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“How to Realistically Make The Oakland Raiders a Winner Again”

oakland coliseum

“How to Realistically Make The Oakland Raiders a Winner Again”

What is sad is that Raider fans under the age of 35 really have never felt what the aura of the Raiders is.  The Raiders; other than for a few years; have been losers for almost 2 decades.  Here is a no-nonsense realistic way for the Raiders to get back to being a successful franchise.

Management And a New Stadium:

The Aura of the Oakland Raiders was one thing and one thing only; winning.  Al Davis was passionate about pro football and created his career, his team, and the aura of the Oakland Raiders through success.  With his passing, his son Mark was given the mantle.  Mark isn’t Al Davis.  There are more than a few that think Mark is in over his head.  He also isn’t savvy or knowledgeable about the NFL landscape or business like his dad was.  Al Davis was a renegade that did what he wanted and he blazed trails that no other owner had the guts to do.

I think the Raiders ownership should meet with cheapskate, I mean Oakland A’s Owner Lew Wolff.  I would tell him lets work together to finance a dual sport stadium with a small shopping area mall, or condo/housing in Oakland right next to the Coliseum.  The Warriors are all but gone.  There is NO chance that the City of Oakland is going to be able to help out with one stadium, let alone 2.  Sell the rights to just about everything to companies in silicon valley and then get corporate sponsorship to pick up the rest of the bill.  Moving to L.A. will be about 2 billion dollars and the Raiders don’t’ have the money.  In the mean time they should play at the University of California’s field in Berkeley.

Moving to L.A. also would be a death sentence.  There is a reason why the 2nd biggest television region in the U.S. has lost 3 NFL teams and hasn’t had a team there in years.  Of course there are some very diehard, Chargers, Rams and Raider fans in Los Angeles. This statement isn’t for them; but L.A. is a front running town that only loves a winner.  The Lakers had the worst television ratings of any NBA team after they started to lose big last year.  The Dodgers weren’t drawing well until the new management took over.  L.A. is a “I want to be seen” type of place; a lot like Miami; and pro sports does well ONLY as long as you win.

The City of Oakland has no money.  They had to lay off part of their police force just to afford the Raiders payment.  It’s a depressed place with little business influence and the crime rate remains high.  The City of Oakland is so poorly run with a clueless mayor and we need to be real.  The Raiders and A’s also need to pay for the stadium themselves.  The days of lazy and greedy owners wanting cities to pay for their stadiums while they own it, are over.

You can make a ton of money with concerts, sporting events, and special conventions.  Get rid of the grass and put in the new type of artificial grass that looks real.  Many stadiums use it and it saves a ton of money and won’t look so bad when the Raiders and A’s games overlap.  A great shopping mall with good restaurants in a safe environment right next to BART would be epic.  People would spend their money before and after games, and it would help a very depressed area.  Armed security would be partially paid by the stores that would be included in the fee to be there.  The city of Oakland would more than want it because it would bring money to the city and would not cost tax payer money.  During the Bash Brothers era in Oakland, it was fun to go to Jack London Square after the games.  A fun place with restaurants like Dave and Busters and a festive atmosphere would do wonders.

Dealing With the Past & Present:

The owners and the fans need to realize that things will never be the same.  In the glory days for a time the Raiders were 47-9.  For 24 years, the Raiders had the highest winning percentage of ANY team in all of sports with 3 Superbowl wins.  There was no salary cap and the Raiders were one of the great drafting teams in history with player personnel director Ron Wolf and Al Davis listening to no one and drafting and signing cast offs who would become future hall of famers.  At that time the Raiders were the only team that wouldn’t exchange game films with other teams.  When asked why, both Ron Wolf and Al Davis said the same thing.  “Because we know more than anyone else so why should we”?  Aw the olden days.

If Reggie McKenzie doesn’t stay, I would give a nice chunk of change to Arizona’s Player Personnel Director Jason Licht as GM.  Behind the scenes, he remains a huge up and comer who learned under the likes of Jimmy Johnson, Bill Belichick and Andy Reid.  He has paid his dues and was originally a scout.  He was the finalist for the Bears GM job.  I love this guy and think he would do a great job in the draft and in signings.  He’s a good evaluator of talent and has a proven history.

I’ve written an article about the coaches the Raiders should look at and you will have to look at for my thoughts there.  Jim Harbaugh heads the list.

