Posts Tagged ‘AlDavis’

Just Sayin’

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Things are just bad and I don’t see it getting better this season.

How bad?

Well, besides the huge embarrassment of historic proportions last weekend, luck is just not on the Raiders’ side…again.  What does it say when your prize draft pick who was supposed to be the dynamo of the offense has not one, but two, turf toes?  When your top, pass rushing defensive end has been out with a triceps injury?  When your stud special teams player and nickel back hurts his shoulder when he falls down on his own returning a kickoff?

It’s not going to get better on defense with Al Davis’ scholarship player, Sam Williams, starting at outside linebacker.  The Raiders are also very weak at the point of attack at defensive end with either Kalimba Edwards or rookie Trevor Scott starting.  And the most depressing thing about it is that Rob Ryan is still the Raider defensive coordinator.

On offense, Russell needs to improve or bust talk will really accelerate.  Regardless of the supporting cast, he just hasn’t looked good at all.  The problems at fullback with Justin Griffith’s injury is  another key to the offense’s regression, along with the disappearing act of the entire cast of wide receivers.  It’s really shocking how low their production has been.  They have to be approaching some kind of record.  I’m very disappointed to see how poorly one of my favorite Raiders, Ronald Curry, has been playing. Now, he’s not happy and sees himself elsewhere next year.  He should look in the mirror and realize that he’s been benched because of his dropped balls and look to improve and get back on the field.  I don’t know why he seems so baffled at his benching, although the lack of communication between him and coach is troubling, if true.

I guess in the bigger picture, the Raiders problems are nothing compared to the trials and tribulations that everyday life provide.  It is only a game after all.  A game played by millionaires, mostly.  To put everything in perspective, read about Jim Otto and what he’s going through in his life after football.

Raider Nadir

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

russell_downRock Bottom.

“During the week, we look like a Super Bowl team,” said safety Gibril Wilson, a starter on last year’s Super Bowl champion New York Giants. “Then we come out on Sunday and we’re damn near the laughingstock of the league, and it’s ridiculous. I’ve never been in a situation where it’s been like this.”

“That was a disgrace,” Robert Gallery said.

…Three first downs is the fewest in Raiders history. Disgraceful enough that one Falcons employee coming off the field shook his fist and triumph and said, “We played more quarters than they got first downs.” Disgraceful enough to be outgained 453-77, the lowest offensive output by the Raiders since 1961, which pre-dated Al Davis by two years.

Keep in mind that Gibril’s defense practices against the sorry Raider offense.  Maybe practicing well doesn’t mean much in the Raiders’ case.

Is this the worst team in Raider history?

Everyone has his or her personal favorite stat from this game, and here’s mine: The Falcons racked up 23 first downs before the Raiders got their first one.

While Atlanta’s rookie quarterback Matt Ryan carved up the Raiders by completing 17 of 22 passes, Russell, the Raiders’ second-year quarterback, fell through a trap door.

Russell hit at least three of his intended receivers on their shoelaces. He way overthrew a very-wide-open receiver downfield. On a pass attempt with no defender touching him, Russell had the ball squirt out of his hand for a lost fumble.

So, as of the halfway point of the 2008 season, two rookie QBs (Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan) and one second year QB (Trent Edwards) have totally schooled the Raider number one overall pick in 2007.  If Russell ends up being a bust, and he’s looking like one at this point, chalk another one up for Al Davis going for combine numbers over football skills.  Many will say I’m being unfair because of the state of this team and particularly the offense, but a number one overall should come in and contribute immediately and elevate the team around him.  Russell is not doing that.

I’m rooting for him.  Hard.  But I have a sinking feeling.

Not Easy in the Big Easy

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

JamarcusWell, the Cable era didn’t exactly get off to a very good start.

The Raiders had two weeks to prepare for this?  Granted, there was the whole coach firing thing, but still.  The team looked flat and listless.

The Raiders went up 3-0, after once again failing to score a touchdown in the red zone.   Then, I kept waiting….and waiting….and waiting…for some sign of life from that offense.

It never came.  The Raiders never scored again and lost 34-3.

Funny thing is, they were just down 10-3 halfway through the third but the defense just couldn’t get off the field and the offense was impotent.

Here’s where I have to mention my concern about Jamarcus Russell.  Granted, he’s little more than a rookie, but look at other rookie QBs like Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan.  No one’s making excuses for them and they weren’t the number one overall pick in the entire draft.  I love the guy’s coolness and leadership and, of course, his raw physical ability, but one word sums up my biggest concern about him….

Accuracy.

