Sunday, September 30, 2007

Any Questions?

Total domination, right down the opponent's throat. Welcome back Raiders football.

The bad news is that I was out this morning, and I'll have to watch it on TiVo. The good news is that I was able to listen to the fourth quarter in the car, tuning into the Miami broadcast via Sirius NFL Radio. Their crew was literally freaking out. They should be put on suicide watch. I thought they might jump through the glass and right out of their booth after Culpepper rushed for his third touchdown with 20 seconds left.

I made my case for Culpepper earlier this week. Case closed. He just brings a different dimension to our offense. Thanks for the gift, Miami. Hope you enjoy Trent Green.

From games one through four, the Raiders have steadily improved, from a loss to the Lions (who just beat the Bears for their third victory), to a yard wide of a victory in Denver, to a close win over the Browns (who beat the Bengals before coming to Oakland, and the Ravens today), to a rout of the Dolphins in Miami. This is called momentum. I think I remember what that feels like. It's been a while.

And don't you love the irony, as H pointed out, of Joey Porter guaranteeing a Dolphins victory, and Jerry Porter catching two touchdowns for the Raiders? Looks like one of the Porters forgot he was playing on a winless team.

That silence you hear is the doubters and haters, slack jawed and scratching their heads, working on their increasingly convoluted spin about how the Oakland Raiders are the worst team in football.

Update: We now own a share of first in the AFC West. The San Diego fans were chanting "Mar-ty! Mar-ty!" at the end of today's loss to the Chiefs. The Raiders were 2-14 last season, and the Chargers were 14-2, but they had something crucial in common beyond their inverted records: they both fired their coaches. In their infinite wisdom, the Chargers fired the guy who led them to 14 victories with a first-year starter at quarterback and hired Norv Turner, whose previous audition as a head coach in the AFC West was an abject failure. The Chargers taunted the football gods, they thought they were smarter than 14-2, and that the coach really didn't matter in the midst of such alleged executive managerial brilliance, and to prove it they hired Norv Turner, just to make sure we knew who was boss. They reaped, and now, to my delight, they sow.

Haiku: Raiders 35 / Dolphins 17

I’ll take some 'Pepper
with my Fish, tastes like Hater
garnished with Fargas.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


With the Broncos poised to lose against the Colts in Indianapolis, a share of first place in the AFC West is ours to take in Miami.

I saw a screaming headline on last week, stating that San Diego’s problems aren’t Norv Turner’s fault, it’s the Chargers defense’s fault. Wow. Based on that logic, Art Shell should still be our coach. After all, last year was the offense’s fault, right?

Look at it this way—there is only one team in our division that appears to be progressing, as opposed to regressing, compared to last year. That team is the Oakland Raiders. The Chargers have already equaled their loss total of 2006. Who wants to bet that the Chiefs will win nine games for a second straight year? As for the Broncos, they’re two last-second field goals away from an 0-3 record.

Now the Broncos head to Indianapolis. Good luck. I predict a loss—which means that a Raiders victory over the Dolphins will put them into a share of first place in the AFC West. I think that Lane Kiffin is Mike Shanahan’s worst nightmare. Shanahan has feasted on the ineptitude of Norv Turner and Art Shell for the past three years. Now he knows there’s no longer a free lunch in Oakland. In fact, he’d better protect his own lunch money, because Kiffin’s got an appetite.

I don’t want to get too cocky with a mere two points against the Browns separating us from a winless record this year. But if we dish up some Florida sushi on Sunday, and if the Broncos lose to the Colts, then it’s a whole new season, and momentum will be on our side. This game is bigger than I could have ever imagined. Seize the day, Oakland Raiders.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Case for Culpepper

Josh McCown currently has four touchdowns, six turnovers, 494 yards and a QB rating of 75.2. He had a solid game against the Lions, a dreadful game against the Broncos, and a marginal game against the Browns. So who is the real Josh McCown?

