Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Shoop and Walsh Switch Seats

11 games into the 2006 season, the Raiders organization made a significant change to the coaching staff structure by exchanging the roles of John Shoop and Tom Walsh. John Shoop has been elevated from Tight Ends Coach to Offensive Coordinator. Tom Walsh has been demoted from Offensive Coordinator to Tight Ends Coach.

I am hopeful that Shoop will breathe new life, energy, ideas, and purpose into our woeful offensive unit. One of the key litmus tests for Shoop will be his ability to adjust the playcalling and schemes to fit the Raiders personnel and opponent. How will the Raiders offensive players respond to a new playcaller and coordinator? Will Shoop's modified game-plans and installation of new plays lead to a higher yield? The 5 game trial period with Shoop as the OC should be enough time to get a sense of whether or not he deserves to keep his post for the 2007 season.

I believe this change should have happened much sooner which I documented in my October 18th post. The most compelling reason to make the change was the Raiders lackluster productivity especially in the 2nd half of winnable games. For the season, the Raiders offense has scored only 10 TDs in 11 games, 2 in the 2nd half. The Raiders have been shut out in 5 second halves and have scored a total of 26 points or 2.36 per second half. Below is a statistical breakdown covering the 11 games with Walsh as the Offensive Coordinator. In the categories of Scoring, Yards per Game, Passing Yards Per Game, and Sacks Allowed, the Raiders are dead last.

Offensive Category

Yards per Game239.832
Rushing yards per game100.421
Passing yards per game139.432
Turnovers Allowed2630
Sacks Allowed5332
Time of Possession28:2228
3rd Down Conversion



Statement from Art Shell: "In this business, at times there are tough decisions that have to be made for the good of the football team. Today, I have made the difficult decision of replacing Tom Walsh as offensive coordinator of The Oakland Raiders with John Shoop for the rest of the season. Tom has been diligent in his effort to get our offense going in the right direction. In no way should the lack of a more successful offense be placed totally at his feet. Everyone plays a part in the success of any team. John Shoop has been a coordinator in the NFL and has achieved success, helping the Chicago Bears to a 13-3 record and the NFC Central Division title in 2001. We look forward to John's input as we continue our goal of bringing the Raiders back to prominence."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Oak at SD - Recap of Killer Plays

Oakland 14 - San Diego 21
In this game at San Diego, the Raiders were in position to tally a big upset victory. There were a few very pivotal plays that ultimately tipped the balance in San Diego's favor. Good teams like San Diego (9-2) find ways to win. A bad team like Oakland (2-9) finds new ways to lose.

I have boiled the 60:00 game down to the 1 killer play and the 5 mini-killer plays. I am convinced that if you take away the 1 killer play or if a combination of 2 of the mini-killer plays had a different result, this game would have swung in Oakland's direction.

Killer Play
Brooks' Interception
: The Raiders have the lead (14-7), the momentum (after Asomugha's interception), and the ball on San Diego's 25 yard line. On 3-15, Brooks throws a wobbly pass that is intercepted by Quinten Jammer and returned to the Oakland 48 yard line. This was a bad read, a bad throw, a bad decision by Brooks. It can be argued that if Brooks simply threw this pass out of bounds, then the Raiders were well within Sea-Bass FG range (42 yards). Instead of the Raiders going up by 2 scores (17-7) with only 13+ minutes left in the game, San Diego knots the score at 14-14 and most importantly seizes the momentum the Raiders had built up over 3 quarters of play.

Mini-Killer Plays:
- Missed Sea-Bass 36 yard FG on opening drive. The Raiders started the game off with a bang. Chris Carr returned the kickoff 41 yards setting up the Raiders offense in good field position. There was a good mix of run plays (Crockett, Fargas), short pass plays (Williams, Curry), and some effective scrambling by Brooks. This drive consumed 5:50 and the Raiders marched the ball inside the red zone (18 yard line). To come away with 0 points stung.

- Cromartie 91 yard kick-off return. This play happened immediately following Oakland's touchdown drive. The 7-0 lead evaporated in a matter of seconds.

