Sunday, December 16, 2018

Bengals Gameday Thread

Mark Davis swears he's been letting the GM and head coach make the call on football and personnel decisions. Amari Cooper swears that Mark Davis traded him against Gruden's wishes.

If you wonder why the Raiders have become a perennial clownshow, here you go.

First of all, let's dispense with the idea that Reggie McKenzie had much authority this year. If he did, that would mean that Davis let a guy he was going to fire before the season's end make irreparable decisions that will impact the team for years (which would probably be even worse than the two scenarios outlined above). Plus, do you really think that Reggie was all gangbusters on dismantling his own roster and shipping off two of his few biggest draft accomplishments? Nope. He was neutered from the start.

So that means when Mark Davis says he's been letting the GM and head coach make the call on football decisions, it's code for Jon Gruden, ie: The Gruden Show. All of it. Mack, Cooper, Martavis Bryant, roster dismantling and the upcoming draft. This would square with paying the man $100 million and giving him a 10-year contract. As goes Gruden, so go the Raiders.  

(McKenzie said on Oct. 23 that Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones called and offered a 2019 first-round pick. That's when McKenzie walked out to the practice field, relayed the offer on the table to Gruden and the head coach approved the deal with a thumbs up.)

The second scenario, the one suggested by Cooper, is much more unnerving. If Mark Davis, after paying a football guy $100 million, is still pulling maneuvering trades because of a power trip or petty agent squabbles or whatever against the wishes of his $100 million football man, that means that Mark Davis is our true...GM. And he's not going anywhere, which means Gruden will never really be able to truly run his show, because the GM will go willy-nilly whenever he sees fit.

In other words, let's hope I'm right and that this is THE GRUDEN SHOW, because if Mark Davis is going be our acting GM in perpetuity, the road to respectability just got longer.

Which sort of brings us to the Bengals, because it would be really cool for the Raiders to win this game, too, and keep the momentum going and put some more wind in the sails of THE GRUDEN SHOW because we're apparently going to need all we can get in the years ahead.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Steelers Gameday Thread

If the reports are true, Reggie is on his way out, seven years later with little to show for it, now that Jon Gruden has deemed his work unsatisfactory and blown up his roster.

In early September I wrote, "What you are seeing is the opening act of what will be The Gruden Show for years to come." The opening act is now complete.

We now watch today's game for signs of continued life, for some assurance that Gruden knows what he's doing and can lead this team to a successful rebuild. Our hope is now in the hands of The Gruden Show, because we have no other choice.

Monday, December 03, 2018

One Postgame Take

You know, I was impressed. The Raiders played the Chiefs until the end. The hallmarks of a bad team were all there: the turnovers, the inability to make "the stop" when they needed to, etc. But the fact is, the Raiders went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the NFL, and to do so this late in a lost season shows me that there's still some grit left in this team, and that maybe, just maybe, Jon Gruden is getting buy-in from his players.

I've been biting my tongue for a lot of this season. I don't believe that Jon Gruden has been executing some sort of master plan from the start. He traded a third-round pick for Martavis Bryant. He thought he could do something this season, and then quickly found out he couldn't. The Mack situation blew up in his face, and then the wheels started coming off. This made Cooper expendable, because now it was all about shifting blame to McKenzie, blowing up the roster and hoarding draft picks. The team played so poorly, culminating in an embarrassing beatdown by the Niners, and the only explanation (other than the fact that the coaching was terrible) was that they were tanking. But then suddenly they weren't tanking, which meant you really had to question the coaching staff and their grip on the team.

But then yesterday happened and, well, you have hang onto glimmers of hope these days, because they are few and far between. Gruden has so much work to do, and he needs to hit on those draft picks, or we could be in for several more years of the nuclear winter. But that's a worry for another day.

And so there was a glimmer yesterday. December football in a lost season, against a great team. And they played hard. It's a start.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Chiefs Gameday Thread

 Let’s see if the Raiders have it in them to make this game interesting. You never know! GO RAIDERS!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Ravens Gameday Thread

Last week, the Raiders proved that they have been trying to win all along. Given their pitiful efforts against the Niners and Chargers, I had to wonder. It seemed like a team that was hell-bent on climbing the draft board. Then the Cardinals game happened. So it turns out that the Raiders are really just that bad, but apparently they are trying to get better. Today presents a good chance to prove that they've got a semblance of mojo, just gotta contain the rookie QB and be creative on offense. So we are officially back to: GO RAIDERS!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

One Postgame Take

Can't this team even tank correctly? If we're tanking, what's the point of winning a meaningless game against our competitor for the #1 pick? Are we jogging after 49ers or in hot pursuit of Cardinals? Are we tearing this thing down from the outset or trading away third-round picks for Martavis Bryant? Are we in on Derek Carr or trying to demoralize him? Once this mess of a season is over, Gruden and Co. had better get to work. They have a lot to clean up, and a lot of picks to get right. If they aren't up to the task, then we are in for yet another nuclear winter in the Raider Nation.

