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“What The Oakland Raiders Look Like Right Now, and What Moves Can Help Them Improve Quickly”

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It’s been a good off season so far for the Oakland Raiders.  The Raiders still have much work to do though with their two most pressing needs; a fast #1 wide receiver and 1-2 good pass rushers still worrying many.

The first half of the off season is free agency and the draft and post draft signings are the second half.  Until the post NFL draft signings, you really don’t know what your team has as far as talent.

People are also finding out rumors as an adult are pretty much the same as those when we were kids; false.  Teams often leak lies to fool the media and other teams to get them off the track of what they really wanted to do.  Mike Silver gave up on the Raiders a long time ago realizing at times that the Raiders were playing the media like a fiddle.

Al Davis literally never said anything and sports writers would tell people who the Raiders were going to pick getting information from their “insiders” when in reality they had no clue.  All of these “insiders” that think they know what is going on are often pawns for the most part.  Why in the world would billion dollar corporations leak information to tell their competitors what they are going to do and what they want.  If they do that, all their leverage is lost.  The NFL and their owners may be greedy and narcissistic at times, but they aren’t stupid.  Again, it’s fun for fans but take it with a grain of salt.

Everyone for months had the Raiders taking a wide receiver for their first draft pick but I’ve CONSTANTLY disagreed.  I think there is no way that the Tennessee Titans are NOT taking a quarterback or at least trading down to a team that want’s a quarterback; namely Oregon QB Marcus Mariotta.

With that happening, all around good player DL Leonard Williams will be available and the Raiders HAVE to take him.  Their pass rush might be the worst in the NFL and they need 2 pass rushers.

I think in the free agency sector, none of the pass rushers that are left are really worth much money and they are not going to help very much.  With the release of DL Antonio Smith, I think the Raiders are looking to make a trade soon by freeing up a little more cap space.  A really good defensive end in New Orleans, Cameron Jordan has been rumored by some teams including the Raiders.  He’s young and his 28 sacks in 3 years is going to help some team a lot.

I personally felt that the Raiders should have a 2 year plan.  They had a lot of holes to fill and you can’t do it in just one off season.

Today, lets first look at the Offense and how each position looks as of now, and how it can be improved.

Quarterback:  Derek Carr, Matt McGloin, Christian Ponder

Even with so many internet people trying to stir the pot, Derek Carr is the Raiders starting quarterback for the 2015-16 season.  He showed a lot of potential and with hard work and improvement, the Raiders hope that he will turn into a good NFL quarterback for years to come.  He HAS to audible a lot more to help out the run game and he needs to handle a pass rush better, but overall, he survived the rookie season with a good grade for the most part.  The Raiders were anemic on offense on the road and that obviously has to improve.

Matt McGloin is an adequate backup.  The Raiders dropped Matt Schaub and added Christian Ponder.  People scratched their heads when the Vikings picked him in the first round and he never panned out.  He was benched several times at Florida St. for poor play but lets face it; if you are tall with a big arm, the NFL will always have a home for you.  Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was the coordinator for the Vikings so that is the connection to Ponder.  Ponders best play was handing off to Adrian Peterson in sprint draws.

Outlook:

Lets just say like most teams the Raiders hope their starter Derek Carr stays very, very healthy.

Sleeper Solutions:  

None.  Unless you can put Ken Stabler in a time machine, this should be the depth chart at Quarterback.

Running Back:  Latavius Murray, Roy Helu, Trent Richardson, George Atkinson III, Jamize Olawale

Gone are Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew.  The Raiders added 3rd down specialist Roy Helu, and much maligned Trent Richardson.

Helu is a very good third down back who can also carry the load on occasion.  He lead the NFL in yards per touch on third down and is a great pass catcher.  He is tough and durable and is a good signing.

After his rookie season teams found out Richardson has little to no vision and is a straight ahead runner.  In college he could run over people, but in the pro’s not so much.  Anything they can get out of him will make the Raiders happy.

Latavius Murray showed flashes of brilliance last year.  He’s big and fast, which is what Raiders OC Musgrave likes.  He must prove he can stay healthy though.

Marcel Reece was vastly underused last year and the hopes are that he will get 10-15 touches a game at an H-back or tight end position.  George Atkinson Jr. and Jamize Olawale are probably the odd men out.

The fullback used to be such a powerful weapon and now the NFL just wants them to block.  The Raiders need to use Reece more like an 80’s or 90’s full back and not just be a follower and do what all the other teams are doing.

Outlook:

Helu is a solid third down back and the hopes are that Murray can carry the load and stay healthy.  Anything Richardson can give is the berries and the hopes are that Marcel Reece will get more touches.

Sleeper Solution:

If the Raiders do draft a running back I would LOVE for them to take David Cobb from the Minnesota Gophers in the 3rd or 4th round.  He is built exactly like Marion Barber and he’s a load.  At 5’ 11” and 235, he won’t run off 80 yarders but he’s powerful and tough, somewhat elusive and is a work horse who finishes runs.  He has some speed and 54% of his yards came after the first contact which is pretty amazing.  He was made for the NFL power running game.

Wide Receiver:  James Jones, Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, Brice Butler, Kenbrell Thompkins, Seth Roberts

James Jones is a solid #2 WR and is a good red zone target.  Rod Streater is an average WR and I’m not getting why Kenbrell Thompkins gets so much playing time.  He has never been very productive in the NFL.

