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Showing posts from 2011

Raiders Resolutions

While the year is coming to a close, the Raiders’ season is very much still alive. With playoff hopes looming, there are few things the Raiders need to do both this current season and in the season to come. This means starting the new year off with a bang against the Division rival San Diego Chargers. The Chargers have become a formidable opponent in recent weeks, especially amidst the Raiders' inconsistent play. So, these are some of the resolutions the Raiders need to make in the upcoming year: No More Penalties While they've been better about minimizing penalties recently, certainly better than they were at the beginning of the season, the Raiders still need some work on avoiding penalties altogether. Many people complain that their team is unfairly penalized, but the fact of the matter is that the Raiders are like a team of Ndamukong Suh's, meaning that the refs already have their eye on the guys. Just this season, the team has given up over 1,200 yards in penalties, wh

Week 16 Preview: Silver Bells

The Raiders simply must win their next two games to have a chance at the playoffs. The Chiefs are playing for the playoffs themselves and will need to win the last two games. This is a late December trip to Arrowhead with playoff implications despite struggles along the way for both teams. Reeling after an explicable defensive meltdown last week at home versus the Detroit Lions, the Raiders will attempt to pick their season off the scrap heap Sunday in Kansas City. Temperatures will be win the mid 40s and mild, not what one would expect for a late season trip to Arrowhead stadium. The mild temperatures mean the Raiders will have dodged their cold-weather games this season. It didn't make any difference in their blowout loss to the Packers two weeks ago and the Raiders are hoping to avoid any repeats. The last time the Raiders faced the Chiefs, Todd Haley was the Head Coach and Matt Cassel was the Quarterback for the Chiefs. Fast forward 11 weeks and Romeo Crennel and Kyle Orton are

Hue of Shame

It is easy enough to blame Chuck Bresnahan for the Raiders second half collapses this season. He was never Hue Jackson's guy and his performance this season means there will likely be turnover in that area unless the Raiders defense turns into the 1985 Bears the last two weeks and the team squeaks into the playoffs and continues to dominate defensively. That's not going to happen. Jackson will likely get a pass for his rookie season. Dealing with the loss of legendary owner Al Davis and assuming the General Manager duties, losing his starting quarterback, his star running back, and having some of his best players miss time will all be excuses to give Hue Jackson another chance. That's probably how it should be, that's a lot to bite off for any first time head coach. Add to it the Jackson-created hype and expectations and you have a dangerous mix that has a segment of the Raider Nation upset. Playing the blame game Let's take a look at the two phases of the game. Let

Week 15 Preview: Effort & Efficiency

Two weeks ago headed into the game against Miami the Raiders were leading the AFC West and coming off three straight victories. Two weeks later the season is on the line. Thanks to Timothy Tebow in Denver and two horrible losses in a row, the Raiders are in must-win mode. Unfortunately for the Raiders the opponent this week needs a win just as badly. The Lions look and play like a playoff team. The Raiders haven't played like a playoff team in many weeks. What do the Raiders need to do to win? Let's take a look at the numbers. [table id=9 /] When the Raiders have the ball: The Lions are nearly as suspect against the run as the Raiders surrendering 5.1 yards per carry this season to the Raiders 5.2 and 5 yards less per game than the Raiders atrocious run defense. The Raiders will attempt to run on the Lions and keep Carson Palmer from hurting the Raiders with costly turnovers. The Lions secondary have proven themselves to be ball hawks and they will force Carson Palmer into a tu

Studs and Duds From Week 14

Surely in a blowout loss there were more duds than studs. I suppose a stud is relative to the play of the rest of the team when the score is 147-14. A few players did have nice days and the rest didn't. There were probably more duds than I can list, so the duds this week are the "Death Ro" of duds. STUDS Desmond Bryant He's earning himself more playing time each week. With the way Richard Seymour is playing and with John Henderson banged up he might just earn more time at defensive tackle as well as defensive end. Stefen Wisniewski Towards the end of the game the Raiders sat the Wiz kid down. I guess the coaching staff realized that he was the only solid offensive lineman and gave him a rest. He was very good pass blocking and did a solid job run blocking for Bush. He was particularly good at getting to the linebacker. Some may argue Wisniewski is better suited to play center, but until Stephon Heyer or Joseph Barksdale play well enough to slide Wisniewski over he'

Week 14 Preview: It's All About Time

When the Raiders take on the Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday, there is little room for error. Losing to the Dolphins last week and the meteoric rise of Tim Tebow in Denver has given the AFC West a legitimate race to the finish. Both teams are 7-4 with four to play. The Raiders face Green Bay and Kansas City on the road and Detroit and San Diego at home. The Broncos have three at home versus the battered Bears, New England and Kansas City and one game on the road against the faltering Bills. Hue Jackson has been trying to get his team to finish games all season and now that lesson is on full display. If the Raiders are to win the division they will need to win in the final quarter of the season too. The Packers are undefeated and present the Raiders greatest challenge this season, but don't let a record fool you in the NFL, this will be a battle and it could come down to a turnover or special teams score. Here is how the teams look by the numbers. [table id=8 /] As you can see, t

What's Going On In The Training Room?

