Saturday, March 11, 2006

A Kerry Collins Debriefing

I remember the day I officially gave up on Kerry Collins, because I wrote about it. It was right after the Broncos home game, after I’d had time to process the nightmare. I wrote: “At some point, sometimes, a quarterback just has to find a way to win. It is time to stop waiting for the magical transformation, because it’s not coming. What you see is now officially what you get, and what we’ve got is apparently not enough to win.”

Not that I was a pioneer. Others in the Raider Nation had called for his head earlier. At the same time, the media continued to write glowing articles about Collins. Five days after the Broncos game, we witnessed an article that actually stated: “
Collins becoming the reliable quarterback Raiders hoped he’d be.”

This odd and ongoing media praise for Collins was one of the great mysteries of the 2005 season. I still think it was some sort of mind-trick conspiracy. But I digress…

Until the Denver game, I’d tried to rationalize Collins’ shortcomings. We’d fallen just short against the Patriots and Eagles, the most recent Super Bowl contestants, on the road. The zebras had screwed us against the Chiefs—twice. We’d had a gutsy win against Dallas, and had crushed the Bills and Titans.

I sure wasn’t in any mood to write glowing articles about Collins, but at the same time I wondered if he might soon gel with Moss and gang, and finally turn a corner. No dice, and the Broncos home game was my epiphany. Two weeks later, my disappointment turned to rage as I watched Collins "lead" one lackluster series after another against the Dolphins, impervious to any sense of urgency as the Raider Nation clenched its fists. Right after time expired, the lights literally and inexplicably went out in the Coliseum as a massive armada of garbage-feeding seagulls swirled overhead. How’s that for symbolism?

I can forgive poor play. Really, I can. That doesn’t mean poor play shouldn’t have consequences (ideally sooner rather than later, I might add). I’m just saying if you can’t do it, you can’t do it.
An article in today’s Press Democrat sums up my sentiments: “He (Collins) was always was a microsecond too late. He never will be a winning quarterback in Oakland or anywhere else. It is a sad fact but it is true, and we wish him well in his life, wherever it takes him.”

My biggest problem with Collins was his utter lack of urgency in the face of defeat. The seven-minute touchdown drive in the fourth quarter while 21 points down against the Broncos was a classic example. Hey, man, nice stats! There were many other examples, including the second Broncos game. Now, Norv Turner and company share some of that blame. They couldn’t manage the clock and they didn’t play to win, and they’d apparently never heard of concepts like “no huddle” and “two-minute drill.”

Nevertheless, I ask you to envision, say, Rich Gannon in those situations, with those coaches. Do you think he would have found a way to get the team moving, literally and figuratively? You bet. He would have led. He would have barked. He would have gotten the team to the line, fast, and fought.

Collins didn’t, and that’s why he was the reincarnation of Jeff George, whose pretty stats also looked best in a suitcase accompanied with a one-way ticket out of Oakland.

These are my final words on Kerry Collins. It’s over. Pour me another glass. It’s snowing along the California coast today. But things are heating up in Oakland.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice and to the point. The Quarterback has to lead and if the fight doesn't come from anywhere else, the QB has to fight.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who's Kerry Collins?

On the other hand, if you thought Al Davis was losing it, check out what Tagliabue says about him.

How many times does he say, "I appreciate Al's advice?"

Maybe the d@mn zebras will start calling things right now...

Nahhh, that'll never happen.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Raider Raza said...

Yesterdays announcement of the release of KFC makes made it a great day in Raider history. Collins bothered me on so many levels from the lack of emotion, lack of urgency as well as his inability to go through progressions, call audibles or make a play when it is was needed. He walked off the field so calmly after a three and out or a turnover that it seemed at times it didn't matter. He never commanded respect nor confidence from the players or fans.

I don't think I saw one person with a Collins jersey the entire season. It was amusing hearing the abuse Collins took at in those home games which made me wonder if he got abused more at home or on the road. He would take a sac and I would hear fans yell "stay down" and signs of collective sadness when he would prop himself back up. It was horrible. I'm just glad the pain is over Collins is gone..

