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Trade deadline passes and Raiders stay put

Surprise! The Oakland Raiders made no changes before the trade deadline passed.

In four years as general manager, Reggie Mckenzie continues to not make any trades.

 

Of course fans like myself would like to see him take some gambles. However, the team is winning this year so I’ll keep my mouth shut.

In past years I have been adament about the Raiders making a play on some star power. This year I would have said the same, but the Raiders are in the playoff hunt. Moreover, they have all of their draft picks.

Raider fans know Reggie McKenzie loves him some draft picks.

Some of the names rumored on the trading block included Brian Cushing and Eric Weddle. Who wants some washed up defensive players?

Sheldon Richardson and Jason Pierre-Paul are probably the only names I would have traded for. They have enough off-field risks to warrant a discount price.

But let’s get real. It still would have cost a couple of high draft picks. Not worth it considering the Raiders are young and only getting better.

Plus, McKenzie has done a fine enough job scouring the waiver wire. He found gold in cornerback David Amerson.

Oakland basically resurrected Amerson’s career. Not to mention, he licked his chops with a hit on Geno Smith this Sunday versus the New York Jets.

Then there was also the Week 1 signing of Aldon Smith. Smith faced some legal troubles, but McKenzie took the gamble. Now he might have a cornerstone pass rusher across from Khalil Mack

Hence, we should forget about the trade deadline. Lets just be happy we are winning.

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Oakland Raiders Quarterly Report: Defense

via photobucket

On defense, the Oakland Raiders have not done much well. They have faced plenty of growing pains in a new scheme with a new defensive coordinator. Between Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton Jr. leading this group, they should be playing a lot better.

Against the Bengals, Jeremy Hill tore apart the Raiders defense. Versus the Ravens, Joe Flacco looked precise and comfortable. Then against the Browns, Josh McCown kept his team in the game. Even Jay Cutler looked like a good quarterback against the Raiders.

So what has been consistent?

It has not been the passing defense. Everyone knows the Raider can not cover a tight end. Someone on Twitter said they want to be reincarnated as a tight end versus the Raiders, get in line bruh.

Then the secondary has been a mixed back. They make plays but they also make plenty of mistakes.

Here are some more specifics on position grades, after four games played.

Defensive Line: B-

The Raiders defensive line has played respectable. They have not been terrible, but they have not dominated either.

They find ways to create pressure, but not as a unit. To be fair, Aldon Smith just joined the unit. Justin Tuck and Justin Ellis have been on the injury report for a while. Khalil Mack also suffered an injury.

Outside of that, Denico Autry and Stacy McGee proved they are a little more than bums. C.J. Wilson and Mario Edwards should perform better with whatever snaps they get.

Hopefully they can bring it all together before the mid point of the season.

Linebacker: C+

The Raiders made headlines by completely rebuilding their linebacker corps. Gone are starters Miles Burris and Sio Moore from the past regime. Khalil Mack plays defensive end now.

However, the new additions have not been lights out. Ray Ray Armstrong struggled early. He seems to be getting more comfortable, but is he anything more than a depth guy?

Curtis Lofton struggles in pass coverage still. Personally, I would like to see him create some turnovers.

Malcolm Smith has probably been the best in the group. He too struggles in pass coverage though.

As a unit, their best games were probably against the Browns and Bears. Aldon Smith also plays linebacker but he gets a pass as he was a late addition.

Secondary: C

The Raiders secondary was mediocre at best. Now, they are mangled and doing their best to stay afloat. D.J. Hayden and T.J. Carrie both take turns getting picked apart. Charles Woodson and whoever has played in Nate Allen’s void also get beat in coverage.

Kudos to the coaching staff for finding David Amerson, he looks like he can be a contributor.

Nonetheless, the group is banged up. They’ve also saved themselves by creating some crucial turnovers. Against Baltimore and Cleveland, the secondary saved the game with an interception in the final moments.

What do you think about the Raiders defense thus far?

