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Showing posts from August, 2011

Saints @ Raiders Preseason Preview: Forget 2009

It was 2009 the last time the Raiders played the Saints in the preseason. The New Orleans Saints were still the "Aints" and the Raiders were a team headed into the Tom Cable era without a true identity.

That game-also in Oakland and the third preseason game-was a 45-7 shellacking at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl Champion Saints. The Raiders would win five games, none by more than four points.

Preseason is usually a time to evaluate individual performances over team performance, but the first half of the third preseason game is the closest we will get to predicting how a team might play during the regular season. The coaches scheme a bit and the starters play at least a full half.

Let's take a look at third preseason games over the past few years.

2007 first-half score Rams 3 @ Raiders 17.

Rams would finish 3-13. The Raiders would finish 4-12

If it had been any other team besides the Rams, would the Raiders have even won? Both teams were terrible in 2007 and the fact tha…

Pryor Signs, Tatupu Next?

Reports surfaced early Thursday that Terrelle Pryor had agreed to terms with the Raiders. Of course, Raiders executive John Herrera denied the report, but said Pryor would hopefully sign his deal tonight.

Well, now it is official, Terrelle Pryor has signed his contract and the Raiders have announced he will be on the field Friday in Napa.

Friday marks the final day of training camp and it will be interesting to see how the Raiders handle Pryor before breaking camp.

The timing couldn't be better. The Raiders will showcase Pryor for one day at camp before returning to the uber-secret facility in Alameda where they can start to starch and iron Pryor's warts.

Pryor's deal is worth $2,808,100 over four years if he hits all the playing time incentives. In 2011, $586,000 is guaranteed with a base salary of $375,000. In 2012, he will earn $485,000 and $20,300 available in playing time incentives. In 2013, his salary will be $595,000 with a playing time incentive of $40,700. In 2014, h…

Morrison Signs With The Bills

Per Jaz Glazer of Fox Sports, Kirk Morrison has signed with the Buffalo Bills. If the Raiders wanted to bring in a linebacker, they are down to Lofa Tatupu as the only remaining serviceable option.

The Raiders were already thin at linebacker before losing Travis Goethel for the season to a knee injury.

Behind starters Kamerion Wimbley, Rolando McClain and Quentin Groves the Raiders have Sam Williams, Darryl Blackstock, Bruce Davis II, Bani Gbdayu and Chris Francis.

That's an extremely thin group of linebackers and the Raiders will be looking at cuts around the league to shore up the group.

Hue's Challenge: Develop Terrelle Pryor

Yes, the Raiders selected Terrelle Pryor with a third-round pick in the 2012 draft via the supplemental draft.

Most scouts believe Pryor isn't a great fit as a quarterback in the NFL, but the Raiders didn't waste a third-round pick to immediately covert him to receiver.

Pryor is lucky enough to possess elite physical tools. He ran a 4.4 second 40-yard dash at 6'5" and 230 pounds. While he has a long way to go as a quarterback, he has all the needed physical tools to be successful.

With no long-term solution at quarterback on the roster, the Raiders are wise to take the chance on Pryor. If the team doesn't feel like he is progressing as a quarterback he can be converted to receiver down the road.

Hue Jackson and Al Saunders will attempt to mold Pryor into an NFL quarterback and they have a few good things going for them. Pryor is motivated to be good. He's not receiving a $30 million signing bonus and will need to put in the work to earn a big payday.

Warts aside, P…

Raiders Injury Report

The preseason hasn't been kind to the Raiders. After Saturday's game, their first team has been crippled with injuries. Luckily the preseason is the time when the second team can step up and get in some playing time; it also means that the first team can get some necessary rest.

Quarterback Jason Campbell left Saturday's game after getting clocked with a knee to the helmet. Concussion tests were run to assess the damage and Coach Jackson said that he anticipates Campbell being in practice on Monday. This was initially scary particularly because of the stinger that took Campbell out for part of the season last year.

Kevin Boss taking Zach Miller's place at tight end was an overall good move, but now the depth at the position is in question. Boss is currently listed as week-to-week with a knee injury. There's no word on whether he will be able to play in the home opener. Wide receiver Chaz Schilens is also week-to-week with a knee injury, but Coach Jackson has said tha…

Hue's Bullies Are Meek In Loss

Hue Jackson has been beating a drum this offseason. He wants his team to bully opposing teams. It's reminiscent of something Mike Singletary would say. Big talk from the coach doesn't always translate to the team.

