In the medical field; and in life; you see so many amazingly brave and kind people battling diseases. Their courage is never seen or talked about. They worry about their families and are selfless in their battle. People in the news also have those battles. Some choose to fight them publicly; some privately.
For Craig Sager he somewhat had no choice. In today’s hyper sensitive society which judges anything that is seen or done; especially on television; Craig Sager was seen all the time. For him though he wanted to show that you can fight things with strength. determination and with a sense of humor. He knew every move he did would be watched but that he would always just be himself. Little did anyone know how much this would touch people.
Craig Sager was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in 2014 and it was obvious that he was not going to be working the 2014 NBA playoffs. The severity of the disease and the diagnosis hit the NBA and Turner television family hard. Without treatment he had 3 to 6 months to live. Even with treatment this form of cancer was very aggressive and the long term prognosis was not good.
While his father was out, in a moving scene Craig’s son Craig Jr. interviewed the surly coach of the San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich. His nastiness to reporters is of legend. During the interview Gregg was very kind and showed a lot of love to Craig Jr. but he added that he would rather have Sr. there instead.
Along the way #sagerstrong began to pop up on Twitter. People would see news stories of Sager in his extremely upbeat battle with the disease. He was positive even through the worst of times. He had an amazing 3 bone marrow transplants and went through chemotherapy along the way.
His daughter Kacy didn’t seem too pleased with her dad at one time on Twitter. In the middle of an 8 day chemotherapy session Craig drove 3 hours to do the Oklahoma Thunder-San Antonio Spurs game after a treatment.
“My dad is in the middle of 8 days of chemo, drove 3.5 hours from HOU to SA to work this game, driving back in the am. Absurd. Meanwhile my roommate called out of work because she feels like crap”
The whole NBA community was pulling for Craig. During the playoffs that he missed, for one day the entire Turner team dressed in crazy suits like Craig. Many even from other networks did it. It was an amazing show of support to a man that was battling so hard.
Charles Barkley had hip replacement surgery and was told he could not fly for a while. When he heard Craig’s wife Stacy had a cold and could no longer be in the room with Craig, Charles hopped on a plane and visited. “Craig Sager is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. You go to visit him to cheer him up and his attitude is so upbeat he cheers you up”.
Craigs shining moment was his story and then speech about fighting cancer at the Espy’s, the annual award ceremony ESPN does. He was given the Jimmy V award in honor of former North Carolina St. coach Jim Valvano who passed away of cancer. The Jimmy V foundation has raised millions for cancer research.
His appreciation to the Turner broadcasting team for helping him to keep working was one of the first things he talked about. In a day when corporations seem to have no morals, character or heart, he appreciated their amazing support.
Craig talked about living with passion and having fun. Fighting it with a great attitude and fire and how that attitude can help the way you act.
When Craig first started he took a lot of ribbing. Some didn’t take him seriously due to his crazy suits. But in time people realized he was real. He was fun, kind, hard working and loyal. He loved life and loved and appreciated people. He took his job seriously and loved the NBA and the whole experience. He loved the hustle and bustle of his job but he never took himself too seriously.
In reality what we loved about Craig Sager is he was how we wanted our athletes and our news people to be. In a day with so many scandals, arrogance, pettiness and dysfunctional actions, we loved that Craig was kind, caring and full of fun. He was vulnerable and humble and kind in a way that made us feel connected to him. An everyman.
Craig was given a terrible sentence and he battled an amazing 2 years. I’m sure the doctors didn’t expect him to last that long but Craig did it in a way that inspired millions. Our family like all of yours, has probably been through the pains of cancer. I’ve sat with patients as they died. I’ve sat with loved ones as they took their last breath. The torturous battle that is sometimes seen in cancer is a battle that so many have endured.
But in the end it’s not how people die that matters; it’s how they lived. How we fight the battles and how we touch others doing it. We’ve seen the tragedies but we’ve also seen the courage and triumph. The passionate battles and the perseverance through treatment and adversity. The amazing human spirit that is seen in people that never get the publicity or the attention during their quiet battles.
To all of you battling, I pray for you deeply and hope that one day they will find better treatments which lead to finding cures. And for loved ones and those with cancer, I say one thing. Stay Sager Strong and live with all you have no matter how long the time.
Final Oakland Raider Grades v.s. Denver Broncos; Week 9:
Denver Broncos 20 (6-3)
Oakland Raiders 30 (7-2)
The Raiders came through in a near must win situation, beating the Denver Broncos at home. It was a physical pounding of the Super Bowl champs that was loved by all in attendance. Oakland had only played 2 teams with winning records all year and both ended up in losses at home. To go 0-3 against teams with winning records; all at home; would have been a hard pill to swallow.
The offensive line flat out dominated this game.
Statistically this was one of Carr’s worst games of the season but this is against the Broncos and it was no where near as bad as the numbers suggest. The success of the running game also limited him. Carr was steady and accurate and didn’t make the mistakes that have plagued him against the Broncos in the past. Against good offensive teams though, the Raiders can’t settle for field goals in the red zone.
Carr was 20 for 31 for 184 yards with no TD’s or interceptions. He missed on some passes but there were only a few issues that he had. Raider fans cringed when they shockingly called a pass with less than 8 minutes to go in the game and Carr made a horrible throw that was intercepted. The referees looked at it and reversed their decision because it hit the ground. Carr has to throw that away or throw to a place where only his guy can catch it. Better yet just run the ball.
SO SICK of NFL ex jocks who are now sportscasters saying the Raiders can’t run the ball. The Raiders are now #4 in the NFL in rushing yards and #3 in rushing touchdowns. The Raiders running game is just fine thanks.
Latavius Murray had his best game of the year and everyone contributed. Jalen Richards looked like a rocket when hitting the hole. The Raiders offensive line is an excellent one playing at a high level and the running game is doing well.
A thing people don’t talk about is the excellent pass blocking by the running backs when picking up the blitz. Good all around game by everyone.
Derek Carr is going to have to come up with more than big screen tv’s for presents for his OL this Christmas. The Raiders have only allowed 11 sacks all year and he’s the best protected QB in the NFL.
