Tuesday, 16 September 2008


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.


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


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


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.