Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mahalo Derrick

Congratulations to Raiders DE Derrick Burgess! Burgess, who has notched 11 sacks in 14 games, was the sole representative of the Raiders to be selected for the 2006 Pro Bowl in Hawaii.

It was disappointing to see other All Pro worthy candidates like CB Nnamdi Asomugha and DT Warren Sapp were unrecognized for this honor. Besides being #2 in the league in interceptions (7), Asomugha shut down these 3 Pro Bowl wide receivers; Anquan Boldin (4 receptions, 59 yards, 0 TD), Andre Johnson (1 reception, 9 yards, 0 TD), and Torry Holt (4 receptions, 59 yards, 0 TD). Sapp has more sacks (8) than any other DT in the entire league.

Nevertheless, the Raiders are building an outstanding defense that should be an elite unit for many years to come. Here are the complete Pro Bowl rosters for the AFC and NFC. Aloha!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Run Run No More

In the wake of the Raiders' 20-0 shutout loss to the St. Louis Rams, here is a list of pertinent numbers to chew on.

66 - Number of times our QB's have been sacked for the season

25.3 - Going into the game on Sunday, the St. Louis defense gave up an average of 25.3 points per game.

13 - Days until the end of this season from hell.

11 - Number of sacks registered by DE Derrick Burgess for the season.

9 - Receptions by Ronald Curry on Sunday for a total of 87 yards. Curry has surpassed Randy Moss as the leader in receptions (46) and yardage (574) while playing half as many snaps.

8 - Points per game by the Raiders offense under Offensive Coordinator John Shoop.

7 - 7th straight loss of the season.

6 - Total combined TD passes of Walter (3) and Brooks (3) for the entire season.

5 - Turnovers committed by the Raiders on Sunday.

3 - Number of times that the Raiders have been shutout this season

0 - This is the first shutout for the Rams defense since the 2003 season

.238 - Winning percentage (15-48) compiled by the Raiders over the last 4 seasons.

In the wake of the Raiders' 20-0 shutout loss to the St. Louis Rams, here is a video interview of Al Davis: (click here)

"We'll get it straightened out," Davis said. "You can bet on that, (heck) yes. We've got things to do, and it's gonna be big, but we'll get it done. I want to win and I will win and we will win for the Raiders."

George "Run Run" Jones - R.I.P. (1929-2006)
The Raiders lost a valued and dear member of the family when George "Run Run" Jones passed away on Saturday at the age of 77. "Run Run" served as a spirited Raiders clubhouse assistant spanning 5 decades.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Unpack Your Bags Doug

With the re-signing of WR Doug Gabriel, I did a little research on the 4 primary receivers (Curry, Whitted, Gabriel, Moss) that have been hotly debated and discussed on various Raiders blogs, forums, and mainstream new sources.

I came up with some very interesting numbers. Of course this comparative analysis doesn't take into account all of the variables (ie. playing time) but it does shed some new light on the actual value of each player.

The first 3 categories (DVOA, DVOA Rank, Catch %) were sourced from the site Football Outsiders

The 1st statistic is DVOA, or Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. This number represents value, per play, over an average WR in the same game situations. The more positive the DVOA rating, the better the player's performance.

The 2nd statistic is DVOA Rank. This ranking includes the entire league's primary receivers 1-80 who have enough playing time to be analyzed.

The 3rd statistic is Catch % which represents the percentage of passes to this receiver completed. This is a reference to incomplete passes, not dropped passes. The other statistics are self explanatory.

Ron Curry
DVOA: 12.3%
DVOA Rank: 23/80
Catch %: 64%
37 receptions, 487 yards, 13.2 ypc, 1 TD

Doug Gabriel
DVOA: -0.9%
DVOA Rank: 48/80
Catch %: 54%
25 receptions, 344 yards, 13.8 ypc, 3 TDs

Randy Moss
DVOA: -12.8%
DVOA Rank: 64/80
Catch %: 43%
42 receptions, 553 yards, 13.2 ypc, 3 TDs

Alvis Whitted
DVOA: -23.7%
DVOA Rank: 76/80
Catch %: 46%
27 receptions, 299 yards, 11.1 ypc, 0 TDs

Curry has the highest DVOA rating & ranking and catch % while Whitted has the lowest DVOA rating & ranking and the 3rd worst of the 4 receivers in terms of catch %. If we had all 4 receivers on the roster and used the comparative numbers above (value, catch %, productivity), the depth chart would be:

1. Curry
2. Gabriel
3. Moss
4. Whitted

I'm not implying that Gabriel is the greatest thing since sliced bread. However, based on these numbers, the opinion of "We traded Gabriel and the Patriots released him ...hmmm, he must not be any good" just simply isn't true. Based on what I've seen this year, I would be very comfortable having Curry and Gabriel as our #1 and #2 receivers, releasing Whitted, trading Moss and Porter, developing Morant, and reassigning Madsen as a WR.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Million Dollar Questions