The truth may be in the rating. In the prior three seasons in which he saw action in more than two games (2003 – 2005 with the Arizona Cardinals), his QB ratings were 70.3, 74.1 and 74.9. This year, it’s 75.2. Do you see a pattern here?

Those aren’t bad numbers. But they’re not great, either. They’re just okay. Maybe, to paraphrase his former coach, “He is who we thought he is!” I don’t know.

What I do know is that Daunte Culpepper has previously demonstrated a knack for the remarkable, not just the ordinary. I would like to see if he can be remarkable again for the Raiders. After all, he has a history of being remarkable. McCown doesn’t.

We need look no further than Randy Moss to see that a player can be literally reborn as his former self. Does that mean I miss Moss? No. He would have always been a liability on our team. He is a creep, and therefore a great fit for Bill Belichick. But there’s no denying he has been reborn as his former self. Returning health, coupled with a change of scenery, can work wonders in the NFL.

Let’s take a brief trip down Culpepper’s memory lane. In his last full season as a starter in 2004, Culpepper had his best of several magnificent seasons—39 touchdowns and a rating of 110.9. In 2005, after losing Moss as his go-to receiver, Culpepper got off to a rough start, and then got injured. But he wasn’t alone. The whole Vikings organization was in a tailspin. The head coach was scalping tickets and the Love Boat washed ashore. Then Culpepper went to an equally dysfunctional organization, Nick Saban’s Miami Dolphins, where he was never really healthy in the first place.

Meantime, after the 2005 season in Oakland, I thought that Josh McCown would have been a good choice to compete for the starting job with Andrew Walter. I also thought the same of Jon Kitna. This was at a point when we’d hit a wall with Kerry Collins, the free agent market was thin, and folks were pretty bullish on Andrew Walter, including the Raiders organization, which passed on Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler in the draft, presumably because they thought Andrew Walter had serious potential. This was also when McCown had just stepped off Denny Green’s maniacal QB merry-go-round—and before he failed to beat Jon Kitna for the job in Detroit last year.

I held out hope for McCown when he joined the Raiders—not that I had much choice, considering that Culpepper wasn’t in the picture until early August and Russell remained unsigned. Now, however, I’m concerned that the flashes of excellence McCown showed in Arizona were just that: flashes. I’m concerned that a QB rating of around 75.0 is simply his median and his destiny—not bad, but far from great.

Ben Roethlisberger was widely considered to have had a poor season last year. His rating for the 2006 season? It was 75.4.

Does this mean that I dislike McCown? No. Does this mean that I joined the chorus of boos on opening day? No. Does this mean I can’t root for him? No.

All it means is that I think Daunte Culpepper is equally capable of a maintaining QB rating of 75.0—and possibly much more, because he’s done it before. McCown hasn’t. Additionally, I have to say that, from my vantage, Culpepper brought intangibles to our offense last Sunday. He just seemed more decisive and accurate. I don’t really see it in the stats, but I saw it with my eyes.

So I submit to you that sticking with Culpepper would be an exercise in minimal risk with significantly more potential upside. Those are odds that I can live with. Let's put a rest to the QB indecision. We’re literally a few yards wide of being in sole possession of first place in the AFC West. Let’s not give up on the promised land, and let’s firmly get behind the guy who is most likely to take us there.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Five Postgame Takes

1. We’re tied for second place in the AFC West, and we are a mere yard wide of being alone in first place. The Norv era is officially underway in San Diego. The Chiefs are in a tailspin. The Broncos are two last-second field goals away from 0-3. There’s still a lot of work to be done. However, we have scored 20 or more points three times in three games after reaching the 20-point mark only four times last year. We’re not going 65 miles per hour yet, but the vehicle is out of the ditch and starting to gain momentum—and LaMont “Horsepower” Jordan has taken the wheel. Bravo to him. Bravo to Jerry Porter, too, for toughing out a crucial grab.