In ending, the old Configuration of the Oakland Coliseum made the stadium really loud.  The sound reverberated all over the place and it was very enclosed and one of the worst places to play for opponents.  With the addition of mount Davis and the changing of the configuration it’s no where near as loud as it was.  Don Shula once called the old Oakland Coliseum hell and Kansas City Chiefs coach Hank Stram said he was going to call the Governor because it was wrong that San Quentin would let out their inmates on Sundays just to watch Raider games.  There wasn’t a ton of violence like today’s fan; it was just loud and crazy.  To see old ladies screaming their heads off and women wearing shirts with Superbowl or bust was a Sunday staple.  Raider games were an event and their winning % at home was amazing.  The players didn’t make the money they did now and many became friends with the fans through their jobs in the off season.  The bond was unequal to any fan base.  The parties in Santa Rosa during training camp are still of legend.

Player Personnel & Schemes:

First of all they have to start drafting properly.  Stop all the nonsense of drafting DB’s and WR’s due to 40 times and NFL combines stats, and start worrying about what they do on the football field.  Stop listening so much to the NFL combines and start drafting players that do it on the field.  They need to start bulking up their defensive front 7.  Every good defense has a dominating front 7.  Rushing the passer with 4 players and stopping the run is the key to playing defense in the NFL.  Start drafting stud defensive linemen which will immediately make the defense better all around.

QUARTERBACK:

Derek Carr is your quarterback of the future.  Stick with that and move on.  Matt McGloin stares down every one he throws too but he’s an adequate and reliable backup with a lot of heart.  Carr played well against the Chargers and fans remain upbeat about their quarterback.

Running Back:

Running back is also fine.  Darren McFadden, Marcel Reece, and Maurice Jones Drew are very good.  With McFadden and MJD splitting time I think they will have longer and healthier careers.  The Raiders need 1-2 more offensive linemen but so far they are not bad.  Gabe Jackson will be a good one and with many changing positions, time will tell if they gel into a good unit.  Menelik Watson has stepped up his game and has played better this year.

Wide Receiver:

James Jones was a great signing.  He’s not a #1 WR but he’s solid in the red zone and has great hands when you need a big catch.  Andre Holmes has huge potential and I think he should be playing more.  Rod Streater is a nice #3 or #4 WR but on a good team he’s not the answer at #1 or #2.  Denarius Moore is a back up in my book.  They still need a stud #1 that can stretch the field and they need to get him next year.  I think Andre Holmes, James Jones, and Brice Butler should be the starters.

Defense:

Some Raiders fans have made it an art form defending the Raiders draft picks.  It’s easy to predict the future and then stay quiet when you are wrong.  The hardest thing for Al Davis to do was to say he was wrong; the Raiders have to start doing that.  DJ Hayden is not an NFL CB and looks like a bust; most of their DL needs to be let go and their signings in the off season were just bad.  Khalil Mack has huge issues shedding blockers and it’s not known whether he’s going to be that good a player.  You stick with him but there are still big questions.

The signings for defensive linemen have been bad.  This group needs an overhaul.  The Raiders linebackers are alright but they have huge issues staying healthy and consistency with tackling.  Both have to be dealt with.  The defensive backfield is a mess at times but they are young and have shown glimpses of good play.  Add a good pass rush and they will improve quickly.  Right now I’d worry more about the front 7 and then a year from now deal with defensive backs.  If you have a great front 7, it can greatly help your DB’s.

Offensive Scheme:

The offensive game has changed in the NFL.  The new rules BEG you to throw the ball.  Start using the tight end and full back position again and start throwing to all positions.  Seven of the top 10 NFL passing seasons in history have happened in the last 3 years.  Matt Stafford actually has 2 of the top 10 seasons so anyone can succeed with the new rules.  Use a spread offense at times for a change of pace with a no huddle.

Keep the running game the way it is.  I don’t like the zone blocking scheme.  The Raiders are a power rushing team and that’s how they should keep it.

Overview:

Things are going to take time but the time is now.  Have a 3 year plan instead of thinking you are going to be good every year.  The Raiders are not one coach away or a player away from being good and the denial from the team and the fans need’s to end for the Raiders to move forward.  If you can’t admit a problem, it will never be fixed.

