Archive for September, 2010


Sunday, September 26th, 2010

he missed itHe missed it!

Raiders lose 24-23 at Arizona to a thoroughly undeserving Cardinal team that only had 227 total yards.

Painful loss.  Unexpected loss.  The kind which are always the most painful.  The kind of game this young team needs desperately to win to grow confidence. The Raiders had a chance to be 2-1 for the first time since 2004 and all they needed was for the highest paid kicker in the sport to kick one through from 32, or the opponents 14 yard line.  He’s made 19 in a row from that range.  19.

I was hoping it wouldn’t come down to him –  the sideline shots of Janikowski after the two misses didn’t make me feel confident?   He didn’t look right but heck, I thought, this is a gimme for any kicker, much less him, right?

I feel for Janikowski.  I’m sure however bad I feel, he feels worse.  I doubt he’s blowing it off like rookie Jacoby Ford seems to be doing if his Tweets are any judge.  Pretty sad when a fan takes a loss harder than a player.  Having too many players with that attitude is why the Raiders have been in this 7 year funk.  But back to Janikowski, three missed field goals, including a chippy game winner, should never happen with a first round pick.  I’ll say it again, the Raiders wasted a first round pick on him.  If the Raiders kept someone like Joe Nedney when they had him, they would have been better served.  Jano has been consistent in recent years, but he has lost more games than he has won in his career.

Today, I wish they hadn’t placed it in his hands so quickly.  Raiders had a first down at the 13 with 55 seconds and a time out left.  They ran the ball up the middle twice and then tried the field goal on third down.  I hate it when teams don’t try to punch it in with real football players before they leave it to a kicker.

It was a mistake-filled game by both sides, but Raiders outplayed and outgained Arizona in their opener at home.

Mistakes.  A motion penalty on Mario Henderson on a 3rd and two with about four minutes left really hurt.  First, it made converting the third down much harder (they didn’t) and it pushed Janikowski’s attempt from a 53 yarder to a 58 yarder.  He missed it as it just slid right.  It appeared the extra five yards was the difference.  I noticed that Mario slammed his helmet to the ground later when Jano missed the game winner.  Mirror, anyone?

Mistakes. Gradkowski did own up to it, but he really should have called a time out on 2nd and goal from inside the one.  He tried to beat the clock and it cost the team a probable TD.  I was just screaming at the TV as the play clock rolled down.  Then, he follows that by going twice to that famous TD machine Heyward-Bey from the six.

Mistakes.  I’m starting to see why it is that people were saying coaches wanted to cut S Mike Mitchell – he missed a tackle on the opening kickoff return that went for a TD and really does little else to distinguish himself on defense.  He was practically a first round pick, if you remember.

And what about Jason Campbell?  Trust me, if he were behind center, he would have been sacked at least five times and fumbled thrice.  Gradkowski, even with what happened today, gives them the leadership and best chance to win.  What the Raiders should have done, is make a play for Michael Vick when they had a chance.  Look at him now.  A QB that can run is what this horrendous offensive line needs.

Enough.  I need therapy now.  Please bounce back guys.


Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Raiders 16, Rams 14.

One of those wins that doesn’t necessarily make you feel too good about it.

Thank God for Bruce Gradkowski.  He’s a gritty, little guy that plays with so much spirit and brings a spark to the whole team.  I seriously doubt Campbell could have pulled out this win.  Campbell is a QB that needs his protection to be good, while Gradkowski can make things happen even if it breaks down.  He’s better at getting the ball out and the tempo up.  You won’t see Gradkowski sliding short of a first down like Campbell did last week or, like Campbell did today, throw the ball into the ground when a screen play gets read by the defense and there’s no one within ten yards…..look around and find someone else, dammit.

I do like the guy (Campbell) and obviously hope he does well, but he never impressed me at Washington and still hasn’t shown me a whole lot in Oakland.  I just think Gradkowski is a better QB for this offense due to its limitations (offensive line).

Sure, one can say a W is a W and that’s all that counts, but consider these facts:

  • The slim, 2 point win was the 2010 home opener against a team in transition, with a rookie quarterback, traveling two time zones, and without a couple of key players due to injury.  A team that has lost 26 of their last 27 games.  Not exactly a playoff caliber team.
  • Although they cranked it up in the second half, the run defense looked horrible in the first half.  I still am not impressed by the rookie MLB McClain, body slam aside.  He just makes a lot of mistakes both against the run (missed tackles and not filling holes) and the pass (see the first Ram TD).
  • LT, probably the most important position on the OL, is the weakest position on the entire team!  The Raiders were actually alternating guys in there – Mario Henderson and rookie Veldheer – neither of which reminded people of Art Shell.  Funny, but evidently Mario just now figured out how important his position is to the success of the offense and keeping his QB healthy.  He played the position for four years in college and four more in the NFL and he just realizes this?  No, actually not funny…. pathetic.  I like the guy, but from comments like these and reading his Tweets, he’s not the brightest.