Raiders got it right with Del Rio

Call it uninventive, or predicted but the Raiders got it right hiring Jack Del Rio.

The former Jaguars Head Coach wasn’t much of a candidate for any other coaching jobs but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t the perfect fit for the Raiders.

Granted, Interim Head Coach Tony Sparano earned the support of veteran players like James Jones among others. Still, Del Rio’s experience as player and coach combined with his connection to the Bay Area just made a ton of sense. So much sense even Al Davis would have liked this move.

Even if he isn’t the hot, innovative coordinator, Del Rio still had a top ranked defense each of the years he was in Denver. With almost 30 years of experience, Del Rio should net some experienced coordinators. Plus you remember the last bright young minds the Raiders hired? Cough, Lane Kiffin. Cough, Dennis Allen.

Either way, a lot rides on this coming season. It is year four of the Reggie McKenzie era and both he and Owner Mark Davis need a winning season.

The Raiders are amongst the leagues’ worst in attendance and tv ratings. They have been losing for more than a decade. Plus their stadium status is in complete limbo.

Therefore, why not give the coaching reigns to someone who the fans and owner can be excited for?

He and the organization stand with a lot to prove. It took Del Rio a while to net his second head coaching gig. Del Rio understands that he must seize this current opportunity with the Raiders as there might not be a third coaching job.

For the first time in a while, the Raiders have young pieces to be excited for and signing Del Rio is just another reason Raider Nation should be enthralled for the upcoming season.

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My First Raider Game

My pilgrimage to the Mecca for Raider Nation was everything I had ever imaged. A place where I can be loud and drunk in favor of my R-A-I-D-E-R-S what else could I ask for? To make things even better, the Raiders got the W over the Buffalo Bills. Here are somethings I noticed on my trip.

The O.Co Colisem

With all the controversy over the Raiders trying to find a new home, you would think the Coliseum is a horrible place. I did experience the toilets flooding by aesthetic wise, the arena isn’t any worse than Dodger Stadium. Sure, it doesn’t have the same upgraded big screens but outside of that the Coliseum isn’t ugly. I never noticed the green seats though, #A’scity. Either way, their wasn’t a bad seat in that whole house.

Raider Nation

Words can not express how enthralled I was to be immersed within Raider Nation. It felt like home being amongst people with the same knowledge and love for the Raiders as I. Our fans get such a bad rep but it is not even necessary. I did not witness a fight now did I even hear a curse word. Not to mention it was new seeing white Raider fans opposed to the minority Raider fans I am used to seeing in So Cal.

Derek Carr’s improvement

From seeing Carr against the Cowboys in Training Camp til now, the improvement was exponential. Carr went from looking like an NFL QB and playing like a college QB to being the intangible franchise quarterback of this team. He did miss some open receivers but overall he showed much improved footwork and comfort in the pocket which was one of his biggest knocks coming out of the draft.

Bill’s young receivers

If you have read this blog before, you might recall my man crush on Sammy Watkins. It was a privilege seeing him play as he is the real deal. His explosiveness is as advertised and he should be a cornerstone for the Bills. Robert Woods also looked good. Meanwhile, Kyle Orton looked like Kyle Orton.

Raiders finally learning to win

From the get go, the Raiders never seemed intimidated by the potentially playoff bound Bills. The Raiders looked like a team with enough confidence to beat them. Then when it seemed like the Raiders might blow it, the Defense made the plays to stop the Bills including a Brandin Ross interception. Not to mention some of the big plays the Raiders put together on Offense via McFadden, Murray, and Rivera.

Credit Tony Sparano for getting this team to believe in themselves. Don’t look now, but the Raiders losing culture seems to be on the downswing. Maybe, this rookie class and home stretch is enough to save Reggie McKenzie’s Job.

Finally, it was one of the best days of my life. I will always remember my first Raider Game, and I am glad it was capped off with a win!

