Friday, September 29, 2006

A Time for Answers

You know things are bad when the big news of week three is that your team is still learning how to get to the line and snap the ball before the game clock expires.

Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune said it better than I could: “The first two games, it was almost incomprehensible that an NFL team, trailing by double digits late in the game, was continually snapping the ball as the clock was winding to zero. It was almost as if they had a lead and were executing a four-minute drill to work the clock.”

Incomprehensible, indeed. A tad disgraceful, too, I might add.

You all know me. If a dog crapped on my birthday cake, there’s a good chance I’d call it frosting. My pajamas are made of silver (and black) lining. I am committed to optimism as well as excellence.

Alas, however, I must eventually contend with the irritating matter of reality, and the fact is that the Raiders have, offensively speaking (in more ways than one), put my optimism on a starvation diet so far this season. There’s been a lot of talk in the locker room this week, just as there was after the Chargers game, about being tougher and playing better. I’m glad we’re saying the right things. Now it’s time to do the right things. Talk is talk. Facts are nourishment.

So let’s return to the reality at hand, and this incomprehensible bit of business about still learning how to get to the line in time, and the related concept of coaching. There’s been a lot of discussion about our playcalling and our execution, and where one begins and the other ends. But something that has been overlooked in this discussion is this concept of coaching. Not coaching in the playcalling sense of the word, but in the teaching sense of the word. You can say all you want about professionals being expected to execute like professionals. But at the end of the day, the players are students and the coaches are teachers. Otherwise, why have position coaches in the first place?

Until this year, our
quarterbacks coach had no NFL experience, and limited experience as a quarterbacks coach. Now he is charged with preparing Andrew Walter for the complex rigors of the NFL. Is he the guy for the job? How is it that our veteran offensive line seems to have gotten worse under the tutelage of Jackie Slater and Irv Eatman? These two guys are line legends, yes. But are they great teachers? Our offensive coordinator is so rusty that he’s having trouble getting the plays called and our players up to the line in time. Is it fair to assume that his overall teaching skills are similarly rusty?

Far be it from me to call out our position coaches. I really don’t know the first thing about their teaching abilities on the practice field. All I’m saying is that it’s a topic that merits watching as the season progresses. If our execution and fundamentals improve, then it’s a moot point. Indeed, I hope that this is the last time I have to entertain these questions. I should add that I have little concern about Art Shell has a head coach and a team leader. But even the greatest CEO needs a strong management team to succeed.

I am holding good thoughts for this Sunday. We simply cannot lose to the Browns at home. I expect our collective angst be cleansed by the refreshing waters of victory. It’s time to put these ugly questions to rest. It's time for answers.


Blogger TheFreakingPope said...

Well said!

With any luck, we won't be blogging during the third quarter of the game.

Good luck everyone. Pull out the lucky rabbit's foot, lucky boxers, and lucky stikes. It's game time.

12:10 PM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

The reason I think that we are dealing with player issues, and not coaching issues are based on some of the things we're hearing from the players. It's true that we've heard Walter say all of the right things this week. I haven't heard a Raider QB say so many right things since... well, since Rusty Hilger.

Primarily the things I'm talking about are Jordan's assertion that he never even bothered to learn the blocking schemes last season. Explain to me, exactly, how a featured RB neglects to do that. That the team elected Moss as team captain was very telling. Moss is an island, he is not a team leader.

But we'll see what questions are answered this weekend.

One added note: It should be finally put to rest that fans don't show up for Raider games because the local public hates the Raiders, or Al Davis, or the Raider fans - or even that they are discouraged by the inferior product as compared to 49er football. The didn't show up because the Oakland Football Marketing Association was incompetent to the task. Last year for the Raiders/Browns game - 41,000. This year - a sellout to be televised locally - even with two winless teams.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, I am on record as saying I believe our offensive problems are due to the players.

There is no TE, and no fullback. Jordan is average at best, with no big play speed, slow to the hole, poor blocking. The O-line, while young, is suspect. And for some unexplainable reason, Alvis Whitted is starting. No one knows why, he just is.

