Sunday, December 30, 2012

One Postgame (and Postseason) Take

Mark Davis, Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen were dealt a bad hand this year, but they were also caught flatfooted. 

There is no way that they thought they would halve Hue Jackson's record with essentially the same roster. No way. 

Yes, they inherited a dog of a roster. But how did the dog catch rabies?

4-12. Chew on that. Keep chewing, because it doesn't go down easy.

“Every place I’ve been to, it’s usually going to take at least a year’s transition time to get everything taught," said Greg Knapp last week. 

Never mind the fact that Knapp hasn't lasted on a job for more than two years since 2006. Look at the playoff schedule this year, with rookies Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin, Colin Kaepernick and Andrew Luck leading their teams to the postseason. Or Andy Dalton of the Bengals, leading his team to the postseason again after last year's rookie playoff season. 

Guess they didn't get Knapp's memo.

Now we have Mr. T. Pryor as the latest emblem of our snail's pace approach to progress. Two years into his tenure, he finally gets some snaps, and the results are vaguely promising in a "he could be a good #2" way, and we're supposed to get excited? After watching Russell Wilson and RGIII the past two Sunday nights? 

I'm sick of everything taking so much time. It's become a disease in Alameda. Knapp's offense? Hey, it just takes time. Tarver? Hey, let's keep the players, it just takes time. Pryor? Hey, maybe in year three we'll see something. Palmer? Well, maybe next year he'll make us forget about Jason Campbell. DMC? Give Knapp another year. Our receivers? Hey, catching the ball is easier than it sounds. Our defense? Learning how to tackle properly and mind gaps takes years. Tick, tock, tick, tock... 

I thought that this was the year that the Raiders were going to get up to speed. Instead, we're still spinning our wheels. 

There's no way Mark Davis, Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen thought they'd be sitting on a 4-12 record on December 30. But they are, and it's fix-it time...again.

Chargers Gameday Thread

Something's been nagging me about this Pryor business, and I've finally put my finger on it...

Simply put, I think it's a bit of a hoax. If the coaching staff truly wanted to evaluate Pryor's viability as a potential future starter, they would have found a way to do more by now. Heck, they couldn't even find a way to get him snaps last week, with Palmer out, the season fully down the drain, and Leinart fluttering the pigskin.

Now, suddenly, it's showtime for Pryor? Huh? 

Not much good can come out of this. If he stinks, I guess we can settle down about him being the savior of the franchise, but it's probably unfair to expect much out of him during his first start when he's had very little action all year.

And what if he lights the Chargers up? Then what? Do we chalk it up as a one-game wonder, or as a glimpse into a promising future? 

And how does all of this affect our quarterback planning going forward? Does it give us clarity, or cloud our quarterback picture?

Instead of having multiple looks at Pryor heading into the offseason, we'll have one look. 

Whether or not that look is good or bad, it really won't tell us enough, will it? 

If Pryor is good enough to start over Leinart today, why wasn't he good enough to get snaps last week--and also some snaps in garbage time or creative red-zone packages earlier?

This is why I think it might be a bit of a hoax. The staff may have already made up its mind on Pryor. They probably don't think he's close to good enough. So, like Denver did with Tebow, they're going to throw him to the wolves to prove to the irrational fans that, no, the third-string quarterback is not the answer. What have they got to lose? Another game? Hah!

But as Tebow proved, giving the irrationally popular third-string quarterback the reins can be a dangerous game. 

Stay tuned...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Late Panthers Gameday Thread

Three minutes to go in the third quarter...We're closing in on seven consecutive quarters of football without a touchdown against two teams with a combined seven victories (yeah, I know it's Leinart today, but still...). Deep into the third quarter, McFadden has 13 yards on 13 rushes. The possibility of a mere six-win season is slipping away...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Raiders Lair...

Chew on these quotes for a moment, via Inside Bay Area, brought to our attention by NY Raider:

“Knapp and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said their schemes are sound, but they take time to implement and for the players to learn. Bringing back as many players as possible from this year’s team and giving them a year to adjust are going to pay huge dividends.”

“Knapp said his history in retooling offenses shows that players need a year or so to get acclimated but, once they’re up to speed, good things happen.”

“Tarver said. ‘It’s been good. With a year under our belts and keeping as many of these guys as we can, it’ll grow big time.’”

I, for one, am speechless.

So I can't think of a better time to post the following photos from longtime Raider Take regular "memdf," who not only earns points for having one of the strangest handles around these parts, but also for being one of the most intense Raider fans I've known.

By intense, I don't mean "hardcore." I mean dedication, knowledge, personal history and traveling around the country to see games. So it's no surprise that he would create one of the coolest Raider lairs around. In a previous take, he mentioned being open to sharing some photos, so I took him up on it.

Damn, this room looks sweet. Pour me a pint, turn on the game and let me roam around this joint!

The Raiders may be 3-10 right now, but the legend lives on in the hands of the Raider Nation. Thanks, memdf, for the sneak peek.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Being A Raiders Fan

In the comments section of the previous take, Oaktown Blues threw down a challenge, asking: Why are you a Raider Fan, and what is one thing that could cause you to not be. Best answer gets a really nice Raiders jersey, I'm not kidding.

I answered: Because I am, and never. 

