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

AFC_West

philip rivers
Philip Rivers calling an audible

San Diego Chargers:

WEAKNESSES: 

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

4th Quarter Fails:

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

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

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

STRENGTHS:

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

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

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

PREDICTIONS:  8-8

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

alex smith
Alex Smith finding the open man against New England

Kansas City Chiefs:

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

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

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

STRENGTHS:

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

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

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

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

PREDICTION:  11-5

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

von miller
Von Miller celebrates another Bronco win

Denver Broncos

WEAKNESSES:

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

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

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

Defense/Health:

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

PREDICTION:  10-6

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

derek carr
Derek Carr looking for receivers

Oakland Raiders:

WEAKNESSES:

Defense, defense, defense: 

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

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

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

Bad Drafts & Signings Adding Up:

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

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

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

STRENGTHS:

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

PREDICTION: 12-4

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

marshawn lynch

Final Oakland Raider Grades @ Tennessee Titans; Week 1:

Tennessee Titans: 16 (0-1)

Oakland Raiders: 26 (1-0)

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

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

derek carr

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

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

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

Quarterback:

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

GRADE:  B+

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

Running Backs:

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

Grade: B+

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

Offensive Line:

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

Grade: B+

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

Wide Receivers:

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

GRADE:  B+

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

Defensive Line:

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

khalil mack

Grade: B

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

Linebackers:

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

Grade:  B

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

Defensive Backs:

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

Grade: B  

A solid day with no major issues.

Coaching:

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

Grade: B

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

Special Teams:

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

Grade:  A

Excellent day for the special teams unit.

Conclusion:

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

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Oakland Raiders

Next Up; hosting the NY Jets:

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

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

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

Outlook:

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

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

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

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

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

Oakland Raiders v New Orleans Saints
Derek Carr

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

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

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

Grade:  A

deandre washingto
DeAndre Washington breaking a run against the Titans

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

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

Grade:  A

Panthers Raiders Football
Raiders LT Donald Penn

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

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

Grade:  A+

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

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

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

Grade:  A

jared cook
New Tight End Jared Cook

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

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

Grade:  B+

khalil mack
Khalil Mack rushing the QB

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

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

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

Grade:  C+

corey james
LB Corey James

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

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

Grades:  D 

david amerson jjj
CB David Amerson

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

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

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

Grade D:

joseph-raiders
Safety Karl Joseph

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

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

Grade:  C

marquette king
Raiders punter Marquette King

Special Teams:

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

Grade:  A (for now)

Jack Del Rio
Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio

Coaching/Front Office:

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

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

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

Grade:  A-

AFCwest

The State of the AFC West:

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

raiders win

Detractors to Defenders:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Iconic Wrestler Frank Goodish A.K.A. Bruiser Brody; Still Touching Lives After All These Years”

bruiser brody final

Frank Goodish, still touching lives to this day.

On a cool winter day about 5 years ago, I had to make a house call to Mr. S (no name for healthcare privacy).  Mr. S was in his late 60’s and he was not doing well.  He had just lost his wife.  He was getting ready to move back east to live with his daughter with the hopes his grandchildren could spark life into him.

As I sat in his home with his daughter, they got me a snack and I gave Mr. S a breathing treatment.  He was a small, frail Japanese man who was obviously in a lot of emotional pain to go along with his poor health.  He barely spoke.

I looked around the room to see if there was something I could talk to him about to try and cheer him up; an old salesman’s trick.  His bookshelf was filled with books mostly in Japanese, the country he grew up in.  About 25 years ago his company asked him to move to America to work for their San Francisco Bay Area branch and he agreed.

https://www.amazon.com/Brody-Triumph-Tragedy-Wrestlings-Rebel/dp/1550227602/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1502198043&sr=8-2&keywords=bruiser+brody

I looked and saw some wrestling magazines.  He saw that I was reading them and all of a sudden a wry smile came to Mr. S and he took the nebulizer out of his mouth and said, HUSS, HUSS!

I smiled and asked his daughter what the heck that meant and she said that her father was a big wrestling fan and that was Bruiser Brody’s famous yell when he entered the ring.  Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen were his favorite wrestlers.  He slowly began to open up and he began to talk about Bruiser and Stan’s amazing entrances and their great skill.  Wrestling in Japan in those days was very serious business and the respectful fans of the orient had an amazing passion for it.  He said that his family and friends often went to the matches together and he was very fond of those memories.

We sat and talked for a couple of hours.  I had to come back the next day so I went home and went on Youtube.  I looked at every video I could on Bruiser Brody and I ordered the book “Brody; The Triumph and Tragedy of Wrestling’s Rebel” on Amazon.  It was written by his wife Barbara, and Wrestling Promoter and friend Larry Matysik.  Once I saw Bruiser Brody’s first entrance in Japan, my mouth was wide open.  Here they were playing Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song and he’s swinging a chain over his head while fans and ring workers alike ran for their lives.  I thought, “my God this is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!”  I was a huge wrestling fan back in the day but I long since dumped it since it became the after school special type product of today.  I was not into sports entertainment; I liked wrestling.

