Oakland Raiders and the Ever Evolving Coaching Door

Oakland Raiders and the Ever Evolving Coaching Door

Let me start off by saying I have been a lifelong Raiders fan, through all the good (not a lot) and a lot of bad. I have grown accustomed to them ruining football for me every season because I just become that bitter fan that grows tired of them being the butt of the NFL jokes. With that being said, I am still as die-hard a fan as any in the Black Hole. Maybe a little less crazy, but I still love those folks!

I have been hearing a lot of the "here we go again" script in regards to Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie. "Fire DA" is something I regularly see on the various sports websites I frequent. Although I think both Allen and McKenzie are shoe-ins to stay one more year, a Davis is still calling the shots in Oakland. I would not be shocked or surprised to see them both gone, or one of them. 

I'll be honest, I hope neither of those happen, but if one of them were seen as a necessary casualty in Mark Davis' mind, I would hope it was McKenzie. Let's be honest, what has McKenzie done to better this franchise? I understand that he was dealt a bad hand with the sad salary cap situation created by an owner wanting to see one last winner before he passed, a lack of draft picks, and a lack of standout talent on the roster. But with the picks he has made so far, what has he landed? Sio Moore is the only one that had significant playing time this season that he has drafted. DJ Hayden was understandably behind after sitting out a whole season after a near death accident on the field, and nothing against him as a person or player, but he could have been had much later than the 3rd overall pick McKenzie almost spent on him, and the 12th pick he eventually did spend on him. 

He did massively overhaul a terrible defensive unit from the year previous, and with some creativity in play calling, the unit did decently for the first half of the season. The second half was a much different story, as the league figured out the stunts and mismatches within their schemes, and punished the unit on a weekly basis. Manning could have conceivably put up 60+ points had  last game of the season not been decided in the first quarter.  

Another area he massively failed was the offensive line. I realize that linemen don't come on the cheap, and good linemen cannot be added easily... but he didn't have enough linemen to make a team period. At one point early in the season, with Veldheer sidelined with his pectoral injury, the Raiders had 3 healthy offensive linemen to end a game. Two should not have been playing because of injuries, but had to out of necessity. How does this happen to a professional football team? Depth is an important part of the roster, and having none regardless of the caliber of player, is plain inexcusable. Also, how do you not have a backup center with experience?!

I'm also sick of hearing the excuses from Reggie. When he first took the job he said that the salary cap was manageable. Now I don't expect him to come in and say this is a big @#$% storm and it's going to take a long time to turn it around. But I also don't want him saying "I can do this," and then the following year, cite that as the reason he didn't succeed. The year after that, same story with little to, no progress. Not to mention, he sent Carson Palmer packing with a substantial paycheck, to play for another team!

With all that being said about McKenzie, let's get onto Dennis Allen. Dennis is a bright young coach that seems to have a good plan for what he wants to do, without the bulk of the players he needs to carry out that plan. Let's not absolve him of all blame either. He seemed disinterested, which might just be his personality, some guys just aren't fire-y. When things started getting out of hand, it seemed like the whole team just quit. I've been on a team like that, I know how it can get into players' heads. Once one bad thing happens, they just expect it all to unravel, it's at this point the coach needs to step in and get things under control. Allen doesn't seem like the guy that will do that. 

His players like him-except his quarterbacks- as most of them have voiced their support and hopes that he sticks around. So there is something to be said for that. I know I would have never asked for my coach to come back if he quit on us in the season. But his quarterbacks are a problem. Pryor showed flashes of being a dynamic play-maker early in the season, but seemed to regress when teams started bringing the pressure against a very bad and beat up offensive line. Rather than looking to throw, he was tucking the ball and running for dear life before he even tried to read the pass coverage. Given a better offensive line, and much more reps in training camp, preseason, and some real NFL games I think he could be an answer, though probably not as long-term as we would all like as Raiders fans. McGloin was impressive when he stepped in for Pryor for the first couple of games. He made some NFL throws, and got the ball out to his receivers. He showed that he has what it takes in some capacity to read defenses and make some tough throws to a surprising receiving core. I believe McGloin could be the backup for the foreseeable future, but I doubt he is the long-term answer at QB as well. The way Dennis handled the QB situation once Pryor was healthy enough to play has me doubting he really had a plan at all on the offensive side of the ball. 

Now that I have covered most of my perceived flaws with the Raiders management and coaching staff, let's look at why I want the Raiders to stay the course with these two in control. 

McKenzie hasn't done much with the draft picks he has had, or his offseason signings. But this might change come 2014. He has a full boat of picks, and last I saw, somewhere in the neighborhood of $70 million in cap space to spend on improving the roster. Assuming he doesn't do something drastic like signing a declining veteran QB (Vick comes to mind) to a big contract, that should be a lot of money to go around. I think he must resign Houston, Veldheer, and Jennings so that will eat up some of the space, but that's a lot of dough to spread around. But let's all remember, spending money doesn't always translate to wins. See the "Dream Team" Eagles of a few years ago. 