For all this, I am not that down on the future.

My hope is that after the Raiders stumble around a few more games, Art Shell will wise up, and get the young guys in there.

Play Fargas, Madsen, Adkisson, Fotchi. Let's see what they've got. They can't be any worse then the starters.

Also, I believe the Raiders have an excellent young WR, in Johnnie Morant. CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHY THIS YOUNG, SEEMINGLY TALENTED PLAYER CANNOT GET ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD ???? Are the Raiders saving him for a special occation, like when there 0-16 ?? PLAY THE DAMN KID ALREADY !!!!!!! Worse that can happen is he falls on his face, which is exactly what Whitted does every week.

Also, and most obvious, Andrew Walter should be left in there to play, take his lumps, and learn. Let's all remember, he is going to struggle. He is going to look downright awful at times. But he is also going to show flashes of something really good. We have to ride it out, stick with him, and stay behind him. It might take a year, maybe even two for him to settle in, but he is the future.

If we are patient, I think Walter can be great, that is, if the O-line doesn't get him killed first.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Roy said...

Raider00; Whitted is in and Morant is not playing because of the coaches! It is not the players setting the line-up it is the coaches. As bad as Turner was last year, Jordan was productive as was are offense for the first 5 weeks.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Realy nice to see some positive takes after the initial shock of seeing our team smashed for 2 weeks in a row!! It is difficult to remain positive at times like these but lets be real, we are trying to scratch and claw and dig our way out of the "Abyss" which some of the former staff has left us in...NOT the "Abyss" that Coach Sheel left us in!!! It may take some time but I believe in the man and I believe in Mr. Davis who loves this team more than any one of us could ever love it!!! It is his life, and he has made this team his life for good or bad, Al Davis is the Raiders!! And the Raiders are Al Davis, in his image and I liked that image!!

1:53 PM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

Challenging some conventional wisdom.

It is repeatedly expressed that Al Davis no longer possesses the ability to make strong draft decisions. The conventional wisdom is that Al Davis maintains strict control over all draft choices and overrules his head coaches. This is not born out by successful Raider coaches who've commented after departing the team.

Every successful coach has made the same statement, that Al Davis always goes into the draft with a preference for various players he has reviewed. However, they have also said that they can get who they want as long as they are able to state the case for their preference in better terms than, "I want this guy." What is known about Davis' preferences in the draft is that he searches for the best athlete available at the time of the pick. The reason he does this is to find the players most suited to play special teams - because that's where they are going to play their first couple of years (unless it's a first round choice). Special teams is where the best athletes are preferred over those with the best position skill, because the skills required for special teams are wide ranging. The Raiders philosophy has always been that they would rather reload with free agents. Let some other team train the NFL talent, and let the Raiders reap the reward.

At this point, someone will inevitably point out James Jett, and say this was a bad choice which Davis refused to acknowledge. Well, first of all, Jett wasn't drafted, he was a free agent walk on, and his first season with the Raiders he displayed some incredible catches. One which I witnessed, I was there, was a deep pass to Jett. Hoss threw wide about 10 yards (Hoss had absolutely no accuracy deep). Jett made an almost 90 degree turn in full stride, caught the ball, and then made another 90 degree turn in full stride toward the end zone. It is true that Jett was a one dimensional receiver, only good for the long ball which Gruden completely abandoned while he was with the Raiders. He had value to Art Shell who ran the Gilman offense. White used Jett as a decoy to stretch the field, but since Hoss couldn't throw deep, no team ever worried too much about Jett. However, keeping Jett was likely a business decision. Jett had earned a large contract, but because he had played so little, and because he had no draft lineage, nobody offered anything of value in trade. Cutting Jett would have caused the Raiders to suffer a cap penalty they couldn't afford. I suspect that Davis told Gruden, "He's going to be here until his contract runs out, or until somebody offers something for him, so get what use you can out of him." Since Gruden viewed long passes the way most coaches view punts, Gruden found no use for Jett at all.