With the 27-10 loss to the Bengals on Sunday, the Raiders record over the last 4 years is an abominable 15-46 for a winning percentage of .245. As the 2006 campaign comes to a close in the next few weeks, there are a number of major issues that need to be resolved and concerns addressed. Here are my 10 “million dollar” questions that I pose in which the ultimate answers will greatly impact the health and success of the organization:

(1) What is Al Davis’ plan for the Raiders in 2007 and beyond?
(2) Will Davis hire a new GM or will Shell and Lombardi be forced to co-exist in an unproductive relationship?
(3) Are Shell and/or Lombardi coming back in 2007 in their 2006 roles?
(4) Will Davis pay top dollar to hire the best coaches outside of the Raider family?
(5) Will Davis allow the eventual new HC after Shell to pick and choose his ENTIRE coaching staff and personnel?
(6) Will Davis allow the new HC and GM the full authority to make trades & release players?
(7) Will the player personnel and scouting departments be bolstered in line with an 800+ million dollar enterprise?
(8) Will Davis give up the reins to the key management team to allow for a vision outside of the "Raiders" box?
(9) Are under-performers (Moss) and malcontents (Porter) going to be traded or released?
(10) What is the blueprint for revamping and revitalizing the offensive unit?

In all of the key leadership positions of a professional football team (QB, HC, OC, DC, GM, Owner) the Raiders have major question marks excluding the DC.

- Is Brooks going to be released? (is he the projected starter for 07?)
- Is Walter the QB of the future? (if so, why isn't he getting valuable playing time in this lost season?)
- Are we going to draft a QB, trade for a QB or sign a free agent QB? (Quinn, T. Smith, Vick, Simms, Leftwich, Ramsey?)
- Is Shell coming back as HC in 07? (or is Ryan going to be promoted to HC in 07?)
- Is Shoop good enough to be OC in 2007? (is Jim Fassell under consideration?)
- Can Lombardi and Shell co-exist? (will former GM Ron Wolf be brought out of retirement?)
- How good is Al Davis' health and who will he designated to be the key decisionmaker?

This organizational disarray and uncertainty is a major obstacle to the short and long term success of the Raiders. There needs to be bold changes and decisive moves made with a clear plan formulated. The Raiders have hit rock bottom. The last 4 years failures should be the impetus to setting a new course. The fire needs to be re-lit in order to restore a sense of hope in the Raider Nation.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Special Teams Breakdown

I guess the title of this post is apropos considering the Special Team's performance against the Texans and the melt-down of Special Teams Coach Ted Daisher. Check out Raider Take's insightful observations.

It has been a universal consensus that the Raiders defense has played extremely well this year while the offense has imploded. However, in my view, the Special Teams poor performance has almost flown under the radar. In the key field position battles and conversion of field goal opportunities, this unit has been subpar. In particular, the coverage units have struggled all season long. On a postive note, Chris Carr has been awesome on kick off returns but maybe it is time to give another player a crack at the punt returns (Curry? Routt?). As usual, you can bank on Shane Lechler to excel at his All Pro standard.

Special Teams Category

Oakland (Rank)NFL Leader
Kick Coverage29.8 / (32)19.1 / Dallas
Punt Coverage13.0 / (29)5.1 / Carolina
Kick Returns25.1 /(4)25.5 / New England
Punt Returns6.2 / (31)13.8 / Chicago
Punting Net Average36.7 / (2)38.5 / Dallas
Field Goal Percentage68.4% / (28)90.0% / St. Louis

Here is a breakdown of Sea-Bass' field goal kicking.

FG Yardage

1-19 yards1 / 1100%
20-29 yards1 / 250%
30-39 yards6 / 875%
40-49 yards3 / 3100%
50+ yards2 / 540%

Up Next: The Raiders travel to Cincinnati to face the (7-5) Bengals. You can call me crazy (or any other colorful term for that matter) but I have a very positive feeling about the outcome of this game. With another week under his belt as OC, John Shoop should be able to add a few new wrinkles to the playcalling. I like how he got everyone involved in the passing attack including the backs and tight ends. 9 different Raiders had receptions vs. Houston. RaShard Lee showed real promise running the ball, catching the ball, and blocking for Brooks. Excluding the untimely fumble, he had a break-out game of close to 100 yards of total offense. The Raiders defense has talked about the challenge of facing Cincinnati's high powered offense with glee. The offensive unit must realize by now that the bill is long past due. It is time to take care of the football and convert on their red zone opportunities.