On Saturday at Candlestick, the Raiders were bullied. The offensive line couldn't intimidate a 7-year-old girl. The reserves on the defensive line were pushed around like a grocery cart with a crazy wheel.

It was bad, but it is never as bad as it looks. Particularly when it is the reserves getting pushed around. Next week against a superior Saints team will be the best sampling of the Raiders progress under Jackson. Next week, the starters should play an entire half. Drew Brees will expose any weaknesses on the Raiders defense and Gregg Williams isn't likely to make it easy for the Raiders defensive line.

The game did highlight some areas of great concern, but there were bright spots early.



Studs

Darrius Heyward-Bey - Could he finally be a useful weapon? If he kee…

Highs, Lows & Blows From Thursday's Game

Everyone likes to win, but this is preseason. It's the first preseason game of a year which features very little practice time beforehand.

It's far too early to jump to conclusions about the season or any one player. It doesn't mean that there is nothing to learn from the game.

Highs

1. The defensive line looks even more dominant than they did last year. Matt Shaughnessy looks poised for breakout year. They held up on the goal line.

2. The passing game looks ready to take the next step. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore and Kevin Boss all looked the part. Moore got snaps with the first team and made the most of them.

Heyward-Bey made a hands catch and then beat a defender deep only to have Jason Campbell under-throw him. Even Kyle Boller and Trent Edwards looked to be effectively orchestrating the passing offense. David Ausberry looks like he could become something special and a weapon in the receiving game.

3. The offensive line blocked reasonably well. A pleasant surprise. S…

Cardinal @ Raiders Preseason Preview: Makeshift Offensive Line On Display

The Raiders host the Arizona Cardinals today at 7 p.m. at O.com Coliseum in Oakland. When the team takes the field for the first time in 2011, they will be led by Hue Jackson. It will be Jackson's first game as the head coach.

Jackson will use the preseason as time to get the hang of his responsibilities as the head man.

As for the players, judging the preseason is complicated. Louis Rankin routinely makes preseason highlight reels, but he has hardly been able to stick on a roster in his career.



Special Teams

Besides estimating the Raiders season ticket base from the preseason attendance, you should be watching special teams closely.

The fringe roster players will not make the team if they can't perform on special teams. When deciding on a the last receiver, linebacker, or safety to make the roster, the coaching staff is going to choose the guy that performed the best on special teams.



Offensive Line

The only position on the offensive line that appears cemented is Jared Veldheer at l…

Jason Campbell & ESPN's QBR

ESPN has devised a new system to replace the outdated Passer Rating system. Total Quarterback Rating system, or QBR, is somewhat easy to follow and more accurately reflects a quarterback's skills. While there are some intricate formulas that only mathematicians will understand, we can follow the numbers and basics they lay out for us.

 The Basics

The system takes into account passing, rushing, sacks, fumbles and everything else a quarterback does. In the previous system, a QB would get a higher rating for yards after a pass, meaning the yards the wide receiver got. This has very little to do with the QB and, therefore, is not used in this system. Red zone plays will give him more points than if the same play is run in the middle of the field. Also, points will vary depending on the closeness of the game.

The Scoring

The QBR score is based on 100, which makes it easy to score and follow. Scores from 100 to 75 mean that the QB is an MVP candidate, which takes guess-work out of the equat…

Pass Offense & Rush Defense Still a Problem

Attempt to think back to when the Raiders went 12-4, won the AFC West and led the NFL in rushing. It was the year 2000 when the Raiders did exactly that. With a similar two-headed monster in the backfield of Tyrone Wheatley, the bruiser, and Napolean Kaufman, the speed guy, the Raiders ran all over opponents.

In 2010 the Raiders were second in the NFL in rushing with Darren McFadden, the shifty speed guy, and Michael Bush, the bruiser. The Raiders running game was tough for any front seven to handle, but it may be necessary for the Raiders to improve the rushing game even more in 2011 because of the mediocrity of the passing game and rush defense. If Hue Jackson is going to achieve his goal of "building a bully" and earning a 2011 playoff berth these two areas must improve dramatically.

The key to this season’s offense is improving the passing game. The Raiders ranked 23rd in passing with 3180 passing yards. However in 2000, the Raiders finished with just a middle of the road …

Raiders Need To Sign Bush Long Term

Darren McFadden's most recent injury has made it even more clear how important it is for the Raiders to ink a long-term deal with restricted free agent Michael Bush.