(below is a great Facebook group honoring Bruiser Brody)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/181147161997110/

I stayed up for hours probably watching nearly 50 more videos on Frank Goodish, AKA Bruiser Brody.  The next day I went to Mr. S’s again and showed he and his daughter the Youtube videos, both in English and Japanese.  He was euphoric!  He wouldn’t stop talking saying that he was even at a few of the matches we watched.  I stayed for hours and listened to them laugh and have an amazing time reminiscing about the “intelligent monster” and the amazing fun their family had going to the matches.

When I left, Mr. S grabbed both of my hands and bowed saying he was so glad that I came by.  His daughter gave me some snacks to take home and thanked me as well.  I wished them well in their move and told them to get a hold of me if they needed anything.  That night I ate the snacks and drank Guinness watching Youtube videos of Frank doing leap frogs, drop kicks, and his classic move where standing still he would bring his leg straight up and smash his opponents face.  My jaw dropped.  I never saw anything like it.  To end it he jumped high in the air and busted his opponent with a knee.

The Myth of Bruiser Brody:

Frank Goodish was the greatest Independent Wrestler of all time and one of the greats period.  He was a spiritual, complicated man, and the stories of him are of legend.  From his physicality and his “stiff” or “strong style” form of wrestling, to him carrying cans of tuna and green beans on the road.  He was mostly loved by wrestlers and hated by promoters.  I heard many positive and sometimes negative things about him but I had to find the truth.

I first watched several matches with him and Stan Hansen.  It didn’t matter if the opponents were the Funk’s or whoever else, Stan and Frank ran through them like buzz saws.  There wasn’t a wasted movement and they were like a tidal wave.  They just kept coming.  After every tag team match their opponents looked like they were about ready to pass out from exhaustion, while Stan and Frank looked like they were out for a Sunday morning stroll.  These guys were like machines that never tired.  I always thought the Road Warriors or a younger Steiner Brothers were the best tag teams ever, but Stan and Bruiser Brody are the best in my mind.  I’ll bring them to the ring against anyone in history and smile while doing it.

I also heard negative stories about Frank.  I wanted to know the truth and let’s face it; other than politics, there is no arena with more lies and falsehoods than the wrestling business.  It seemed that few really knew the truth or wanted to know it for that matter.  I took about 6 months to devour anything on Bruiser Brody so I could answer these questions.

Steroids:

I’ve seen various online articles saying what a huge steroid user Bruiser Brody was, especially from younger wrestling fans and writers.  Well that is false.  Bruiser did use steroids for a short time in the late 70’s when they were NOT illegal and they didn’t know the long term ramifications of their use.  Well Frank found out quickly they made him very sick.

On a trip home from Japan Larry Matysik explains in his book that Frank crumpled and collapsed on the airplane saying that he thought he was dying.  The doctors didn’t have a definitive answer to his illness but Frank did.  He felt that steroids were destroying his body so he stopped cold turkey in 1979.  He never used steroids again and he was never that ill.  What’s funny is that in the book the promotional posters of his upcoming match was a photo of him recovering in the hospital.

The Lex Luger “no sell” incident:

Boy does Brody get destroyed online for this one.  At the time Lex Luger was still learning how to wrestle but he had that amazing physique that was becoming a big deal in the steroid era of the 80’s.  Not even 2 years into his career, he was given a steel cage match with Bruiser Brody.  It was hard for wrestlers to watch because Luger had the reputation for being pretty self-absorbed and some thought his push was not fair.

Bobby Heenan explained that Luger went up to Brody and started telling him how the match should be played out.  Several others have said that Bruiser told promoters that he was not going to put up with any of Luger’s bulls**t.  Heenan explained that Brody said nothing but it was obvious he was pretty upset.  He told Luger they would just call the match in the ring.  When he went into the ring Brody never “sold” (acted like he was hurt by punches) and the match was uncomfortable to watch as Brody did nothing.  Luger looked like he legitimately got scared and left the ring; quickly; and immediately left the arena.  This story has also been backed up in interviews and podcast’s by the referee of the match, Bill Alfonso.  When Bruiser said nothing about it, the media and fans said Bruiser was just being a selfish jerk.  The problem was though that Luger was terrible at selling; and that’s if he sold at all; and Bruiser did not tolerate anyone that was disrespectful to him or who didn’t sell to him.  To tell a legend like Frank how the match was going to go was extremely disrespectful in his mind.

