Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A New Frame of Mind

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." - Sir Winston Churchill

My mood over the weekend was one of outrage and despair. I wish I was the type of guy who could put my head in the sand and avoid reading the countless articles that poked fun (and a stick in the eye) at the Raiders.

I also wish I wasn't so quick to make assumptions or assign blame for the mess we are in. For that I apologize and attempt to clear my head.

Instead of picking and choosing the bits and pieces of articles that I believe and analyzing different "what if" scenarios, I'm going to shift gears and wait for the dust to settle over the next few weeks.

My sincere hope is that I'm wrong about my assumptions AND the Kiffin/Davis relationship isn't at the point of no return.

After reading a dozen articles from yesterday and today, my instinct tells me that there were mistakes made by both Kiffin & Davis through their words and actions. Both are tenacious,driven, singularly focused stubborn men who have a difficult time backing down.

There were probably a few times were Davis felt Kiffin overstepped his bounds. There were also more than likely a few incidents where Kiffin felt Davis wasn't properly supporting him.

The most disappointing aspect to this entire mess is that it seem to me that it never had to get to the point where ultimatums were thrown and the dirty laundry aired in public. The way the "problems" were resolved lacked a sense of professionalism and confidentiality that would have resolved the differences amicably.

Another extremely disappointing aspect to the way the Raiders have conducted their business is that, IMO, there is a lack of focus on keeping their eye on the ball ... namely winning and doing things in the best interest of the team, fans, and organization. All of this negative press and bad marketing is detrimental and unnecessary.

It will be interesting to witness how all of the controversy over the past few weeks plays out.

Will it be a case where Kiffin & Davis form a stronger bond and become joined at the hip to prove the football media wrong?


Will it be a situation where the waters are so polluted that the relationship has suffered irrevocable harm?


Will it be a relationship that will be truly "make or break" based on the won/loss record of 2008?

I'm guessing it is the latter. I don't have any problem with this scenario. As long as we return to the business at hand (coaching staff additions, free agency acquisitions, draft selections, training camp, etc.) then all of us will be able to breathe a sigh of relief. Nothing would please me more than to concentrate on the one thing we universally relish ... Raider Football!

My greatest hope and sense of solace comes from a quote that Lane Kiffin had posted in each players' locker in the latter stages of the 2007 season:

"A competitor will find a way to win. Competitors take bad breaks and drive themselves just that much harder. Quitters take bad breaks and use them as excuses to give up. It’s all a matter of pride." - Winston Churchill

If Kiffin was sincere in his admiration of this Churchill quote, 2008 still has a chance to be another peg up on the competitive ladder.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dark Days In Alameda

I went outside to grab a cup of coffee at my local Starbucks. A couple things seemed fitting. First, it was raining outside with no hint of sunshine. Second, my local Starbucks was closed because of a power outage in the area.

So as I drove the few extra miles to another Starbucks, I began to contemplate all the ramifications of the current mess emanating from Alameda. After wading through all the "what ifs" the 2 conclusions that raised to the surface is simply the following:

Al Davis doesn't care about the fans and Al Davis doesn't care about winning. Prove me wrong on either count because I'm all ears.

Since the departure of Gruden, just look at how Davis has selected his next head coach. In each case, the process was a complete joke. The number of legitimate candidates was paltry. The final selections were dubious. The number of candidates interviewed and the foot dragging was appalling. The authority of the chosen Head Coach was extremely limited. When we finally struck gold with a charismatic, young leader like Kiffin, Davis found a way to ruin a good thing.

If Davis truly cared about his players and winning he would understand the importance of stability and continuity. 5 coaches (Gruden, Callahan, Turner, Shell, Kiffin) in 7 seasons later and we are going to be right back at the trough looking for our next head coach.

Holding the key leadership position in the organization, Davis should understand how critical it is to give his head coach all of the tools, resources, support, and authority necessary to lead his staff and players. As the key leader in the Raiders organization, Davis should also know how important trust & respect is to a healthy relationship. Neutering Kiffin in a public fashion was s a poisonous, vengeful act that has no point of return.

As a long time Raider fan, I will continue to follow the team. However, my support of the Raiders will be in spite of Al Davis not because of him. His meddlesome ways and need to exert his power is getting in the way of the one thing he craves, glory.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Crisis Management 101

This story by ESPN has caused hysteria amongst the Raider Nation. Loyal and dedicated customers (the fans) are debating how much time and money they want to invest in the Raiders.

The story by ESPN has caused a crisis for the Raider organization.

The story by ESPN has negatively impacted the Raiders ability to recruit potential free agents.

The story by ESPN has negatively impacted the Raiders as a business in terms of ticket sales, future fans, merchandise sales.

The story by ESPN has negatively impacted the mindset and outlook of all the Raiders active players.

The story by ESPN could negatively impact wins & losses for 2008.

The story by ESPN has not been adequately refuted by John Herrera (here) to my satisfaction. “It’s not an issue. Lane’s the coach.” Thanks John but I want to hear a more direct endorsement of our Head Coach by the guy who signs the checks.

Some might call this hyperbole but the crisis situation with the Raider organization is the equivalent of a home owner's house being on fire and not calling 911 for the fire department.

