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Showing posts from September, 2010

Studs and Duds From Week 3

Studs
Richard Seymour (+8/-1)

His hamstring didn't seem to bother his play. He was applying pressure consistently and was a force stopping the run. The Raiders are paying Seymour elite money this season and can't be disappointed with his play. Seymour and Henderson have both missed a game this season and have really stepped up in each others absence against the run. Seymour missed practice Wednesday, but if he can stay healthy he will have a chance to make this list weekly.


Marcel Reece (+8/-0)

It isn't often a fullback will make a list of studs, but Reece had an amazing game last Sunday in Phoenix. He did an excellent job picking up blitzes and finding players to block in the run game. He became a receiver on multiple occasions and looked more like a running back catching the ball and running with it. He has come a long way and deserves some recognition for his efforts.


Rolando McClain (+7/-1)

McPain has game. He still learning things in coverage, but is beginning to trust his …

Houston: Do We Have a Problem?

Not Lamarr Houston, he has been fantastic. This is an email interview I did with Houston Blogger @HouSports, in preparation for the week four matchup in Oakland. There is no real problem, although they do ask about the Raiders problems of the past.

Q: After being in the Super Bowl in 2002 the Raiders are just 30-85 with their best season being 5-11. What has happened in the last 8 years to cause this poor run?

A: The Raiders Super Bowl team was older and a time of rebuilding was to be expected. The effort to rebuild was prolonged by poor draft picks. Of the four first-round picks in 2002 and 2003 only Nnamdi Asomugha is still on the roster. Robert Gallery didn’t pan out as a left tackle and only six players remain which were drafted between 2002 and 2006.

In addition to the Raiders poor run of draft selections, Al Davis hasn’t had the best luck with coaching hires. Bill Callahan ran a veteran team into the ground after the Super Bowl, Norv Turner ran soft camps and wasn’t getting result…

Gameday: Raiders Seek Second Win

The Raiders didn't show up until the third quarter of the second game. If it wasn't the Rams, the Raiders could be sitting at 0-2.

Instead, the Raiders are 1-1 and seeking back-to-back wins. The switch to Bruce Gradkowski revitalized a stagnant offense and the defense seemed to respond the energy.

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Lamarr Houston Helps Fight Cancer

Turning Point: Raiders @ Cardinals Preview

The Cardinals, like the Raiders, are 1-1 with the single victory coming at the expense of the lowly St. Louis Rams.

In many ways the third game of the season is pivotal for a 1-1 team. This is true for the Raiders.

Win this week and even two losses in a row don’t put an end to your season.

The Raiders will come home for games against Houston and San Diego in weeks four and five before going to San Francisco in week six. Tough opponents for a team desperately trying to make it back to respectability. Basically speaking it is three home games in a row.

The season could turn for the better or worse in week three. 2-1 means winning just one of the next three sets up the Raiders at 3-3 headed into week eight at home against the Seahawks and week nine at home against Chiefs before a bye week.

Losing a week three road game against Arizona could spell another disaster for a team that can’t afford it. The fan base has patience as thin as paper at this point. Dropping to 1-2 and winning just one of …

Gradkowski Graduates

Bruce Gradkowski is the Raiders new starting quarterback.

The majority of fans get what they wanted.

There is no denying Gradkowski deserves to start based on his play in the second half of last Sunday’s win against St. Louis and his production last season.

If Jason Campbell wasn’t the answer, why name him the starter before training camp and not give Gradkowski a shot at the job?

Why bring in Jason Campbell for a fourth-round pick and extend his contract? If it was only because Gradkowski is injury prone it seems like a steep price to pay when Kyle Boller costs basically nothing.

Switching quarterbacks just six quarters into the season undermines what the coaches have been selling all offseason. The sell was that Campbell is the guy that can take the team back to the playoffs. By making the switch, the Raiders are basically passing the blame to Campbell and it encourages the players to do it, intentionally or subconsciously.

