Sunday, November 06, 2016

Guest Gameday Thread: The Long Journey Back

Thanks to The 5er for this awesome take heading into tonight's game:
Hello Relevance, Nice to see you again. It’s been a long while…

13 years 9 months and 18 days to be exact. That’s 720 weeks, or 120,960 hours since we last saw you… depending on how you want to look at it.

Yep, that was the 2002 AFC Championship.

We weary desert travelers have been mislead by many a mirage since then. So many disappointments, it’s hard to even list.

Sure, there have been a few big games for the Raiders since then (i.e 2012 against SD to get into the playoffs, maybe last year against KC to stay in the playoff race).

The difference between then and now is that while those were important games for us, they had little significance for the larger NFL landscape. There were still many teams far beyond our reach.  We were simply battling for some degree of superiority among the NFL’s middle class.

This one is different.

Make no mistake about it this is the MARQUEE matchup in the NFL. Not only this week, but for the entire season up until now. The most anticipated by all media outlets and the one NBC is drooling over. And guess what? After 5040 days, it finally includes the Raiders.

I wrote last year that the KC game was a defining moment on our return to relevance, and it was. Unfortunately for us that day, we were not yet ready. It signified that we were still a few players and some additional experience at QB away from being able to beat a sound team in a big game and make a legitimate push in the post season.

I have many of the same thoughts about this one. There are very similar undertones surrounding this week. Despite our recent success on the road and our proud 6-2 record, there are still some questions surrounding the potential of this team.

Has the defense really improved of late or are we the beneficiary of playing two of the worst offenses in the NFL?

Can our offense continue to bail us out against a playoff caliber defense as we get into December and January?

We have made huge strides in learning how to win again, but are we really poised to take the final step and win a game of this magnitude?

Those answers are going to be revealed tonight… and it’s going to be on the NFL’s grand stage.

Now with the table set lets get to some of the in game details, or keys to victory as you might say.

#1 – Outcoach em’
Much like the KC game last year, I think this game will come down to coaching and our offensive game plan. What kind of adjustments will we make this week to mix in some new looks and try to keep that defense off balance?

Denver’s success is mostly dependant on getting quick pressure with that front 4. They lead the league in QB pressures, being able to do so on 41% of passing plays. They also generate a sack 8% of that time.

That kind of pressure forces quick decisions and typically short routes. Their secondary then always gets to play on its toes, jumping the short routes and keeping the game in front of them in the 5-15 yard range. It’s a philosophy that reminds me a lot of the great Tampa defenses. And they force a lot of turnovers with it.

Musgrave needs to mix it up well to keep them off balance. I think this needs to include some good playaction, and a willingness to take some shots down the field to keep them on their heels. If we play the ultra conservative move the chains type of game plan all night I think we play right into their hands.  

I’d also like to see a good dose of the no huddle. I think it keeps the tempo up where Carr is more comfortable and we can dictate the action.

#2 – Don’t let the Game Manager manage the game.
Seimian is young end inexperienced but he has proven to be effective as a game manager. Well, the way to get him out of that comfort zone is to get ahead of them and make him play from behind.

SD was able to build a 2 TD lead two weeks ago and it made the Donkeys look like a different team on offense. This point obviously goes hand in hand with point #1. Have to attack on offense to build a lead. Trying to play them in a close, 17-14 or 20-17 type game favors Seimian and the Broncos dramatically.

#3 – Minimize critical penalties and TO’s
This one probably goes without saying. Obviously a performance like either of the last two weeks and we will be in serious trouble, regardless of how well we do anything else.

#4 – Believe you BELONG   
Success in the NFL is a fickle thing… hanging delicately in the balance almost each and every week. Despite our 6-2 record there are undoubtedly (and rightfully) some questions in our player’s minds about whether they are really among the league’s elite.
Belief in what you are capable of is the most important part of taking this final step.

Much of the success the Patriots experience these days is because they believe they are elite… and to some extent they manifest that reality.

Bottom line - All of our arguments and disagreements about the rebuild process along the way are pretty much irrelevant. How we drafted, busted in free agency, missed on coaches. Whether it should have taken 4 long years or not…

The fact of the matter is we ARE here. We ARE relevant. The NFL knows it. The media knows it.

The time is NOW. Take the final step and become an elite team. Your home crowd will be raucous. I want a Silver and Black avalanche of effort and will.

I want to hear Papa thundering down all night…

Touchdooooown Raaaaaaaaaaaaiders!!

And so it will be on this night, we have officially ARRIVED!




Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was a Statement game! Great guest post! 1st place alone time to start a run!