A third of this roster needs to move on.  It’s going to take a ton of work and vision which Mark Davis and the present regime may not have.  With so many things up in the air in regards to a stadium and a coaching staff, the Raiders need stability.  It will be very interesting in the near future to see what happens in Oakland to make them once again a stable franchise.

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

raiders vs chargers

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

San Diego Chargers  31 (4-1)

Oakland Raiders  28 (0-5)

Quarterback:

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

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

GRADE:  B+

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

Running Backs: 

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

Grade B+

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

Offensive Line: 

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

Grade A-

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

Wide Receivers: 

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

GRADE:  B+

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

Defensive Line:

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

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

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

Grade:  D-

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

Linebackers:

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

Grade D+

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

Defensive Backs:

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

Grade D+ 

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

Coaching:

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

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

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

Grade A-

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

Special Teams:

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

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

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

Grade C+

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

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

Outlook:

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

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

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

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

“The reason the Oakland Raiders Stink from the Head Down”

jamarcus russell

This is an article that I wrote for a paid sports site last year after the NFL draft.  It showed the draft picks from 2000-2009.  At our draft parties we all pick for our own teams.  Not that I’m a genius but look at my picks (who many others picked at the time) and the Raiders picks.  Ask yourself Raider fans, all the time you wasted defending these bad picks.  I also take notes so I put them under the picks.  The notes were written right after the pick was made.

When you blame so many things on why the Raiders are so bad, look no further than the draft.

**********************************************

I have always been fascinated by the NFL draft.  As a little kid I remember watching Dr. Z, Paul Zimmerman, use his dry humor to predict what each team was going to do.  He was funny and was the first to really break the draft down into what it is today.

Starting in 2000, I started to host a NFL draft party.  The first rule was no girlfriends or wives, and that each person had to draft for their own team.  We would keep our picks and our notes so the following years we could read what we wrote.  We give out awards every year to the best and worst picks of the prior 3 years.  I have kept a log full of notes and picks.

I don’t draft for need unless I feel the team is a player or two away from being good.  The Raiders have not been very close for the most part so I pick the best player possible.  I went to several schools, and I’ve been going to Stanford and California games for years.  I’m a huge Oklahoma Sooner fan from back in the day as well.  Below are my picks over the years compared to the Raiders.

2000 Raiders pick:  Sebastian Janikowski K Florida St.

Jim’s Pick:  Shaun Alexander RB Alabama

(Alexander is a beast at RB.  Kaufmann and Wheatley are good backs but Alexander can do it all.  Too much talent to pass up)

2001 Raiders pick:  Derrick Gibson DB Florida St. 

Jim’s Pick:  Kendrell Bell LB Georgia

(Raiders need LB help big time and Bell is solid.  Should be a really good player for 5-10 years)

2002 Raiders/Jim’s pick:  Phillip Buchanon CB Miami Fla.; Napoleon Harris LB Northwestern

(Harris is the best LB in the draft)

2003 Raiders pick:  Nnamdi Asomugha CB California; Tyler Brayton DE Colorado

Jim’s Pick:  Nnamdi Asomugha CB California; Boss Bailey LB Georgia

(Aso is a stud and Boss Bailey has potential.  These 2 could shore up defense)

2004 Raiders pick:  Robert Gallery T Iowa

Jim’s Pick:  Larry Fitzgerald WR Pittsburgh

(shocked; I watched Fitzgerald being triple teamed by some teams and he still dominated.  This guy is big, fast, tough and catches everything.  Can’t miss talent.  Gallery is another NFL pre draft darling.  I don’t get it)

2005 Raiders pick:  Fabian Washington S Nebraska

Jim’s Pick:  Aaron Rodgers QB California

(what?; even the draft announcers were shocked.  Rodgers fell in their lap and they pick up Washington who is an athletic safety who isn’t the greatest cover on a bad defense.  Wow; I’m lost)

2006 Raiders pick:  Michael Huff S Texas

Jim’s Pick:  Matt Leinart QB USC

(Leinart has talent but a bad work ethic and he’s a party boy.  I think he’ll do well in the pro’s if he grows up.  Huff played on a talented defense but as an OU fan I just don’t get this pick.  He had a lot of mop up hits and is semi soft for a safety)

