He also tested positive for a drug of some kind (he was positive for pot in college) and he’s now suspended for the first four games. DeMarcus Lawrence had 8 sacks last year and he came into his own; he also has been suspended for 4 games for substance abuse. Add Greg Hardy’s departure and the DL for Dallas is just ugly. So they’ll go DL right?

Jerry Jones has always been an offensive guy and I see them taking Ezekiel Elliott, RB out of Ohio St. Jones likes offense and he loves running backs so I see this going down.

Interesting Oakland Raiders Scenarios:

Reggie Ragland MLB Alabama:

Reports are leaking that he has an elarged aorta that needs yearly monitoring.  They hypersensitive NFL; some teams reportedly have him off their board now. The only MLB that can start right away in this draft in my opinion is Alabama MLB Reggie Ragland.   As I’ve said before with the likes of Rolando McClain and others, these aren’t Bear Bryants free wheeling LB’s. Nick Saban runs a controlled and sophisticated zone and Bama LB’s do not have to cover much man to man so you really don’t know how good they are against the pass.

In reality though this would be the safe pick and the one I think the Raiders are leaning to right now.  Will his heart condition change this.

Myles Jack LB UCLA:

Myles Jack value is dropping quickly. Mike Mayock; who isn’t much for personality but who I like; has an interesting scenario where Myles Jack falls all the way to 14 and the Raiders take him. Even though I like Mike let’s be real; 3 days ago he said I can’t believe anyone in the top 10 won’t pick Jack but now in his Mock yesterday he has him falling to 14.

Why? Jack lost himself a lot of money in an “I’m an open book” millennial moment, when a few days ago he told reporters that his knee’s condition is degenerative and that in the future he may or may not need micro-fracture surgery. His exact quote was that no one knows the future but to play 3 years in this league would be above average. I could see his agent slapping his forehead when he heard that saying, “DOH!”. When the player is saying stuff like that then you move on……..Quickly.

Sheldon Rankins DL Louisville:

I like Rankins a lot and he’s going in the top 15 in the draft. I see him going to the Dolphins or the Saints who need help big time at DL. If not he’d be a great get for the Raiders to give them a much needed QB push from the DT position and could immediately upgrade their defense to possibly being a top 5-10 unit.

Shaq Lawson DL Clemson:

At the beginning I just couldn’t believe people downplaying him.  He’s slowly climbed up the ladder and he may be a top 10 pick.  In some mock drafts they have him going to Buffalo after the Raiders so it’s a crap shoot.  If he’s here, how can you pass up on a play maker like Lawson?  If he and Ragland are here wow; what a fun waiting time that will be.  I like Lawson and think you just can’t pass him up.  Talent over need.

Robert Nkemdiche DE Mississippi:

There is always a draft lovechild that fans glop on to and this year it is Nkemdiche. Gholston, Clowney, Gregory; the list is a long one.  He had a great game against Alabama and that’s his calling card; plus a lot of hype. They forget that in 3 years he only had 7 sacks and that in his last 7 games at Ole Miss he averaged 2 tackles a game. He was extremely inconsistent. I may be wrong but I warned people about all galaxy Jadeveon Clowney and how he’d tank and I’m warning others about Robert. To think he’s now going to be a 8-12 sack per year guy in the NFL? I say no way.

William Jackson III CB, Houston:

The University of Houston had a great resurgence last year; just not in the passing defense scene.  They were ranked the 122th rated pass defense in college football.

If you were listening to ESPN radio’s mock drafts yesterday, one of the people choosing picked CB William Jackson III out of Houston for the Raiders pick. I swallowed my gum too.  Don’t laugh; this is the hot name being thrown around by ESPN and their followers and if they blow off Ragland due to health issues, this may be the pick.  It would also be a little attempt at vindication for Reggie.

He had a monster bowl game against Florida St. and looked good in pre draft/NFL combine workouts. Many of the experts really don’t watch all the games so these big televised bowls and senior bowls are big deals to them. In reality he’s another free lancer who is a work out warrior and looks physically impressive. In tackling he’s somewhat soft and not one to like contact. I think this would be a bad pick and he’s a 2nd round project in my book.  I warned you on draft day about DJ Hayden and I’m warning you again.

Chris Jones DL Mississippi St.:

Another pick on the ESPN show was Chris Jones. If Shaq Lawson is there and the Raiders take Chris Jones then it’s a huge mistake.   Jones is a solid player but he’s had issues with conditioning in the past and he’s not a great pass rusher; he’s more of a run stopper. The Raiders have a ton of run stoppers; they need pass rushers. I think Jones is a good player but the Raiders need Shaq Lawson, not Chris Jones.

Karl Joseph S West Virgina:

He is still not recovered from his ACL tear and he won’t be 100% probably for a part of the season.  He is a thumper with a lot of explosiveness.  He was projected as a 1st or 2nd rounder but he’s been climbing.  He’s the best safety in a draft without super star safeties.  This isn’t a value pick; I like Joseph but I think you can get a good safety in the second or 3rd round at better value.

Leonard Floyd LB Georgia:

When you watched a Georgia game last year Floyd flies off the page. He has a lot of football talent and just isn’t an athlete. I wrote about him a few months ago and I like him. The problem is, Florida papers are talking about how Tampa Bay is gushing about him and how much they love him.   Many other teams also quietly like him.   It’s hard to think he’ll be there at #14, but if he is, they will take him.

Final Notes:

Remember that the draft isn’t a gift bag; 31 other teams are in this so you have to adapt to their choices. Keep in mind also that some teams are smart and some aren’t. Not every pick is a good one.

One tidbit that is going around the Bay Area though is that the 49ers LOVE Mackenzie Alexander the CB out of Clemson. The 49ers trading down isn’t out of the question now that they are in full rebuilding mode. Getting a DL and Alexander would be pretty amazing for them. I too love Alexander as a player.

Who ever the Raiders pick the hopes are that it’s a smart pick and not a crazy reach that filled the ghosts of drafts past. Some Raider fans will like any pick; some will hate any pick; but the even keel fans will look at the player and break down the need of the team and the skill set that they bring. As Reggie McKenzie said a few weeks ago, “we’ve done nothing yet. We haven’t won a thing and have work to do”. That is a good attitude to have entering this years draft.