Anyone who is a Raiders fan or works writing about football is beyond frustrated with the Raiders organization right now. Not because of the way they're playing, which is bipolar to say the least, experiencing glimpses of an untouchable championship team, then flashes of a scrappy high school squad. The frustration comes from within, with regard to injuries. Call it self-serving, but many people need to know what to expect on Sunday, and with these obscure, clearly false injury reports, fans are getting restless. A key component to the Silver and Black's mystique is an air of secrecy. Up until the time of his death, the team and family never let on how truly sick Mr. Davis was. This would take attention away from the team on the field, which no one inside the walls of the facility in Alameda wanted. This same tactic is being employed with the Raiders current injured players. Darren McFadden has been out for weeks with a foot injury that they've played down from the beginnin

Shocking Loss. Shocking Win?

A game like the one last Sunday against the Dolphins would cause any fan to start second guessing their team. It doesn't mean you're any less of a fan, it just means you expected a different result and are having a hard time figuring out what went wrong. What if I told you that loss wasn't far off the beaten path? It's very easy to get caught up in the "now" when evaluating a team. Even though the season seems very short, for most teams there are many high and low points along the way.  In the end it's how you finish that really matters. Most tend to look at schedules and mentally fill in wins and losses as if they are almost a sure thing, but one phrase will always remain true in the NFL, "Any Given Sunday." The Raiders have been a tough team to gauge this season and depending on what week I ask you, your answer would probably vary. However, one thing that is hard to argue is that this team is very dangerous. Most teams would tell you that they

Studs & Duds From Week 13

It was such a painful football game to watch a second time that it took three days to get entirely through it. Searching for answers to what happened in Miami, I put some extra focus on finding the performers and pretenders this week, so let's take a look. STUDS Darrius Heyward-Bey Magnificent day from the Raiders' breakout receiver. No he didn't have great yardage numbers or multiple touchdowns, but he was the only offensive weapon the Raiders had on Sunday. He had 21 yards taken away from him via holding penalty on the offensive line and made a highlight one-handed touchdown grab. Knowing how far his team was behind, Heyward-Bey flipped the ball to the official. There would be no celebration of his second touchdown catch of the season. Stefen Wisniewski The rookie has a rough game last week and although the rest of the offensive line crumbled around him he stayed strong. It wasn't a great performance, but no other Raiders seems to qualify for studs this week. Stanford

Week 13 Preview: Sling It

The Raiders land in Miami to face a rejuvenated Dolphins team. It was a few short weeks ago Tony Sparano was on the chopping block. Now, after winning three of the last four, Sparano's team looks to play spoiler in the AFC. The Dolphins are finding out what they have in quarterback Matt Moore, the defense is playing well and Reggie Bush may be relevant once again. It was a week full of distraction for the 7-4 Raiders and perhaps that wasn't a bad thing. The focus could have been on how the Raiders are still unable to get three offensive playmakers on the field. Jacoby Ford Denarius Moore and Darren McFadden remain out of action. Tommy Kelly did not participate in practice and is questionable with toe injury. There is good news for the Raiders, they get back veteran corner Chris Johnson and Richard Seymour is getting healthy. The offense has been able to manage without Ford, Moore and McFadden, but the defense has been patchy and can use all the help they can get. The Dolphins a

Week 13 Matchups: Risk/Reward

Defensive Matchups Stanford Routt vs. Brandon Marshall Marshall can take over and when his mind is right he is one of the best wide receivers in the game. Routt has an interception in two consecutive games and may be starting to prove he is worth his contract. With Bresnahan mixing up things, don’t be surprised if Routt shadows Marshall as he did Vincent Jackson a few weeks ago. Rolondo McClain vs. Reggie Bush Bush is at his best when in space and McClain is at his worst in space. The Dolphins will try to get Bush in open space and build on his reception total currently at 35. McClain needs to be physical with Bush to take him out of his game. From his midweek arrest in Alabama, McClain has plenty to prove. ***If McClain sits, Blackstock will draw the matchup, but the key for him will be getting the defense lined up correctly*** Kamerion Wimbley vs. Jake Long Long has been under-achieving this season and as a result the Miami Dolphins offensive line has given up 36 sacks, which ranks 2