2:27 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

I think it is important to point out the difference between Collins the person and KFC the QB. Personally I think Collins is a decent guy who works hard. KFC the QB is a guy who shouldn't be leading his team into battle. He lacks the passion, moxie, and strong will to compete at the highest levels. Let's hope that Baltimore quickly signs him to make absolutely, 100% sure he doesn't get resigned by us at a later date. This is a more serious concern than most believe. The QB watering hole is pretty dry. As happy as all of us were with the news of Collins release, I will be equally if not more elated about an announcement of his signing with another team.

4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Kerry Collins is a centered, stable individual- a good man, with a good head on his shoulders.

He has to be- if he allows himself to seek his "edge"- to push to the emotional point required of an individual to attain greatness... raw desire and drive... he breaks, or at least he did in the past.

Google up "Kerry Collins alcohol abuse".

He has tamed his demons. But at a price. To be great, you must take risks, and succeed at those risks... you must play with fire. I don't know if it was the pressure of succeeding, or the hollowness he found in success, or what- but Kerry Collins used to play with fire, and he got burned. He is not alone, many people that find success turn to drugs, I fear I would also.

But NFL football is about greatness, and you will not be great in the NFL by choosing the safe, stable path. But Kerry Collins must always choose that path.

Without his fire, he is not a very good NFL quarterback, but fire and demons walk hand in hand.

-Darth Hick

5:43 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Thank you, anonymous, for your insight. Like Calico Jack, you remind us of the crucial distinction between the person and the football player.

The NFL is a tough business. If you take the money and step onto the stage, you know what you're getting into. Collins did that in Oakland, and failed.

As fans, we have a responsibility to speak our mind and to demand accountability on the field. I also think we have a responsibility to make sure things don't get too personal.

I wish Collins well, especially if it's elsewhere.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Great take, AngelicRaider. You sure you want Collins in your backyard? What if you run into him at the local Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)?

P.S. Congrats. I join you in praising the Lord.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

In the multi-billion, hyper competitive NFL, there are 3 people who impact an organization's bottom line the most. This triangle of leadership and authority must be held accountable - the owner, head coach, and QB. All 3 must possess a "win at all costs" mentality and be willing and able to overcome all challenges to reach the mountain top. With Norvell Turner and KFC the last 2 years there was a clear lack of leadership. I feel good about our current 2 legs of the triangle. Al Davis and Art Shell both fully committed to win another Lombardi Trophy. The question is who will complete the triangle?

11:55 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

Speaking of "elephants", the the great big elephant in the room that no one in the Raiders front office wants to talk about is their draft history.

If the rumors are true, I can't believe that the Raiders dropped out of the Culpepper hunt because the Vikings were asking for a second round pick in return (assuming that's ALL they were asking for).

Bottom line is that, judging by the Raiders' draft history, there's a far greater chance that their 2nd round pick will be a bust (Tui, Lance Johnstone, Tony Bryant, Leon Bender, James Folston, Nick Bell, Aaron Wallace) than the chance they'll draft a servicable player (Porter, B.Robbins, Skrepanek ).

I say give 'em the 2nd round pick. We're talking Daunte Culpepper here. The dude threw 39 TD passes two years ago. Plus he'd be reunited with Randy Moss with whom he had chemistry with in Minnesota.

I can't believe this is even a concern. If Al was able to get past his pride, he'd see the lack of success he's had in the past and realize that they have much better chances with Culpepper than with whoever they'd take with their 2nd round pick.

Angelic: I raise my flavored coffee to you in honor. My dad kicked the sauce over two years ago and he went through hell doing it. It's not an easy thing to do and it takes a lot of courage.

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone think Oakland will re-sign Collins at a lower salary?

11:36 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

I'm pretty sure we've seen the last of Collins. That would be a public relations nightmare for the Raiders.

Doobie, maybe Al is holding on to the #2 pick so that he can include it in a package deal to the Texans for the honor of picking Reggie Bush?