Assuming that Al Davis wants the Raiders to be profitable AND a winning franchise, this situation should be addressed by Al Davis in an official, on the record capacity within the next 24 hours or he is being EXTREMELY negligent. Anything less is a slap in the face of the Raider Nation.

Direct communication, accountability, and a sense of urgency ... how bout' it Al?

I'm not pushing the panic button quite yet but I believe that each minute that ticks by without an official response from Al Davis, will be time and fans lost.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Photo of the Week

Photo: JaMarcus Russell at the LSU vs Ohio State BCS National Championship game. The first thing that crossed my mind when I saw Russell decked out in this sweater was that he must have been a big fan of the Bill Cosby Show! Fashion sensibilities: A fusion of old school Cliff Huxtable styling and modern hip hop flavor. Yikes!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

2007 Statistical Summary

Offensive Category

Yards per Game294.825
Rushing yards per game130.46
Passing yards per game164.631
Avg. run per carry4.111
Completion %57.625
Time of Possession31:097
Sacks Allowed4122
3rd Down Conversion



Defensive Category

Yards per Game341.631
Rushing yards per game145.931
Passing yards per game195.88
Avg. run per carry4.832
Completion %59.511
3rd Down Conversion39.013
Sacks Created2728
Turnover Differential



Special Teams Category

Oakland Rank
Kick Coverage22.4 15
Punt Coverage11.127
Kick Returns21.625
Punt Returns5.531
Punting Net Average41.11
Field Goal Percentage71.929

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

FG Yardage

1-19 yards0 / 0n/a
20-29 yards4 / 4100%
30-39 yards6 / 785.7%
40-49 yards7 / 1070%
50+ yards6 / 1154.5%

Friday, January 04, 2008

31 Teams - Unfulfilled Dreams

With the playoff season upon us, Raider fans have been left out in the cold for the 5th straight season. When each new season starts, all the NFL teams are 0-0 with 1 clear cut goal ... to become the Super Bowl world champions. I saved this article from the beginning of last year which objectively rates the success of each NFL franchises.

This week at work I have been the target of verbal abuse by a few Charger fans. Some of it was in good fun ... some of the abuse was mean spirited. The photo below of the San Diego Charger SB Trophy case is just a friendly reminder to the Bolt fans that "until you win a ring, you've got no bling".

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Last Game But Not Last Hurrah

Happy New Year to the Raider Nation. This last game of 2007 was bitter sweet. Finishing the season at 4-12 leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of Raider fans, players, and coaches. Seeing our franchise QB, JaMarcus Russell, play well in his 1st career start is sweet.

San Diego 30 - Raiders 17 > Calico Jack’s Quick Six:

1. Game Deciding Factor:
The Chargers won this game by winning the turnover battle (+3). The Raiders turnovers led to 17 San Diego points.

2. Russell Shows The Right Stuff:
Besides the opening snap where he threw an interception on a short pass intended for Rhodes, Russell played exceptionally well for his 1st career start. Completing 74% of his passes (23-31, 224 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), Russell did a good job reading the SD defense and checking down to his backs and tight end. The 32 yard TD strike to Porter displayed Russell's amazing skill set.

3. Rhodes Earns A Roster Spot:
Starting the last 2 games of the season, Rhodes put up back to back 100+ yard performances against 2 of the tougher run defenses (JAX & SD) in the league. Against JAX, Rhodes carried the ball 27 times for 115 yards. Versus SD, Rhodes piled up 122 yards on 29 attempts in addition to 6 receptions for 42 yards. This sets up the Raiders to go into the 2008 season with 3 viable RBs (Fargas, Rhodes, and Bush).

4. The Security Blanket:
TE Zach Miller quickly became JaMarcus Russell's favorite target (8 receptions, 84 yards). Miller runs good routes, has excellent hands, and an innate ability to find open spaces/seams in the zone coverage. Having a reliable, sure handed TE like Miller to move the chains gives Russell a valuable tool to sustain drives.

5. Defense:
The Raiders defense did their part to keep this game close. The run defense hunkered down to contain LT to 56 yards on 16 carries. With the inevitable firing of DC Rob Ryan and retirement of DT Warren Sapp, it is time for Kiffin to retool this unit in terms of the coaching staff, personnel, and scheme.

6. Farewell To Mr. Sapp:
It looks like Warren Sapp will be announcing his retirement in the next few days. In his amazing 13 year career, the QB Killa racked up 96.5 sacks, was named to the Pro Bowl 8 times, was recognized as the Defensive Player of the Year (1999), and earned a ring with the Bucs. I will remember Sapp as an animated, fun loving man who treasured the game of football and was an inspirational leader on the field of battle.

Kiffin & Russell are joined at the hip in our future success. Both of these young men are the alpha dog leaders of the team responsible for driving this franchise forward towards future glory. I’m looking forward to a productive off season of reshaping and improving the 2008 unit. Here’s to a happy, prosperous and healthy new year.

“Better were the days when mastery of seas came not from bargains struck with eldritch creatures... but from the sweat of a man's brow and the strength of his back alone. You all know this to be true! Yo ho, haul together, hoist the colours high/ Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die!" - Captain Barbosa