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.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Three Postgame Takes

1. There was just that sense of inevitability in the last few minutes when the Raiders couldn't move the ball, and when the Broncos carved the defense up to march downfield for the winning field goal. It felt like Groundhog Day. I've seen it happen so many times, it's like a Raiders signature.

2. It was a better effort overall, and Carr and Cooper showed some chemistry finally. Beast Mode was evident. Carr's completion percentage was out of sight. But in the end, only two touchdowns were scored. Rarely will that ever be enough, and it wasn't today.

3. THE GRUDEN SHOW is off to a rocky start. There wasn't much of a pass rush there at the end. He hasn't been able to get the offense really going. The playcalling seems uninspired at times. Steam is coming out of his ears--and ours.

Broncos Gameday Thread

Well, the curtain rose on THE GRUDEN SHOW last week, and by the end there wasn't much to show for it. Now it's time to try to keep pace in the AFC West, and it's time for Carr and Company to step it up. GO RAIDERS!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Three Postgame Takes

1. Is it just me, or did this look eerily like the Raiders of last year? Carr tentative and errant. Cooper a non-factor. Defense unable to hold tight for 60 minutes. Penalties. Team looking slump-shouldered and defeated with three minutes to go and down two scores (yeah, it's unlikely, but you'll never do it without pep in your step).

2. What's with Carr just throwing the ball away at a crucial juncture when the play could have easily been extended by moving around. He needs to watch the one-legged Aaron Rodgers, or even rookie Sam Darnold. Weak sauce.

3. Let's hope we can chalk this up to the Rams being a formidable team. Regardless, this was an inauspicious debut for THE GRUDEN SHOW.

Rams Gamenight Thread

The curtain is rising. The Raiders are still in Oakland (for now). The Rams are visiting from Los Angeles (like old times). Chucky's visor is fitted. It's time for the opening of THE GRUDEN SHOW, a sequel that is slated to run for the next 10 years.

Make no mistake, this is the honeymoon moment of a marriage between Mark Davis and Jon Gruden, and as they say at weddings, "For better or for worse..."

I'm not sure if I'm bullish or bearish on THE GRUDEN SHOW. Unfortunately, I lean toward the latter, but I'm willing to give it time. I've been blogging here for 13 years and have witnessed only one winning season. So apparently, I've got nothing but time.


P.S. I love the differing perspectives that are represented here. Come one, come all. Every take is fair game for a counter-take. That's what makes this place tick.

Monday, September 03, 2018

What It All Means

Among the many opinions about what transpired over the weekend, there is one indisputable fact: the Raiders traded away their best player. And however you slice it, that is tough to swallow.

Fair points are being made on both sides of the argument as to whether or not this was a terrible move or a reasonable move. The bottom line is that it will take some time before we can get a full accounting of this deal. It all depends on how those first-round picks are used, and how the extra cash is spent.

Yesterday, Gruden cited Carr's salary as a factor in being unable to accommodate Mack. Yes, the Raiders are paying Derek Carr a lot of money. However, numerous competitive teams are paying top dollar for quarterbacks. Click here to see a list of quarterbacks who are making $21 million or more per year. Eight QBs are making as much or more than Derek Carr ($25 million), and four are making more.

So my question is, after all of these years under Reggie McKenzie, why the Raiders are still not in a position to pay the market rate for their best players after fielding a team that went 6-10 last year?

If perennial playoff contenders with high-paid quarterbacks can manage to build (and pay for) winning rosters, why can't the Raiders? If they didn't have enough money for Mack because they'd spent all their money on building a winning roster, that would be one thing. Yet here we are, without (allegedly) enough money for Mack and a team with questionable collective talent that went 6-10 last year.

I suspect that this is what was stuck in Gruden's craw. There have been plenty of persuasive rumors that McKenzie's personnel authority has been stripped, and the Mack deal is the best evidence yet. Gruden just couldn't see a good way forward if they paid Mack the going rate, and he decided that he would rather rebuild the Raiders than try to prop up the house of cards that he believes he inherited. He wanted the picks and the cash to go another way. So he shipped off the best draft pick of the McKenzie era, and sent the best Raider packing to buy picks and financial latitude.