I don't think that Gibson was an Al Davis choice. I think he was a Gruden choice because the Raiders had no pure SS at the time. They were going with Dorset who was better suited for FS. Gibson remains on the team, not because Davis is committed to him, but because up until the Raiders got Huff, there was no SS on the team who could stop the run as well. Gibson's great weekness is in pass coverage.

It just seems to me that since the Raiders are doing poorly, fans are starting to buy into the crap that the media dishes out to explain why the team isn't doing well. Well, if the media analysis is crap when the Raiders are doing well, it's also crap when they aren't. I've always thought that the thing that makes Raider fans the best in football is that they adhere to reality rather than the media fantasy - in both good times and bad.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blanda rocked, here is a list of all the Raiders 1st rnd draft picks since they last won the SB:

'85 Jessie Hester WR
'86 Bob Buczkowski DE
'87 John Clay OL
'88 Tim Brown WR
'89 No pick until rnd 6
'90 Anthoney Smith DE
'91 Todd Marinovich QB
'92 Chester Mcglockton DT
'93 Patrick Bates S
'94 Rob Fredrickson LB
'95 Nap Kaufman RB
'96 Ricky Dudley TE
'97 Darrell Russell DT
'98 Charles Woodson CB
'99 Matt Stinhcomb OL
'00 Sebastian Janikowski K
'01 Derick Gibson S
'02 Phillip Buchanon CB
'03 Nnamdi Asomugha CB
'04 Robert Gallery OL
'05 Fabian Washington CB
'06 Mike Huff S

I don't claim to know who is making all these picks. I do know, however, that the great majority of these picks were HORRIBLE, and that the Raiders drafts are going to have to get much better, if we are going to be on top again.

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done as usual, RT. I'm so happy the game is a sellout again this week, GREAT JOB RAIDER NATION!

I totally agree with you on one thing; I believe in Art Shell but I'm not sold on Walsh. However, amidst all the Raider (and Raider coach) bashing by the media, check out what Len Pasquarelli has to say about the situation:

• It's pretty fashionable, given the pathetic production of the Oakland Raiders' offense, to bash head coach Art Shell and coordinator Tom Walsh for the team's struggles. And some of the jabs certainly seem to be justifiable. But much of the criticism is rooted in the perception that, because Shell had not been a head coach since Raiders owner Al Davis fired him following the 1994 season, and Walsh has been out of the league since that same year and most recently was operating a bed-and-breakfast, the offensive design is Neanderthal and out of touch with the modern game. At first blush, with the Raiders not having a single completion to a running back in two games, and seemingly continuing to embrace the mad, bombs-away approach of a bygone era, the assessments appear on point. But this week spoke with an NFL insider who has seen the Oakland offensive playbook first-hand, studied it in-depth and who discussed philosophies with Walsh in detail. And that person, who has been much closer to the Oakland situation in recent weeks than any media person ever will be, said the bashing is knee-jerk stuff and off-base.

"It's true that the [pass] progressions read vertical first, that the first read is to look deep, and that they want to take advantage of the speed of their wide receivers," said the insider. "But to suggest it's a playbook that might have come from the '60s, well, that's just [garbage]. It's no different than most offensive designs. The backs are in pass routes. The tight ends are in pass routes. It's pretty complete stuff. There are things in there that would be in a [Jon] Gruden playbook, for instance, or a Denny Green or Al Saunders playbook. To just say it's one-dimensional, with just deep pass plays, no check-downs to the backs, things like that, it just isn't true. Now, whether they have the players or not, that's another story. But the design isn't just something they pulled out of mothballs."

The insider also insisted that Walsh, a stunning choice by Shell as coordinator, given his time away from the game, has paid more attention to the NFL during his 12-year hiatus than critics believe he has. He said Walsh is able to point out subtle changes in defensive styles and in coaching methodologies. "He'll say something like, 'Well, Dick LeBeau (Pittsburgh defensive coordinator) used to run this zone-blitz this way, but he's tweaked it a little.' He's paid attention. I'm not saying they're going to get it done with this [staff], but it's not all their fault, even if the [critics] are having a field day with them right now."

