Sunday, September 23, 2018

Dolphins Gameday Thread

Here we go, aiming to avoid an 0-3 start to The Gruden Show. It's going to be warm in Miami, gotta be able to finish strong, no excuses.


I'm enjoying the deep discussion going on here about the state and direction of the Raiders. If I'm going to boil it down, here's what I think is going on:


-Mark Davis hands Jon Gruden 10 years and $100 million. Which equals POWER.


-Gruden comes in, maybe thinks he's going to make it work, but is ultimately unimpressed with the roster he has inherited. A bunch of Reggie's guys are pitched, most notably Kahlil Mack.


-Gruden is not going to hitch his wagon to Reggie McKenzie. Not with 10 years and $100 million on his side. He's going to remake the Raiders in his image, for better or for worse. Because if it's for the better, he'll be the king of Las Vegas and his legacy will be cemented.


-Reggie is seemingly being marginalized, and I'll be surprised if he's not gone soon in favor of a Gruden guy.


I think that's what's going on. That's my read on it. Some Raiders fans think it's a necessary fresh start and that Gruden is on the right track, others think Gruden's ego is setting the team back and may lead to ruin. 


I honestly don't know what to think, because The Gruden Show is only just getting started. One thing I'm fairly certain of: change is in the air, and the autumn wind is still a Raider.



Sunday, September 16, 2018

Three Postgame Takes

1. There was just that sense of inevitability in the last few minutes when the Raiders couldn't move the ball, and when the Broncos carved the defense up to march downfield for the winning field goal. It felt like Groundhog Day. I've seen it happen so many times, it's like a Raiders signature.


2. It was a better effort overall, and Carr and Cooper showed some chemistry finally. Beast Mode was evident. Carr's completion percentage was out of sight. But in the end, only two touchdowns were scored. Rarely will that ever be enough, and it wasn't today.


3. THE GRUDEN SHOW is off to a rocky start. There wasn't much of a pass rush there at the end. He hasn't been able to get the offense really going. The playcalling seems uninspired at times. Steam is coming out of his ears--and ours.

Broncos Gameday Thread

Well, the curtain rose on THE GRUDEN SHOW last week, and by the end there wasn't much to show for it. Now it's time to try to keep pace in the AFC West, and it's time for Carr and Company to step it up. GO RAIDERS!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Three Postgame Takes

1. Is it just me, or did this look eerily like the Raiders of last year? Carr tentative and errant. Cooper a non-factor. Defense unable to hold tight for 60 minutes. Penalties. Team looking slump-shouldered and defeated with three minutes to go and down two scores (yeah, it's unlikely, but you'll never do it without pep in your step).

2. What's with Carr just throwing the ball away at a crucial juncture when the play could have easily been extended by moving around. He needs to watch the one-legged Aaron Rodgers, or even rookie Sam Darnold. Weak sauce.

3. Let's hope we can chalk this up to the Rams being a formidable team. Regardless, this was an inauspicious debut for THE GRUDEN SHOW.

Rams Gamenight Thread

The curtain is rising. The Raiders are still in Oakland (for now). The Rams are visiting from Los Angeles (like old times). Chucky's visor is fitted. It's time for the opening of THE GRUDEN SHOW, a sequel that is slated to run for the next 10 years.

Make no mistake, this is the honeymoon moment of a marriage between Mark Davis and Jon Gruden, and as they say at weddings, "For better or for worse..."


I'm not sure if I'm bullish or bearish on THE GRUDEN SHOW. Unfortunately, I lean toward the latter, but I'm willing to give it time. I've been blogging here for 13 years and have witnessed only one winning season. So apparently, I've got nothing but time.


GO RAIDERS!


P.S. I love the differing perspectives that are represented here. Come one, come all. Every take is fair game for a counter-take. That's what makes this place tick.


Monday, September 03, 2018

What It All Means

Among the many opinions about what transpired over the weekend, there is one indisputable fact: the Raiders traded away their best player. And however you slice it, that is tough to swallow.


Fair points are being made on both sides of the argument as to whether or not this was a terrible move or a reasonable move. The bottom line is that it will take some time before we can get a full accounting of this deal. It all depends on how those first-round picks are used, and how the extra cash is spent.


Yesterday, Gruden cited Carr's salary as a factor in being unable to accommodate Mack. Yes, the Raiders are paying Derek Carr a lot of money. However, numerous competitive teams are paying top dollar for quarterbacks. Click here to see a list of quarterbacks who are making $21 million or more per year. Eight QBs are making as much or more than Derek Carr ($25 million), and four are making more.


So my question is, after all of these years under Reggie McKenzie, why the Raiders are still not in a position to pay the market rate for their best players after fielding a team that went 6-10 last year?


If perennial playoff contenders with high-paid quarterbacks can manage to build (and pay for) winning rosters, why can't the Raiders? If they didn't have enough money for Mack because they'd spent all their money on building a winning roster, that would be one thing. Yet here we are, without (allegedly) enough money for Mack and a team with questionable collective talent that went 6-10 last year.

I suspect that this is what was stuck in Gruden's craw. There have been plenty of persuasive rumors that McKenzie's personnel authority has been stripped, and the Mack deal is the best evidence yet. Gruden just couldn't see a good way forward if they paid Mack the going rate, and he decided that he would rather rebuild the Raiders than try to prop up the house of cards that he believes he inherited. He wanted the picks and the cash to go another way. So he shipped off the best draft pick of the McKenzie era, and sent the best Raider packing to buy picks and financial latitude.

The taste left in our mouths is a bitter one. Mack was a true Raider. A throwback to the good old days when the Raiders were known for terrorizing quarterbacks. The one draft pick in many years where the Raiders hit an absolute home run. He was, by all accounts, a consummate professional in the locker room and on the field. His was a jersey you felt good about buying. And now, as he enters his prime--poof!--he's gone.

It's also a gut punch on the eve of the 2018 season opener. The Raiders are not long for Oakland, and now they seem to be punting the proverbial ball to the Las Vegas era. Gruden has a 10-year contract and apparently the power to go with it. He is taking the long view, and if that means taking a step back this year, then he's saying, "So be it."

E.J. Manuel and Connor Cook? Poof, gone. The quarterback whisperer had seen enough after tutoring them all the way through the preseason, and decided that a Bills castoff was better than both of them. Meanwhile, the Raiders have suddenly become the oldest team in the NFL in at least six years, which is right in line with Gruden's known M.O. He's got his hands all over McKenzie's Legos and he's re-stacking them in his own image.

In other words, what you are seeing is the opening act of what will be The Gruden Show for years to come.

McKenzie did just okay at the personnel helm. He righted a sinking ship early on but the overall results are lacking. One playoff appearance in six years in a league that is built for parity. Let's hope Gruden does better.

(However, Gruden is already off to a questionable personnel start by donating a third round pick to the Steelers for a known head case who won't play a snap for the Raiders. Let's try to pretend that didn't happen?)

The curtain is rising. The Gruden Show is about to begin. We don't know how it will end, but it's hard to give it a thumb's up or down when we haven't even seen the first act yet.