Sunday, September 25, 2016

Titans Gameday Thread

Simply put, the defense needs to get its act together. We are a hair's width away from 0-2 due to this s****show on defense, which has allowed more yards in its first two games than any other team since the NFL-AFL merger. 

On the bright side, even though the Titans defense is no slouch, Carr & Co. have proven to have the type of firepower we haven't seen in ages. They may need to once again bail us out if Norton & Co. can't figure it out.

This is no gimme, but it's winnable. So seize the day and GO RAIDERS!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Falcons Gameday Thread

One quarter down, and so far a lackluster game, with the Falcons on the move. Gotta get some hometown energy going!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

On Postgame Take

Wow, they PROVED IT! Great start to the season. 

The defense sure looked familiar, but that's a game the old Raiders lose. Not today, however, because the new Raiders showed poise, perseverance and guts, right down to JDR's insane 2-point call. 

Derek Carr looked absolutely incredible, Cooper and Crabtree were money. Loved Carr taking control of the sideline at the end, pacing the ranks and making sure there were no more stupid penalties to give the Saints any free yardage on the last drive. Leadership is finally, finally, here after countless milquetoast quarterbacks over the past dozen years.

What a win! 

Saints Gameday Thread: Prove It

By my count, this is my 12th straight annual season-opening Raider Take post.

Forgive me if I've grown a bit weary and jaded during that span, but it has been largely a desert devoid entirely of winning seasons, and I've suffered many disturbing hallucinations over those dozen arid years: Norv Turner, Shell II, Lane Kiffin (Lane Kiffin!), Dennis Allen, Imposter Stars (Jerry Porter; Darren McFadden, LaMont Jordan, DJ Hayden, DHB, etc.), insanities (Holdout (!)JaMarcus Russell, Randy-Moss-Turned-Jogging-Alligator-Arms, Done Warren Sapp) and inanities (Tom Cable v. Randy Hanson, anyone)?

And yet, for the first time in that span, the Raiders are now being universally looked at as a legitimate team on the rise, with actual NFL stars on their roster, and so moisture may finally cross my cracked and parched lips, and the cooling waters of winning football may flow down my throat, and out of the desert I will stride into a new era that came a decade too late, but nevertheless still came, and it shall be known as THE RETURN TO GLORY. I saw it last year on the horizon, reachable and attainable, an actual team driven by a core of Reggie McKenzie draft picks, with a sense of cohesion and purpose, and lo it had been so long since I had seen that, and so while while that horizon was not conquered, it is now ever so near.

But forgive me if, after all of these years, I cannot rush headlong toward that horizon on a pureblood horse of giddy optimism. I have seen too many disappointments, as so my optimism must be tempered until...yes...they PROVE IT. I--we--have been waiting so long for the PROVE IT moment, tricked and juked many times before like a woeful Charlie Brown trying to kick that football, only for Lucy to tug it away at the last second.

And so those new cornerbacks must deliver, and opposing running backs must be stuffed, and Derek Car must show growth, and Amari Cooper can't fade this year, and Latavius Murray needs to show something more, and Jack Del Rio must not settle for playoff caliber aspirations, but rather cultivate a championship caliber culture. And when the do, they will have PROVED IT, and those long wandering days in the desert will finally become a memory. and 'Just Win Baby' will no long be a parody of itself.

In other words, the Return to Glory starts today. GO RAIDERS!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Titans Gameday Thread

The meaningless preseason continues on...As of this writing, it's Titans 10, Raiders 7 at the end of the first quarter.

Overall this preseason, including this first quarter, I'm bullish on the offense taking a step forward. However, the defense sure looks "same 'ol" in a lot of instances.

We shall see. Maybe it's just a fault of vanilla scheming and not wanting to tip the hand.

Friday, August 12, 2016

And So It Begins...

Well, here we are at the crossroads of meaningful and meaningless, also known as preseason football. 

It's hard to say what we should expect--or detect--from this glorified practice against the Arizona Cardinals.

For me, I'm looking for a sense of synergy and symmetry, a smoke signal to suggest that this team is truly coming together and that the young core is ready to take the next step to the next level.

Again, that's a lot to ask out of a preseason game, but that is what I'm looking for. There's a buzz around this team and for the first time in eons, there are actual external (ie: outside the Nation, we who have had our annual hopes ruthlessly dashed for the better part of a decade) expectations for the Raiders.

Expectations create pressure, and a lot comes down to how pressure is managed. Can the Raiders lean into the pressure, embrace it, and deliver? 