On Thursday, coach Hue Jackson revealed that McFadden was out for at least two weeks with an orbital fracture. Michael Bush signed his restricted free agent tender on Saturday, after a practice Friday in which Louis Rankin and Rock Cartwright took all the snaps.

In a press conference a few days ago, Jackson joked saying that McFadden looked handsome and he had no doubt the running back will return in two weeks. Jackson also reminded every one of last preseason when McFadden missed a considerable amount of time due to a hamstring injury and came back to have 1157 yards and a break-out season. Still, McFadden has yet to play an entire season without missing time.

It's the elephant in the room-McFadden is prone to injury.

There is a severe lack of depth in the Raiders running-back depth chart. After McFadden and Bush, th…

$2.6 Million in Hand is Worth it to Bush

Michael Huff tweeted he was having breakfast with Michael Bush this morning in Napa. A short time later the Raiders announced Bush had re-signed.

Bush ends his quasi-holdout and reports to camp. The Raiders need the body as Darren McFadden broke his orbital bone and Rookie Taiwan Jones is nursing a hamstring injury. Michael Bennett also has a "nick" leaving Rock Cartwright to pick up the slack.

Bush should practice today for the first time in 2011 with the recently signed Kevin Boss.

The Raiders also signed receiver Chad Jackson. He's another camp body with kick return skills.

Tight End Talk

Panic arose with the loss of Zach Miller, lest we forget from the ashes many times a Phoenix arises.

Kevin Boss got his first opportunity after the departure of all-pro tight end Jeremy Shockey from New York. Bringing in Boss was a sound business decision at less than half the cost of Miller.

The Boss signing aside, let's look at the current roster:



Brandon Myers

The third-year player has looked poor in camp, but still may have been the default starter had Boss not been aquired. His lack of consistency puts him on the roster bubble. Myers is a reasonable in-line blocker, but he has lapses in passing game.



David Ausberry

Potentially Marcel Reece 2.0 at the tight end position. Converted from wide receiver his senior season at USC. He is literally still growing into the position and needs to add bulk. He continues to turn  heads in camp with his speed (4.52) and fluidity. The departure of Miller may afford him a roster spot due to his receiving skills.



Richard Gordon

Rookie from Miami is kno…

Like A Boss: Kevin Inks Deal

Adam Schefter reports the Raiders agreed to terms with tight end Kevin Boss on a four-year, $16 million contract.

The contract includes $8 million in guarantees. Zach Miller will make about twice as much and the production of each will likely be very comparable.

Kevin Boss is a better seam threat than Miller and a slightly better blocker. He isn't quite the receiver Miller is, but he will be provided with greater opportunity in Oakland than he was in New York.

If the Raiders offensive line also improves, the Raiders wouldn't have to bring in a sixth offensive lineman to run block. This creates doubt in the mind of the defense, particularly in the red zone, because Boss is a capable receiver.

Boss is the type of tight end Al Davis values. A tall, big-bodied red zone threat who is a good blocker. This was a match from the very beginning.

The Raiders receivers will still have to make up the difference between Miller and Boss as a receiver, but not as much as you might think. Easily wo…

Cap Relief: Routt, Seymour Restructure

Adam Caplan reports, Stanford Routt has restructed his deal with the Raiders for much needed cap relief.

Richard Seymour also restructured and he could save the Raiders as much as $11 million against the cap.

The Raiders knew all along how they were going to get under the cap or they would have been cutting players left and right.

The question now is if the Raiders can create enough room to sign Kevin Boss. Darren McFadden is missing from practice and could be restructuring as well.

Raiders Must Target Boss, Veteran Receiver

Although the Oakland Raiders operated a run first offense in 2010 with Darren McFadden rushing for over 1100 yards and coming in third in the NFL with 5.2 yards per carry, it is imperative that the Raiders help Jason Campbell in 2011. The Raiders have to get Campbell a reliable target at tight end. Zach Miller was targeted 14 more times than any other receiver on the team in 2010. The 92 balls he thrown his way made him the 10th most targeted tight end in the NFL. He's now a Seahawk.

Adding Kevin Boss is a no brainer. Although Boss had 25 less catches than Miller last year, he had just 150 yards less than Miller. He averaged nearly 4 yards more per catch than Miller. He may not be a better receiver, but he is a more proven blocker and is the best available tight end left in free agency.