Was Bruiser Selfish & Difficult to Work With?:

https://www.cagematch.net/?id=2&nr=786&page=4&s=0

MANY wrestling fans go by rumors and do little research.  That’s why I hate going on some social media sites and articles that say Brody was a jerk and was selfish.  I looked up Brody’s matches (site seen above) during this career.  It doesn’t have all of his matches but most of them.  There is a pattern.  Bruiser lost only to people that were on his level.  He even lost to Brian Blair once when he was leaving a territory and no offense to Brian but does anyone think Brian could beat Brody?  Brody lost to the likes of Baba, Bruno Sammartino, Dick the Bruiser, Big John Stud, Paul Orndorff, Ted Dibiase,  & Abdullah the Butcher just to name a few.  They all have one thing in common; IT’S BELIEVABLE they could beat him.  Brody is a HUGE draw world-wide and if he’s losing all the time, you lose that big draw, especially in Japan!  How many times did Hulk Hogan lose?  Not many.  Why?  Because he had full control over his matches AND if he lost more often, it would kill his character.  Brody knew if he kept up his huge persona and didn’t lose, the fans kept coming.

Many said Frank was loved by wrestlers but hated by promoters. Jim Cornette once said that most promoters whose territories were doing good back in the day were millionaires, and they weren’t exactly givers.  In one story he told, after seeing Jerry Jarrett’s amazing mansion at a party, Memphis icon Jerry Lawler demanded more of a stake in the Memphis territory profits from him.  Cornette said, “the promoters usually took the sacks of money and threw it into the air.  What stuck to the ceiling was given to the boys and what came down was there’s.  And that was after their unique counting techniques”.

Bruiser knew what he was worth and he had power.  Everywhere he went he packed the houses and he made a ton of money for a lot of people.  He had power and of course he used it.  Few other wrestlers were as popular as he was or had the courage to stand up to promoters like he did.

It cracks me up that when corporations or companies wield that power, no one says a word.  If the little guy tries to wield some power though, they are selfish.  NFL teams rarely honor a players contract, many times cutting players before their contract runs out.  No one says a word.  If a player is playing fantastic and wants a raise though, fans tell the player to honor the contract and stop being greedy.  In wrestling, WWE is a billion dollar company who has corporate jets and helicopters and buses, but they still can’t “afford” to pay $800/month to give their wrestlers healthcare?

stan hansen frank goodish
Stan Hansen and Bruiser Brody with another Championship win

I heard a few podcasts from wrestlers that ripped on Brody for being selfish by not losing matches or selling.  Are you kidding me?  I just watched matches where Rick Rude, Blackjack Mulligan, Abdullah the Butcher, The Funks and Von Erich’s and many others were kicking the crap out of Frank.  Problem is it’s easier to take in rumors than do some research.  Time also enhances these rumors.  Funny how after ripping on Brody they all would add, “but I knew when Brody was around we made a lot more money because he was such a huge draw”.  Steve Austin often clashed with WWE about the direction of his character.  Once he just went home.  No one today says he’s selfish. Frank was just way ahead of his time.

If Brody was so nasty to deal with, why were the promoters lined up to get him to come wrestle and why were wrestlers glad that he was around?  Because he made them more money!  Also, why did he get along with other promoters like Baba, Sam Muchnick and Larry Matysik?  The reason was that they were fair and professional and they paid him properly.

The stories of Frank’s kindness haven’t exactly hit the front pages either because he didn’t promote that part of himself.  That was just who he was.  Some celebs and athletes need cameras around any time they do anything nice, but not Frank.  He loved kids and they loved him, and he was very gracious to his fans.  He supported many wrestlers and taught them the ropes.  As long as you respected him and the business, and you sold for him when needed, you were cool.  Disrespect him or the business and it could get ugly quick.  There are stories in the Larry Matysik’s book where Frank helped out the underdog wrestler who he could help get over.  In some matches that he won, he also at times let the other wrestler beat the heck out of him to help get him over too.  He was far from an angel though.  He could bully you if you were on his bad side that is for sure.  Isn’t that attitude what most promoters have? Was he looking out for himself?  Sure he was.  I’m not naïve.  But, in reality he was so popular that if he was on top, everyone got paid.  Just like iconic names like Hogan, Flair and Andre, few wrestlers at the time could draw world wide like Frank could.

Jims Jamz:

Spring forward 2 years.  I saw the daughter of Mr. S at the Corte Madera, Ca Safeway.  We were both excited to see each other.  She sadly told me that her father had died recently and she was selling his house.  She saw that I was upset about that but she smiled and said don’t be sad at all.  “My father and our family appreciated you lighting a fire inside him.  He loved wrestling so much and he and his friends reconnected.  He watched so many matches on the internet and was so happy to regain memories that he cherished.  My children also helped so much.  His last two years were very happy.”

That night I was relieved and glad to hear Mr. S had some happy times and was out of pain.  I thought of him running to Bruiser with his wife and friends like kids as Brody entered the ring, and I laughed out loud.  Bruiser Brody was still making people smile and touching lives almost 30 years after he’s passed.  And for a new fan like me, I found out that Frank Goodish; one of the greatest wrestlers of all time; was also a great man in and out of the ring.    This is something that his wife Barbara and his son Geoff; along with loyal fans from around the world; have already known for a very long time. HUSS, HUSS!