In the absence of real games, all we can do is look for hints and signs, and hope for the best. Which is what I'll be doing tonight. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Round Two: Jihad Ward


And the Raiders select...DE Jihad Ward, following yesterday's selection of safety Karl Joseph.

His profile on NFL.com: "Considering that Jihad (pronounced juh-HODD) Ward went from receiver/safety to the defensive line during his time in junior college, the sky's the limit once he really knows what to do with his size and strength. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by league coaches (51 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, four fumble recoveries) in his first season with the Illini, playing inside and outside and using his huge wingspan to swallow ball carriers. Ward, who wears jersey number 17 because that was his mother’s age when he was born, didn’t have the same production as a senior (3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks) but still earned honorable mention notice due to his strong play."

Let's hope the similarities to Reggie's first full draft (an injured player in the first round, a potential project in the second) are purely superficial, and that we've got two up-and-coming studs to help build a stout defense.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Back From The Dead: Draft Edition

Raider Take is back, without explanation or apology. Sometimes you just need a break after ten years of hitting your head against the proverbial blogging wall.

So here we are on draft night, and welcome to the Raider Nation, Karl Joseph, safety from West Virginia.

Here's one analysis I came across: "An interesting pick for a team in need of secondary help. Reggie McKenzie has done a lot to put the Raiders back on track, and Joseph is a big hitter with some coverage ability. He'll replace Charles Woodson, which is a major thing to do. But at 5' 10" and 205 pounds, he's a little light for the position at the NFL level. Bob Sanders will be the ideal, but Sanders was an outlier, and he was also hurt a lot. Size debits combined with a physical style seems to be a recipe for danger, but Joseph is a true competitor." 


Seems like a fair take. If the dude can raise his considerable game to the NFL level, then we're a lot better on the back-end to complement a front end that's becoming a force with Mack & Co. 

And then there's this little wrinkle: "Tore his anterior cruciate ligament to end his senior season early and might not be able to participate early on in the team’s offseason program."


Best case scenario, he channels the spirit of one Jack Tatum and brings the nasty back into a secondary much in need of it.

Thanks for indulging my absence, let me have it and let 'yer takes rip.
 

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Chiefs Gameday Thread

Well, here we go, the final ascent to Mount .500--GO RAIDERS!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Chargers Gamenight Thread

Well, Merry Christmas, Raider Takers! 

The motto is Pride & Poise. Well, tonight pride is on the line. 

We are at home, on Christmas Eve, on national television, aiming to reach .500. 

There's no reason not to take it to 'Lil Phil and the Bolts tonight. GO RAIDERS!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Packers Gameday Thread

It's getting real for the Raiders! Let's go!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

One Postgame Take: Mack Attack

All hail Mack, he of the five sacks! Wow. He literally took hold of this game and won it for the team.

Earlier in the season, our offense picked up our defense. Now the opposite is happening. A season of inversion is unfolding between our eyes. It would sure be nice to see all of the cylinders firing in sync at some point.

Get this, Mack has nearly as much sacks over the past three games as Amari Cooper has catches (nine to eleven). Think about that. Frankly, I'm concerned about Cooper. It's not just his lack of yardage. He seems out of sync with Carr right now, and his dropoff has been precipitous. Just a bump in the road, we hope. 

Anyhow, we still dare to dream. A winning record is still a possibility.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Broncos Gameday Thread

Well, here we are, our playoff hopes all but dashed.

Now the goal is to somehow notch at least a .500 mark to attain the kind of round number that would send us into the offseason with momentum.

And that goal starts today. GO RAIDERS!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Raiders on Demand



I was recently pitched some info on the free Raiders DeskSite application, and after trying the latest version myself I think it merits a heads-up to the rest of you as a convenient tool for keeping track of the Raiders.

Essentially, it’s a Raiders video delivery service. But instead of you having to seek out content on the web, the content comes to you via a full-screen interface, and you get to customize exactly what type of content you want delivered. It works offline, too, which solves a huge pet peeve with online video: endless buffering and stuttering. 

The downloadable app is available on Raiders.com (just Google “Raiders DeskSite”). I found the app easy to install without hiccups, and the install file was only 15 megabytes. I downloaded it to my PC, and there’s an Apple version as well. The available channels include Press Conferences, Raiders Report, Announcements and, yes, Raiderettes.

I was a little skeptical of this app at first, because I had visions of it jamming up my rig with untold gigabytes of unwanted video. 