Week 13 Fantasy Outlook

Quarterback Carson Palmer is lighting up the field now, and helping to win football games. With the recent slew of quarterback injuries league-wide, you should seriously consider picking up Palmer. He's back in the saddle and playing well, even in the Fantasy world. Last week he threw for 300+ yards, but had one interception. Depending on if you have a league that's focused more on yards than points then play him, however, if you rely heavily on a QB's ability to score, he may not be as beneficial. Last week he threw for no touchdowns, but his stats were great. Again, play him if you're looking for yardage, but do so while accounting for one or two interceptions. Running Backs Michael Bush is a must play this week. Darren McFadden in still out with no word on when he'll return. Rookie Taiwan Jones also did not practice on Wednesday, which doesn't bode well for his chances on Sunday. These factors taken into account, Bush is going to get a ton of carries. While h

Studs and Duds From Week 12

Belated this week, but the show must go on! STUDS Marcel Reece Quite the weapon for the Raiders. Expect him to continue to have a big role for the final five games. Aaron Curry Best game as a professional. He's a good player when he the play is in front of him. A good trade for the Raiders with potential to be great. Rolando McClain The linebackers were a big reason for the Raiders success on Sunday. McClain had a good game stopping the run and in coverage. He was in a tough position when Caleb Hanie scrambled to his right as he had to choose between covering Forte or going after Hanie. It was a big pickup for the Bears, but if McClain leaves Forte open it could have been bigger. ***I should revoke this for his actions Wednesday night in Alabama.*** Kamerion Wimbley He did a bit of everything on Sunday. Still the best pure pass rusher on the team, he stepped up and stopped the run and he had an interception and return that would have been a touchdown if not for a horse-collar tackl

Week 12 Matchups

Defensive Matchups Rolando McClain vs. Matt Forte Before Cutler’s injury, Forte carried the Bears offense with nearly 1,400 yards from scrimmage. 926 of those yards come on the ground. With continued success and Cutler's injury, Forte can be an MVP candidate. McClain needs to show leadership and consistent playmaking ability to limit Forte’s production. Stopping Chicago's offense starts with containing Forte. Tommy Kelly vs. Roberto Garza With Seymour’s injury, Kelly becomes the Raiders best defensive tackle. Garza, the Bears’ center, anchors the Bears offensive line. The winner of this matchup will go a long way in showing what team will control the tempo and what team will control the line of scrimmage. Chuck Bresnahan vs. Caleb Hanie With very limited tape of Hannie, Bresnahan is going to test the young quarterback. Watch for Hanie’s mobility to play a key part as Bresnahan mixes coverages and blitz packages. X-Factor Matt Giordano Giordano is not great at tacking in the ope

Week 12 Defensive Preview: Stop Forte

The Bears come into Oakland minus their starting quarterback Jay Cutler. They will turn from Cutler to Caleb Hanie. It changes the game considerably from what the Raiders would have been facing with Jay Cutler under center. The Bears will not be able to turn to Cutler when the defense stacks the box against Matt Forte and the pressure will be on Hanie to make the defense pay for it. Running Matt Forte has more yards from scrimmage and more 20+ and 40+ yards runs than any running back in football. Forte is averaging 155.1 yards per game. Put this in perspective, Matt Forte generates over 47% of the Bears offensive yards. How does the worst run defense in football stop the best running back in football? The Raiders are allowing 5.2 yards per carry. Forte is averaging 5.0 yards per carry. It doesn't take a mathematician to do this math Forte could run all over the Raiders if they don't have a plan to stop him. Forte is extremely elusive and defenders have missed tackles on him 38

Week 12 Offensive Preview: Avoid Turnovers

With Jay Cutler going down to injury the Chicago Bears will start Caleb Hanie on Sunday. Hanie has played well in short spurts, but will make his first career start on the road. I'm sure the record for quarterbacks in their first career starts on the road isn't good. The focus shifts on what the Raiders can accomplish on offense versus an opportunistic Bears defense. Rushing Fortunately for the Raiders, the Bears weakness has been against the running game. The Bears rush defense has allowed 4.9 yards per carry to opposing running backs, but only 6 rushing touchdowns. Raiders will want to run the ball in the middle of the field and attempt to pass in the redzone for opportunities to score. Expect Michael Bush to have a big day on the ground, but don't expect too many touchdowns as the Bears clamp down against the run in the redzone. The Raiders offensive lineman must get to the second level in the running game and put clean blocks on Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher to spring