“The Oakland Raiders lose another NFL Hall of Fame Worthy Icon From the Past in Dave Grayson”

 

Dave Grayson Nemiah Wilson willie Brown Dave Grayson George Atkinson
Oakland Defensive Backs Nemiah Wilson, Willie Brown, Dave Grayson & George Atkinson

The Oakland Raiders lost another link to their storied past when AFL historian Todd Tobias announced on Twitter that Raider great defensive back Dave Grayson had passed away at the age of 78.  No cause of death was given at this time.

Dave played for Oakland between 1965-1970.  He played for the Dallas Texans/Chiefs before that, and was originally drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.  Grayson was an undrafted free agent out of the University of Oregon.

dave graysonryreyr

Al Davis Traded for CB Dave Grayson in 1965 (he traded him for future actor Fred “The Hammer” Williamson) from the Chiefs and then traded for Willie Brown from Denver in 1967.  This allowed the Raiders to play the physical bump and run style that has been a trademark of the team for years.

When NFL and former Cowboys personnel guru Gil Brandt was asked who were the 4 best cornerbacks in Dallas history his first 3 were not a shock.  Mel Renfro, Herb Adderly & Deion Sanders.  “I also include Dave Grayson.  He didn’t play with the Cowboys but he’s so good I’m including him.”

Dave Grayson went undrafted because at 5’ 10” and 185 pounds, he was dubbed too small by many NFL experts including Cowboys coach Tom Landry after the Cowboys briefly signed him and then let him go.  Gil Brandt liked him a lot and told the upstart AFL team the Dallas Texans (eventually the Kansas City Chiefs) to give him a shot.  Grayson was a key cog in the KC return game and at defensive back.  Grayson was fast and a ball hawk, something the Chiefs coaches loved.

dave grayson jim tyrer earl faison bud mcfadin ladd
Dave Grayson hamming it up with AFL All Stars Jim Tyrer, Earl Faison, Bud McFadin & Future Iconic Pro Wrestler Ernie “The Big Cat” Ladd

Grayson held the AFL record for the longest interception return for a touchdown at 99 yards against the New York Titans in 1961.  Dave made many other key plays for the Chiefs including his famous interception off of Houston QB George Blanda in the Texans epic double overtime win in the 1962 AFL Championship game.

For the Raiders he was a great player both in the regular season and in the post season.  He ended up with 48 total interceptions with an amazing 933 return yards after his interceptions.  His best year was in 1968 where he had 10 interceptions and 1 fumble recovery.  He was also a quality top 10 kick return man as well.

Other career highlights:

-48 career interceptions with an amazing 19.4 yard return average

-25.4 kick off return average

-6 time AFL all-star

-4 time First team All Pro

-2 time AFL Champion

-Voted on the AFL all time team

-Career interception leader in the AFL

The Greatest Defense Nobody Knows About:

Dave was a part of the amazing Oakland defense called the 11 angry men.  This defense is one of the greatest of all time that never gets their due.

In the amazing 1967 season, the Raiders had an astounding 67 sacks & 30 interceptions.  Teams averaged 3 turnovers a game against the Raiders.  This was also only in a 14 game season.  The record for sacks is held by the 1984 Chicago Bears at 72, and with almost a 5 sacks per game average, it’s pretty safe to say that the Raiders would have eclipsed that record fairly easily in 16 games.

raiders defense 11 angry men
Houston trying to come back from 3 touchdowns behind against the Oakland Raiders “11 Angry Men” in the 1967 AFL Championship Game

Even with only 14 games, the Raiders STILL hold the record for causing the most yards lost while an opponent passes.  This record is now 50 years old.

Another record that stands is that the Raiders lead the league in sacks for 3 straight years.  Another 5 decade old record.  Oakland also has the all time record for leading the league in sacks at 5.  That’s how great they were. The offense always gets the publicity but even in their Super Bowl wins and in the 1960’s, getting pressure on the QB was paramount to the Raiders success.  Offense puts butts in the seats and gets all of the publicity, but defense wins championships.

(Below are the all time stats for sacks by a team; many records are held by the Oakland Raiders)

http://www.nfl.com/history/randf/records/def/sacks

Amazing Names:

With the likes of Ken Davidson and Tom Keating leading the way the Raiders had a huge and ferocious defense.  The names of the past are a who’s who of Raider lore.  Two more underrated DB’s in Rodger Bird, Kent McCloughan and Warren Powers were teamed up with Howie Williams, Dave Grayson and Willie Brown.

