Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Mouthful of Altoids

Hmm…Where was I? Sorry I’ve been a bit out of touch lately. I took a vacation. A mental one, not a physical one. Even Raider Take has an offseason, I guess.

Anyhow, last year about this time, I was routinely flapping my gums about the dawn of the Art Shell era and the return to classic Raiders smashmouth football. Well, you know whose mouths got smashed, and my jaw is still sore.

Last year about this time, I was howling about the injustice of the annual football guides all predicting that the Raiders would be a disaster. Turns out, they were right, and I was wrong.

So I might be inclined to tread lightly right now. After all, we have an unproven head coach and bunch of new skill position players playing behind virtually the same offensive line. Some would say we are entering the unknown here, and that I should keep my mouth shut until I’m given a real reason to cheer.

Well, to hell with that, because I've got plenty of reasons to cheer already. I’m here to declare that I’m feeling minty fresh. Yes, minty fresh. I’m not talking about a stick of peppermint gum, either. As someone said earlier (was it Doobie?), I’ve got a mouthful of Altoids. The Raiders Haters can come in here and run their tired smack. I’ll spit Altoids in their faces until they, too, are feeling minty fresh.

I called it right rather early last season when I said that we had a serious coaching, and teaching, problem on our hands. Not that we didn’t have a player problem, too. But we had a serious coaching problem, and there’s been ample evidence since the end of the season to suggest that our team was, indeed, mired in anachronistic thinking, disorganized leadership and overall coaching incompetence.

No longer. I’ve been totally impressed with the poise and authority exerted by Lane Kiffin as the leader of our team. We actually have a coaching staff that has been engaged in the daily grind of the NFL, that is up to speed, experienced, and able to implement normal competitive football in the year 2007. I also think that we have been significantly refreshed and reloaded at the positions of quarterback, running back and wide receiver. I think that our execution and performance will improve accordingly.

So I was happy to see Pro Football Weekly’s 2007 NFL Annual put us down for a total of four wins this year. I’m not buying it. We were a few bad breaks from winning a couple of close games last year, despite our absurd circumstances. I know, a loss is a loss. I’m not going to argue that we were better than 2-14 last year, because the record says we weren’t. But I will argue that we are better than 4-12 this year. Mark my words.

On that note, let me declare the end to the false starts on the Return to Glory. The future is right now.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

News You Can't Use

Sometimes you just find yourself with a gun and a barrel full of fish. Well, that’s how I feel right now. It’s almost too easy to pull the trigger on this little creature, entitled “Raiders continue on a wayward course.”

After all, the publisher of this intellectual jewel just launched something called Media Watch (hmm…that sounds familiar…I should have thought of that...) to “provide our readership with an opportunity to call out individual members of the media who say or write something on the board of outlandish. Here's how it works: If you hear a talk radio personality, newspaper columnist or television commentator make an assertion that sounds contrived or is just flat-out stupid, simply e-mail us.”

Guys, it’s already time to email yourselves.

Exhibit A: “The first move in a series of oddities was the firing of Art Shell and the subsequent hiring of Lane Kiffin as Oakland's head coach.”

How odd, they fired a coach whose team won two games amid utter coaching chaos.

Exhibit B: “So to compound the original mistake of hiring Shell last season, they followed it by hiring the youngest head coach in the NFL, the 31-year-old Kiffin. It's hard to imagine a coach who is younger than many of the players on the team coming in and commanding respect.

Yeah, that was a real problem for John Madden, Al Davis, Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher, who were 32, 33, 34 and 34 respectively when they got their first NFL head coaching gigs.

Exhibit C: “Two other dumbfounding moves were the acquisition of quarterback Josh McCown and wide receiver Mike Williams from the Detroit Lions in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick.”

Josh McCown is our likely starting quarterback come September. Until trading for him, our QB depth chart lacked a veteran presence as a hedge against an unproven Walter and Russell’s lack of NFL experience. You might question why we didn’t go out and get a more proven quarterback earlier, but to call this trade, at that point in time, “dumbfounding” is, well, you know…dumbfounding.

Hey, why are all those little fishies swimming upside down?

And that, Raiders fans, is the one, the only, the original News You Can’t Use.

P.S. Thanks to Stick'Em and BlandaRocked for the tips!


Thursday, May 03, 2007

JaMarcus Russell Nickname Derby

About this time last year, we hosted the Paul McQuistan Haiku Fest, in which we racked up nearly 70 haikus in honor of our newly drafted warrior lineman with the flaming mullet. I believe that it is our duty to once again embark on some similarly creative post-draft mischief.

In an earlier take, AllyOop said (in haiku, no less) that JaMarcus Russell was "perched on a nickname." Hmmm...The wheels are turning. How to proceed? Wait, I've got it: The 2007 JaMarcus Russell Nickname Derby.

This is no idle exercise. Nicknames play a storied role in the Raider Nation. The Snake. The Mad Bomber. Mad Stork. The Ghost...Raiders fans have long demonstrated a penchant for nicknames that are unique and timeless, and that avoid the obvious in favor of more poetic glory. It is our obligation to nurture this grand tradition.

Allow me to kick things off with a few suggestions:

JaMarcus "The Dagger" Russell

With his deep passes, killer timing and knack for the dramatic, JaMarcus Russell plunges a dagger into the hearts of our AFC West foes...

JaMarcus "Earthquake" Russell

A hulking quarterback who makes the turf shake in earthquake country, with the added tie-in to our Autumn Wind theme song: "The trees all shake, and quiver and quake, as he robs them of their gold..."

So let the derby begin. Here's how it works: (1) Suggest a nickname! You may not leave the premises without suggesting at least one nickname, preferably with some explantory reasoning; (2) While you're at it, vote for your favorite or favorites from those suggested earlier, which will allow a consensus to emerge.

May the best nickname win!