Monday, December 30, 2013

One Postgame (and Postseason) Take

Well, what can you say...

Until John Fox pulled Peyton and started pumping the brakes, it was one of the most pitiful halves in Raiders history. After 30 minutes, Manning was on pace for eight touchdowns and 530 yards, aided not only by a biblically overmatched defense, but also by a pea-shooting offense that could barely scrape up a first down to keep the Broncos off the field.

Mercifully, the season is over, and we are no longer obligated to watch bad football. Now the so-called "reconstruction" begins.

If you want to read a lengthy and informed take on what Reggie McKenzie was up against, check out this piece by a former agent on CBS Sports, which details the epic hole that the Raiders had dug for themselves before Reggie arrived. 

I've been saying that a franchise quarterback is priority number one, and I stand firm in that take. Here's a nugget from the aforementioned article that provides ample food for quarterback thought as it relates to the Raiders and this pivotal "year three" for Reggie and Co.:

The Indianapolis Colts raised the bar on rebuilding by going from a 2-14 record in 2011 to the playoffs in 2012 after a roster purge similar to Oakland's. Indianapolis had a league-high $38.79 million of dead money last season (2012). The biggest difference in the two situations is the Colts were able to draft a franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck, in 2012 with the first overall pick while one wasn't available for the Raiders in this year's draft.

Substitute a pick like Jedeveon Clowney or even the most elite established defensive lineman in the NFL today for Andrew Luck and do you think we're having the same conversation about the Colts and their two consecutive playoff berths?

Coach Allen said this after yesterday's drubbing: "I fully believe that I deserve the opportunity to come back here and get a chance to, as we've said, go through the deconstruction phase... I want to be part of the rebuilding phase."

When asked if the team was putting full effort into the game, he said, "There's no question. Listen, when you look at the tape, guys are flying around, all right? We didn't make enough plays. But there's no lack of effort, there's no lack of trying."

Personally, I'm thankful that the conversation will necessarily change in 2014. There will no longer be all of this talk about deconstruction and reconstruction, as if they are two wholly independent processes. There will no longer be any room for excuses about blaming a lack of talent (as opposed to, say, questionable coaching and scheming) for guys "flying around" and missing tackles, missing assignments and missing fundamentals. 

The era of excuses is finally over. Now it's all about Just Win, Baby. The rubber is about to hit the road. It's going to be exciting and telling. We know that it can't get worse. How much better it's going to get, and how quickly, remains to be seen. Grab your popcorn. This is going to an offseason to remember.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Broncos Gameday Thread

Well, it's time once again for the annual rite of hammering the nails into the coffin of another lost season. 

We'll see today if our team has any fight left, or if they've already mentally left the building. 

Where we go after this remains to be seen. I can't see it getting any worse. But to execute a significant turnaround in 2014, everyone in the building will need to step up their game.

I will be live blogging this game. Join me and let the takes fly.

P.S. This just in from Amy Trask... 

P.P.S. reporting that DA has organizational support for a third year...

Monday, December 23, 2013

One Postgame Take

Well, that was a fitting and emblematic end, eh? The five-minute two-minute drill. McGloin getting pressured and heaving the ball in desperation. The ball miraculously finding the cradle of Reece's arms, only to tumble sadly to the turf...

Like I said before, I'm not feeling McGloin as a future starter for the Raiders. And that's okay. He was undrafted. He's doing a pretty good job under the circumstances. Asking more from him is asking a lot. 

Cooler heads seem to be prevailing here at Raider Take with regard to keeping Dennis Allen around for next year. I'm okay with that, because coaching stability is something we haven't really tried before. Maybe it's what we need. 

I think it's pretty clear that this team is struggling with focus, fundamentals, situational awareness and discipline as we head into this very pivotal year flush with cash and draft picks. All of that needs to change, pronto.

We've certainly proven that we can deconstruct. It's the construction that's still lacking. To suggest that these are two wholly independent and successive processes is also questionable. First you deconstruct! Then you construct! No. You should always be constructing. 

I don't buy that winning eight (or nine, who knows next week!) games over two years and concluding the second year with complete nosedive and a paper-thin roster is evidence of a well executed blueprint, no matter how bad things were at the start.

But I'm not convinced that management and coaching turnover is the answer, either. So my take is that EVERYONE needs to step up their game right now, management, coaches and players. The management and coaches don't get a pass. They all need to do better. The future is now.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Chargers Gameday Thread

Pride is on the line today. There's reason we can't beat the Chargers today, because we did it earlier this season. It's time to snap this miserable losing streak and regain some competitive flair. GO RAIDERS!

Monday, December 16, 2013

One Postgame Take

Showtime, it turns out, was shameful.

We gave up the most points in the vaunted history of the Oakland Raiders. We gave up the most points in a single game in the NFL this year. We gave up four passing touchdowns to a single running back, the first time that's ever been done in the NFL. 

How is it that our defense, which looked like a strong point earlier this year, has suddenly become as soft as a marshmallow over a campfire? How does that happen?

Fair or not, it doesn't reflect well on our coaching staff. Dennis Allen's background is in defense. Tarver was being celebrated eight weeks ago for whipping our defense into shape. Now they are both presiding over a defensive grease fire. Last year, the Raiders gave up 55 points to the Ravens. That means that two of the four highest point totals ever yielded in the history of the Oakland Raiders have come under their tenure. 