9:44 PM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Nice take. Who would have thought we'd just run it down their throats. No trickery, no deception, just smash mouth football. The defense was steady and true. The only obvious breakdown was the screen play that went for a TD.

On offense, Howard was grossly overmatched but coaches quickly pulled him. The "Big" formation worked better this game than last week, with fewer penalties. Murray was a beast, and showed us Derek Carr isn't the only one capable of taking over a game.

We have two weeks to enjoy this one!

4:47 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

5ER! Nice take, bro. You gathered I think, all of our sentiments here. The Raiders showed up big tonight. You could see the hunger in their eyes before the game. Like NY said, Howard seemed overmatched against Von Miller (but who doesn't), so the Raiders put in Watson and Kirkland, and they seemed to shut him out on the right side, and Penn was a beast against him, when he thought he would change it up. I loved how Penn pancaked him on the long Murray run.

The defense played all out last night. TJ Carrie still has an issue of grabbing the WR when he's beat though, he (like Howard) was the only blemish. Check this though. Mack outplayed Von Miller AGAIN! More sacks, more pressure, more QB hits. Now we get Aldon Smith and Mario Edwards Jr back after the bye.

Make no mistake, Doncos and their fans are quickly going to how they were without Talib and their other CB. But the Raiders took TJ Ward's words personal, and the WRs showed just how elite they were. Over 400 yards of offense, held the Doncos under 300, and only 8 penalties. 1st PLACE BABY! They earned it!

6:38 AM  
Blogger TheFreakingPope said...

Great (guest) take. Great game.

All night, as the Broncos' drive extending penalties piled up, I kept waiting for the commentators to say, "This Denver team is just too undisciplined to win big games".

Guess they save that criticism for us. :)

Go Raiders!

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Raider00 said...

Great job 5er, and you called it too ! Give this game ball to the coaches.

Would have been easy for Coaches to say, We've got Carr, we've got the passing attack. Let's unleash it.

But coaching staff actually played a little matchup here. They saw where they could exploit Donkey D by using ground attack, and they used it relentlessly. It was beautiful to watch. Now future opponents must fear not only Carr & Co. but a hardnosed ground game as well.

If I can nitpick a little. Donks had ball for 18 minutes, scored 20 points. Ok, well, the D still needs some work.

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks gents. Appreciate the nice feedback. I went up to the game with my brother. It was awesome to be back in the coliseum and part of the festivities. It was electric again... it brought back so many great memories with my family over the years.

You guys are spot on. I think the healthy dose of ground attack against that smaller, speedy front was well designed. The best tailored game plan we've seen from Musgrave. Coincidentally I had mentioned the Tampa defense as a comparison. As we learned after the fact from some of the inside intel going into the 02' Super Bowl, the original plan was to pound it right at that smaller front with Wheatley and Crockett and try and neutralize some of that speed.

Unfortunately the loss of Robbins the night before the game and whatever conspiracy theory surrounding Callahan overriding the game plan... we'll never know how it would have turned out. If last night was any indication, it sure would have been nice to see!

Anyway, an additional thought that could be an intangible to the Denver matchup was the Del Rio factor... being the former Coordinator. My brother and I were thinking about the two games last year when we were relatively outmatched talent wise.

We played them very tough at home. Remember we were driving for the lead late in the 4thQ only to have Carr throw that errant pick 6. It was a very good performance by our defense. And that was with Manning at the helm. Then obviously to go in and beat them in Denver in December was a huge middle finger to them. We didn't yield an offensive TD in either game... just 7 McManus FG's.

We wondered if there is some insight there that gives JDR an edge against that system after going against it every day in practice? Perhaps its just coincidence but it sure looks like we know how to shut them down.

Either way, what a great win. Let us all basque in the glory after so many grueling years of frustration.

5040 days to be exact!!


8:20 PM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Just when it looked like the Raiders would gain a half game on KC and Denver, Carolina and NO folded like cheep suits. NO had Denver beat then just handed them the game in two plays. Unbelievable!

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone have news on Mario Edwards or Aldon Smith?

Thanks and have a good weekend

5:16 AM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Neither player will be active Monday. Smith has not been reinstated by the NFL, and Edwards was eligible to come back three weeks ago but remains sidelined.

6:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks NY, I am starting to wonder if Edwards makes it back this year. A shame because he was looking like a solid starter. If healthy I think he makes more impact that Smith as Irvin somewhat plays that role


11:48 AM  
Blogger nyraider said...

It would be nice to get a full compliment of players on the field and see what they can do.

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