Sparano deserves another shot

Don’t get me wrong, the man is still 2-8 as the Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders but another team should consider adding him.

Playing the toughest schedule in the NFL combined with a rookie quarterback and roster filled with post prime veterans, Sparano wasn’t put into a position to succeed.

The fact that Sparano has had this team competing is a testament to the kind of coach he is. Two wins isn’t enough to make him the Raiders future coach but beating the two playoff contenders decisively proves Sparano can be a NFL Head Coach.

But we knew that! Sparano was responsible for turning around the Dolphins a few years back. Either way, rookie Derek Carr bought into Sparano and endorsed him as the coach of the future.

But really, what else is Carr going to do? Of course he’ll endorse Sparano but that doesn’t mean he should be back next season.

If Sparano did come back he would face too much pressure to win immediately. Any losses would put him right on the hot seat and the Raiders would be in the same spot we are now.

So it is best for the Raiders to move on and find a new visionary to start on a clean slate in 2015. Regardless, another team would be wise to consider Tony Sparano for a head coaching job.

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Image via google

Too Early to Call Hayden a Bust

The big news out of Raiders’ Mini-camp has been the absence of last year’s 1st round pick D.J. Hayden. After being injured off and on last season, the corner back has  left many fans disappointed that he has been unable to stay on the field. So much disappointment that many people are already calling him a bust, but I am here to say lets simmer down.

I get Raider-nation wants to see what Reggie Mckenzie’s first No ! pick can do, but he is only entering his second off season. How can you call him a bust already, before he can even piece together a real season? The best argument would be that he might not be able to complete a full-season, and might just be an injury prone guy. Yet, lets not get ahead of ourselves, as injuries happen to every single player.

As Raider fans we grow nervous because of players like Darren McFadden who have broken our heart over and over again. Yet injuries are part of the game, and young players have to learn to deal with them. Silver innings are usually BS, but Hayden’s injury means he will be able to get mental reps that should help him when he can get out there again.

Out of all the players on the Roster, I think DJ Hayden needs these off season reps more than anyone. Hayden was out of football for an entire year due to his extreme chest injury, and he still needs time adapting to the speed of the game. However, the young player has shown he can deal with the adversity of injuries as he came in willing and ready to compete after each of his injuries.

In the past, Hayden has shown an injury will not keep him from competing. Nor will it discourage him from believing in his abilities. Hence, I hope he takes the time to get fully healed before the real season comes along, because that is when real lingering injuries occur.

Further, Hayden is still an extremely young player with a lot of upside. His speed and athleticism are something you can not teach, but his football iq and work ethic should keep fans believing he can live up to his potential. This season, he added fifteen pounds of muscle so his body could take the pounding of the NFL, which illustrates his work ethic.

As fans, it is frustrating that he is already out, but lets remember it is only mini-camp. They are still not actually playing football, so until Hayden misses some time in actual pads then I will worry. Other than that our secondary is going to need depth, so getting McGill and Chidekwa reps is just as important.

Either way it was too early in Hayden’s career and the 2014 season to label Hayden a bust. Our team wants and needs him, so lets be a little more fair to him and give his game and health a little more time before labeling him a bust.

Saying who we could have drafted last season does us no good. The fact is, Hayden was drafted to be a cornerstone of our defense and it is our job as fans to support him as he strives to meet that goal. Labeling him a bust does nothing good for a player we fans want to see succeed, especially this early.

A Raiders Fun Friday

Jones-Drew signs with Raiders earlier today, via Raiders.com


Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie did not waste any time on his Friday, and cleared his to-do list by signing two more veteran defensive linemen and running back.

I took some time to address a potential Free Agency signing for the Raiders, with Desean Jackson, but the Raiders already brought someone home to the bay-area.

Former Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew signed with Oakland for a 3 year deal, after spending his high school years in the bay and college years at UCLA.