- Dropped Interception by Asomugha. With the scored tied 7-7 and 11:49 left in the 2nd quarter, San Diego had the ball on their own 35 yard line. On 2-4, Rivers intended pass for TE Gates went right to Asmomugha. The ball literally hit him right between the numbers. Instead of the Raiders taking over at San Diego's 40 yard line on this easy iterception, Oakland takes over on a punt at their own 20 yard line. This was essentially a 40 yard swing in field position.

- "Illegal Forward Pass" play. This was a bizarre play and call. San Diego is down 14-7 facing a 4 down and 2 yards to go. Rivers hits WR Vincent Jackson on a 8 yard pass. Jackson wasn't touched by any Raider defender and when he got up he spun the ball forward in a celebratory move. The Raiders defenders alertly pounced on the ball. The official ruling on the field was that it wasn't a fumble but an illegal forward pass by Jackson. San Diego was moved back 5 yards from the spot of the reception which was a net of 3 yards. This 3 yard net gain gave San Diego a 1st down. This is one of those rules that skirts common sense. Since when is a receiver attempting a forward pass after a reception? Jackson has possession of the ball. He is standing up when he spins the ball forward which is in effect giving up possession of the ball. Ughhh. No explanation by the league office is going to make this ruling/rule make any sense to me.

- LT Run. With the score tied at 14-14, San Diego started the drive at their own 33 yard line. On the 1st snap of the possession, LT has a cut back run of 44 yards taking the ball to the Oakland 23 yard line. This led to San Diego taking their 1st lead of the day on a later LT 10 yard TD run.

Other Observations:
-TE/WR John Madsen had his best game of his career (3 receptions, 69 yards, 1 TD).

-The Raiders offensive line gave up 5 sacks for 26 yards lost. Without Brooks' scrambling ability and mobility, the Chargers could have had 10+ sacks.

- The Raiders defense bottled up San Diego for 3+ quarters. San Diego's only score in the 1st 3 quarters was set up by Cromartie's 91 yard kick off return.

Up Next: Houston Texans at Oakland

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Image of Sport - Photo Gallery

I recommend the website Image of Sport to the Raider Nation. Photographer Kirby Lee has an excellent photo gallery of all of the Raiders games.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Favorite Raider

My Favorite Raider
Ronald Curry has become my new favorite Raider player for a number of reasons. Not only do I admire his amazing physical talents and sheer athleticism, I respect his "team first" attitude. His unlikely career path and drive to overcome 3 major injuries (ruptured achilles tendon in 2001, 2004, reinjured achilles tendon in 2005) has developed his character. #89's passion and love for the game of professional football is undeniable.

Ron Curry Bio:
Curry was selected by the Raiders in the 2002 draft late in the 7th round out of UNC. He initially came out of college as a QB. The Raiders' original intentions were to convert Ron into a DB. After struggling to become a proficient DB, Curry was given the opportunity to work with the receivers on the practice squad. By the 2004 season, Curry was one of the star players on the team. As the number 3 receiver behind Randy Moss and Jerry Porter, he hauled in 50 receptions for 679 yards before injuring his Achilles tendon. Before his injury Curry had several big games including a 10 reception game against the red-hot Colts, a Raiders' season high. In addition, he recorded his first career 100-yard receiving game with 110 yards on six catches in Week 11 at Denver, then followed that up with a nine-catch, 141-yard performance the following week against Kansas City. He also won the Levitra NFL Play of the Week for his leaping, twisting, one-handed grab in the back of the end zone at Denver

Below are some more interesting facts about Ron Curry.

- Curry attended Hampton High School in Virginia where he was the starting at quarterback as a freshman. Hampton lost once his freshman year, and then never again until after he left. Three straight Virginia class AAA Division 5 state championships.
- He was first-team all-state as a defensive back and kick returner three times each.
- USA Today voted him as the 1st team All-American quarterback twice; he was the first junior ever picked for the position.
- Curry was twice voted the state player of the year, leading Hampton to the state title as a junior.
- As a senior, he was a Parade and McDonald's All-American, with McDonald's selecting him as their player of the year (he even won the McDonald's dunk contest and game MVP honors).
- Finished with career totals of 8,212 passing yards and 11,519 total yards, both state records
- Had career totals of 90 passing TDs, 74 rushing TDs and 22 return TDs
- One of every 8 pass attempts in his career went for a touchdown
- One of every 5 rushes in his senior year went for a touchdown
- Intercepted 8 passes in his senior year
- Curry was the starting quarterback and, for a time, also the starting point guard at UNC.
- How did he end up on the Raiders as a receiver? According to Al Davis, "we drafted him based on his high school football, which was outstanding." He was voted first-team all state QB four times.