“Forgotten Players of the AFC West”

This article is for the fans of the AFC West.  If you are a fan of these great teams, these players may be household names to you.  It’s so important though that the history of the game is respected, and these great players are not forgotten.  This article is in honor of them, and the fans that watched.

san diego chargers 1960

San Diego Chargers:

Many think the Chargers uniforms of the 1960’s and 70’s are the greatest ever made and it’s hard to argue with that.  What also can’t be argued is their dominating win in the AFL Championship game in 1963 sealing their argument as one of the innovators of the modern NFL passing game that is seen today.

sid gillman

Sid Gillman:

Sid Gillman may be the greatest football coach of all time. He is the only coach in history that is in both the NFL and College football Hall of Fame. His coaching tree is the greatest of all time bar none. Bill Walsh, Al Davis, Chuck Knoll, Chuck Knox, Dick Vermeil, Don Coryell, Joe Gibbs, John Madden, Tom Flores, George Seifert, Dennis Green, Jon Gruden, Brian Billick and many others fall under his umbrella of greatness.

The vertical passing game of the Raiders was taken straight from him. Al Davis called him the Einstein of the NFL and he is the father of the modern passing game. There will never be another Sid Gillman. As John Madden recently said, “what some teams are just discovering, Sid Gillman was doing in the 60’s”.

gary_garrison_1968_10_20 (2)

Gary Garrison:

San Diego’s version of Fred Biletnikoff was the great Gary Garrison. Lance Alworth gets all of the publicity but in reality the Chargers had another fine Wide Receiver. His nickname was the ghost. Sid Gillman literally called him an artist in regards to his amazing route running skills.   One sports writer said it was like watching a figure skater on a football field; his routes were so precise.

He is 5th and 4th all time on the Chargers reception and yards list respectively. He has more receiving yards than Kellen Winslow and Wes Chandler. He averaged an amazing 18.6 yards a catch which is second all time for San Diego pass catchers with over 120 catches.

Paul Lowe:

With Paul Lowe and Keith Lincoln in the backfield, San Diego had one of the great 1-2 punches in pro football history. They helped lead the Chargers to their only championship in 1963. He is the 2nd all time leader in rushing yards for the Chargers. He was the 1965 UPI AFL MVP, 2 times AFL All Star, 2 times All AFL team. He was also voted onto the ALL time AFL team, 2 times comeback player of the year, and he’s the all-time AFL leader in average yards per carry at 4.9.   And he still holds the NFL record for 6 straight 100 yard games with 14 or fewer carries.

Paul Lowe can still be seen today at the Chargers games. He is a season ticket holder and a fan favorite.

Kansas City Chiefs:

The Chiefs have had an amazing history of talented teams with some of the greatest players to play football.  Buchanon, Dawson, Taylor, Lanier, Culp, Thomas, Holmes; the list goes on and on.  When eclectic head coach Hank Stram allowed NFL films to record him during the Super Bowl, he became the first NFL coaches to wear a microphone.  Stram brought in the triple stack defense to hide his linebackers.  When he had several WR’s injured; and against the Raiders powerful pass rush and great DB’s; he used the T formation and ran 60 times for over 300 yards to a 24-10 victory over Oakland.   Len Dawson complete 3 passes for 16 yards.  In the AFL days they lead the AFL in playoff appearances tied with the Raiders.  Hank Stram was as great as the players he coached.

Joe Delaney:

“I’ve played against the best–O.J. SimpsonGale SayersWalter Payton and (Delaney) ranks right up there with them…He is great with a capital G.”

Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea, Houston Oilers

 Just the mention of his name can still bring a smile and a tear to some players and fans eyes. He was headed for greatness.

His acts of generosity and kindness are still of legend. So are his acts on the football field. A Raider beat writer once said, “There is fast and then there is Joe Delaney fast”. He was a game breaking type of player who could catch the ball and run like the wind. With a strike shortened season and an eye injury, he only played 1 ½ years but he was amazing. He had 196 yards rushing against Houston and ran for 1121 yards his rookie year while getting the Rookie of the Year Award and making the Pro Bowl.

He once ran 75 yards for a touchdown but it was called back. Two plays later he ran for an 82 yard touchdown. Sadly, while trying to save 3 boys that were drowning, Delaney drowned. He could not swim. Only 1 of the boys made it. Joe received the US Presidential Citizens Medal from President Reagan and should always be remembered.

Ed Podolak:

http://www.kcchiefs.com/media-center/videos/A-Look-Back-Ed-Podolak/73b4dfc4-5dd5-4517-b96a-ca61b23976b4

His occasional wildness off the field gets some publicity at times but in reality Chiefs Running Back Ed Podolak was one heck of a football player. With his hooked bar helmet, he looked like a red bull chasing after people. He could catch, run and block. He was an all purpose back that could do it all including returning punts and kickoffs.

He is the 5th all-time Chiefs RB in regards to rushing yards, and the 10th leading pass catcher of all time. He was also a quality return man. His wars against the Raiders and their bulldozer RB Marv Hubbard were must see tv.

Jerrel Wilson:

wilsonphoto1

Nicknamed Thunderfoot, Jerrel Wilson was flat out one of the greatest punters of all time.  Often overshadowed due to the greatness of Ray Guy, his booming and towering punts were a thing of beauty.  Ray Guy and Wilson transformed the punting game into an offensive weapon in regards to controlling field position.

He was a 3 time pro bowler and on the all AFL team, and in one year avg. 46.1 yards per punt.  His greatness should not be forgotten.

Oakland Raiders:

raiders 4

For a 25 year period, the Raiders winning % was far and away better than any professional sports team in the U.S.  In their first 20 Monday night football games they were 18-1-1.  In the greatest decade of the NFL; the 1970’s; they had the most wins.  In the NFL.com fan poll of the greatest teams a few years ago, the 1976 Oakland Raiders were voted the greatest team of all time by over 5.5 million NFL fans.

For 3 decades 2 teams were almost always on top of the ratings charts in the NFL.  The Cowboys and the Raiders.  The 2 teams people loved to hate.  For a time the Cowboys were America’s team but the Raiders were the renegades of the NFL with talent to back it up.  Those days seem light years away.  They moved to Los Angeles which slowly eroded their tough blue collar Oakland persona, and the violence at games along with the small crowds, eroded their mystique.  Their style of play changed and they’ve never been the same.  It’s sad because few teams in the NFL boast a higher level of talent in their great history.

Warren Wells:

http://www.raiders.com/media-vault/videos/Blanda-to-Wells/b47922ff-a73d-40a3-a9e7-ebfa2c3f482a

“The greatest player I ever coached was Warren Wells. I never saw anyone that gifted and that fast”.

Former Raiders Head Coach John Madden

This is still one of Ronnie Lott’s favorite players. If you talk to any player of the 1960’s, the one player that always amazed them was Warren Wells. For a 3 ½ year period, he struck terror in the eyes of all teams.