2007 Raiders pick:  Jamarcus Russell QB LSU

Jim’s Pick:  Calvin Johnson WR Georgia Tech

(Raider fans are ripping me to pieces but mark my words; this is the wrong pick; this guy is making millions off of his game against Notre Dame; the 106th ranked defense.  He struggled mightily against Auburn and other teams who ran a pro style defense.  Calvin Johnson is huge and talented.  As an Oklahoma fan I’m sick of the ripping on Adrian Peterson.  He’s a stud and was kept out for his protection and his oft injury tag isn’t warranted. Wow)

2008 Raiders/Jim’s Pick:  Darren McFadden RB Arkansas

Jim’s Pick:  Darren McFadden RB Arkansas

(McFadden is a stud.  He was very physical in college and should adjust to the NFL quickly.  I like this pick.)

2009 Raiders Pick:  Darrius Heyward-Bey WR Maryland

Jim’s Pick:  Michael Crabtree WR Texas Tech

(wow; another NFL combine pick; Heyward-Bey averaged 3 catches a game since high school and IS NOT a good WR.  Crabtree is 100 times more talented and is the best WR in the draft.  Please keep 40 times from Al Davis.  God help us.  What a terrible pick)

The main problem I’ve had with Mr. Davis draft picks is that he always felt the team was better than they really were.  He seemed to be in denial like some who felt this team was close to winning when they were obviously not.  When you lose 11 games in 7 straight seasons; and now haven’t had a winning season in 10 years; you lack talent in a big way.

I feel the NFL combines really ruined Mr. Davis.  He became obsessed with DB’s 40 times in gym shorts and loved weight room junkies like Robert Gallery.  Darius Heyward-Bey who was a ridiculous pick, gained his millions purely from his NFL combine 40 time.  He was a nice college player but no way did he warrant that high of a pick.  Gallery had a great college career but he became a legend due to his amazing NFL combine stats just like New York Jets bust Vernon Gholston.

I saw Larry Fitzgerald play several times and even with him being triple teamed, he still had huge games.  Calvin Johnson was a man among boys.  I would love them on the Raiders.  And if I heard how far Jamarcus Russell could throw on his knees at the NFL combines one more time, I was going to lose it.  They forget to show how he struggled mightily against pro style defenses like Auburn who made him look lost, as well as lacking accuracy.  He made his money in his last bowl game against the 106th ranked defense of Notre Dame.

I hated the way the Raiders were constantly picking DB’s too.  It failed miserably starting with Derrick Gibson.  Only Asomugha lived up to the hype.  Many feel to build a great defense, you have to have a great front seven.  The key is to stop the run, and to rush the passer.  The 49ers of today are built that way and so is Baltimore.  If you have great DB’s but no pass rush, then it doesn’t matter who is in the secondary because they will get beat eventually.  Champ Bailey was in an abyss of bad play by the front seven in Denver for five years.  Until the pass rush and run defense improved, Bailey wasn’t much of a factor.  DB’s are great, but the front 7 has to be the key to your defense.

I’m surely not perfect so let the jokes start here.  Yes I picked Matt Leinart.  I should have known the week after he was picked that he was a bust.  The internet was full of photos of him slobbering drunk in clubs with even party girls laughing at him.  His partying over his time in Arizona would make Marc Sanchez blush.  He never worked hard enough and never made it.  How though could my fellow Cal Bear Aaron Rodgers not be picked?  I remember jumping up and down so happy when the Raiders were picking and thought for sure Rodgers was a Raider but Mr. Davis chose the fastest DB at the combines in Fabian Washington.  A Nebraska CB who had great hands but had issues covering and was a part of a lackluster Cornhusker defense that struggled against the pass and gave up 70 points to Texas Tech his last year.

This year was no exception for me.  I wasn’t happy with picking a CB when the Raiders were 31st in defensive sacks.  I would rather get a pass rusher or at least shore up the defensive line or get an athletic LB.

Our draft parties have been so much fun.  Unfortunately it has also been a time where I can tell my fellow Raider fans I told you so on all of the terrible picks from the previous years.  I’m hoping with the new regime, that “I told you so” will be said over great draft pick decisions, and not head scratching mediocre to bad draft busts.