The taste left in our mouths is a bitter one. Mack was a true Raider. A throwback to the good old days when the Raiders were known for terrorizing quarterbacks. The one draft pick in many years where the Raiders hit an absolute home run. He was, by all accounts, a consummate professional in the locker room and on the field. His was a jersey you felt good about buying. And now, as he enters his prime--poof!--he's gone.

It's also a gut punch on the eve of the 2018 season opener. The Raiders are not long for Oakland, and now they seem to be punting the proverbial ball to the Las Vegas era. Gruden has a 10-year contract and apparently the power to go with it. He is taking the long view, and if that means taking a step back this year, then he's saying, "So be it."

E.J. Manuel and Connor Cook? Poof, gone. The quarterback whisperer had seen enough after tutoring them all the way through the preseason, and decided that a Bills castoff was better than both of them. Meanwhile, the Raiders have suddenly become the oldest team in the NFL in at least six years, which is right in line with Gruden's known M.O. He's got his hands all over McKenzie's Legos and he's re-stacking them in his own image.

In other words, what you are seeing is the opening act of what will be The Gruden Show for years to come.

McKenzie did just okay at the personnel helm. He righted a sinking ship early on but the overall results are lacking. One playoff appearance in six years in a league that is built for parity. Let's hope Gruden does better.

(However, Gruden is already off to a questionable personnel start by donating a third round pick to the Steelers for a known head case who won't play a snap for the Raiders. Let's try to pretend that didn't happen?)

The curtain is rising. The Gruden Show is about to begin. We don't know how it will end, but it's hard to give it a thumb's up or down when we haven't even seen the first act yet.  

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Mack Attack

Yeah, I know...I've been an absentee landlord since the spring. Sometimes you drift along the river of life, sometimes you find yourself back on shore.

I'd like to talk about Khalil Mack. Rumor has it that the Raiders might move him for two first-round draft picks. 

Now think about this. Bundle any two first-round Raiders draft picks (not named Mack) from the McKenzie era, and tell me if you would trade Mack for that package. You would not. So what are the odds that you could get decent value by trading Mack for two first rounders? 

Now, of course, you'd also be saving a lot of money by not negotiating with Mack and instead taking future picks who won't affect the immediate bottom line. But if that's the mindset, we've got problem. 

Let's hope it does not come to this. Let's hope there's more dialogue going on than people are saying, and that we find a way to bring Mack back into the fold. He bears some responsibility in all of this (he is under contract, after all), but this is how the game is played these days. 

This could all be much ado about nothing. Maybe the Raiders are just playing hardball. Maybe Mack will blink. If he does, the relationship may be permanently damaged. If he doesn't, then look out. 

It's hard to see any upside to this saga. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Draft Day Thread

I apologize for being an absentee landlord! Life is coming at me fast, but you are all keeping the lights on and I value the discourse, so let's keep it going. I may be short on takes lately, but I'm having fun reading yours. GO RAIDERS!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Chargers Gameday Thread

 The rumors of a Jon Gruden return are a fitting punctuation mark on this flailing 2017 campaign. These are desperate times. Let’s see if we can end this lost season on a respectable note.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Eagles Gameday Thread

Hard to muster much of a take here unless the Raiders muster a good effort tonight. From here on out, it's all about pride and poise, do they have it?

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Cowboys Gamenight Thread

The season is hanging by a thread, so the Raiders need to hang on tight tonight. Let's see if they can find their pride and muster a victory for the home crowd.

Monday, December 11, 2017

One Postgame Take

Unless the Raiders win out from here, they will at best notch a .500 record this year.  

As such, the Raiders will have gone 15 consecutive years with only one winning season. In a parity-driven league, this is inconceivable.

Reggie McKenzie was hired in January of 2012. Therefore, 2017 is his sixth year at the helm (damn, time flies, doesn't it?).

Yet we will still end this season with a massive to-do list: improving a bottom-of-the-barrel defense; implementing a Beast Mode succession plan; and fixing whatever the hell has gone sideways with the passing game.

The half life of Al Davis's poor decisions has long expired. Mark Davis, Reggie McKenzie and Jack Del Rio are responsible for this collective underperformance.

What I saw on Sunday was the worst you could say about an NFL team that was supposed to be a contender this year, and that was in a must-win situation: they were soft.