Round 1 against Denver goes to the Raiders OL. Dallas and Oakland have the best OL’s in the game right now and both of their QB’s are playing great. Not a coincidence. The Raiders are #3 in passing and #4 in rushing offense. A dominating performance with over 200 yards on the ground. Denver got 2 sacks but they didn’t affect the game much.
The OL is the key to the Raiders. Carr and the other offensive weapons get all the credit but this is the engine of the team. This OL is the “HEMI” of the NFL.
Nothing really special from this group but a solid game. Andre Holmes made an amazing one handed catch of a ball thrown behind him. Even with Denver’s injuries at DB, the Raiders were held under 200 yards passing. They did their job and it helped win the game.
A solid game.
Kahlil Mack had a great game and his slow start is a thing of the past. The pass rush overall was good all game as the DL put pressure on Broncos QB Trevor Siemian. Siemian struggles a ton when he’s rushed and it showed all game. Denver showed the same arrogance as last year, for the most part not trying to double team Mack and they paid for it.
The Broncos only ran 12 times and the Raiders did well to stop the run. They miss CJ Anderson. Siemian at times is a train wreck and no one has stepped up at RB. Denver’s offensive line is very inconsistent and the Raiders took advantage of it.
Is the Raiders DL great; not a chance. But for this game they played great and was a breath of fresh air for a group that has struggled this year.
The LB’s were very active. Other than the long catch and run by RB Kapri Bibbs (wow was that an ugly play for the Raiders), this group played well.
Overall solid game.
The pass rush definitely helped this group and they had a solid game. Karl Joseph was fooled on 2 play action passes; one he was beaten for a TD; which shows he’s still learning the game. Overall a solid game though. Siemian’s pathetic accuracy didn’t hurt either.
This was one of their better games.
The Broncos had a bizarre game plan, concentrating on the passing game when it’s obvious QB Siemian is limited. Another coaching staff outthinking themselves. The Raiders took advantage of this by really going after the QB.
It was a bad decision to allow Carr to throw the ball late in the game which almost lead to an interception when it was obvious Denver could not stop the run. The Raiders need to be smarter. Just run the clock out.
They greatly improved their sloppy play from the previous 8 weeks where they lead the NFL in penalties and set a record against Tampa Bay. On a side note the game has definitely changed and there are so many pass interference penalties in the NFL that it can be hard to watch sometimes. There is a reason passing records are falling like stars in the sky in the NFL and college game. With the NFL rules, Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be DB’s.
Solid game plan against a bad run defense and limited offense.
Janikowski is showing that it’s a lot different hitting 50 yard field goals in the first half of games on a losing team, than it is on a winning team trying to make the playoffs. He missed again this week. King had a solid game; could do without the Cam Newton dance party after his punts, but overall a solid game by King. Field position played a key role in the first half. The coverage team did a good job and the return game was nothing special.
A solid game other than the blip from Janikowski.
I’ve been saying it all week. This is not a great team in Denver. They have an inconsistent OL, a QB that can throw long but not much else; and a defense that was 25th against the run coming into the game and is now 30th in the NFL after the Raiders game. Denver has had a lot of injuries and other than Marshall, their LB play isn’t the same. The injury to CJ Anderson really hurt this team. The Raiders match up great against them. Last year the Raiders didn’t allow a bad Denver offense a TD in both games.
The game plan was good and the Raiders showed they can beat a good team. They are now on a bye week. They haven’t won anything yet though and the season is a long one so there is still work to do. They are now 1-2 against teams that presently have winning records, and those two teams had something Denver hasn’t got; good offenses. The Raiders still have holes on defense.
This was a game I thought they had to get and they did. The OL completely dominated and showed why the Raiders are doing so well this year. It was a fun night for all.
Tomorrow I will break down the AFC West and look at each team. The Raiders are in great shape but they still have to play each AFC west team on the road. They will next go to Mexico against Houston and even though Carolina isn’t that good this year, it will still be a tough game. Kansas City has dominated Oakland and San Diego with a pass rush is now much improved. No one is talking about the Chiefs but they aren’t going away. Denver is still Denver especially at home. It should be a fun second half of the season, but for now, take 2 weeks off Raider fans to celebrate; you’ve earned it.
Some bash him when the Raiders lose but in reality SIX of the 7 2016 NFL draft picks played a significant role in the Ravens game, and in the entire year.
Derek Carr saved his best for last. The Ravens have a solid defense and they held the Raiders to only 13 first downs, 3 for 12 on third down, and 0 net yards in the 3rd quarter. Not his best performance; only threw for 199 yards; but a gritty win on the road with clutch throws in the end.
Carr came through in the 4th quarter but he did have his struggles. He had a costly delay of the game penalty and was a little rattled at times early with the pass rush. Those should be fixed and look for a big game next week against the Chargers. Carr looks forward to a juicy match-up against the weak Charger pass defense.
The Raiders RB by committee has worked wonders this year but it just wasn’t their day. Latavius Murray was ineffective and DeAndre Washington had a big fumble. Carr’s passes to him didn’t have much touch on them but Jalen Richard dropped a couple of passes that I’m sure he regrets. Washington had a really nice run of 28 yards but if you take that away, the RB’s had only 18 carries for 34 yards. Sometimes it’s just not your day.
The Ravens made a point of stopping the run and they did loading the box at times. Better days ahead for this group after 3 excellent weeks. RB’s pass blocking was pretty good.
After the first couple of drives Carr again had lots of time to throw. Rarely did the Ravens get to him. Baltimore had a good game plan to shut down the running game but the Raiders OL and RB’s picked up the blitz well. Due to injuries, Vadal Alexander was thrown to the wolves at tackle and the media were on him. He had 3 holding calls and 1 false start but Baltimore was putting Terrell Suggs on his side much of the time. Suggs is not the monster he used to be but he’s still solid. Alexander was tough and at times got no help against Suggs but he helped in the final TD drives protecting Carr.
The Raiders running offense struggled but the passing game and protection excelled. Alexander is a project but he was made to start and he gave a gutsy performance that will be a learning experience.