That makes it nearly impossible Campbell will be able to come bac…

The Case For Campbell

Every team and coach dreams of having two great quarterbacks and being forced to decide between them.

It isn’t unprecedented. The Falcons once had Michael Vick and Matt Schaub. The Falcons chose unwisely, but they still had two franchise signal callers on the roster. History seemingly repeats itself, now Kevin Kolb finds himself as the backup to Vick in Philadelphia.

Unfortunately, seldom are quarterback changes a good thing. More often quarterbacks are changed early when the offense is struggling and the team isn’t performing.

What kind of quarterback controversy does Al Davis and Tom Cable have on their hands?

Prized acquisition Jason Campbell went from the quarterback that could lead the franchise to the playoffs to the backup in six quarters and Bruce Gradkowski went from backup to favorite to start in two.

Did Campbell have enough time to prove himself as the starter?

Did Gradkowski do anything more impressive he did last season?

The answer to both questions is quite simply, “no.”

Jason …

Studs and Duds From Week 2

It wasn't pretty, but the Raiders got a win to improve to 1-1.

Studs


Tommy Kelly and John Henderson

Stopping the run was the goal and these two guys were the biggest reason. Henderson’s efforts were almost entirely stopping the run, while Kelly also was getting to the passer. Kelly did have two penalties, but on this day he was dominant despite them.

Darren McFadden

A recipe for success is stopping the run and running it well. The Raiders were able to do this Sunday. Tom Cable has been impressed with McFadden “running behind his pads.” Indeed that could have been part of his issues in the past, lower his head and basically losing balance too often. McFadden is also pumping his legs after contact. This is newly learned skill for McFadden and it is benefiting him greatly with yards after he is first hit. Certainly his health and Hue Jackson’s scheme are helping him. He even had a couple nice blitz pickups.

Bruce Gradkowski

He came in and ignited the offense. He got the ball out quick, was…

Gradkowski Ignites Offense, Raiders Win

Bruce Gradkowski started the second half and ignited the Raiders offense, but it took a roughing the passer penalty in the final minutes and superb rushing by Darren McFadden to seal a 16-14 home win.

The Raiders were expected to win and did. That is a step. A win is a win, but it was ugly. The Raiders nearly doubled up the Rams in total yardage yet only won by two points.
Is there a quarterback controversy in Oakland or did Gradkowski do enough to be the uncontested starter? It should be an easy call for the coaches to make based upon the results, but they will want to go back to film.
Gradkowski is mobile, gets the ball out quickly and demands more from the offense with his fiery style. Maybe that is just what this Raiders team needs. Maybe Jason Campbell isn't the right quarterback to lead the Raiders franchise.
Maybe two bad weeks are just two bad weeks. Perhaps Campbell can't find a rhythm when his left tackle can't block his own shadow.  
The playcalling changed when Grad…

Major RAMifications: Rams @ Raiders Preview

Second-year head coach Steve Spagnuolo has the St. Louis Rams on the right path. With Sam Bradford the highest paid rookie quarterback ever leading the way.

The team formerly from Los Angeles takes on the other team formerly from Los Angeles on Sunday, with more than just a win on the line.

Both teams had offseasons of hope. The Rams selecting its quarterback of the future, the Raiders cutting its quarterback once thought to be of the future. Both teams have new quarterbacks desperate for their first win.

One of these teams will go into week three with a 0-2 record; the other with 1-1.

If the Raiders lose this game, Tom Cable's seat is going to heat up dramatically.

This game couldn't look better for the Raiders to earn their first win. The Rams have a rookie quarterback making his first road start and are 6-43 since the start of 2007. Three years of futility even the Raiders can't match and the Raiders are coming off a disappointing loss in Tennessee, so they aren't likely…

Figurs Out, Pears Returns

Per a source and as speculated, receiver Yamon Figurs has been released to make room for offensive tackle Erik Pears.

Keeping Figurs on the active roster was a mistake because his contract is now guaranteed for the entire season.

