Monthly Archives: October 2016

Oakland Raiders: Don’t take 2016 for granted

My annual trip to a Raiders game fell on the week of the Chargers.

There’s no better feeling than being amongst the thousands of Raider Nation faithful. Shoutout to all the friendly people who hooked me up with ice, wipes, an oven-glove, and great vibes.

It was a trueky memorable experience and we’re not even talking about the game. 

I don’t take the atmosphere of the Black Hole for granted.

***

The Oakland Raiders secured their best start since 2002 via a 31-34 win over the San Diego Chargers.

After years of interchanging quarterbacks and coaches, let’s not take that for granted.

Oakland is tied for first in the NFL and first in their division.

This isn’t just a paper championship earned via the draft and free agency.

The Raiders finally have a product reflected by their 4-1 record. 

Sure, it has not been perfect. Oakland got just enough autumn win for San Diego to muff the snap on a game tying field goal. 

Otherwise, the Raiders running game was largely inefficient as it managed less than four yards a carry. They also got torched in the passing game. Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams both registered more than 100 passing yards for the Chargers. 

Still, the team found a way to win. That’s been the moral of this season. Rather it was on the two-point conversion in New Orleans or the defensive stand versus the Ravens.

It has not always been pretty. The defense ranks towards the bottom and they’re not always efficient on third down, offensively. However, the Raiders continue to win despite not getting much production from their best defensive-line player Khalil Mack, best corner Sean Smith and rotating through tight ends and right tackles.

It is still early in the season, but let’s not take this Raiders team for granted. We must appreciate that this team is finding ways to win when previous teams always found way to lose.

Not to mention, they’re doing it in Oakland -the Mecca for Raider Nation. Despite the city’s inability to find a long-term stadium option, it is important that this team wins for a city that supports them through thick and thin.

Finally, the Silver and Black are rising from the shadows of mediocrity. The media has been noticing, but fans knew this thing was turning around years ago.

Let’s not take our recent success for granted. Enjoy the winning and let’s keep it going versus Kansas City on Sunday at 10:05 p.m.

Just win baby! 

Advertisements

Oakland Raiders Quarter Season Awards for 2016

Four games down and 12 remaining for the Oakland Raiders. Look at the good and bad from the Silver and Black’s 2016 season, with a quarter completed.

MVP: Derek Carr

Nine touchdowns and one interception. Don’t forget the game winning drives in the fourth quarter versus the New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens. Quarterback Derek Carr has lead the team to their best start since 2002, the same year quarterback Rich Gannon won league MVP.

It is no coincidence. He earned his ranking as the top-rated quarterback according to Pro Football Focus. FurtherCarr is taking that next step as he is finishing drives in the endzone and he has become reliable in the clutch.

As long as the Raiders have Carr, they can finally compete with the best teams in the league. He is a natural athlete and leader, which make this MVP campaign real.

Comeback Player: D.J. Hayden

It is not often that a player who started the year before wins comeback player of the year. Considering he ended last season in the coaches’ and fans’ doghouse, corner D.J. Hayden deserves whatever extra credit he can win.

Yes, he has gotten beat. Yes, he has not been perfect. However, he has made plays that he did not in prior years. Hayden has shown ability as a pure tackler in the slot. He even broke up some passes last week.

Head coach Jack Del Rio has complimented his play multiple times in the season. David Amerson has said the sky is the limit for the young player. Hayden himself expects to continue building on the first quarter via CSN Bay AreaLook for Hayden to keep getting better with the entire team. The 2013 first round pick already climbed into the top 50 corners via PFF.

Best Newcomer: Cory James 

The Raiders are relying on lots of newcomers this season. We will limit it to rookies considering the high-profile free agents signed by Oakland.

Rookie runners DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard have both sparked the ground game. Vandal Alexander has filled in nicely at tackle. Korey Joseph has made plays in the secondary.

Nonetheless, linebacker Cory James wins the award after coming out of nowhere. Dude was selected as a glorified special teams player but has made two starts, recorded 23 tackles and a forced fumble. He’s been all over the field and has helped the team communicate.

James is far from perfect, but he is playing better than Ben Heeney. Even his defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said the team would be better if they had a bunch of players like him. Imagine where Oakland would be without him.

Best Playmaker: Michael Crabtree

Receiver Michael Crabtree has four touchdown receptions. He put the team on his back last week with three touchdowns. The receiver is on pace for 1236 yards and sixteen touchdowns. Crabtree also caught the game-winning, two-point conversion in Week 1.

Consistently, Carr looks for Crabtree in clutch third downs and in the redzone. The two players have developed chemistry in their second year. Yes, Amari Cooper is the x-factor thanks to his big plays. However, Crabtree is the player we need to keep drives alive.

Added, Bruce Irvin could claim this award. He has two strip sacks that changed the momentum versus the New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens. Unfortunately, we can’t reward a player that on one of the league’s worst defenses.

Biggest Bust: Dan Williams

Speaking of the defense, it gave up historically bad numbers in the first two weeks. Some may say it was because Dan Williams did not play. He only played 24 percent of last week’s snaps too.