I think Walsh has to do a better job of actually calling plays, and the players need to do a better job of executing. But the notion that the playbook itself is outdated has been overstated. As Ron Jaworski said of the Raider offense after week 1 (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Every playbook has 3 and 5 step drops, it's just a matter of calling them."

4:57 PM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...


I agree that some of these were busts, but almost all of them came out of college highly touted and were considered to be great picks at the time. I suspect that a large reason they haven't turned out as expected is because we've gone through coaches at an alarming rate since the Raiders move back up from LA. The problem is that many of these players were drafted to fit a certain philosophy, and then the philosophy changed. Many of them were good players, but their attitude turned sour. Patrick Bates is a good for instance. Just when he was poised to become a starter, he decided he wanted to be a Cowboy.

The only true busts in this group are the first three, plus Marinovich. Marinovich is a special case. He trained from childhood through college to become the next Kenny Stabler, but then he decided, the summer he was drafted, that he'd rather smoke weed and surf.

The rest of the list all spent significant time as starters, and each of the last four are currently starters. The jury is still out on Gallery, but the other three are very promising.

In short, I don't think that it's our draft picks that have been bad (I think if you compare us with many other teams we look far better), but it's been the questionable stability of the team itself (i.e., the move back and the rumors that the team would move again, the battles with Oakland, the revolving door at head coach, etc.). I think much of that instability has been generated through the media (some of it deserved).

I think the main thing the Raiders need to do is to re-establish who the Raiders are, and then go with that and stick with it. The hiring of Shell reflects that thinking, and I think it will take a little bit of time to re-establish the sability (the central vision, if you will). Once that's done, we're off!

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By Seth Wickersham
ESPN The Magazine

"Don't do this to us, guys. Please.

We're just not ready for this. Don't take the fun away, the joy derived from pure, unadulterated Raiders hatred. Every NFL fan save yours needs it, you know. And it has nothing to do with Raider Nation, those freaky face-painters for whom happiness comes from turning McAfee Coliseum into some S&M gang war9colored in Randy Moss jerseys, of course. It's a self-esteem thing, as pure and ugly as the basic human need for superiority. No one hates the Texans or Packers or Lions or Titans the way they do the renegade, outlaw, overpaid, overlitigated, "Just sin, baby" Oakland Raiders. "


7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I agree with you up to a point. If you look at the Raiders last SB squad, it's clear a blend of both free agents, and draft picks made up the team.

Plunkett, Christensen, and Alzado, were grabed off waivers. Hendricks was a free agent. Haynes, a hold out, came in a trade.

But the roster was also well stacked with great draft picks, all over. Long, Pickel, Townsend, Hayes, Davis, Mcelroy, Millen, Martin, on defense.

Allen, Hawkins, Branch, Lawrence, Dalby, Williams, on offense.

I mean, Al Davis drafted all these great players, and sad, but true, he just hasn't done it over the last 20 yrs.

Anyone who tells me this current offense has talent, well, I can only laugh, and think of what used to be.

As a long time Raiders fan, I guess I am not ready to lower my standards of excellence just yet.

