Monday, July 25, 2011

Now What?

What's one city you rarely hear about as a likely destination for Nnamdi Asomugha? Oakland.

Now why is that? If he's worth that much to so many other teams, isn't he worth equally as much to a team that is supposedly on the cusp? A team that can't afford regression in the secondary at the very point it hopes to become competent against the run?

Just asking.

Another elephant in the room now that the lockout has been lifted is our lack at depth at the most important position in the game: quarterback. It's Jason Campbell, and then a drop off the cliff. And there are some who would argue that Campbell himself isn't that far from the cliff.

With the Raiders, sometimes it feels like trying to enclose a water balloon in your fist. You squeeze the balloon and part of it bulges out of your grasp. Then you grab the bulge, and out comes another part...

In other words, just as we enter a position of strength on one front, we start to weaken or continue to spin wheels on another front.

So this is what I believe we need to win the division and have a fighting chance in the playoffs. Jason Campbell has to have his best year to date in the NFL, and he needs to stay healthy. The offensive line needs to continue to improve. The defense must to figure out how to stop the run. And we can't afford to regress much in the secondary.

If these things happen, then maybe we'll finally have that proverbial water balloon in our full grasp.

Of course, I'd like to see improvement in our wide receiver corps, etc. But I think I our best shot comes down to those four aforementioned elements: QB, offensive line improvement, not being a joke against the run, and not taking a big step back in our secondary.

That's my take. What's yours?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Free Jeff George

I have a confession to make: When Jeff George briefly appeared on our sideline during the exhibition season several years ago, I got excited. I wanted to see the dude drop back and fling it one last time for the Silver and Black. But as I recall, he was gone as quickly as he came, and never even took a snap.

I just listened Jason Whitlock's recent podcast interview with the old gunslinger, and now I'm jonesing for George again. Apparently, I'm incurable. I don't know what it is. I can't say I really like the guy...and yet I do. He still seems to have a little trouble accepting responsibility for some of his past missteps, and yet he also seems charming and grounded. And the dude has a cannon!

Okay, so he's 43 years old. But he's a young 43 years old, right? He hasn't been roughed up in years. Tell me he couldn't hold his own against Boller or Frye. Tell me! Even if you did tell me, you know you wouldn't believe it.

If you think George is too old, I have one word for you: Blanda, baby (well, two words). The Raiders have always been colorblind, and age-blind, too. Forget the birth certificate. Can he fling it? Yes he can.

Look, Jeff George has always been a freak of nature. He may not be a spring chicken, but he's not your typical 43-year-old, either. He's like the arm of Yeti bolted on to a human wearing eye-black and a backwards hat. It's nuts that the guy's been on ice for the past five years. Look at all of the stiffs who've taken the field during that period. You're telling me Jeff George couldn't fill their shoes? Au contraire.

Are you worried that he might be a malcontent, a disruptive presence in the locker room? Once upon a time, perhaps. But now? No way. His teammates would just say, "Pipe down, old man." No, this is a more mature Jeff George, a mentor in the making. Mark my words.

Free Jeff George. Bring him back to the NFL. Bring him back to Oakland, as insurance against an injury to Jason Campell.

And should that happen, you will thank me as the pigskin arcs majestically across the baby blue Alameda sky, spinning as tightly as a top, and nesting like a newborn bird into the suddenly feathered hands of Darrius Heyward-Bey. Touchdown, RAIDERS!

P.S. Please help me spread the word. Send this post to your friends. Join me in Tweeting it. Contact the Raiders, write your Congressperson, whatever it takes to free Jeff George.

P.P.S. Check out this video to behold what awaits us when we free Jeff George.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Jason Campbell - Stopgap or Glory Bound?

I was just reading Lindy's 2011 NFL annual, with particular attention paid to the pages on the Raiders.

Under the Quarterbacks section, it says, "Jackson has made it clear that his quarterback is Jason Campbell..." Lindy's also states that Campbell "appears to be the one to end the counter-productive carousel at quarterback."

I remember buying a t-shirt at the Coliseum about six years ago or so. It said: RETURN TO GLORY. Of course, we're still waiting for the return, and the Raider Nation is getting increasingly anxious and ornery as each non-winning season comes and goes.

So here we are, after climbing to 8-8 last year, poised to rise above .500 for the first time in ages and finally and hopefully pave that Return to Glory.

Now, we all know that the NFL is a quarterback league. Look at the playoff teams, particularly those who have gone deep in the playoffs, in recent years, and you will see that they are heavily weighted with elite quarterbacks. You can win without one, but the odds are not as favorable.

Which brings us to Jason Campbell. He was pretty solid overall last year, particularly by recent Raiders standards. He'll likely never be a truly elite QB, but the question is: Can he be good enough? Can he continue to improve and demonstrate enough performance, leadership and command to stick around for years and lead us back to excellence?

In other words, is he glory bound, or just another QB stopgap in Raiderland? Personally, I'm torn, and I think the chips could fall either way. What's your take?