Monday, December 10, 2012

A New Stadium for the Oakland Raiders? Don't Count on it

You have to like Commissioner Goodell's gumption.  He stands in front of media and 150 Raiders season ticket holders and basically says "we want to help you build a new stadium"

The guy in the gorilla suit can't believe what he's hearing. "Wow!  You mean I get to keep hamming it up like an idiot?"  The guy in the gorilla suit has found a life purpose.  Yay for him.

Goodell continues by saying the NFL NEEDS people to fill stadiums. But, there's a caveat.  Goddell is really talking to people willing to pay for ALL game tickets, not just the cheap seats of the Black Hole.

How are Raider fans going to do that?  A fraction of fans can afford Oakland Coliseum tickets as it is today, in a state of decay.  No one would even mind if the team was doing well but they are not and there are no glimmers of hope things will ever turn around. A new stadium or a refurbished Oakland Coliseum will just make it more expensive and people either can't afford it or won't make the investment if the team is sucking.

We'll see how many "Raider4lifers" put their wallets where their tattoos are.

“The priority is what the community and the team work out” Goodell said.

Wait, stop right there Roger.  What do you mean by that?  Don't change the subject on us, tells us what you really mean!

The problem is the damage bequeathed by Al Davis.  There are tumultuous, unresolved lawsuits, money owed, money promised, money swindled, political incompetence and political - you name it between the City of Oakland, the Joint Powers of Alameda County (who runs the coliseum) and the Raiders franchise .  Resolving that is not going to be simple.

Roger knows this.  He knows it all too well which is why he's saying what he's saying. The Raiders are dead last in the NFL "to do" list of priorities and why it took until after the death of Al Davis to even address it.  By coming out to Oakland for Thursday Night Football and bringing the dog and pony show to hopeful Raiders fans, claiming the NFL is willing to pony up 200 million for a new stadium IF the City of Oakland, the Joint Powers of Alameda County and the Raiders franchise can all agree to let bygones be bygones.

Yea right.

Can't we all just get along and forget about all those millions pissed away and still owed?  Gee, I don't know, let's ask Jeff Birren.  What would Al want?  Let's ask Jeff.  No, let's ask Roger instead.

“I think it’s a great benefit that there’s a stadium across the bay that’s going to be a state-of-the-art facility.  That’s terrific.  So that’s an option if this community and the Raiders choose that.  But that’s a decision they have to make.”

So the big question: What will Mark Davis do now that he has at least a verbal commitment from the NFL to help rebuild Oakland Coliseum into a state of the art facility OR, as Goodell's power play more likely suggests, the Raiders bite their tongue and ask the 49ers if they can (gulp) share their new facility 40 minutes south of Oakland in Santa Clara.

Goodell is smart.  He knows the Raiders will not be able to make peace with their regional foes in politics.  It's not going to work,  Despite an offer to help, the league is just tossing the guy in the gorilla suit and other gullible followers a banana.  Don't expect the league to ever lift a finger to help the Raiders.  The man responsible for that is Al Davis and his top henchman, still in the Raiders organization, Jeff Birren, General Counsel.  The slack jawed gape of the gorilla tells me he doesn't know what that means.

What is likely to happen is more extensions of the current lease at Oakland Coliseum, a fanbase continuing to shrink due to horrible play on the field and dwindling options for a revival.

If LA is an option, that will bear itself out eventually but it's not on the horizon as of now.

New memo to Mark Davis - cut your losses send sell while you still can.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

10 Reasons why the Oakland Raiders' 2012 Season Tanked

Is it worth bemoaning all of the problems?  There is nothing else left to do now that the Raiders are irrelevant and basically, a non-franchise.  They have slipped below being expansion team quality and are now on the brink of being considered practice squad quality.

It's not like they gave up.  There just isn't enough talent and manpower to get the job done.  We can even make the argument the coaching did not deliver.

10 reasons why the 2012 Raiders season tanked (in no particular order):

1.  After he was hired, head coach Dennis Allen struggled putting a staff together. More to the point, Allen had no experience and not enough connections to put a good staff together. Hiring his friend Greg Knapp was a mistake and Jason Tarver was a desperation hire because Allen couldn't find anyone else among his good ol' boy network. Emmitt Thomas turned him down (and wisely so, since Thomas knew what he would be getting into).
2.  For all of his excellent credentials, Defensive Coordinator Jason Tarver has done jack squat to convince anyone the Raiders have a credible defense. His nickname, The Mad Chemist, speaks for itself. What is a guy with a Master's degree in biochemistry doing trying to communicate on the same level as NFL players. At Stanford, Tarver was the right fit, not in Oakland.  Tarver is a good coach in the wrong job.

3. Giving away draft picks to the Bengals for Carson Palmer.  If you look at this objectively, we can all see having  Palmer, an experienced, gritty veteran as QB probably worked out better than putting Matt Leinert, Kyle Boller or Joey Harrington out there (is there really a difference with any of those guys?). But they gave up too much for Palmer.  Those lost draft picks and the salary overhead have not worked out well for the Raiders. Palmer has been ok as an offensive leader and putting up decent stats, all things considered, but bottom line is he has not overachieved as we needed him to do and he has not won many games as a Raider.

If the coaching staff bucks up and admits this season is a wash then we should see Terelle Pryor soon enough.  Though, I suspect Dennis Allen and Greg Knapp are too stiff necked to admit the season is tanked and play Pryor.