Andre Holmes needs to step up and achieve success instead of just having loads of potential. The wild card is Brice Butler.  He needs to get on the field.  His 47 yard touchdown catch and run against San Diego showed eye popping speed.

Outlook: 

The Raiders obviously still need a #1 wide receiver and they will for sure draft one.  Butler and Holmes have to get the bulk of the playing time after Jones.  This group has potential.  I’m not going to add to the thousands of posts on Kevin White and Amari Cooper.

Sleeper Solution: 

I still think the Titans are going to draft a quarterback and I see USC DL Leonard Williams being there at #4.  If he is and I’m the Raiders, I take Williams in a New York minute.  Without a pass rush the Raiders don’t win anything.

I then turn around in the second round and get the speed merchant big time playmaking wide receiver Devin Smith out of Ohio St. who should be there in the early second round.  He makes big plays at the biggest times and he is unique in that he doesn’t break stride or lose speed when he is going after a ball.  A guy named Cliff Branch had that same talent.

You now have Smith, Jones, Holmes and Butler.  Now you got the start of something.  Three speed burners and a great red zone target.  Not bad.

If the Raiders draft White or Cooper because Williams isn’t there, then I still get that too.  In the 2016 draft there are 6-8 really good possible first round pass rushers with possibly more to show up on the board.

Offensive Line:    Donald Penn, Gabe Jackson, Rodney Hudson, Khalif Barnes, Austin Howard

With the addition of Center Rodney Hudson, the Raiders have the makings of a really good OL.  Gabe Jackson is all they thought he would be and the OL protected Derek Carr well against the pass.  Donald Penn is solid at Tackle but he will be 32 next year and with it being a contract year he may not stay.

The Run game was blamed on the OL but when you have a quarterback that doesn’t audible, and play calling that would make Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler scratch their heads, you are not going to run the ball successfully. They were more conservative than Ronald Reagan in a red state.

The hopes are that with a more experienced quarterback, much better play calling and with more downfield weapons, the Raiders will have a much better running game.

Outlook:

Khalif Barnes was inconsistent last year.  Look for the Raiders to get another OL either in the later rounds of the draft or in free agency.

Sleeper Solution: 

None; unless they get an OL in the later rounds for depth, these will be the starters for the Raiders.

Tight EndMychal Rivera, Nick Kasa, Brian Leonhardt, Scott Simonson, Lee Smith

No one will mistake the Raiders tight ends for Dave Casper, Raymond Chester or Todd Christensen.  They definitely need some help.

Mychal Rivera was solid, but they didn’t throw to him much.  His blocking did improve and he can be a weapon.  Other than Rivera, there really isn’t any other pass catching threat.

The Raiders signed Lee Smith from the Buffalo Bills.  He is a big, brash run blocking tight end with very limited pass catching skills.

Outlook: 

I think eventually the Raiders may sign a veteran.

Sleeper Solution:

Zach Miller could also be an option.  He wasn’t used very well by the Seahawks.  He is 29 and was cut by Seattle for a failed physical last month.  Supposedly he’s able to pass one now and Tom Brady and the Patriot’s love his game and are quietly talking to him.

Marcel Reece would be perfect as a tight end in passing situations.  Reece is too talented to not give him the ball.

That’s a look at the offense of the Oakland Raiders.  Tomorrow we will take a look at the defense which has some very good additions.

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“Remembering Three Young Raiders, Gone Too Soon”

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History is so important.  The smartest people I know have great knowledge of history.  We need to never forget and remember that our history lays the foundation for us all, and that we should learn about it and learn from it.  I thought about that today.  Today marks the 20th anniversary of the great Tejano singing star Selena’s passing.  She touched millions with her spirit and her amazing heart and talent.

What does that have to do with football?  Well it reminded me of the great loss that is felt when someone in their prime passes away.  Unfortunately death has been a cruel mistress in our large family, and in reality the pain never goes away, it just gets a little easier to tolerate. The Oakland Raiders have known pain; a great deal of it.

I wanted to write about three young lives that were lost to the Oakland Raiders far too soon.  I hope that all Raider fans; young and old; will remember and appreciate their lives and their part in creating the history of the Oakland Raiders. Eric Turner

Eric Turner, CB.  9/28/1968 to 5/28/2000

Charles Woodsen would look at Eric Turners photo before he would go on the field.  Ray Lewis as a young linebacker said that he loved watching Eric Turner play. Eric Turner was a Southern California legend.  A great player and leader.  He starred at Ventura High School and UCLA.  He was a hard hitting playmaking safety that at times seemed to be everywhere. E-Rock was the second overall pick in the 1991 draft going to the Cleveland Browns.  Still the highest draft pick for a defensive back in the modern era of the NFL.

He soon became an all pro for Cleveland and for the Baltimore Ravens when they moved. The Raiders picked up Turner later in his career and he still played well, but he was not the same Eric Turner.

When Turner played though the Raiders winning % was shockingly near 80% and he became a fan favorite.  He could still make plays.  He complained about an ulcer to many but towards the end of his life he lost a lot of weight.  When he took a leave of absence in 1999, he would not disclose his illness to his friends or the press.  Like some selfless people, he just didn’t want to be a burden.

In May of 2000 many people were worried about him but he stated in the press that he was not gravely ill.  Two weeks later, a stunned NFL world heard the news that Turner was gone.  He was only 31 years old.  It sent a shockwave throughout the NFL.

To have someone so young and physical to be gone so quickly.  Rumors swirled but in the end, he died of intestinal cancer that was just found too late.  Many believed he played with cancer during the last part of his career.  It remains a sad ending for a good man and a great player.  His leadership and his selfless mentoring will never be forgotten by those who played with him.