What did I like about today?

  • Darren McFadden just looks like a different guy this year….and I like it.  He’s just making the first guy miss a lot more and is punishing the tackler.  He actually knocked the Ram safety out of the game in the second half.  Ran for 145 today and looked like a beast.
  • Gradkowski.  He just seems to raise everyone’s level of play.
  • Heyward-Bey dropped a long pass, but he easily had his best game ever as a pro.  That isn’t hard to do, honestly, but this is a good, hard-working kid and I hope he continues to improve.  He still has a long way to go to justify the #7 overall pick though – today he looked like a decent middle round pick.
  • Blitzing!  Maybe no one woke Al from his nap in time for the game, because the defense was sending guys quite a bit today.  It was refreshing.
  • Johnnie Lee Higgins finally looked good again returning punts.
  • Coach Cable showed guts in making the QB change at half.  If they lose to the Rams, he might have been fired by Tuesday.
  • Over 400 yards of offense, even though got just a paltry 16 points, is the best since 2005.  76 games ago.  Sad but true.
  • Defense only allowed 210 yards, most of that in the first half.
  • Gutsy performance overall, without their best O lineman (Gallery) and best D lineman (Seymour).

Overall, not a win that makes me confident about the prospects for this season.  Consider the opponent in this one.  I really hope they look for a veteran LT and a veteran WR.  Why they didn’t go after someone like Mark Clayton, I don’t know.

A much more talented Arizona team is next (on the road), so we’ll see if they can build on this one.  this is for sure – Gradkowski must stay the starter.  No way Campbell would have pulled this one out.  No way.

It Ain’t Preseason Any More

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

….Well, at least McFadden looked good.

So much for all that hope and change for a new season.  Raiders looked positively awful today in the 2010 season opener.  What is that, eight openers lost in a row?

Lone bright spot was that Darren McFadden looked almost worthy of a number one pick, finally – he ran hard, caught a few out of the backfield, and actually slipped some tackles.  Hope this is a trend.

The key was the porous OL play.  They were absolutely horrible.  I think it begins and ends there, but here are my other observations.

  • We need a WR!
  • If the rookie center was so shaky, why didn’t he play more in the preseason? He looked like he needed that last preseason game to me.
  • JaMarcus….err Jason…Campbell looked suspect and very hesitant.  He was inaccurate, got several balls batted down, and showed no cojones when he slid a yard short of a first down on a third down…..but I will reserve judgment until the OL improves. Campbell is a classy guy, teammates respect him, and he says all the right things.  He deserves success, but needs to stop staring down his receiver.
  • Highly touted rookie LB Rolondo McClain did not impress.  He was held on a TD run, but in general was taken out of plays and was not around the ball much for a MLB.  Six tackles and I bet most were at least five yards downfield.  Rolondo still says that the NFL is no different from the SEC, so he should be dominating, right?
  • We need a WR badly!
  • Someone needs to light a fire under Mario Henderson.  He needs to get mean and stop playing like a girl. Granted, the Tennessee RDE was jumping the count early (looked offsides but wasn’t called), but it doesn’t excuse the fact that he didn’t move with him and block him.  And he stood around while there was a loose ball in the backfield.  He may get Campbell injured unless he buckles up.
  • Why didn’t Campbell use a hard count early to slow down the jump they were getting?  Rookie center perhaps?  If so, that’s a bad excuse.  This isn’t rocket science.
  • Let’s put it this way about the WR corps – Yamon Figurs looked like the best of the lot.  He barely made the team.  He has four catches in three years.
  • Lots of big holes were opened for titan runners and compounded by missed tackles.  I’m a big fan of Tyvon Branch, but he had a terrible game.
  • Note to Campbell:  You need to get those screen passes over those defensive linemen, kay?
  • Way to pull out the three man rush, defensive coordinator.  It guaranteed a third and long conversion as usual.
  • Where was the pass rush?  Aside from some pressure early, there was very little put on Young.  Where was Trevor Scott?  Generally, looks to me like weakness at that part of the line on offense (LT) and defense (RDE) will be the Raiders’ undoing – can’t pressure the opposing QB’s blind side and can’t protect your own QB’s blind side.
  • Who was supposed to be covering Nate Washington on the first TD?  Seems there are way too many blown coverages.  I thought the cover concept was KISS, but evidently not simple enough.

The shot of Al Davis watching the fiasco was truly sad.  He looked sick and frail.  He looked like an old man who has no business managing a professional football franchise, especially considering the team’s performance, personnel decisions, and dysfunctional relationship with the media this past seven years.  Please hire a GM, Mr. Davis!  Please stop vetoing coaches’ decisions, like the reported Mike Mitchell release.  Please fire Herrera or at least relegate him to pushing your wheel chair and not speaking to the media.

More bad news for Raiders: Rams looked pretty good in a close loss to Arizona and Raiders wish they had the #1 overall QB pick this year vice three years ago.  What used to look like a certain W is now a real toss up.

Hope has turned to depression.