Tuesday, 23 December 2008

IN CABLE WE TRUST ?

OAKLAND RAIDERS 27 HOUSTON TEXANS 16

We've had some bloody miserable weekends once again this year RAIDER NATION.So it was a pleasant change on Sunday to see a fourth win, it doesn't excuse some of the other things that have gone on and it doesn't make the bogeyman go away but the OAKLAND RAIDERS played with some swagger whilst resembling a real life NFL team, following a three week hiatus from that distinction since the win over Denver.
We used McFadden effectively, Johnnie Lee Higgins seems set to be a star, our QB looked poised and made some nice throws down the field to a young set of receivers who looked to be revelling in the responsibility, it helped that the offensive line boosted by Mario Henderson's performance at LT gave Russell time and the Defense knocked some people around and made some plays.Both teams had little to play for other than pride, but the RAIDERS did just that, and it begged the question as to whether these players' are simply trying to salvage that pride personally or are still playing hard for Tom Cable.
If, and it is a big if, the RAIDERS can get a win against the fakey brakey pirates in Tampa next week, Cable's record as interim coach will be 4-8.Not brilliant.No not brilliant, and there have been some real pastings taken in those eight losses.But when you look at who the losses were against, there are four 10-5 teams, one 11-4 team, and an 8-7 saints team that is tough in the Superdome.Eight of the teams played under Cable are already going to the playoffs or still have a chance to, and we beat two of them.Once the season was underway, the schedule that was supposed to look a little kinder to this years RAIDERS suddenly didn't, especially on the road in N.O., Baltimore, Miami, Denver, San Diego, and Tampa.What I am trying to get around to saying is that I think that Tom Cable, in fact any incoming Head Coach interim or otherwise had a hard time getting a winning record from those games.
There have been some glaring errors along the way, but I think he has done what he can to keep the team together under difficult circumstances.There is of course that imminent fixture in the land where Pastafarians deny the legality of the pirateness, which will tell us a lot more about whether Tom Cable has still got the players' motivated, Tampa Bay need a win to get into the post season and there more than enough reasons to want to stop them doing it.
If the RAIDERS get the win Cable must be in with a shot at the Head Coach position on a permanent basis, to be honest I hope he gets that shot, overall I like the guy, he wants to be the Head Coach of the OAKLAND RAIDERS and views that as something special, and we need some continuity at some point.If the team and our young QB have to start again with another coaching staff, it could set us back again.Obviously Al's frame of mind will be what ultimately decides Cable's fate, but back to back wins to close out the season, with a lockeroom behind the Head Coach can't do any harm.Add to that a new GM with the experience to be given enough control over the footballing operations and we just might be getting somewhere.

Monday, 24 November 2008

YOU CAN'T BEAT BEATING DONKEY'S..




JAN MICHEAL VINCENT, SHANNON SHARPE, JOHN DENVER, JOHN ELWAY, KARL ROVE, DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS, TOM JACKSON, MIKE SHANAHAN....CAN YOU HEAR ME, YOUR BOYS TOOK A HELL OF A BEATING!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I had a good weekend, a really good weekend.And I have disliked DONKEY'S since struggling to stay on one whist full of sangria in Ibiza some years ago.



OK so Bjorge Lillelien probably had more to to crow about as Norway beat England in Oslo in 1981, but his famous (in England) rant was the first thing that sprang to mind last night as the DONKEY'S were humiliated in their own stadium.So what if they did it to us in week one, that is irrelevant at this point in time.We have had to endure a lot as RAIDERS fans so far this season, so a victory like the one we saw this weekend, should be savoured, considering how much of an underdog we were.


Theres nothing quite like seeing the DONKEY faithfull with their bottom lips out having to take a beating from the hated RAIDERS, and nothing like seeing Jay Cutler begging the ref's after every play for another penalty.Come on Cutler they were doing their best with a couple of terrible roughing the passer calls and throwing a flag on Johnnie Lee Higgins for enjoying himself after another TD return.But we managed to play for four quarters and didn't really look like blowing it this time, although early in the second quarter after the RAIDERS had gone to what is now THE ZACH MILLER PLAY, where Russell fakes a hand-off and rolls out to his right to hit Miller deep, the offense managed to go from 1st and goal at the three yard line to settling for a FG, as has happened so many times this season.Tom Cable at least changed things in the second half this week and gave the ball to Darren McFadden down at the goal-line and 14 points came from those touches.

The thing that I really felt during the game though was confidence.The players looked confident in each other, even when the Donkey's drew level at 10-10, they stayed calm and got right back on the horse, pun fully intended.Wherever the confidence was drawn from it was evident in all phases of the game for the RAIDERS.The much maligned offensive line were able to give JaMarcus Russell more time to pass, and that combined with receivers making some plays made for Russell looking as composed as he has done all year.He only attempted eleven passes I know, but ten of them were completions with some really nice throws, including a dart to Ashley Lelie for his TD.Justin Fargas ran really hard for a 100+ yard day and Darren McFadden looked dangerous.Chris Johnson continues to impress as the new sidekick to Nnamdi, and looks far more comfortable in the RAIDERS system than his predecessor did.Add to that a little bit of razzmatazz from Johnnie Lee Higgins and a solid defensive display and suddenely there seems to be a team in there somewhere.Tom Cable has been getting a lot of criticism recently but should get a pat on the back for some improved play calling that had the RAIDERS looking poised and actually fun to watch for a change.
There will be those that will say that we beat a DONKEY team that were suffering from injuries, but this is the NFL and they come with the territory.We still had to beat a divisional rival in their own back yard and any way that happens for the RAIDERS at the moment is just fine.
The question now is can that confidence be carried into next week with another old enemy stopping by the Coliseum?Following the RAIDERS last win over the Jets, when it seemed that we may have some new momentum, we faced a tough trip to Baltimore.This time we are at home against a 1-10 team.If there was ever a time that the RAIDERS had a chance to put together back to back wins, surely this is it.
Sunday November 23rd 2008 could be a day to look back on when an OAKLAND RAIDERS team said enough is enough, when the worm turned.It could also just be a fluke result in a bad division.I hope that it is the former, but I intend to enjoy the warm glow of a successful DONKEY WEEK, and if it is followed by a successful CHIEFS WEEK, we could find ourselves with the same record as Norv's powder puffs.Whod'a thunk it?

Monday, 17 November 2008

GROUNDHOG DAY



When Johnnie Lee Higgins ran that punt back for a 93 yard TD with 4:48 left I did two things.

1) I ran around the house celebrating, and

2) I said "But we will still lose"

Thats where we are as a fan base.It was obvious that we would not be able to keep the Miami Dolphins from scoring.I wanted to believe but that nagging doubt was there and rightfully so.We are the kings of blowing everything right now, that game was there for the taking and once again we let it go.The 4th and 5 that would have effectively given us the win was so obviously not going to go in our favour it was untrue.We knew that Pennington would find an open receiver and that he did.Unfortunately that is the present day Oakland Raiders, we get in a position to win a game and then find a way to lose it.Even though I had forecast the outcome of that particular play it was still hard to swallow, and we can talk defensive schemes till they come out of our ears but a team that wins will find a way to stop that completion.From there on it was an inevitable finish with the FG all but killing us.

