Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kawakami Is A Clown

Tim Kawakami is a "journalist" who covers the Raiders for the San Jose Mercury. His article today is another hatchet job. In this article, Kawakami gleefully pokes his finger in the eye of the Raiders organization. It is both amusing and annoying how Kamakami has reached a new low in professional writing. Amusing in the sense that Kawakami's post is filled with statements that fall into 1 of 3 categories;

(1) unreasonable or unsubstantiated comments
(2) obvious generalities aka "Thank you, Captain Obvious!"
(3) snide remarks disguised weakly as stabs at humor

Annoying in the sense that Kawakami makes no attempt at providing any insight or unique perspective. The gist of Kawakami's story is: Kiffin is a Dead Man Walking. Thus his future is linked to Russell's success.

Here is a breakdown of "Mr. Red Nose & Big Shoes" post:

Of all the countless strange and semi-Shakespearean Raiders relationships, Al Davis and Lane Kiffin is the weirdest, Kiffin and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is the liveliest, and Al and JaMarcus Russell is potentially the longest lasting.

Semi Shakespearean Raiders relationship? Where you going with this Timmy? Is Al Davis Othello? Are Kiffin & Russell playing the roles of Romeo & Juliet? Al & Russell are potentially the longest lasting relationship? Really? Wow. What a bold statement considering Russell has 5 years left on his contract. Ryan is on his last year of his contract ... Kiffin has 2 years plus 2 club options.

But Kiffin and Russell . . . that's the most crucial relationship for any kind of Raiders success this season, assuming success is possible.

Of course the QB & Head Coach is the most important relationship for a team's success. That is true of the other 31 teams in the league too, Timmy. BTW, why the hell wouldn't success be possible?

Kiffin and Russell are tied together now, and Kiffin knows it.

Yup, some more ground breaking news and developments. The Head Coach and starting QB are always tied together ... especially a 2nd year Head Coach and 2nd year QB. Goodness gracious Timmy. You are a wealth of hidden gems.

Why wasn't Kiffin summarily fired after he refused to resign last winter? The money he's owed is one big reason; but another, I believe, is Russell and the chance that Kiffin remains Davis' best option to refine and develop the huge young quarterback.

Is it possible that Kiffin wasn't fired because Al Davis and Lane Kiffin resolved their differences in the best interest of the organization? Is it possible that Davis wanted a stable environment for his $61M QB?

Kiffin has nothing to do with the defense, has been stripped of personnel involvement, and probably has to talk through the offensive plans with coordinator Greg Knapp and receivers coach James Lofton.

The first 2 parts are purely speculation the third part is plain silly. Kiffin might not be as hands on with the Raiders defense but is still directly involved by means of input, game plans, delegation, etc. As far as personnel decisions, how does Kawakami know Kiffin's level of involvement? In Davis' 40+ year Raider history, he has always made the final decisions on personnel BUT he encourages and seeks out the input of his coaching staff. Is it beyond the realm of possibilities that Kiffin broke down film of prospective free agents and provided Al with his opinions and feedback?

As far as the offensive game plans ... Kawakami is really reaching a new low in shoddy journalism. Kiffin is firmly in charge of the offensive unit. Who calls the plays? Kiffin. Who creates the game plans? Kiffin. Who installs the schemes? Kiffin. Who decides which players take the field? Kiffin. As the Head Coach, Kiffin works collaboratively with his entire offensive coaching staff ... nothing new here.

But Kiffin is still in charge of the QB position, the most important and expensive in the NFL universe, so Kiffin still is relevant . . . if things go well with Russell.

To minimize Kiffin's responsibilities to merely being in charge of the QB is just asinine. Kiffin's relevance and job security is based on how the entire team performs. Win and losses by the TEAM determines a coaches fate.

That's why the Raiders' current off-season workouts are so important and why Kiffin's bubbly comments last week about Russell's emerging leadership skills were so interesting.

No, Timmy. The off season workouts are SO important because the Raiders have many new players and a very young roster. The workouts are SO important because the Raiders are coming off a 19-61 5 year run of ineptitude. Kiffin being enthusiastically excited about Russell's development as a young professional is genuine. It doesn't take on any added meaning when a Head Coach is positive about one of his most important players on the team.

Last June, Kiffin noted that Russell wasn't an obvious leader and pretty much wrote him off as a first-year contributor. And this spring? "You see the same thing I do: This is not the same JaMarcus we saw a year ago," Kiffin said last week. "The way he moves around and the way he's zipping the ball around and the confidence he's throwing with. It's exciting right now."

Kawakami claims that Kiffin didn't view Russell as an "obvious leader" last year. This is complete rubbish. I can remember on many occasions that Kiffin made note of Russell's leadership abilities last year. Kiffin commented on Russell's leadership qualities at Russell's Pro Day. Kiffin said in effect that Russell was a born leader where teammates naturally gravitate towards him. Kiffin mentioned Russell's leadership capabilities in rookie camp. Is it a revelation that Russell is emerging into a true leader of the team? No but this shouldn't get in the way of Kawakami's zany conclusion that Kiffin is no more than a glorified QB coach.