"Ron was a guy who took to what we do, he was the one guy who could play all three wide receiver positions. I thought he could be extremely productive for us," Turner said. "The guy has been phenomenal. He was on four special teams, he handled the punt protection, he made all of the calls on the punt protection team - the quarterback background helps him there - he's as complete a football player as we have."

Scouting report on Ron Curry:
Curry is big, athletic and skilled. He is a converted college quarterback and doubled as North Carolina's starting point guard. He is well-built, muscular and very tough. He uses his big body to box out defenders and present a big target on the sideline, over the middle and in the red zone. He has enough speed to get deep and make downfield plays. He has an effortless, smooth stride. He cuts and changes directions fluidly, with little wasted motion. He has outstanding body control and is a very good leaper. He has made dramatic improvements in his technique. But Curry’s progress has been stunted and his breakouts halted by injuries. He needs more reps than most because he still is somewhat new to the position. His routes and hands are unpolished. He lacks pure deep speed and suddenness. He has twice torn his Achilles tendon and must stay healthy.

fan's webpage on Ron Curry worth a viewing.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Brooks Provides a Spark

Here are some observations from the Raiders heart-wrenching 13-17 loss to divisional rival Kansas City Chiefs.

QB Aaron Brooks provided a noticeable spark to a struggling offensive unit. With Brooks at the helm, the Raiders were able to convert 8 of 14 3rd downs. Brooks shook off the rust rather quickly after being on the sidelines the previous 9 weeks. Excluding the opening drive, Brooks was able to get the offense in gear with his decisiveness, elusiveness, poise, energy, and experience. After the opening drive, Brooks led the Raiders on the next 3 possessions to 3 time consuming, scoring drives and a 13-7 lead.
- The first scoring drive was 11 plays, consumed 5:57, and led to a 41 yard Sea-Bass FG.
- The second scoring drive was 11 plays, consumed 6:15, and led to a 36 yard Sea-Bass FG.
- The third scoring drive was 11 plays, consumed 6:05, and led to a 2 yard TD reception to Courtney Anderson in the back of the end zone.

When the protection scheme broke down (which was fairly often), Brooks' improvisational abilities took over. I counted at least 6 times where Brooks mobility and pocket awareness allowed him to avoid being sacked by the Kansas City D. Brooks wasn't sacked the entire game which is noteworthy for 2 reasons. #1, the Raiders have allowed the most sacks in the entire league (47). #2, the Raiders offensive line was shorthanded & dinged up. At one point in the game this make-shift starting O-Line consisted of only 1 opening day starter (Grove). Brooks led the Raiders to the doorstep of a dramatic come from behind victory when he marched the team down to the Chiefs 8 yard line with 32 seconds remaining in the game. With the game on the line, Brooks misfired a pass intended for Randy Moss in the back of the end zone that was intercepted by FS Jarrad Page.

With the offensive line in a shambles, there is no doubt that Brooks gives the Raiders the best chance to win. For the game, Brooks was 13-22, 179 passing yards, 1 TD pass, 1 interception, and 5 runs for 34 yards.

It hurts me to say this but ... our defense really let us down vs. KC. The rush defense and goal line defense were subpar. The Raiders defense knew that the key to a victory was to contain the Chiefs' running back Larry Johnson. Johnson gouged the Raiders front 7 for 154 yards on 31 carries and 2 TDs. The front four was having a difficult time shedding the blocks and clogging the lanes. The LB corps did a poor job tackling and filling the gaps. When your 3 leading tacklers (Huff 8, Schweigert 7, Asomugha 6) come from the secondary, it points to a bad performance by the front 7. In a game where Chiefs QB was ineffective in the passing game (9 for 16, 102 yards, 0 TDs, 0 Ints), it was imperative for the Raiders run D to be stout. The Raiders goal line defense came up short on KC's 2 opportunities which were the opening drive and their last possession of the 4th quarter. On 1st and 10 from the 10 yard line, KC ran the ball 3 straight times right up the middle. On 3rd down and 5, Larry Johnson ran it into the end zone. On the other goal line possession, with the Raiders up 13-10, KC had the ball, 1st down on the 9 yard line. Johnson again ran it right up the middle on 1st down to the half foot line. On 2nd down, he punched it in.