To be a successful QB in the NFL, you gotta have accuracy.  Drew Brees has it and unfortunately it was on display today.  Who cares if you can throw the ball 70 yards from your knees if you can’t hit someone with the throw?  Russell missed Miller for a probable early touchdown.  Later, Russell missed a deep throw to a wide open Schilens.  He could have underthrown the ball by ten yards and still gotten the TD.  Instead, he overthrew it terribly.  These were not isolated instances.  His lack of accuracy was on display all day as he only completed about one of every three throws.   He could have, indeed should have, had at least five balls intercepted.  Yeah, everyone has bad days, but JaMarcus has been missing guys all season long.  The offensive line protection was pretty decent all day at New Orleans, so no excuses there.

I can already hear people saying, “but his wide receivers aren’t very good and his timing with them is off”.  I don’t buy that.  An open receiver is an open receiver.  He’s had a full camp and the timing with these guys should be there by now.  It’s week five.

I just hope that he improves, but I hate to say that accuracy is usually something you either have or you don’t.

Until he hopefully improves that critical part of his game, he needs to get better in a several more areas: ball protection, running when it’s there to run, and throwing into coverage.  He needs to wrap up the ball when he gets hit.  Most of his fumbles were just due to carelessness, not violent hits.  Today, against New Orleans, he had at least two chance to run for big yards and instead forced the ball downfield.  I just hope the coaches aren’t telling him not to run.  He’s a big, 265 pound man.  He can take a hit and probably deliver some to those small DBs.  One more thing, why is he sitting back on the bench when the defense is on the field?  At least the cameras always catch him there.  Shouldn’t he be watching a guy like Brees to see how he operates to learn something?  Just saying.

“You have to use him as a model if you are the Oakland Raiders,” said new Oakland coach Tom Cable, who took over last week for the fired Lane Kiffin. “That’s where we want (Russell) to get.”

I don’t mean to diss on JaMarcus so much, but these things really concern me.  I’m obviously going to root for him to succeed but I’m just a little worried.

My concerns about JaMarcus are mirrored on the defensive side of the ball by Michael Huff.  What’s with this guy?  Besides letting journeyman tight ends get behind him, he doesn’t even appear to have the speed he was touted to have coming out of college.  Could he be on the way to bustville like Fabian Washington, Derrick Gibson, Phillip Buchanon (now starting at Tampa, by the way), and Stuart Schweigert?

My favorite defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan, had another magnificent game today.  I lost count of how many three man rushes he called on passing downs.  I don’t think that worked very well (again!), Rob.  Brees was 26 of 30 for 320 yards.  He was without his best pass rusher, Derrick Burgess, and he still played soft.  Brees was comfortable in the pocket all game.  Brees reminds me so much of the last, great Raider quarterback, Rich Gannon, it’s maddening.

“I wasn’t feeling pressure all day,” Brees said. “We knew the type of pass rush this defense could bring. I felt like we held most of those guys at bay.”

Lastly, what about Al Davis’ brilliant waste of a first round pick – Sebastian Janikowski.  I don’t care if he owns all the Raider kicking records.  He was picked that high so he could make those 50+ yard field goals.  He missed two today.  And he’s lost many more games by missing chippies than he has won.  Look it up.

Hey Al, Tuesday is the trading deadline.  Can we order a wide receiver that can get open?

Bizarro World

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

I think he conned me like he conned all you people.
Al Davis on Lane Kiffin

At least this team keeps things interesting, even when they’re struggling.

Should we have seen this coming when Davis called Kiffin “Lance” at the opening press conference?

Even by Raider standards, today was a strange, stunning day.

Al Davis finally fired Lane Kiffin as Head Coach and gave a long, detailed press conference.  If everything is true – from the Arkansas job interest to lying to the press – it’s hard to argue with the dismissal.  Actually, it begs the question as to why he wasn’t fired earlier.

In retrospect, I was giving Lane a lot of leeway because he’s a young coach, learning the ropes.  Al Davis even mentioned this.  Kiffin was just not a good Head Coach yet.  In fact, he did some really bad coaching.  His clock management the last two weeks was atrocious.  Davis also mentioned asking him why he didn’t call the time outs in Buffalo and was given an “unacceptable” answer.  His offensive play calling did not produce touchdowns.  His offensive playcalling couldn’t even produce critical first downs and third down conversions when it meant the difference between a win and a loss.

It’s also disappointing to hear that he didn’t want to pick JaMarcus.  The letter Al Davis displayed at the presser stated that fact and some other interesting things, including the fact that he did have control over what was called on defense.  So if he had control, why didn’t he tell Ryan to be more aggressive (i.e. blitz) on defense, especially in that national TV embarrassment on Monday night?