In terms of Allen, if he is given a better defense he can be a dynamic coach. He showed that he could win games with an average defense in Denver back when they had Tebow as a QB, and the defense was constantly facing 3 and outs by that putrid offense.

This is the year for both men to put up or shut up. Trust me, Raider Nation is growing thin on patience for both of these men!


Oakland A's Stadium and San Jose

Coliseum Woes Continue to Overshadow A's Great Season

A sewage backup in the O.co Coliseum has cause a huge stir in the Oakland Athletics clubhouse in the last few days. Despite the A's winning ways, currently sitting thirteen games above .500 at 43-30 with a 3 game lead over the nearest Texas Rangers, the focus has once again been on their aging stadium. The issue has yet to be resolved in the quest to move the team to the nearby Silicon Valley, and San Jose. MLB and Bud Selig are now faced with an antitrust lawsuit, spurred on by the latest incident that saw both the visiting Mariners and the Athletics having to shower in the Oakland Raiders locker room together. 

Given Selig's snail pace to get the issue resolved, I am not surprised by the lawsuit. However, being a longtime fan of the Athletics, I also don't think the solution is up and moving the team. Here are some potential things to look at for A's/MLB fans. 
  • There are options in Oakland
    • Massive renovations to the Coliseum (not likely)
    • New stadium in Oakland (Clorox and other local companies have pledged assistance to keep the team in Oakland) Likely to happen if Lew Wolff changes his stance on "needing" to move the team.
    • Raiders get new stadium, Coliseum becomes baseball only, renovations to follow. I see this as most likely, since NFL seems to drag their feet less than MLB.
  • Move to San Jose
    • More money for everyone involved except city of Oakland. Potentially higher payroll to help keep home-grown talent. Also very likely that Wolff becomes the next Jeffrey Loria (get taxpayers to foot the bill for the new stadium, then cut payroll to pocket more money.)
    • Gets rid of MLB's antitrust exclusion, cities would then be able to lobby for teams to come to them. Larger markets would soon be taking small market teams. (No more Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland A's, Kansas City Royals, etc...) Extremely unlikely, MLB will likely avoid this at all costs. 
What I eventually see happening is the A's ownership and MLB will come up with a joint agreement with the San Francisco Giants (who own San Jose territorial rights.) This agreement will probably include several hundred million dollars changing hands from the A's to the Giants. Keep in mind that these rights had basically been given to the Giants from the A's to save their franchise back in the 90's (?) Now that the A's are basically trying to do the same thing, the Giants owners are refusing to work in the best interest of baseball and only working in the best interest of their own pocketbooks. Not that I want the A's to move, in fact I don't, but Wolff won't sell the team, and he wants to be elsewhere. The A's franchise deserves a better, or improved stadium, and I'm hoping either take place in Oakland rather than San Jose. 

So once again A's fans, if you're looking for your daily reason to hate the Giants, here it is. Let's all hope that a resolution is found that can keep the Green and Gold Oakland for many years to come. #SaveOaklandBaseball

NBA Finals

Heat Win Game 6, Force Game 7

In a game that looked all but over at the end of the third quarter, Miami (mostly Lebron James) came back with a furious fourth quarter and forced an overtime. This was an uncharacteristic comeback for the Heat, especially Lebron, who had struggled mightily in the series up to this point. Shooting only 3-12 in the previous three quarters of the game, James went on to shoot something to the note of seven out of ten shots in the fourth quarter. Although the Spurs were given every chance to win the game in regulation, they missed one clutch shot after another. Ray Allen hit a last second, desperation pullback three point shot to tie the game. After an official review to make sure the shot was a legitimate three point shot, Tim Duncan entered the game illegally, and Tony Parker missed a last second jumper for the win.

Overtime saw a much less interesting five minute period, in which both teams struggled to make shots. Eventually the Heat pulled away, and with a last second block (erm, foul) by Chris Bosh on Danny Green's potential tying three point attempt, Miami secured at least one last game with the San Antonio Spurs. This game will take place tomorrow night at 7:00pm MT in Miami for the trophy. 

Prediction: Spurs win, gain a lot of new "fans" from the Miami fan base. 


Apologies: I'm Back

Off Season

First off, I'd like to apologize for being away for as long as I have been. Distracted pretty much sums it up. To get my feet wet, I'm just going to touch on some random things over the off-season in the NFL.