Amazingly, this game was close for a few seconds. After a shockingly inept start, our offense started piling on points. But the defense quickly made it moot.

McGloin tossed some amazing passes, but also some amazing interceptions. He looked alternately awful and sharp. Right now, I see his career taking more of a Josh McCown direction than a Drew Brees one. I could be wrong, but I wouldn't bank on it.

We need to develop a cornerstone quarterback, pronto. Look at the perennial contenders in the NFL right now, the Seahawks, Patriots, Colts, Ravens, Niners, etc. Throw in perennial contenders and Super Bowl winners having down years like the Steelers and Giants, and teams on the rise like the Panthers and Eagles. All of them are helmed by quarterbacks they drafted.

Sure, you can hit the free agent jackpot every blue moon like the Saints did with Brees. You can change your fortunes with a guy like Alex Smith. Or the stars could align and Peyton Manning could become available. But by and large, the blueprint to success in the NFL has been written. You need a franchise quarterback, and that typically comes through the draft.

As for what to do on defense, well, if you can't tackle or cover screen passes, I give up.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


There's no other way to put it: It's showtime in Oakland as the Raiders face three AFC West rivals to conclude the 2013 season.

There's been much debate here about the progress of the Raiders over the past two years under Mark Davis, Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen. 

Some feel it's been a failure, some (including myself) see progress but expected to see more at this point, and others are fully on board and feel confident that Reggie and DA have done as much as they could given the hand they were dealt. Let's call this the Raiders Progress Scale.

In recent comments, Mark Davis expressed that he is pleased with the progress and sounded bullish on Reggie McKenzie. At the same time, he didn't sound like a guy who's going to be too happy if the recent competitive fade continues down the home stretch against three AFC West rivals. 

In other words, it's showtime. I think all of us can agree, wherever we currently land on the Raiders Progress Scale, that it won't be a good look if the Raiders fizzle away into a second-straight record of 4-12. 

The road won't be easy. The Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos are all looking formidable right now. 

That said, the Raiders were competitive against some strong teams earlier this year. In fact, the story of the first half of the season was how competitive the Raiders were, especially the defense. The story of the second half has become how bad our roster is, and how can we expect it to be competitive? 

It doesn't add up. 

Our defense can play strong, and our offense can score points. How do I know that? Because they've already shown us. 

So here we are, firmly in the proving ground once again. The players need to look to leaders like Charles Woodson and take his message to heart. DA and the coaching staff need to find a way to keep the players motivated and recapture the competitiveness. 

If they can do that, then it will be all systems go into year three of this regime, flush with cash and a full draft ahead. If they can't, then don't be surprised if the new year begins with a change at head coach.

It's going to be exciting and interesting. We're not playing for the playoffs right now, but we are playing for next year. It's time to make a statement, to start tackling properly again and for all three units to show up on the same day. 

Starting tomorrow.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

One Postgame Take

A headline after today's game: "Jets vs Raiders: Geno Smith ends streak of 5 games without a touchdown pass." Just in time for Christmas, our defense has regressed to become the gift that keeps on giving. Smith’s passer ratings over the preceding three games were 10, 22 and 8. Today, his rating was 88. Prior to today's game, Geno Smith was a punchline. Tonight, he's a storyline. Charles Woodson called today's defensive performance "inexcusable." (and that wasn't all he said.) He is right, so please hold the excuses. When Smith turned away from the sideline and lowered his shoulder to take on one of our DBs instead of stepping out of bounds at the end of a 32-yard run in the fourth quarter, that was all you needed to know about how fearsome our defense was today. Two plays later, Chris Ivory busted four "tackles" for a 15-yard touchdown. With less than six minutes to go, we were on the move and down 17, making it a three score game. With 5:24 on the clock at the Jets' 33-yard line, Reece ran for seven yards. The next snap came at the 4:45 mark. Do the math. The only thing keeping the clown car in the garage tonight is the 27 points we were able to post. McGloin's a scrapper, but I'll be surprised if he turns into a franchise quarterback. I just don't see it. Special teams? Not special. As NY Raider said, we were outplayed and out-coached today. I've spent much of the past week defending myself for daring to question if things weren't proceeding optimally in the executive and coaching ranks of the Oakland Raiders. There's no doubt that the decks were stacked against Reggie and DA when they came on board, but that doesn't mean they've made the most of the opportunity to date. We've been rebuilding for two years, and it seems like we're still pounding nails into the foundation. I've been told that Year 3 is when everything changes. Well, Year 3 starts in four weeks. They'd better hit the ground running.

Jets Gameday Thread

Today's theme is "righting the ship." This is a very winnable game for team that needs to win one after two disappointing finishes against the Titans and Cowboys.

Here are Geno Smith’s passer ratings in each of the past three games: 10.1, 22.3 and 8.3. Our defense should be rested and licking its chops. Our offense, however, needs to be prepared for a stout Jets attack.

After this, we face the Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos. If we can go 2-2 over these last few games, we'll reach six wins. A win today would make that  distinct possibility. GO RAIDERS!