Del Rio is a defensive-oriented coach, and yet he is presiding over a marshmallow defensive unit. Our offense was humming last year, and he fired the offensive coordinator. Reggie's draft record is certifiably questionable. Mark Davis is taking his toys and heading to Las Vegas. Based on what I'm seeing, this team doesn't seem to have a lot of  heart (if you think I'm mistaken, please explain).

Frankly, it's a buzzkill, and barring a miracle, we are already facing a long offseason. But Mark Davis is getting his stadium in Nevada, and paychecks are being cashed, and the only thing we can do as fans is wonder when it will matter enough to all of them to raise their collective game and give us something to be proud of.        

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Chiefs Gameday Thread

Every week lately has been a must-win situation, and now we've got another one on our hands.

I have to say I was disappointed to hear this from Bruce Irvin this week:

“Guys saw the Norton situation, and that kind of got guys fired up, I would say, and more focused. Once again, I think guys are looking at that situation and thinking, ‘Man, we can get fired, too.’ It’s not only coaches. It falls on the players, too. It was a wake-up call for us, and guys really started to hone in and get in their books. We’re practicing better, and it’s starting to translate on Sundays now."

So that's what it took to get fired up and focused when the division has been there for the taking since day one?

I still wonder about the culture of this locker room. In the end, we're back to the same old mantra we've been saying for so many years here: Prove it. 

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Giants Gameday Thread

It's a make or break game today. No way the Raiders shouldn't
thump Geno and the Giants!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Broncos Gameday Thread

It's probably now or never.

Incredibly, the Raiders are still in this. The Chiefs blew it once again today.

The division is still there for the taking, but first the Raiders must beat the Broncos.

Otherwise, momentum would be fully ceded to the Chargers, and the Raiders would be three games under .500 with five to play, which would effectively derail any road to a division title or a wild card spot, even if they were to win out from there.

Pagano has his work cut out for him. Musgrave is looking for revenge. This is a game the Raiders should win. Will they?

It's time turn it around and win out the rest of the schedule, starting today.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sunday Postmortem: Clown Car Edition

Sorry, I wish it weren't so, but it's time to bust out the Clown Car after yesterday's beatdown in Mexico. 

Yesterday, Tom Brady was a hot knife, and our secondary was butter. One report put it succinctly. "Brady completed 30 of 37 passes for 339 yards and three touchdowns against a defense that has allowed the league’s highest opponents’ passer rating." 

Now, say it out loud: "In 2016, the Raiders had a potent offense, and weak defense. So they kept their DC and fired their OC."

How does that sound, and how is that working out?

The Raiders haven't had a defense ranked in the top 15 of the NFL since 2010. 

Here's one metric unearthed by NY Raider: "Per Pro Football Focus, David Amerson, Smith and McDonald have allowed the three highest opponent passer ratings this season out of 121 cornerbacks who have played at least 101 snaps."

Meanwhile, we made a major upgrade at tight end, added Beast Mode and maintained the trio of Carr, Cooper and Crabtree...yet suddenly can't seem to move the ball with any consistency.

This is on Del Rio and McKenzie.

Incredibly, the division is still there for the taking. With the Chiefs bumbling and the Broncos burning, an amazing opportunity has unfolded before us this season.

But instead of racing to the top of the AFC West, we appear destined to sputter to the finish line unless drastic improvement is made. Pronto.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Patriots games day thread

 Improbably, the division is still there for the taking. It all starts today!

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Dolphins Gamenight Thread

Heading into tonight's game, I don't know what to make of the Raiders.

This season began with so much promise, and now the tires have inexplicably gone flat. That game against the Bills last week was an embarrassment.

How many years is it going to take Reggie McKenzie to build a legitimate defensive unit?

Here's a stat from the NFL Network: The Raiders have not intercepted a single pass through eight games. No NFL team has ever done that before. EVER. We don't have playmakers in the secondary.

Meanwhile, our running game remains mediocre. Instead of reaching into the future, we reached into the past with Marshawn Lynch, and it's not putting us over the top. Far from it.

We have a defensive-oriented head coach presiding over a persistently weak defense. We have a new OC who appears to be worse than the one we ran out of town.

What is the identity of the Oakland Raiders? Carr, a wing and a prayer?

They need to figure it out. Starting tonight.

P.S. Thanks for all of your well wishes, my friends. Everything is good on the family front post wildfires. I did get a firsthand look at the devastation and it's going to be a long haul for many people. Very sad.