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Leon Bender, DL;  8/8/1975 to 5/30/1998;

Leon Bender’s family were Raider fans so they were thrilled when he was chosen by the Raiders in the 2nd round of the 1998 NFL draft.  Along with first round choice Charles Woodsen, the Raiders felt they had immediately upgraded their defense.  He was the type of player Jon Gruden loved;   passionate, athletic, and always hard working.  He had a great attitude and was constantly trying to please his coaches.  He was fun loving and always had a smile on his face. Leon was still somewhat raw but most scouts said the same thing; the sky is the limit.  In regards to Bender, at worst he would be a good NFL player for 7-10 years.  At best?  Who knows.

The Raiders were looking forward to Bender teaming up with USC’s Darrell Russell on the defensive line.  He was big, athletic and had a big motor.  It wasn’t meant to be though.  Bender died before playing for the Raiders and Russell was soon out of the league due to failed drug tests. Bender was one of the key contributors to the resurgence of the Washington St. Cougars football team.  He helped them reach the Rose Bowl for the first time in 67 years, with quarterback Ryan Leaf leading the way.  The excitement in the Palouse had never been higher.

The Raiders were very excited to add Leon to their roster but sadly he died of an epileptic disorder at the friend of his agents house.  He was found in the bathroom.  An ambulance was called and efforts to revive him failed.  He was 22 years old.  No alcohol or drugs were found in his system and no foul play was suspected.  Bender had been treated for epilepsy since childhood but it had been under control for the most part for years.

Benders lifestyle reminds me of the present Raiders QB Derek Carr.  Bender was married with a child and had a loving spiritual family.  He volunteered at times at a drug rehab wanting to help others.  Two weeks before his death, the Raiders paid Bender his 1.2 million dollar signing bonus which his family got.

His mother Antoinette and his cousin Brantley attended the AFC championship game against the Tennessee Titans in Oakland.  When the public address announcer called the starting line-ups, they sobbed uncontrollably.  On Super Bowl Sunday, Antoinette didn’t watch the game of her Raiders; instead she visited Leon’s grave to say how proud she was of him.

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Stacey Toran, Safety;  10/11/1961 to 8/5/1989;

Stacey Toran was a long shot to make the NFL.  He was a 6th round pick for the Raiders in the 1984 draft.  Al Davis saw in him though a great deal of toughness and athleticism and was excited to get him at that low of a draft choice.  He would be a project that would soon pay dividends and Al Davis called him the steal of the draft.

Toran started out slow but after 3-4 years he started to show a grit and toughness that was needed in the Raiders defensive backfield. The Raiders were changing their scheme to an attacking style of defense and that suited the physical Toran just fine.  He was now entrenched as a starter and big things were expected of him.

Toran was an amazing athlete and a born leader.  He had great size for a safety too; 6’ 2” 205.  He was a high school basketball and football all American and in the semi finals of the state basketball championship at Broad Ripple High School, he hit a 57 foot shot to win the game at the buzzer, eventually leading them to the title. He was the captain of both his high school football and basketball team.  He soon went to Notre Dame and was a tough, hard nosed player that greatly improved the Notre Dame defense.  At Notre Dame he was the co-captain of the team and an All American.  The NFL combines felt he wasn’t fast enough to play in the NFL but Al Davis didn’t agree.  People were excited about what the future held for Stacey.

At approximately 11:30 pm on the night of Saturday, August 5th, 1989, Toran lost control of his 1984 BMW on Glencoe Avenue near Marina del Rey; a block from his home. An officer at the scene said the car jumped a curb and struck a tree, flipping over several times. Toran was ejected from the vehicle, struck his body and head on the pavement and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Later it was found out that his blood alcohol level was .32.  Stacey Toran was only 27 years old. Al Davis was devastated.  He said that Stacey was going to be a major part of their defensive scheme that year and he called him a friend and a great Raider.

Below is a list of prominent Raiders that are no longer with us in body, but always in spirit.  I hope that Raider fans of all ages never forget the contributions that these men made to the greatness that is the Oakland Raiders, and that they will keep their families and friends always in their thoughts and prayers.

Once a Raider, always a Raider. Rest in peace.

Thomas Howard, linebacker, 2006-10: Died November 18, 2013, age 30 (auto accident).

Todd Christensen, tight end, 1979-88: Died November 13, 2013, age 57 (liver surgery complications).

Errol Mann, kicker, 1976-78: Died April 11, 2013, age 71 (unknown).

Demetrius Davis, tight end, 1990 draft pick: Died December 15, 2012, age 45 (heart attack).

Tom Keating, defensive tackle, 1966-1972: Died August 31, 2012, age 69 (prostate cancer).

Ben Davidson, defensive end, 1964-1971: Died July 2, 2012, age 72 (prostate cancer).

Chester McGlockton, defensive tackle, 1992-1997: Died November 30, 2011, age 42 (heart attack).

Al Davis, coach/owner, 1963-2011: Died October 8, 2011, age 82 (natural causes).

Charles “Bubba” Smith, defensive end, 1973-74: Died August 3, 2011, age 66 (natural causes).

Alonzo “Skip” Thomas, cornerback, 1972-77: Died July 24, 2011, age 61 (heart attack).

George Blanda, quarterback/kicker, 1967-1975: Died September 27, 2010, age 83 (unknown/natural causes).

