Monday, October 6, 2014

Chucky's Not Coming Back Part II

It is hard to believe it has been 5 years since I wrote Chucky's Not Coming Back Part I. That article makes the case Jon Gruden would never work for Al Davis again.

Now, Jon Gruden would not work for Mark Davis because the guy does not know what he is doing.  Mark Davis knows that too.  There's no smooth talking Jon Gruden.  Chucky is one of the most knowledgeable NFL analysts in the sport right now.  He's not about to head into a rebuilding project of this kind of magnitude.  That kind of heavy lifting is not his style.  Gruden would likely return to coaching with A) a really big salary and B) for a team in reasonably decent shape personnel-wise.  The Raiders may be able to offer A but not B.

So it's simply not going to happen no matter how many times you are compelled you to say it on Facebook or wherever else you post.

You have no idea what a pro football coach has to go through to make a team successful.  It literally can sap the life out of you.  So any coach who is smart and has the experience John Gruden does will choose his jobs carefully.  He has no loyalty to the Raiders driving him.  It's all about the conditions of employment.  Shitty stadium, shitty location, shitty players, shitty ownership, shitty franchise.  You think unfinished business means more to Gruden than the almighty dollar and working conditions?  Keep dreaming.

Also, let it sink in. Rich Gannon will never be a coach.  He too makes excellent money for far less aggravation in broadcasting.  Besides he has already said he will never be a coach (due to his temper).

Thank Odin, Mark Davis is bright enough not to consider Mike Holmgren.  His days are over.  Thanks but no thanks.

The only storyline worth watching right now is Jim Harbaugh. I thought he would be the guy the first time around.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Schaub Would Have Been a Better Choice Against the Jets

Derek Carr should not have started against the Jets today.  I know it’s too easy to say now that the opening game went the way it did and shove it out there as some kind of magical analysis but it’s true.  The rookie didn’t play poorly but he was unable to be the catalyst for clutch plays.  If you look up the definition of QB you will see a lot of traits.  Leader, big arm, etc.  The one intangible you have to have is being able to get it done.  We see flashes of that with Carr and we all want to see more of what made him so great at Fresno State but the reality is you want a veteran QB in these situations.

What situation is that?  Leading drives against a mediocre, BEATABLE Jets team.

The Jets did everything they could to beat themselves today.  Bad penalties, an interception in their end of the field.  They didn’t play horrible overall.  They had a few big plays on offense and defense that determined the outcome but any way you look at it they played barely well enough to win.  This was a game the Raiders could have taken.  I can’t believe I’m saying what they needed was Matt Schaub but that just might have been the right call.

How can I say this to you with a straight face? Did you see what Derek Anderson did today against Tampa Bay?  Yes, that Derek Anderson.  If you recall, Anderson rose to the top of the mountain with excellent seasons, earning All-Pro.  Then he went rock bottom.  Sound familiar?  It should because that is where Schaub is now.  There is nothing Derek Anderson can do that Matt Schaub can’t.   Anderson made key throws as a Carolina Panther to beat the Bucs today filling in for injured Cam Newton.

That's how I can say with a straight face we needed Matt Schaub on the field today.

By now we all know Dennis Allen is not the right head coach to lead the franchise.  That is a given.  Regardless of what you think of the play calling and offensive coordinator Greg Olson, the pass rush, defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, they do the best they can.  It’s just not good enough.  We already know this.  What a good game planner needs to do however is strategize about giving their team the best edge.  This coaching staff didn’t get it right today.  Obviously they thought Carr beating up on a Seahawks team in the final preseason game (when nothing mattered and they let the game slide) warranted giving Carr the start.  Many Raiders fans agreed with this decision but ultimately, a veteran QB would have been better suited to make the clutch throws on opening day.

Think about it.  They are already paying the Schaub the bucks to be a leader.  He already made the team.  He NEEDS a confidence booster.  What would you have to lose other than the guy doing a face plant and then having to go with Carr regardless in the second half?  This coaching staff did not look at the intangibles Schaub brings or maybe his tendonitis is really that bad where he couldn’t go (though if that were the case he would be on IR which he is not.  He is listed as probable.).

It is just one game but now we are in familiar territory of facing snowballing losses if the team loses confidence.  Play Schaub and let’s see if he has some key throws left in him.  Let Carr develop but not throw him to the wolves so soon.  And if both guys aren’t an answer we’ll be seeing Matt McGloin again real soon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Derek Carr to start as a rookie - Why are we having this discussion?

Is it news to anyone that bullshit has legs?  It seems everyone's favorite topic these days is Derek Carr's chances of starting as a rookie.  Can he?  Sure.  Will he?  Probably not.  It would be very irresponsible of the Raiders organization to throw the kid into action.  The reasons why are numerous.  The first is, there is no pressing need to do so.  While this is a make or break year for the Dennis Allen era and quite possibly the reign of Reggie McKenzie as GM, such a move would make no sense.

