Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Time for Sacrifice

The following is a Guest Take by Raider Nate 75:

The great "Silver & Black" hype now has to put on a show; and yet they continue to fail. I'm not buying the hype anymore.

The first thing that needs to change (as discussed here throughout this past off-season) is the need for a General Manager. Al Davis must step aside in the "Football operations" of his team. Sure, he can have his say and share his opinions; but he has to concede that the game has changed. Yes, he is right, that the base defensive/offensive schemes are still used; but they are also modified to help these plays progress.

The second thing that needs to change is Tom Cable handing the Offensive Play-calling to someone else (assuming he remains as Head Coach). His playcalling alone has cost us 4 or 5 games this year; starting with week 1 and 8 against the Dolts; Week 10 against the Chiefs; Week 14 against the Redskins (remember, we were down 17-13 at the start of the 4th Quarter); and this last week against the Browns.

Third, the attitude of the team has to change. Ellis said it best, if you act unprofessional, you will be treated unprofessionally. We continue to whine about the "Snow Job" playoff game; but the Raiders still had 5 more plays to stop the Patriots after that call; and instead of coming back after the call with another Corner Blitz; we went into a prevent and lost the game. Yes, it took wind out of our sails; but champions use that to motivate themselves to find the knock out punch. The Raiders were content to complain about that flag; instead of finishing the Patriots off.

You look at the history of the NFL, and who complains about the refs more than any other team? That's right, Al Davis and the Silver & Black. Yes, there are times I feel we were screwed; but the thing that needs to change is the attitude to give up when it happens; because guess what; it's going to happen.

But this attitude cannot change unless the two changes take place first. Attitude starts with the leadership; and change starts with the leadership. Al Davis is a cat who refuses to change; and as long as he continues to be the GM, the Raiders will be no different than they are right now.

Al, thanks for the memories and how you have made this team great; but it is time to quit living in the past glories. Past glories are irrelevant if there is no present success. This decade ends on a sour note for a team that at the beginning of this decade showed promise of a dynasty; and another decade of Raider dominance. If the Raiders are going to continue to be great, and regain the title of the "Most Winningest Team in Sports History" then changes need to be made; and the change begins with you.

I think you are an outstanding Owner; one (who in the typical Godfather fashion) has said he refuses to be a puppet on a string. I think you are one of the most brilliant marketers and innovators of our age. But it's time to change, my friend, in order to regain the greatness of the Raiders.

It's not that the game has passed you by, regardless of what the mediots say; but your part in the game is becoming unappreciated by all you led here. Glory doesn't come without sacrifice, and we (the fans, players, and coaches) have done our parts; and now your sacrifice is the one of change.

With that, I say again, "Thanks for the memories; help us let these memories grow stronger with our future glories, with the sacrifice of stepping out."

Thank you, Raider Nate 75!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

One Postgame Un-Take

Unprepared. Uninspired. Unorganized. Undisciplined. That's my un-Take for this unsightly loss to the lowly Browns.

The lack of composure wasn't limited to the players. On first and goal at the two-yard line with plenty of time to mount a comeback, our offensive coordinator went with an empty backfield (!), resulting in an incompletion. Then we passed the ball again. And again. And again.

Ummm...Michael Bush is averaging five yards per carry this season (including during this game). We were playing one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. Yet we pass the ball four straight times from the two-yard line?

Meanwhile, two players were ejected amid a hail of 13 penalty flags. I don't want to hear about how the zebras are out to get us, how the other team started it, blah, blah, blah. Get over it. Say the zebras are out to get us? Then accept it and adapt to it. Don't make it worse. I'm sick of the excuses. The zebras don't false start. The zebras don't drop balls. The zebras don't get sacked on crucial downs.

We have seen the enemy, and the enemy is us.

How can Bush not get a carry in this game after the 35-minute mark? Against the Browns' poor run defense? With Charlie Frye struggling?

How can the Browns' top running back run the ball
four more times than ours? They saw Derek Anderson and planned their game accordingly. We saw Charlie Frye and hallucinated Daryle Lamonica.