NOW people know why I was touting Michael Crabtree when he came out for the NFL draft. At Texas Tech and San Francisco he was a huge talent when healthy. He’s the best possession WR in the NFL right now and a top 6 WR. The Carr to Crabtree connection is on top of their game. Crabtree’s route running is fun to watch. Seth Roberts with a nice TD catch was also a plus. Teams continue to keep Amari Cooper from going deep and that is opening up the middle of the field. Still would like more TE throws; the Raiders had injuries at TE which may have helped limit that.
It was quality over quantity. The Raiders offense struggled but when they needed to pass, they did a good job. The stupid call by John Harbaugh to take the penalty allowing a 3rd and long changed the game and allowed the Raiders to take a 2 score lead.
The Ravens averaged only 19 points a game in the first 3 games versus 1-8 teams. As I said, Joe Flacco and the rest of the offense is not that good and the Ravens were very overrated. I had the Raiders winning this game and some that I was a little crazy. Khalil Mack’s annual slow start is hopefully over. He terrorized Joe Flacco all day. Mack has been solid against the run, but not much of a factor in their pass rush. The entire line had good push and Flacco was under pressure much of the time.
Against the run it wasn’t a good story again. The Raiders gave up 130 rushing yards at 5.0 yards a rush with 2 TD’s. Ward and Autry are playing more to get a push on the QB but it’s hurt the run defense. I’m not sold on either playing so much. Williams and Ellis are only playing around 15-20 plays a game. but they are limited in the pass rush.
The Raiders against the pass were great, but another fail against the run. It’s not like the Ravens have Adrian Peterson either. They gave a healthy scratch to their starting RB Justin Forsett but still rushed for 130 yards.
Pretty much you can see the DL. The Ravens like the Titans don’t have much team speed on offense. The Raiders handled them fairly well in the passing game but struggled again in the running game. Cory James was beaten more than the Raiders would like against the run but he was excellent in pursuit and covering the pass. Bruce Irvin also had a nice game with his coverage and his pass rushing. James is definitely an upgrade at LB but the Raiders still don’t have that stud run stopper.
Again, the mantra for the Raiders all year is can they stop the run. The answer so far is not really. That has to change if the Raiders are going to get to the next level.
All week the Baltimore media had brought up Joe Flacco being an elite player (announcer Steve Tasker did too) including Pro Football Focus’ rating of him the first 3 weeks. We must have been watching different players. Flacco has looked horrible at times this year and has the 2nd worst 4th quarter quarterback rating in the NFL. Last week against the Jaguars, his 2 key interceptions almost blew the game. Four TD’s and 4 INT’s is NOT elite. That’s why I said the Raiders should handle them and they did.
The Raiders speed was evident against the slow offense of the Ravens. The game plan was perfect; put David Amerson on Steve Smith and not worry about the others and it worked to perfection. Every DB played well. Karl Joseph is getting more comfortable and he hopefully can help with the run defense.
With the Titans pretty much having no deep threat, the DB’s played aggressive and physical again. Other than a blip here and there and the long pass and run to iconic WR Steve Smith Sr., there were few worries.
Overall a well coached game. Raiders offense didn’t have a great game but enough to win. No yards in the 3rd quarter and another slow start is a worry. I think the Raiders should go more no huddle and put pressure on the offense.
On defense the game plan of putting Amerson on Smith Sr. was a great move that helped limit him. Funny how Ken Norton’s name is never spoken when the Raiders defense plays better. Some casual fans give all the credit to players when they win, and all the blame to coaches when they lose. Crazy.
The Raiders have to start the games better. Another 2 drives with little to nothing to show for it. They also had 0 yards in the third quarter. I wish their offense was more aggressive.
Marquette King is really becoming a force. He helped the Raiders with great field position earlier in the game when the offense was struggling. Richard is a good return man.
Solid day all around.
As I said going into this game, it’s a very winnable game. Joe Flacco is not a great QB and their offense only averaged 19 points a game. The Raiders run defense is still an issue and they did give up 27 points to an average at best offense. That has to change. Offense came through in the 4th quarter and King is a weapon as a punter.
San Diego Chargers:
Philip Rivers had another last second drive fail against the Saints; something he’s done a lot of in the past; and the Chargers dropped to 1-3 losing to the Saints late. Rivers to me is this era’s Steve Deberg. A good QB who gets great stats in the first 3 quarters but doesn’t win anything. Nothing wrong with that but the networks push to make QB’s great is annoying at times. His epic fails late are more than people think.
The Chargers defense is 27th against the pass and 8th against the run. Look for a big game from Carr and the WR’s may have a field day. The Chargers lack talent and on paper this looks like a great match-up for Oakland. Rivers will always have his stats but they greatly miss WR Keenan Allen who is out for the year.
Joey Bosa may make his debut against the Raiders but the Charger fans are ready to blow him off for the year. The late signee has been hurt and hasn’t been ready to play. He has not endeared himself to the fans that’s for sure.
Oakland is winning the close games and that is a big maturing process in a losing franchise learning how to win. There is a lot of excitement but there still is much work to do. The Raiders are playing with fire playing close games. A good team like Atlanta made them pay for it. The Raiders run defense is probably going to be an issue all year. They have a very favorable schedule especially with Kansas City, the Colts and Carolina struggling so much. Seems like all the stars are aligning as long as they beat the teams they should beat.
They can’t take anyone for granted. On paper the Chargers look like a team they can handle, but the Raiders have to start putting teams away and play a good consistent game for 4 quarters. Something they are looking to do against San Diego.
Defensively, the Raiders will be tested by the passing game of the Chargers but they always seem to fall short. The Chargers are 1-3 and the big loss was the opening game loss to Kansas City in OT when they were up big early.
Look for a fun game with the Raiders flexing their muscle on offense again. The Chargers running game has improved but is still only 19th in the NFL. Look for San Diego to try and establish a running game and when it struggles, they will be throwing often from behind. Should be a high scoring affair with the Raiders looking to continue their road to success.
As I looked over the Oklahoma media offerings this last week, I read 19 articles on the reason the media said Oklahoma lost to Ohio St. Only 2 writers got it right. Let’s go on a 10 year journey for answers to why Oklahoma is just OK, and Alabama is the best program in the country.