He was as fast as lightning and just as gifted. Before the NFL changed the criteria, Warren Wells was the all time leader in yards per catch at an inhuman 23.3 yards a catch. In one year he caught 47 balls for an incredible 27 yards per catch.   He and Daryle Lamonica; The Mad Bomber; were the originators of Al Davis’ feared vertical game.

Due to off the field issues and an ankle injury, Wells career was cut short. He straightened up his life and last year was honored by lighting the torch at one of the Raiders home games.

 

Tom Keating:

keating tom

He was the anchor of the famous “11 Angry Men” Oakland Raiders defense of the 1960’s and 1970’s.   Tom Keating was one of the best defensive linemen in AFL history. He was a 2 time AFL all star and on the all time AFL 2nd team. He played so hard that a story was written about him alone when the Raiders played the Packers in Super Bowl II. He was a part of the famous 1967 Raiders defense that caused a record 667 yards in losses on 67 sacks. They remain one of the most unheralded defenses of all time.

He was talented and tough.   Off the field he was a fan favorite and very happy go lucky. He was a bay area guy and lived and died here. Many feel that if he didn’t have such bad knees that he was a hall of famer for sure.

Bob Chandler:

bob chandler4

With Southern California looks and charm, this USC favorite son was also a great football player.   Making most of his fame in Buffalo, Bob Chandler had it all. He was known for his great hands.  The Raiders signed him after Buffalo let him go and he fit right in. He caught 4 balls in the Raiders Super Bowl win against the Eagles.   Between 1975 and 1977 he led the NFL in pass catches. In a famous scene he was hit in the stomach stretching to catch a ball in Denver.   His spleen was ruptured and he had to be rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery which saved his life.

He once posed for Playgirl.  He wrote books, hosted tv shows and eventually became a Raider announcer. Sadly; a non smoker; Chandler got a rare from of Lung Cancer and died at the age of 45. The Raiders and their broadcasting crew took the news hard. He was very well liked and should be remembered fondly and more often for his charisma and his great football talents.

Denver Broncos:

denver broncos uniform 1960
Houston Oilers v.s. Denver Broncos

 

1966BroncosPatriots900h
Boston Patriots v.s. Denver Broncos

A little known fact that may buy you a drink someday if you are a Denver fan is that many of the AFL teams didn’t have much money. The Broncos first uniforms were actually mustard yellow and brown.  The reason they were that color is that the Broncos wanted to save money so they bought the used uniforms off of the University of Wyoming football team and used them for a year.  Wyoming were upgrading their uniforms so they were available. They then got a designer to make a new uniform the following season.

Floyd Little:

If it weren’t for Floyd Little, there probably would not be football in Denver.  Nicknamed “The Franchise”, his popularity helped keep the Broncos in Denver when their attendance and play on the field suffered.  In the mid to late 1960’s, his popularity soared and it got Denver excited about football.  The Broncos were the only team to never play in an AFL title game and the only AFL team to not have a winning season while a member of the AFL.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMTjEAYSbzg

If you are a Denver fan; even a young one; and you don’t know the name Floyd Little then you need an education fast. He was the Allen Iverson of his time in regards to sports popularity. Because of his small size he was a fan favorite of kids from all over the country. He was fun and friendly off the field, but literally a nightmare on it. He was fast and could turn any play into a long gain.

He’s a 2 time AFL all star, 3 time Pro Bowler and a member of Pro Footballs Hall of Fame. From 1968 to 1973, Little gained more yards from scrimmage than any player in the NFL. The Broncos were not a very good team for most of his tenure there, so he never seems to get the publicity or the credit for how great he really was.

Riley Odoms:

http://www.denverbroncos.com/multimedia/videos/March-1-Happy-birthday-Riley-Odoms/3014b18e-9e83-4653-b7a1-c8aacaf6e89f

Most knowledgeable Denver fans will remember Odoms but many NFL fans don’t. He was before his time; a Kellen Winslow type of player who could stretch a defense vertically, or make the tough catches when needed.

He was a 4 time Pro Bowler and a 2 time All Pro Player. He is the 7th all time receiver in Broncos history and was a key member of their prominence in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s after their first 16 years of existence without a winning season.

Rich Tombstone Jackson:

http://www.denverbroncos.com/multimedia/videos/July-22-Happy-birthday-Rich-Tombstone-Jackson/bb864450-686d-4348-b095-2ef393a319b1

Another guy that doesn’t get his due is Rich Tombstone Jackson. He was the first real great pass rusher in Denver history. He was very physical and Lyle Alzado of all people called him the toughest man he ever met.

He was a 2x AFL All Star, 2x AFL All Pro and voted second team on the all time AFL team. As with many players of his day before modern knee surgeries, he tore his knee and had to retire early from football. Many believe he was the best pass rusher of that era and that without injury he was heading into the NFL Hall of Fame.

Final Thoughts:

With so many people lacking any knowledge of the past in our social media mentality of today, it’s important for all of us to remember the great players of yesteryear. The AFC west was a huge part of AFL and NFL lore, and their contributions should never be forgotten.

 

“Which Oakland Raider Players Are Next Into the HOF; Who’s In; Who’s Not”

US PRESSWIRE Sports Archive
Aug 1, 1992; Canton, OH, USA; Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis speaks at his induction ceremony to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. FILE PHOTO; Mandatory Credit: US PRESSWIRE

 

Please sign this petition to get Cliff Branch into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/276/842/889/induct-oakland-raider-wr-cliff-branch-into-the-nfl-hall-of-fame/?taf_id=14680187&cid=twitter

 

On a warm summer day in Canton, Ohio after the enshrinement ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Oakland Raider owner Al Davis was doing one of his last interviews in public. Looking fragile and using a walker, Mr. Davis was talking to an ESPN reporter when Jerry Jones walked by to say hi and tell people how great Al is.   It was obvious that both men could see that time was not an ally of Mr. Davis and they talked accordingly.

“If I have any regrets in life, one of them is not doing enough to get the great Raiders of the past into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We had so many good ones and that has to be fixed.  We need to do a better job.”

Let’s face it. Every team has a long list of players that fans want in the Hall of Fame.   I think I was reading yesterday that Denver only has 4 players in the HOF. That’s amazing.

I’ve always had the ability to be unbiased about things.  Whether it’s politics or sports teams or anything.  I’ll be honest about it and be secure in the answer.  Let’s face it though; most are very biased and they see what they want.  I need to be objective when I look at things to have integrity.

So without further ado, lets do an unbiased look at Raiders that may or may not make the NFL HOF.  Let’s first look at the coach and the offense today.  Tomorrow we will look at defense.