But then I easily found two key settings: (1) channel selections, which allow you to choose what types of content you want delivered; and (2) an “allocated video storage” setting that allows me to limit how much file space it takes up at any given time.

Here’s an example of how it works. On Monday morning, I opened up the Raiders DeskSite to see that a new video of Derek Carr’s postgame press conference had been delivered, and I watched it right then in high definition with no buffering (an aside: it was nice to see Carr step up to the podium like a man and say the right things—remember JaMarcus mumbling along in his fur coat? We’ve come a long way, baby!).

Also delivered was JDR’s postgame press conference, some cool footage of the Raiders arriving for the Chiefs game and Sounds of The Game from the previous week against the Titans. Every day brings something new: an interview with Amari Cooper, Mario Edwards talking about Brock Osweiler, comments from Bill Musgrave, etc.

So that’s your public service announcement on something I think is pretty cool and convenient for those of us who like to stay on top of what’s going on in Raider land. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Monday, December 07, 2015

One Postgame Take

Not ready...yet.

That's my take on the Raiders right now. For a while earlier this year, this team looked like it might be ready for prime time. The playoffs were a legitimate aspiration, and things were clicking.

Now? Not so much. 

Watching the Raiders this year is like squeezing a water balloon. You've got a firm hold on the offense and out pops the defense, but when the defense starts to come around, the offense pops back out the other side, and the whole thing rarely comes together. 

These aren't weak units, but they aren't terribly strong units, either. They have their moments, but these moments bounce around almost seemingly at random.

Derek Carr is the epitome of this phenomenon: young, developing, tons of potential, but still prone to lapses and off days, such as yesterday.

We shouldn't be surprised, nor should be be particularly discouraged. This is a developing team, and at least it's interesting and hopeful (which beats irrelevant and dreadful, and we know that that feels like). 

If there's a point of discouragement, it's that this rebuilding era continues to advance at a snail's pace (to quote Raider00: "This...........is...............the...............slowest...........
rebuild.................of.............a............sports......team...............in..........
the..........history.........of...............the.............world.")

But it is what it is, and there's no denying that we are inching FORWARD to brighter days with a core of young players we can believe in. 

So yes,  yesterday was terrible. Yes, a stake has been driven through the heart of our playoff aspirations. But dammit, my glass is still half full.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Guest Take & Gameday Thread

Here's a rousing Guest Take from The 5er, consider this the gameday thread as we compare what we read here with what happens on the field today:

A DEFINING MOMENT

Greetings NATION...

I know most everyone is reasonably pleased with the progress we've made this season. With a seemingly strong and steady figure as a coach, 5 wins under our belt, and some very good young talent on the field, there is plenty of reason for optimism about the future trajectory for this group. Obviously the QB position being most critical, I think we all see the potential for finally having a franchise guy that lead us to be competitive for years to come.

However, this week is about NOW. It would be hard to overstate the magnitude of this game. For all intents and purposes this is our playoff game. The last time we had anything resembling this magnitude of a game was the final, painful loss to the chargers in 11’ that triggered the implosion of the franchise and the 4 year rebuild process that brings us back to today.

“… and when a defining moment comes along… either you define the moment, or the moment defines you”   Roy Mcavoy – Tin Cup

Our defining moment is upon us. The implications are numerous, but more importantly it's about finding out who this team REALLY is at this moment in time. Legitimate playoff contender? Or mediocre bottom feeder that's only capable of picking up wins against the handful of teams who are in even more disarray? Well we're about to find out.

THE GOOD

If you're looking for half full, we have seen plenty of reason for optimism in victories over SD, NYJ, and even BAL at the time. We opened up the playbook and put some pretty good defenses on their heels. At times it seemed like we could do whatever we wanted... However we wanted to do it. We haven't looked that explosive since games where Hue was calling plays.

THE BAD

Conversely, if it's half empty, we have had an equal number of flops... Starting with the dud against CIN (which is more forgivable after watching how consistently explosive they've been all year). Then aside from the PIT game, we have looked mediocre, or worse, against the majority of the middle to above average teams on our schedule. Furthermore, at the end of the day our 5 wins are against teams with a combined record of 17-38.