Jack Tatum, safety, 1971-1979: Died July 27, 2010, age 61 (heart attack).

Elijah Alexander, linebacker, 2000-2001: Died March 24, 2010, age 39 (bone marrow cancer).

Marquis Cooper, linebacker, 2008: Lost at sea March 1, 2009, and presumed dead March 6, 2009, age 26 (boating accident).

Brad Van Pelt, linebacker, 1984-1985: Died Feb. 17, 2009, age 57 (heart attack).

Gene Upshaw, guard, 1967-1981: Died Aug. 20, 2008, age 63 (pancreatic cancer).

Curtis Whitley, center, 1997: Died May 11, 2008, age 39 (unknown/natural causes).

Jimmy Warren, cornerback, 1970-74, 1977: Died August 9, 2006, age 67 (unknown).

Darrell Russell, defensive tackle, 1997-2001: Died Dec. 15, 2005, age 29 (auto accident).

Scott Whittaker, offensive tackle, 1997: Died Dec. 2, 2003, age 29 (auto accident).

Dave Dalby, center, 1972-1985: Died Aug. 30, 2002, age 51 (auto accident).

Dwayne O’Steen, defensive back, 1980-1981: Died Sept. 15, 2001, age 46 (heart attack).

Neal Colzie, defensive back, 1975-1978: Died Aug. 19, 2001, age 47 (heart attack).

Bo Roberson, wide receiver, 1962-1965: Died April 19, 2001, age 65 (unknown).

Dan Turk, center, 1989-1996: Died Dec. 23, 2000, age 38 (testicular cancer).

Eric Turner, safety, 1997-1999: Died May 28, 2000, age 31 (abdominal cancer).

Eldridge Dickey, quarterback/wide receiver, 1968-1971: Died May 22, 2000, age 54 (stroke).

Tim Hall, running back, 1996-1997: Died Sept. 30, 1998, age 24 (drive-by shooting).

Leon Bender, defensive tackle, 1998 draft pick: Died May 30, 1998, age 22 (epileptic incident).

Bob Chandler, wide receiver, 1980-1982: Died Jan. 15, 1995, age 45 (lung cancer).

Dave Waymer, safety, 1992: Died April 30, 1993, age 34 (drug-related heart attack).

Mike Wise, defensive lineman, 1986-1990: Died Aug. 22, 1992, age 28 (suicide).

Lyle Alzado, defensive lineman, 1982-1985: Died May 14, 1992, age 43 (brain cancer).

Stacey Toran, safety, 1984-1988: Died Aug. 5, 1989, age 27 (auto accident).

John Matuszak, defensive lineman, 1976-1982: Died June 17, 1989, age 38 (heart failure).

Roger Hagberg, fullback/tight end, 1965-1969: Died April 15, 1970, age 31 (auto accident)

Thank you to the Silver and Black Report for the Memorial Wall.  You can follow them here @ http://oak.scout.com/

“Who is Bill Musgrave? The Raiders Hire a new Offensive Coordinator”

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“Who is Bill Musgrave? The Raiders Hire a new Offensive Coordinator”

The Oakland Raiders yesterday added ex Jack Del Rio hire and Jacksonville Jaguar Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave as their new Offensive Coordinator.  It was a surprise hire to many people.

Local fans may remember Bill Musgrave as a backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and a few other teams.  After his playing days, the Raiders hired him in 1997 as a quarterbacks coach.  He had 4 really good years as a quarterback at the University of Oregon.

Musgrave is a journeyman coach who has never stayed at one place very long.  He has been the OC of 5 teams in 17 years and in between that he’s been quarterbacks coach or an assistant.

As offensive coordinator with those 5 teams, he has had very mild success.  His best year was in 2013 when the Vikings offense was 13th in total yards and 14th in scoring.  As an OC, his offenses have never been in the top 12, and most have struggled.  Before his job at Minnesota, he had never had a top 21 offense.  He has had some good moments though and he’s a well respected and hard working guy.  He’s also very well liked which definitely doesn’t hurt.

To his credit; even though it’s hard to give QB coaches all the credit; he did also have some nice years as quarterbacks coach.  He was QB coach when Matt Ryan first started out and did well.  Byron Leftwich was never great but his best year was when Musgrave was at Jacksonville.

Some like to give him a moderate amount of credit for Mark Sanchez having his best QB rating in his career in 2014 when Musgrave was QB coach of the Eagles.  If you do that though, then you also have to give him the blame for Nick Foles who played half of the year before he got hurt.  Foles threw for 27 touchdowns and had only 2 INTs in 2013 before Musgrave arrived.  Last year in half a season with Musgrave as QB coach, Foles threw 13 TD’s with 10 interceptions and looked lost at times.  Foles now is a question mark for the Eagles and they are debating whether to give him a big money long term contract.

As offensive coordinator it’s a much clearer picture with shaky results.  He was no longer allowed to call the plays after only 4 games when he was the OC at Carolina in 2000.  He was also let go by Jack Del Rio at Jacksonville after only 2 years of being an OC with near the worst offense in the NFL.  In his defense he has never had great quarterbacks as a coordinator, but his style is pretty clear.  He’s always had a conservative style of running the ball and running it often with a WR heavy passing game.

He did have some west coast influence with Mike Shanahan but he’s never truly instilled it into his offenses.

When he was first hired at Minnesota, the Minneapolis-St. Paul newspaper did two articles on him asking him about his philosophy.  Most of it was just vague answers saying that he liked to mix up things and do a little bit of everything. He liked to talk about making communication between QB and play callers more simplified.