Up Next: Oakland (2-8) at San Diego (8-2)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

HOF Announces 25 Semi-Finalists

The Hall of Fame Selection committee announced today the 25 semi-finalists for the Hall of Fame Class of 2007. Congratulations to semi-finalists Ray Guy, Lester Hayes, and Kenny Stabler! Amongst the 25 semi-finalists, the Hall of Fame bylaws stipulates that between three and six new members will be selected each year which will be announced in February of 2007 prior to SBXLI. Here are the credentials of the Raiders on the short list for the HOF.

Ray Guy - Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders (1973-1986)
- NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team Member
- Ray Guy Award - Honors nations top collegiate punter
- Played in seven Pro Bowls (six consecutively) - most ever for a punter.
- Played in seven AFC Championship Games.
- Played in three Super Bowl wins punting 14 times (tied for 3rd for most Super Bowl punts in a career) including a 41.9 average (3rd highest average recorded for a career).
- Led NFL in Punting three times.
- NFL Postseason Record for most punts in a career with 111 punts.
- NFL Postseason Record for Highest Punting Average in a game with 56.0 average.
Ray Guy's Official Website

Lester Hayes - Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders (1977-1986)
- Hayes was a member of two Raiders championship teams (1980, 1983)
- He was a five time Pro Bowler (1980-1984).
- In 1980 Hayes led the NFL with 13 interceptions
- In 1980 Hayes was named AP Defensive Player of the Year.
- He retired after the 1986 season with a total of 39 interceptions.
(a Raider record shared with Hall of Famer Willie Brown)
- Voted NFL 1980s All-Decade Team

Ken Stabler - Oakland Raiders (1970-1979)
- 1974, 1976 AFC “Player of the Year”
- 1974 “Offensive Player of the Year”
- 1976 NFL “Player of the Year” and NFL Passing Champion
- 1977 led the Oakland Raiders to Super Bowl XI victory over the Minnesota Vikings
- “All Pro Team” in 1974, 1976 & 1977
- Played the Pro Bowl in 1973, 1974 & 1976
- Most victories of a Raiders quarterback - 71
- All time leading Raiders passer in attempts, completions, completion percentage, yardage and touchdowns
- Led the Raiders to their 1st Super Bowl Championship in 1977
Ken Stabler's Official Website

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Skimpy Playbook

Denver 17 – Oakland 13

My first trek to Mecca in the 06 season was a wonderful day. Everything was set up for nirvana. It started off with some interesting conversations on the plane from L.A. to Oaktown with some die hard loyalists. Next on the agenda was meeting up with an old college buddy at the Safeway Tailgate Zone. The pre-game festivities were rockin’ with a DJ, Raider legends signing autographs, tents set up with big screen televisions showing the morning games, the Raiderettes in all their glory, and free sandwiches, soup, and steak samples. The weather was ideal with a clear, sunny sky and 60 degree temperature at game time. My buddy (aka “Raider Mike”) and I had awesome seats in Section 141, Row 26 which are on the 40 yard line behind the Denver bench. McAfee was packed with a capacity Raider Nation crowd.

Early in the game, the Raiders pinned Denver on the 8 yard line with a beautifully placed punt by Shane Lechler. On the 1st snap after this change of possession, Jake the Fake was intercepted by Nnamdi Asomugha (4th interception for the season) who returned it to the Denver 15 yard line. The faithful went nuts.

On 3-9, Walter hit TE Williams for an 11 yard completion and 1st down. The Raiders eventually punched it in on a Jordan blast up the middle. Raider 7 – Donkeys 0

(photo caption) “Hey Shana-Rat...how bout’ a piece of cheese!”

