Monthly Archives: November 2016

Raider Nation: Embrace the New Era

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Raiders writer Maurice Moton wrote a good piece about the new era of Raider Nation via Bleacher Report. In it, he calls for Raiders fans to embrace the franchise as they rise into an elite football team.

To piggy back off Moton’s writing, Raider Nation needs these young and bandwagon fans. These are the people that put us on national television. That is the sort of attention we need as young players like Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper ascend to greatness.

These casual and new fans ensure that our players get their due respect. They also bring the revenue needed to help our team stay in their home market. Funny how the city of Oakland finally has a proposal after the Raiders put together their best season in 14 seasons.

Nonetheless, I get it. It’s hard to embrace warm-water fans when you’ve been riding with these teams through 14 years of obscurity. It’s hard to celebrate with the same people who were laughing at you. Us “real fans” have been defending this team on twitter, at lunch tables, and via radio for years.

All of a sudden we see people with Raiders beanies and snapbacks? Hence, we have a right to distance ourselves from those people who did not ride for the team during the Lane Kiffin or Jamarcus Russell eras.

However, we also have a right to welcome them to the most passionate and educated fan base in the world. Granted, I am biased.

Currently, I live in Los Angeles. The kingdom of bandwagon fans. All of these people who were embracing the return of the Rams suddenly admire the Raiders. Go figure.

I could be petty and tell them to F**** themselves. Otherwise, I could be happy that they are finally seeing what I have been loving for years. The Raiders have the best history, colors and brand of football in the NFL. Of course, that is just my bias speaking.

The point is, don’t test everyone’s fan card. These young and bandwagon fans can easily convert into die-hard members of Raider Nation. Let’s all unite under the Silver and Black. We all can enjoy the highs because it has been a hell of a ride to get here.

Oakland Raiders: Keys to beating the Carolina Panthers

Last week, the Oakland Raiders nearly suffered a letdown. The Houston Texans led throughout the Monday Night Football matchup in Mexico City.

However, the Raiders found a way to win.

This week, the Raiders can not rely on the same heroics. Despite their record, the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers (4-6) still have the reigning MVP, big receivers and a scary defensive line. Don’t forget Oakland’s only two losses this season came at home. Hence, this could combine for a huge Panthers’ road victory over the Raiders.

Here is the formula which should help Oakland protect their home-field

1) Pound the football

Oakland made their running backs relevant via pass attempts. Jamize Olawale and Jalen Richard both caught touchdown passes and Latavius Murray caught five passes for 59 yards.

Otherwise, Oakland only rushed for 30 yards on 20 carries. The Texans owned them in time of possession by more than 13 minutes.

Hence, Oakland must bounce back this week. The Raiders have one of the best offensive lines in football, and they face a great Carolina defensive line that is deep. It should be fun watching Kelechi Osemele and Kawann Short battle in the middle. Hopefully, the Raiders can take advantage of their versatility at the running back position with Murray, Richard and company.

Plus, Carolina will be without their all-pro run linebacker Luke Kuechly. This should open up some running lanes for the Raiders.

Expect them to get back to the ground game against the Panthers. This is the easiest way to limit Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s impact on the game.

2) Pressure Cam Newton

Raiders edge rusher Khalil Mack enters this game with a chance to get a sack in his sixth consecutive game. However, it won’t be easy against the forever mobile Newton.

Thus, it will be on the entire defensive line to contain Newton. It is well documented that Newton has problems with the way he is hit on the run and in the pocket. Therefore, Oakland must get into his head by pressuring and hitting him in legal ways. This will keep the Panthers’ rushing and passing attack out of rhythm.

Further, the Raiders must stay in their passing lines. Newton can extend plays with his feet, so the Raiders must not let him run around. The Raiders secondary makes too many mistakes, and the Panthers receivers are too big and fast. It could spell disaster if the Raiders do not pressure Newton and keep contain.

Granted, that is easier said than done.

3) Secondary must improve

The Carolina secondary has not been the same since losing Josh Norman to free agency. Therefore, the deep group of Oakland receivers should exploit the Carolina corners.

However, the Panthers could make this a shootout. We know the Raiders secondary makes mistakes via penalties and big plays. This week, they matchup well against the big-bodied receivers in Carolina. Raiders corners Sean Smith and David Amerson are just as big and skilled as Panthers receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Tedd Ginn Jr.

Hence, the Oakland secondary must improve. D.J. Hayden, Karl Joseph, Reggie Nelson, Malcolm Smith, and Perry Riley could all see matchups versus tight end Greg Olsen. Olsen is one of the best in the NFL.