This whole thing can become even more weird tomorrow when Kiffin gives us his side of the story.  Interesting though, that Kiffin skirted the question on BSPN about talking to Al after the Buffalo game.

I really like Tom Cable.  He impressed me in his press conference.  I love the fact that he said he was a Raider fan growing up as a kid and how this is a dream of his.  He is undoubtedly an excellent Offensive Line coach and looks to be a great motivator.  Now let’s see if he makes a good Head Coach.  I’ve got a good feeling about this guy.

Then again, can things get worse?

Update:  Maybe even better than the press conference itself, were Al’s post-PC ramblings as transcribed by the notorious Tim Kawakami.

White Tornado, Part Deux

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Or….just get weirder.

This article seems so long ago (11 years), but it sadly could’ve been written today.

Uhhh, wait a minute, things are probably even more bizarro in Raiderland today.

What with the press conference where Senior Executive John Herrera almost came to blows with a sarcastic sports writer, a defensive coordinator who doesn’t know how to coordinate, and a Head Coach who has no say in his coaches are, who his players are, and is rumored to be fired daily.

Besides the comments in the 1996 SI article from former Raiders Steve Smith, Greg Skrepenak, Harvey Williams, Marcus Allen, Winston Moss, Ronnie Lott, Steve Beuerlein, Chester McGlockton, Tim Brown, and Patrick Bates, we have the recent comments from Rich Gannon:

“It’s like I’ve said many times, every day was a fight inside that building to do what we did,” said Gannon, now a TV commentator. “We had to overcome adversity in the building and then get on a plane to go try to beat Denver.

“When I played in Kansas City, all I had to do was walk in the door. I didn’t have to worry about guys showing up late for practice or meetings, guys being out drinking until 3 a.m. or missing curfew the night before games. In Kansas City, that stuff didn’t happen. In Oakland, it was an everyday occurrence.”

“What you have left is all these guys (owner) Al (Davis) loves; these disaffected, talented guys who are only marginally productive and weren’t really even all that productive in college,” one unnamed former Raiders employee said. “They don’t care about winning, but (those are) the guys who are supposedly the leaders.”

How archaic are the Raiders’ business practices? How disorganized are they?

“You want to know how far behind the times he is? He still signs everybody’s expense forms,” another unnamed former employee said. “Not a dollar gets spent in that place that he doesn’t have a say about.”

“They say there are 32 organizations in the NFL, but really it’s only 31,” one former Raiders player said. “The Raiders aren’t an organized team.”

“The first step to rebuilding the team is to tell the owner not to walk in the door ever again. The next is to get rid of the front office and then all the personnel people … There’s no structure in place. That’s why nothing is going to change,” said another former Raiders player.

With what’s happening these days (heck, these last several years) around Raiders HQ, even a loyal fan like me can’t argue with these comments.

When can we get back to “just winning, baby”?

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Ryan to be next Head Coach of the Raiders?

Maybe before you read this?

“Hell, somebody had to stand up and be a leader on this team,” one Raiders source said proudly in the postgame locker room Sunday, praising Ryan’s stance against Kiffin. “Rob acted like a leader. He stood up for this team and these players. He took responsibility. Unlike the head coach.”

By doing so, Ryan probably assured himself of becoming the 17th head coach in Raiders history when Davis finally decides he’s had enough of Kiffin.

…. “He’s ready,” another Raiders source said of Ryan as Kiffin’s replacement.

So much for speaking your mind and telling it like it is. I guess those aren’t leadership qualities that Al Davis is looking for. I missed the part in leadership training where they say “being a yes man” is a desired leadership trait.  The source above pretty much said that’s what a leader is to the old man.  Loyalty is one thing, blindly following your leader over a cliff is quite another.

If there’s anything good to come out of this, it’s that maybe Ryan will no longer be defensive coordinator.  But that’s probably too much to ask for.

Victory is Ours, but……

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

Another blown callI’ll get to the “but” part later.

The Raiders ran for a whopping 300 yards and defeated the Chiefs in Kansas City, 23-8.  It wasn’t pretty and the Chiefs came back to within a score late in the fourth, even with their 3rd string QB, but the Raider running game looked strong and the defense went after them.

What a difference from the passive defensive plan that Rob Ryan employed last week.  Could it be that Kiffin’s comments, the fan outrage, and the media ridicule made Ryan reacquaint himself with the concept of a blitz?  I still think the guy is a terrible defensive coordinator because one good game against a hobbled and mediocre team does not redeem five years of bad football.