2. You didn’t hear a peep out of me regarding the ShanaRat timeout last week, and I have received karmic repayment.

3. I saw no dropoff with Culpepper, he gave me fewer scares than McCown in terms of decisions and accuracy, and he cured our red-zone drought (yes, that TD came via the run, but he set it up). I see more zip and precision with his throws. McCown does seem to be a bit more mobile, but I think Culpepper will put a bigger scare into defenses, which is why I would put him into the game next week, especially as it’s against the team that dumped him. I’m sure he’d love to feast at the table of payback.

4. Honestly, the prevent defense has been killing this team for a decade or more. Did you see the Browns ripping off 10 and 15-yard chunks on their last scoring drive? That drive was the poster child for a decade’s worth of prevent defenses. Then it got worse…In the words of NY Raider: “Our last defensive play was a hybrid of the prevent and no defense (and we even took a timeout to come up with that gem)!” Yeah, that was truly special. We literally had no one on the defensive line and still gave up a nearly lethal reception. Ludicrous. Prevent the prevent!

5. The haters will spin this to high hell. The same haters who said that the Broncos earned last week's win will say that the Raiders got lucky today. The same haters who knocked around this board boasting what a big deal it will be "when" the Browns beat the Raiders will now say that the opponent was insignificant. I rejoice in their emotional illogic as well as our victory.

Haiku: Raiders 26 / Browns 24

Victory, nearly
“prevented” but not; our time
finally comes, rejoice!

Friday, September 21, 2007


I took some flak for calling out our defense for awful tackling after Sunday’s game against the Broncos.

As of yesterday, however, I have found an unlikely ally: the wife of Rob “Caveman” Ryan.

Yesterday, The Caveman spoke. He said: “We got to hit and tackle. Shoot even my wife noticed that. She says, ‘You don’t know much about football. Teach them to tackle.’”

Added The Caveman while gnawing on the leg of a triceratops: “It's a serious business. You miss tackles, I don’t care who you are, you don't have a defense worth a damn. We’ve been pointing it out and we’ve been correcting it. As fundamentals go, you still got to have'em, even in pro football. And if you don't, you're a pile of junk.”

To me, it all boils down to one thing: WWTD? That is, what would Tatum do? Would he get pushed backward down a sideline by a puny running back under any circumstances? Would he, upon having a perfect angle and an open field, whiff numerous tackles? Would he lack fundamentals?

No, Jack would not.

We need the spirit of Jack back. We need our defense to Jack some people up. We need to ask of our defense: WWTD? Hence, Raider Take’s new WWTD? two-sided shirt, which I submit to you as a stylish rallying cry for the 2007 season. It makes a great early Christmas gift, too. I hear that Stuart Schweigert wears size XXL. Click here to purchase.

P.S. No disrespect intended to the Christian motif of WWJD? I am a believer, and I don’t think that humor is inconsistent with my beliefs.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How The AFC West Was Won

By BlandaRocked:

I'm watching the town folks gather over at the saloon. Looks like there's a neck-tie party a brewin'. The crowd goes quiet as Calico Jack steps into the room. Calico will put reason in all this nonsense, and steps up on a chair to stand on one of the poker tables.

"Hang 'im!" says Calico. "Hang 'im high!"

"I got the rope!" says Bama.

"Let's get over to Marshall Take's jail house 'n take 'im!" yells Ole H.

Men reach for their weapons and head out of the saloon's swinging doors labeled Gallery-Sims.

"Where ya all headed?" shouts Psycho, arriving late.

"We're gonna hang 'im," yells Panty from the middle of the pack.


"No. McCown!"

The crowd gathers in front of the jail house on Main Street, and Marshall Take steps onto the porch.

"Whatcha all want?" askes Take.

"There's been enough justice," calls NYRaider. "It's time for a lynchin'!"

"Four games!" Take lowers both barrells of his shotgun in the direction of the crowd. "Judge Kiffin says the trial's not over yet. We need four games."

"Look, I don't like it any better'n you do," says Take. "But them's my orders."

"What's Mayor Davis got to say?" asks a voice from the crowd.

"He says the authority belongs to Kiffin," answers Take.

