Today's theme is "righting the ship." This is a very winnable game for team that needs to win one after two disappointing finishes against the Titans and Cowboys. Here are Geno Smith’s passer ratings in each of the past three games: 10.1, 22.3 and 8.3. Our defense should be rested and licking its chops. Our offense, however, needs to be prepared for a stout Jets attack. After this, we face the Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos. If we can go 2-2 over these last few games, we'll reach six wins. A win today would make that distinct possibility. GO RAIDERS!
Happy Thanksgiving, amigos. I'm thankful for the opportunity to steward Raider Take (eight years strong!) and to be a part of the community that YOU have all created here. The theme of today's game is "surprise, surprise," because that's what it's going to take for us to contain the Cowboys. If we play the type of defense we did last Sunday, we are going to get absolutely smoked by Romo & Co. So we need to change it up and step it up fast, and keep this season from circling the drain. GO RAIDERS!
1. There's nothing like pulling into the Coliseum parking lot at 9 a.m., cracking a beer, cooking some meat and socializing with the Raider Nation wildlife. It's such a great neighborhood, and you can't beat the ambiance. The Raiders might disappoint, but the tailgate never does. 2. The numbers lie. That was largely a clown show on defense. On that one touchdown, when their guy did a simple juke and left two of our guys gyrating in the dust, I swear I saw the ghost of Stuart Schweigart. Our third-down containment was a joke. Any time we got near Fitzpatrick, he spun and rolled out of danger with the same turn move over and over (hey, how about anticipating that after you've seen it three times?). And that last drive had such an air of inevitability, it was hard to watch. By the last snap, I could see the easy touchdown from a mile away. I was Nostradamus. We all were. 3. Matt McGloin is 6"1', and looks it out there. For the average dude, that's a nice height. But for an NFL quarterback? Well, Russell Wilson is two inches shorter than that, so it can be done. But if I recall correctly, four of McGloin's passes were squarely blocked. It got old quick. He's going to have to find a workaround. 4. I wish they would pull back on the $35 parking fee. For someone working a
minimum wage job, that's most of a day's work after taxes. It's robbery.
If you want all of those seats filled, you need to think about that. If
I recall correctly, parking was $20 not that long ago. Another
annoyance is the intensified "security theater," limiting all bags to
clear plastic and creating an airport-like choke point at the point of
entry. It makes life harder, and I don't believe it's making us safer.
5. The fan experience was awesome as always. This organization needs to field a product to match. It's been a long wait, and we're still waiting. Patience is being preached, and at this point, it's a sermon we'll have to accept.
It seems that every year around this time in the Raider Nation, we start eating our own. The losses begin to pile up, and expectations are cut short as the inevitability of another losing season sinks in. The bickering escalates, and solutions remain evasive. Simple put, we are perpetually on Raider Time. On Raider Time, everything takes forever, and change is painfully incremental. Every year, there's an excuse for not hitting a home run on the fronts of head coaching or free agency or the draft. Right now, the excuses are: we need stability at head coach; we didn't have enough money to land top free agents; and we didn't have a lot of draft picks, and anyways the draft is a crapshoot.
Of course, when we were hiring new coaches every two years, loading up on expensive free agents and picking high in the draft every April, things weren't any better. Welcome to Raider Time, where things change while the results remain painfully the same. You wonder how the Chiefs can get Andy Reid and Alex Smith and go from 2-14 to 9-0 in one year, and how the Broncos can not only land Peyton Manning and John Fox, but load up their receiving corps with guys like Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas. Stuff like that never happens on Raider Time. I'm not saying that we don't have excuses. We have plenty. And that's the problem. We always have plenty of excuses. There are so many reasons why the Raiders are never quite ready to turn it around.
So here we are, with three wins, six losses and a lot of excuses. Again. Reggie McKenzie was dealt a real bad hand. It's not surprising that we're still trying to dig out of what was an epic hole. And yet... I wonder why it looks like we still don't have a plan at quarterback, why the rebuilding didn't begin in earnest until this year, and why we're not getting more out of the draft picks we have selected. I'm wondering why we brought Greg Knapp back and wasted a year on offense when we all knew how it would turn out.
Am I asking for a home run? Maybe I am. Maybe it's about time we hit one, eh? Terrelle Pryor is emblematic of Raider Time. He shows just enough promise to tantalize. But in an era when the best rookie quarterbacks lead their teams to the playoffs, Pryor is still working out the fundamentals in his third year.
But hey, there's always next season. We'll be loaded with cash. We'll have a high draft pick. Our defense will continue to gel. Dennis Allen will show that he's the man for the job.
We're definitely going somewhere, just very slowly. After all, we're on Raider Time.
