Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pre-Game Quick Hits

1. I loved this article in the San Francisco Chronicle today, revealing the fraternal relationship between Michael Bush and Darren McFadden. Here's my favorite part of the story:

They have managed to enjoy each other's TV shows - Animal Planet programming for McFadden, "Entourage" and "Family Feud" for Bush - except for the time Bush looked up and McFadden was watching "Tom and Jerry."

"I was like, 'What are you doing?' " Bush said. "But mostly it's Animal Planet. And I can watch that. You actually learn some stuff. Like, we were watching how a squirrel fights a snake."

This is another indication that the "likeability" factor of the Raiders players has gone way up over the past year or two. The housecleaning could (and should) have been swifter, but there's no denying that the character of our team is rebounding. It wasn't long ago that we were getting arrogant guff from guys who couldn't even find a solid job after leaving the Raiders (Porter, Jordan, Walter, Schweigert, etc.), on top of some truly unlikeable chaps (Moss, Walker, Hall, etc.).

Now it's finally starting to feel like a team. Keep it up, guys.

2. I read this story about the Cowboys' two training camps, and thought about the sad contrast with the Raiders' own training camp.

A quote from the story:

In an unusual routine crafted by Jones, the Cowboys have split their training camp — again. After opening with 14 days in San Antonio that drew 200,989 to practices, they packed their training camp into nine 48-foot semi-trucks and moved it halfway across the country...For a franchise that has won two playoff games in 14 seasons but leads the league in aggressive marketing, it's a chance to tap into the mega-sized Los Angeles market vacated by the NFL since 1995. More than 100,000 are expected to watch practices during two weeks at fields installed adjacent to a golf course in this town about an hour's drive northwest of Los Angeles.

In other words, the Cowboys are literally going the extra mile to connect with their fans. Meanwhile, the Raiders' camp remains under lock and key. What are they protecting, the secret formula to posting 11 or more losses for seven straight seasons?

I know, I know: It's how they've always done it. But why not loosen things up a bit? Why not let fans in for a weekend? Why not embrace camp as an opportunity to bring people in to your world, not shut them out? Because that's how they've always done it?

I believe that anyone who makes that excuse on behalf of the Raiders is mistaken. The Raiders haven't always been regressive or stagnant in their operations. In fact, they used to be the most progressive and innovative team in the NFL.

3. I'm looking for two main things tonight. First, I want to see our receivers step up to the challenge and give Jason Campbell a chance to light it up. I'm bullish on our defense, but it's going to be a long year if we can't move the ball downfield.

Some people are dismissing our thinness at receiver, saying that Miller and McFadden provide ample throwing targets. These are often the same people who said that DHB was a solid pick because he would stretch the field and force opponents to respect the mid-to-long range ball. So I suppose that Miller and McFadden are going to stretch the field and keep opponents from stacking the box? Without credible threats at receiver, I think it's going to be a long slog. So we need our receivers to step up and become threats.

I also want to see our defense really build upon its early momentum. Tonight is a huge opportunity to gain mojo and confidence and self-belief. I'm looking for Wimbley to prove that last week wasn't a fluke. I'm looking for a halt to the big plays. And I'm looking for more evidence that the days of the vanilla defense are over. Make that defense taste like chocolate mint, baby, and serve it up to Alex Smith, Frank Gore and the rest of them.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Raiders v. Bears Preseason In-Game Take

Second quarter, four minutes until halftime. Going okay, I guess. Trying to read the tea leaves here, but the picture is unclear.

Some nice movement on offense, nothing spectacular, with the all-too-familiar 90-yard run gash given up by the defense. DHB is too tired to play (yawn).

Not going to put too much stock into preseason performances. And if the Raiders were a stock, I'd give them a "hold" rating right now. Not selling, but not buying, either. Come on, Raiders! Bring the change!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Official 2010 Preseason Launch Thread

One hour until kickoff. Two words: Go Raiders!!!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Where Are We on The Return to Glory?

Raider Take regular NY Raider just posted the following multiple choice quiz in the comments section, and I felt that it merited the spotlight:

A) The Raiders have failed to address critical needs and may continue to follow the same path of record-breaking failure until...

B) Some issues have been addressed, be it through the draft or maintaining continuity in coaching or other, that may lead to improvement; but real change is yet to happen by way of a key executive hire or some combination of things. You're cautiously optimistic, with an asterisk.

C) You are confident that this year will turn the tide. In this category you probably lean toward the notion that current management is capable and should continue their present path.

D) No question the team is clearly heading in the right direction, and will prove they have followed a well-calculated path.

E) You are a blind faith fan. The Raiders can do no wrong and they will go to the Super Bowl and win. You don't care what the odds against that happening... call Vegas, Baby!

This seems like a fair way to categorize the varying perspectives of the Raider Nation.

Personally, I'm with Calico Jack in being in category
B, unable to fully embrace category C because I believe that the need for added executive football support is real and overdue, and that to not address that need is counterproductive to the long-term prospects of the Oakland Raiders.

This is just my belief, as unpopular as it may be in some quarters. It's not like John Madden and Al Davis himself haven't acknowledged this need for added executive football support, so I'm in pretty good company, right?

Now, I could probably be persuaded by a strong showing this season that this need isn't urgent as I thought it was, say, last year and before that. In other words, I might accept that Mr. Davis's foot-dragging in addressing the executive void isn't as detrimental as I suspected.

So how do I define a "strong showing?" Nine wins or more. That would really wake me up and slap me upside the head and show me that the current administration is capable of correcting a culture of losing.

I'm anxious and hopeful that this will happen. The offensive line worries me, but I expect us to be more stout on defense, and I expect Campbell, Bush and a more seasoned receiving corps to deliver the most complete offensive output we've seen in a long time.

On the flip side, I think that anything less than eight wins will be a debacle. The AFC West is weaker than ever. It should be open season on the Tebows and Chiefs. Additionally, we get to play the weak NFC West this year: Pete-hawks, Lambs, Whiners, and the Cardinals without Warner and Boldin. Also, the addition by the subtraction of JaMarcus Russell should be worth approximately two victories unto itself.

So if after so many losing seasons, when Cable should be hitting his stride and we should be feasting on relatively weak competition, we can't improve upon our record by three measly wins and reach the .500 mark...Well, I just might go back to advocating the nuclear option. You know, tear down the walls right down to the studs. But why borrow trouble?

Right now, it's camp time, baby. The smell of wine and football is in the air in Napa. Hope springs eternal. I can hear it already: Touchdown, Raiiiii-derrrs!