Geniuses that this Raiders brain trust is, they brought in a struggling Matt Schaub at a nice 10 mil to lead the offense. Whether you like him or tolerate him or hate the idea, Schaub is the starter based on his years of experience in the league and the size of his contract.  Carr is an excellent prospect.  You don't throw for 5000+ yards in college and not come into the NFL with high expectations.  It's just too soon to depend on that potential.  That's how rookies get destroyed.  Too much too soon. The only way Carr gets playing time is if the Raiders coaching staff is up against a wall and throws caution to the wind.

My theory runs contrary to what pundits (people who get paid to theorize) are saying. NFL pundits say to look for Carr to assume the starting job by October or November.  It's entirely possible but consider this - what happened to the promise and confidence the coaching staff once had in Matt McGloin?  Granted, the NFL is take no prisoners.  You can be a hero one day and a goat the next.  McGloin had a notable rise from unheralded free agent to starter mid-season last year.  Yet, this coaching staff seems to give up on players as soon as things don't go their way.  In other words, this coaching staff is full of shit and has no idea what they are doing.  They are flopping around for answers and will try anything to get wins. If it comes down to getting a win or player development, eking out a rare, precious victory will get the nod.

A policy lacking QB development is why they gave up on Terrelle Pryor and why the coaching staff has not been successful except in a handful of games here and there. To me, this coaching staff has shown such inconsistency in their methods it is obvious they are desperate.  There's an old saying, never let them see you sweat (ok, that is from a TV commercial).  It's true. If you are desperate, don't show it.  You look stupid when you are obviously desperate.

So where did these Carr to start rumors come from in the first place? As near as I can tell, an NFL reporter named Albert Breer maintained that the Raiders brass and/or coaching staff held the "belief" Carr could compete for the starting job.  Other writers ran with it

In fact, NFL writer Chris Wesseling put Carr as his number 1 "plug and play" possibility for the upcoming season based on Breer's report. 

1. Derek Carr, QB, Raiders: The team's brass has billed Matt Schaub as a franchise savior on par with AFC West icons Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. The contract suggests the Raiders can bail on the experiment this season. The film from Schaub's last 20 games shows a rapidly regressing quarterback broken beyond repair. Oakland views Carr as the field general of the future. By Halloween, it should be obvious that he's the best option in the present.  

Are you fucking kidding? What Raiders brass or coach made such a statement that Carr was a franchise savior in the mold of Peyton Manning?  Being compared to Phyllis Rivers is equally as absurd. The kid has yet to take a single NFL snap.  My guess is no Raiders brass or coach made that statement.  It's just too ridiculous, even for the clowns currently inhabiting Raiders HQ.

Everyone already knows Schaub is a few INTs away from the downside of his career. Regardless, you don't cut a QB mid-season after bringing him in allegedly as the savior - and then saying so to the media as if signing Schaub is something for Raiders fans to get stoked about.  Cutting him mid-season makes you look desperate AND stupid.  Though this Raiders brass could very well fit that bill, why show it?  NFL writer Chris Wesseling is just wrong in his assessment.

Instead, we have some clarification from Raiders brass.  Specifically, Joey Clinkscales, Raiders Director of Player Personnel who said Schaub is the starter.  Carr is there to learn.  

At least that is the plan for year one.  If the season falls apart, the Raiders will have a difficult decision to let Carr get some playing time or risk a terrible rookie experience for him.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Raiders Search for an Offense in '14

Well, the Raiders 2014 draft picks are a pretty good lot.  The first three rounds at least brought in some depth.

Let's look at an area that we always return to if the team is going to truly be in a position to succeed - the offensive line. The OL is a very difficult area to build quality across the board.  Yet, the Raiders have done very minimal reconstruction to get that done over the past 10 years or so.  It seems when they get one piece in place, others slip.  Like other every other NFL team is forced to do, the Raiders have brought in retreads to fill gaps.  The latest of which is at left and right tackle.  This is a big problem.

What would have been ideal in this year's draft is picking up sure bet Jake Mathews at LT.  However, Reggie McKenzie already played his hand in bringing in an unreliable Donald Penn as a LT.  Because of this the smart move was to draft LB Khalil Mack.  Another glaring weakness of the Raiders over the years has been stopping the run. Mack should go a long way to fix that need perfectly.

However, LT Donald Penn is clearly on the downside of his career.  He was consistent early in his career but over time he has become out of shape, less of a maneuverable presence and more of dead weight.  Last year with the Buccaneers, Penn allowed 11 sacks.  That's bad news for the QB's blind side.

At right tackle, Austin Howard will never be known as an ideal run blocker.  Howard's strength is in pass protection, allowing just two sacks in 16 starts last season. Here's the problem with that - the Raiders need a RT who can run block.  Sure, they can put a TE on the end to give him some help but don't you think opponents will know this ahead of time?

These are weaknesses that will hurt the offense.  The strength of the OL is the interior with projected starters Stefen Wisniewski, Kevin Boothe and Tony Bergstrom.  Kevin Boothe started his career a Raider, left to win 2 Super Bowls with the Giants and returns to Oakland a seasoned veteran Guard.  Booth is a smart choice to play as rookie third rounder Gabe Jackson matures.