Dan Conners played MLB while Bill Laskey & Gus Otto shored the outside positions.  Dan Birdwell and Ike Lassiter, Carleton Oats and Art Thoms; so many proud names of the past that helped the Raiders to unreal records in the 1960’s.  From 1967-69 the Raiders were a ridiculous 37-4-1, the best record in football.

dave grayson 2

Hall of Fame:

I’ve written at length about the biases of the NFL Hall of Fame and why some are not in the hall.  There are many that should be in the hall of fame (i.e. Cliff Branch) and I’ve written about them below.  I’m glad that more people are agreeing with me.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/oakland-raiders-defensive-players-who-shouldshouldnt-be-in-the-nfl-hall-of-fame/

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/what-oakland-raiders-players-are-next-into-the-hof-whos-in-whos-not/

One of the great biases with NFL historians, is their turning their noses up at the AFL saying how it was no where near as good as the NFL.  In the beginning days I totally agree.  As time went on though, that myth was changed when the Jets beat the heavily favored Colts in Super Bowl 3.  More than a few people feel the Raiders and the Chiefs of the 1960’s had more talent and speed than the aging Green Bay Packers but they were overwhelmed in the Super Bowls against a mythical team with the greatest football coach of all time and an aura and mental toughness and a refusal to make mistakes.

dave grayson chiefs

It’s a shame that only 3 all time AFL defensive players are in the NFL HOF.  There are others that deserve it and I think Dave Grayson is one of them.  With his speed and ball hawking skills, he made big plays at big times and he’s never received the credit he deserved, much like the great Raider defenses of the day.

I hope that others will join me in giving appreciation for this great Chief and Raider player.  Another forgotten icon of the AFL and NFL who should never be forgotten.

dave grayson raiders

“Answering All Questions About Gareon Conley & Who the Raiders May Get on Day 2 of the NFL Draft”

ConleyJog
Gareon Conley Playing Against Oklahoma in Norman, OK

As I wrote yesterday, hold onto your hats, this NFL draft would be a crazy one.  It didn’t disappoint.

With the QB position being at maybe it’s worse position in the modern era, teams were trading up to gamble on prospects that some feel are reaches at best.  Let’s face it though. In the modern NFL, if you are tall and can throw far, they will look at you.  I think in 10 years you will look back on this draft and ask what some teams were thinking while they made their picks.

The controversy was also seen in Oakland.  Raider fans for the most part were divided when Ohio St. CB Gareon Conley was chosen by the Raiders with the 24th pick.  With MLB Reuben Foster falling into their laps, the Raiders chose to pass and picked Conley who is being investigated for rape allegations made against him.  Let’s answer all your questions about him.

Why Draft Conley When He’s Being Investigated & May Be Guilty:

First off, name the long list of athletes that have done jail time for sexual assault or battery in the last 10 years…………………..

After reading a lot on it, I don’t know if anything happened and neither does the police.  I think the case will be dropped and nothing will happen and it will be forgotten.  Some fans say, “well he was seen with her so he didn’t do anything”.  Ridiculous.  The Stanford swimmer that was convicted of rape was also seen with that girl.  Just because you are walking around with one another doesn’t mean a rape wasn’t committed.

Fans love their athletes and most will defend them.  It’s a little sick but some people are no longer into right and wrong anymore, they are into if that player is a member of the team they like or not.  I deal with the facts.

Even when athletes are guilty they usually get off due to good lawyers.  And even if they are convicted, jail time rarely if ever happens.  Conley should be cleared soon and this will soon be forgotten.  Again I’m not saying he’s innocent or guilty, I’m just saying you have to have evidence and it’s not there.

But Jim, I Thought the Raiders Wanted High Character Guys?:

Anyone trust Aldon Smith to house sit while you are on vacation?  When you read about all of his felonies and misdemeanors over the years you wonder how the guy is still walking the streets let alone being previously signed by the Raiders.  I saw one Facebook post last night saying there was a conspiracy to keep Smith in trouble so the Raiders can’t get him.  And people were agreeing with him!!  OMG!  Stay away from drugs kids.

The Raiders DO want high character guys, but they also want to win.  With Carr & Mack being the main leaders and high character guys, you can live with others not being that.  Some NFL players are not angels by any means so you take the good with the bad.  Conley probably didn’t do anything and overall he’s not been a trouble maker, but the real reason you draft him is because he helps you win.  Fan’s shouldn’t be naïve about this stuff anymore.

Reuben Foster, Curtis Samuel
Reuben Foster Tackling OSU Player

Don’t Listen to Draft Rumors:

I heard a lot of people saying people are worried about Fosters injury.  Let’s look into that. NFL teams and the people that report them over the years have lost a lot of people millions of dollars with school girl rumors.  Some turn out to be true, but some don’t.

False rumors swirled that Dan Marino was into drugs and he dropped in the draft like a stone.  And remember Aaron Rodgers?  He went from being a possible overall #1 pick to waiting 4 hours to be picked.  Why?  Because 2 draft “gurus” said that he held the ball too high (remember that?) and that he was a system QB under head coach Jeff Tedford.  All of a sudden everyone worried about him.  Just because of silly rumors.  So who was the #1 pick?  Alex Smith who was from the biggest system of all, the spread at Utah.  Can’t make this stuff up folks.

Ten minutes before the 2015 draft, ESPN was reporting on their radio show that DT Leonard Williams may have a severe shoulder injury that might keep him out for the year.  Well, Williams has played 31 of the 32 games so far in his career but the damage was done.  Some thought he was a top 3 pick but he dropped to the Jets at 6.  Star Lotulelei was an amazing drop when he was drafted.  He had a virus that made some of his heart tests abnormal so teams just forgot him.  He eventually was proved to be ok. For this year think Reuben Foster and all the drama with his injury, especially when doctors are saying he will be ready in time for the July camps.