The Reality in Norman:
Dozens of Sooner fans either blocked or unfollowed me on Twitter at the start of the season when I said this was a 3 to 4 loss Oklahoma team. In my mind it was a mistake that people had them as the #3 team in the nation. In fact at the start of the season I had Houston and Alabama playing for the National Championship. I’m a closet Sooner fan; I still have my throwback Billy Sims Jersey in my closet; but we need to look at the facts.
When Bob Stoops Arrived at Oklahoma:
When Bob Stoops and his defensive coordinator/brother Mike Stoops first came to Norman, it was a breath of fresh air. With one of the richest football traditions in the country, Bob took over after the John Blake era which was a train wreck. Bob Stoops won a national championship beating four top 5 teams along the way, including #1 Nebraska.
The Stoops brothers were aggressive and they had dominating defenses. The Sooners dismantled Florida St in the National Championship game 13-2 with one of the great defensive performances in college football history. It was a magical year in the OK state.
Stoops also embraced the tradition. Here is a school that still holds the record for most wins in a row in College Football history at 47. And he showed great respect for their head coach Bud Wilkinson. Many remember the hitch and trailer play against #1 Nebraska in the National Championship year to honor the team of the 1970’s who used that play to help beat Nebraska in Lincoln. Many also remember on their own 29 yard line in Tuscaloosa, using a fake punt in the third quarter and then throwing a bomb on the next play for a touchdown to help beat Alabama on the road. I remember a lot of great risks and fun payoffs. Those days are long gone.
I also remember Sooner fans booing for 3 hours a couple of years ago watching OU’s CB’s playing 10-15 yards off of the line of scrimmage against Baylor like it was pitch and catch in the backyard. The aggressive magic turned into old man conservatism.
Nick Saban Comes To Alabama:
People forget what a train wreck the Alabama Football program was before Nick Saban. There were several scandals, two probations, wins that were forfeited, and the firing of newly hired head coach Mike Price who was a little too wild at a strip club in Florida. Add the over-matched Mike Shula’s coaching tenure and this once proud program had become a dysfunctional mess. All that’s forgotten now. Saban’s first press conference was filled with excitement.
Saban was the conquering hero at LSU in college but in the pro’s the media ate him up; especially during his second year which ended 6-10. Like most college coaches he was used to the college media bubble that can be mostly controlled by the coaches. In the pro’s a coach was like a raw steak in a lake full of piranha. His players didn’t like him, and neither did the media. After he left Miami, for months ESPN and NFL reporters all over the country destroyed Saban. They called him Nicktator and Nick Satan. I’ve never in my lifetime seen a coach so hated in one place and loved in another. And to be honest he probably deserved a little of both. In 2010 he somewhat apologized for his “lack of professionalism” in Miami but it didn’t help.
The NFL Network has trashed him on several worst of lists including the below video (pretty harsh) naming him the 7th worst college coach to ever coach in the NFL. Many remember him scolding the Miami media for weeks saying he wasn’t leaving when in reality he had been talking to the late Alabama AD Mal Moore for weeks.
Oklahoma GoingDown,Alabama and the SEC Going Up in Recruiting:
When Saban arrived from Miami, he immediately went on a recruiting blitz. He didn’t have the time the other schools did to recruit his first year; he arrived late; but he immediately improved his first class in 2007 and didn’t just blow the year off. That helped set a tone. The biggest reason Alabama is the best is because they recruit the best and have the best talent. CBS reported that 80% of Bama’s players are 4 or 5 star recruits. That’s unreal.
The SEC has 3 of the best recruiters in college football. Mario Cristobal at Alabama, Tommy Thigpen at Tennessee, and Corey Raymond at LSU. These are the guys doing the dirty work of visiting high schools, kissing babies, eating mom’s apple pie and talking to dad’s about the good ol’ days. Imagine Mario Cristobal wooing you and then Nick Saban closing the deal. That’s tough to beat.
Urban Meyer got all the credit at Florida but who was one of his key recruiters? Charlie Strong the new Head Coach at Texas. Strong went on to great success at Louisville and just had a top ten recruiting class for Texas in 2016.
Another thing Alabama has done in the recruiting wars is dominate the offensive and defensive line position. In the last 3 years Alabama had the #1 ranked offensive line class in the nation. Their defensive line doesn’t miss out either. They are either #1 or #2 for the last 6 years. The NFL draft shows the fruits of their success.
While most teams are going to finesse offenses using the spread, Alabama for the most part has kept their roots. Saban has allowed OC Lane Kiffin to open up things in the past but when the chips are down, the power running game is what they are all about.
Alabama’s first recruiting class with Saban in 2007 was #17 in the Nation. Then the magic started to begin. It’s amazing what happened.
Now let’s fast forward to the last 4 years.
Oklahoma #15 (0 five star, 7 four star)
Alabama #1 (4 five star, 13 four star)
Oklahoma #15 (1 five star, 8 four star)
Alabama #1 (6 five star, 13 four star)
Oklahoma #14 (0 five star, 14 four star)
Alabama #2 (4 five star, 14 four star)
Oklahoma #16 (1 five star, 10 four star)
Alabama #1 (5 five star, 10 four star)
In some publications, Alabama just had their sixth straight #1 college football recruiting class. Oklahoma’s highest recruiting class in that time was #14.
In the last four years these are the 4 & 5 star players:
Oklahoma: (2 five star, 39 four star)
Alabama: (19 five star, 50 four star)
There is good news for the Sooners though; Bob Stoops has rebounded in 2017 and OU is now ranked the #4 recruiting class so far. That team from Tuscaloosa? #2 so far. Now many things can happen; some players change teams like the wind so there is still a lot of work to do. Remember you are dealing with teenagers; but hopefully OU is back on track.
Alabama a Step Above:
The #1 thing is obviously they have the best players. No one recruits like they do.
Innovation isn’t Saban’s thing. What makes him great is preparation, readiness, teaching quality fundamentals and technique and demanding perfection. It’s one thing to have the best players but you have to teach and coach them properly.