Its getting really hard to find any excuses for this team and the way that they seem to lose games that are in the grasp.In the first half right at the death we had a chance to go in to the locker room level and thanks to two false start penalties on Kwame Harris and a completely busted play when Darren McFadden had no receiver ( unless it was the ghost ) to throw to, we blew it good style.A TD there would have put us level at the half having not played well at all.We had seven penalties in the game Sunday and all of them were pre-snap infractions, that is sloppy at best, dumb as shit at worst.We were once tagged the "Dumbest team in America" by our own head coach, and that passage of play from 1st and goal to 3rd and 19 summed this present RAIDERS offense up completely, Kwame Harris, who was the man who drew the two false starts could be the "Dumbest tackle in America", you heard it here first, or maybe second etc.

Unfortunately at the moment whatever the situation in a game, the RAIDERS still look likely to be crowned the LOSERS.We have forgotten how to win or avoid defeat, and I used to think that it was a cliche but we are the living proof that this can happen.I doubt that there was one RAIDER fan who believed that we could prevent the Dolphins from scoring at the end of the game, and as many that felt that JaMarcus Russell had the ability to get us to FG range with less than a minute left, and no timeouts remaining (although Seabass probably would have hit the upright ).
And I don't mean to be too tough on Russell, I thought that he showed us some really good throws into small windows during the game, with little time to throw thanks to the magnificent O-line, but he just lacked that composure at the end when most needed, hopefully that will come.I do though liken Russell's plight to that which many of us will have experienced, where we start a new job, possibly similar to the last one, where we have a lot of information to take on board quickly, and mistakes will happen when colleagues make us rush.I don't think that Russell will be a Brady or a Favre, but I don't think he will be a Marinovich or a Leaf either, in fact after seeing some of those throws on Sunday it gave me some hope that given a line and some quality receivers he could be a good NFL quarterback for some time, evading the pass rush and decision making will come.Lets face it as now this season is a bust.We have to get Darren McFadden more involved if he is, as he says, fully fit and ready to go.This last game he only touched the ball five times, which is unforgivable to me considering his speed and big play ability.Justin Fargas did his thing last year but there is a new stud in town and we need to give him the football, period.Otherwise what was the point in drafting him in the first place?
The coaching this last Sunday was too obvious to say the least, and if I think that I could call plays against it, we must be in bad shape.The Defense kept us in it once again till it mattered on that fourth and five, and the offense still couldn't produce a TD in the whole game.That lack of production on the offensive side of the ball is the big worry though.The Defense can keep us in in games as much as they want but until we pose a threat on the other side of the ball we are doomed to defeat, nil touchdowns equals nil wins.

It was good to see Ronald Curry catching passes again, and Zach Miller is a weapon who on any other team would probably be pushing for a pro-bowl berth, but it is hard to find many upsides to what's going on at the moment.The season has been lost for a long time now, let's at least see what we have with a few of the players that should still be around next year.Harris has to go, so let's put in Mario Henderson from the start and see if he has it or not, Fargas we know about, so lets see if McFadden can produce when he touches the ball 20-25 times.Let Micheal Bush take some hand offs too, if nothing else he may increase his trade value over the next few weeks, and god knows we will have to do some wheeling and dealing post season.Let's see what Chaz Schilens and Todd Watkins have got, and line them up with JLH from the start to determine if we have any true potential at all at wideout.All this might happen if Tom Cable was secure in the knowledge that he would be returning as Head Coach in 2009, but I think he will try to keep some games close as he did this week and hope that they turn into wins, but we have seen what happens when this group of players are asked to finish.So at Denver, on the RAIDERS first possession I fully expect to see the ball handed to Justin Fargas for two yards up the middle, another RAIDERS groundhog day.


















Thursday, 13 November 2008

NOTES FROM A TRIP TO THE DARKSIDE


The debacle that was the RAIDERS' home game versus Atlanta was all the more painful to watch here at The Pond, as The Pond was, well, across the pond.Sat overlooking the Black Hole watching all the unmitigated horror unfold,it became all the more apparent in the flesh, that right now this is a terrible football team.A team looking longingly for the end of the season, so it can go away, far away and do anything else.Nnamdi Asomugah and Shane Lechler should be going far away too, to Hawaii, but gaining pro-bowl berths on this team is going to be tough.

With a few of these notable exceptions this looked like a group of players that can't be bothered, that simply don't care about the organisation or more importantly the fans .

Yes Raider players - THE FANS, REMEMBER THEM?

Thats right, THE RAIDERNATION.

THE RAIDERNATION that travels from far and wide, country-wide, worldwide, NATIONWIDE.

I don't say this because we were there from thousands of miles away, although believe me it was taken personally, but I say it for the fans that were there from Chicago, Ohio, Connecticut, Seattle, fellow Brit's one and all.This RAIDERNATION pilgrimage happens week after week, every year, different states and different countries, which becomes increasingly amazing considering the futility of the past six seasons, with a few false dawns thrown in for good measure.

More importantly Raider players, consider the RAIDERNATION from Oakland, San Leandro, Hayward, Dublin, Walnut Creek, Richmond, San Jose, L.A., CALIFORNIA.Who share their love of the team and come together with a common pride in being Raider Fans.Consider them Raider players when you walk out onto a field in the first quarter of a game with already sloped shoulders.Imagine what some of these people have sacrificed to be there to see that.Imagine what effort these people have put into that day, what they do to make the experience around Alameda County Coliseum one of the greatest on the planet.

THE RAIDERNATION puts you to shame, in the existing financial shitstorm there are fans who are losing their jobs who are still coming to the game.They still show their loyalty and love both for their team, and for their extended Raider family.All this deserves some respect, all this demands that you, the Raider players give something back, something other than disappointment.

The problem with a game like the one against the Falcons is it sucks the rationale right out of some people, so much so that they start to chant TUI, TUI, TUI before half time.It also sucks the energy from everyone else in the stadium which is replaced largely by gallows humour, you know things are bad when fans can see the funny side of an arse-kicking.There's always next week though right?

There lies the next problem, when the next opponent looks better than the one that just shut you out at home.The performance in the Panthers game was better, there was an improvement across the board, the Defense picked Jake Delhomme four times, and the freshly cut DeAngelo Hall wasn't missed at all.If only Hall's future money that was saved could be used to convince a certain No.21 to stay, but sadly it seems from recent comments, that is starting to look unlikely.The other side of the ball though improved statistically, with what subsequently was revealed to be the Tom Cable called offense, still spluttered and failed to yield touchdowns.True the figures say that the team went from 77 total yards to 259, 3 first downs to 17, and 14 minutes T.O.P. to 37 as compared to the Greg Knapp inspired effort in the Atlanta game, but it only yielded two Seabass field goals.Six points in eight quarters in two back to back home games.

It's not good enough, not by a long way.To be fair to Cable though he has been given an almost impossible task of turning around an already struggling team, with a QB who is struggling to adapt to life in the NFL, an injured star potential RB, and an OC who couldn't put points on the board.Lets hope that his taking on of play calling duties together with the return of some of his injured players sparks some progress.The news that John Wade is due to step in at center is also a possible cause for optimism, as that terrible O-line needs a veteran leader, which Jake Grove doesn't seem to be.Let's see what the Tom Cable - Head Coach/Offensive Co-ordinator/Line coach combination brings us in Miami, the fear is that the more responsibilities that he takes could lead to his own downfall.

There could be that chink of light, we have Russell (lets face it Walter wasn't any better), McFadden, and Burgess involved in practice this week, and if two of those three play on Sunday it could make a difference, especially if McFadden's feet are healed sufficiently and he can go full speed.Miami is a stadium that we went into last year with a bad team and got a win, this years Dolphins are improved since then but still unpredictable and we are still a bad team so who knows.

