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.

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!