My dad was a great coach and he taught me so much. Proper footwork, tackle readiness/positioning, balance; football is more in depth than fans think. I love watching well coached teams. From Alabama to Jim Harbaughs teams, to the great dynasty at North Dakota St. in the FCS, I really enjoy watching the teams play. I especially love defense. The rules in college and the pro’s have made it a federal crime to breath near a WR or QB so passing is much easier in today’s game. That means a great pass rush is VITAL. While other teams are still only rushing 3 men, Saban and other SEC schools get that a pass rush is important. Some teams still don’t.
The average fan says it’s a passing game now and defense doesn’t matter as much. Problem is they are wrong. The Big 12 seems to feel this way. In reality though good defenses will beat good offenses most of the time. Ask the Carolina Panthers and the Clemson Tigers from last year. Ask Tom Brady how he feels about the NY Giants DL in the Super Bowl.
The SEC Formula; Nick Saban’s Way:
The SEC formula that Nick Saban uses is based on the 1970’s NFL; the greatest era of NFL football. It includes 5 things.
-have great team speed
-stop the run to make offenses predictable
-put great pressure on the QB and control the tempo
-have a great offensive and defensive line
-have a good power running game to run the ball when you need and want to.
Now some will say well of course you will win if you do all those things. Then why doesn’t everyone do it?
Think about it. The Big 12 struggles defensively and isn’t physical. The Pac 12 isn’t physical other than Stanford and they lack team speed. Michigan & Ohio St. are changing this but for the most part Big 10 teams lack team speed and the ACC; who has the worst winning % in the bowl series of any Big 5 Conference; also struggle defensively and lack physicality. There are exception but this is the reality of each conference.
While many teams have fallen in love with the spread offense and throwing 50 times a game, Nick Saban goes with what brung him; defense & a physical running game makes him tick.
This is the way the Big 8 used to be when Oklahoma and Nebraska were winning National Championships. Bo Schembechler, Woody Hayes and Bear Bryant did it; it’s old school football that Alabama plays with a little more modern passing offense. None of Sabans QB’s will tear up the NFL, but his defensive and offensive lines will.
Saban’s Way Saved the Mississippi Game:
I tweeted at halftime of the Mississippi Alabama game, “RUN THE BALL, RUN RUN RUN”. Alabama threw 23 times in the first half for 2.8 yards a reception. Bama was behind 24-17 and were lucky to be so close. They put the game’s hands in the arm of Jalen Hurt; a freshman QB; on the road. Hurt isn’t a particularly accurate thrower and he missed on some key passes, but wow can he run.
Alabama passed only 8 times in the second half and ran for over 334 yards and won 48-43. They ended the game with 7 yards per rush, and only 5.1 yards per reception. Don’t think for a second that Nick Saban didn’t tell OC Lane Kiffin at halftime, “we aren’t throwing 23 times this half”.
Bob Stoops To LSU?:
Many in Oklahoma are not real happy with Bob Stoops. There are rumors that he is being eyed for the head coaching spot in LSU. Because of the failures of late, Stoops has taken a beating in the media. I saw one article calling him Big Shame Bob instead of Big Game Bob. OU is now 8-9 in bowl games with Stoops as coach.
It’s hard to see him leaving OU but if he is going to stay he has to hit the recruiting trail. (LSU Job? Tom Herman of Houston is the sexy pick and I’d think he’d come but if he doesn’t, with Chip Kelly in a mess at San Francisco with their lack of talent; Kelly @ LSU?)
Some say Stoops got complacent in recruiting and the numbers back that. So if I were talking to Bob I’d tell him, “It’s ok Bob; you can keep the spread but you have to go back to what made your teams great from the beginning. A great OL & DL & a great defense. I have my 5 part formula above that you can use when recruiting. And if you don’t want to listen to me, get a hold of Nick Saban. He’s got a copy”.
Final Oakland Raider Grades @ Tennessee Titans; Week 3:
Tennessee Titans 10 (1-2)
Oakland Raiders 17 (2-1)
On Sunday the Raiders outlasted the Titans 17-10. It was a nice game for the defense which played well. The Raiders dominated in the first half but did not score in the second half.
Derek Carr definitely didn’t have his best day. He made some good throws but he missed two long passes and was late on more than a few passes. Twice Amari Cooper had his man beaten deep and Carr missed him. Carr was frustrated with himself after the game. He got rattled a little bit when the Titans began blitzing but overall he had a pretty good game. Overall though he had an ok game.
You can’t be really good every game but Carr will have a much stiffer defense to go against next week. Plus Pro Football Focus in their evaluation kept calling him David. Better days ahead.
The Raiders multiple headed monster at RB is working well. The Raiders ran for 123 yards. After Latavius Murray’s 22 yard TD run though, he ran 9 times for only 15 yards. He seems to glide through holes while DeAndre Washington (6 carries for 28 yards) and Jalen Richard (6 carries for 37 yards) hit the holes like rockets. Washington and Richard have been in during important parts of games this year, and it’s worked wonders. I like the 3 of them sharing carries.
Murray struggled after his TD run but Washington and Richard picked up the slack. In the first half especially the Raiders were dominating the Titans defense.
In the first half it was like a college team playing against a high school team. The Raiders OL flat out dominated. Carr was sacked only once, and for the most part they played really well. The Raiders running game had another 100+ yard game. The problem today was penalties, which lead to a sloppy game.
Maybe I’m being hard on them but there were a lot of penalties that hurt drives. Overall though, another good performance.
Michael Crabtree is one of the best WR in the NFL right now. With another 100+ yard game with 8 catches, he’s the best possession WR in the NFL. He’s the glue in the passing game. Cooper had 4 catches for 62 yards but Carr missed him on a couple of long throws. Cooper has avoided the drops for the most part but he dropped a key 3rd down pass that was right in his hands. Clive Walford caught only 2 passes and against good teams, the Raiders have to make him a bigger part of the offense. Seth Roberts caught a TD pass on a nice catch and run, but he also dropped a key pass that was right in his hands.
Carr wasn’t himself and that hurt them but they had a few drops. A pretty good day but it could have been better. The Titans don’t exactly have speed with their cornerbacks so a long connect to Cooper would have been nice.