"McCown's jes been able to 'scape justice cause a tricky lawyers like Blandarocked," yells Heartland.

"Trial's not over," repeats the Marshall. "When the trials over, then we'll hang 'im, and not before."

Blandarocked steps on to the porch along side the Marshall.

"What y'all plannin'?" asks the lawyer, feeling for the shoulder holster under his three piece suit.

Psycho, with three weeks growth of beard and dirty clothes, takes a long pull from his near empty jug.

"Time for a little tree top justice," says Bama.

The Marshall turns to Blandarocked.

"I agree with these here folks," says Take. "Judge Kiffin looks like he's willin' to let things go on jes a little too long."

"Justice takes as long as it takes," says the lawyer, "otherwise it's not justice."

"I have a mind to let this crowd have 'im, jes like I did Schweigert this morning. He's hangin' from that old oak jes outside a town."

Psycho pulls the jug from his lips mid gulp, wasting cheap whiskey all over himself.

"Schweigert?" he says. "I missed Schweigert's lynchin'!?"

"You were passed out," says Holy Roller.

The crowd falls silent. A big man dressed all in black rides down the street on a silver horse. He looks straight ahead.

"Why that there looks like Cole Pepper," says H, "he's the fastest gun in these here parts."

The crowd parts as the silver horse approaches the jailhouse porch.

The man on the horse looks down at Marshall Take and Blandarocked.

"Is it true?" asks Take. "You Cole Pepper?"

"Yep," answers the man. "Mayor Davis hired me. I'm lookin' for a man by the name of McCown."

Gun shots are heard behind the barn down the street.

"Whatcha got goin' on out behind that barn?" asks Pepper.

"That's the guy Mayor Davis hired before you," says Take. "He showed up late and is out behind the barn practicin' his quick draw. That's why Davis musta hired you."

"Mayor Davis asked me ta take out a man by the name a McCown," says Pepper, "an that's what ah intend to do."

Blandarocked steps up in front of Marshall Take.

"Judge Kiffin says it's not your time," warns Blandarocked.

"My time is... my time." says Pepper.

Blandrocked feels again for his shoulder holster, and for the daringer tucked inside the sweatband of his boller hat.

"Man here in town," says Blandarocked, "by the name of T.J. Pope, says you ain't as good as advertised."

"You wanna try me?" asks Pepper.

"Not me," says Blandarocked, stepping aside.

"I had some trouble down Florida way, in a place called Fishville, with Pope's family," Pepper reflects. "I figure to settle that trouble down there in two weeks. But first things first."

Hey, I writes 'em as I sees 'em.

"Well shoot!" says Arizona. "Seems to me we kin save ourselves a hangin', and jes let these two, McCown 'n' Pepper, have at it."

"Yeah, but where?" says Nate.

"I got an idea," says Take. "Why don't we have both men walk into that place down the street," he says pointing. "The man that comes out will be the man that Russell runs out a town when he finishes practicing."

"Huh?" asks Calico?

"I get it," says Raider00. "Once they go in there, it's kill or be killed. The man who lives is the man for Russell to run out a town."

"But that there's a dog pound!" yells Calico angrily. "And them inside is all dawgs!"

"I can live with that," says BlandaRocked, and he nods for Take to produce McCown. "Whoever lives, lives until Russell is finished practicin'. Can't think a anything fairer than that."

(story to be continued after week 3)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

So Close...

In a tale of two halves, we nearly wrote the last chapter. I am frustrated by the outcome, but proud of our team. Last year, after a first half like that, we would have folded. This time, we fought. We were one missed tackle away from icing it last week. We were a foot wide of winning it today. We need to hang in there. Our time will come.

P.S. Schweigert can't tackle and Porter needs more guts when going for the glory.

Halftime Take

We are very fortunate to be down by only 14 points. Some quick observations:

McCown’s judgment has been questionable, and not only on the interceptions. He ripped off a great run, but got creamed at the end when he seemed to not see a defender coming right for him. He is currently five of eight for 12 yards and two interceptions. He also fumbled, but thankfully we recovered.