 

Bill King:

“If Bill King was in New York, Chicago, or Boston, they would have a statue built of him already”.

Gary Radnich, KNBR Radio

(Please Click on watch on You Tube to watch the above video)

Above is Bill King’s amazingly funny call of the Holy Roller.  One of the great calls of all time.  I’m going to write an article on Bill King in the future but he really deserves to be in at least 2 Hall of Fames; NBA and NFL. Another west coast snub. Some east coast sports writers don’t even know who he is. NFL films icon Steve Sabol said Bill was his favorite announcer.

Deserves to be in the HOF: YES; A huge one!

Will be Voted into HOF: Doubtful; absolute outrage.

 

al-davis-bryant-gumble-tom-flores_pg_600

Tom Flores:

The Raiders didn’t need the Rooney rule. If Al Davis thought you could do the job, he’d hire you. That’s what he felt when he hired Tom Flores to be his head coach.

Tom Flores was a branch off the amazing Sid Gillman coaching tree which is huge and included Al Davis. He won a Championship as an assistant, player (backup to Len Dawson’s 1969 KC Chiefs team) and a coach.

In 12 years of coaching he had 6 winning seasons and 2 Super Bowl wins and was 97-87. He also was 8-3 in post season.   A huge issue with voters is in his last 5 years of coaching the Raiders and the Seahawks, he was only 27-52.

This is a tough one and I think the east coast media bias again is hugely an issue. Weeb Ewbank who was a good coach is 1 game over .500 but is in the HOF.  He did win 130 games though. Where was his biggest coaching stint? NY Jets.

I’m on the fence to be honest.  Tom Flores doesn’t have a lot of wins and he really didn’t do well the last part of his career, but his post season record is stellar.  Tough one.

Deserves to be in the HOF: Still Deciding

Will be Voted into HOF:  50/50; maybe

cliff branch

Cliff Branch:

One of the great deep threats of all time. One of the few players that didn’t lose speed with age. Kenny Stabler said in one interview, “We were great.   I had a great offensive line, great running backs and receivers. I mean Cliff Branch could out run half the cars in the parking lot.”

John Madden would laugh and say, “Cliff in the early years would tell me during the 3rd quarter to throw to him because he could beat his guy.   In about his 6th year we’d be warming up and he’d tell me that Ken needed to throw to him because he knew he could beat his guy. I’d laugh and say Cliff you don’t even know who your guy is yet!”.

When Washington’s Daryl Green hit Cliff in the first Raider play in the Super Bowl to try and intimidate him, Branch smiled and shook his finger back and forth in front of his face. No one could intimidate him or the Raiders.

He has so many clutch catches in big games you can’t count them. His catch and long run for a touchdown in the Sea of Hands game helped turn the game around. It’s almost embarrassing having to prove he belongs in the HOF.

Deserves to be in the HOF: YES, YES, YES

Will be Voted into HOF: Eventually

1990 AFC Divisional Playoffs:  Cincinnati Bengals vs. Los Angeles Raiders
LOS ANGELES – JANUARY 13: Running back Bo Jackson #34 of Los Angeles Raiders stands on the sidelines during the 1990 AFC Divisional Playoffs against the Cincinnati Bengals at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on January 13, 1991 in Los Angeles, California. The Raiders won 20-10. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Bo Jackson:

In a genius move, Al Davis drafted Bo Jackson in the 7th round the year after Bo refused to play for Tampa Bay. He told Bo he could play two sports, something the rest of the league refused to do. Bo Played only 4 years. He never ran for 1000 yards and ended his career with only 2782 yards after a hip injury shortened his career. Although a streaking comet, there isn’t a chance he’s a HOF player.

Deserves to be in the HOF: No Way

Will be Voted into HOF: Not a chance

jim plunkett

Jim Plunkett:

If you ask someone does Jim Plunkett deserve to be in the HOF and most will say sure, he won two Super Bowls. But lets look at the facts.

Jim Plunkett was NEVER named as an All Pro. He NEVER made a pro bowl and was NEVER considered any where near the best quarterback of his era. In contrast Ken Stabler was voted to the all decade team, was all pro several times, was an MVP and even his competitors say he’s the best QB of that era.

As a starting QB he was only 72-72. He has only 164 touchdowns and 198 interceptions. His lifetime passing % was only 52%. Some like to compare him to Joe Namath and some of the numbers are nearly equal but there are others that aren’t close. Namath was an all pro; 4 time AFL all star; two times Player of the Year; two time MVP and also on the AFL all time team.

Plunkett threw for over 2600 yards in his career only one time and never threw for over 3000 yards. Namath threw for over 2600 yards 6 times; twice throwing for over 3000 yards and once for over 4000 yards which was unheard of at the time.

In the two Super Bowl wins that Jim played in, the defense in 8 quarters allowed only 19 points. Against the Eagles he won the MVP and even he’s admitted Rod Martin; who had the greatest defensive Super Bowl of all time with 3 interceptions; should have been MVP.   Plunkett completed only 13 passes for 261 yards with 80 of those yards coming on a short pass and long run by Kenny King. Against Washington, the defense, offensive line and Marcus Allen were the kings of that game. He completed 16 passes for 172 yards in that game. Saying Jim Plunkett won these games isn’t true.

There isn’t a better story than the Plunkett family story and wow is he a great guy. I really like him but he’s not a HOF player in my eyes. You can’t vote someone into the HOF as one of the all time greats when he is not even considered that great in his own era. No pro bowls but a hall of fame? Doesn’t make sense.

Deserves to be in the HOF: NO

Will be Voted into HOF: Doubtful

Todd Christensen - 1996
Todd Christensen – 1996

Todd Christensen:

Todd Christensen was a son of a scholar and he was extremely smart. Some felt he was arrogant but in reality he was a good guy that just came off as such. Most NFL players didn’t talk like a scholar so he turned people off. It’s sad he’s not remembered more. He died tragically 2 years ago @ the age of 57.

He twice lead the league in catches. In his best year he caught 95 passes for 1153 yards. For a 4 year span he caught 349 catches which at that time was an NFL record. He was the first TE to ever catch 90 passes in 2 consecutive years. Although he didn’t play long enough to be a HOF player, he was an excellent Raider and one of the best in the NFL for a 5 year span. RIP.

Deserves to be in the HOF: No

Will be Voted into HOF: No

dave dalby

Dave Dalby:

When you replace a legend like Center Jim Otto, you better be good; Dave Dalby was.