Why Conley Was a Good Pick:

Many fans have finally convinced me that many NFL fans aren’t exactly the biggest college football fans.  Oh, they will watch the big games or the playoffs but overall it’s not their thing.

For those of us that are addicted to college football, Ohio States defensive backs had a big reputation last year.  Other than CB Marshon Lattimore, the Buckeyes DB’s were very one dimensional.  The dimension that they all excelled in was that they knew how to cover.  Conley is an excellent cover guy with length and speed.  He’s not as athletic or talented as Marshon Lattimore, but he’s very good.  Ohio St. plays a lot of man to man and he handled it well rarely getting beaten badly.  He always seemed to be near or on the ball.

He can cover in the slot, man to man and also in zone press coverage and that type of player is hard to find.  I really like his coverage skills and feel he’s a guy that can start in 2 years, if not this year if Amerson and Smith continue to struggle.  Some have said move Smith to Safety but I think that is a reach and it remains to be seen if that will happen and if Smith can handle it.

The Raiders are stuck with Sean Smith and David Amerson’s money this year but next year they can be let go without any dead money against the salary cap.  Amerson was found out last year; he struggles against the deep ball and Sean Smith was much better when he had the Chiefs pass rush and safeties helping him.  Conley will at least be used in nickel and dime packages and as a backup to the starters.  His quality cover skills in the slot also help him get on the field.  Again, I’m a big fan of Conley’s cover skills.

Why Conley Wasn’t a Good Pick:

There are TONS; and I mean TONS of CB’s and safeties left on the board that are very good.  This draft is full of them.  There are little to no DT’s and MLB’s left.  Reuben Foster fell into the lap of the Raiders.  It wasn’t as bad as Star Lotulelei and DJ Hayden but they needed Foster badly.  The Raiders defensive front 7 is like a big donut right now.  The 49ers gobbled Foster up like a Thanksgiving Turkey pulling off one of the best first rounds in a while.

Some say teams were worried about his rotator cuff surgery.  Reports how have him ready before July training camp.  In the last 2 years Foster played in every game and almost every practice.  His stats are amazing, with most of his big numbers coming against the best teams in the biggest games.  Some ill-informed people yesterday were tweeting that he was too injury prone.  The facts don’t agree.

The NFL draft isn’t Costco.  Just because you want salmon doesn’t mean they are going to have salmon.  People say well now draft a DT or MLB. Well who?  Foster was a near for sure thing and now you have question marks left.  Jihad Ward was a bad pick last year at DT and he was not a big factor even though he started most games and played in all of them.  No sacks & no tackles for losses.  Their depth chart at DT and MLB doesn’t scare anyone.

As we said before, Ohio St. DB’s were mostly one dimensional.  Good, finesse cover guys but not good tacklers who weren’t very physical.

I agreed TOTALLY with Jon Gruden.  Ohio St. Safety Malik Hooker was very overrated and as a safety you can’t be that bad against the run.  It reminded me a little bit like Michael Huff when he came out.  Conley also struggled against the run and he isnt’ very physical.

The Michigan game also showed Conley struggling against the crossing routes and slants of the Michigan WR.  He’s not physical with players off the ball at all and seemed to get lost with WR in front of him instead of chasing them down the field.

Clemson fans are still talking about 5’ 9”, 175 lb. WR Ray-Ray McClouds one on one obliteration block on Conley in the Tigers 31-0 playoff win against Ohio St. last year.  So again, Conley is a good cover guy, and not a good run stopper with a lack of physicality.

With Washington CB’s Sidney Jones and Kevin King still available along with countless others, picking Conley over Foster hurts my head.

Raiders Day 2: What Will Happen:

Here are some guys that may be picked by the Raiders in their quest to fix the defense.

Chris Wormley, DT/DE Michigan:

This is my next pick if he’s there, which I think he will be.  He’s physical, very muscular and can play inside and out.  He’s a leader type who the coaches love.  He was inconsistent at times so that has to change but let’s face it, every player left is going to have some mark against them.

Malik McDowell, DT/DE Michigan St.

Because there are so few DT’s that can pressure the QB in this draft, the Raiders may take a chance on McDowell.

I don’t think I’ve seen a guys attitude ripped on by more teams than with McDowell.  At the pre-draft meetings with teams, he was ripped apart for his bad attitude and abrasiveness.  At MSU the Spartans media talked about his bad temper and him seemingly more worried about beating up the player he was against more than playing football.  There was also disappointment in his play and effort when Michigan State’s season began to go bad.  I don’t think Malik will get many good references.  A talented head case is what one media guy called him.

Zach Cunningham, MLB Vanderbilt

Zach has climbed up the draft ladder and though he’s not my favorite pick he would not be bad.  He’s smart, a good leader and he’s consistent while making plays.  He’s an amazing athlete which the NFL loves but he’s only 230-235 and he’ll need to put on some weight for MLB.  He’s also not the most physical guy and MLB’s are usually physical studs.  Again, he’s not Foster but he’s not bad.