Besides opening it up and mixing in some blitzes, Ryan had Kalimba Edwards back to rush the passer at RDE and Derrick Burgess finally looked like his old self at RDE.  Last week, rookie Trevor Scott was swallowed up on every play and Burgess was invisible.  DT Gerard Warren had an excellent game as well.

Props to all the running backs – Fargas, McFadden, and Bush, but the most credit should go to the offensive line.  It’s pretty obvious where their strengths lie – the running game.  If they can just improve their pass protection, this unit will be solid.  I was very worried about the left OT situation with Kwame Harris out, but “super” Mario Henderson looked pretty darn good going against a decent DE in Hali.  The Raiders made sure they kept most plays going right, but the young guy acquitted himself very well.

Some random notes:  Higgins looked much better than last year as a return man, but then again he had a return where he tried to reverse field and went backwards.  What happened to Ronald Curry’s hands?  Is Javon Walker ever going to be a factor?  Tyvon Branch looks like a player!  DeAngelo Hall still looks shaky to me.  How did McFadden, with his 4.33 speed, get caught from behind on his long run?  Why doesn’t a professional announcer and a former pro QB not know the rules for touching the ball on punts?

Again, Raider fans should temper their enthusiasm because of the weak opponent, the fact that the opponent had a chance to tie the game late, 55 yards passing is not something to write home about, and the “but” part I alluded to earlier…

He (Kiffin) saw a reporter and said, “See you later . . . maybe,” before ducking behind a red curtain. The he poked his head back out and added with a playful grin, “If I don’t, it’s been good.” ….more

There are reports that Kiffin will be fired by Monday, regardless of the game’s outcome.  If true, this is ludicrous.  Raider fans should all boycott Davis and not attend games or buy merchandise.  I sincerely hope this is media fabrication or just some sportswriter hazarding a guess based on the bizarre week leading up to the game.  From the writer’s perspective, he can just say he was fed bogus info if he’s wrong.  If he’s right, he gets credit for breaking the story.

Here are some disturbing signs that this may actually happen:

  • Davis reportedly saying, “He’s not the guy I hired.”
  • Kiffin always referring to Davis as “the owner”, which Davis may take as a sign of disrespect.
  • The crazy press conference that Ryan had where he disputed (and contradicted himself) the Ryan-as-Davis-stooge theory.
  • This quote from Kiffin, “We don’t have a general manager; everything goes through the owner.  That sets up a difficult situation at times. Knowing who the owner is, you know from Day 1 there’s no job security.”

After a day where Raider fans taste sweet victory over a hated rival and have some hope for the rest of the season, it may turn bittersweet by this time tomorrow.

(PS In honor of the blown call by Ed Hochuli that gave the Denver Broncos a second life vs the Chargers (and led to victory), the photo above shows another call the zebras missed on Sunday. It was called an incomplete pass and took a sack away from Burgess and the Raiders. It wasn’t reviewed. By the way, that bad call by Hochuli was exactly like the play where Russell fumbled near the goal line last week vs Denver.)

D-ysfunctional

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Rob Ryan has spoken.

I’ll give him credit for taking the blame for the horrendous display of defense Monday night, but his rant brings up more questions.

Does this guy really think he still has great players?  The D-line got no sacks and there were no recorded QB pressures or passes batted down.  That’s really rare in the NFL.  I don’t care what defense is called.

Ryan first said that he never talks to “the owner” (as Kiffin described him), then later said he had a conversation with Davis the week leading up to the game about Fred Wakefield.  Which is “the truth” that he was so forcefully alluding to?

Does Ryan honestly think that DeAngelo Hall had a bad game because of the defensive calls?  Is everyone who watched the game wrong?  Even Cutler said after the game that they were playing man to man and Royal was just whipping him all night long.

I’ll have to fire up the Tivo to find the “max pressure” play he said the Raiders got burnt on.  And even if they did, does that mean you stop blitzing all together?  Hey Rob, try calling blitzes when the offense doesn’t have max protection.  Try disguising your defense.  Try sending 1 or 2 guys from different positions to keep the offense guessing.

According to numbers compiled by Stats LLC, the Raiders blitzed just four times on 59 total plays in the opener. Three of those came on pass plays, with Cutler completing two and not getting sacked a single time. Last year, Oakland’s 74 blitzes were tied for the fewest with Indianapolis.

What’s with Ryan living in the past?  He mentioned his great coaching history at least twice.  Well, the Raider had a great history until he came on board five years ago and coached the defense into the ground.  He has the gall to take credit for the highly ranked pass defense from a couple of years ago, even though it’s been pretty much proven that that statistic was a mirage and the result of the horrific run defense.