Calico Jack's Early Bird Upset Special: Raiders 24 - Bengals 13

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Yin & Yang

The Raiders defensive and offensive units are close to being the complete opposites. The differences in performance and confidence are like night and day. The Raider Nation is rightfully proud of our defensive Dogs of War but at the same time thoroughly disgusted with the offense. The players on the defensive side of the ball are executing with precision, passion, and pride. Defensive Coordinator Ryan has been brilliant in devising schemes, making adjustments, motivating, and coaching the personnel to play at a very high level as evident by the statistical breakdown below.

Defensive Category

Oak (Rank)NFL Leader
Scoring20.2 / (14)12.5 / Chicago
Yards per Game275.8 / (3)267.4 / Baltimore
Rushing yards per game132.8 /(25)58.8 / Minnesota
Passing yards per game143.0 / (1)143.0 / Oakland
Turnovers Created18 / (28)39 / Chicago
Sacks27 / (14)44 / San Diego
3rd Down Conversion

33.3% / (5)

28.1% / Chicago

Unfortunately the Raiders offense hasn't followed suit. For a wide range of reasons, the offense hasn't been able to gain any traction or sustain any continuity in order to achieve a respectable level of productivity. Throughout the 07 season, the offense has had major breakdowns whether it was through inconsistent QB play, poor pass protection, untimely turnovers, red zone inefficiency, unsound playcalling, inopportune penalties, and an overall lack of execution. When one deficiency improves or is corrected (ie. the playcalling vs. Houston), another area slips (5 turnovers). One of the main reasons that the Raiders don't have a respectable record is the complete collapse of the offense in the 2nd half. The statistics below are a glaring illustration of the magnitude of this ineptitude. It is mind-numbing to realize that the Raiders have not scored in 10 of the 12 4th quarters. In 6 of 12 games, the Raiders offense has been completely shut out in the 2nd half. After 12 games, the offense has scored only 2 touchdowns in the 2nd half and scored a grand total of 26 points.


3rd Quarter 4th Quarter
San Diego00
San Francisco07
Kansas City00
San Diego70

Monday, December 04, 2006

Deja' Vu

For the Raiders defense, this game against the Texans was a bad case of Deja’ Vu. Although the final score was Texans 23 – Raiders 14, the Texan offensive unit only earned 3 points. While the Raiders offense fumbled (3), bumbled (inopportune penalties), and threw the ball to players wearing Texan jerseys (2 INTS), the special teams units clanked (3 missed FGs) and whiffed (73 yard kick off return; 58 yard punt return).

What more could the Raiders defense possibly do to secure a victory? The Raiders defense held the Texans to 10 total 1st downs, 124 total net yards, 51 plays, and a net –5 yards passing. The Raiders D-Line accounted for 5 sacks and 3 fumbles. Kirk Morrison recovered a fumble caused by Warren Sapp just before the end of the 1st half for a TD. Some observers of the game might argue that the defense wasn’t stout against the run late in the game when Dayne compiled most of his 95 yards. Follow my math below and let me know if you still want to make that point about the rush defense.

- Raiders RB RaShard Lee fumbles the ball > scooped up for a 58 yard fumble recovery TD > (-7 points)
- Raiders ball on the HOU 37 > Brooks INT > (possible FG; -3 points) (-10 total)
- Sack by Burgess recovered by Huntley > HOU 29 > 3-out > Missed 53 yd FG > (-3 points) (-13 total)
- 1st play of 2nd half > 72 yard kick off return by Mathis to Raider 2 yard line > 1st play 2 yard run for TD > (-7 points) (-20 total)
- 37 yard FG attempt by Sea-Bass > Clank off left upright > (-3 points) (-23 total)
- 29 yard FG attempt by Sea-Bass > Deja’ Vu 2 > Clank off left upright > (-3 points) (-26 total)
- 58 yard punt return by Texans to Oak 21 > 42 yard FG by Texans > (-3 points) (-29 total)
- TE Williams fumbles ball after catch > Hou recovers at OAK 47 > leads to FG > (-3 points) (-32 total)

The only drive that the Texans actually "earned" their points without any gift wrapping by the Raiders offense or Special Teams was a drive in the 3rd quarter that started on HOU 20 and led to a 41 yard FG.

By my calculations, the Raiders offense gave away 13 possible points and the Special Teams units gave away 19 points. Convert your FG attempts, secure the football, and play sound football on the coverage teams. I realize this is an extreme "what if" extrapolation but instead of a 23-14 loss, this game should have been a blow-out of Raiders 26 - Texans 3.

I’m truly amazed watching our Defense lay it on the line week after week in a season filled with little to zero support from the offensive unit. Hopefully one day in the near future the offense will tell the Defense “Hey guys…we got you covered.”