Cam Robinson, OT Alabama:

If he’s still there I take him.  I’m the first to say the Raiders need defense badly, but this is ridiculous.  First Allen, then Foster and now Robinson falling?  The New York Giants really screwed up by not taking this guy.  Alabama players are dropping like stones.  This guy has 10 year right tackle written all over him.

Day 2 and 3 are where teams GM’s really make their money.  It will be interesting to see what the Raiders do from here on out with limited available talents in positions that they need, especially on defense.

“The Tragic Loss of Raider Derrick Jensen & the Mounting List of Players ALS & CTE are Claiming”

Derrick_Jensen2

The nightmare continues.

When ESPN’s article on the money grab which is the brain injury lawsuit against the NFL came out recently, it showed just how little is being done for former NFL players struggling with head injuries. So far they have not seen one dime of the settlement money. With lawyers charging outrageous fees, and medical corporations and doctors practically targeting them, you wonder how much money the players will really see. The extreme greed is hard to watch.  The sad part is, more players are being diagnosed with ALS and CTE and many feel this is just the tip of the iceberg.

http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/19029607/billion-dollar-nfl-concussion-settlement-turns-nasty-lawyers-others-vie-pieces-payouts-players

Studies now show NFL players are 4-5 times more likely to get ALS than the regular public. The famous Italian soccer study showed Italian soccer players were 6 times more likely to get it. Severe forms of CTE are now feared to be a cause of ALS.  Former woman’s US soccer star Brandi Chastain has agreed to donate her brain to CTE studies. The first MMA fighter has now been thought to have CTE. Even BMX legend Dave Mirra was shown to have CTE after his suicide at the age of 41.

Now present and former NHL players are coming out to talk about it.   If you thought the NFL was obtuse about head injuries, the NHL makes them look like Mother Theresa. They sued to block their emails dating back to as much as 10 years ago trying to block studies on the effects of concussions partly because they didn’t want to limit fighting.

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl-doctor-slams-situational-ethics-on-concussions-in-unsealed-lawsuit-documents-1.708729

Last month the NFL world was shocked and dismayed to hear that former 49er great Dwight Clark was diagnosed with ALS. Alabama great Kevin Turner; an 8 year veteran of the NFL; died last year at 46 from ALS. He was one of the key witnesses in the CTE trials v.s. the NFL. His brain was later studied and he was found to have severe CTE damage. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2010.

Raiders stud FB Steve Smith has been battling ALS for 15 years. And sadly the Raiders and Seattle families lost a valuable person last week in Derrick Jensen.

I still remember Cowboys owner Jerry Jones last March saying he personally still didn’t think there was a link to head injuries, concussions and CTE.   That’s what players are up against.

Mark Davis & Reggie McKenzie honoring Derrick Jensen
Mark Davis & Reggie McKenzie honor former Raider Derrick Jensen before Seattle Seahawks game

Derrick Jensen Loses His Battle With ALS:

http://www.raiders.com/news/article-1/Raiders-Mourn-the-Passing-of-Derrick-Jensen/ca64a3e6-8b9d-4ceb-8815-1a93ad9ba9d0

Raiders super sub and special teams captain Derrick Jensen lost his battle with ALS last week after being diagnosed in 2012. Jensen was 60. He was a key member of the Raiders and won 2 Super Bowls. In the first 5 minutes of Super Bowl XVIII, Derrick blocked a Washington punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown that set the tone for a huge win against a team that most in the media at that time was calling the best ever.   I remember pretty much going insane as a kid when it happened.

derrick jensen 2
Davis & Derrick Jensen

Derrick was a solid and valuable player, but he also was a long time respected scout for the Seattle Seahawks with over 2 decades of amazing evaluations.   He was beloved for his kindness and respect towards people. He was eclectic and fun and went out of his way to just say hi to Seattle staffers.   You would be hard pressed to find a more loved guy. His death was a great loss to the NFL. The Seahawks have renamed their draft room in his honor. Sadly Derrick lost his wife Amanda in 2009 in a car accident and now his 19 y/o son Davis (in honor of Al? I don’t know) must go on without his parents.

http://www.seahawks.com/news/2017/04/07/seahawks-remember-longtime-scout-derrick-jensen

A 5-Star Must Read Book on Players & Their Families Fighting CTE:

Many are reading this book in one sitting.  If you want to get a raw, in depth look at what players & families go through with CTE, read Cyndy Feasel’s book “After the Cheering Stops”. Her late husband Grant Feasel; a former Seattle Seahawk OL; was struck by CTE and this story is an amazing one. I can’t recommend this book enough. Grant sadly, was far from being the only one.  RIP Grant.

http://afterthecheeringstops.com/

NFL Royalty Now Struggling:

When Ken Stabler’s partner Kim Ross-Bush came out talking about the CTE symptoms that Ken was suffering from, it seemed that more people started to listen.   Sadly, the list of players struggling continues to grow.