Everything was set up for a glorious victory against our hated rival Donkeys. In a typical game, there are usually key moments, pivotal plays, dubious officiating, and plenty of “what ifs” to contemplate. This game was no exception. The difference between a “W” and a dreaded “L” can be marked by the following key moments.

Play to Win: In the 1st half, leading 7-0, the Raiders faced a 4-1 on the Denver 49 yard line and decided to punt which led to a touchback. Isn't this the type of situation where you play to win, show some confidence in the offense to pick up 1 yard? Worst case scenario is the Donkeys take over on downs at midfield facing a tough Raider D.

Again, near the end of the 1st half, tied 7-7 and facing a 4-1 at the Denver 2 yard line, the Raider elect to kick a field goal. Why not go for it? For starters, the Raiders have had so few opportunities on the goal line. 2 good things could happen by going for it… either pick up 1 yard for the 1st down or punch it all the way in for a TD. The difference between a potential 14-7 lead and 10-7 lead is HUGE going into half time. As the final score indicates, this 4 point swing is the difference between a 17-17 OT game and a 17-13 loss.

It is also a telling difference in strategy that when Shanahan had a similar situation (4-1 on the goal line in the 4th quarter) he played to win by going for it. Down 13-7 with over 11:00 minutes to go, he very easily could have kicked a field goal to make the game score tighten at 13-10.

Golden Opportunities: On 4 occasions the Raiders offense started off beyond the Oakland 40 yard line. 3 of these possessions resulted in punts and the other ended with a 55 yard FG by Sea-Bass.

Defensive Stand: On 2 occasions, Lechler pinned the Broncos down on the 2 yard line but the Raiders D left the Donkeys off the hook by allowing Plummer to gain multiple 1st downs to impact the field position battle.

Ticky Tack Officiating: Late in the 3rd Quarter, the Raiders Kirk Morrison caused a fumble on a punt return with Schweigert recovering at the Denver 20 yard line. However, a questionable “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” penalty was called on gunner Chris Carr. It is an obscure, rarely called penalty infraction when a cover man gets knocked out of bounds but doesn’t make a “good faith” effort to return to the playing field right away. This is one of those discretionary calls by the officials where you would hope that the official would use some latitude and good sense before pulling out the flag.

In this particular case, the reason Carr was unable to get back into the field of play right away was because 2 Denver special teams guys were obstructing him from getting in bounds. This play alone was a major momentum changer. The Raiders had the lead 13-7 and with the ball on the 20 yard line would come away with at least 3 (if not 7) points to cushion their lead. As right as rain, the Donkeys took the ensuing possession down the field for a 14-13 lead

2 Feet Down: Late in the 4th quarter, Fabian Washington intercepted an intended pass for Javon Walker but the ruling on the field was that he only had 1 foot in bounds. Shell challenged (and lost) the ruling which burned up the Raiders remaining time-out. This play was shown a few times on the Jumbo-tron and it looked to be a clean interception by Washington. Although the change of field possession was only a (-3) net from where the Raiders took over after the punt vice the interception, it seemed to deflate some much needed momentum.

Fumble-itis: On the 1st snap at the 4:03 mark, Walter was sacked and fumbled the ball which lead to a Denver field goal and 17-13 lead.

On the last drive of the game, with all marbles at stake, Walter botched the center exchange, fumbled, game over. To add salt to the wounds, the intended play call was for Walter to be in the shotgun formation which would have eliminated the botched snap.

Here are some additional observations from the game and general commentary regarding the state of the Raider Union:

After the game, a dejected, battered and frustrated Andrew Walter had the following quote in regards to the offenses struggles in the 2nd half: “One of the reasons is we don’t have a lot of depth as far as our playbook goes. I would like to see more quick stuff, more swing routes, flat routes, short stuff. We need to make it more complex.”

This comment would seem to be very relevant in regards to making adjustments in the play calling at halftime. The Raiders 2nd half output for the season: A TOTAL of ONLY 19 points in 9 games. To put this ghastly number in perspective, here is a comparison that should make any Raider fan sick to his/her stomach. The Chargers on Sunday scored more points (21) in the 4th quarter than the Raiders have scored (19) in all of the 2nd halfs combined (18 quarters of play). In 4 games the Raiders were shut out in the 2nd half. The average offensive output in the 2nd half for the 9 games is 2.1 points. It should be also noted that Walter took responsibility for his poor performance. In the Denver game he lost 2 fumbles and was inaccurate with his passing.