With the odd exception these will be the same players representing the RAIDERS on Sunday that have bailed on us the last two weeks, any level of forgiveness is far away at this moment in time.But without a hint of optimism the remainder of the season would seem pointless, and a 10,000 mile round trip to see two field goals puts me in the mood to see anything resembling a football team.

Down the line, in the aftermath of this year regardless of the coaching staff that is in place, the team is in need of major change.We need ballers plain and simple, ballers - not the fastest, not the best athletes, just plain ballers, and the turnover needs to be sweeping.The RAIDERS need to get a better standard of player in, we need more players on the roster that aren't stained by the recent festering wound of a team.Free agency aside, because look where that got us this year, we need some extra picks in the Draft collected via trades.We may have to let Aso go, because if we tag him again he walks away for nothing the year after, and whats the use of having the best corner in the game if we are falling to pieces around him?Bush or Fargas, Huff, and Burgess could also bring in picks.But all this would only be productive if we had someone within the organisation to find the right guys, a GM.Al Davis alluded to looking to make a move in the off season to bring someone in, it has to be done, we need to make changes that will help turn this around now, it has got bad enough, and maybe that penny has dropped with Al if the release of Hall is anything to go by.Time will soon tell.

During the water torture that was watching our eighth consecutive loss as paying customers at the Coliseum, the thought may have crossed our collective minds that maybe we could take a year off and go somewhere else next year, like Afghanistan.But somehow I see us back in California once again, because the team and it's failing does not diminish the bright light that is the RAIDERNATION, plus what if they started winning and we missed it.....


With that I need to say to Ricky and Tina Ricardo,the family Thurston, the Mighty South Shield, the Mighty Raiderhed, the Mighty Raiderfanradio, Steve, Chi-Chi, Rick and Misty, and all the RAIDERNATION that we shared a laugh and a beer with.We thankyou all for the welcome and the friendship, until next year GO RAIDERS.


Tuesday, 28 October 2008

ON THE BOATS AND ON THE PLANES, THEY'RE COMING TO AMERICA....




TODAY!!!









TODAY!!!






WELL THURSDAY.






God bless the Diamond.





Last week at home to the NY Jets the present OAKLAND RAIDERS players were treated to both the company and the wisdom of some of the great RAIDERS of the past.Players that wore the Silver & Black with pride and understood what it took to be a RAIDER.The rallying cries from Stabler, Villapiano, Madden et al hit a nerve somewhere, with the players of today hanging in there to win a game in OT to down the Brets. A smile must have crossed the face of the great George Blanda as Seabass boomed that 57 yard FG.



The response to their performance, along with the appearance of the legends, which by all accounts produced a special atmosphere at the Coliseum, should have revealed a glimpse of the love and appreciation that could be there for the 2008 RAIDERS if they too played hard every week for the RAIDER NATION.Unfortunately it seems, much of that RAIDER mentality left town with those legends if the first half of the game in Baltimore is anything to go by.The team did step up in the second half in terms of giving up points, but the damage was done in those 1st and 2nd quarters when you would have hoped that the words of the RAIDER alumni would still be ringing in the players ears.



Particularly disappointing was the way that the Defence that had harassed Brett Favre the week before couldn't do the same to Joe Flacco.The RAIDER Offence weree always going to have their hands full with the Ravens D, but it wasn't beyond the realms of reality to expect our own D to make some plays.As equally annoying as the inability to stop the Flacco-led offence are the reports of RAIDERS players behaviour during the game, with over zealous celebrations following individual defensive plays.Maybe some of that RAIDER attitude that had rubbed off on them the week before had been applied in the wrong way.Don't do it when you're 19-10 or 22-10 down in a game where the opposing rookie QB is catching passes down the sideline.Walk before you can run, let's smack some people around properly before we start all that stuff.I like Thomas Howard, and the guy usually puts in a shift, but his comments about enjoying his football whether up 30 or down 30 were misguided on a 2-5 team that has has as many issues as the RAIDERS have lately.



I still think that there is more fight in this team than there was last year, that 19-0 H/T score would have got a lot uglier then I'm sure.These players need to make a decision to want to be the difference in this team getting better, they have to want more of the feelings that they experienced in the locker room after the Jets game.And that has to be earned by playing four quarters every week home and away and see where that takes the OAKLAND RAIDERS.This team stands at 2-5, and I believe that we should or could be at 3-4 heading into back to back home games.That has been with some important pieces missing at different times - McFadden, Burgess, Carter, Fargas, O Neal and now Griffiths, plus these two upcoming home games looked a lot easier before the season got under way, particularly regarding the Carolina Panthers.



All that being said, and with Across The Silver And Black Pond literally being across the pond for both games I have to believe for my own sanity that we have a chance to add to those two wins.Tom Cable has been preaching accountability, building of foundations, and above all else faith in each other.He has made himself directly responsible for change, whether that be sitting Curry and Huff, or promising to get on top of the stupid penalties that plagued the Jets game, going from 14-85 yards to 2-10 this week.Cable's promise this time around is to get to the bottom of the problems that the RAIDERS had on offence.I have to hope that he holds good on that too, because I like the guy, I see some action to go with the talk, which is more than I felt was happening with Lance around.Cable has had three games in charge, and already I have seen some message board crybabies calling for his head, give the guy a break, the same people will probably hail him as the second coming of John Madden if we beat the Falcons.



There has been much bemoaning of the talent on this RAIDER team, and there's no doubt that the receivers and both lines are not strong enough, but if C able can get a few results with these players then for me he would deserve his shot next year.I'm not saying that I have agreed with him 100% so far, but I believe that he believes in what he is doing and that he's sincere when he says that the players are starting to as well.



This week sees our fourth trip to Oakland which will put our quest to see a RAIDERS win in the 43,000 miles bracket.That's a lot of shit movies, and ropey airline meals.So to every RAIDER player please can we get some of the Jets game mojo back, go on I dare you.



To all of those in the NATION that we have had the pleasure of meeting in the past, we look forward to your company once again.I can almost smell those Coliseum portaloos.......





Oh and Mr John Elway is worried about JaMarcus Russell's future in the game as the present RAIDERS are just not the right environment for him.Isn't it weird how because the RAIDERS are going through testing times at the moment that people like Elway feel the need to fill their boots.Well enjoy yourselves while it lasts.You do realise that people like you will be at he top of the "where are they now" list when things have turned.So thamks for the concern Mr Ed, but you better hope that you're right for your precious Donkey's sake.

NOW BACK IN THE HOSEBOX AND STFU.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

TOM CABLE : HEAD COACH OF THE OAKLAND RAIDERS


I purposely kept away from commenting on the San Diego game this week, for a couple of reasons.

1) I thought that Lane Kiffin would not see the week out as Head Coach of the RAIDERS, and so

2) It seemed pointless putting down my take on what I felt were the reasons for that.


It seems poignant though now to say that I was less than enamoured by Kiffins coaching during the game, either on offense in general or by strange decisions such as the Janikowski 76 yard FG attempt before the half.I thought that the defense that had played some great stuff was put back onto the field too many times due to the bad play calling from Kiffin, and regardless of being professional athletes in what should be their prime, this contributed to them giving up plays late in the game.For me Kiffin's offense had enough occasions to put that game away, and bad decisions on his part led to the collapse of the team to a fourth quarter loss, and I won't even get into the white jersey's at home.


That said, I think it is right to say that when Al Davis hired Kiffin as HC of the RAIDERS, I as many of the Nation were taken by the young man, regardless of a rather ( and understandably ) nervous first press conference .I bought into all that Lane asked us to, I was "in" as his training camp mantra became, I thought that the old man had seen something in Kiffin that maybe he had seen in himself a long time ago.I stayed in, realising we had a young HC, until the Bronco's game this season.It was becoming harder to find any sense of charisma from the guy, and I know if you liked the guy you would disagree, but although I wanted him to succeed and he was the RAIDERS HC, I just didn't feel it deep down from him, but you know what, that really didn't matter if he turned stuff around and we started to win in his second season.