Cowboys great Tony Dorsett has done several national interviews talking about his battle with depression, mood swings and extreme memory loss.  Ex-Raider/Eagle/49er RB Charlie Garner says he can’t go anywhere without someone coming with him because he forgets where his car is & has trouble in conversations.

NFL Royalty and super man Gale Sayers barely talks anymore.  One of the most articulate and smart people in NFL history, can no longer remember some people or even carry on simple conversations.

http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/9931754/former-nfl-stars-tony-dorsett-leonard-marshall-joe-delameilleure-show-indicators-cte-resulting-football-concussions

Detroit Lion legend Mel Farr died in 2015 and it was shown he had severe CTE which he suspected.  At one time Mel had the largest African American owned company in the U.S.

Frank Wycheck, Mike Adamle, and so many others are now saying they are afraid of what lies ahead with their symptoms.  Raider great George Atkinson says it’s hitting him as well and Phil Villapiano says it’s the scary thing everyone is talking about.  Their memories fading, while their thoughts get lost in a fog.

http://www.espn.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/18585718/former-detroit-lions-rb-mel-farr-had-stage-3-cte-died-2015

These aren’t dumb football players folks. These are smart, articulate, and successful men who contributed great things to the NFL and they are now losing their faculties. AND STILL, no support from the NFL.

The NFL Needs a Wake Up Call:

http://www.myajc.com/sports/football/fate-dwight-clark-gale-sayers-reaffirm-nfl-not-doing-enough/oh3s4BqtAVhI6nye7XQbEN/

People have changed in our country and some leave their brains at the door.  If some belong to a political party, love a football team or belong to an organization, they will blindly defend it no matter what.  Right and wrong no longer matters to them.  It’s like they take it personally if someone questions what they are a part of.  It’s pathetic and insecure to be honest.  You can’t fix problems unless you admit them.

The NFL see’s that same phenomena.  “Don’t be a hater, don’t be negative; you are a troll”. It’s like a bunch of cult members are walking around saying question nothing. To admit a terrible mistake by something they belong to or like is out of the question.

“I’m loyal from the crib to the grave. Win lose or tie, loyal til I die”. These are sayings that are seen often in fan groups of all NFL teams.   Unfortunately the league, the teams, and the owners don’t feel the same. They will move to another city without a worry, buy off politicians and not support the players that made them rich while not thinking twice about it. Their goal is one thing; make more money.  Some NFL fans are the abused spouses of the sporting world and they don’t even know it; enabling the NFL to the end blindly defending anything they do, or fail to do.

Cheerleaders had to sue to get minimum wage and the overwhelming support in social media was for the NFL. The names these women were called by some male fans on social media shouldn’t be repeated. The Ref’s were destroyed by fans for wanting to be full time employees with full time training and salaries. This would greatly improve the calls in games and improve the integrity of the game. Sadly the “cash strapped” NFL said they couldn’t afford to pay them full time. Most fans backed the NFL and told refs to get other jobs if you don’t like it.

The treatment of the retired players is worse. Our society has lost it’s ability to be compassionate, especially to elderly people. If I wrote a story about Derek Carr giving someone a ride, I’d get thousands of readers an hour. Talk about the sad demise of a great player from the past and the numbers drop significantly with a yawn. It’s too sad and no one wants to bother.

What Can We Do:

It will take maturity and confidence from fans to create change. First, we can listen. We can listen to the players and their families.   We can support them by complaining to the league and owners in social media or in actually writing letters that we need to respect them and their needs. A little bit of effort goes a long way. The NFL was going to do nothing in the Ray Rice case until fans were outraged when TMZ proved them to be liars.

The NBA had a known racist, Donald Sterling as an owner.  They knew and supported him for years through his racist actions and rants.  They defended him until a video came out that was seen by fans.  The outrage was epic and public opinion forced the NBA to get rid of him.  Professional leagues morals are based on money & public opinion.

We can also support pages, stories and the players themselves.   Instead of putting up that 1000th team meme or 5000th cat photo on Facebook, teach yourself and/or your kids about the history of the teams and the great players from the past. These players sacrificed a great deal to play football and many were extremely loyal to the cities and fans.  Some became integral parts of the community with many living and dying in the area they played in. We need to stop acting like 18 y/o gang members and respect all players from all teams. You can hate a team or player in fun but remember we are all in this game called life, and that is much more important than any football rivalry or team loyalty.

What is happening to retired players is unacceptable and we need to be the answer. You can still love football and the players in it while not condoning some of the actions of the NFL and the owners. The NFL’s actions show it is loyal to one thing; money. It is their god. Well it’s not mine. They are not loyal to players, fans, cheerleaders, cities and even the refs.   I’m not letting ANY corporation or person use me or disrespect me, and you shouldn’t either. Look at their actions, and not the words. Love the game, and the teams and players but be respectful of what’s going on.  And if we are as loyal and respectful to the game as we say, let’s make a difference and show the NFL that the sport is about the people in it, and not the profit from it.