So who will the OL be protecting?  It's got to be Matt Schaub to start unless he completely sucks monkey balls in preseason and Matt McGloin steals the job.  This could very well happen.  McGloin is a serious competitor and the haters who don't like his height are just flat out wrong as to his potential.

Unfortunately, Reggie and his hire Dennis Allen have continued the Raiders tradition of not developing QBs in house. Let's not forget bringing in Matt Flynn as a band aid - only to discover he was a complete washout Reggie has tried to pass off as an answer at QB.  Then Reggie and the coaching staff also did all they could to run off Terrelle Pryor even though he performed admirably before getting injured.

The drafting of a strong armed but raw Derek Carr could end up helping the team in the long run.  Carr could end up getting some PT this season in fact if the coaching staff sticks with Schaub too long even though he is ineffective. If Schaub played as poorly early in his career as he did last season he would be out of the league, not rewarded with a new opportunity.

The running game too is suspect unless Maurice Jones-Drew shows up to win the job outright.  Darren McFadden has worn out his welcome in Oakland and ideally should have been allowed to walk after last season.  A wildcard at RB is Kory Sheets who tore it up in the CFL last year.

The TE group is solid and should be able to do their share of blocking and recieving.  The adding of James Jones at WR is a great move, one of the few Reggie has made in free agency. Jones will challenge Juron Criner,  Rod Streater and Denarius Moore for playing time.

Overall, Reggie did ok in this year's draft.  He blew it last season, selecting DJ Hayden in the first round.  This year they have some talent to work with.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Raiders are Falling on Their Own Sword

If you are into the art of killing yourself slowly then you are an Oakland Raiders fan.  The epic slow motion drama of failure continues.  Another QB named Matt enters the building.  The new Matt (Schaub) has a receding hairline and a lot more career yardage than the old Matt (Flynn)  thanks to having Andre Johnson to throw to in Houston.

Unlike Matt Flynn who sported flashy sunglasses upon his arrival and had just about nothing to show for his career except an end of season 400+ yard game over Detroit,  Matt Schaub is much more humble. Especially now that his starting job in Houston has been usurped by journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Ouch, traded for a 6th round pick.  Schaub is fresh off a disastrous 2013 season in which even Andre Johnson could not bail him out. 

And Dennis Allen, the genius of a head coach he is, puts the mantle of QB savior squarely on Schaub even before the ink is dry on the contract.  No pressure there Matt.  Hey, we know you can bounce back.  The question is will you?  Unlike Jim Plunkett, you won't get to bide your time on the sidelines awaiting a second chance.  See, Dennis Allen is basically a lame duck.  The NFL takes no prisoners and ol' Dennis can't win more than 4 games in a season.  So if Schaub's woes extend into the 2014 season it wouldn't just be business as usual.  Heads will roll.  They have to and that would include GM Reggie McKenzie along with the latest addition to the master plan - Schaub and his multimillion salary.

Here's the thing - there is no one left to blame. Al is dead. The salary cap money he clogged up by overpaying and taking too many risks on players who did not come through is for the most part overcome.  Reggie has made some decent personnel signings recently but overall he has been far too conservative and ineffective - at least so far.  He doesn't have any margin for error at this stage.  Every player he signs has to live up to their contract.

Reggie is no doubt a terrific guy.  He is a man of upstanding character. However, this is the grand finale we have all been waiting for by letting go of a lot of bad contracts.  Now, we need that dead money replaced with the truckload of dependable talent to re-launch the franchise to respectability.

The last few seasons can be summed up with a few simple truths: Mark Davis is not a football guy.  He's much better at managing the business aspects of an NFL franchise than his father was but he does not know how to build a winning team on the field.  He admitted as much when he sought help from luminaries John Madden and Ron Wolf, resulting in the hiring of Reggie McKenzie as GM.  Unfortunately, as good a man as Reggie is personally, he has been entirely lackluster in his managing of roster moves in addition to making a bad head coaching hire.  The team needed a veteran head coach and we got a rookie head coach who has been stumbling and bumbling, groping around for solutions but coming up empty. Who knows what else has gone wrong that we are not seeing.  The scouting is either terrible beyond compare or they are not pulling the trigger where they need to. 

Let's not get into salary cap woes and the like.  The money is there to find players.  For all their complaining they had to make due with Al's players, they have done very little to patch those holes.  The fact is at this rate of acquiring talent they will not be able to climb out of the AFC West basement.  Let's also not point to long range plans because that is always an excuse.  The Chiefs rebuilt in a single season.  There are countless other examples.  Reggie does not seem up to the task.  Mark Davis wouldn't know who to hire if not for Madden and Wolf's advice.

I am not holding my breath draft picks will change anything this upcoming season.

If 2014 collapses on the field, it is time to fold up the tent.  Seriously, Oakland Raiders fans - you are not getting a new stadium.  Oakland is a sewer.  No one will invest in anything there nor would they want to invest a billion in a franchise that sucks so bad.

The best that can be accomplished is to sell the franchise.  Someone will relocate operations, blow it up and rebuild the right way.  What is happening now is a travesty.  The franchise should be handed off to investors who know what they are doing.