If you ask Raider players and the fans that he was around, there wasn’t a kinder person.   If you are a person of faith, Dave’s story is pretty amazing and you can read below.

https://sites.google.com/site/silverblackministry/dave-dave-dalby-double-d-50

He played 14 years without missing a game. He was all pro 1 time and has 3 Super Bowl rings; one as a backup and 2 as a starter.

He died in 2002.   He was only 51. He had become addicted to alcohol and struggled a lot after his career.   His alcohol level was .15 when he floored his van into a tree. A truly sad ending for a kind Raider who always was willing to help others. I see memories from Raider fans and players online even today. He’s very missed. RIP Dave. And I really mean that.

Deserves to be in the HOF: No

Will be Voted into HOF: No

Steve Wisniwski

Steve Wisniewski:

If there was ever a guy that was born in the wrong decade, it was the “Wiz”. Wisniewski was a rugged player who most considered dirty.   He would have fit right into the Raiders of old.

He was an 8 time pro bowler and voted to the 1990’s all decade team. The problem isn’t really with Steve it’s with the era. The Raiders had some lean years during his time and he also played during an era where there were many all time great guards who played. Steve also had a bad reputation for his dirty play which will take a little time to get over. It took a long time for him to even be nominated but I think he’s a HOF player.

Deserves to be in the HOF: Yes

Will be Voted into HOF: Eventually

“The Bittersweet Election of Ken Stabler Into the Pro Football HOF; What NFL Voters Need to Do”

Please sign this petition to get Cliff Branch into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/276/842/889/induct-oakland-raider-wr-cliff-branch-into-the-nfl-hall-of-fame/?taf_id=14680187&cid=twitter

Ken Stabler Hall of fame (2)

For Raider, Alabama, and NFL fans that have been crying out for Ken Stabler to be elected into the NFL Hall of Fame, their prayers were answered Saturday night. The NFL announced that Ken Stabler along with Brett Favre, Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Kevin Greene, Dick Stanfel and controversial former San Francisco 49er owner Eddie DeBartolo had been newly elected into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame.

My Twitter timeline was blowing up for joy but also with anger due to the huge slight all these years.   No negative feeling should diminish the joy everyone feels but it is frustrating. In the annals of life it may not be that big a deal, but in the world of sports it was a miscarriage of justice to say the least and we need to call people out for it.

tumblr_n3thkqHGHU1qm9rypo1_1280

I thought of John Madden and the Raider players who loved him so much. I thought of older fans who saw him play and those that are no longer here. I thought of his daughter Kendra who knew of her dad’s talent and carried the torch for him for so long.   I thought of daughters Marissa and Alexa who must have been awestruck by the devotion and love shown to their dad, and are just learning how great he was on the field. I thought also of his grandkids who he adored. I thought of his sister Carolyn who also has been nothing but gracious and kind through out the years. His nephews, friends, and other family members also have a huge void in their lives.

I thought of Alabama fans and friends of Ken’s that had also fought for him to be recognized.   Their devotion is equal to that of Oakland.

And last but not least, I thought of his partner of almost 16 years Kim Ross, who bravely supported him while he quietly battled the side effects of CTE. While we saw the glorified side, she saw the fight that is seen behind the scenes when the crowds no longer cheer and the player walks away. A fight that no longer should be fought alone.

As I announced Ken’s induction to my happy followers, I also thought of all of the people over the years that had fought for Ken’s being in the hall of fame.   The people with websites and social media pages.  Everyday people who cared so much.  People in the media and sportswriters. The NFL players of present and past who had constantly said how Ken deserved to be a part of this group. Many emotions stirred up inside me. Some amazing and some not so pleasant.

SUPER BOWL XI
Jan 9, 1977; Pasadena, CA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Oakland Raiders quarterback (12) Ken Stabler and actor James Garner celebrates as Oakland defeated the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI at the Rose Bowl. The Raiders defeated the Vikings 32-14 to win their first Super Bowl title. Mandatory Credit: Photo By Malcolm Emmons- US PRESSWIRE © Copyright Malcolm Emmons

The Reality of It All:

If a voting writer thinks that a player does not belong in the HOF due to their play on the field, then they should not vote them in.  Believe me I get it; not everyone belongs in the NFL Hall of Fame. But I also get that the grudges and unprofessionalism of NFL HOF voters has to be addressed and called out. We should not give sportswriters/voters a pass when the players they unjustly keep out for biased reasons finally get in. Instead they need to be held accountable.

What Does This Vote Prove?:

Sites that try to hire me (boy are they dumb) and readers always ask me why I write as an independent.  The pure reason is so I won’t be censored or edited.  My goal in life isn’t to be famous or known, it’s to call out injustices and to tell the truth.  Most write what their readers want to hear to be popular and get viewers, and they try to kiss up to teams and the NFL. My readers know that I write because I want to inform them and give people an idea of what is going on; good or bad. I go after the smart reader, and as many of them know, most corporations and governments are not big fans of the truth sometimes.

In saying that, what this vote proves is one thing; Ken Stabler and everyone near him got cheated.   I’m not going to rehash old articles or quotes; if you want to find out check out my past writings; but in reality this was just wrong.

Just Saturday, Terrell Owens found this out as well. Even though he has some of the best WR credentials in years, he did not make the HOF. I still remember how crappy he treated writers and other people and how he arrogantly looked his nose down on them; payback is a beatch; ask Barry Bonds.

I don’t like Terrell Owens antics either. In reality though if I was a voter my OPINION on how he treated people should not play into the equation. Even though Owens is a different type of situation than Stabler’s, isn’t this an honor for what people do on the field? On the field he was a HOF player whether I like him or not.   For God’s sake OJ Simpson is still in.

Look at the self righteous Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. When MLB saw the money in daily fantasy leagues, they pimped themselves out quicker than a Kardashian in front of a camera. You couldn’t go a minute without commercials about Draft Kings. Unless of course it was their announcement that they would not put Pete Rose into the Hall of Fame because of his ties with gambling. I mean this stuff writes itself! Hypocrisy knows no bounds when it comes to major sports leagues.

Or what about Howard Cosell who is shockingly not in the HOF. Frank DeFord, Al Michaels, and so many of the great sports media figures of our time say Howard Cosell may be the most important NFL announcer of all time. That doesn’t count his huge contributions to boxing, baseball, and every other sport he was involved with. He WAS Monday Night Football. He even told the nation when John Lennon was shot and killed. He told it like it is whether it was fun or not. He said something.

Howard Cosell though had a big mouth and the NFL didn’t like it. He spoke for players issues at times.   He also talked about how someday networks would only want athletes as announcers because they would be loyal to the networks and the NFL product. He called it “jockocracy”; the dumbing down of announcers. He was right.