The Bronco's game for me was the end of my affinity with Lane Kiffin.There was so much wrong with that game it was hard to find a starting point.But for me if, and I mean IF, Lane Kiffin had any serious intentions of remaining HC of the RAIDERS, he would have taken the blame squarely on his shoulders, but instead he chose to pass it to Rob Ryan and Al Davis as joint defensive co-ordinators.For me, regardless of whether those accusations were true it showed that he was only concerned with how Lane Kiffin came out of that game.


And we find ourselves at September 30th 2008, with Kiffin gone and a new interim HC in place, and I would like to make some observations of what went on in Alameda today.
Firstly, I as many other RAIDERS fans I'm sure , expected to see the usual Al Davis motto laden speech that we usually get at coach PC's ( he lapsed into a couple of "we will be back, we will wins").But we got to me something else entirely.Now as of writing, I have just seen the PC, and have not seen any other fans' responses but I knew how I felt after it and wanted to put down my reaction to it.He seemed to be giving us what he had on the matter, and for all those who had wanted a response from Al during this whole affair had one.It was extraordinary viewing, in NFL owner terms, and especially in Al Davis terms, triggerred by an extraordinary situation.Al is going to get it from the Al bashers regardless of what he said but he did give us the following:
A) Kiffin had not wanted JaMarcus Russell (which explains a lot).
B) He had not sent a resignation letter to Lane Kiffin.
C) Kiffin was shopping around for a college job, but was pipped to it.
D) Kiffin had wanted his dad to be DC at the RAIDERS, and although he just thought that it was straight forward to make it happen, Al knew the rules on tampering.
E) Kiffin did suspend, then request an assistant coach to see some doctors because he questioned the Kiffin gameplan.

I have always been a RAIDER fan who has stuck by Al admittedly, and I also could see why other fans were getting upset and restless in the light of information that was coming from Kiffin, but my overwhelming feeling at the sight of Kiffy disappearing over the horizon is one of relief, and we will soon be able to tell if he was or wasn't what he said he was.With regards to Al, I was surprised at his general appearance and oratory compared to previous appearances. ie. Kiffin's HC appointment, and the network shots of him in his private box, and taken at how much that this whole thing seemed to have affected him as an owner, a boss, and on a personal level.I really felt that Al had come to the end of his tether with the guy, which is exactly what I had been feeling since the Monday Night Game.I did cringe at the start of the whole letter reading scenario, but you know what, I think it was pertinent that we fans saw that in the circumstances.Whether Davis was on the level or not in your view, I can't remember a time when he gave us so much information, probably because he felt he had to, considering the popularity Kiffin has among the Raider Nation.
Q. "Do you think that Lane Kiffin was trying to get fired"?
AD. " I don't know what he was doing.But he got me to fire him"

It remains to be seen what Kiffin will fire back with tomorrow, especially since Al referred to him as a flat out liar.And I am sure that the stories will not match.But for now we have a new, albeit, interim Head Coach.

Tom Cable, has been a good guy since he arrived .He turned our O-Line around just as his CV suggested he would, and was popular with his players.He has now got to apply that to the team as a whole.But I will say one thing for him, that initial first PC as a Head Coach was handled calmly and with an authority that was lacking from the Kiffin acceptance speech.It didn't hurt that he made reference to "growing up as a RAIDER" either, and as a guy who grew up in California maybe there is truth in that statement.Whatever the circumstances, I wish him the best as he is now the HC of the Oakland Raiders.The question of whether Rob Ryan would have a problem with his appointment for me is not an issue right now, because the elevation of Cable meant the least upheaval to the team at this point.Hopefully he will show that this is the right choice.At this point in time coming in as a HC, his experience outweighs that of Lane Kiffin and he knows the players and the staff, so I am "IN" for the Cable era as of right now, lets hope that we can show the signs of reacting to this as a club and go forwards, God knows we need it.


Tuesday, 16 September 2008

EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM.



Firstly, did that feel good or what?

For the second year running the RAIDERS went to Arrowhead and came away with a win, a win that had plenty of positives.

Darren McFadden looked the real deal, so did Micheal Bush.Mario Henderson was more Super Mario than Donkey Kong, and Rob Ryan's ass kicking materialised with the defense putting pressure on the Chiefs quarterbacks, while shutting down LJ and Dwayne Bowe.

It felt good alright, especially considering the circumstances that surrounded the team all week.Anytime you can go to a divisional rival and beat them on their turf is a sweet feeling, and it was enjoyable viewing to say the least.

BUT....

And for me there is a but.I don't want to get too excited by a win over this Chiefs team.While it was great for morale, and a little belief could go a long way for the RAIDERS right now, it must be said that Sunday's opponent's were plain bad.I accept that we looked just as bad in week one, but looking at the two teams coming into the game the RAIDERS still had the better talent, and it was down to whether the coaching staff could use that talent in the right way.

Rob Ryan did his bit, after the no blitz zone of week one, we blitzed early and often and with Damon Huard knocked out of the game early, it would have been criminal to lose that game to a Tyler Thigpen lead offense.And despite a convincing looking scoreboard, the game was still in the balance after the Bush fumble that gave the Chiefs the ball back and down by a score.Thankfully Cpt. Kirk held onto that interception and Bush atoned for his mistake with a great TD run to kill it off once and for all.

Kiffin's playcalling was better than week one, but still I wasn't convinced.Tyvon Branch's interception in the first half gave us the ball at the nine, and we had to settle for a field goal after Kiffin had called two passes and one McFadden run up the middle.Where was Bush?Russell's stats aren't pretty either, 6 / 17 for 55yds going into Buffalo who are allowing only 91 rushing YPG is a worry.

Trust me I am over the moon with a win in Kansas City, I just don't want to go from thinking that we are terrible, to all of a sudden we are great, because the truth will be somewhere in between and the visit to Buffalo will answer many more questions than the Chiefs game did, and the 0-2 Chargers (oh that sounds good) have played better than their record suggests.The RAIDERS ground game will give us a chance in Buffalo, although they have been stingy against the run, San Diego on the other hand are 25th against the run and no doubt Kiffin will put the ball in the hands of McFadden and Bush again in Oakland.If that D turns up again for the next two weeks who knows....

So some optimism, but very very cautious optimism.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

EMBARRASSING.


I set my alarm clock for that.I got out of my bed at 2:30 a.m., and ran the risk of waking the wife and kids.I could have recorded it and watched it at a less un-godly hour.But no, I wanted to watch the start of a new season live, that'll teach me won't it?

I couldn't remember being more angry after a football game, probably after the tuck game, but that was anger at an injustice served on a talented RAIDER team.Last nights ( or early this mornings ) anger was aimed directly at the RAIDERS in general, whether that be Al, Kiffin and his staff, or the players.To be perfectly honest I am still trying to see the wood from the trees on where the lions share of blame should be placed for what was a truly embarrassing night in front of the fans of all the other NFL teams.