Studs and Duds From Week 11

The Raiders slogged through the second half again and it nearly came back to bite them. A better team may have been able to capitalize on the Raiders penalties, but the Vikings without Adrian Peterson were powerless to do so. The defense looked suspect again and the Raiders offensive line struggled more than they have all season. A few welcome surprises this week and the reappearance of duds from 2010. STUDS Jared Veldheer Veldheer handled Jared Allen on Sunday and held him without a sack for the first time this season. The Raiders finally found their franchise left tackle from Hillsdale College. If Veldheer can handle Julius Peppers this Sunday, he'll start getting national recognition and should get a decent amount of Pro Bowl consideration. Allen did get pressure on Palmer on back-to-back plays in the first half, but Veldheer adjusted and was pushing Allen well wide of Palmer for the rest of the day. On one occasion Veldheer flattened Allen on a run. A great performance from the

Week 11 Defensive Preview: Focus is on the Linebackers

The 2011 Minnesota Viking Offense is very similar to the offense of the 2009 Oakland Raiders. Both of these offenses featured young developing quarterbacks and potentially game braking running backs. The Raiders won five games during the 2009 season. With the season more than halfway over Minnesota is 2-7, so finishing with a five-win season is a realistic goal for them. As a result, both of these offenses relayed on a strong running game to alleviate their ineptness in the passing game. For the Vikings to be successful they have to get Adrian Peterson going. Peterson has earned the right to be regarded as the best running back in the NFL. The Raiders defense has contain him and remain disciplined. To be successful, the Vikings must take advantage when the Raiders defense plays undisciplined or gets too aggressive. Look for Christian Ponder to try to expose the Raiders’ linebackers in pass coverage and take try to connect with Percy Harvin when he is lined up against Demarcas Van Dyke

Week 11 Offensive Preview: All About The Fatties

The Raiders success on offense this Sunday in Minnesota relies on the massive shoulders of the offensive line.  The big boys up front dominated the Chargers defensive line last Thursday night, providing big holes for Michael Bush and a solid pocket for Carson Palmer.  But it’s a horse of a different color waiting for them in Minnesota: a big purple horse wearing number 69.   Match-ups To Watch LT Jared Veldheer vs.  DE Jared Allen Jared Allen leads the Vikings front seven.  He is a tenacious, relentless pass rusher, and leads the NFL with 13.5 sacks.  His motor never stops, he has a wide range of pass rush moves and has embarrassed even the league’s best tackles.  He can electrify the loud raucous crowd in Minnesota with one play, and it’ll be up to 6’8” left tackle Jared Veldheer to slow him down.  Don’t expect him to shoulder the burden alone, Hue Jackson will have tight ends Kevin Boss or Brandon Myers stay in and pass block on some plays, and he may also chip Allen with a back.  Th

Raiders’ Week 11 Fantasy Outlook

Quarterback Carson Palmer is a name that is generating a lot of buzz this week, partly because of his solid stat line in Week 10 (299 yards, 2 TD passes, 1 INT). It also has to do with the fact that a lot of quarterbacks are injured in fantasy land (Matt Schaub, Matt Cassel, Michael Vick). Facing off against a depleted Vikings secondary this week, Palmer is a recommended start this week. The Vikings placed cornerback Antoine Winfield in injured reserve and will be counting on Benny Sapp. Unfortunately for Sapp, he will most likely going up against one of the hottest receivers in the NFL in Denarius Moore. With a plethora of options in the passing game, fantasy owners should be able to count on Palmer against a weak Vikings' secondary this week. Running Backs Michael Bush has been a force in the running game, scoring double-digit fantasy games in three straight games. While Darren McFadden has been seen out of his protective walking boot, he has been ruled out for week 11. Fantasy o

The Raiders' Open Road

This Sunday the Raiders travel to Minnesota and face the Vikings. This game will feature two of the top five rushing teams in the league. While the Vikings run All Day (Adrian Peterson), their passing game is anemic. While defending the run is the Vikings' strength, stopping the pass is their weakness. The Raiders' offense leads the NFL with 56 plays over 20 yards and 11 plays over 40 yards, but the Raiders' defense have given up more 20+ yard runs than any team. Regardless of the numbers, the Raiders will take advantage of Vikings rookie quarterback Christian Ponder. Even though Minnesota has a stout defensive line, their offense remains unbalanced and largely ineffective. This will allow the Raiders to wear down the Vikings' defensive line and make big plays. For good reason, the Raiders are favored to win this game, and barring another systemic defensive catastrophe, they will. Taking a look at the other AFC West teams, we see Denver upsetting the Jets, San Diego tra