Oakland can not let the Panthers keep this game close by giving up big plays in the passing game. No mistakes this week, guys!

The Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers play at 1:25 p.m. PST.

Oakland Raiders: Midseason Awards

The Oakland Raiders (7-2) entered their bye week with a first place spot in the AFC West, fresh off a win over their AFC West rival the Denver Broncos.

It was a long week for Raiders Nation. Besides not having a game last week, they watched as the Kansas City Chiefs and Broncos both escaped with narrow victories.

Nonetheless, the Raiders have a lot to celebrate over the first half of their season. Headed into a Monday Night Football game versus the Houston Texans in Mexico City, it is time to hand out some awards.

Unlike other Midseason Awards, I will not keep this team specific. The Raiders are on the national stage and their players deserve consideration for NFL recognition.

MVP: Derek Carr

The Raiders are tied for the best record in the AFC West, and Derek Carr deserves a lot of credit. He led game-winning drives against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints. He also helped the team close out games versus the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens. He’s thrown 17 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. Carr is also on pace to throw for more than 4,500 yards in the season.

Candidates Ezekiel Elliott, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan all get consideration for this award. However, Brady missed four games. Elliott plays behind a dominant offensive line and Ryan could drop off in the second half of the season. Carr has a case for midseason MVP, and it should not be that close.

Offensive Player of Midseason: Derek Carr

Clearly, Carr is a candidate for the offensive player of the year award if he is an option for overall MVP.

Granted, Amari Cooper is having a great year. The Raiders defense would not be the same without him.

However, Cooper and Crabtree should both surpass 1,000 receiving yards. That is due to Carr.

The Raiders quarterback also shattered a franchise record for passing attempts and yards. He’s won AFC Player of the Week twice.

Even if you give the MVP of midseason to another player in the league, you must make Carr the offensive player of the year. He leads a Raiders offense that ranks No. 5 in yards per game and No. 6 in total points. Carr also owns one of the best touchdowns to interceptions ratio in the NFL.

Defensive Player of Midseason: Khalil Mack

Khalil Mack turned his season around by registering six sacks in four games. That puts him on pace for 14 this season. PFF ranks Mack as one of the best edge players this season.

Von Miller is also in the conversation. Aaron Donald may be as well. Both of those players may have a better argument because their defensive units rank better than the Raiders in most categories.

Thus far, Miller has 9.5 sacks and Donald has five sacks. Donald faces a disadvantage for the award because he plays inside, where he gets fewer opportunities to sack the quarterback. Also, Donald’s Rams seem most unlikely to make the playoffs.

Therefore, Mack’s shot at this award lies with the entire defense. Currently, Oakland ranks 16th in total points and fifth in most defensive yards per game. If Mack wants to win the NFL DPOY award, he must help turn those stats around. Taking the AFC West from the Broncos could also help Mack claim the award from Miller’s hands.

Rookie of the Year: Karl Joseph

Rookies Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott make it hard for Joseph to win this award on a national scale.

Joey Bosa’s four sacks and Leonard Floyd’s five sacks make it hard for Joseph to win the defensive edition too. Also, Deion Jones also has a couple of interceptions, a touchdown and a gang of tackles.

Joseph’s best argument centers around his one interception and holding the second highest tackles mark on the team. Joseph did not start the first three games of the season, but he can easily win this award with a few interceptions.

Coach of the Year: Jack Del Rio

Listen, I don’t care what Jason Garrett is doing with his rookies. I don’t care how many times Bill Belichick can win this award. I don’t care what Gus Bradley is doing in his own franchise turnaround.

Jack Del Rio deserves this award, especially if he ends the Raiders 14-year playoff drought. Del Rio turned around the losing culture in Oakland. He brought them back into the national spotlight with some of his gambling playcalls.

Del Rio’s biggest obstacle for this award revolves around that struggling defense. Afterall, Del Rio is a defensive coach.

Biggest Disappointment: Clive Walford

Sean Smith has made enough plays to get himself out of this conversation. Instead, we can award it to our second-year tight end. Fantasy football experts hyped him up as our third passing target. Unfortunately, he only has one touchdown catch and is barely on pace to eclipse his rookie totals for catches and yards.

You could add some players like Dan Williams or Menelik Watson into this list. That is partly because they have not commanded the roles of full-time starters. Williams for his condition and Watson for the nagging injuries.