“Week 2 Preview: Houston Texans @ Oakland Raiders”

week 2 nfl texans at raiders

Week 2 Preview Houston Texans (1-0) @ Oakland Raiders (0-1)

Sunday, September 14, 1:25 PM on CBS; O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California

(betting line as of now: Raiders +3)

My Raiders betting Record:  1-0 (Raiders +5 ½ last week)

Prediction: Raiders 20 Texans 17

Bet:  Raiders +3

Houston had a nice defensive effort against Washington last week and dominated them at home with a 17-6 win.  They did lose Jadeveon Clowney for up to 6 weeks with an injury.

The Raiders was dominated at times giving up over 200 yards rushing to the NY Jets.  They only had 84 yards of total offense going into the fourth quarter.  The Jets defensive scheme was to take away the run and they did that.  The Raiders did not open up their offense and it limited what they could do.

The Raiders will win if:

The Raiders have to open up their offense and throw downfield.  They also have to re-establish the tight end in their offense.  The Jets often had 7 to 8 people up front but the Raiders did not adjust.  If the Raiders can throw downfield, this will open up the line of scrimmage and allow them to run the ball, thus taking the pressure off of Derek Carr.

The Raiders linebacker position will be thin this weekend with various injuries.  Miles Burris played well and so did Sio Moore.

The key defensively will be if Oakland can control the line of scrimmage.  Giving up 200 yards on the ground to a Geno Smith lead offense isn’t exactly stellar defense.  Even with them playing so much, there is no excuse for that against New York.  If they can stop the run, journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will eventually make a mistake.

The Texans will win if:

The Texans will win if they can run the ball.  They can’t win games where Fitzpatrick is throwing 50 times.  They have to establish the running game and control the line of scrimmage.  This will take the pressure off of Ryan from having to make lots of big plays.

On defense they must do what the Jets did; dare the Raiders to throw deep and take away the run running game.  This will allow their DL to pin back their ears and rush Carr at will on passing downs.  If they make the Raiders offense predictable, this will be a long day in Oakland.

Conclusion:

This should be a close, low scoring game.  The Raiders are already in a must win situation.  They have the most difficult schedule in the NFL and this is about as easy as games get for them.  They have to open it up and win this game.  If they use the same game plan as last week, they will lose.

Look for Carr to hit some balls downfield early and for them to get the crowd going.  This game can go either way but I would be shocked if the Raiders don’t open it up.  The Raiders have to take what the defense gives them.

Final Score:  Raiders 20     Texans 17

Final Oakland Raider Grades @ NY Jets; Week 1: Sept. 7th, 2014

2013-raiders-jets-story

 

Final Oakland Raider Grades @ NY Jets; Week 1:

NY Jets  19 (1-0)

Oakland Raiders  14 (0-1)

 

Offense:

Rex Ryan did exactly what most teams did last year against the Raiders.  They put 7-8 men in the block, took away the run, and dared them to throw downfield.  The Raiders game plan was almost exactly what Rex Ryan would have wanted.

Derek Carr had a predictable first week.  He struggled against the rush and has a lot to learn but he kept his poise and made some nice throws.  Apologists will put all the blame on OC Greg Olsen; which some is warranted; but Carr is in a learning process and it will take time.

The Raiders game plan was awful though.  Bubble screens and quick flare passes are exactly what the Jets were hoping to see.  Many times in the first half, the Jets put a defensive back on the line and had 7-8 guys in the box.  With so many people near the line of scrimmage, there is no way that you can be expected to run so those saying the run game wasn’t there don’t get that it was taken away.

During a rare time when the Jets didn’t blitz, Carr hit WR James Jones on a great catch from 30 yards out.  The Raiders could have used a lot more of those downfield passes mixed with some slants and TE passes over the middle.  The running game had no chance against this defense but the lack of being able to pass did nothing to open things up.

 

GRADE:  D+

The Raiders had 84 total yards of offense going into the 4th quarter.  Against a Jets defense that might have near the least feared corners in the NFL, is just terrible.  The Raiders game plan was awful.  The Jets copied the same game plan that everyone else did last year; make the Raiders throw down field.  The Raiders have to open things up and use the tight end to keep the safeties and linebackers honest.

 

Defense: 

On the good side Sio Moore played a good game.  He was active and ended up with 13 tackles.  Another player who quietly did well too was another linebacker Miles Burris who added 13 of his own.  Khalil Mack still has a ways to go but he played fairly well.  He did get lost on a couple of runs and missed twice on Geno Smith runs.