MJD has shown some decline over the past seasons with injury, and he has a lot of miles of him. However, the undersized back is still capable of taking the ball to the house when he touches it. He has capable hands and is not afraid to pass block, which gives him value on third down.

I expect him to compete with Darren McFadden for time in the backfield. I think the result will be the two having split series. They have a similar skill set with down-hill running ability and versatility. At worse, Jones is a great insurance policy for McFadden’s reoccuring injuries. At Best it gives the Raiders two dynamic playmakers to hand the ball to. It is clear McKenzie is building a team that can pound the rock with the signing of the two RBS and offensive linemen.

McKenzie continued his trend of building a physical team by signing two more defensive linemen for depth. Pat Simms returns after probably being undervalued in the Free Agency market.

Last Year, Simms was a run stopper for the Raiders, but I think he is better in a reserve role. The Raiders have enough pass rushing options with Smith and McGee on the inside that Simms should play less 3rd downs and focus on gasing it in run situations. His big body gives the Raiders defense resatility for 4-3 or 3-4 fronts, but he can also eat blockers and allow the linebackers to make plays.

CJ Wilson, a defensive end who spent his career with the Packers, was also signed today. Wilson has some starting experience, but does not have a lot of sacks. That is normal for an end in a 3-4 defense so it should not be alarming. Luckily, is only 26 years old so he still has some potential. His signing is so Reggie McKenzie, but it is probably a result of the Raiders missing out on Alex Carrington early in the week.

Wilson is probably another add for depth. He has some versatility and will probably back up Antonio smith as a 3 technique or end in running situations.

Overall, Friday was a great day to be a Raider Fan, hopefully McKenzie can build on today headed into the week by signing Desean Jackson.

Desean Jackson Finally Free

Desean Jackson in his days with Cal Bears

The Philidelphia Eagles released their prominent reciever Desean Jackson after seven years of elite play, which created a silent auction for the newest and best player on the open market.

Coincidently, a report from NJ.com said the player had connections with known gang members from Los Angeles, which may or may not have influenced his release.

With the Aaron Hernandez ordeal still in the back of everyone’s minds, teams are weary of players with questionable histories.

Lets make this clear, Jackson has a clean record and no history of crime. Sure he knows some people in gangs, but that does not mean he is affiliated with gangs.

The only thing Jackson is guilty of is being an outspoken media darling wanting a bigger contract. What NFL Wide-Reciever is not guilty of that?

For those unfamiliar with Jackson’s background he comes from Los Angeles and Long Beach Poly High School. Sure he knows gang signs, which NFL and NBA player doesn’t. Gang Signs are thrown up all the time, and that does not mean a gang affiliation so much as means a sign of respect for where he is from.

Added, Jackson does own a record label with questionable affiliations. Which professional athlete isn’t trying to crossover into the music industry which is an industry thirsty for street credibility?

Lastly, growing up in Los Angeles it is almost inevitable knowing people with gang affiliations. Being a prominent athlete does not exclude you from interacting in a gang environment. Especially as an athlete who can not get in trouble, many times you make friendships with gang members because they can protect you from other gangs who have self interest in physical or verbal altercations.

That may not even be the case with Jackson, but either way these gang ties are a non story. What do you think the 3pt sign is that NBA players throw up?

As for the Raiders, adding Jackson almost makes too much sense for it to happen. Jackson is from cali, he played at Cal, and there are even pictures of him at a Raider game as a kid.

The Raiders also have the most salary cap short and long term to give him the deal he desires. There is definitely a need for a true number one WR who can impact games everytime they touch the ball, and Jackson can do that. Matt Schaub needs playmakers around him, and adding Jackson would be a great start, not to mention it adds more flexibility to what the Raiders can do in the Draft.

Maybe he does not fit the squeaky clean mold Reggie McKenzie wants, but he does have a chip on his shoulder which is something that McKenzie values. After being released, Jackson’s asking price should come down, and by the looks of his gang affiliations I do not think he is a fan of the 49ers because of their RED (LOL JK). Plus the oppurtunity to be closer to home and play for a team he probably loved is priceless.

