Thursday, April 06, 2006

News You Can't Use: Two-for-One Edition

In this edition of News You Can’t Use, we feature two perpetrators, both from Internet-only sources: Yahoo Sports and something called Football Outsiders (via FoxSports.com).

The Yahoo column isn’t too bad, and actually takes a rather positive view on Coach Shell. Yet the author cannot resist sneaking in the following throwaway line: “Not that there aren't plenty of hurdles ahead. Other than Gruden's blip of success, Oakland has been yearning for success in the worst way.”

How does winning the AFC West for three straight seasons, culminating in a Super Bowl berth, qualify as a “blip?” And wasn’t Jon Gruden on the other sideline during that Super Bowl?

The insinuation of such a throwaway line is that the Oakland Raiders are on par with, say, the New Orleans Saints or Arizona Cardinals, a team that has one “magical” 9-7 playoff season before retreating back into supernatural mediocrity. The purpose of such a throwaway line is to retrofit reality with a false premise that feeds bias against the Oakland Raiders.

In other words, the headline is written in advance: THE RAIDERS SUCK AND (fill in the topic: coaching, ownership, free agency, etc.), so from there it's just a matter of subverting the facts to backfill a bias. Nothing new, of course. We get this about once a week around here, don't we?

Also, let’s apply some critical thinking to the notion of “Gruden’s blip of success,” because that’s a favorite magic trick of the Raiders Haters: (1) It is impossible for one coach, Jon Gruden, to take two teams to the Super Bowl simultaneously; (2) Bill Callahan is never mentioned as a reason for the Raiders’ success during that Super Bowl season; (3) Since neither Jon Gruden nor Bill Callahan can be credited with taking the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl following the 2002 season, that leaves…Al Davis, the "meddling" owner, as the primary guiding force behind that great season. Thank you, Raiders Haters, for clearing that up. We're glad you respect Mr. Davis just like we do.

Okay, let’s pause a second while the Raiders Haters gnash their teeth in protest and resume their screaming about Gruden being the true architect of the 2002 Oakland Raiders. Okay. So I guess Tony Dungy was the architect of Gruden’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers that year? In other words, Tony Dungy, who wasn’t there, won the Super Bowl, and Jon Gruden, who hoisted the Lombardi trophy, lost the Super Bowl. Again, thanks for clearing that up.

Okay, let’s move on to the Football Outsiders (thanks to Scorpio2562 for turning us on to this article). I’ll keep it brief, because this piece is so bad that there’s not much to analyze. These guys don’t even try to manipulate the facts, because facts are apparently too complicated. Instead, they give us bad attempts at humor mixed with errant sniper shots, such as: “Many observers believe that the Raiders will draft Vince Young, and that Brooks will mentor (snicker) the young passer, imparting his vast wealth of football knowledge (snort) and helping Young develop into a great decision maker ... (burst into tearful laughter).”

Maybe I should rethink my business plan here at Raider Take. These guys are getting paid for this? By Fox Sports, no less?

Anyhow, like I said, this piece is so bad that it defies logical analysis, but it’s worth mentioning because we always need to be aware of the newest Raiders Haters on the block.

And that, Raiders fans, is news you can’t use.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Nick said...

Hey RT,

Despite the admitted anti-raider bias in this article, and the overall bad writing for much of their "Four Downs" off-season articles, Football Outsiders is an excellent website (www.footballoutsiders.com). The statistical systems they developed to examine football are innovative and highly accuate. It makes for an interesting read if you want to delve into it, especially their annual "Pro-Football Prospectus". It's great for Fantasy drafts also.

Also, it was their pioneering work in statistical analysis that got Foxsports.com's attention last year...Since then, their articles have been syndicated to the Foxsports.com website.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Nick, good point, I shouldn't have used the plural "they" in this instance. It should be "he," the author.

However, "they" are responsible for publishing "him," so they've earned at least a little collateral damage. ;)

Thanks for bringing another point of view and reminding me not to paint with too broad of a brush!

9:57 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

It is only a matter of time before RT goes for the hat-trick . .
"3 for 1 News You Can't Use Special"!

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Stick'Em said...

For your entertainment, here's one where I echoed your thoughts on the impact of Gruden's coaching tenure.

Bottom line: Gruden himself explicitly professes the belief he would run a team the same way Al Davis runs the Raiders. So much for all the bad-blood conspiracy theorists...

I agree with Nick. footballoutsiders is a pretty good source. They showed us we could quantify the sense of impending doom we all felt with KFC's presence in the huddle:

"Collins’ league leading nine delay of game penalties pushed him over the top to be named the biggest single detriment to a team with the

Any wonder KFC's next stop may be back to his Charlotte farm for some quality fishin' time? He likes to take his time, ya see...

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Stick'Em said...

oops...technical difficulties.

Last post should have read, "detriment to a team with the Keep Choppin' Wood Award", which is where the link takes ya.

Not sure how that happened...

4:41 PM  
Anonymous raider00 said...

