Monday, 24 November 2008



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


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


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?


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.