Football wise, Jackson can stretch the field vertically. He is young enough to give the offense an identity it has lacked for years to come. I even thought he was a fit for the Raiders out of the draft, but philly got to him first. Sure he could do more across the middle, but Streater, and Jones are both more than capable slot options. Jackson with the big targets of Rivera, Streater, and Moore are all great weapons’ for Greg Olsen’s arsinal.

Off the field, Jackson’s accomplishments and advocacy have gone unnoticed. He is a force in his community and speaks out against bullying. That is a message he could bring to the Bay Area as well as his exciting play on the field.

The Matt Schaub Situation

Raiders new starting QB Schaub address the media via Google images.

Last week, The Oakland Raiders acquired their starting Quarterback, Matt Schaub, from the Houston Texans for a draft-pick in the sixth round.

Matt Schaub was once the promising back-up for the Atlanta Falcons in the glory days of the Mike Vick Era. He was then traded to the Texans some seasons ago to become their starter.

In Houston, Schaub was a two-time pro bowler and had a QB rating in the top ten (Schaub Supporters won’t let you forget it). For the most part, Schaub was not an elite QB, but definitely above average as he lead the Texans to a few playoff births with the help of JJ Watt, Brain Cushing, Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, and other key Texans’ Players. 

Many of us do not remember those days as vividly as we remember Schaub getting booed by him home crowd after an aparent injury. In a league based on ‘What have you done for me lately,’ I remember Schaub’s consecutive pick-six interceptions in four games last season, before being benched for a late-round rookie. 

In my eyes, even Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman are better options. Freeman was a one time pro-bowler, and Sanchez has an extensive playoff resume. Both are farther from 30 then Schaub (and Schaub is over 30). Even though both fell out of favor with their previous regimes due to off-field issues and on-field performance, under the age of 28, both guys have more potential for growth then Schaub.

The last capable starter the Raiders had was a young Jason Campbell who fell out of favor with the previous regime, and I think Sanchez or Freeman could have had a similar effect. Even after all Schaub and Freeman had been through, I am not sure either lost as much confidence as Matt Schaub did after fans booed him. Maybe they did not fit the scheme as well, or were not worth the hassle, but who the Raiders did not get is an entirely separate issue.

My problem is not with Schaub as a Quarterback. I understand he is the big, strong-armed quarterback capable of managing games and getting the ball to his play makers. I understand the familiarity with Gregg Knapp’s offense in Oakland, and I understand he is a more reliable option for managing defensive games, while being more predictable for the coaches to predict. 

Added, Schaub has been relatively successful in the league, possessing pro-bowls, playoff births, and a high QBR. However this is the Not For Long(NFL). Yes, there were not many viable options for a starting QB in Free Agency or the Draft, however that does not mean you give the job to the first semi-capable one that becomes available. 

The Raiders and Head Coach Dennis Allen have already gone on record as saying Schaub is their starter for this year and possibly years to come. I understand the Allen, Mckenzie, and Owner Davis have urgency for results this season, but their is no telling if Schaub is even capable of being the quarterback he once was.

Do we remember the last Matt the Raiders banked on, Matt Flynn? He was handed the starter job only to lose it in camp, despite being Reggie’s guy and having the highest salary of the other QBs on the Roster. I know Flynn and Schaub are not even close to the same player, but Schaub spent his own time as a back-up, and was only above average/solid/good for a few seasons with the Texans(that seems so long ago).

Schaub lost his job in Houston for good reason, so how can we simply hand this guy the job. Yes it is important for a QB a to handle adversity, but Schaub’s confidence seemed deteriorated after poor results and criticism from fans last season. If he struggles this season, even a little bit, the black hole is going to be even less forgiving, especially considering he is more pricey then any of the guys mentioned earlier.