He also was a witness in the lawsuit by the USFL against the NFL years ago.   Again he told the truth. In 2010 Sports Illustrated listed the reasons why Cosell had indeed been black listed from the NFL HOF. None of the writers will admit it; but no way is Howard getting in which is a joke.  This is why it’s so scary. The NFL is so powerful that they control the networks and many of the sportswriters/voters know that to get along you go along.

Bill Simmons; one of the most powerful media people at ESPN (some had him getting $5 million per year) created Grantland; the greatest ESPN publication of all time. Simmons spoke out against Roger Goodell calling him and the NFL liars in the Ray Rice situation. The NFL was furious and let ESPN know it.  Even though he was proven right, he was suspended for 3 weeks. This was at the same time when self absorbed ESPN reporter Britt McHenry berated a woman at a towing yard so viciously that it went viral. She was suspended a week. So in ESPN and the NFL world, bullying someone and abusing someone verbally while embarrassing the product is far less a mistake than telling the truth.

Simmons was eventually fired and Grantland was in time, terminated. McHenry still has her job, business as usual. Don’t mess with the NFL.

HOF Voters Biased:

I just saw a 1970’s Sports Illustrated archive on Google books with an interview of Paul Zimmerman or Dr. Z. He was the ESPN NFL guru before Mel Kiper Jr. He was a voting member of the NFL HOF and eventually the senior committee.   He admitted in print that for the only time in his career he lobbied AGAINST a player at one of their player voting meetings. That player was Ken Stabler. At that time Zimmerman held a lot of pull and he vowed, “I’ll never vote Stabler into the HOF”. He believed the Bob Padecky story.

The grudge against Stabler was so bad, even Bob Padecky; who still believes the Snake set him up; last week told Frank Cooney; Ken Stabler’s HOF advocate and selector of the NFL HOF Senior Selection Committee; to tell the other writers that if they think the Snake should be in the HOF that it would be alright with him if they voted him in. Remember this occurrence happened over 35 years ago, and Ken didn’t do it!!!

Final Thoughts:

What needs to happen is that voters need to vote based on their on-field performance and not on petty grudges, invisible or real.  If they don’t, they need to be called out on it by players, fans, and the media.  They need to be held accountable.

Even with the travesty that has occurred, the parties for Ken Stabler’s induction will be long and hard. I can’t wait to see John Madden and the family, friends, and fans of Ken enjoying their day in the sun. In the back of our minds after it is over and the parties stop, lets not forget the voters all these years that cheated Ken and everyone associated with him into sharing this day with him. Remember that when future Raiders come up for a vote every year, to make sure you contact the voting writers directly to show your support of these great players. We can be lazy and complain, or get involved and make sure that their families, friends and fans don’t have to go through what Ken’s did.

Oakland Raider fans are different.  They are real.  There are white collar and blue collar; black, brown and white; rich and poor with all parts of society represented.  The Oakland Raiders are not a team to Oakland fans; they are our family. Other fans look at players like hero’s, but to us Ken was a friend and family member who gave us countless thrills and the adoration we had for him was given back by his kindness and appreciation. He was the key to an innocent and amazing era that created the foundation of a then football dynasty. He and all of the Raiders meant so much to so many.

So when the likes of Cliff Branch, Tom Flores or other players come up for selection into the NFL HOF, let’s not forget the joy they brought to us.   And most importantly lets not forget the tolls their play has taken on their bodies. Let’s support and fight for retired players rights, and the health of all present and past players. Let’s also pressure the NFL and HOF to step up to the plate and do all they can to make sure these men live as healthy of lives as possible. And best of all; see you in Canton!

“Evaluating the Season in Oakland & What do You Consider a Successful Year for the Raiders?”

raiders vs chiefs
Derek Carr vs the Kansas City Chiefs

The Oakland Raiders are now 5-7 and entering the most difficult part of their schedule.  The big question is what is an acceptable win total for this season to be considered a good one.  The Raiders are 1-5 against teams with winning records, and 3 of the last 4 are against teams with winning records.

 

The Positives of 2015:

Derek Carr: 

I liked the Derek Carr pick when he was drafted when few even knew who he was.  It’s a huge issue in today’s quarterback light NFL to find a franchise quarterback and the Raiders have done that.  His strong arm has helped the long passing game and he’s played well this year.  He has limitations which will be discussed later.

He’s grown as a leader and is a quality person that also makes a team comfortable.  He’s going to be a good pro for 5-10 years at least and the Raiders have a franchise quarterback which many teams can’t say.  The future is bright for the Raiders and for Carr.

Offensive Line:

When healthy, the Raiders offensive line has been as good as any in the NFL.  With Carr not being a great QB when rushed, this is imperative for the Raiders success.  For part of the season Carr was the best protected QB in the NFL and some games he had all day to throw.

The Raiders running game has also been solid and other than Donald Penn, this is a young group that should be good for years to come.  Gabe Jackson to me is one of the most underrated OL in the NFL.  It’s not a coincidence that Carr has not been the same QB when center Rodney Hudson has been hurt.  Carr needs time and the Raiders will need to get depth at OL in the off season.  I really like this group though.

Offense:

Michael Crabtree’s contract extension is a good move by the Raiders.  If you look at his numbers when healthy, they are excellent.  Even with Amari Cooper’s drops, he’s still a solid WR and the sky is the limit with him.  Teams have adjusted to the long ball and the Raiders have yet to learn how to best use Cooper, and he has also not adjusted.

I like the Raiders RB’s a lot.  Latavius Murray, Jamize Olawale, and Roy Helu Jr. are solid.  I’m disappointed that Helu Jr. isn’t used more though.  Talented fan favorite Marcel Reece is probably going to be the odd man out next year leaving for another team.  I think the Raiders have failed to use him right.  He will help any team.

I like the Raiders tight ends.  The problem is the Raiders just rarely throw to them.  The announcers two weeks ago brought up the stats that the Raiders are one of the worst medium passing teams in the NFL and that has to change.  Lee Smith is so underrated and is the best blocking TE in the NFL.  Mychal Rivera and Clive Walford are solid and next year I hope they get more opportunities than they are now.

Defense:

The next month will be important for Kahlil Mack who’s had a few very quiet weeks in between great games.  He has to do it on an every week basis to be elite.  He was completely shut out against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  A switch to LB may help him.

Charles Woodsen has been beaten up but he’s recovered from a tough start of the season to have a great year.  The first month of the season he could not guard tight ends but the Raiders have changed up their defense to give him more freedom and it’s worked.  The LB’s have had their ups and downs big time.