Our safeties have been pretty abysmal. They never seem to be near the ball. Schweigart got manhandled along the sideline by a little running back, a truly embarrassing effort.

Our defense needs to step up, and our offensive playcalling needs to open up. I hate the thought of musical chairs at QB, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Culpepper at this point. Couldn't be any worse.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The View from Thin Air

A few days ago, our friend—enemy?—at invited Raider Take to answer five questions regarding the Oakland Raiders. Click here to read the Q&A.

Now it’s our turn. Below are questions posed by Raider Take commentators, followed by answers from Kyle at Consider it a partisan scouting report for today’s game.

As they say, keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Despite our mutual antipathy, this exchange reveals that rivals can still talk Xs and Os.

However, I still think that Mike Shanahan is Charles Manson’s lost sibling, that the Broncos’ uniforms are utterly shameful and that the Raiders are the only team to win the AFC West three times in this decade, the only team in the AFC West to reach the AFC Championships twice in this decade, and the only team in the AFC West to advance to the Super Bowl in this decade.

From H: Even though the Broncos won last week’s game and outplayed the Bills, they appeared to struggle getting the ball into the end zone. What do you feel is the main reason for this, and do you see it as a long-term problem?

I'll start this response by giving this quick nugget/stat - the Broncos made it to the AFC Championship Game in 2005. Now it's less than two years later, and we only have six of those 22 starters. All of these new components over the last few seasons, as well as the release of some of our veteran leaders (especially Al Wilson) has to have some impact on the team. Give it time, and I believe this team will "gel" in the red zone.

And also, we had this problem last year as well, and have yet to fix it. Hopefully a little more time will.

From BlandaRocked: The Broncos seemed to suffer a deterioration of both their offensive and defensive lines in the preseason. There seemed to be a lot of concern about that in the media. Do you feel that the lines are now set, or do you feel they are going through a rebuilding process?

I think the defensive line gave us more cause for concern than the O-line. I'm a huge Montrae Holland fan, our right guard, one of the less talked about moves in free agency but whom I believe could be a Pro Bowler from the footage I've seen so far. I think our offensive line is the best it has been in years, and remarkably Tom Nalen still isn't showing his age.

I'm less sold on our defensive line, particularly in run support, although I think the addition of Simeon Rice (combined with Elvis Dumervil and our two draft picks) could pay us huge dividends in the pass rush, something we've lacked over the past several seasons.

From Anonymous and JanFran: How do the fans view Jay Cutler and do they believe he is the one to get them back to the Super Bowl? Is there concern that he started too soon?

I am one of the few Jake Plummer fans out there. I loved the guy and hated to see him go to Tampa. That being said, I was still calling for his neck after we lost the San Diego game last year (many non-Broncos fans forget both the Broncos and Chargers were tied 7-2 at that point, and that the Broncos had a 17 point lead late in the third quarter). He just wasn't playing at his level last year, and the move needed to be made.

Jay Cutler has definitely shown me enough to believe we'll win at least a few rings during his career. You hear the other players after the game talk in their pressers, guys like Travis Henry and Javon Walker, who talked about Cutler's poise in the huddle and showing real leadership when the team was down in the final minutes. That kind of confidence, and sheer talent that he has, definitely has all Broncos fans (including myself) thinking Super Bowl.

From Bama7: Do you think Shanahan remains the coach, in spite of his playoff futility since Elway, primarily because of how well he has done against Oakland? Do you think Shanahan's job would be in jeopardy if he ever missed the playoffs AND lost both games in a season to Oakland (tall order these days, I know)?

Shanahan has the best record of any coach in the last 10 or so years. And he hasn't had the franchise quarterback to build around until now. His record against Oakland has little to do with him remaining our coach, and if he were to lose to Oakland 10 times in a row I doubt his job would be in jeopardy solely based on that.

From RaiderGreg: Do Broncos fans think the Raiders will be a factor in the AFC West this season? Why or why not?