My thinking is, why wouldn’t you want Schaub to come in and compete for the job? If he is truly capable of being our starter then let him go out and prove it to fans and , more importantly, his own confidence. Handing him the job is not going to do anything for his development. The Truth is Schaub has not seen much development over his past seasons. This last season we seen a huge digression which could have been a product of his team or it could have been the other way around.

Terrelle Pryor has asked for a trade, and I do not blame him. Many say the writing has been on the wall, and this was already a conclusion in process since Pryor fell out of favor with the regime. But why not let Pryor compete with Schaub? Even the undersized McGloin could give Schaub a run for his money, so why acquire Schaub to be your starter?

If Schaub was really the best guy and If he really wanted to be a Raider, why not wait for him to be released? The truth is, Schaub probably would have opted for Kyle Shanahan and the Cleveland Browns, but I don’t think they would have even named him the automatic starter.

Like I said, I do not blame Pryor for wanting out. it is hard to take hits and a beating for a team over a season and then hear they handed your job to someone who has not even beaten you or proven more capable then you. Does anyone remember how we beat Schaub at home a few seasons ago?

Whatever the case is, Allen and Mckenzie are banking a lot on Schaub this season. He may have been the best option for a starting QB out there, but that does not mean he is the best one for the Raiders. Schaub does not have much more potential. No one is even sure if he is the QB we saw last season or the ones from the previous few seasons. Either way, The Raiders will do well to invest in a young QB who can actually compete with Schaub and push him in training camp. Otherwise we may be looking at an uncontested mediocre quarterback with no future at the helm of our Raiders.

If Schaub fails then the Raiders, as a whole will fail. Losing Pryor takes away any other capable experienced option the Raiders have. Sure McGloin is a compeitor and a solid back-up but he is not the playmaker or gamechanger that Pryor is.

Hence, the Raiders are gambling on Schaub, and if he does not succeed then he, Allen, and McKenzie will probably all be looking for jobs next season. The Raiders will then be in exactly the same position they have been the past few seasons, looking for their QB of now and of the future.

Raiders Keep one of their own

Reports indicate the Raiders boost their D-Block (Defensive Backs0 and are bringing back safety Charles Woodson on a one year deal.

Twitter reacted with Every Raider fan going nuts about the signing. For good reason too. Charles Woodson came in and made an impact for a defense desperate for playmakers and leadership. Woodson also represents a piece from the glory days of the Raiders and having him on the roster makes fans very happy. He embodies what it means to be a Raider, rough and tough.

From a football perspective, Woodson is the versatile Defensive Back Allen and Tarver utilize. He can line-up in the slot or at either safety position. He is not necessarily the kind of threat in coverage he once was, but he still has the range and speed to play safety. His tackling ability is up and down, but they have Tyvon Branch complimenting him at safety to cover those deficiencies.

Leadership wise, we understand what Woodson brings to the table. Reggie McKenzie’s trend is signing football players with Superbowl rings and Charles Woodson has one of his own. A strong Leadership presence will be on each level of Tarver’s defense. The Raiders look to be one of the smartest and versatile defenses in the entire league.

Additionally the Raiders made the re-signing of Usama Young, fellow safety. Young’s two year deal makes him an inexpensive back-up for Charles Woodson. Young started for the Cleveland Browns the year before serving as Woodson’s Back-up. He played well before injury took him out of  the line-up. Young is pretty good on Special Teams as well.

Young is a capable back up for Charles Woodson who should also offer some spot up duty. He recorded an interception and sack providing the kind of versatility to play all over the secondary. Preserving Charles Woodson is important and Young is more then capable of playing in his place.

The move indicates the Raiders are perserving 3 of their four starters from last season and a key back-up in Young. They also add a more season Brandon Ross and Chidekwai. FA Tarrell Brown is an unrated addition and they may even add a rookie to the mix. Dennis Allen specializes in Defensive Backs, so I have high expectations for them. They have the veteran leadership and continuity to be one of the strongest positions for the Raiders and i hope they produce