Al Davis has his detractors from within the Nation, and last night will only increase their calls for him to relinquish his position.As a long time supporter of Mr Davis, I cannot honestly think of too much of a defense that he may have against those opinions this morning, and it pains me to say it.Regardless of how much truth there was to all the summer stories relating to Al and and his young Head Coach, it would seem from the demeanour of Kiffin and the way in which he has bemoaned the depth of talent on this team that all is far from rosy in Alameda.Kiffin, as far as I can see, has been making sure that he is seen to be in a position where final decisions on players are taken from him.If this is the case, then the buck stops with Al, he and his yes men within the organisation have to take responsibility for what was, outside of Darren McFadden, a pretty un-inspiring draft.He also has to take responsibility for the contracts given to players if his head coach did not believe they were what the team required,although it must be said that Javon Walkers' subsequent problems and Drew Carters injury are out of even Al's control.If indeed owner and coach had got to a point where the only reason for them to still be together was a reluctance to pay the guy off, then this season is well and truly doomed, and so is the position of Lane Kiffin.

Lane Kiffin is far from blameless in all this though.The gameplan that was set out last night for the whole football watching public to see was, in the words of Jay Schroeder who was working on the U.K. broadcast "pathetic".During that first half the DC of the Donkeys must have popped out for a beer and a hot dog, he must have thought that Christmas had come early, such was the limited array of plays called by Kiffin/Knapp.The passing game was severely hindered by the losses of Walker and Carter, but as a coaching staff the offensive plan had to be better than just run, until we are behind then just pass.

Regardless of injuries on the night and Kiffin's apparent displeasure with what he has at his disposal, that was possibly the worst coached, most ill-prepared team I can remember seeing in Silver and Black, the much and rightly maligned Shell/Walsh team of a couple of years ago met it's match in every way.Little creativity on Offense, stupid penalties, players seemingly unsure of formations, and the inability of Rob Ryan's defence to stop an opponent.The D was disappointing with absoloutely no push up front, and a promising backfield made to look very ordinary (DeAngelo Hall particularly), mainly by a rookie reciever, although Cutler looked like he was running through a no contact practice at times with that lack of pressure.Russell on the other hand was hurried and pressured repeatedly all night.In fact Russell did have quite a few good throws in the second half considering the general meltdown going on all around him.The lack of plays designed to get the ball to McFadden in the open field to use his speed, and his abscense from the field for prolonged periods were maddening, the lack of Bush when the Offense got inside the ten yard line was mystifying to me as a fan, all this together with the seeming reluctance to let our No1 overall QB take a couple of shots early have all but removed any confidence I had in Kiffin/Knapp.The Kiffin offence just seemed at odds with the skillset that his starting quarterback posesses.

This years schedule up until yesterday was rightly viewed as a soft one.After last nights performance the next three games leading up to the bye week, at the Chiefs and Bills and home to the Chargers suddeneley look ominous.The Bills looked good in their win, and the Chiefs/Chargers although losers in week one will not see anything to fear from this RAIDERS team.That bye week could be an important week, if the record shows the RAIDERS at worse than 2-2, the end might just come for Lane Kiffin, and Al will have to suck it up and pay the man off.The lack of stability at head coach is one of the factors that have us where we are as a club right now, but as much as I wanted this head coach to be around for a few years, the way I feel right now, I wouldn't be too sad to see him go.Last night was unacceptable, we are the OAKLAND RAIDERS, not the Cardinals, the Bengals, the Lions, or the Chargers.This is a team that has a truly illustrious past and the slide has to be stopped now.

If the problems are all rooted with the man at the top then unfortunately the RAIDERS problems may not have completely bottomed out, and that is a scary prospect.If the standard of coaching that was displayed at the Coliseum last night is indicative of what Lane Kiffin's summer preparation has produced, then he needs to be doing something else, somewhere else.I can't believe I saved all year to travel out and watch the same shit happen again.Thankfully there is good company to distract from the football.In the words of The Stranglers, "Something better change".

Thursday, 4 September 2008

STANDING ON THE EDGE.


This for me has been a weird pre-season, it has ebbed and flowed from a high one minute to a low the next.A chink of light here, a moment of true optimism there, followed by misfortune and the thud of my expectations hitting Terra firma once again.


There had been the early signs that JaMarcus had done his homework this summer and was ready to go, a QB that knew that he was expected to lead and had come to the camps looking sharp.We had a new star RB in McFadden and another in the wings in Bush, all ready to form a three headed rushing steam train with the Hugster.


The receiving corps had seen an upgrade, with what was really Miller, Curry, Porter and some bit parts becoming Javon Walker, Curry, Drew Carter and Miller, and a second chance for JLH backed by a couple of young guys in Schilens and Shields.


The defense had added DeAngelo Hall, and possibly as importantly brought in Gibril Wilson which allowed Mike Huff to move to FS where he could use the skills he had shown in college.


Some seemingly good signings on the D-line to add competition.




All that stuff was great as it seemed.


Then we got:


Walker auditioning for UFC in Vegas.


Coach Kiffin having a bigger than usual sulk in training camp.


The same coach Kiff throwing around thinly veiled acidic comments meant for certain ears in a certain office.


Russel looking less than a world beater in pre-season, although hampered by some safe almost reticent play calling.


Which was not helped by pass blocking of the bad kind.


Drew Carter being lost for the year.


Losing Oren O' Neal to another bad injury.


DeAngelo Hall seemingly not impressed by the RAIDERS prognosis of a hand injury ( although it must be said, he could just be a big girls' blouse ).


Nnamdi and his forced absence from most of pre-season.


The loss of Gene Upshaw.


More grumbling from Kiffin and the lack of talent he had at his disposure.


You see where I am going with this.......




As a RAIDER fan who usually has a Silver and Black optimism cloaking the glaringly obvious going into most of the past few seasons, even the one where we had an offensive co-ordinator that would have been handed his own you know what by me on any Madden version he cared to choose, this pre-season that had seemed to offer so much had suddenly gone as we say in jolly old blighty - " tits up ".


I don't remember being this worried this time last year.I was so sure that things would get better, despite the fall-out from , well, lets call it resignationletter-gate - snappy I know.




In some ways though it feels good to be a pessimist.There is not a great deal that could get me suicidal at this point, well, apart from a humiliating defeat by old crispy face and his orange brethren next Monday.Maybe , just maybe, Lance has been playing a blinder so far, keeping the rest of the AFC West believing that the RAIDERS are indeed a long way from challenging yet again.


We as the RAIDER faithfull can but only hope that something has changed, whether it be in the collective mindset of the players ( and who knows a rookie like Run DMC could give the whole team a belief ), or whether it be in the faith that a young head coach puts in his team, really puts in his team.And by that I mean come third and long at the whatever next Monday, lets put it into the hands of the black Elvis (Is it only me that thinks that Russell sounds just like the KING?) AND PLAY SOME RAIDER FOOTBALL, it's about time don't you think?




We are standing on the edge of a new season once again and I would love for my pre-season blues to be just that, I am a miserable tart after all.


After all is said and done I still can't wait for the new season, and look forward to seeing all of you over there on TV on Monday Night Football, only (ONLY!!!! ) eight weeks till we see the East Bay once again.


Keep the Guinness pump lubricated at Ricky's, keep Al at the Hilton Gardens Inn in a job ( God bless him ), and the eggs and soldiers are on us Southshield - see you soon.