At Minnesota the offense was very straight forward.  Run Adrian Peterson on first and second down, and then pass on third down if needed.  The offense was a little more conservative than the approach at Kansas City with Alex Smith.  With Adrian Peterson as your running back, there are worse options.  Chris Ponder was the quarterback for most of the time, and he never grew into a good player.

Is he the right fit for Oakland?:

I think if the Raiders hired him as a quarterbacks coach, that this would have been a good hire.  I think he’s solid and even with some fails he’s had some success too, and he’s a hard worker.  The hopes are that he can help David Carr grow into a pocket quarterback that can command an offense.  If he can do that alone, this will be a good hire.  For those that cringed every time they saw Greg Olsen call a play, this is an upgrade by subtraction.

As an offensive coordinator this seems to obviously be a Jacksonville reunion with Mike Tice and Bill Musgrave working with head coach Jack Del Rio in the past.  It’s hard to think Del Rio wasn’t the reason for the Musgrave hire.  Musgrave struggled a lot though so it’s a surprise.

As an offensive coordinator, he was a nightmare in his first 4 jobs and his teams have mildly improved as he has gotten more experience.  He’s never had a top 12 offense and to think that all of a sudden the Raiders are going to turn into juggernauts is hopeful at best.  Let’s face it; it’s a league of talent though and if you have the talent, success will follow.

I think the love for some fans with Mark Trestman was strange.  Trestman never called the plays or made the game plans when Jon Gruden was here; Gruden admitted he did.  Trestman was supposed to fix the Bears and his lack of leadership and passive demeanor was ripped apart by both fans and the press alike in Chicago.  Epic fail.  Trestman wanted the Raider OC job; he said so in the press; but the Raiders obviously didn’t want him and it was a good move not to hire him.

This is another head scratcher in a long decade of head scratching hires by the Raiders.  I like Mike Tice but this one is puzzling. Del Rio obviously feels comfortable with him and hopes that he can help David Carr grow.

I think Jack Del Rio is an upgrade at head coach.  Even though they are a train wreck right now and 3-4 years away from being good, it’s hard to watch the Chicago Bears hire John Fox and DC Vic Fangio; two coaches with Super Bowl experience and who have had a ton of success; and then watch the Raiders hire Bill Musgrave; well, as they say, it is what it is.  The hope is that somehow with the Raiders rebuilding their talent pool on offense, this will work out in Oakland and Carr and the offense will grow with Musgrave at the helm.  I think he may do well for a while and be a stepping stone, but it’s hard to think of Bill Musgrave taking them to the highest level and raising Super Bowl trophies any time soon.

“The Truth About Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49er Fan Violence”

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“The Truth About Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49er Fan Violence”

In 2011 the Raiders played the 49ers in an exhibition game at Candlestick Park.  It was one of the most violent football games in a long time.  Not from player violence, but from fan violence.  There were shootings, stabbings and several arrests.  The violence was so shocking that the NFL talked about ending the Raiders/49ers pre season games.

Let me see if I can put this delicately.  First off, ANY fan that goes to any sporting event and fights is a TOTAL loser.  You should be jailed, and your kids, parents and grand parents should have to see video of what a drunken idiot you are.  You should have to work at a homeless shelter for 1000 hours and that is after your jail time.  You should have to wear a sign that says, “I’m a violent tool that can’t control themselves”.  Was that nice enough?

Second of all I’m sick of the San Francisco media including the SF Gate, the San Francisco Chronicle, and KNBR acting like the 49er fans are these artsy laid back pot smoking hippies that wouldn’t hurt a fly.  You get more real news from Youtube than you get from the San Francisco media who have made hiding Giants and 49ers violence an art form.  If I hear Gary Radnich of KNBR call the San Francisco fans sophisticated one more time I’ll throw up.  Some of the most violent and slimy people that have ever fought at a football game are 49er fans.  Youtube should have their own channel for them.

Local NBC bay area did a great story on the truth about fan violence in the bay area.  Even with a higher socioeconomic type of fan base at Levi’s Stadium, the Santa Clara police department reported that there were 25 arrests per game at Levi’s stadium in the first part of the season.  In contrast, the Oakland Raiders were reported to have only 12 arrests per game.

Now I’m not a mindless homer, and I’m not naive.  Some Raider fans are far from angels.  The Raider fans violence really took off in the days in Los Angeles.  The fights among L.A. Raider fans and opponents were of legend.  So many pathetic idiots committed violent assaults because someone didn’t like their team.  There were stabbings in the Los Angeles Coliseum and @ San Diego games as well as occasional shootings outside the stadium.  In Oakland before the move, the Raider fans could be nasty but they weren’t this violent.  You didn’t see fights every game or craziness.  The fans were loud, abrasive, and vulgar, but they weren’t Mike Tyson on roid rage.

What bothers me even more is what cowards these fighters are.  ALL of the videos that I saw online; and I watched about 30 of them; had one side outnumber or outsize the other one.  Most punches were thrown by losers hitting people from behind or the side or in situations where they outnumber the people they were fighting.  Wow, that kind of “courage” is pathetic.  And these people have or will have kids?  This type of parental guidance we don’t need.  No wonder America is so screwed up.

Our society is a mess right now.  Violence and vulgarity is the norm and many think it’s cool.  I just watched a 10 minute video of about 10 female 49er fans fighting 2 female Raider fans.  Stay classy.