David Amerson has improved of late and the hopes are that he can take over at one of the CB positions.  TJ Carrie has been hurt most of the year but I liked his play at Safety and I think playing him and Woodsen at S would help this team.

Special Teams:

The Raiders still can’t find a healthy and consistent returner.  Marquette King has quietly become as solid a punter as there is and Janikowski has been hot and cold this year.

Coaching:

The Raiders seem much more professional and organized this year and it shows on the field.  You don’t see as many mental errors as in the past.

 

The Negatives of 2015:

People like to throw up stats of young quarterbacks of today to show how great they are.  Let’s be real though; the rules of today are a joke.  DB’s are getting penalties for touching people and QB’s and WR’s can pretty much do as they please.  Just in the Raiders games some of the calls are just beyond bizarre and phantom at best.

Throwing for 300 yards is almost the norm and in the last 3 ½ years passing and receiving yard records are falling like leaves.  Most passing records have occurred in the last 3 ½ years and it’s not a coincidence.

Derek Carr has been much improved but right now he’s the 31st rated QB in the 4th quarter with a quarterback rating of only 60%.  He also leads the NFL with 7 fourth quarter interceptions.  He has and probably always will struggle against a pass rush.  Some try to site how good he does against a blitz but of course he can do well if the blitz is picked up.  In the 4th quarter of the KC Chiefs game, the Chiefs blitzed almost every play.  The play calling never changed and against 5 and 7 step drop passes, Carr was toast and made some really bad throws.

Derek also is not a good manager of the game.  He seems to kind of go with the plays that are called with few real audibles and that has to change.  The injury to center Rodney Hudson really hurt the Raiders.

Offense:

Amari Cooper had a great first half of the season but teams soon adjusted.  He has lost some confidence with drops being an issue the last month.

The Raiders lack of OL depth has been seen after Rodney Hudson got hurt.  It’s something they need to fix this off season.  Latavius Murray has to be more consistent.  He’s had a couple of horrible games and in Chicago it got to the point that he was afraid to catch the ball, even looking to get hit.  He has to show up every week.

Defense:

It’s been an up and down year for sure.  The Raiders finally started playing DJ Hayden less and his days in Oakland are numbered.  Seeing Star Lotulelei be a starting fixture on the best DL in the NFL and on the best team the Carolina Panthers hurts.  He fell in the Raiders lap and the Raiders took Hayden instead.

Curtis Lofton is good against the run but really bad against the pass and Malcolm Smith is really good against the past but has struggles against the run.  Ben Heeney is not good against the pass and is more of a backup.  Moving Mack back to LB and bringing in or drafting a 3 down LB would greatly help this team.  The DL seems to have lots of talent but they either struggle against the run or they can’t get to the QB at times.  It’s very inconsistent.

Nate Allen has struggled with tackling and that’s when he plays.  David Amerson shows potential at CB.  Beating up on DJ Hayden anymore does no good for anyone.  He’ll be gone next year.  TJ Carrie’s health issues have hurt this year.

Special Teams:

The Raiders still need someone that can return kings on a week to week basis.

Coaching:

The Raiders are 21st in second half points with only 10 a game.  They are 29th in 4th quarter points with only 4.8.  That’s not a good second half team.  The Raiders defense is dead last in the NFL in the 4th quarter giving up 10.8 points per game.  The Raiders coaches need to do more at half time to combat opponents adjustments.

People that read me know I am not a Bill Musgrave fan.  He has never had much success in 15 years and was even demoted and eventually fired by Jack Del Rio when they were at Jacksonville.  For me his hire made no sense.

In the Chiefs game you saw this in an epic way.  The Chiefs were struggling at times on defense so in the 4th quarter they just literally said lets blitz every play.  They sent 5-7 players at Carr and there were no adjustments.  Carr still tried to look deep and instead of running screens and short passes, the Raiders just kept doing 5 and 7 step drops.

On defense the Raiders started blitzing DB’s, especially CB’s.  I didn’t understand that because the Chiefs started doing bubble screens and actually scored two touchdowns that way.  Alex Smith is the Ichabod Crane of the NFL and no way is he going to throw downfield so they should have played press coverage and blitzed their LB’s if you want to blitz.

Special Teams:

Janikowski has had his bad moments this year.  He’s had some rough games this year but I think he’s not going anywhere.  The Raiders return game has to improve and they need someone that can consistently return kicks.

Overview of 2015 & Looking Forward:

As I said at the start of the year this is NOT a playoff team.  I think next year is the Raiders year.  Some will consider this year an epic fail and some fans could find the good in an 0-16 year and there really isn’t a bottom.  The more realistic fan will realize the Raiders still have holes to fill but they are improved.

The first thing the Raiders need to do is stop talking about how confident they are and realize they have second half issues both on and off the field.  The coaches are not adjusting and neither are the players.  Eventually when you keep losing confidence starts becoming denial.

The Raiders have to start adjusting to what teams are doing.  Carr needs to be much more active at changing plays.

Denver stops the run; you are not going to run wild on them.  What do you do?  Short passing game like Kansas City did.  The minor weakness that the Broncos have is that their LB’s love to make big plays.  They have on occasions struggled covering RB’s in the passing game.  I throw to Roy Helu Jr. or Murray often.  I also use the tight ends much more.  The Chiefs nickeled and dimed the Broncos all game and wore them down.  When you do that, now you can run some.

With their new QB the Broncos are a conservative passing team that wants to establish the run.  Now you put a safety up to stop the run and blitz him to make him pass quickly.  These are adjustments that need to occur.

What is your bottom line in regards to a successful season?  I said 7-9 is average and 8-8 would be a nice season to be successful in the upcoming year.  If the Raiders lose 3 of 4 though, a 6-10 season is a fail.  The Raiders have a rough month ahead but there will be lots of opportunities for players to show they are a part of the equation for next year.

“We Fixed the Oakland Raiders Offense Yesterday; Now Let’s Fix the Defense”

Aldon Smith, Tyler Eifert
Oakland Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith (99) is blocked by Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Today we will look at the Raiders defense and see what needs to be done to make this a winning unit.

Last night when the New England Patriots beat the Buffalo Bills, you saw the power of a stud defensive line.  The Patriots were playing with third string players in some offensive positions but they still won.  The Patriots didn’t get a lot of sacks but the relentless pressure they put on Bills QB Tyrod Taylor was a key to that win.  Their cornerback’s are just alright but with a pass rush they become much better.

You don’t win on defense with a stud defensive backfield.  Seattle still has the best DB’s in the business but they are struggling in close games.  Why?  Teams now double team DL Michael Bennett and the other players on the line are not getting to the quarterback.