Khalil Mack had another bad game; only 1 solo tackle, one assisted tackle and no sacks with a penalty. I’ve never seen a guy start off so slow every year. The pass rush for the most part was absent again; the Raiders had one sack; and now they have only 3 on the season. By himself Von Miller has 5 sacks and 1 forced fumble that lead to a TD and sealed the game against the Colts.
Against the run it got ugly. The Raiders gave up 181 rushing yards at 6.2 yards a rush. Ouch.
You can’t just blame the DL. The LB’s struggled as well and even though S Karl Joseph made some tackles, he made them more downfield than he’d like. Right now the Raiders DL is lucky they are playing lesser competition.
DeMarco Murray and TE Delanie Walker are pretty much all the weapons Tennessee have. Walker didn’t play. This helped the Raiders greatly because the Safeties and LB’s didn’t have to cover the tight ends much. The Titans lack talent and team speed and the LB’s could play aggressively. They still were bad against the run, struggling to shed blocks. The Raiders gave up scoring drives of 59, 93 and the last drive the Titans went 71 yards in a minute and looked like they should have got a penalty on TJ Carrie in the end zone.
They had a hit or miss day. Against the run they were awful; against the pass they were better but the level of competition was pretty bad.
With all of these high draft picks the Titans have used on Wide Receivers, you’d think they’d have a great group. They may be the worst in the NFL. Their only deep threat Kendall Wright didn’t play but even he has had only 1 good year in his short career. Without any speed at WR the Raiders DB’s were not in fear of getting beaten deep and as I said before the game, this is a great matchup for them.
David Amerson played an excellent game and is turning into a solid corner; a great pickup by Reggie McKenzie. Safety Karl Joseph made some tackles but you could tell he’s getting his sea legs. He made a lot of tackles 5-10 yards downfield; in time those hopefully will be at the line of scrimmage or even behind the line. It’s a lot more fun not going up against Julio Jones & Brandin Cooks. The DB’s had a couple of good hits on tackles as well.
The Raiders caught a break on the final play for the Titans which was an obvious pass interference; the second year in a row a controversial call cost the Titans against the Raiders; but the Raiders will not complain. TJ Carrie was smiling in a local interview and joked with the reporter, ”It was a good play right?” The Titans drove down in the last drive 71 yards in 1 minute which was the worst sequence of the game for the DB’s.
With the Titans pretty much having no deep threat, the DB’s played aggressive and physical. They are not the soul patrol and hopefully they can at least become a pretty good group. I like Joseph.
It got a little confusing in the second half. On 2 third down plays (5 yard and 3 yard), the Raiders ran the ball and then punted. It was somewhat conservative especially since the Titans DB’s were giving 5-7 yard cushions to the Raiders WR all game.
The Raiders had a chance to put away the Titans in the first drive of the second half and didn’t. On 3 first down plays the Raiders ran Murray up the middle for 5 yards on 3 rushes. After 7 plays they punted. Very conservative. They should have come out swinging.
Funny how when the Raiders defense does good you don’t hear anything about the coaches. You can’t give coaches the blame when the team struggles and then give them no credit when they do well. Aw fans.
The first half the Raiders looked pretty good. You thought they’d come out blazing in the second half, but again they were predictable and conservative on offense.
Sebastian Janikowski now has the record for most 50 yard plus field goals. Marquette King gets better each week and had 2 booming punts. Richard had a pretty good day running back punts. Jones only ran back one kickoff for 16 yards.
The return game was better for the punting team and King and Janikowski are solid.
The Titans right now are the second worst team in the NFL behind the Bears. The Titans are 2-18 in their last 20 home games and 6-29 in their last 35 games overall. With all their failed drafts, the Titans are now where the Raiders used to be. As I said on draft day, Mariota has moxy, is athletic, but he’s just not accurate enough for my taste. Any win on the road is good but the Raiders in reality should have torched them. Oakland still doesn’t have a dominating signature win yet. If the PI is called and the 2 point conversion fails in New Orleans, this could be a different season. They have to play better.
The Raiders are 2-7 lifetime against Baltimore, and 0-5 playing the Ravens on the road. This is a place that has given them nightmares. It’s loud and the Ravens play very physical at home.
While this isn’t the great Baltimore defenses of the past they are still solid so far. They rank #3 against the pass and #8 against the run. They have 9 sacks on the year which is 7th overall in the NFL. They’ve beaten the Bills at home, and the Jaguars and Browns on the road. Not exactly the NFL elite for this year so being 3-0 isn’t as impressive against these teams.
On offense they have Joe Flacco but not a whole lot else. Backup Terrance West and Justin Forsett share carries, and ageless Steve Smith is still their go to man at WR. Journeyman WR Mike Wallace is their deep threat. Their TE Dennis Pitta is having a great year and is a big part of their offense. He has 18 catches in 3 games. They are the 19th rated passing team and the 25th rated running team.
The Raiders on defense should have another good game. The Ravens don’t have a lot of speed and are not a team to score a lot of points but they will play a physical style on defense and rush the passer. Running yards may be difficult for the Raiders offense and the OL will be tested.
Look for a physical game in Baltimore next week with not a lot of scoring. The Raiders travel a lot but their schedule is not hard so this game would be a nice win for them. Look for the Raiders to make a statement.
The Raiders venture to music city to play the rebuilding Tennessee Titans in an important early season contest.
What to look for on Offense:
The Titans defense has improved a lot from last season. In the first two games they played well. They’ve only given up 1 offensive td on the year. They are ranked 13th in both passing and rushing defense but their pass rush has been inconsistent. They do have 4 sacks on the year with all of them coming in game 2 against the Lions. The Vikings offensive line seemed to control the game for the most part against Tennessee’s pass rush.
Look for the Titans LB Brian Orakpo to be the key pass rusher against the Raiders. He already has 2 sacks on the year and he was very disruptive against the Lions.
The Titans have said that they are wanting to stop the Raiders running game. If that is true the Raiders should be able to throw deep when their safeties are playing up to stop the run. I question if that is their main game plan though and look for them to mix it up at times & play their safeties back to protect for Cooper and the long ball.