KEYS TO VICTORY

1. MUSGRAVE’S GAMEPLAN
Open the frickin playbook back up. For 3 consecutive weeks we put defenses on their heels with an attacking style of offense we haven't seen in recent years. We were creative and up tempo and completely dictating the action. A balance of steadily moving the chains and also hitting big plays.  It looked like we were finally comfortable pulling the training wheels off and letting our young thoroughbreds run at full speed. Coincidentally, we compiled well over 400 yds/gm and scored in the mid 30's each time. And keep in mind NYJ and PIT own 2 of the better defenses in the AFC.

Then somewhat mysteriously, over the last 3 weeks it looks like we have regressed considerably. Conservative, predictable situational play calling, lots of under center/base formations, and listless tempo have made it exceedingly difficult to find the end zone... Averaging only 17 pts/gm over that span.

Carr is CLEARLY more comfortable in the gun, with a fast tempo, spread the field out type of game plan. Put him in a position to maximize his talents. When we've done this, we've looked unstoppable...

2. PASS TO SET UP THE RUN
We've been overly stubborn and predictable in the running game during this offensive drought. This is a passing league and we finally have a guy who can do it with a high level of consistency. When we were throwing it well and dictating the tempo, the running game was carving up 6-8 yard chunks almost routinely. I'm sure the loss of Hudson is a big factor here, but I still think we've tried to be a run first team of late... And the results have been disastrous.

3. DON’T TRY AND BEAT THEM AT THEIR GAME
In the image of Andy Reid, The Chiefs are built to win close, physical, grind you down type games. They bring a very balanced offense with a game manager in Smith. They stay on the field and control the clock with a run for 150, pass for 200 type game plan, minimizing mistakes. Their attacking defense has been the key, forcing 14 turnovers in their 5 game winning streak.

To get hung up in a conservative, keep it close, 20-17 type game plays right into their hand and is a big mistake.

Come out high tempo and attack that defense. Pass to set up the run. Reintroduce some creative screen plays to neutralize Hali and co coming hard off the edges. Take a couple big shots to stretch the field. Let them know you will can and will score from anywhere. Try to post a number in the 30's and put your defense in position to play with a lead. Making Smith a little more one-dimensional gets him out of his comfort zone.

4. BELIEVE
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, it's time to BELIEVE. In every great journey or resurgence, there is a defining moment where you have to step up and say we CAN do it, even though history dictates otherwise. THIS is that moment for this team. The Nation will be out in full force to defend you. The atmosphere will be electric. It's time to embrace the magnitude of the moment and change the trajectory of the franchise.

Coincidentally, the last time this happened was also against the Chiefs. Remember back in 99' when a resurgent Gannon led team rolled into Arrowhead on the final week of the year and bounced the Chiefs from the playoffs in OT.  That game was a DEFINING moment. It changed the trajectory of the franchise for the next several years. A win today can do the same. You have the necessary physical tools... This is more about who you are on the inside and what you believe you're capable of doing.

Impose your will on this team. Play with an attitude. Be physical.  I want to see stains on Smiths white jersey and sod in his facemask. On offense, play with high tempo and dictate the action. Spread it out and put them on their heels. I want to hear Papa's voice thundering down from the press box all day... "Touchdown RAIIIIDEERS"

The time is NOW. DEFINE THE MOMENT.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Titans Gameday Thread

Gah, 17-14 now. Gotta hold on and win this sucker and stop the skid. GO RAIDERS!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

One Postgame Take

Wow, what a letdown. The Lions are not a good team. That was low-hanging fruit left on the vine. 

At the end of the game, when you need to stop the other team to get the ball back and give yourself a chance, you have to wrap up the runner before he gets a first down, not bounce off him with your shoulder. Come on. 

We will know more soon, but it's looking like what seemed like a leap year may turn out to be one of incremental improvement. Three weeks ago, the Raiders were being hailed as relevant, a strong playoff contender at four wins, three losses.

After today, this looks like a team that is coming back down to earth, to that balance point between the god-awful spectacle of the first game to the upstart contender after beating the Jets. 

I'm still bullish on our passing corps, as far as the future is concerned, and despite it being out of sync all day today. But other chickens are coming to roost in terms of overall personnel and depth. 

There is work to be done. It's too early to be writing this season off and talking about next year. But the arrow is pointing down on each of our division rivals. The Broncos are making one last push until they tumble over the Manning cliff. The Chiefs are who we thought they were. The Chargers are getting creaky and Lil' Phil isn't getting any younger. 

It's an opportunity that should not be missed. The table is being set for an enduring division takeover. We need to be ready to feast. Which means we need more forks and knives, Reggie.

In the meantime, let's try not to get eaten.