Friday, 22 August 2008

GENE UPSHAW 1945-2008

THE GOVERNOR

The Raider organization, the National Football League, and the world have lost a great man. Gene Upshaw’s career successes as a professional football player and as a union leader are unparalleled. He is as prominent a sportsman as the world has known. He was and will remain a part of the fabric of our lives and of the Raider mystique and legacy. We loved him and he loved us. Our hearts go out to Terry and the boys.
-Al Davis

Joined Raiders: 1st round draft choice, 1967

Inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 8, 1987...All-Pro or All-Conference eight times, played in six Pro Bowls and one AFL All-Star game...All-time Raider leader in games played with 217... Missed only one league game in career...207 consecutive league games and starts are both second on Raider list...
Only player in NFL history to participate in Super Bowls in three different decades (after 1967,1976 and 1980 seasons)...Holds Raider all-time record with 24 playoff game starts...Offensive team captain for nine years (1973-81)...
Only second guard inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame...During 15-year active pro career, the Raiders made 11 playoff appearances, won eight division titles, one AFL Championship, two AFC titles and two World Championships of Professional Football ...
Named to AFL-NFL 25-year All-Star, NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time and All Monday Night Teams...Chosen to the Hall of Fame in first year of eligibility...Currently Executive Director of NFL Players Association.

A TRUE RAIDER R.I.P. #63
2008/2009 Is for Gene Upshaw.Play like Champions.

Friday, 8 August 2008

RAIDERHED @ RAIDERNATION....


In Association with the OAKLAND RAIDERS ,...RAIDERHED [the worlds Only Oakland Raiders TRIBUTE BAND] ,....will be Performing "LIVE" between 10am & NOON,...at the "D-GATE Entrance" to The OAKLAND COLLISEUM!!!!.........[On The NORTH /West SIDE of The Collisem].....Parking & Entrance to the RAIDER NATION CELEBRATION is "FREE",............................Come On OUT WITH US & "SCREAM FOR THE RAIDERS",.......................SUN Morning, 8/10/08.


We will be there in spirit, hope that the turnout is great to show the OPD that live music at the Coliseum is a chance for the NATION to enjoy themselves.Have a good one.

AND STAY RRRAIDER.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

THANKYOU GOD

There are various reasons for RAIDERS fans to be happy.



We have parity with every other team in the league at this point.



We have Jamarcus Russell and Darren McFadden to unleash on the NFL.



We have a secondary that is up there with the best on offer.



We wear Silver and Black.



We don't wear orange.



Tom Cable is a master of his craft.



We have the Black Hole and the RAIDERNATION.



But more importantly Cole is back for a seventh season as a Raiderette.





GOD BLESS AMERICA

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

PRIDE, COMMITMENT AND LOYALTY.


PRIDE, COMMITMENT, AND LOYALTY.Words that are all used in connection with the OAKLAND RAIDERS, whether it be the owner, the marketing department, or by the Raidernation.
These qualities have been hard to come by in recent years, there have been flashes of one or the other, but rarely do all three show up at once.
Last Wednesday all three did, at the Napa Valley Marriott in the shape of one Nnamdi Asomugha.
Aso, of course had been franchise tagged by the RAIDERS, and after the deadline for any long term contract signing had passed, it was understandable to fear the worst in terms of a disgruntled #21 making a point to his employers by prolonging his off-season, and not reporting for the start of training camp, or for pre-season for that matter.
Instead, Namdi arrived in Napa, put pen to paper and hit the field.The sight of arguably the RAIDERS best player in camp, ready to play, and declaring that winning games is more important than money, has surprised teammates, press and fans alike.
We have all seen what effect the franchise tag can have on a player, the difference between the present situation and that of Charles Woodson is obvious.Asomugha is hardly going to be feeling the pinch of the credit crunch this year, as he stands to make $9.765 million for this season, and if franchised again next year that will rise to $11.7.But the lack of pouting and posturing in the media, which is the usual way of making a point to the front office, is commendable and a breath of fresh air to me as a fan especially.Nnamdi's way is to show up, play hard and be an example to his teammates, an example that winning is what's important.
At the conclusion of the 2008 season, the RAIDERS should do the right thing by Asomugha, they need to reward him with a lucrative long term deal, after all there are players this off season that have been rewarded for less.If Mr Davis still believes in the mantra of Commitment To Excellence, and wants to see words like Pride and Loyalty associated with the RAIDERS, then a player that epitomises them all needs to be cherished and needs to remain in Silver And Black for a long long time.
I just wish I'd bought that Asomugha jersey last year...

Monday, 21 July 2008

NATION UNDER ATTACK




As many of the RAIDERNATION do , or should do, I was listening to RaiderFanRadio this week and as I have been extremely busy with stuff, I was hit by the news that had been mailed to season ticket holders, with reference to the Oakland Municipal Code, stating that as well as changing parking rules, there will be a ban on amplified music around the stadium on gameday.


Brilliant move, absolutely inspired move!.As Raider Rob, Stonerdude, Steph and Mutt have pointed out , this is a direct assault on the very core of what sets the RAIDERNATION apart, one of the things that makes the OAKLAND RAIDERS gameday experience what it is.


The RAIDER fanbase is , and probably always will be, copied and envied in equal measure, whether fans around the NFL care to admit it or not.The way that RAIDER fans of all creeds, colours and nationalities come together on Sunday's, Monday's or whenever and celebrate just being RAIDER fans is a special feeling.




One way that this celebration manifests itself is in the variety of music and sounds of people having a good time that drift across the parking lots of the Coliseum throughout the day.It may be tailgaters playing their favourite music,someone blaring out The Autumn Wind or bands like RAIDERHED or SLACKENLOADER, or some local novices called METALLICA setting up and playing for the fans, whatever, this is what the vast majority of the NATION want to experience, and have come to expect.


As Stonerdude pointed out on RFR, the reason that people like us save our hard earned money all year, is to travel to Oakland for the full RAIDER gameday experience, in fact when a team is going through the lean times that we have had recently the saving grace has been the other stuff that surrounds the football.Even when the team is bad, the camaraderie and joy of belonging to the RAIDER extended family is what keeps you coming back.


This is a point that should be considered by the policy makers in the halls of the City Of Oakland.The RAIDERNATION and all that surrounds it is a tourist attraction, I know, I'm one of those people who make the trip and they should trust me when I tell them that a 4-12 team is not a good enough reason to make that commitment alone, but the knowledge of what happens around the Coliseum IS.


We do not want a sanitised, soul-less OAKLAND RAIDERS gameday, it's something that the city should champion, not neuter.Apparently safety concerns lend weight to the decision, which is just a smokescreen for me.The only time I have felt uneasy at the HOT is as I have opened the door to a portaloo in the south lot, and not without reason.Any time that thousands of homo-sapiens congregate at a sporting contest, and lubricate themselves with beer, problems will arise to a certain degree, European football is exhibit A on that point.But surely taking away performers like RAIDERHED et al is not the answer.


I am not an Oakland resident, but I have seen many comments from local RAIDER fans wondering why the authorities aren't more concerned with real issues relating to crime and anti-social behaviour, rather than stopping large amounts of perfectly law abiding people from enjoying themselves, as they have been doing since the teams return to Oakland.


What those that plan city ordinance do not grasp is that the people, the RAIDER fans that they are looking to penalise for the heinous crime of playing some music, are also the same fans that are active in the local community.These are people that put something back, that make a difference, that epitomise the spirit of the RAIDERNATION.




The views of the RAIDERNATION have been presented to the RAIDERS and they have acknowledged the contribution that is made to the image of the RAIDERS by the fans, but this is where the team surely must have the NATION'S back, just as the fans have had theirs over the years.The RAIDERS are not responsible for this killjoy legislation, but it affects the people who live and breathe Silver And Black, and that should matter enough to the RAIDERS to try to make an effort to come to an agreement over this.I may be guilty of over-simplifying local politics here, but in the great scheme of things, this really should be something that can be worked around to the satisfaction of everyone affected.