In the end, his ball security issues may have been his demise and his talents are somewhat redundant.

He also failed to take accountability for his fumble on the opening kickoff. While Figurs had a point, that's not what you want a player to say.




Studs and Duds From Week 1

Duds

Jason Campbell
(+6/-7)
Overall -1

Old habits may die hard for Campbell. The Titans found and used a tell in Campbell's game. He tips pass plays by sinking and sliding away from center just before he snaps the ball. This was the case in Tennessee and at various points last year. This puts the offensive line at an disadvantage, as they begin their rush as soon as Campbell sinks. The offensive line is put as a disadvantage and this group of offensive lineman aren't very good to begin with. Correctable, but a very poor habit.


Cooper Carlisle
(+0/-8)
Overall -8

Carlisle was the worst of the offensive lineman. Even Mario Henderson held his ground in pass protection better. He was blown into the backfield by the bull rush, blitzers just went around him and on more than one occasion Carlisle just blocked the wrong player. In some cases Carlisle would disengage his blocker to help out Langston Walker, leaving his man to pressure Campbell. It would be hard to imagine Daniel Loper or rookie…

The Henderson Hangover (and How to Fix It)

If the Raiders expect to win more than five games behind the current offensive line, they are mistaken.

There were silver linings in the loss, but there are no moral victories. The Raiders stunk up LP Field in Nashville. A rotting corpse may smell better than the Raiders did during a 38-13 spanking.

The Raiders didn’t just get beat by a better team. If they did, you wouldn’t have received so many postgame apologies.

Richard Seymour and Nnamdi Asomugha weren’t apologizing. Tyvon Branch did and Quentin Groves followed that up.

Branch made multiple mistakes. At least one of them resulted in a touchdown. It could be that 14 points are on the hands of Branch alone. How different would the game have been in the first half without the Nate Washington catch for a touchdown and Javon Ringer 15-yard rush for a touchdown?

The key to beating the Titans was always to grab a lead and force Vince Young to beat you. The Raiders were doomed if Chris Johnson received 20 or more carries. Johnson received 27…

Titans Smash Raiders 38-13

What went wrong?

An offseason of hope turned to misery when the Raiders were punished in Nashville, Tennessee. The Raiders were beat in just about every facet of football.

The most glaring weakness was obvious. The Raiders offensive line could not give Jason Campbell any time.

Mario Henderson was the worst offender. Excuses could be made for him, such as how defenders were lining up in the neutral zone or even offsides. Still, Henderson must block the defenders and he simply was doing a terrible job at even getting in front of them.

You might also point to rookie center Jared Veldheer, who at times was slow to snap the ball. Langston Walker had a false start and Cooper Carlisle was beat more than once. Even Khalif Barnes when given time at left tackle picked up the wrong man and it resulted in sack of Campbell.

Robert Gallery played decent enough, but was hurt in the second half and replaced by Daniel Loper.

When the offensive line managed to block for Campbell, the receivers were not open.…

Preview: Raiders @ Titans

The Oakland Raiders head to Tennessee to take on the Titans for the first game of the 2010 season.

Jason Campbell will lead a revamped offense under the coordination of Hue Jackson and the new front seven will attempt to contain 2000-yard rusher Chris Johnson.


Offense

Jason Campbell draws a favorable match up for his first start in silver and black. The Titans ranked next to last in the league in passing yards allowed in 2009. Virtually nothing has changed in the Titans' defensive backfield, the only major change was the addition rookie Derrick Morgan is a pass rush extraordinaire. Look for the Raiders to attack through the air early and often on Sunday.

Sophomores Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy start at receiver. For all the talk this preseason about Heyward-Bey's improvement, all will be for nothing if he can't show it during the regular season. His first crack comes Sunday against a sub-par secondary. Murphy starts for habitually injured starter Chaz Schilens and must…

It's Time: 8 Wins or Bust

It isn’t easy to predict wins in the NFL a week before the game. It is just as hard to predict a final record.