12:35 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Doobie - The upside of Culpepper wearing the silver and black colors is HUGE. Yes, there are risks involved and a cost asssociated with swinging a trade.
The upside;

-Culpepper returns to complete health with something to prove
-Culpepper returns to All Pro form and duplicates his success in 2003 and 2004 with Moss as his tag team partner
-The Raiders have a player with 5+ solid years left in the tank who is a physical marvel (6'4", 260 lbs mobile QBs don't grow on trees)

The risks/costs:

-Culpepper takes longer to recuperate from his injury or is never quite the same due to the severity of his injury
-Culpepper and Moss don't play nice and it becomes more a soap opera than about winning
-A 2nd round draft choice is wasted which might have used to draft a OG (ie. Max Jean Gilles) or a SS (ie. Darnell Bing)

I'm with you Doobie. A 2nd round pick seems a pittance to trade for a player of Culpepper's caliber. If Brees goes to Miami and none of the other potential suitors (Arizona, St.Louis) jump in to snatch Culpepper in the next fews days, I believe the Vikes will drop their asking price. A more reasonable asking price might be a 4th round pick or a conditional 2007 draft pick based on the number of Culpepper starts in 2006.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

RT, quite possible. If they plan on dangling that 2nd rounder for a better trade, so be it.

Calico, point is that the Raiders have a history of wasting their 2nd round pick on marginal talent. With that kind of notoriety, they might as well trade it if they can get Culpepper.

Darth, that's true too. Problem is that they may not cut Culpepper. If they did, other people may be in the market as well and the contract savings may not be that great. There's also a good chance that Culpepper may agree to restructure his contract after being traded to the Raiders.

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanna throw this out there...

Anyone think THIS year might be the year to try Andrew Walter and take a beast on D in the draft. My feeling is this will be a rebuilding year anyway, so let's see if Walter can handle the job. Grab a Jon Kitna or other re-tread for dirt cheap, as insurance and just to piss Tui off and let him have a chance to go to another team and play. I don't know about what you guys think, but with a couple of play makers, the D could be the side of the ball that really pushes this team to the next level.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Heywood J. said...

It's hard not to feel a little bad for Collins and his constant hangdog look. But I can't remember when I've ever seen so many delay-of-game penalties from a 12-year QB. You'd think they didn't have a giant play clock to help with that. Just inexcusable.

And maybe Collins' bloodless demeanor on-field is partly a result of his sobriety. Good for him. I still remember the Snake and Tooz, who did Lord-knows-what until 4AM, and showed up the next day to play hard. They were on a mission, and they let nothing get in their way. That's the attitude that always eluded Collins, no matter how good his arm still is. He just doesn't have the belly for it.

But the way the o-line shut down last year, you can almost forgive Collins for getting the happy feet as much as he did. Something must be done with Barry Sims. His performance in the Jets game alone was a complete embarrassment. We didn't spend $50 mil on Gallery to play him out of position. Move him to LT, and Sims can either scoot in to guard or hit the bench, or cut him. Enough is enough. His play was marginal last year.

All that said, it was time to clean house, and good luck to KFC wherever he lands, but I think Culpepper would show up with a lot to prove, and an enthusiasm to work with Moss again. With a reformed OL and continued improvement from the defense, we could really start doing some damage again.

1:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would remove Leon Bender from the draft bust list. He died shortly after being drafted and never played a down in the NFL.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Winning and leadership can be taught, but a true winner and leader have the pre-disposition to be just that.
If you expect that someone like Norv Turner with around a 45% win record is going to do it, he has already proben that he can't. Even as a proclaimed "offensive Genius", Norv couldn't put the equation together to get the math right for the whole team. Just as Kerry Collins can go somewhere else and pad his stats and provide lack-luster, unemotional leadership to another team.
Maybe Norv can focus on one thing and try to be good at it rather than trying to be a Head coach as well. Like KFC, he just doesn't have the genetics to pull it off when the chips are down.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

Anonymous 1:10, my apologies. That's ignorance on my part...I completely forgot about the fate of Leon Bender. I still stand by my point though...the Raiders have a poor recent history drafting in the second round.

3:18 PM  

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