This matter still has some way to run it seems, and time will tell if sanity reigns.One thing that is sure is the determination of the RAIDER fans, especially those that have some level of organisation , who will remain united against this attack on THE NATION.The good fight shall be fought, and support from across the pond goes with all those that fight it.


















Saturday, 21 June 2008

POOLE = TOOL


Good to see Monte Poole setting some more un-chartered journalistic standards with an insightful piece in the Trib.I think it was supposed to be about Javon Walker's recent incident in Las Vegas and how this related to his standing on the RAIDERS roster, I say I think because although titled NEW RAIDER WALKER FAILS AS A LEADER , there isn't actually any reference to Javon Walker in there.
"And, tying all that together, leadership. The Raiders have a hole there, and it might be big enough to deflate the hope floated by their extravagant offseason overhaul" explains Monte.
Of course leadership in a team game is extremely important, but I would question Mr Pool's apparent inclusion ( going off the title of his piece ) of Javon Walker in this as well as a general hole across the Raiders roster.
Since JaMarcus Russell's off season workout in Alameda, coming through into OTA's and Mini-Camps, the RAIDERS HC, and various teamates and reporters have remarked on the QB's leadership qualities starting to show themselves, and in fact players looking to him for some leadership, despite his in-experience out on the field.Having a second year franchise QB who is already being spoken of as a leader is quite a good thing, wouldn't you say Mr Poole?
Justin Fargas has already made a point of taking on some veteran leadership this year, and from a player who runs as though every play is his last, that can only be a plus for the RAIDERS.
On the defensive side of the ball we have Kirk Morrison who had already become a leader before Warren Sapp retired, now he is top dog .But add to that his sidekick Howard, the swagger of DeAngelo Hall and Nnamdi Asomugha, and the addition of vets like Spires and Edwards and it seems that there is plenty of opportunity for team leaders to assume that role, if they haven't already.
As far as Javon Walker goes in all this.I accept that he is a vet receiver and was expected to be No.1, but surely Ron Curry is as likely to be a leader in that receiving corps?Plus, if it turns out that Walker was in fact a victim of crime in Vegas, would this exclude him from becoming that type of player in Oakland?Mr Poole?
The leaders on the current RAIDERS team will do their job this season, and if I'm right with who I have suggested to be filling those roles, then that gives us a good three on Offense and three or four on Defense.I'm not sure how many leaders you would need on a team at any one time but that sounds like a start to me.Mr Poole?

Monday, 28 April 2008

DID ANYONE FEEL A DRAFT?


At no point prior to this weekend did I ever have any preference for the selection of Chris Long as the RAIDERS first round draft pick, not ever, it was a smokescreen of Kiffin-esque proportions.

Ok, so that's not true.

My colours were firmly nailed to the mast as far as SOH was concerned.Then the St Louis Rams blew my draft within minutes, and the sight of Long Snr wearing a, what colour is that anyway?, cap with a sheep on it was enough to bring on nausea.

Once Darren McFadden had made his way to the stage of Radio City Music Hall and held a black shirt aloft, the disappointment had subsided and memories of the endless You Tube highlights of DMAC blowing by defenders started to make me feel better.My initial reasoning was that the RAIDERS had indeed wanted Long and had taken McFadden once that option had been denied them.GET THE POINTY HAT AND FIND A CORNER.

Lane Kiffin pointed out in his post pick press conference that McFadden was the guy all along, and to a young offensive minded coach, who worked with Reggie Bush at USC and had lamented the lack of explosiveness on his team, it was probably a no brainer.Yes we had running backs aplenty, but none possessed the home run ability of the man from Arkansas.That ability, complimented by Fargas and Bush, behind a Tom Cable line that had the RAIDERS ranked sixth in the league on the ground in '07, could reap rewards when eight games this season will be against teams that ranked 25th or worse against the run last year.Factor in too the fact that the RAIDERS under Lane Kiffin are a running team, and while that may have had much to do with the lack of certainty at the Quarterback position, the recent addition of Kwame Harris as a projected LT starter, who Kiffin describes as a powerful run blocker, points to the emphasis again being on the run while easing JaMarcus Russell into his first season proper.

The RAIDERS really haven't had a back this explosive since Bo Jackson, when it comes to pure speed and the threat to score from anywhere on the field.And rumour has it that McFadden will wear the same No.34 shirt.

The anti-McFadden voices will maintain that the greater need for the team is actually to stop other teams running on us.And considering the horror show that has been the RAIDERS run defense of late their point is valid.In fact the clamour up to, and during the draft, from many in the Nation was for both lines to be upgraded, and the subsequent selection of RB, CB/S, WR, DE, and WR had some up in arms to say the least.The main criticism is that the RAIDERS did nothing in the draft to deal with our biggest defensive weakness.

If fans can see the problems we had against the run, then you can be sure that the coaching staff are fully aware of it which begs the question, why was it not at least partly addressed via the draft?

To me, the RAIDERS staff are obviously confident in the guys that they have in both trenches at the moment, and I have to put my trust in them to know more about their players than than the average fan.They either know what they are doing or they don't and even if just for sanity's sake I have to believe that they do.

Firstly as we all know, on the offensive line things improved vastly last year from the 2006 shambles.That line, with Robert Gallery moved to guard, and the additions of Newberry, the quietly consistent Cooper Carlisle, and Cornell Green showed what Tom Cables ZBS was capable of, Barry Sims got away with playing LT for God's sake!

For 2008 it's Harris for Sims, and John Wade for Newberry, with Mario Henderson possibly ready to challenge on the right.Add to that the impressive Oren O'Neal, Justin Griffiths, and Zach Miller and thing's don't seem as bad after all.

Over on the D line where it seemed the draft held a lot of options, we have made moves in free agency and moved Tommy Kelly back inside.
If the defensive coaches be believed Kelly will be a dominant player at his preferred position, along with Terdell Sands who could bounce back from a traumatic year off the field.Add to them two former first round picks in Gerrard Warren(who we gave a fifth up for) and William Joseph on the inside, and Kalimba Edwards a former second round pick lining up at DE and again things may, just may, start to look up.The signing of Gibril Wilson who has averaged eighty-plus tackles per season since becoming a starter with the NY Giants can only help in the run game, and he should be able to play up in the box even more with the addition of DeAngelo Hall, who was effectively this years No.2 pick.

All these factors, and admittedly some of these players on the defensive line have to step it up this year, may explain the reluctance to make selections in those areas this last weekend.The D lineman that was selected, Trevor Scott, looks like a possible project if he can stick around.

The news that fourth rounder Tyvon Branch is viewed as a safety with the RAIDERS and has blazing speed with excellent return skills, which makes him a ready made replacement for Chris Carr, (with Hall also an option on some return duties), has gone some way to tempering my original dismay at the selection of yet another defensive back with track speed, especially after we had traded up to get him.Again, the possibility of more explosiveness in an area that had lacked it previously.

The selection of Arman Shields and Chaz Schilens may be nothing more than camp fodder, or motivation for Johnnie Lee Higgins to knuckle down,although Schilens at 6'4", 210 lbs, with 4.40 speed is an intriguing prospect.Shields too has similar speed, so JLH may well have some competition .

I was scratching my head at the completion of the draft, but am slowly feeling better at the outcome.I am coming round to the idea of RunDMC wearing Silver and Black too, if anyone is still struggling just go back to those highlight films again, it seems to do the trick.If all the RAIDERS woes against the run return in 2008, then at least with an offence containing Russell, McFadden, Miller, Walker, Bush, Carter et al we could simply try and outscore the opposition.Aah, outscoring the opposition, I remember that.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

DRAFT 2008 PREDICTIONS


The news that the No.1 pick is done and dusted, with Jake Long due to become a Dolphin on Saturday, made the likelihood of my preferred scenario of Chris Long falling to the RAIDERS slightly more feasible, but only slightly.