Cardinals Gameday Thread

I've been about as lazy as Raiders defenders jogging after 49ers on Thursday night, failing to put up postgame takes (and corresponding Clown Cars), because, well...apathy? Now that Mark Davis is playing the fall guy, I guess we might as well lay this all on his doorstep: seven seasons since Al Davis passed away, and all he and Reggie and now Gruden have to show for it, beside one brief season of hope, is a total teardown (don't call it a rebuild yet) and an imminent move to Las Vegas. This organization is now shoulder to shoulder with the Browns and Bills, the kind of sustained incompetence that defies the very phenomenon of parity that the NFL is geared to cultivate. So there you go, and I guess we root for a win today, unless we're rooting for more tanking in the hopes that Gruden picks the right guy at #1 instead of letting the better guy fall to #2? GO...RAIDERS?

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Chargers Gameday Thread

Tall order today, all things considered. If we're supposed to be rooting for the first pick in the draft instead of a victory today, that might explain last week. However, it wouldn't explain giving up a third rounder for Martavis Bryant before the season started. Are the Raiders even trying to win today? I hope so, but then that would make the first half of the season all the more inexplicable. GO....?

Thursday, November 01, 2018

One Postgame Take

The offense was inept. The defense literally quit trying. The Raiders got embarrassed by one of the worst teams in the NFL, and a supposed local rival, on prime time television.

If you think that this was just part of some brilliantly orchestrated plan, then get out of here. If you think that they told their supposed franchise quarterback and his o-line in the meetings, "Just suck as hard as you can and take a beating," then you don't know how the NFL works (even if you are "tanking" at the executive level). If you think Gruden was playacting when the cameras caught him muttering "What the f***" when a Niners back ran through a bunch of halfhearted arm tackles, I've got a bridge to sell you.

Here's where you have to place your faith now:

1) Jon Gruden hits home runs on the many draft picks he's accumulated by selling off one of the best players in the NFL as well as other spare parts, and with the higher draft positions secured by tonight's debacle.

2) Jon Gruden also proves to be savvy in free agency and a leader of men, inspiring them to generate max effort for common cause.

3) Jon Gruden then goes toe-to-toe with the best and the brightest coaches in the NFL in terms of schemes, game planning and preparation.

If, and when, all of these things come together after one of the most extensive rebuilds in NFL history, the (Las Vegas) Raiders will become a perennial contender.

Feeling lucky?

In the meantime, the joke is on us, the OAKLAND Raiders fans.

Niners Gamenight Thread

 Well, tonight is the first-pick-in-the-draft bowl. GO RAIDERS!?

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Colts Gameday Thread

We shall know soon enough. GO RAIDERS!

Monday, October 22, 2018


THE GRUDEN SHOW has shipped The Ghost to Dallas for a first round draft pick.

No, I'm not talking about Dave Casper, I'm talking about Amari Cooper, who you could have sworn was on the Raiders, yet who was increasingly invisible even when he was on the field. A first rounder? Not a bad haul, really. If I'm Derek Carr, I'm keeping my head on a swivel at this point.

After the Mack trade but before the season even started, I coined the term THE GRUDEN SHOW. Here's what I wrote: "What you are seeing is the opening act of what will be The Gruden Show for years to come."

I was not wrong.

What we are seeing is a thorough and intentional dismantling of Reggie McKenzie's Raiders and a roster that notched a 12-4 record just two seasons ago. I think we can finally dispense with the charade that Gruden and McKenzie are in lockstep.  

Simply put, Gruden is taking a jackhammer to the foundations of the team and plans to rebuild it from the ground up, starting with a ridiculous amount of high draft picks that he'd better get right.

I'm afraid, however, that this wasn't part of a master plan. It has the feeling of improvisation. I don't think Gruden envisioned all of this at training camp. It came in fits and starts, with the Martavis Bryant fiasco, the backup QB circus and ultimately the Mack holdout.

Gruden shipped Mack out and then started pulling on threads. Once the season got off to a terrible start, he hasn't stopped pulling, and now Cooper is the latest casualty.

If you're being generous, you might call it brilliant (at least from a PR standpoint). With these moves, Gruden washes his hands of Reggie's roster, subliminally shifting the blame in the process.

Off to a terrible start? "Well, it's the players, not the coaching. Who could win with these guys? Gotta start over. Good thing I'm here to make things right. Just wait until I execute all of these picks and rebuild the team in my image. Of course, you won't be able to really judge my plan until around three or four years (ie: $30 or $40 million) from now. Sayonara, Oakland. The greatness of the Raiders is in its future (ie: Las Vegas, circa 2021)!"