Cooper is averaging an amazing 18.9 yards a catch with a long of 43. Even with teams trying to stop the long ball, he has had a great start to the season. With the Raiders balanced attack, they should be able to handle the Titans defense. Carr will definitely have his chances to audible today.
The Raiders running game is #2 in the NFL. As I said before the season started, if the Raiders use ALL of their running backs, they will thrive. They have done that and the running game looks fine. Clive Walford saw some targets last week and was effective. With Melenik Watson back, the Raiders offensive line should do very well.
A key matchup will be Titans CB Perrish Cox v.s. Amari Cooper. The great Dick Lebaeu is the Titans Defensive coordinator and he loves zone blitzes. This should free up Cooper so look for Amari to have a big day. Perrish Cox is also one of the slower CB’s in the NFL so if the safeties give help on Cooper, this should open up the run game. Carr rarely calls audibles but he needs to do it today if the Raiders are going to continue their high powered offense.
What to look for on Defense:
The Raiders are averaging giving up an unheard of 8 yards a play on defense. Some have tried to pin this on Ken Norton Jr. and Ben Heeney but to be honest there is a WHOLE lot of blame to go around. Sean Smith has played passively and is really struggling; the safeties have also struggled in their help defense. The pass rush is non existent at times and Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack have a combined 1 sack in 2 games.
Rookie LB Cory James will play for Ben Heeney. At Colorado St. Cory James was a consistent player and quality playmaker but he also has the same 40 times and same speed as Ben Heeney. James is athletic but not fast.
Look for the Raiders to make QB Marcus Mariota beat them. I see the safeties playing much more aggressively to stop RB DeMarco Murray and his backup Derrick Henry. What makes Murray such a threat is that he’s a great pass catcher as well. Murray has 131 yards rushing on the year but he’s also caught 12 passes for 91 yards and 2 TD’s. Murray will be a handful for the LB’s to cover today.
The Raiders will crowd the box on early downs to stop the run, and try to force obvious passing downs. This will help the pass rush and also make possible blitzes more effective.
Stacy McGee and Jihad Ward played most of the game against Atlanta and that should continue. McGee did get a sack but their effectiveness was definitely in doubt. Justin Ellis and Dan Williams continue to struggle for playing time. It will be interesting to see if that continues.
Bruce Irvin was invisible for most of the game and even though Khalil Mack has been absent on the pass rush, he’s been excellent against the run. Look for Mack to come out swinging to get his first sack of the year.
The Raiders blitzed on several of the big plays for Atlanta last week and it was not very effective. So far the DL hasn’t played well so look for a CB or safety blitz on occasion. The fearful thing obviously is that if the blitz is picked up, this defensive backfield is in trouble.
Titans WR Kendall Wright is their deep threat and he is not going to play. The Raiders should be able to handle the Titans passing game.
Delanie Walker is a top tight end but he’s hurting and will be a game time decision. That definitely helps the Raiders.
Look for some turnovers today. Mariota already has 2 INT’s and 1 lost fumble (he had 8 fumbles last year). Mariota’s accuracy is hit or miss at times. He did play well last week in Detroit in the 4th quarter to help them win. Murray will fumble on occasion as well so look for the Raiders to get their first turnover of the season.
Will Khalil Mack be Back?:
In today’s social media environment, people live and die with each game. Seasoned fans know this is a marathon and not a race. What people also aren’t getting is that some players take time to get going, and Khalil Mack is definitely one of the them. In his rookie year he didn’t get his first sack until week 10.
In the first 8 games last year, Mack had 27 tackles and 4 sacks. In the last 8 games he had 50 tackles and 11 sacks. In last years game at Tennessee he had 6 tackles and 2 sacks. Look for a good day from Khalil in Nashville.
-Tennessee did not win a home game last year and they are 2-15 in their last 17 games at home; worst in the NFL.
-Titans kicker Ryan Succop has made his last 19 field goals inside the 50 yard line.
-Raiders are averaging 7.0 yards a play on offense, and give up 8.0 yards a play on defense. They are allowing 4.5 yards per rush on D.
-Oakland is one of 3 teams that has yet to get a defensive turnover.
-Raiders return teams are near last in most categories. They are averaging 15.7 yards per kickoff return, and 5.3 yards per punt return.
-Oakland Coach Jack Del Rio is 76-81 in 11 years as a head coach and is 8-10 as Raiders head coach.
-Titans haven’t won a game at home against a non AFC South team since 9/29/2013. They have not won 2 games in a row since 12/22 & 29/2013.
The Tennessee Titans have arguably been the worst team the NFL the last 3 years. Playoff teams do not lose to the Tennessee Titans. In the Titans last 34 games, they are an abysmal 6-28. If the Raiders can’t win today, this greatly hurts them. No excuse can make it acceptable.
All the stars are aligned for a big Raider win and that can spell trouble. In the NFL anything can and does happen. The offense played well last week but you would have hoped for more than 28 points against a bad pass rush which was last in the NFL in 2015. Especially in a home opener.
The Raiders have come out sluggish in both their games and have not played well in the first half. They need to come out fast and even think of going no huddle. The Titans do not have the offense to score a lot of points so if the Raiders can get out to a big lead, their pass rush can tee off against Mariota.
Amazingly the Raiders are only a 1 ½ point favorite. It’s hard to see the Raiders losing this game but crazier things have happened. This is an early must win game and the hopes in Raider nation is that they will come out aggressive in the first half and take control of the game early. If not, the talk shows in the bay area will be must listen to radio on Monday.
A person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs.
Wow did I miss this one. I once told my niece, “when dealing with guys, what they do shows their heart. What they say shows what they want you to think. Always look at what they do.”
During the time when the mild controversy regarding the NFL HOF Nomination of convicted serial rapist and ex all pro safety Darren Sharper was going on, famous SI sportswriter Peter King took to twitter to defend the HOF voters. I was taking some time off and relaxing and I didn’t comment on it or write about it. Recently though people have shown things that Peter King said and I was floored.
I’ve given the Deadspin article link to you; the only one that I could find; that repeated Kings serial tweets.
Here are some of his EXACT quotes.
The 46 HoF voters are asked to consider only on-field factors for ex-players. That is what I do.
We would be shirking our duties if we did not consider him. What has happened since should not be factored in.