By adding a veteran wide out, the Raiders passing game could improve enough to make the loss in tight end production and afterthought. Boss is just 27 and has a lot of miles left on his body. He coul…

Raiders Workout Kevin Boss

Hue Jackson confirmed free agent tight end Kevin Boss is working out with the Raiders today.

The Raiders unexpectedly lost Zach Miller to the Seattle Seahawks and need to plug the huge hole Miller leaves.

There is mutual interest and that is always a recipe for a marriage.

Raiders Sign Raider Fan Darryl Blackstock

The Raiders signed free agent linebacker Darryl Blackstock. Blackstock is a self-proclaimed "RAIDER FAN 4 LIFE."

Blackstock is 28 and previously played for the Bengals and Cardinals. He spent the 2010 season with the Florida Tuskers of the UFL and Raiders defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan.

Blackstock was drafted in 2005 at the end of the third round by the Arizona Cardinals.

Blackstock instantly becomes a fan favorite, partially because he is a Raiders fan and partially because his name is Blackstock. He'll have a tough time making the roster, but the fans will love him along the way.

Follow him on Twitter: @MrDBlackstock

Michael Huff Contract: 4 Years, $32 Million

According to a tweet by J.I. Halsell, Michael Huff received a contract worth $8 million per season over four years.

Update: Jerry McDonald reports more detail: $12 milion is in the form of guarantees. $7.315 million signing bonus, $685,000 base salary in 2011, $4 million base salary 2012-2014. The 2012 base salary is guaranteed.

Eric Weddle received five years, $40 million with $19 million in guarantees.

It's not completely out of line with expectations, but the slow market for Huff's services insinuated his deal would be more affordable. Not the case.

Huff will now have to prove 2010 was not a fluke and he really is an all-pro safety.

Raiders Announce Signings of Heyer, Smiley, Wand

The Raiders announced the signings of offensive lineman Stephon Heyer, Justin Smiley and Seth Wand.

Justin Smiley was in for a visit and Stephon Heyer announced on his Facebook he signed with the team this morning. Wand last played in the UFL.

The Raiders seems content adding lower level talent in hopes of fielding a decent offensive line. Not a great approach. 

Proven options like Brian Waters and Sean Locklear remain free agents.

Zach Miller Builds Nest in Seattle

ESPN's John Clayton reports Zach Miller has agreed to terms with the Seattle Seahawks. Adam Schefter confirms the contract is for five years and $34 million with $17 million in guarantees.

That's nearly $7 million per season of which about 3.4 million will be guaranteed. Al Davis simply couldn't match the Seahawks offer.

Davis rolled the dice letting a tight end hit free agency and he lost, but as Alex Miglio of Dolphinsblog.com explains, Miller is not as valuable as he seems.

So don't panic. Kevin Boss has already shown interest in the Raiders and the Raiders can mitigate the loss in a variety of ways. The receivers growth is a big part, they can also use Richard Gordon as a blocking tight end and David Ausberry or Brandon Myers as receiving options. A piece together Zach Miller approach.

It's a huge blow to the offense, but  the development of Marcel Reece and addition of Taiwan Jones may mitigate some of the offensive loss as well.

It's a business and the Raiders…

Raiders Sign OT Stephon Heyer

According to reports, the Raiders have signed offensive tackle Stephon Heyer.

Heyer has started 33 games with the Redskins and played in 49. He was originally an undrafted free agent.

The Raiders recognize their need on the offensive line, but thus far haven't added any big names.

Bryant McKinnie was cut and the Raiders could kick his tires. Sean Locklear and Brian Waters remain the best available players.

Wimbley Extended, Tatupu Visits

Kamerion Wimbley's cap figure is now more manageable. He agrees on a five-year, $48 million deal which includes $29 million in guarantees.

The signing was brought about somewhat urgently by Zach Miller's visit to Seattle and former coach Tom Cable.

With Wimbley signed, the Raiders should have enough flexibly to sway Miller and bring in an offensive lineman.

If Miller chooses to sign in Seattle, the Raiders could bring in Kevin Boss.

If the Raiders are serious about fixing the offensive line, they should return the favor and sign Sean Locklear.

Another option would be longtime divisional foe Brian Waters.

Lofa Tatupu is in for a visit. He's a good player with injury problems. It's difficult to figure out how he would fit in the Raiders 4-3 defense and may foreshadow the Raiders usage of the 3-4 more this season.

Tatupu, like Gaither, will need to check out medically. He also has a planned visit to Washington, which wouldn't mean much if the Raiders wanted to extend an off…