I can't speak for all fans, but I do. I think they'll finish above the Chiefs this year, and if they can put up a better defensive effort than they did last week I believe they will finish with between 6 and 8 wins. I think they could surprise a few good teams and steal a win or two from a playoff caliber team (like the Chargers!). Starting Week 3, of course.

Thanks, Kyle at, see you in Oakland in a few months.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Six-Year Snow Job

In what turned out to be an exercise in magnificent timing, a Patriots fan waltzed into Raider Take a few weeks ago, wagging his finger at the Raider Nation while, of course, wielding the superior tone that has become endemic to the Patriots fan base.

This was shortly before the Patriots were caught conducting illegal surveillance on the New York Jets. Since then, we’ve found a cure for the illness known as Patriot Fan Smugness, and it’s called Bill Belichick. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

But let’s back up a bit. When the Patriots fan tried to carpet bomb the Raider Nation here at Raider Take, Calico Jack of Silver & Black Forever put things into perspective for him:

Google any team with a rich history and you will find that winning and losing seasons are cyclical. This includes teams like the Cowboys, Steelers, Niners, Raiders, Patriots etc. It took the Patriots 41 years to win their first Super Bowl. You are in the midst of a nice run in this decade. Enjoy it since it won't last forever.

Here are the relevant facts on both franchises:

Regular Season Record:
Patsies 350/341/9
Raiders 400/302/11

Playoff Record:
Patsies 19/12
Raiders 21/17

Divisional Titles:
Patsies 10
Raiders 15

Conference Championships:
Patsies 5
Raiders 5

SB Appearances:
Patsies 5
Raiders 5

SB Victories:
Patsies 3
Raiders 3

In every single category the Raiders are tied or superior to your beloved Patsies. It is easy for you to toot your team's horn when you are on top but I'm sure you are the type of fan who is in the witness protection program when you guys are down.

The problem with Patriots fans is that they think the NFL didn’t exist before 2001 and, as a result, they are utterly self righteous. Consider that the Colts have been to the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons, culminating in a Super Bowl victory earlier this year, but their fans seem to have a lot more perspective on their team’s place in the world. Same goes with fans of most other successful teams.

The Patriots’ three Super Bowl victories have been decided by nine points total, and two were decided by last-second field goals of 40+ yards. In other words, they are one snow job (against the Raiders) and one missed field goal away from owning one, not three, Lombardi trophies.

I’m not saying the Patriots haven’t been a great team for most of the past six years, nor am I saying that they didn’t win those Super Bowls.

I’m just saying that they didn’t invent professional football (which will be a shock to a lot of their fans) and that, in this league of a bounce here and a bounce there, they’ve had some favorable bounces. They got to their first Super Bowl by means of a blown call against the Raiders, and they’ve been squeaking by ever since in the big game.

Now the Patriots have been caught cheating, and everyone in the NFL seems to agree that this is not an isolated incident, but rather standard operating procedure for the organization. It’s surely no coincidence that it was a Belichick protégé who finally caught them red handed.

Dr. (Raider Hater) Z of Sports Illustrated writes the following: “Last year the Lions played the Patriots in Foxboro. At one point their coach, Rod Marinelli, phoned up to the press box, ‘There's a camera pointed right at our defensive coach making his calls. Is that allowed?’ A Lions' employee called the NFL booth. No, it certainly was not. So the videotaper was stopped. Then after a while he began again. The same process was repeated and he was asked to stop again. Now thats dedication.”

In a rare instance of me agreeing with Dr. Z., he also notes “the arrogance of the organization, the smugness. We are the greatest, with the greatest coach, a genius, etc. What other team ever had its owner, Bob Kraft in this case, take the Super Bowl trophy overseas in the name of world peace. What'll he take this year, the videos of the defensive signals?”

To me, the real crime here isn’t the video surveillance. It’s the six-year snow job we’ve been enduring every since Tom Brady fumbled, this smug and insufferable superiority complex built on a house of marked cards that is now starting to tumble.