Whenever I think of sporting fan violence I think of Bryan Stow who had his life ruined because of 2 thugs looking for trouble at Dodger stadium.  Or what about the 49er fan who was beaten by two pathetic losers in a bathroom because of a nudge?  His injuries are permanent.  His life is changed forever because of two nobody thugs.  There are dozens more experiences out there that are forgotten about quickly.

We are violent and out of control and right and wrong has little meaning anymore to many.  Social media has exposed our society as shallow, insecure, hyper sensitive and ready to rip on someone or attack someone in a second.  People don’t care about truth anymore, they care about their biased opinion and perspective.

The same people that are committing violence are also the same ones that I’m sure rip on Ray Rice and are outraged by Ferguson.  Their standards for the players and others are much higher than themselves.

This IS A GAME PEOPLE.  People are dying of deadly diseases.  Children are suffering from terrible cancers.  Big business corruption is running rampant.  Colleges are getting rich off of raising tuitions to ridiculous levels while lining their pockets.  There are school and mass shootings, sexual assaults and rapes, and so many other tragic things to be outraged about.  Yet some fans feel passionate enough about their team to get sloppy drunk and fight? Lol wow.  Use that passion and buy some toys for a children’s hospital or donate to a homeless shelter instead.

I’m so sick of fans bragging about how awesome of fans they are.  Insulting people or fighting isn’t what being a good fan is.  This isn’t high school.  There are lots of good fans but please stop being so naive.  If you were broke and needed your bills paid, none of the players or owners would help you.  They wouldn’t cross the street to shake your hand and if you were sick they wouldn’t be making you soup and getting you medicine while you are whining about how you don’t feel good.  This is a game.  Be passionate about your team and have fun with it but stop acting like your life depends on it.

To all fans that can’t hold your liquor and get into fights and bully people, I wish terrible evil karma on you.  To any fan that witnesses these types of situations; call security and make sure these scumbags go to jail.  It’s time to make a change.

“The Greatest Defensive Backfield of all time! The Oakland Raiders Soul Patrol”

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There will never be a defensive backfield like the Oakland Raiders Soul Patrol of the 1970’s ever again.  They were the most intimidating and greatest group of all time.

The 70’s will always be remembered as the greatest era for the NFL.  It’s the era when there were many great teams and great quarterbacks.  Without a salary cap some backups on the great teams could start elsewhere.  Defenses could do as they please with little to no protection for QB’s and WR’s.  Television helped make the Superbowl become a must see event.  Teams like the Raiders, Steelers, Dolphins, Chiefs, Cowboys and Vikings made this a decade of excellence.  The Steel Curtain, the No Name Defense, Doomsday, and the Purple People Eaters are all revered names in NFL lore.  When the Steelers met the Raiders in the mid 70’s, there were no less than 22 hall of fame coaches, owners, and players on the field at one time.  That will never happen again.

“There was nothing like them”, said HOF QB Fran Tarkenton about the Soul Patrol in a KNBR radio interview.  “In 1979 the NFL created the 5 yard chuck rule because of Atkinson, Tatum, Brown, Thomas and the Raiders.  Wide Receivers could not get off the line of scrimmage against them.  Atkinson and Tatum and the rest of the gang were so physical and strong that I’d have to wait and hope my guys could get open before I got killed”.

The wide receivers of the 70’s never get their due because their numbers weren’t the pinball numbers of today.  In today’s NFL, if you exhale near a receiver it is a penalty.  In the 1970’s it was literally survival of the fittest.  They had to worry about the great physical play of the era and you could not be a wide receiver unless you could go over the middle. I’ve seen pass interference penalties in today’s game where a defensive back literally brushed by a player.  The rules are so comical now that records are being broken almost weekly.  The 70’s on the other hand was an extremely brutal and tough era, and the most talented and toughest defensive backfield of them all was the Soul Patrol in Oakland.

Oakland the King of Professional Sports:

The center of the sporting world in the 70’s was Oakland California.  In 1975 a team lead by superstar Rick Barry silenced all the east coast and their writers by sweeping the Washington Bullets for the NBA title after writers practically laughed at their chances.  The Oakland A’s dynasty had an amazing 3 straight World Series Championships beating national league royalty in the Dodgers, Reds, and NY Mets.  And then oh by the way, for a 25 year stretch the Raiders were the winningest team in all of US sports with several division titles, and 3 superbowl wins.  No city ever had so many titles in such a short time.

The Soul Patrol embodied what the Oakland Raiders were all about.  They were tough, borderline dirty, intimidating and extremely confident.  Each member played their role in a defense that still today is revered.

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George Atkinson Jr.:  (“Butch” 6’ 0”; 180 lbs.)

There may have never been a tougher Raider than George Atkinson.  Listed as 6 feet 1 inch tall, many say it was more like 5’ 11” but no one had the guts to tell him that.

Atkinson was an intimidator that roamed the field like a lion ready to pounce.  He was the trash talker of the group often seen taunting and intimidating players that were much bigger than he was.  He once broke Russ Francis nose with a vicious forearm hit, and his hits against Lynn Swann of the Steelers are a part of NFL history.  He had blazing speed and in fact still holds the single game record for punt return yardage for the Raiders at 205 yards.

Atkinson took it very personally when someone tried to block him low.  He learned from Tatum to go after a Wide Receiver if they tried to hit their knees or ankles.  In some films you can actually see Raiders defensive backs going towards blockers to actually hit them after they tried to hit them low.  All time great Paul Warfield once said when you went over the middle against Oakland and didn’t account for Tatum and Atkinson, you would not be in the game long without being carried off the field.  Against the run, he could go through blockers and make amazingly hard tackles.  If you ran wide against the Raiders, their DB’s would make you pay.  Atkinson loved to make players pay.