Raiders' Obstacles and Weapons

The Raiders are one of the most up and down teams in the NFL, but with good reason. At the beginning of the season, they rose with the Autumn wind, fueled by the emotion of the passing of Mr. Silver and Black himself. They looked unstoppable; that is, until Campbell got hurt. The team, who still has no real, official front office leadership, had to make a snap decision about what to do since the signing deadline was looming. This landed Carson Palmer squarely into the black hole, and the rest of the team started looking like just that: a black hole. Then the Autumn wind picked up again and the team is cruising steadily. Though they're headed in the right direction, there are still some massive things to look out for, both good and bad. Raiders' Biggest Obstacles Penalties It's still no secret that the Raiders are the most penalized team in the NFL, which is not unique to this season. This seems to be something that needs constant work and attention. Even a casual Raiders fa

Praising McClain

Until Denver and their spread option read came and put up nearly 300 rushing yards on them, including two 100-yard rushers, the Raiders allowed only Fred Jackson to post a 100-yard rushing game. Four days after the Denver game, the Raiders held an offense that averages over 100 rushing yards a game to 68. So what happened two weeks ago against Denver? Did the Raiders defensive ends play undisciplined? Yes. Were the linebackers often late in filling lanes and did they often fill the wrong ones repeatedly? Yes. Did the entire front seven of the defense get manhandled by Denver’s offensive line? Yes. Is there anything else that led to the Raiders' defensive collapse two weeks ago? Yes: the absence of Rolando McClain. McClain has only missed one game, that being of course Denver at home. In that game, Curry had the green dot on the defense and the Raiders run defense was atrocious. Regardless of the Raiders having a dominant defensive line, the middle linebacker is the undisputed quart

Studs and Duds From Week 10

The Raiders really took it to the Chargers on Thursday night and came away with a seven-point victory in San Diego. The Raiders played well and a few players really stood out in a good way and a couple in a bad way. Special mention to the Raider Nation's Southern California division for making the game an extra home game for the Raiders. STUDS Kamerion Wimbley An impressive performance by the Raiders franchise player. The Chargers backup tackle had no answer for Wimbley and the rest of the Raiders defensive line on Thursday. It's a big reason Phillip Rivers didn't look comfortable all night. The Raider Nation has been waiting for Wimbley's coming out party and they were blowing out birthday candle after that four sack performance. Stanford Routt If you wanted to be critical, he was unable to breakup the Vincent Brown touchdown grab. I saw was a heck of a catch and Stanford Routt clawing at the pass the whole way down. Just a superb play by the receiver to come down with

Seven Things From Thursday Night

1. TAG! YOU’RE IT. - Michael Bush proved once again just how productive he can be as a starter in this league.  His 242 yards from scrimmage were the most by a Raider since the merger.  The Raiders need to use the franchise tag on him in the off-season, as its clear he is worth it.  It’s a steep price to pay for a backup runningback, but as this league continues to remind us, you cannot just rely on one. 2. PLAYING FAVORITES - Looks like Carson Palmer found his go-to guy in rookie wide out Denarius Moore.  Moore has come on strong the last two weeks and is finding his groove with Palmer.  Moore brought in 5 receptions for 123 yards and 2 TDs, including one of the best catches you’ll see all season.  The sky’s the limit for this kid, as he continues to wow the Raider Nation and develop a rapport with the Raiders new signal caller. 3. WIMBLEY IS BACK - Hue Jackson said Kamerion Wimbley would get his sacks in bunches, but who could predict he’d grab four against the Chargers, doubling h

Week 10 Preview: Short Week, Short Handed

Wow.  That was ugly.  The Raiders have played themselves into a corner after dropping two straight divisional games to less talented football teams.  After the “bully” had his nose broken on Sunday, the Raiders will have to heal quickly because one of the biggest games of the season comes on only three days rest. The Raiders gave up 300 rushing yards to the Denver Broncos.  That’s not a typo.  A college-style option offense torched the Oakland defense en route to a 34-21 upset win on Sunday.  The Raiders were undisciplined in every aspect of the game.  They had 15 penalties for 130 yards.  Players didn’t stay true to their assignments, and were caught out of position, with Tim Tebow and Willis McGahee ripping them for huge gains.  Linebackers were leaving gaps uncovered, defensive ends got burned bending down the line and lost contain, and the punt coverage team took bad angles in pursuit. Michael Bush had a nice game in the starting role, 19 carries for 96 yards and 33 yards receiving