Such is the increasingly slim margin between a so-called dynasty and an intellectual travesty.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Invite from The Enemy

Our friend—enemy?—over at invited Raider Take to “prep” Broncos fans regarding the pulse of the Raiders and the Raider Nation in advance of Sunday’s game.

While I don’t presume to speak for the Raider Nation, I did answer his questions from my own perspective. He is now reciprocating, inviting us to ask him about the state of the Broncos and their fans.

His questions were fair enough. Following are a few examples:

Do you think the Raiders addressed the present and future of their quarterback situation with the additions of McCown, Culpepper and Russell this offseason? When do you expect to see your #1 overall pick on the field?

Last year's Oakland defense ranked among the highest in the league, particularly its pass defense. Naysayers will mention how the team didn't get passed against often because opponents would either have big leads or rely on their running game to lock a win. How would you respond to such comments?

Now the question is: What do we want to ask him?

As much as I despise ShanaRat and company, I’d like to keep this smart and civil, both in terms of the questions we pose, and any comments we make on The high road is always the best road.

We’re limited to four or five questions total, and I’ll choose the best from among any and all submitted in the comments section. Thanks in advance for your help!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Five Postgame Takes

1. It’s a start. We were one missed tackle away from getting the ball back with a lead and five minutes left to burn. We proved a lot of things on Sunday—that we can score touchdowns, that we can move the chains in a variety ways, that we can mount a comeback, and even that we can throw the long ball (when we try). Welcome back to the 21st century.

2. McCown connected on 15 of 20 pass attempts for 140 yards and no interceptions in first half amid a hail of boos and chanting for Daunte Culpepper. I guess that’s what a 75 percent completion rate will get you in Oakland these days.

Compared to last year’s offense, the coaching, playcalling and execution were like the difference between junior high school and Harvard law school, so I can’t complain too much. But we failed to attempt one crucial thing: the long ball.

Only one of McCown’s first-half completions was for more than 15 yards, inclusive of yards after the catch (the exception being a 17-yard completion). None of the incompletions occurred downfield, either. In other words, we didn’t once try to throw the ball long in the first half, even though we’d set the table perfectly.

So while we earned 10 first downs during the half, we didn’t chew up sufficient yardage before the third-down percentages caught up with us. The result was Sebastian (Scholarship) Janikowski kicking off of the dirt, not once, not twice but three times—for zero points.

It wasn’t until the middle of the third quarter that we threw downfield, and with a magnificent result in a 42-yard completion to Curry that ignited the stadium and set up the first touchdown. From that point forward, however, we didn’t attempt another long ball. In other words, we waited too long to try it, and when it worked, we didn’t try again.

It’s hard to say whether or not this was solely a playcalling issue, or if McCown himself was choosing to play it safe as well. But something that needed to happen didn’t happen, and we paid a stiff price. With everything happening underneath, the Lions could just lay in wait with minimal threat of the big play that we proved we could execute.

3. Not that I’m saying I would have chosen (or that I would still choose) McCown over Culpepper. But until late in the game—after the chanting for Daunte Culpepper had subsided, and before he was pressed into urgent action by our defense—McCown proved to be quite capable. If the defense and Janikowski had done their jobs, McCown’s performance would have been good for enough a victory.

I literally saw Roy Williams angle across our end zone unabated and unattended prior to catching his touchdown pass. That’s just one example of many defensive breakdowns yesterday.

4. They say that KSFO’s postgame radio show is broadcast from Everett & Jones BBQ, but it might as well be coming from the Kremlin. Rich Walcoff, George Atkinson and David Humm have been afflicted with a terminal case of homer-itis. They invite callers to vent, then they shut them down with variations on two stock responses: “Have you ever played the game?” or “What the fan doesn’t understand is…”

It’s not a sports talk show. It’s a shameless exercise in propaganda and mind control. The low point yesterday came when a kid called to vent about Janikowski. He was asked how old he was and if he was a kicker himself, then mocked with a little ditty about “calling back when he grows up" and lectured about how hard it is to kick off the dirt. Funny, the Lions’ Jason Hanson didn’t have any trouble kicking off the dirt. Jason Hanson didn’t have any kickoffs imitate a banana. Jason Hanson didn’t suck last year like Janikowski (who was dead last in field goal percentage among kickers who attempted more than 10 kicks). Yet a 13-year-old kid gets slapped in the face for stating the obvious. Nice.