He replied that the response was weak, and said he's digging for more. I don't know what he's driving at, but it got me thinking, so following is my reply. I thought it might be a good topic for all of us to consider and share, if only to spare us from wallowing in the doldrums of this lost season. So here's my take, and I'd like to know yours:

Oaktown Blues, are you trying to get us to say it's the uniforms? In the famous words of Seinfeld, we are rooting for "laundry?"

The uniforms are definitely part of it, but it's hard to extract the emotional connection to the uniforms from the larger experience of being a fanatic. I'm sure there are Eagles fans, Bills fans, etc. for whom those uniforms exert a certain primal pull.

I grew up in a Raiders household, dad and older brother screaming at the TV, Stabler sauntering up to the line (Search YouTube for the Sea of Hands, there's a 15 minute special there, and Stabler just looks so badass as he walks to the line on that final play, slowly, deliberately, calm....), Al Davis sneering, Madden gesticulating...

Everything grabbed me, not just the uniforms, but the sense of household bonding that watching Raiders brought, the renegade nature of the team, and the perpetual drama, the incredible seasons that more often than not ended in disappointment (as dominant as they were in the 70s, they only went to one Super Bowl in that decade).

Other fans have their own infinite variants on my story. Something grabbed them and won't let go. Their favorite team becomes something larger than a team. It becomes a fond memory and a future promise, a bonding mechanism for family and friends, a point of escapism from the pressures of a job, responsibilities, etc. In time, the experience spans decades and generations, as it has done for me.

To this day, and most recently last Thursday night, I just can't reconcile the uniform with the performance. I see the silver and black, "the silver hats about their heads," and expect them to hit people. Yet there's Giordano, flying around in empty spaces doing a remarkable Stuart Schweigert impersonation. I'll never be able to get used it, even though I've been watching it for 10 straight years.

So why am I a fan of the Raiders? Like I said, because I am.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

One Postgame Take

And that, my friends, is the difference between a good team and a bad team. What else can I say tonight?

Monday, December 03, 2012

Time to Tent The House

There seems to be a lot of flip-flopping around these parts.

Those who once defended mediocrity are now decrying it. And those who once decried it are now defending it.

I've always said it starts at the top. It still does.

Mark Davis, Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen own the performance of this team. 3-9 is their record to date. Period. Mark Davis told Allen, "It's not good enough." That's on Allen...and ultimately Mark Davis.

At the same time, this year's failures don't make the previous 10 years a sudden act of genius. A decade-long quest to achieve a .500 record, only to end 1-4 with the playoffs on the line, is not suddenly defensible just because the next regime isn't firing on all cylinders.

It's not always an "either-or" equation. Sometimes it's an "and-and" equation.

At this point, I think we can say that Mark Davis, Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen haven't exactly distinguished themselves as the Turnaround Experts.

We can also say that the previous regime gifted them a horrific roster, a toxic culture and a pair of handcuffs (in both the draft and free agency).

So that's where we stand right now.

We know the roster really sucks thanks to the previous regime, and the jury's still out on the new one.

The new regime is tasked with building a winner. We need to give them a more time to tent the house for termites before we come to firm conclusions about their ability to get the job done. 

One Postgame Take

The Raiders were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday.

Little did we know it back in September, but they were essentially eliminated out of the gates this year, fielding a dog of a team that almost seems willfully awful at times.

Consider the case of Denarius Moore. Last year, Moore looked like an up-and-comer, with Spider Man fingertips. Yesterday, he got benched.

Here's what Allen said of Moore's benching: "It wasn’t from a lack of effort, but we’ve got to make plays when we’ve got an opportunity...Denarius had a couple of opportunities to make plays and wasn't able to make them. We decided to play some of those younger players and see what they can do."

How does a player get appreciably worse at something that's fairly instinctive, such as catching the ball? I mean, you run your route, you get open, the ball is right there...At that point, you either catch and secure the ball, or you don't.

I'm not blaming Moore for the fate of our team. I'm just saying he is emblematic of this head-scratching (and in some cases, sudden) inability of our players to play fundamentally sound football.

Meanwhile, our defense is handing out personal milestones like Christmas candy this year. Yesterday, rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden passed for a career-high 364 yards.

It has been pointed out that this is largely the same roster that laid a big egg last year, going 1-4 down the stretch with a playoff berth down the line.

So we know that this is not a good roster with a big heart.

There has been much debate here over whether or not Allen and Co. should nevertheless be getting more out of this bad roster that lacks heart.

I believe they should, but that's easy for me to say.

Unless something changes immediately starting Thursday night, I foresee a big game of chicken coming our way. It will be Management vs. The Roster, and management will driving a tank. 

Allen is McKenzie's pick, and McKenzie is Mark Davis's pick. The only way they can absolve themselves of this mess of a season is to nuke the roster, right?

There's no way they're going to risk their professional fate and credibility by fielding anything that looks remotely like this current team. It is in their vested interest to essentially proclaim, "It's not us, it's the players and the culture, and we're going to change the latter by eliminating the former."

The organization has been careful to sidestep talk of "rebuilding." But you can bet your bottom dollar that this house is going to be torn down to its studs this offseason.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Browns Gameday Thread

Before we begin, let me take both sides of the running debate here at Raider Take...

When a new regime underperforms with a crappy roster, few draft picks and salary cap issues, (1) you can't excuse the previous regime for creating the crappy roster, wasted draft picks and salary cap issues; (2) nor can you excuse the new regime for underperforming with the hand it was dealt.

It's going to be wet and wild in Oakland today, if we can't beat the Browns at home, then watch out, the fur will really start flying...