So there you have it. THE GRUDEN SHOW. Terrible on the field in 2018 and in the foreseeable future, with no one left to blame. And who knows, it just might even work in the long run.

Monday, October 15, 2018

One Postgame Take

THE GRUDEN SHOW is off to a disastrous start. This team looks broken, Gruden looks lost, and the path forward has perhaps never been more unclear.

Like I said earlier, Al Davis departed this earth in 2011, and this is all his inheritors (Mark Davis, Reggie McKenzie and now Jon Gruden) have to show for it?

I've been trying to hold the Clown Car back, trying to give this team the benefit of the doubt under a new regime, but there is no question that yesterday's drubbing by the Seahawks merits the return of this unfortunate emblem of incompetence.

The only good news is that the 49ers and Cardinals are on tap over the next four games, presenting an opportunity to gain a semblance of mojo. The next several weeks will be telling. We will learn if there's any mettle left here, or if this is simply a runaway train straight to the cellar of the NFL.  

The Raiders' defense stinks. Why can't they fix this perennial problem of getting gashed? Every season is like Groundhog Day on defense.

My nagging doubts about Derek Carr have been broken wide open. It pains me. I like him a lot, I think he's a man of integrity.

But great quarterbacks jump off the screen. They make things happen. They find a way. They win. They don't look average for two straight years in their prime. It's starting to look like the most we can hope from Carr is that he is a good quarterback. Which in today's NFL is a recipe for mediocrity.

Nobody gives any coach--not even Belichik--a 10-year contract. Yet that's what Mark Davis did with Gruden. This is a coaching marriage unlike anything we've seen before. This could be a case of "be careful what you wish for" for Jon Gruden. He got all the money, all the security and now all the power. It's on him now to steer the team out of this mess. He has his work cut out for him.

We hoped that the Raiders' swan song in Oakland might be triumphant, or at least respectable. But if something doesn't change soon, it will be inglorious and forgettable.  

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Seattle Gameday Thread

For the state of the Nation and the character building of this team, you could say that today is, in fact, a must win. GO RAIDERS!

Sunday, October 07, 2018

One Postgame Take

Apparently, the Raiders just aren't very good, and here we go again. After squeaking past a mediocre Browns team last week, the Raiders came back down to earth with a thud in Los Angeles, and now stand at 1-4.

It's safe to say that THE GRUDEN SHOW is off to a terrible start.

Amari Cooper was a ghost yet again (seems to happen every other game). Derek Carr threw an incredibly bad INT at the one yard line, which was probably poetic justice for Gruden simply failing to run Lynch on that play. Sometimes it's like they're trying to outthink the room, but don't have the brains to actually do it. And the defense seems to stink, yet again.

Al Davis departed this earth in 2011, and this is all his inheritors (Mark, Reggie and now Gruden--as owner / GMs) have to show for it? If this team isn't starting over, then what is it building upon?  

Brace yourselves. If something doesn't change very soon, Gruden (even if he's part of the problem) will have no choice (or inclination, at least) but to push the reset button harder than he already has. And off they will fly to Vegas, sputtering and wheezing, into the arms of a new bride with promises that they have mended their ways. And for those left behind, what might have been a sweet goodbye will be just another bitter ending.

Chargers Gameday Thread

The Raiders got past the Browns by the skin of their teeth. Nice to finally notch a victory, the first so far in THE GRUDEN SHOW. Now, it's time to beat the Chargers on the "road" to prove that there's some actual mojo mounting for the 2018 Raiders. Go RAIDERS!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Browns Gameday Thread

Great start with the INT return! Go Raiders!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Dolphins Gameday Thread

Here we go, aiming to avoid an 0-3 start to The Gruden Show. It's going to be warm in Miami, gotta be able to finish strong, no excuses.

I'm enjoying the deep discussion going on here about the state and direction of the Raiders. If I'm going to boil it down, here's what I think is going on:

-Mark Davis hands Jon Gruden 10 years and $100 million. Which equals POWER.

-Gruden comes in, maybe thinks he's going to make it work, but is ultimately unimpressed with the roster he has inherited. A bunch of Reggie's guys are pitched, most notably Kahlil Mack.

-Gruden is not going to hitch his wagon to Reggie McKenzie. Not with 10 years and $100 million on his side. He's going to remake the Raiders in his image, for better or for worse. Because if it's for the better, he'll be the king of Las Vegas and his legacy will be cemented.

-Reggie is seemingly being marginalized, and I'll be surprised if he's not gone soon in favor of a Gruden guy.

I think that's what's going on. That's my read on it. Some Raiders fans think it's a necessary fresh start and that Gruden is on the right track, others think Gruden's ego is setting the team back and may lead to ruin. 

I honestly don't know what to think, because The Gruden Show is only just getting started. One thing I'm fairly certain of: change is in the air, and the autumn wind is still a Raider.