Sunday, September 30, 2012

Five Postgame Takes

1. I ordered a filet mignon. The Raiders served me a crap sandwich.

2. After beating the Steelers, I thought we might have some momentum. But it was apparently just a moment. 

3. We are now on pace for a 4-12 record. Sound familiar? 

4. I'm keeping this short because I didn't see the whole thing. I saw just enough of the second and third quarters, and listened to the rest on the radio. The Clown Car is gassed up, but I'm not going to turn the key tonight. This wasn't a case of ineptitude. It was a matter of basic domination. Manning and the Broncos were just superior, in an obvious way. The Raiders weren't embarrassed, they were simply dominated. That said, the result was embarrassing.

5. We are rebuilding, which is always hard, and even harder when you lack draft picks and have a salary cap problem. That said, I see no reason why this team should be appreciably  worse than last year. I thought it might be challenging to take a step forward this year. But I didn't foresee a big step backward in the win column. There's still time, but the backward path has been fairly paved in September. It looks like the long haul is upon us.

Broncos Gameday Thread

With a Raiders win and a Chargers loss today, we'll be in business. Raiders,  you know what to do. GO RAIDERS!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ten Postgame Takes

1. Now that was an NFL football game.

2. Was it just me, or did it seem like the Raiders were going to win this game halfway through the fourth quarter? Normally, I'd be expecting a stupid penalty or some epic defensive breakdown. But I wasn't. It just felt like it was our game.

3. That third-down threaded pass on the last drive by Palmer was unreal. Kept the drive and game alive, and led us to victory.

4. Badass. That was this game. That was our fans in the Black Hole (Gorilla Rilla > Terrible Towel), Carson Palmer, Darren McFadden, Dennis Allen, our receivers, our offensive line and, in many spurts, our defense. The aggression, the stripping of the balls.

5. Three penalties total. So cool.

6. The complexion of the season and the division has suddenly changed. If this game isn't a mirage, then it's about to get interesting.

7. We sent Dr. Jekyll to Miami. Mr. Hyde rode the plane back.

8. Looks like Carson Palmer got more audible latitude. Looks like it worked.

9. This Philip Wheeler dude at linebacker seems pretty effective.

10. Congrats to Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie for your first Raiders victory. That game was won on heart and discipline. Maybe radical change is nearer than we thought.

Steelers Gameday Thread

Rule number one for today's game: Don't play like last week's game.

I feel like our season is on the line today. If we fall to 0-3, it's will be hard to be hopeful about the light switch suddenly flipping and the Raiders making an improbable run to the playoffs.

During the Raiders 2-14 season, their best game was against the Steelers at home. It can be done, it should be done. The time is now. GO RAIDERS!

Monday, September 17, 2012

One Postgame Take

Some will say it's unjustified. Some will call it premature. But you can't get blown out and run over by arguably the worst team in the NFL and not expect to see the clown car making its first (and hopefully last) appearance in 2012.

We gave up 250 yards of rushing, including the spectacle of Reggie Bush slipping through three missed tackles for a touchdown. How do you give up that many rushing yards when their passing attack is led by Ryan Tannehill?

Punt returns of 36 and 24 yards were negated by penalties.

Meanwhile, Darren McFadden is now averaging two yards per carry so far this year. I'm no football coach, but something isn't working (hello, zone blocking scheme?).

And maybe it's just me being harsh, but is this the most listless-looking 300+ yard per game passing attack imaginable?

Maybe it's just because after 670 yards of passing in two games, we have scored just two touchdowns. One came late in the Chargers game as hope was being snuffed out amid the slowest "hurry-up" offense imaginable. The other was a spectacular run-after-catch by Mike Goodsen yesterday.

So we've got two touchdowns and a handful of field goals after eight quarters. How is this possible with Darren McFadden and Carson Palmer leading your rushing and passing attacks, respectively?

Greg Knapp is an obvious and easy target. Yet this also seems to be a continuation from last year. The Raiders have now lost six of their last seven games, a run that began guessed it, a 34-14 drubbing the last time they played in Miami.