Lets look at recent NFL history.  Harbaugh’s 49ers; Seattle; Arizona; Carolina; New England; New York Giants Super Bowl years; what do these successful teams have in common?  STUD defensive lines that can control games.  The Giants beat the great Tom Brady because their DL dominated.  If you can rush the QB with only 4 players and stop the run, your defense alone can win games.  The Broncos offense is awful but their defensive line is really good.  Carolina’s DL literally controls the game while Cam Newton gets most of the publicity.  People forget the early games when he struggled.  If you have a really good defensive front, then you are going to straight up win in the NFL.  A good DL covers up a lot of issues.

Defense: 

I like Ken Norton Jr. and think he will do a good job.  He’s aggressive and has adapted more on a week to week basis than others have in the past.  He’s blitzed a lot more as the year went on and that is a good thing.  He is even blitzing DJ Hayden more which in the end somewhat hides him against the pass.  Not a dumb thing.

The defense has struggled for the most part and is near the bottom in some defensive categories against the pass.

Defensive Line:

If you want to turn your team around quickly, have a great DL that can rush the passer and stop the run.  The Raiders haven’t had that in years.  When you look at the Super Bowl wins for the Raiders, EVERY win was marked by dominating defensive front play literally beating up the opponents quarterback.

Khalil Mack is a really good NFL player but he’s not the superstar that the media tried to hype him to be.  He disappears in some games.  He was completely shut out in the Pittsburgh game, and against the Ravens and the Chargers, he had 3 tackles and no sacks combined.  Aldon Smith has been a solid player for the Raiders but it’s obvious he’s not the super talent that he was at San Francisco.  He played in the awesome 49er’s defense beside the great Justin Smith who got double teamed getting coffee.  Aldon is a good player and a keeper though and he is young.  The Raiders look like they will keep him which is a very smart thing.

Justin Ellis has had his moments but none of the other DL have shown they are starting NFL material.  Some are trying to hype Mario Edwards but I’m not buying it yet.  He may end up being good but he has a long way to go.  Getting NFL rookie of the week when you are on a DL that gave up 269 yards rushing against Minnesota isn’t exactly epic material.  The Raiders DL need to make plays at the line of scrimmage and not down the field.

Dan Williams has really been good against the run but he’s often seeing double teams now so the others need to step up.  Williams also is a bad pass rusher so he’s limited.

The Jets have a mess on their DL for next year.  DE Muhammad Wilkerson is a really a good player and he said he’s tired of getting underpaid and nose tackle/tackle Damon Harrison is another good player that may be available if the Jet’s don’t resign him.  They need to spend a lot of money and they can’t keep them all.  Add a DE to play until Smith gets back, and then when Smith gets back move Mack to LB.  Michael Bennett is still wanting out of Seattle after his walkout and he could be had with a trade.  There are not many players in the NFL as disruptive as Bennett.  He has a mean streak that is missing in Oakland.

In the end the Raiders need a tackle that can stop the run and rush the passer.  They may not be able to get any of the top players but there are those that can help immediately.

Linebacker:

This group also struggles at times because most of them have weaknesses.  Curtis Lofton is good against the run but bad against the pass.  He has improved some, but Malcolm Smith is good against the pass but bad against the run.  Ben Heeney has had to play and to be honest I loved watching him in college.  Unfortunately he’s not a good tackler and he struggles in the passing game.  In fact in his final year at Kansas he lead the nation in missed tackles.  He’s not a starter but great off the bench or in special teams.  Moving Mack back to LB immediately helps this group.

They need Mack back there to help them out but with Aldon Smith out, the Raiders are kind of stuck right now.  Lofton needs to be moved but the Raiders can’t afford the cap hit to let him go.  He’s probably here for 1 more year.

I’m not a Ray Ray Armstrong fan; I think he’s not a really good starter.  There are solid CB’s and LB’s in next years draft but to rely on a rookie is risky.  The Raiders linebackers have been somewhat disappointing and they are handcuffed by contracts somewhat but they still can upgrade in free agency.

Defensive Backs:

The Raiders defensive backs have struggled.  Woodsen struggled early guarding tight ends but he has rebounded.  He’s taken a beating this year though and his days are numbered.  Nate Allen hasn’t played much this year and he had issue’s tackling Sunday.  The DJ Hayden experiment will be over at the end of the year.  He’s just not a starting NFL CB.  David Amerson has had his good moments but he’s a nickel back at best.  TJ Carrie looked better at safety than he did at cornerback and I would move him there.  I like Carrie and think he can excel there.

The Raiders first round pick will probably be a cornerback or a safety.  They also will need to find a CB in free agency.  When the defensive line can’t get a pass rush, it’s hard to watch this defensive backfield struggle.

Kickers:

The Raiders are fine at kicker and punter.  Marquette King is solid and a positive influence and Sebastian Janikowski is fine.  He will have his bad moments but for the most part he’s very good.

Conclusion:

People got carried away when the Raiders won a few games.  I saw people predicting 10-6 to 12-4 and post season glory.  It’s hard to beat down on people that want to be so positive, but it was pie in the sky.  There are still issues in Oakland.  The Raiders have a franchise quarterback in Derek Carr and that is half of the battle.

At the start of the year I said that the Raiders would be 8-8 and they are going to have to go 4-2 the rest of the year to get to that.  They also have some tough games ahead.  I don’t think people should lose their minds if the Raiders lose but you have to be real at some point.  If you are a good team you win.  It’s really not that hard.

Moral victories are for elementary school plays, rehabbing from an injury, and pee wee soccer games.  They have had time to rebuild this team and they need to start winning.  The Raiders have improved and that is encouraging but being 4-6 when the AFC and the AFC West is so bad is a head scratcher.  Some are still talking playoffs and to be honest it’s kind of embarrassing to think they may go to the post season only because the rest of the league is so bad.

The Raiders have made it an art form on talking about what might happen in the future but they need to deal with the reality of the situation.  They are 4-6, with a defense that has struggled this year; especially against the pass; and an offense that has scored in only 2 of the last 8 quarters.  Tough decisions are ahead.

For many it’s time to be honest and go old school and bring back the days when losing was unacceptable.  With the salary cap, the Raiders will never be the juggernaut they were in the 1970’s and 80’s but there is no excuse for not being a competitive team year in and year out.  Support and nurture those players that are a part of the solution, and move on from the players that aren’t.  Time will tell if the Raiders can turn this thing around and Mark Davis, GM Reggie McKenzie & the Raiders players are on the hot seat.  No matter what happens this year, if the Raiders do not go to the playoffs next year, they need to get people in the front office and players on the field that can make it happen.