Sorry, but Ryan should have been let go.  He should be in NYC pissing off Jet fans.  Instead, “the owner” may end up promoting him to Head Coach.  Now that’s scary.

The Raider soap opera continues…..

Comedy, Drama, and Hope

Monday, January 28th, 2008

First a little black comedy break courtesy of Deadspin, when it was disclosed that the guy that died in the San Francisco Zoo tiger attack was a Raider fan:

Do Raiders fans have the worst damned luck on the planet? The “tuck rule“, the “Immaculate Reception”, and now they’re literally getting eaten by tigers?

And that was before the latest Raider drama with Coach Kiffin.

The most loyal of fans are being tested.

I do feel a little better after finding out that Kiffin and Knapp actually did the interviewing today with James Lofton, possibly for a WR coaching position. The Saunders interview rumor may be just that because his own agent denied he was going to talk to the Raiders.

Kiffin now looks like he’s staying, but will he be powerless with respect to coaching hiring/firing and draft decisions? His participation in the Lofton interview shows that he’ll have input, but I believe that he’ll have to pass everything by Al and the fact that he reportedly didn’t when he reportedly attempted to fire Defensive Coordinator Ryan and DL Coach Millard helped to cause this rift.

Did trading that ultimate team player, Randy Moss, for peanuts hurt?  Maybe.

Did sitting Russell and Rhodes until late in the season hurt? Maybe.

The interest in college jobs also affected their relationship, as John Herrera has pretty much admitted. To Al Davis, loyalty is maybe the most important trait a Raider employee can have. Ask Marcus Allen. If Kiffin did have wandering eyes, especially as a first year Head Coach under contract for three, you can’t blame Al for getting pissed. I’m not defending Davis, because I think this whole thing was handled terribly. I just think we, as fans, don’t know everything that transpired, and perhaps never will…again, like the Marcus Allen fiasco.

We’ll probably all know a little more by the end of this week, but I’ll echo Coach Kiffin when asked if he’ll be back to coach the Raiders, “I hope so”.

Commitment to Disorder

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Dark LordFor Raider fans, when the words of Ray Ratto actually ring true, you know things are bad in Raider Nation.

Maybe we don’t know everything yet. Maybe Kiffin did something really outrageous to warrant this letter of resignation. I hope we soon find out and this thing gets resolved, because it’s pure poison to the team.

After all, the Team is what we loyal fans care about. What are the players thinking? The rest of the league is laughing at us. What free agent in his right mind would want to come and play here? And the Team needs players….bad.

I’m more of a pessimist by nature, but the signs aren’t good. Too many sources are confirming this story:

I spoke with someone familiar with the Raiders’ situation within the last hour that confirmed ESPN’s report that Al Davis sent Lane Kiffin a letter of resignation to sign….But the more I hear about the dysfunction in Raiderland, I’m convinced Al Davis will do everything he can to get rid of Kiffin….The Raiders deny all of this. But these things don’t fall out of the sky….From what I hear from The Bee’s Matt Barrow’s, the friction between Kiffin and Rob Ryan was obvious at the Senior Bowl. Jason Jones

I wanted to clarify if the Raiders were denying the entire report after I was told by a very reliable source that hasn’t been wrong once that Al Davis did send Kiffin a letter asking for his resignation. Jason Jones

The letter hasn’t been seen, but too many people know about it, and have spoken quietly about it for the better part of a week. Ray Ratto

According to SI’s Don Banks and the Chronicle’s Nancy Gay , Kiffin has been exiled by Davis.

Of course, add to that ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and NFL Network’s Adam Schefter.

And remember, the Raider denials never deny that Kiffin was asked to resign.

Unless Kiffin kicked Al’s walker from under him, I don’t see what he could have done to warrant this. Sure, he made some mistakes his first year. The Raiders lost many 4th qtr leads. Clock management could have been better. But the team was competitive and the players, for the most part, played hard for him. The defense was the biggest disappointment, and he wanted to fix that, rightly in my opinion, by firing Rob Ryan. That potential firing was further justified by Ryan’s ridiculous post-season comments. Al stopping this from happening is further proof that he should retire from personnel and coaching decisions. Al also is evidently upset that the cancer named Randy Moss was traded. Did he actually think he would perform for this team?

I’ll be watching the Senior Bowl closely today, hoping that we get some comments from Kiffin at some point. If all we get is more “no comment”, then that’s bad news.

Might I add: the Raiders came out with a strongly worded denial of Ryan’s departure – again, one firing that should have occured – but besides John Herrera and Amy Trasks comments (when asked), they have not done the same for their young Head Coach.

That’s not right.  That is, if things are right in Raiderland.