4.  Not pursuing veteran receivers on the open market such as Plaxico and Houshmandzadeh, even, dare I say, Terrell Owens and/or Chad Johnson. Why not?  Any of those guys would have helped. Those players are not "distractions." The only distraction is being a bad team which is what the Raiders are now. The organization  decided to go with mostly young talent which have not turned out to be consistent and reliable targets for CP to throw to. Having seasoned veterans would have helped the offense score points and move the ball, not to mention mentor the young receivers.

5. First round picks need to pan out for you. Coming out of college, Rolando McClain had stellar credentials and looked the part of a champion. It was easy to have high hopes for him but as it turned out, McClain did not have all the requisites to be a leader of an NFL defense. He just took the money and played half-hearted, then pretended to earn his keep with dedicated film study. In game situations however, he was mostly average on his best day. Maybe he will succeed elsewhere but as a Raider he washed out.

The gold standard for a Raiders MLB would be in the mold of Greg Biekert.  You need a guy with heart and work ethic to make full use of their talent.

6. Linebacker is where the Raiders have suffered the most on defense.  They have let too many linebackers walk away to free agency over a span of several years. As just some examples: Chris Clemons, Thomas Howard, Kamerion Wimbley and we can even add Trevor Scott to that list.  There's a lot more we could add and not all of those guys would still be in their prime at this stage but the point is, hang on to what you have. What happened instead was they backfilled talent they lost with mediocrity and practice squad guys.  This did not work well and has left them paper thin at a critical place on the field.  It is hard to believe Aaron Curry was brought in at all. His final act in football was being a failed Al Davis reclamation project. Ricky Brown would be an upgrade to what is out there right now (with the exception of Philip Wheeler) and that about says it all.  Do you remember when Brown was handed the MLB spot?  It is almost the same situation as this season where too much is expected of rookie Miles Burris to be an impact player.

What exactly has Travis Goethel done other than get opportunity after opportunity?  Nice guy but if he's not helping, let's find better talent for depth at the MLB position.

7. Not keeping Rod Woodson as secondary coach.  Was he asked to leave or was it his idea to walk away from a one year experiment as a coach?  You can't just replace the knowledge of a guy like Rod Woodson. Then, not drafting or acquiring decent playmakers in the secondary has basically cut off the feeder system.  Walt McFadden = fail. Demarcus VanDyke = fail.  Not grooming Chimdi Chekwa for success = fail.  The list can go on.

Look at how many short term guys they brought in to cobble together a semblance of stability at corner.  The one year contract veterans in place are just that - temporary.  Shawntae Spencer is not even able to complete that contract due to injury and Ron Bartell is damaged goods as well. Pat Lee didn't last and there are other guys in that group who are not making an impact.

We need genuine talent to take over roles in the secondary. They paid Stanford Routt millions while getting away on the cheap with other positions in the secondary. Drafting, overpaying and keeping Stanford Routt believing he would blossom into a top cornerback was one of Al's worst mistakes ever.

At free safety, Michael Huff has shown flashes of All-Pro caliber play but he's hit or miss (and when he misses, he misses badly).  Even the robust Tyvon Branch at strong safety has some terrible highlight reel burns this season. Mike Mitchell is only effective if he is not blocked.  He's not a quality safety.

The secondary is a mess.  The only guy I'd keep is Matt Giordano. But then again, who is available to replace the entire secondary?  You  can't do it so easily.  This is a major hole that will take more than a one off season and draft to repair.

8.  Re-signing Richard Seymour was a risk that backfired.  Though he is an animal when healthy he is at the point in his career where his body is failing him.  Far too many health issues with arthritis and hamstrings and whatever else.  The guy has been a complete non-factor and he has been paid top dollar to do nothing. Seymour was being counted on to be a strength of the defense. The rest of the D-line has not been able to sustain a level of consistency.  Lamarr Houston, Tommy Kelly. Desmond Bryant, Matt Shaughnessy are good players. They have not been nearly enough to stop the run, a death knell which has plagued this franchise for too many lackluster seasons.

9.  Overall, failed draft picks and washouts with free agency has led to minimal cap space. Too much contract overhead for duds like Routt, guys on the sideline instead of the field (McFadden, Seymour, etc.) and average players (Tommy Kelly, Carson Palmer, etc.) has resulted in a lack of free agent money to target more quality starters.  You know, like finally solidifying the OL among many other needs.

10.  Too many injuries to key players. I know this is unavoidable in pro sports but it has snakebit the franchise.  Chaz Schilens could have been something special but he never panned out with injury after injury.  It took Darren McFadden a few seasons to emerge as a star but it's a lost cause thinking he will ever last an entire season. We really needed Jacoby Ford this year as a potential difference maker.  There's more and of course injuries take their toll for every team but really, this is something the Raiders have not been able to overcome.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Oakland Raiders have been "demoted" to the CFL

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis announced he has brokered a deal with the Canadian Football League.  The Raiders will be leaving the NFL and joining the CFL for the 2013 season.

"Well, actually we were asked to leave the NFL", Mark Davis said.  "As you know, Roger Goodell is in town for our Thursday night game against Denver.  I'm grateful he delivered the news to me directly rather than through an email from one his assistants.  I can understand their reasoning.  I'm not happy about it but thankfully, the CFL is taking us in.  Will we do better in the CFL?  I don't know."

We can speculate on the many reasons why the Raiders have been ejected from the NFL.  Roger Goodell was tight lipped when asked about it. "I'm not going to get into the details.  I think we can all agree a change was needed."

Mark Davis seemed upbeat despite the setback for the franchise.  "We have a dedicated fanbase.  I know they'll come out and support us no matter what."