The theme of today's game is "no excuses." The Giants are beatable. Early game, East Coast, yah, yah, yah...I don't care. The time is now to right the ship and put last week in the rear-view mirror. GO RAIDERS!
There's not much to say about this one. Just when I was praising our defense...Just when I said we were making strides...Just when I said the Clown Car was nowhere to be seen...
And suddenly we start chasing our tails, allowing Nick Foles (Nick Foles!) to tie the NFL mark for passing touchdowns in a game.
Gotta hand it to Jerry Mac of the Tribune for summing it all up in one sentence: The futuristic offense of the Philadelphia Eagles conjured up disturbing images of the past for the Raiders Sunday at O.co Coliseum.
Cue the bearded lady. Call the sword swallowers. Launch the human cannonball. For the first time this year, the Clown Car is back. Damn you, Clown Car!
1. Our defense is almost unrecognizable, in a good way. For years, I've had to liken our defense to Cirque du Soleil (clowns flying around, hitting nothing). Now our guys are swarming and squaring up and hitting people. Check it out: 10 new starters on defense on Sunday compared to last year. Injuries have played a role, but make no mistake: this is the result of a housecleaning, in personnel, mindset and scheming. There's still a lot of room for improvement, but things are trending quite well on that side of the ball. 2. Jason Tarver's middle finger is way better than Rob Ryan's hair. 3. Via The MMQB, gotta love this tweet from Steelers safety Ryan Clark after Sunday's game: “You have to understand the beast that’s playing quarterback. Once a guy like that gets in front of the whole defense, he’s a legit 4.4. It’s real."
4. I think our offensive coordinator was in a bit of a Catch 22 in the second half. We played not to lose, and came too close to losing. On the other hand, Pryor and his teammates have shown a penchant for coughing up the ball lately. In this instance, going conservative ultimately sealed the deal, but it was uncomfortable to watch. And maybe it wasn't as conservative as it looked, maybe it was just lack of execution. 5. No doubt, Pryor is electric. He's still raw, but I'm encouraged by the reports of him being so committed to working hard and getting better. Right now, we're on pace for six or seven wins, and he's a huge part of that. He's not exactly working with an all-star cast, either. Let's see how this plays out, but it's looking like this team might be coming together. I haven't seen nor heard the Clown Car yet, have you?
Today's theme is "back on track." After some promising performances, we've squandered some opportunities and lost our momentum. Today is a day to get this season back on track, break the bye-week curse, and light the Coliseum up! Go RAIDERS!
Let's get this party started. Last week's theme was "turning the tide," and we did just that against the Chargers. Now comes another AFC West foe in the Chiefs, who have so far staged a startling turnaround to remain undefeated... This week's theme is therefore "show the world." Prior to the start of the season, the Raiders were a league-wide laughingstock, ranked by many as the worst team in the NFL. The Raiders still have a ways to go, but they've served up some crow sandwiches, too. Terrelle Pryor has emerged as a bonafide threat, and our defense is starting to raise eyebrows. So now here we are, facing a true statement game. It's time to show the world this team can establish momentum and exhibit growth.
Beating the Jaguars and Chargers is one thing. Beating the undefeated Chiefs, however, is what we need to do next. GO RAIDERS!
1. The alleged "worst team in the NFL" (according to numerous preseason pundits) doesn't look half bad right now, eh? 2. Again, I just love how our defense is playing. They are agile and unpredictable and swarming to the ball. They went a bit soft there in the second half, but toughened back up at the end. This isn't the same 'ol Raiders defense. 3. Geez, the Matt Flynn trade sure turned into a debacle, but I applaud the Raiders for admitting the mistake and moving on. Let's not get too worked up about it. It's better than starting DHB based on his draft position instead of performance, than talking Javon Walker out of retiring for the privilege of grossly overpaying him, than trading a first rounder and more for Carson Palmer, than paying JaMarcus Russell $25 million, than...I could keep going. But in the annals of Raider reaches and mistakes, this one isn't that big of a deal. Reggie McKenzie blew it, but he knows it, and it's over. 4. We have a problem that no one wants to talk about, and that is our lack of depth at quarterback. Pryor is doing a bang-up job, but he could easily get banged up running around like that. He's already had one concussion. If he goes down, we're in no man's land. 5. Woulda, coulda, shoulda...We are what our record says we are. But I can't help but thinking about that missed late opportunity to beat the Colts, and that 14-0 lead over the Redskins. Damn.