The bylaws of the Pro Football Hall of Fame forbid the 46 voters from considering players’ off-field lives.
If I said, “I will not consider Sharper for induction because he has been accused of multiple rapes,” I would resign from the committee.
For the sake of not giving Peter King’s worshipers fuel, I say don’t even read the article. Just read his comments.
For almost 3 decades starting in the 70’s, the most popular teams in the NFL were the Cowboys and the Raiders. Their ratings were always on top. People loved them or hated them. Sports Illustrated sold a lot of magazines with Raiders stories. Here is a great one on Ken Stabler from 1977 after the Super Bowl win.
Paul Zimmerman was a friend of Bob Padecky. He was the king of east coast media and was a voting member of the HOF and senior committee until his stroke in late 2008. He was the first expert to be used by ESPN during the NFL draft coverage. He was the man at SI (Sports Illustrated) and is revered today by most sports writers. He was the one that had a vendetta against Ken Stabler because of the incident with Bob. Peter King every year honors Paul Zimmerman for an entire week near the time of the HOF ceremonies. He did it again this year.
Below is Peter Kings article trashing Ken Stabler’s HOF credentials. He said that he only had 5 good years. Remember one of his best friends and his mentor is Paul Zimmerman.
Peter King probably didn’t vote for the Snake but he was in the minority. Players, coaches, owners and teammates all said he was HOF worthy a long time ago.
Why Peter Kings Words Are So Hollow:
Peter King brags about his integrity. He sticks out his chest saying that if he took into account things off of the field, he should resign as a voter in the HOF.
The Hall of Fame Voters should be called out. Their votes SHOULD ALL be released to the public. There is no accountability in their votes and there needs to be transparency. I respect the fact that you don’t vote people in; but the fans, media and teams need to know why.
Cris Carter was left out of the HOF for 5 years. Why? Carter was a tool at times. Even fans didn’t like him.
After his first 4 years in Philadelphia, the media, team, and the fans were sick of him. He was their leading WR and he was cut. He also took a beating from writers who talked about his drug use of marijuana, ecstasy, and cocaine. He stopped talking to the media.
He regrouped in Minnesota and had amazing numbers. At the end of his career some said he softened to the media because his numbers might be HOF worthy and he wanted to find favor with them. Sportswriters have long memories though Cris.
Terrell Owens was another one. Of course he’s a HOF player. But he was dramatic, demanding and nasty to the media. One year during a contract dispute in Philly, he refused to LOOK AT media members let alone talk to them. He threw teammates under the bus, blamed coaches for losses and even told Playboy that QB Jeff Garcia was gay.
Why do I bring these 2 up? These are just 2 examples of obvious HOF players who weren’t voted in by the writers. I thought anything off the playing field didn’t matter? Well obviously it does.
Stabler is the worst example of all. Anyone that is buds with Zimmerman knows how much he hated Ken, blaming him for the Bob Padecky fiasco. How can you leave Stabler out of the Hall? Only 5 good years? Are you kidding me?
Are Hall of Fame Voters Really Biased?:
I was being interviewed by a small radio station in Pennsylvania and they thought I was nuts. “Jim you actually believe that HOF voters will hold grudges for years against a player?”
My answer was simple.
“Yes. Look at people who are staunch Republicans or Democrats. They would blindly support Charles Manson if he was part of their political party. And if Mother Teresa was in the other political party they’d rip her to shreds with negativity. They have grudges for a lifetime.
Same with some HOF voters. I’m giving you facts not opinions. Zimmerman said in an SI article in 1979 after the Bob Padecky situation that he would NEVER vote Ken Stabler into the HOF as long as he lived. He also admitted Stabler was the only player he ever lobbied AGAINST. Zimmerman was one of the most; if not the most; powerful writers in the country. SI was king and ESPN was just starting and he was chosen as their NFL and draft guru. Thirty years later in 2009, Zimmerman told the NFL Network again; “I’ll never vote Ken Stabler into the HOF. Facts gentleman; facts”.
Jim drops the mic. Ok I didn’t do that, but I would have if I was in studio!
Just the very fact that Zimmerman; after 30 years; STILL said he wouldn’t vote for Stabler into the HOF shows how right I am about some sportswriters. Most are great I’m sure; but some?
Frank Cooney; who has covered football for over 5 decades; wrote a great article earlier in the year. EVERYTHING I said from Randall Watson to Padecky, to Dr Z to Nick Dudich was confirmed by Frank; and countless others; and my articles were written way before theirs, last summer.
A tidbit that I never knew was Frank finding out that the voters to the HOF “innocently” received a huge binder of information on this years candidates.
One piece was a blog from 2012 by Andy Barall of the NY Times with the famous quote that supposedly Dave Casper said. “Ken took football back 50 years. He didn’t work hard enough at it. He fooled em his whole life”.
Yes I found the blog. Here it is. Magically it has a link to a book by………..Paul Zimmerman, one of his buddies. This stuff writes itself friends.
Dave Casper has been very angry over being misquoted. “I’ve never said Ken set back football. I would vote him into the HOF”. Below is Franks article with Dave Caspers angry retort.
I’m a realist, and I know nothing is going to change in the voting process. So what needs to happen is that if you are a fan of a player that is deserving of the NFL HOF, it’s time to act. Through petitions, writing emails, responding to social media posts and articles; in reality it’s up to you. So many are working hard for players from the Raiders that deserve to be in the HOF. But everyone needs to be involved. Think of the loyal fanbase, families and children of these great players.
Some will say Ken got in so get over it. But I remember the pain in the Stabler’s families eyes. I don’t want ANY other Raider or NFL family to go through that. If you grew up in the bay area the Raiders were not our team; they were family.
How a petition for a Ken Stabler or a Cliff Branch can’t get 50,000 signatures in a month is beyond me. I see a lot of posts online talking about fan loyalty, but in reality it’s going to be up to ALL fans actions to carry the torch. Keep doing what you are doing to inspire others. And for those that haven’t been a part of the support, it’s never too late to get on board. Do your part for these players that gave generations of people so much enjoyment and pride. Make NFL HOF voters do the right thing; because without you; some won’t.