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Willie Brown:  (6’ 1”; 195 lbs.)

Amazingly Hall of Famer Willie Brown was never drafted when he graduated from Grambling St.  He was signed by the Buffalo Bills who cut him and then he was picked up by the Denver Broncos.  He soon became an all star but was traded to the Raiders in 1967 where he played for the rest of his career.  Unlike the other 3 members of the soul patrol, Brown was fast, graceful and laid back.  He wasn’t a talker but a great defender who was a shut down corner. He had good size and played the run very well, but he was a master of the bump and run man to man game that the Raiders loved so much.  His famous interception in the Superbowl with the great announcer Bill King’s call of old man Willie is as famous as any highlight NFL films has.

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Skip Thomas CB (Dr. Death; 6’ 1”; 205 lb.):

In a day when cornerbacks were just as important in attacking the run as they did the pass, Skip “Dr. Death” Thomas role was to make everyone that came near him remember that he hit them.  What is funny is he was nicknamed Dr. Death by Raiders great Bob Brown who said Skip Thomas looked like the cartoon character Dr. Death.

Skip Thomas was a vicious tackler who was the king of the clothesline tackle.  Many times his padded arm was seen knocking the ball out of wide receivers hands.  When he hit people, sometimes he would actually launch his whole body and his arm swung like a Russian sickle.  It was intimidating, violent and sent the message to not come his way.  He had a two year stretch of 6 interceptions per year.  Due to the great talent of Willie Brown, teams would try to pick on Skip Thomas and usually the results were not good.

People forget that in the Super Bowl, Minnesota moved their fine wide receiver Sammy White around so that Thomas mostly guarded him in the first half.  White didn’t  catch a pass in the first half and Thomas was on him like glue.  As the great Raiders announcer Bill King once said, “the Raiders have 3 safeties when Dr. Death was playing cornerback”.

Sadly and ironically he passed away too soon in 2011 also at the age of 61, but he will always be remembered for his talent, toughness and personality as one of the great members of the Soul Patrol.

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Jack Tatum Safety (Assassin; 5’ 10”, 205 lb.):

If Atkinson was the voice of the Soul Patrol, Tatum was the heart.  Ronnie Lott called him his inspiration and the standard bearer for all NFL safeties.  John Clayton said there was never a harder hitting safety in the NFL.  Once during the Super Bowl break, the NFL Show with Cris Collinsworth and Chris Berman were discussing players that should be in the Hall of Fame, and to a man they all said the same name; Jack Tatum.

He may have been the most intimidating force in NFL history this side of Dick Butkus. John Madden said many times he was mentally saddled with the hit on Darryl Stingley which paralyzed Stingley for the rest of his life.  Many close to Tatum said he really never got over it up to his death in 2010 at the age of 61 due to complications from diabetes.

Earl Campbell said no one ever hit him harder than his touchdown run where he and Tatum hit head on.  Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton said he thought Tatum knocked Sammy White’s head off in the Superbowl hit that Tatum laid on him when the Raiders dominated the Minnesota Vikings.  Even his counterpart George Atkinson said once, “he hit a tough Denver TE Riley Odoms so hard it sounded like a gun shot.  Odoms was in agony and his eyes rolled back.  I thought he had killed him”.

I remember a story that Ahmad Rashad told.  He said that days before the Vikings were to play the Raiders in the Superbowl, Tatum had walked into a room where the Vikings were relaxing and playing cards.  Tatum walked into the room and into the closet and just stood there for a couple of minutes.  He then walked out of the closet and left.  Rashad said that not one Viking laughed or said a word until they saw Tatum walking out of the building.  Rashad said that it was a mind game of intimidation and he said it worked.  He said, “we laughed; we just made sure Tatum couldn’t hear us”.

Tatum was a linebacker playing safety.  He also was dominating against the run and would take on guards and tackles at any given notice.  Many game films show Tatum chasing blockers trying to hit them before the blockers would try to block him.  Tatum was vicious, fearless and ready to hit anyone.  He epitomized the great physical play of the day, and what the Raiders defense always tried to do; stop the run and make the quarterback go down, and go down hard. With a good pass rush, the Raiders defense was hard to beat as was seen in their dominance.  I would like to do an in depth article just on Jack alone in the future.

Jim’s Jamz:

With today’s rules there will never be hits and aggressive play like the Soul Patrol did.  Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers pretty much do as they please and the Soul Patrol would not be allowed to do what they did best; intimidate, make plays, and be legends.  In the most physical era, the Soul Patrol was like a pack of wolves ready to take down any sized prey.  They remain the greatest defensive backfield of all time.

“Easy & Fast Decadent Shortbread”

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“Easy & Fast Decadent Shortbread”

This is the fastest and easiest way I know to make amazing short bread cookies.  I used unsalted sweet butter and it is so tasty.  Eat it with my nutella hot chocolate, a cup of great coffee, or with a great brandy, cognac or glass of wine.  With a cold glass of milk, you are in heaven.

You can’t stop eating these amazing favorites!  I always try to make a double batch because they are so addicting!  Enjoy and save one for me!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Preparation:

Cream sugar and butter. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour and mix thoroughly. Turn out onto a surface floured with remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Knead dough until it cracks on surface. Roll out 1/4-inch thick and cut out with cutters. Prick cookies with fork tines and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 275° for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Makes about 2 dozen shortbread cookies.