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're all going round and round wondering what's wrong. Take the Gruden era out and the last twenty years have been really the same thing. You think Al's not calling the draft picks? Forget about it. The Seabass disaster was the straw that sent Gruden packing. We could have had Shawn Alexander!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The only constant over the last twenty years is Al. A great football mind the first half of his career, a disaster the last half. Stubborn as hell. He won't admit he just can't pick talent or run a successful team anymore. He won't admit it and step aside. NOW, his vaunted "best record all time in the nfl" is about to be toppled. As most of you have read, if Miami wins tomorrow and we lose, they're #1. And the way things look for us don't expect it to go back and forth between the two teams all year. I will be SHOCKED if we get it together. I hope I am wrong. So many folks have called our offense backwards and outdated, I don't know who the "nfl insider" was that was quoted in the blog above but I suspect it was Al or Amy Trask... or Walsh himself. Things just look nausiatingly similar to how they did with Shcroeder, Hoss, Marinovich, George, Collins etc etc. Sack after sack after sack. Problem is no doubt coaching... there is no way, year in and year out, all of our players are awful offensive players. Look at Moss for crying out loud! The guys a play maker and Walsh can't get him the ball! Everyone's saying he's lost a step. BS. Walsh has no clue what he's doing. Gallery is not THAT bad. They were comparing the guy to Pace and Ogden a few years ago. I bet he'd be in the pro bowl if Marty had him.
Final thought on our inept coaching staff: Think of all the players we think of as busts under the Sid Gillam offense we've forcing since '87, including our players now. Okay- now think of Gruden's early days and Donald Hollis. Here was a QB with no reason whatsoever for being in the nfl and we WERE ACTUALLY COMPETITIVE WITH THIS GUY AT THE HELM. We wern't great, but dammit we were much more competitive with Donald Hollis than we were with George, Collins, Brooks, Walter etc!!! Think about that a minute.
That, gentlemen, is offensive scheme and coaching.
And what sux the worst for me is I know the walsh/shell thing will NEVER bring us a title.. so what do you do? It makes it hard to get happy about a win against the mediocre Browns because it will only prolong things. You almost want further disaster, so as to hurry the inevitable along. IF Al is shamed enough he will, quietly, convince a great coach to come here under the agreement that he (Al) will stay out of things. Jimmy Johnson? He genuinely likes Al, but would never coach without full control. Al would cave in and give full control, finally, in order to preserve/save his "best nfl record all-time" stat. That stat alone, may make Al get off his ass and turn over control... because it's HIS LEGACY.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan, we could have still had Jano... in the fourth round. You don't take a kicker in the 1st round.

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for DaRaidas Al don't pay atention to what projections say!!! SeaBass would have been gone early that year and we were forjunate to also get our pro-boul punter next, we needed both and they were exelant picks in any round!!! History has shown!!! Look around at the contracts given to kickers and punters in recent years and you can see the value DaRaidas got that year, valuable players!!! DamnSure!!!

I like most of what I read to day from the Posters!! but there always has to be a "BadAttitude" in the mix to try to be a downer, that has been the problem of late with our team, "LowAltitudeBadAttitudeDudes" in the locker room and infiltraiting the FanBase....

Tomorrow will speak loudly, this we know for sure, and we will have a better assesment of out team!!! But no mater what happens tomorrow or the next week or the next, I for one will never start badmouthing the Hall-O-fame players and coaches and owner who wrote our glorious history!!!! "FuckThatShit" Aint no traida, "I Be A Raida" Thank you Al for not bowing to "DaBastads" Just like a "Downer" at the bottom of the pit with 6 or 8 other dudes and he can't see his way to the top, starts digging a deeper hole??? "Look-Up Stupid" Follow the light, its at the top of the hole not under your damn feet!!!! Happy to see several of our kind looking up, Claw Scratch Gouge into the turf but dammnit, We Gettin Outta-Here, start climbling Dude and stop Winenin!!!!

PantyRaider-FaithFul-Loyal-and True!!
Don't Give A Damn We Be Many Or Few!!!
Take Heed And Fear, You Wimpering Dude
Our Glorious Owner Be Committed And Shrude

Time Now To Put An End To That Fued

Gooooo! RAIDAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaasssss!

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Panty Raider: I'd have an easier time interpreting the Beatle's "Honey Pie" or "Revolution #9" than whatever the heck you were rambling about above. Tennessee Williams always wrote drunk, here's tippin' my jackie D in your direction Panty Raider cuz we all three must use the same muse (thanks Al for the lame team that has driven me back to the bottle). But your down with our boys Panty Raider so I respect that. Sorry to come off as negative but Go$$&mn we suck. What was Walter versus the Browns? 9 for 23?... 80 some odd yards? Boy that's impressive. I guess it's just cuz most of you on this board are from the west coast and must have seen something from Walter that I missed. I only saw him one time in his colege career and granted it was USC, but he sucked that day. Al's gonna have to improve his product. Man, let me think about this some more... we lost to the F*&^%$ browns at home. Let me let that sink in a minute. Okay... now let me go toss my jackie d in the toilet. Thanks Al for wasting good Tennessee bourbon, you decrepit old sixties hack of dog %$#@,
Hey I know! Maybe we can trade our tickets and direct TV in for a private showing of Alvis Whitted running the 40!!!! Al can give out silver and black stopwatches and we can all ooh and ahhh while Alvis tears it up sans coverage!