They had Kirk Morrisson on the show, and while I love Kirk Morrisson, he came down with a bad case of KSFO postgame syndrome, repeatedly stating that "Well, if we'd won this game, then we wouldn't be talking about all this." Yes, and if Metallica played with harmonicas and mandolins, we wouldn't call them heavy metal.

Here are the KSFO postgame ground rules: You can't talk about what just happened before your very eyes. You can't analyze the coaching or the performance, nor can you have an opinion. But other than that, it's wide open—as long as you've played the game.

5. We are a functional football team once again. Last year started off on a hopeless note. Yesterday, however, I felt hopeful. Big difference. I know that there is a lot of anger and frustration out there, and I share it. But we are pointed up, not down, and that's worth something .

Haiku: Raiders 21 / Lions 36

Victory in our
grasp, then poof! Gone…please revoke
Jano’s scholarship.

Friday, September 07, 2007

News You Can't Use

Okay, I’ve recovered from my tantrum about our special little secret (recovered but still not convinced…) and am about to take the yellow brick road up to Oakland, with a pit stop at the home of Cousin of Raider Take for some pub crawling on Saturday night.

But first I must take one of ESPN’s Raider Haters to the woodshed for writing the following: “But the Raiders, over the past few…well, decades...have come to be understood as the size XXL speed bump in the vast parking lot that is the NFL.”

Such outright lying would be merely pathetic if it weren’t so odious.

I have a test for our friend at ESPN: Name the only team in the AFC West that has won its division three times, advanced to the AFC Championships twice and even appeared in the Super Bowl in this yet-unfinished decade.

Now, am I saying that the Raiders have been good for the past four years? Not at all. I am just saying that this individual is lying boldly through his teeth in a major media outlet to support a simple-minded worldview.

Let me put this in perspective. Say the Chargers take a sudden dive, and do poorly for the next four seasons, including this one, after some strong showings in recent years (although not nearly as strong as the Raiders’ showings from 2000-2002, during which time the Chargers won a grand total of 14 games).

Okay, so say that happens (I’m not saying it will, but for the sake of argument…). Would it then be okay for me to sit here and write the following in 2010: “But the Chargers, over the past few…well, decades...have come to be understood as the size XXL speed bump in the vast parking lot that is the NFL.”

Of course it wouldn’t, because it would a cowardly lie that could be revealed as fiction by the nearest three-year-old with a copy of the NFL Record & Fact Book.

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


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

No More Camouflage

This “hide the QB” business is starting to look lame to me. Here are the possibilities:

-Coach Kiffin is actually still undecided despite reports that a decision has been made (a scary thought)

-or Coach Kiffin feels some unorthodox (and questionable) impulse to attempt to psyche out the Detroit Lions (whom I doubt are very psyched out by all of this).

It's all too cute and gimmicky for my tastes. Let's get on with it and play some football.

There's something wrong with the Oakland Raiders (the Raiders!) being worried about the Detroit Lions (the freakin’ Lions!) knowing who will be under center on Sunday.

There’s something wrong with psychological warfare being attempted in advance of a matchup between a 2-14 team and 3-13 team. That's like inviting hamsters to a lecture on Russian literature.

As for the notion that it’s simply a matter of Kiffin messing with the media: The media should be the least of Kiffin’s worries at this point, the absolute last thing this team should be concerned with on the eve of a new season in the wake of a 2-14 season. We should be worried about things like not standing still and staring at the ball after a fumble, and not scratching our heads over the concept of a no-huddle offense, and not impersonating saloon doors on the offensive line.

So give Culpepper the ball, announce it to the world, and let’s go skin some cats!