I have a really bad feeling about the Rams, I remember Scott Linehan looking all doe-eyed in the direction of Long at the Virginia Pro Day all too well.

Scanning the St Louis media didn't seem to give much information on how the scribes there see the thinking of the team at this point, although it did reveal that the term Ram Nation is in use.I mean come on, RAM NATION!! A view of any Rams home game and the array of sweaters on show seems to reveal a fan base with a commitment to knit, after all a nation of Rams will have a large surplus of wool.Looking at the 2007 stats for St Louis on defense shows them at 20th against the run and 21st in sacks with 31 in total, so a close call between the need for a DE or DT.Of course Dorsey and Gholston are in the mix too, so it really comes down to who the coaching staff feel will make the most impact.

The rumours of New Orleans making a run at the No2 pick to grab Dorsey, and Atlanta preferring Brian Brohm to Matt Ryan could further complicate things if the RAIDERS are to get Long.

All this aside if Gholston, Dorsey, or McFadden become RAIDERS on Saturday then we will still have a player who will make the team better, and I'm not even going to get into the possible trade possibilities open to us, as I just don't see Al moving out of fourth, at least not down.

So with all that said my picks in the Pond mock draft of 2008 are:


First Round:Chris Long DE Virginia.


Destiny, legacy, call it what you will.Can Al resist a chip off the old block if available?Plus a second generation Long playing Oakland seems right, and I'm sure he would rather play for the NATION of the non-sheepy variety.


Fourth Round:Donnie Avery WR Houston.


Deep threat that the RAIDERS had a look at in Alameda.He's fast, had 90 plus receptions in 2007, and scores TD's.This is a reach to say that he will drop to the fourth, but I am factoring in the RAIDERS trying to get into the third to get him.


Round Six:Wesley Woodyard OLB Kentucky.


Has had three consecutive 100 tackle seasons, and is a sideline to sideline player.The concerns that he is undersized for the NFL have him highly motivated and these same concerns could have him still available, could be a weakside Thomas Howard for the RAIDERS.Some draft rankings still have him taken in the mid rounds so another reach really but that's the fun of picking a list.


Round Seven (213):William Robinson OT San Diego State.


A big tackle with apparently sound technique for a guy who is forecasted to go in the late rounds.Worth a look to compete in camp and the last S.D State player we took turned out to be quite good.


Round Seven (226):David Faaeteete DT Oregon.


Again a little undersized for NFL DT's, but this is the seventh round and he's from Medford and we went to a Medfordian tailgate on our first Oakland trip, and made them ill with Guinness.Good enough reason for me.


That's me done for the draft.Whoever becomes a RAIDER will be welcomed by the NATION regardless.Although if it's McFadden we will have to be a little on the forgiving side, after he revealed a liking for the Broncos recently.

Roll on 8.00pm GMT Saturday.




Wednesday, 16 April 2008

HIS NAME IS WHAT??

A good friend of mine ( that's you Kingy ) started a pre-draft ritual many years ago which I have mentioned here in the past.This involves finding our favourite ridiculous names from the draft board .No offence is intended, in fact this is a celebration, albeit one where we laugh alot.
Most drafts give us plenty of choice and this year is no exception.

So without further ado, here goes with my selections for 2008 :

DeMario Bobo DB Miss State.

Limas Sweed WR Texas.

Derek Belch K Stanford.

Scorpio Babers DB Sam Houston State.

Cornillius Tables OT Jacksonville State.

Le Rue Rumph LB North Carolina State.

Octavius Love DB Tusculum.

Justin Britt G Alabama.
( Not funny to anyone else, this ones for Athy )

Godser Cherilius OT Boston C.

Jonal Saint-Dic LB/DE Mich State.

Cergile Sincere LB Tennessee.

Delviccio Frost TE Jackson State.

Maurice Purify WR Nebraska.

De'Cody Fagg WR Florida State.

Benjarvus Green-Ellis RB Miss.

Mike Klinkenborg LB Iowa.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

A SCHEDULE, THANK THE LORD.


I couldn't bring myself to write anything for the last month.Aside from the signing of a new center, the only other thing that was going on was the continual discussion of who the RAIDERS want/need/will get/should get in the draft.And to be quite frank I'm all draft decision ed-out.


I mean let's face it, there is only one man that can placate the whole of the Nation when it comes to our No.4 pick, and that is Chris Long.Ok, there may be some RAIDERS fans out there who don't want Chris Long (if available), but they can't be numerous, it's a win win.It's a position of need, he could conceivably play some OLB as well, and he has the blood of a TRUE RAIDER LEGEND in his veins.


I had got to the point where I had given up on the possibility of Long Jnr falling to us at #4, but in recent days the news of Miami talking contracts, however significant this actually is, with the other Long has got me hoping again, although the Rams and Falcons could both throw a spanner in the works too.See there I was saying I was all drafted-out and I'm going round more scenario's in my head again.Suffice to say, I want to see Chris Long in Silver and Black or the toys are going well and truly out of the pram. I like what I've seen of Dorsey, Ellis and McFadden but their dad's weren't RAIDERS where they?Look at how much Kirk Morrison brings to the team and his dad is a RAIDERS fan, never mind Hall Of Famer!


Seriously though, I have given up on the will they, won't they stuff for now, we only have eleven days to wait and then the talking will be over and someone will be the number four pick, unless we trade down, NO STOP IT.The main news of the week of course is the release of the 2008 schedule.

There are two angles to look at from this side of the pond when it comes to the release of a schedule.

1. Are there two home games together? and if so can you get those dates off work?

2. How does the schedule look for the team in general?


Sorry that's the way it is for those of us looking at the never ending grey skies of the north of England for the rest of the year , and once again this year the NFL schedulers have done us proud with two back to back home games in November, and whilst Atlanta and Carolina wouldn't be the opponents of choice ( two divisional games is possibly too much to ask ), it is two games at a good time of year regardless.

It is then that my thoughts turn to how the make-up of the schedule looks for the team.

Well it has to be said that three divisional games out of the first four looks immediately like a season defining run already.We have that tantalising MNF opener at home vs the Donkeys, and its straight off to KC and the Bills before returning to Oakland to face the rotating uniformed Chargers.Right there is a case for the RAIDERS to be up for it from the off.

If all is good in the world, and let's face it alot of that will fall onto the shoulders of JaMarcus Russell, we could conceivably lie 3-1 going into our bye week and jigs will be jigged all over the nation.On the other hand, divisional games are tough, and if it went badly during September then the wind would certainly be taken out of the sails of the RAIDERS season early.


Last year we split wins with the Chiefs and Donkeys, and at least competed in one of the two losses to the Chargers.IF, and yes it may be a big if, we show improvement on those records from last term then September could well hold the key to a much improved season for the Silver and Black.


The post bye schedule has a trip to never easy ( but winnable ) New Orleans, followed by games against the Jets, Ravens and Falcons, so without a doubt games 1 - 7 for the 2008 RAIDERS are an opportunity to finally turn this teams fortunes around.The need to hit the ground running is emphasised by the run-in towards the post season that the RAIDERS face, with trips to Denver, San Diego, and Tampa Bay and the Patriots at home.


From where I am sitting, which is a rather natty whicker number, the RAIDERS have an opportunity early this year to define their season, and did I mention that the addition of Chris Long might help that?

Oh yeah sorry of course I did.