The DB’s are going to struggle at times but they held their own against the pass today.  Geno Smith isn’t Johnny Unitas but it still was a nice effort. Timeless safety Charles Woodsen made a great interception early in the game.

The defensive line was awful at times.  Other than Justin Tuck, no one was consistent.  Lamarr Woodley and Pat Sims were invisible at times and Anthony Smith was up and down.  The Raiders had little to no pass rush unless they blitzed which was hard to watch.  The Jets don’t have a good offense so the Raiders need to play much better.

The Raiders run defense was absolutely awful.  They gave up 202 yards including a long 71 yard run to seal the win for the Jets.

The Raiders in the past could not rush the passer with only 4 rushing, and they could not stop the run.  So far it’s the same pattern as in the past and that leads to losses.

 

Grade C-

The Raiders were on the field for so long because of the anemic offense but you still don’t give up 200 yards against the run in the NFL.  The defensive line looked terrible at times.

 

Coaching: 

When you start a rookie quarterback you keep things vanilla; I get that; but you could not have called worse plays if Rex Ryan was calling them for the Raiders.

It was a terrible game plan against the Jets who took away the run having so many defenders at the line of scrimmage.  You have to adjust at half time and throw long on the outside or throw slants.  You can even try to get the tight end over the middle more.  You just don’t try to run and throw quick outs and bubble screens.

On defense the problems were more physical than mental.  The 4 man pass rush of the Raiders could not get to the quarterback or stop the run.

No one on the Jets is scary on offense and the Raiders didn’t do as well as they had hoped.  The DL and LB’s did not keep their lanes allowing Geno Smith to run more than they should including 2 long runs for first downs.

I wasn’t a Dennis Allen or Greg Olson fan last year and I feel the same way this year.

Grade D+

The penalties were limited so that was a positive but the game plans and the in game adjustments just aren’t there.

 

Special Teams: 

Sebastian Janikowski didn’t get a field goal attempt.  Marquette King had a good day punting including a 61 yarder and Latavius Murray did an adequate job returning kicks.  The Raiders coverage teams didn’t play overly well with Saalim Hakeem taking 2 kickoffs for 65 yards, and Jalen Saunders taking 2 punts for 15 yards.  Special teams didn’t have a huge role in this game.

 

GRADE:  C+

Nothing really epic to report here other than there were no attempts for Janikowski.

 

Overall:

The Raider fans had high hopes on opening day and this one hurt.  With all of the money spent on signings you’d thought the defense would play better.  The lack of a pass rush especially in the first half was glaring.  The defense was on the field a lot but there is still no excuse for giving up over 400 yards total offense and 202 yards on the ground to the NY Jets.  What will happen when the Raiders play a really good offense like Denver, San Diego, the 49ers or Seattle?

Derek Carr did as well as I thought he would do being a rookie quarterback.  I don’t know if starting a rookie QB against a Rex Ryan defense was overly wise, but Carr has the mentality and the talent to excel.  He had some good moments and some bad ones and you just have to be patient.  The Raiders have to throw deep & use slants and the tight end more to keep defenses honest.

Maybe I’m missing something but I was shocked at the poor offensive game plan and the lack of adjustments.  That’s not acceptable at the NFL level.  Teams now know if you fill the box with defenders and don’t allow the Raiders to run, they can’t and/or won’t throw downfield.  They have to open things up.

The Raiders played hard and they limited the penalties which is a good thing to see.  I like the Raiders linebackers a lot and I think they need to be a part of the pass rush more often.  Burris, Moore and Mack are doing well.

I predicted a 20-17 win by the Jets and they won 19-14.  The spread was 5 ½ when I saw it and like some on ESPN said, the odds makers loved the last touchdown by the Raiders.

 

Grade:  C-

     If this were the Broncos or Seattle it would be a better grade.  To give up 202 yards to the Jets on the ground and only have 84 total offensive yards to the Jets defense going into the 4th quarter is just not good.  The Raiders had some bright spots but these are the types of games that they have to win if they want to get to .500 again.  Right now their Linebackers and safeties have to carry their defense, and offensive coordinator Greg Olson has to open up the play book and throw downfield.  Their schedule is brutal so these winnable games are very important.