Suggestions: 

-I sprinkle a little sugar on the top of mine before baking.  I’ve even used colored sugar for a unique look.  This is not an overly sweet cookie; the key to the taste is the butter.

-Dont use margarine!

-If you dont eat them right away, let them cool and store in an air tight container and they will stay good for days.  I’m sure they wont last hours though.

“Derek Carr is a Breath of Fresh Air in an NFL Lacking in Leadership”

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“Derek Carr is a Breath of Fresh Air in an NFL Lacking in Leadership”

In the last 2 weeks we’ve seen the best and worst of what the NFL has to offer in regards to leadership. Some passed, some were epic fails.

The Chicago Bears are a very proud organization, but it took a deep step backwards in their last game against their arch rival, the Green Bay Packers.   At half time the Packers were winning 42-0. For the first time in 94 years a team had given up over 50 points in consecutive games.

The comments from the Packers players were strong and brutal. Wide receiver Randall Cobb said it was obvious “they laid down”. Defensive lineman Datone Jones said the Packers believe in their quarterback and it’s obvious the Bears don’t. He also said “when you don’t believe in your quarterback, you begin to just play for yourself. We don’t have that in Green Bay”.

Jay Cutler is 31 years old but with his unshaven face, he looks more like a beat up 45 year old. On the sidelines he looks bored, disinterested and distant. He also now has a reputation of being a coach killer and a player that is not liked by coaches or teammates. Add head coach Marc Trestman’s emotionless gaze, and it’s a very bad look in the windy city.

Lamarr Houston started the ball rolling with his moment in the sun for the Bears. Down by 4 touchdowns against the New England Patriots, he finally got his first sack of the year late in the fourth quarter against the Patriots backups. He decided that he needed to celebrate the moment by jumping up and dancing. Unfortunately his knee knew that 300 lb men jumping in the air isn’t ever a good idea and his knee buckled. The result was a torn ACL that would keep him out for the season. When interviewed afterwards, Houston laughed and said, “It was probably not a good thing for me to celebrate when my team was so far behind but it’s not a problem because things happen”. He sounds broken hearted (sarcastic cough).

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has struggled this year.   He’s the poster child for the cookie cutter quarterback that the NFL has created. He’s fast, super athletic and big with a strong arm. On the bad side he still struggles playing quarterback at the NFL level and at times his passes couldn’t hit water if it was dropped off a boat. Pretty much most of the college quarterbacks are more athlete than quarterback but that story is for another day.

Even though he has struggled, he has also stayed as brash and arrogant as ever.   After the 5-4 49ers beat the New Orleans Saints in overtime, he posted a photo on Twitter and Instagram to all of his “haters”. It was him putting a finger to his mouth saying “shhhhhh”. The 49er fans have never embraced Kaepernick and they never will because of this kind of brash immaturity. His over sensitivity to online criticism would borderline on bizarre if it wasn’t so prevalent with so many celebrities and athletes.

Often disgruntled and immature Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall didn’t quite like the comments made to him by a Detroit Lion fan after Chicago’s record collapse against the Packers. Marshall started a twitter fight with the fan, and we all know those end well for famous people. Marshall challenged the fan to a fight! He said that he would pay the fan up to $25,000 if the fan would fight him and beat him. The fan took him up on it telling him to come to Detroit. Reports of Don King reaching out to Marshall after his melt down were greatly exaggerated.   Brandon Marshall has done a lot of work for charity and seems to do nice things but at his age to want to fight people because he’s too insecure to handle criticism is pathetic but unfortunately the norm.

After spraining my neck from shaking my head, I then read some of the things Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. Derek Carr has shown a lot of potential and even though he struggles at times when he’s pressured, most of the signs are good.

He has shown a level headedness and calmness on the field that most young quarterbacks don’t have. He has a strong arm and is very accurate passing on the run. Again, he still has a weakness handling a pass rush and sometimes looks antsy while in the pocket but I think with experience he will become more and more comfortable.

Where Carr really excels though, is in his leadership abilities. He’s said several times that he has to play better for them to win. He’s also kept his head in talking to the media and says all of the right things. This last weekend he said he felt bad that the team has to suffer because he is learning to be a quarterback in the NFL.  Along with his humbleness, his work ethic is also turning heads and he has said a few times, “I’ll work harder than anyone”.  In today’s pass happy NFL where the rules have hamstrung defensive backs and pass rushers, it’s imperative that Carr grow into a big time passer.  NFL & team records are plummeting due to the new rules and its imperative the Raiders have a great passing game.

Derek Carr has been very old school in most of his life decisions.   While many young players are partying with groupies in clubs, the 23 year old is married, already has a child and considers his faith in God to be the most important thing in his life.   His maturity and confidence is evident on and off the field and he doesn’t get too caught up in the attention, good or bad.  It’s easy to get a big head or lose your confidence due to fan’s of today’s fervor, but he keeps an even keel with his emotions and takes things in stride.

You can also see it in the confidence that the Raiders players have in him. Many are hopeful for the future and they believe in him. Wins are going to be very hard to come by for Oakland with their brutal schedule this year, but after many failed draft picks and attempts at getting a quarterback, Carr seems to be the type of stable and talented player that the Raiders have needed for a long time; on and off the field.  His talent and leadership are becoming rare in the NFL and he’s a breath of fresh air in a league full of bad behavior.