The triangle of power is formed by the 3 alpha leaders ... The owner, head coach, and starting QB have the greatest impact on the success of any NFL team. Al, Lane, and JaMarcus are all in it together to return the team to glory.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Freddie B Foundation Event

Raider fans interested in supporting a noble cause and enjoying a fun filled event should check out this link:

To honor their slain daughter Tracey, Fred and Angela Biletnikoff established a foundation to support young women recovering from substance abuse and provide education for the prevention of domestic violence. Here are more details on the foundation's work:
To address the issues of dual diagnosis and substance
abuse, the Biletnikoff Foundation supports Tracey's Place of
Hope. Tracey's Place of Hope is a residential treatment
center which addresses substance abuse and its
secondary effects. This establishment offers specific
therapeutic activities such as Art Therapy, individual needs
and skills assessment, psychosocial evaluation,
psychotherapeutic counseling, and appropriate referrals to
outside agencies. The counselors focus on the specific
needs and issues of adolescent girls, such as mental health
and adjustment problems, parental substance abuse, and
developmental delay.

Fred's event will take place on 6/1 & 6/2 at two different locations. Sunday, 6/1, over 15 former Raider Legends including, Fred, Tim Brown, Daryle LaMonica, Cliff Branch, Greg Townsend, James Lofton and others will be attending a Charity Autograph Event at Strikes Bowling Alley in Rocklin, CA. The following day, a group of over 25 Raider Greats head over to a Charity Golf Tournament at Catta Verdera Country Club in Lincoln, CA. For a $60 donation, you get receive a Biletnikoff Logo Football, T-Shirt, Free Autographs, Admittance to both events and much more.

You can call Kevin @ 310-568-8825 x102 or email to k.klein@naxcom.com to order.

Thank you for your time and the Biletnikoff Foundation thanks you greatly for any attention or assistance that you might give. For helping out, let Kevin know if he can help you out with some free autographed merchandise from Fred!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Youth Will Be Served

When reviewing the 2008 roster which is still a work in progress, one aspect about the Raider football team really jumped out to me ... how our core squad is comprised of youth. Take a look at our projected starters (always up for debate) and key players for both the offensive and defensive units:

Offense Unit

QB1: JaMarcus Russell (22, 2nd year)
RB1: Darren McFadden (20, Rookie) > new addition
RB2: Justin Fargas (28, 6th year)
RB3: Michael Bush (23, 2nd year)
FB1: Oren O'Neil (24, 2nd year)
FB2: Justin Griffith (27, 6th year)
WR1: Javon Walker (29, 7th year) > new addition
WR2: Drew Carter (26, 5th year) > new addition
WR3: Ronald Curry (28, 7th year)
TE1: Zach Miller (22, 2nd year)
TE2: John Madsen (24, 3rd year)
LT1: Kwame Harris (26, 6th year) > new addition
LT2: Mario Henderson (23, 2nd year)
LG1: Robert Gallery (27, 5th year)
LG2: Paul McQuistan (25, 3rd year)
C1: John Wade (33, 11th year) > new addition
C2: Jake Grove (28, 5th year)
RG1: Cooper Carlisle (30, 9th year)
RT1: Cornell Green (31, 9th year)
RT2: Paul McQuistan (25, 3rd year)

Defensive Unit

LCB: Nnamdi Asomugha (26, 6th year)
RCB: DeAngelo Hall (24, 5th year) > new addition
NCB: Stanford Routt (24, 4th year)
SS: Gibril Wilson (26, 5th year) > new addition
FS: Michael Huff (25, 3rd year)
WLB: Thomas Howard (24, 3rd year)
MLB: Kirk Morrison (26, 4th year)
SLB: Robert Thomas (27, 7th year)
LDE: Jay Richardson (24, 2nd year)
NT: Terdell Sands (28, 8th year)
UT: Tommy Kelly (27, 5th year)
RDE: Derrick Burgess (29, 8th year)

When the 53 man roster is finalized in late August, the Raiders will more than likely have only 6 players in their thirties. 3 of the 6 play special teams; Jarrod Cooper (30), Seabastian Janikowski (30), and Shane Lechler (31). The other 3 grey beards are OL Cooper Carlisle (30), Cornell Green (31) and John Wade (33).

The success and foundation of the Raiders in 2008 and beyond will be built on the shoulders of young, talented performers. The identity of the offense will be shaped in large part by Russell and McFadden. The defensive core consists of players hitting (or in) their prime such as Asomugha, Hall, Wilson, Huff, Howard, Morrison, and Kelly.

It will be exciting to watch the individual player's career development and at the same time, the team as a whole mesh into a cohesive group. With 7 potential new starters and many critical players who are 25 or younger, the Raiders coaching staff has their hands' full especially during the upcoming June training camp. One way or another, youth will be served.