 

Next Opponent:  v.s. Houston Texans (1-0; last game, win @ home against the Washington Redskins 17-6)

 

Outlook:

Next weeks game with the Texans in Oakland is a flat out must win.  The Raiders are in the easy (if you can call it that) part of their schedule.   I think the Raiders have to go 4-3 in their first 7 games if they are going to get to .500.

In their last 9 they play at Seattle, San Francisco, Denver twice, and tough conference games with San Diego and Kansas City.  They also play at Cleveland in late October.  Every week is going to be a challenge and hopefully they will open things up next week.

What the Oakland Raiders Draft Means for 2014-15 Season

For the first time in a very long time, I am positive about the Raiders NFL draft.  Lets look at what each players’ role may be for next years season.

1:  Khalil Mack OLB-Buffalo

Most have never seen Mack play but with all that everyone is saying, the Raiders may have drafted the best defensive player in the draft.  A high character guy with a great attitude and work ethic, it’s the type of player that you build a defense around.  He can play standing up or in a stance and he will be starting day 1.

Strengths:  He’s a super fast play-maker who is a great tackler.  He dominated in college especially rushing the passer.  Potential super star.

Weakness:  Buffalo is a small school so the level of competition wasn’t great.

2.  Derek Carr QB-Fresno St.

Next years draft has a better mix of QB’s than this years draft in my opinion so a pick here wasn’t life or death.  The Raiders though loved Carr’s physical tools. Carr loves football, and he’s mature, and he has a great work ethic.  He’ll be on the bench next year with Matt Schaub running the show.

Strength:  A rocket for an arm.  He can make all the NFL throws.  He throws well on the run and is a good leader.  Good character guy who is a hard worker.

Weakness:  Did not play against top competition and did not have to deal with much of a pass rush for much of the year.  In the USC game, he was rushed often and he looked terrible.  He’ll have to play better against a rush.

3.  Gabe Jackson G-Mississippi St. 

Jackson was a total steal.  He was considered the best guard in the draft and many felt he was a for sure second round pick.  He did not give up a sack in the last 2 years and was dominant at times.

Strength:  Good all around player who has great size.  Another hard worker who can start right away.  This may complete the Raiders OL.

Weakness:  Has to keep his weight in check but otherwise he’s a solid player.

4.  Justin Ellis NT-Louisiana Tech

Ellis was a good run stopper and was a load to block at times.  He can become too heavy and it limited his play due to fatigue issues so he has to keep his weight down.  He’ll provide depth for the DL.

Strength:  Strong and physical who is a load to block at times.

Weakness:  One dimensional bull rusher who needs to get into better shape and learn to stay in his gap.

4.  Keith McGill CB-Utah

A physically gifted athlete who played well at CB for the Utes.  He’s a big corner; 6′ 3″, 210 lb: who has a lot of potential.

Strength:  He’s fast, athletic and a good cover corner.  He is big and has great size.

Weakness:  He’s not very physical and not a very good tackler.  He will have to improve his toughness which for some DB’s, is pretty hard to do in the pro’s.  Next year he will probably be a special teams player who will provide depth.

7.  TJ Carrie CB-Ohio

A good athlete and cover guy, Carrie was also a good special teams returner due to his speed.  He may make the team due to his special teams play.

Strength: Athletic, fast, good special teams returner.

Weakness:  Poor technique and only occasional ball hawk skills at times.  Needs to improve his football instincts.

7.  Shelby Harris DL-Illinois St.

Harris has talent but he’s had his problems.  He was kicked off the team last year for violating team rules and hasn’t played for a year.  He’s also had weight issues and at times get’s out of shape.  He has good numbers though and is a producer.  If he can get his act together, he may make the team and provide depth.  Harris had 7 sacks in 2012.

Strength:  Has shown off his talent in college with good numbers in the games he’s played in.  He’s a good tackler who can stuff the line of scrimmage.

Weakness:  Needs to mature and keep in shape.  He needs to improve his technique as well.

7.  Jonathan Dowling DB-Western Kentucky

He is tall and lanky and is a really good athlete.  He has good cover skills and good football instincts with good recover speed.  Will be pressed to make the team though.

Strength:  Good athlete with good cover skills and speed.

Weakness:  He’s not physical at all.  He’s easily blocked and over matched at the line of scrimmage.  If he could get into the weight room and become tougher, he could make the team.