However, Walford was suppossed to become elite. He’s barely progressing.

Remember, they do call this the Not-For-Long league. Therefore, I gotta imagine there is a bigger bust somewhere in the league.

Las Vegas: What’s the latest?

A few huge developments happened over the past couple of weeks, while my personal life put this blog on the backburner.

First, the Nevada State Senate approved the increase in tax that would allow Las Vegas to raise the $750 million to lure the Raiders via a new stadium. Second, Mark Davis attended a ceremony celebrating the announcement. He also said he was committed to the city. However, Jerry Jones and his ton of influence says the Raiders will definitely leave Oakland.

Meanwhile, the City of Oakland said they were working on a serious proposal to keep their franchise. Their proposal may or may not include a group of investors led by Ronnie Lott. Roger Goodell echoed that the league had Oakland as the perferred destination.

The County Commission also okayed an extension of the monorail with visions of the Raiders’ stadium in mine.

Finally, Sheldon Adelson said he could live with or without the proposed stadium that would bring the Raiders.

So basically, we still do not know where the Raiders will play once their lease is up in Oakland. We do know that they are still on a quest for a new stadium. That baseball field for a quarter of the season is not a good look. Neither are the flooded bathrooms on the upper concourse.

Still, Oakland will always be Mecca  for Raider Nation. Hopefully, Oakland will put together something real soon. The Raiders mean too much to the community. The Raiders do too much outreach. Their brand represents the East Bay too much.

Don’t forget that the Oakland is getting gentrified. That means the Raiders have a booming economy in their home market. They need to take advantage of it and stop courting Vegas.

Plus, the Raiders are relevant again. Oakland must fight for their team which will become a perennial playoff team.

Oakland Raiders’ keys to beating the Denver Broncos

When was the last time the Oakland Raiders played a meaningful game in primetime? When was the last time the Raiders had a legitimate chance to win said game?

Oakland will face the Denver Broncos for this week’s Sunday Night Football action. The Raiders have a real shot at defeating the reigning Super Bowl champions this Sunday. Don’t forget Oakland defeated the Broncos one time last year.

There is a lot of hype surrounding this game. Beyond the typical AFC West rivalry hype, both teams are 6-2. The winner gains access to the driver seat in the division. Here is how the Raiders can live up to their hype.

Control the line of scrimmage

The Raiders top rusher only averages about 46 yards per game. The runner by committee contributes to that mediocrity. However, Oakland needs a big performance from a running back… cough… Latavius Murray.

Oakland needs to control the ball at home. They need to pound away at the Broncos defense. An effective running attack gives Derek Carr managable third downs.

Otherwise, Von Miller as a pass rusher versus the Raiders revolving door at right tackle is too much. Plus, Denver’s starting corners – if Aquib Talib is healthy – are too much for Oakland to throw the ball 60 times.

Not to mention, the Raiders defense ranks towards the bottom in most categories. Therefore, Oakland needs to run the ball so their defense stays off the field.

Start the Carr

Derek Carr is for sure the best quarterback in this game. He may just be the best player on the entire field.

All of this MVP talk is warranted. He’s thrown 17 touchdowns and 3 interceptions with a 66 percent completion rate. Not to mention, every Raiders fan has seen Carr lead momentous drives versus the Saints, Buccaneers, Ravens, and every other win.

Carr will need to get the offense started again. He needs a breakout game under the prime lights. That does not necessarily mean he needs to throw for 50 times like he did versus Tampa Bay. However, he needs to throw curcial big plays. He needs to keep drives alive by hitting the check downs. He needs to keep his feet accurate on routine passes and screens. He may also need to scramble for a necessary gain.

Basically, Derek Carr needs to continue his growth as a franchise quarterback versus the Broncos.

Create Turnovers

Oakland has a top five offense and a bottom five defense. The only way they’ve been able to win games is by creating turnovers.

Last season, neither team scored more than twenty points in either game. Therefore, defense will be critical again.

The Broncos will be without C.J. Anderson. Hence, the Raiders should improve at stopping the run.

That means the Broncos are going to gamble more on longer second and third downs. This translates to more pass rushing opportunities for Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack. It should result for more picks via the secondary.

Ultimately, we know the Broncos can create turnovers. We know their defense is No. 1 against the pass. Can the Raiders hold their own by creating turnovers at home?

P.S. The Raiders are leading the league in penalties by a lot. They’ve been able to win in spite of that. Can the Raiders keep it up? Or will those yards and points left on the field hurt Oakland?