Well, it's Pryor or bust this year...Unless that's Josh Freeman on the other end of the line. Last week's loss was painful, but easy to pin it on Matt Flynn. Now, Flynn's ship has sailed, and Pryor returns to captain the ship. Tonight is the kind of win we need. It's a defining game, the difference between tumbling down the slippery slope toward another woeful and wayward season, and scratching our way back into the discussion of progress and direction. The Chargers aren't world beaters. This is a winnable game. My theme for tonight, therefore, is "turning the tide." We're at risk of being washed out to sea right now. It's time to steady the course and find our compass.
1. After one game, I've already seen enough of Matt Flynn.
2. I just loved that corner blitz from Woodson, where he came flying around the edge to hit RGIII right in the sternum. Brought back good memories. 3. Crap That Bugs Me Dept.: Just under five minutes to go, down by 10 points. First and 15 at the Washington 31, and Flynn hits Mastrud for eight yards. Tick, tock, tick, tock...THIRTY FIVE seconds then elapse before the next snap. What, did we think some sort of quick strike was coming from Flynn? If we were going to score twice, it was going to take time, and there we were, just wasting it. You could make the argument that we had two timeouts and that there was still plenty of opportunities left, but it just seemed out of touch with the plodding (at best) ability of our offense to gain yards and move the ball. Of course, it was all moot after Flynn attempted that lame sneak on fourth down with 3:30 to go...
4. I know there were some breakdowns, but I'm liking our defense. We finally have some modernized energy going on...They're getting after it, mixing it up, and showing some fight. I think a foundation is being built on that side of the ball.
5. It's our offense I'm worried about. There's no question now that Pryor is our man, at least this year. Without him, we're hopeless on offense. I think we've seen enough of McFadden to know that he's nothing terribly special, and he's considered our "star" skill player. Reggie's got a lot of work to do on this side of the ball.
My theme for this game is "time to step up." In their current state, the Redskins are the perfect test for the Raiders. Are we still a bottom feeder, able only to beat the lifeless Jaguars? Or are we ready to take the next step and beat a capable but vulnerable foe?
Now is the time for the Raiders to get to 2-2 and show some growth. GO RAIDERS!
So far this year, I've given each game an advance theme... Prior to the Colts game, at which time the pundits had the Raiders getting demolished by the Colts, the theme was "you never know." Last week, I characterized that Jaguars game as a "must win," a crucial step toward avoiding the classic Raiders letdown moment. So far, so good, thematically speaking. Tonight, my theme is "fight to the finish." I wouldn't bet my house on a win. But if we can avoid the predicted blowout and give the Broncos a real run for their money, victory or not, then it will be a third building block in three games. On that note, GO RAIDERS!
1. I can't figure out the ho-hum attitude that some fans seem to have toward Terrelle Pryor right now. What have you been watching? Have you seen anything this electric lately in a Raiders uniform? Sure, he ultimately blew it in Indy, but without him we're not even in that game. Then, on Sunday, he manages the game and avoids mistakes, and his mere presence as a running threat blows holes open for Darren McFadden. He's got a ways to go, but he's certainly made things interesting. And before you pick apart his stats, who does he have to throw to? Any one see any hall-of-fame receivers on this roster?
2. When McFadden starts rolling downhill, and when he feels like it, he looks really good. Angry and vicious.
3. Anyone missing Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, Michael Huff or Rolando McClain right about now? Didn't think so. Our defense might not be a powerhouse at this point, but you can't call them overpaid and overdrafted. And it looks to me like they're playing with more purpose, more energy and more violence than any Raiders defense in recent memory.
4. Just chew on this for a second: "On February 17, 2011, Richard Seymour agreed to a two year, $30 million contract extension with the Raiders, making him the highest paid defensive player in the NFL." As of right now, two weeks into the 2013 season, Richard Seymour is an unsigned free agent. Say goodbye to craziness. 5. Meanwhile, Charles Woodson's one-year deal is worth a maximum of $4.3 million and includes a $700,000 signing bonus. The same Charles Woodson who saved the day with a jaw-dropping leap to horsecollar MJD short of the goal line on Sunday. Say hello to value.
Last year, the Jaguars came into Oakland and pushed the Raiders to the limit, but ultimately the Raiders won by three points in overtime, notching one of just four victories on the year. Last week, in the realm of popular opinion, the Jaguars unseated the Raiders for the title of worst team in the NFL, gaining just two points in an ugly loss to the Chiefs. Now their starting quarterback is out, although some say that backup Chad Henne gives them a better chance. The Raiders have to win this game. This is a ladder game. Last week, they showed us something we didn't expect. This week, they can do it again by avoiding the classic "letdown" game.
This game is a proving ground. We may not win a lot of games this year, but it's time to start winning the winnable ones, and the Jaguars at home is the most winnable of all this year. GO RAIDERS!