Favorable analyst predictions include @Pschrags of Fox Sports , and @PriscoCBS and @Akbar_Gbaja of CBS.

Still, many are taking the wait and see approach to the 2010 Raiders. Who can blame them after seven straight losing seasons?

Everyone goes about picking games differently. Some people will analyze the matchups of each game and others will use statistics, cold weather games, travel time or some other metric.

There is no right or wrong way to predict a record.

My win prediction was 7-9 at the start of training camp reasoning that a legitimate starting quarterback alone would have tacked on two wins last season.

A lot of good things came out of the preseason and there were also a few concerns.

Was my original assessment correct or will looking at each individual game now that the preseason is over alter my prediction?

This time, I will predict the wins in decimal. A good matchup at h…

Season Preview 2010: Three To Turnaround

The Raiders must do three things to turn its fortunes around. What may be very complicated to execute is quite simple to analyze.

The Raiders need to score more points, stop the run and force turnovers.

The Raiders scored just 12.3 points per game. That is not even two touchdowns. The Raiders need to add an extra touchdown and field goal per game to their average.

The weapons are in place and the Raiders have a quarterback that can accomplish the task, but Jason Campbell only mustered 16.6 points per game in Washington last season. He will need the cast around him to make plays.

Playoff teams score more than 23 points per game.

The Raiders finally made a big change in the front seven to address the issue with stopping the run. Scoring more and playing with a lead will help, but the addition of five new players to the front seven may be the golden ticket.

The Raiders draw Chris Johnson and Steven Jackson the first two weeks. In 2009, the Raiders allowed 155.5 yards per game. The goal will be…

Housh: Redskins or Raiders?

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times reports TJ Houshmandzadeh has narrowed down his potential teams to the Washington Redskins and the Oakland Raiders.

O'Neil cites a source that had spoken with the recently released receiver.

Houshmandzadeh would close a significant roster weakness. This one comes down to Al Davis versus ex-employees Bruce Allen and Mike Shannahan and it could come down to who is willing to spend more on the receiver.

Clearing Up Mike Mitchell vs Stevie Brown

Stevie Brown is indeed the Raiders final cut to get down to 53 players.

A small controversy may have been stirred up by a South Florida radio host named Andy Slater. According to his bio, he once worked as the tech who chopped up game film for the Raiders.

Salter claims the coaching staff didn't want Mike Mitchell and insinuated it was due to an off-the-field problem. He goes on to say that only Al Davis could step in and save Mitchell. This apparently happened as Slater later claimed that Stevie Brown would be cut instead.

While he ended up being correct about Brown, there are more than a few people skeptical about his claims about Mike Mitchell. Mitchell performed well in limited action last season.

Releasing a seventh round draft selection isn't usually a big deal and Brown being cut at the last minute could simply have been the Raiders trying to sneak Brown for the practice squad.

In NFL circles releasing the cut list at the very last possible moment is common. The thinking is …

Breaking: Stevie Brown Final Cut

There were whispers all afternoon that it could be Stevie Brown being cut.

He was just removed from Raiders.com. Although no formal announcement has been made.

This comes as a bit of a shock to many who thought it would be a receiver or Hiram Eugene.

Andy Slater correctly called this cut after predicting earlier that Mike Mitchell was going to be cut.

There are still some questions to be answered.

Update: Brown is now listed as released on the transactions page.

Official Roster Cuts

Colt Brennan - As expected. He was just a camp arm.
Jay Richardson - A bit surprising, but with injury he wasn't spectacular.
Shaun Bodiford - Looks better in the final preseason game, but group was too big and he didn't make enough plays.
Luke Lawton - Loud mouth, suspended. Could have kept him for free for two weeks, but not worth the hassle.
Todd Watkins - Raiders got younger. I liked Watkins, but I'm guessing the Raiders could probably bring him back if any of the receivers don't work out.
John Owens - Only two tight ends and Myers gets the nod despite recent struggles.
Manase Tonga - Practice Squad potential
Chris Morris - Surprising to me unless Satele earned starting role back.
Alex Parsons - Practice squad potential.
Brandon Rodd - Not good enough.
Greyson Gunheim - On this list every year it seems like.
Alex Daniels - Practice squad potential.
Kellen Heard - Practice squad potential.
William Joseph - Raiders finally found some better interior players.
Chris Cooper - Was sle…

Unofficial Roster Cuts

Tom Cable will address the media after practice to confirm the roster cuts and moves.