If Bush is in the doghouse, then give him some dog food. But if he's going to play, then freakin' play the guy. He's averaging five yards per carry despite having had no consistency in his workload.

Against the Chiefs, Bush averaged 8.5 yards on 14 carries, and we rewarded him the next week with four carries (on which he gained 6.8 yards on average). His carries then went down to three, one and then none in the subsequent three games. Then he busts loose with 7.4 yards per carry on 18 rushes against the Broncos, only to be abandoned today after 35 minutes of play against one of the NFL's worst rush defenses.

I have nothing more to say right now. Thank you for listening. Out.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Who Is This Team?

Two weeks ago, after the victory over the Steelers, I observed that the Raiders actually displayed some swagger, something we hadn't seen for a long time. Now I'm sensing something else that's been a long time coming: character.

Do you realize that if DHB doesn't let the ball bounce off his concrete mitts against the Chiefs, we would be looking at four last-minute victories in the past six games? Crikey, that's amazing. As it stands, three last-minute victories out of the last five games is still pretty impressive.

Have you ever seen a more Jekyll-and-Hyde season than this one? We open with a strong showing against the Chargers and a victory over the Chiefs on the road, followed by three embarrassing blowouts, followed by a shocking win over the Eagles, then three more utter embarrassments before going on this 3-2 run of thrilling victories interrupted by untimely incompetence.

Who is this team?

Let's not understimate the potential impact of these last two games. If we win one of them, we will notch our higest victory mark since the Super Bowl season of 2002.

I won't lie: I didn't see this coming.

Who is this team?

Honestly, I'm not sure what my take is right now. This season had all the earmarks of an utter debacle. And then a funny thing happened, we found our mojo at the most unexpected time, in the twilight of a lost season marred by angst and scandal.

Are we finally for real, or is it a cruel mirage? Who is this team?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hope, We Hardly Knew Ye

First off, thanks to Doobie for creating and sharing this awesome graphic of Bruce Gradkowski.

Sadly, while Doobie sent this graphic to me last week, I only discovered it in my email today, after the Gritmeister blew out his knee, leaving us rather hopeless at the QB position. Ah, cruel irony.

Hey, Doobie, can you make one of JaMarcus Russell? You'll only have to add one word: no. As in, No Hope.

Indeed, with Gradkowski out, we seem poised to circle the drain for the remainder of the season.

Unless we win two out of our remaining three games, we will have extended our NFL record for most consecutive seasons of 11 or more losses.

I was going to break out the clown car, but I will refrain, based on the competitive first half of the game. I'd call yesterday a half of a clown car game.

That's a total of 6.5 clown car games so far this season (the Cowboys game was one, even though I didn't post the clown car after it). That's a lot of clown car games. In fact, it's exactly 50 percent of our games to date (13/2 = 6.5).

In my opinion, our new year should begin with a GM hiring and a new head coaching search. Dare I hope for that?

Update: Thanks, Doobie!

Update 2: Thanks, Derick from Sec. 344

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Welcome Back Swagger

Was that actual swagger I saw on offense last Sunday? I believe it was. Welcome back, swagger.

Think about this, if not for DHB's untimely drop against the Chiefs at the end of the game, Gradkowski would have engineered three last-minute victories in four games.

As it stands, he has engineered two last-minute victories out of the last three games, which is still pretty remarkable, especially considering it was against two tough AFC North opponents.

When the Steelers cut through our defense like a hot knife through butter in the waning minutes to take the lead, I thought: Here we go again. How many games have the Raiders lost like that in my lifetime? Even when they were good, they would lose like that. Take a late lead, go soft, lose the game.

When the Steelers were in the middle of the drive, even Tom Flores was saying that they were playing too soft on the coverage. Why do we do this! Why!?

Anyhow, for once, that wasn't the end of the story. The Gritmeister and crew saw to that.

I'm still not buying the hype that Gradkowski's the next Plunkett or Gannon. I still need to see more of him.

But there is no doubt that he has shown more moxie, and delivered more excitement, than any Raiders QB since Gannon, and he's only started three games.

He's given us some offensive swagger, something that's been a long time coming.