Just a quick comment on the Raiders schedule for the upcoming season. Once again, the Raiders must play the two teams, Seahawks, & Steelers, who played in the Super Bowl. Last yr. they had to play the Pats, & the Eagles, both on the road. At least this time we get the Steelers at home. I guess that's some sort of progress.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Stick'Em, great article. I hope that I didn't subliminally poach your ideas...I'd rather think it's a matter of great minds thinking alike!

Raider00, that's so true. Yes, it's progress, in the way that it will be progress if the zebras only screw us in one game against the Chiefs this year instead of two, like last year.

6:01 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

I can't believe that they're facing the Steelers, Seahawks AND Bengals. On a positive note, playing the Browns, Texans, Jets, 49ers and Cardinals might completely nullify the other three games.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Sixptstar said...

"supernatural mediocrity" ???
Where do you get that stuff? Great article.

7:45 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

foxsports.com is at it again with this schedule "losers" blast against the silver and black http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/5481412
i'll be glad to see them on prime time, since i live in austin, tx (since '01). i'm tired of the raiders getting bumped here for the crap that is texan and cowgirl football. i want some real football!

1:47 PM  
Anonymous Stick'Em said...

More News You Can't Use (seems like that's all there is these days)

Eric Gilmore says,

"NFL general managers, coaches and personnel chiefs are going to start feeding us that line about how they plan to draft the best available player, regardless of position, when they're on the clock.

My reaction? What a bunch of garbage.

For the most part, NFL teams draft to fill specific needs."


My reply:

Dear Eric,

From Al Davis in the beginning to Mike Lombardi today, the Raiders have always claimed to draft the best player available. Saying they always draft for need is the "garbage" statement.

The Raider philosophy is not so much drafting for need; it's the Raiders drafting the Best Athlete Available (BAA) instead of the Best Player Available (BPA). The two ideas are related, but not interchangeable.

The premise is: if you get guys with the most talent, your coaches can teach 'em how to play.

Conversely, (according to this principle) if you draft guys who can play and who have only average or above average physical talent, you can't turn them into elite athletes no matter how much you coach 'em up.

The problem is some things you just can't teach (like heart or instincts) and some folks you just can't reach (too arrogant or stoopid).

So we've had the laundry list of athlete---> player conversion projects the last five drafts who test well at the Combine, but have not learned to consistently play at the position the Raiders projected.

The Attack of the Killer Tweeners has been a nightmare.

Examples abound, so let us count some of the ways:

2000
1. Sebastian Janikowski, K, Florida State - Polish cannon for a leg, but his head just ain't right enough to consistently nail all the kicks through the uprights. Need/athlete pick since Nedney and Husted screwed up the year prior.

2001
1. Derrick Gibson, S, Florida State - Unarguably drafted for "Must Have Safety" need and no other reason. Can't teach Radio instincts, though you can play him in the box and minimize the damage he can do. Again, Radio is a much better athlete than player.

3. DeLawrence Grant, DE, Oregon State - Slab O'Ribs is just one of the many DE --> LB projects who can't seem to line up right, much less make a play.

2002
1A. Phillip Buchanon, CB, Miami, Fla. - Track star speed in a smurf's body with a Napoleon complex that extinguished any chance of him making any team better.

1B. Napoleon Harris, DE, Northwestern – a DE --> LB project who looked amazing at the Combine and in the eyeball test. Nap. thought he was much better than he obviously is.

2003
1B. Tyler Brayton, DE, Colorado - DE --> LB project. Good upfield rusher with a motor, but he certainly can't cover or move laterally enough to be a LB.

2. Teyo Johnson, WR, Stanford - WR --> TE project. Tweener who couldn't block and unwilling to be taught. Too soft for a TE and too slow to be a WR; Teyo obviously pi$$ed off both Callahan and Turner.

3A. Sam Williams, DE, Fresno State - DE --> LB project. Tweener with an explosive first step, but has a body of paper mache and may never play.

3B. Justin Fargas, RB, USC - Blew everyone away with his straight-line speed at the Combine and could be something...if he ever stayed healthy and actually knew how to hold on to the ball, that is.

4. Shurron Pierson, DE, South Florida - DE --> LB project (Sounds redundant, doesn't it? It is.) who never saw the field.

Bottom line: the BAA method is killing the Raiders' drafts the last few years. BAA is a great pick if we are going for the 40-yard relay team. For football-specific players, it's boom or bust with an emphasis on "KABOOM"!

The no intangibles of the above draft picks (no will to win, no passion, and where's the loyalty?) make it look like someone burned all the college game film at Raider HQ prior to these Drafts.

At this point, just give me the hardest-working, football-savvy, high-character, big-hearted player available. The uber-tangibles players have gotten the Raiders nowhere fast as of late, so I say it's high time to look at intangibles as a big criterion for ranking future draft picks.

I'll take one Kirk Morrison--who already knows how to play LB out of college--over the entire lot of Pierson, Harris, Grant, Brayton, and Williams, who between the five of them haven't done a d@mn thing collectively to improve the LB position.

~Stick'em

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Stick'Em said...

Even more technical difficulties...the link for Eric Gilmore's bogus draft articleis:

http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/
cctimes/sports/14296066.htm

Not sure why it didn't work the first go round...

3:42 PM  

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