Remember, Williams came into training camp out of shape. Last season, he was one of the better players on defense. Still, the team has not stopped the run and that starts at the nose tackle position. Their 5.1 yards per carry is the worst in the league, and their 134.5 yards per game is the second worst. Even with Williams on the field, the team is not playing much better. Nor has he earned more time thanks to his pass rushing ability.

It pains me to say it because Williams’ story about joining the Raiders is one of my favorite. Either way, he can and needs to play better.

All of these awards could easily change, because there are a ton of games remaining. Keep watching to see how the Raiders do.

Oakland Raiders: Turn up or Turn Down from Week 4

The Oakland Raiders secured their third road victory of the 2016 season via a defeat of the previously undefeated Baltimore Ravens. Here are more lessons from the 28-27 victory.

Turn Up: 3-1 overall record for the 2016 season.

Forget the fact that Oakland won all three games by a single score. The Raiders have their best start since 2002, the same year they won the AFC title.  Not to mention, the team seems poised for their first winning season since that year. That all sounds like  cause for celebrations.

Turn up: The Special Teams

Marquette King registered the best-graded game ever rated by Pro Football Focus. Jalen Richard also added a 47-yard punt return. Special teams really gave the Raiders an edge in the one-point contest versus the Ravens. Especially when Devin Hester sparked his team with a few nice returns, the Silver and Black needed to execute on special teams.

That is exactly what head coach Jack Del Rio said in Monday’s press conference.

“All three phases playing complementary football, impacting the game, and it’s about us and our team, and what we’re able to do when those three phases work together like that. That’s a great example of it.” Del Rio said.

Let’s see more sparks via corner punts and long returns as the season continues.

Turn Down: The talks about an elite offense

Oakland played an efficient game on offense. Derek Carr threw four touchdown passes and went 25 of 35 for 199 yards. The leading rusher was DeAndre Washington with 30 yards on five carries. Plus, the unit only converted a quarter of their third down attempts.

Obviously, the Silver and Black will take the win. However, we need to see more from the rushing attack before this unit becomes elite. An example of this includes Baltimore winning the time of possession category by more than 9 minutes. It could help not having a rookie like Vandal Alexander at right tackle. Some of his penalties killed the team. An improved rushing attack also makes for more easily managed third downs.

Either way, Oakland still ranks in the top 10 as far as offensive averages for rushing and passing. They just need a little better execution to become an elite unit.

Turn Down: Defensive hype

 

Yes, the Raiders defense came up with a four-and-out stop in the final two minutes before winning on the road. Yes, Bruce Irvin got a strip-sack and Khalil Mack got his first sack of the year in the fourth quarter. Plus, the team pressured Joe Flacco all day.

However, Ravens running back slashed through the Raiders defense for 113 yards on 21 carries. Joe Flacco also got 298 yards, even if it took him more than 50 attempts. Also, 37-year-old Steve Smith caught 8 balls for 111 yards and 1 touchdown.

Clearly, Oakland has a long way to go before the unit is actually good. They still rank last in total yards and average per pass. They are also second to last in opponent rushing yards per game.

It is great that the Silver and Black can rely on their team to make plays when it matters. Nonetheless, it would be great if they made plays through the entire game.

Turn Down: The Penalties

Overall, the Raiders have had too many penalties. They are No. 1 in offensive penalties with 43. They are in the top-five as far as defensive penalties too.

The margin for error is so low in the NFL. Oakland can not keep winning these one score games if they consistently lead in the penalty category.

Blame it on the Raiders-bias if you want. However, the Raiders need to look themselves in the mirror and execute better. This is especially true for an offensive line that is too good for holding calls and false starts.

Turn Up: D.J. Hayden in the nickel corner.

Hayden played 70 percent of the team’s snaps despite not starting in the base defense. He made six tackles and defensed one pass. Not to mention, he made some hits.

We’ve grown so much, man,” Hayden said. “As far as our execution; we’re playing smarter. We’re just out there playing. We’re not thinking, we’re just reacting.”

Considering how many fans were ready to write him off, we should definitely celebrate that Hayden is coming into his own  via the inside corner spot.

 

Marcel Reece: Closing the Chapter

This week, the Oakland Raiders said farewell to a Silver and Black legend. Oakland cut fullback Marcel Reece on his first day back from suspension.
Reece’s removal from the roster was coming. The team had replaced him with a younger and similar player in Jamize Olawale. Plus, the team already had three tight ends and four running backs on the active roster. 
Besides that, Reece himself had said the team was phasing him out of the offense last year. However, that should not tarnish his legacy with the Raiders.
The fullback was the Raiders only Pro Bowler a few times. Not to mention, he was always a visible member of Raider Nation via community events and social media. Even multiple members of the media said they would miss Reece. He always gave insightful quotes on the team. Reece always brought his energy and swagger to the team. 
It will be weird not seeing Reece’s No. 45. He was our bright spot, when the Raiders had none. 
Further, Derek Carr and Khalil Mack credit Reece for teaching them how to become Raiders. Plus, owner Raiders Mark Davis said it was a difficult decision to cut him.
Either way, we can’t forget what Reece brought to this team. We must thank him for his contributions to the Raiders.

Once a Raider, always a Raider!