Here's Inside Bay Area quoting Tommy Kelly: Kelly called the loss "embarrassing." In the past, he didn't see much hope for change on the heels of such a defeat. "This is different, because we're a whole lot better than when we went 2-14 and 4-12," Kelly said. "We have a way better team. We're more talented. ... But you have to be able to produce on Sunday, and we aren't."

This is different...and yet it all feels very familiar. Right down to the clown car.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dolphins Gameday Take

The Raiders are in a tight spot today: tough Monday night loss, short week and a 3,000 mile trip to play a team that is, despite not being very good, desperate and therefore dangerous.

I see two keys to winning. We need to harass Tannehill into making mistakes. And we need to wake up our offense. Knapp needs to dial up more dynamism, and Palmer needs to ratchet up the tempo and energy of himself and his crew.

Oh, and I forgot one thing: We need to know how to do the little things, like competently snap the ball.

In the NFL, you need to have contingency plans for obvious possibilities. An obvious possibility in pro football is a player getting hurt, including your primary long snapper. Now consider that as you read this report:

Goethel said he last long-snapped in a game back in high school. That was seven years ago or so. He said his practice time is limited to before full-team practices. When asked how many snaps Goethel gets during practice during a typical week, Lechler said: “Zero.”

In other words, we were unprepared and unpracticed and ultimately unable to execute a key function of the game, and it cost us the game. In prime time, on opening night, at home, under a new regime promising change...It all felt way too familiar in its own unique way.

Anyhow, Miles Burris looked awesome on Monday. A round four pick. If he keeps it up, it will be an amazing story.

That's all I've got right now. It's gametime. Go Raiders!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Five Postgame Takes

1. There was something eerily lethargic about our offense, even with McFadden carrying the load and Palmer making some sweet throws. I know we're down a few receivers right now, but all just looked plodding to me. How did it look to you?

2. You can't have a backup long snapper who is unpracticed. This is the NFL. You need to have contingency plans for obvious possibilities. That's on our coaching staff, and ultimately Coach Allen.

3. The NFL has become an aerial league. So I have a question, and I'm interested in your honest answer. When was the last time we had an elite wide receiver? Who, and what year? Same with an elite quarterback. Who, and what year?

4. I guess the defense looked better. Considering how many stops they made under ridiculous field position circumstances, I can't complain about 22 points.  

5. It seemed different at first, but in the end, it looked awfully familiar, didn't it? Almost enough at times, but in the end, not nearly enough.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Here Come The 2012 Raiders

Here we are again, on the cusp of a new season, and I'm cautiously optimistic. Emphasis on "cautiously." Again...

I'd rather be confidently optimistic. But I'm not there yet. The NFL has become an aerial league (did you see the game on Wednesday night?), and in that department we bet the farm on Carson Palmer, and frankly he still concerns me.

McFadden alone cannot win the West. Palmer and Knapp need to really get after it if we are going to go far.

Our defense needs to get its act together, too. Where is this team truly badass, on either side of the ball? I think our running game is badass. But where else? I hope to find out soon.
Let's face it. Reggie inherited a bare cupboard when it came to the draft. He inherited a team that, if I recall correctly, led the league in being over the salary cap. And he inherited Carson Palmer, courtesy of Hue Jackson. It wasn't like someone gave him the keys to a Maserati.

So it may take time. This season could be a bridge, not a destination.

In the various preseason rankings offered by the so-called "experts," I don't think I've seen the Raiders ranked higher than 18th in the NFL this year, and I saw one that ranked them at 28th.

So this season is a magnificent opportunity to surprise everyone and leave the Raider Haters slack-jawed and numb.

Yes, we had to slash some salaries. Yes we didn't have much to work with in the draft. At the same time, we've been told how excited the defense is to be turned loose. We've been told that Palmer should be improved, now that he's had time to mesh with the team.

So why shouldn't we expect improvement in our record? Why shouldn't this team be better than last year's team?

On that note, I'm going to optimistically predict a 9-7 record, our first winning record in ages, and a viable shot at the playoffs, either as the division winner or a wild card.

I hope we do better. But if we do that, I will consider this season a strong bridge to the long-awaited return to glory.