It is my belief that OC Walsh needs to open his mind (and playbook) to accommodate Walter and a leaky O-line. Whether it is the Gilliam offensive system or a variation of this system, Walsh needs to modify the game plan to fit his personnel. His strict devotion to the Gilliam offense makes no sense under the current circumstances. When your QB is getting killed (47 sacks and countless knockdowns), you have the #32 ranked offense, you average less than a FG per 2nd half, there needs to be some flexibility and changes in the offensive schemes from a common sense standpoint. More 3 step drops, shorter passes, slants, crosses, screens, draws, quick come-back routes, etc. These are basic plays that every NFL team runs. The lack of 2nd half adjustments is killing the Raiders as evidenced by the Cleveland, SF, and Denver games where the Raiders had the lead at half and eventually lost the games.

It will be very interesting to see how Shell, Walsh, and the offensive unit reacts to Walter’s quote. Will Walter be JP’s bunkmate in the doghouse? Will Shell take a larger role in the play call input? Will the playbook be opened up to include a bigger mix of short passes? Is Brooks going to start vs. KC? This could very well be the defining moment in Shell’s return as Head Coach. Ultimately, what it boils down to for me is whether Shell is more loyal to his friend Tom Walsh who happens to be the Raiders Offensive Coordinator or to the Raiders organization and the Raider Nation? 9 games into the season, the Raiders offense is horrendous. I would hope that the players and coaching staff are more than willing to improvise, adapt, and overcome.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Raider Offense Needs A Time-Out

At the half way point in the season, the Raiders' offensive unit has made no progress. It can be argued that based on the last 4 weeks performances, the offense has regressed. In the MNF game at Seattle, the weather matched the mood of the Raider Nation. As the rain continued to pour, the Raiders' offensive unit once again was unable to execute anything close to a competent level. The statistics and commentary below shows an offensive unit that should be in a full crisis mode. The broken record keeps playing the same depressing song. Cue up an old Robert Johnson ditty. The offense wasted another Herculean effort by the Raiders defenders.

Walsh is responsible for designing the offensive schemes, selecting the personnel groupings, creating favorable match-ups, and selecting the plays that will give the offensive unit the best chance to succeed. In essence, Walsh should manage the game by providing a road map for the players to get to their destination … the end zone.

What on earth is OC Walsh thinking? Who in their right mind would call 45 pass plays and only 11 run plays in the stormy, wet, windy conditions of Seattle? Why would Walsh abandon the run so quickly when the Raiders were only down 10-0? The Raiders had success running the ball (11 carries for 64 yards) on Monday night and throughout the season (avg. 4.2 yards per carry). Regardless of the score, the opponent, or match-up, the rushing attack needs to be a primary staple in the Raiders offense. With a first year starting QB, the run/pass ratio should be around 55% run to 45% pass. The Raiders for the season are only averaging 25 carries per game. With the pass protection shaky at best and the passing attack struggling, does it make any sense to run the ball only 11 times during the course of a game? Further, when your QB is getting mauled (44 sacks on the year; 9 vs. the Seahawks) on a regular basis, who in their right mind calls for 7 step passing plays? Common sense, right?

The players are responsible for winning their individual match-ups, their effort, and carrying out their assignment on each and every play. In essence, the players are the drivers of the car with the OC setting the course and the coaching staff giving instructions on how to most efficiently get to their destination … the end zone.

QB – Andrew Walter’s body language said it all on Monday night. Although he is trying his best in some very adverse conditions, he realizes the deck is completely stacked against him. He is too busy running for his life on each pass play to get in any sustainable rhythm. He is botching the most elementary plays (center snap exchange), holding on to the ball too long, and has been inconsistent with his reads down the field. His development has been severely stunted with Bozo Walsh's playcalling and shoddy protection from his O-linemen.