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



Al Davis will sooner or later realize that his way will not suffice in the league. The bad calls, dropped passes, no motivation to go out there and compete shows us one thing. Art Shell was the only choice because no one else wanted the job, why? BECAUSE OF AL DAVIS THAT'S WHY

Art Shell's last stint at this got him fired because he has horrible clock management skills and lacks the depth to see the full picture and hire the right personel. That is why no one in the league wanted to hire Shell.

Personel issues are also a big problem. Since we lost Bruce Allen, we haven't had a credible front office. Mike L. is just not cut for this. He needs help in the front office.

Gurden's success came by doing what needed to be done. Wheather Al liked it or not. Gurden knew how to tame Al for a short time. Al's ego is too big, to have two egos on one team. I am really sadden by how we have played the last four years. But I am a Raider fan for life. The ups and downs are all part of getting back to the top. One day will shall rise from the ashes again.

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didnt get to see the game, how did Walters look? Was he way off were the passes being dropped? How did the O-line look? Man I need to get the NFL ticket. Looks like we really are on the clock! YOWZERS!


8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TOO Positive!!! Ok, maybe ya all don't want to hear it?? But that is who I am even after 56 years of a life that has really sucked I continue to look up and see positive HOPE!!!

"D" played well the first half giving up 3 points and scorring 7, an improvemnet over last year for sure and the "D" was better the first 2 weeks also, but the problem is that the "O" leaves them on the field for too many plays and they start to wear down and give ground later in the game. They had 3 or more sacks, nocked down balls and got the int in the end zone, brought the heat to the QB so the Dogs went to a quick strike "O" to take off the preasure.

The "D" did have problems and need improvement "Tackling", this sucked several times. The back-field played off the ball too far and gave up plays underneith on short yardage, they were burned on some screen passes and out of position deep in the end-zone.

"D" first half---Grade B+
"D" Game---------Grade C+

Special teames were in and out of good to bad and got craped on by the the Zebras with the penality on the hit of the returner. That was a great play and timed out perfect!!! Should have been Dogs ball at the one or a safty for 2 pts. not first down at the 34.


Oh! the "O", Good in the first half running the ball, Jordan gained 102 yards and it was a marked inprovement in run blocking over the past games. Became inconsistant in the second half and trusted the run too much when it was not there, tried to run on short yardage from too deep in the backfield, had too manay zero gains and losses of yardage.

Passing game failed to take advantage of the running to set up the pass, where was the play action??? Screens were inconsistant and too many droped passes, went deep often but could have used it to set up the "D" with a come back patern but failed, Moss was lazy not going for the ball, pass protection was improved but not consistant, QB showed some hart running for yardage and standing in the pocket under preasure, showed signs of a quality QB but needs time to learn the game, still a rooky with his first start and made rooky mistakes.

"O"----Grade D
An improvement from the F---minus-minus-minus of the first 2 weeks.

Overall players were agressive, played the entire game, acted like they gave a shit, were only a few catches or bad calls away from the vicory, I liked the Crurry/Slash play calling and hope it continues along with some other creative plays.

Grade B

Coaching, where was the red flag, why be afraid to through it? I don't understand??? Over-confident in the run to get the first down and wanted to save the flag for something else??? after the bad spot!!! Failure to make adjustments in the second half when the plays were not working and to take advantage of the Dogs "D", but he had his players playing hard and that is a good sign, I can see the improvement and step by step we may end up with a good football team.

Grade ????? Will wait to see what happens, can't grade the coach this early in his first his year back!!!

Projection, not a play-off team but not going to get the #1 draft pick either, 6-10, 7-9, ?????


9:04 PM  

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