Colt Brennan - As expected. He was just a camp arm.

Jay Richardson - A bit surprising, but with injury he wasn't spectacular.

Shaun Bodiford - Looks better in the final preseason game, but group was too big and he didn't make enough plays.

Todd Watkins - Raiders got younger. I liked Watkins, but I'm guessing the Raiders could probably bring him back if any of the receivers don't work out.

John Owens - Only two tight ends and Myers gets the nod despite recent struggles.

Manase Tonga - Practice Squad potential

Chris Morris - Surprising to me unless Satele earned starting role back.

Alex Parsons - Practice squad potential.

Brandon Rodd - Not good enough.

Greyson Gunheim - On this list every year it seems like.

Alex Daniels - Practice squad potential.

Kellen Heard - Practice squad potential.

William Joseph - Raiders finally found some better interior players.

Chris Cooper - Was sleeper many peop…

Rumors: Huff, Mitchell Out

Earlier this evening Michael Lombardi reported on NFL Network that one high profile name that could be traded on Saturday was Raiders safety Michael Huff.

Lombardi confirmed that Huff was on the bubble to me on Twitter.

Also noteworthy was a report from radio host Andy Slater of 640 WFTL out of South Florida that Mike Mitchell would be cut on Saturday.

There is no reason to put much stock in these rumors at this moment. I believe both to be ridiculous. Of course, nothing is shocking to those that follow the Raiders.

Predicting the 53-Man Roster

Last season, I predicted 48 of the Raiders 53-man roster correctly. Jerry McDonald also missed five. Paul Guiterrez and David White missed six.

It seems that the roster is much harder to predict going into 2010.

There are various positions that could go one of many directions unexpectedly.

Without further ado, my 2010 roster prediction.

Quarterbacks (3)
Jason Campbell
Bruce Gradkowki
Kyle Boller

Analysis: This is a pretty straight forward group. Colt Brennan will try to catch on elsewhere or he may also stick on the practice squad.


Backs: (5*)
Darren McFadden
Michael Bush
Michael Bennett
Rock Cartwright
Marcel Reece
Luke Lawton*

Analysis: Cartwright is versatile and can play special teams. The Raiders keep Bennett around because of the health of Bush. McFadden’s injury history suggests the Raiders keep Bennett. Reece is the fullback. Tonga is likely headed to the practice squad. Lawton doesn’t count against the roster until he serves his two week suspension. The Raiders will decide his fate after wee…

Raiders Defeat Seahawks, 27-24

With only four regular starters the Raiders continued their early game success this preseason.

Manase Tonga scored on a 32-yard screen pass from Bruce Gradkowski. 
Higgins caught a 9-yard touchdown pass after a Darrius Heyward-Bey touchdown catch was negated by penalty.
Bruce Gradkowski was impressive again going 7-14 for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns. Boller took over in the second half and continued to shine, going 7-13 for 157 yards and a touchdown.
Walter McFadden was the only notable injury, appearing to hurt his hamstring in the first quarter. He did not return.
Kick coverage continues to be a problem. Louis Rankin scampered 99 yards for the touchdown. It was the second week in a row the Raiders surrendered a touchdown on a kickoff.
Notable:
Travis Goethel didn't play. This could be the Raiders hiding him for the practice squad or he has already done enough to make the roster. Tom Cable noted he missed the game due to an 'injury issue' without elaborating. 
Chris Johnson surren…