O-Line – 8 games into the season and the Raiders are on a record pace for most sacks allowed in a season. Undisciplined & unfocused play has become the calling card of this inept unit. Simple bull rushes by marginal defenders are enough to put Walter on his back. About the only thing the O-line has done fairly well on a consistent basis is run block. Unfortunately, a consistent running attack has not been established. The entire foundation for the offensive unit’s success rests with the O-line’s ability to protect the QB. Is it time for the O-line to be reconfigured once again? Should some of the non-starters be given the opportunity to play like Paul McQuistan? It will be critical for the Raiders to identify a blue chip O-lineman in the upcoming 2007 draft and free agent market.

WRs – Is there any sane reason why the Raiders best possession receiver (Ron Curry) gets so few snaps? Is there any logical explanation for why Jerry Porter was glued to the sideline on Monday night? How can an All-Pro receiver like Randy Moss drop so many catchable balls? Is the TE (Courtney Anderson) on the Witness Protection Program? One scheme and personnel grouping that I’m dying to see on Sunday vs. the Donkeys is the 3 WR set (Moss, Porter, Curry) where Porter and Curry run short patterns and Walter uses a 3 step drop. Why is this missing from the playbook?

Offensive Number Crunching:
8 games played to date
- 5 of 8 games = 0 TDs

94 total possessions breakdown:
-44 punts
-12 interceptions
- 9 fumbles
- 9 field goals
- 8 loss of downs
- 6 TDs
- 4 end of half/end of game possessions
- 1 safety
- 1 missed FG

69 total points produced in 94 offensive possessions. The Raiders offensive unit is averaging 8.6 points per game and only 2.7 per 2nd half. Please note: The scoring avg. below factors in the 25 points scored by the defensive unit.

Offensive Category

Yards per Game227.932
Rushing yards per game105.218
Passing yards per game122.732
Turnovers Allowed2131
Sacks Allowed4432
Time of Possession27:1030
3rd Down Conversion



The numbers above indicate an offensive unit that is beyond just struggling. The unit is on it's death bed. A change needs to be made that will have a positive impact on both the short term results and the upcoming 2007 season. In my humble opinion, the most sensible and practical solution is to fire Tom Walsh and slap the OC tag on TE's coach John Shoop. In season changes to the coaching staff are never easy and don't necessarily produce immediate dividends. However, under the current course set by Walsh, the offensive players are going backwards in terms of performance and confidence. In season changes to the 53 man roster are very limited. I would like to see some of the younger players get some meaningful playing experience to build towards 2007. Players like McQuistan, Morant, Fargas should see an increase in their workload.

“The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.” John Dewey

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sapp - Unquestioned Leader

Gwenn Knapp wrote a telling feature (click here) on Warren Sapp in today’s San Francisco Chronicle. The article revealed Sapp’s pure passion and true love for playing professional football. It pointed out that he relishes his role as a veteran leader of the Oakland Raiders.

Amongst the 53 man Raider roster, Warren Sapp is the unquestioned leader of the Silver and Black. He has been instrumental in the rapid resurgence of the Raiders defense. #99’s performance and presence on the field coupled with his influence in the locker room has benefited a young and inexperienced unit. Sapp, who is in his 12th season in the NFL, is a 7 time Pro Bowler. His current career sack total of 87.5 is the most sacks recorded by a defensive tackle. There is no doubt that Mr. QB Killa will be a sure-fire, 1st ballot hall of fame selection whenever he decides to hang up his spikes.

My best guess is that the 2007 season will be #99’s last year of professional football. As long as Sapp remains healthy, continues to enjoy the combat in the trenches and being the elder statesman on the team, he will probably try to squeeze every last drop out of his career.

Sapp's Career Statistics (click here). To go to Warren Sapp's official website (click here).

"This team is definitely different,'' Sapp said. "We have a brotherhood of men. It just can't be put into words, what it means. You've got that trust, that love, between 11 men working together. It's a beautiful thing to watch.''

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Moss Gets It

Moss on how players' outlook has changed: "Now guys understand (that) things around here are going to be one way and that's it. Guys are now trying to buy in to whatever Coach is selling. It's a good vibe in the air, and we're just looking forward to coming to work." To go to Randy Moss' official website, (click here).