Starting with my Miami Dolphins, I absolutely love the new logo and the new the uniforms. Our free agent signings will go a long way to moving in the right direction. I'm not here to say we are a lock for the Super Bowl, but I am confident we have improved. Mike Wallace will be adding a much needed dynamic to our offense that has been missing for as long as I can remember: Speed and the ability to strike some fear in a defense. Brent Grimes, when he returns healthy, which I feel he will, is going to add a consistent veteran to bring up Jamar Taylor and Will Davis (Our Rookie Corners). Which brings me to the draft. I am ecstatic about the drafting of Dion Jordan with the 3rd overall pick. Yes we gave up our first second round pick, but to move up to 3rd from 12th is worth it, especially for a player with Dion's Potential. Side Note: His lack of sacks in college is not due to lack of talent, it is due to the defensive scheme. I am very tired of hearing this. I'm excited to see the Phins play, and am even more excited for future years.

The following are my random thoughts on the off season. They are in no particular order.

1. In a previous post, I mentioned that I would like to see Alex Smith go to the Kansas City Chiefs. I love that he did. I wish both him and Andy Reid the best of luck.

2. Seeing Marcus Lattimore get drafted to the 49ers was amazing. It's the perfect situation for him. No pressure, simply get healthy and learn under an amazing back in Frank Gore.

3. The Jets are in utter chaos. I enjoy every second of it.

4. The NFC West has simply become the scariest division in my eyes. The 49ers acquisition of Anquan Boldin alone improves their teem greatly. The Seahawks seem to have made a habit of gutting the Vikings roster, and it has made them as deadly as the 49ers if not more so.

5. If our plans for Sun Life Stadium go through, we deserve to get the 50th Super Bowl down in MIA.

6. Tampa Bay's ability to turn their biggest weakness into its biggest strength with the signing of Revis and Goldson should be commended. Its all on you Josh Freeman.

7. Tim Tebow's release, as terrible as it may make him feel, is a godsend for the young man. Its better to be a free agent with possibilities, even as small as they are, then to be stuck as a 3rd string QB on franchise that that is on the downward spiral. I do believe he will be picked up. Not as a starter.

8. Justin Blackmon is disappointing.

9. The 2013 Draft was one of the most exciting drafts that I've watched in recent memory. I enjoyed the depth as opposed to the top end talent. For rebuilding teams, I feel this draft couldn't have come at a better time.

10. So happy that the Miami Dolphins are in the Hall of Fame Game this year.

I apologize for the randomness, this is simply a few thoughts of mine. Looking forward to this year.

Hope all of you enjoyed the off-season as much as I did.

Phins up,


UW Mens Bball - Heartbreak

Being a Wyoming native, you really have no sports team to pride yourself on and call your own. You felt stupid wearing a UW sports anything outside of Laramie. A few nuggets over the year gave us some pride. But the start of the men's hoops season made us feel special. Wyoming was nationally ranked, and undefeated, beside a few respectable schools. So, naturally, I wanted to go see them. I wasn't aware of the situation change by the time I arrived at the AA in Laramie. The star player for our Cowboys was suspended, from what I hear for involvement in a bar fight. It was disgusting how much of a difference one player made. In the first half, UNLV quickly took a 20 point lead, and held it the entire game. UW was making no effort to rebound, no effort for loose balls, no effort on the fast breaks, and no effort shooting. At the half, the pokes were 9/40+ shooting. Their were moments of rebounding with one white jersey in for the ball, surrounded for 5 black jerseys. Easy steals were available, but we were more concerned with guarding the player then going for the ball. Every possession was taken to the shot clock and forced. This wasn't the team I thought I was paying to see. This game left me depressed, and disappointed. I was ashamed and embarrassed that I bought Wyoming gear to wear to this event. If not for other plans for my trip and visiting family, it would have been a wasted trip. The highlight if the night was watching a local a row back suffer a series of minor heart attacks screaming vulgarities in disapproval for the effort our team showed, and myself shouting "I love waffles!" My only regret is not starting a "We want tacos" chant. Folks, UW's 5 minutes of fame are over. Take the gold and yellow off, and hang your head low. We're back to the way things were.


Titans to Add Williams

Titans to Add Gregg Williams

Image obtained from: http://blog.nola.com/saintsbeat/2009/01/gregg_williams_hired_as_new_or_1.html

Gregg Williams, former defensive coordinator of the "Bountygate" +New Orleans Saints. The scandal has plagued the NFL, the players, and coaches involved. Although he was suspended indefinitely, he has already been given two jobs in the NFL. He was given a contract for St. Louis last season, and never coached a game for them before he was fired. Now, according to +ESPN, it appears that Tennessee is willing to give him an opportunity as their assistant head coach, and defensive coordinator. This is embarrassing and a sham.

Although he is still suspended indefinitely and no relief in sight, the +Tennessee Titans are willing to give this man some control of their franchise. Keep in mind, they will at least need to find an interim defensive coordinator to coach the defense until Gregg is allowed back on an NFL sideline. This means they will have to instill one defensive strategy at the beginning of the season, and then when Williams is allowed to coach again (probably sometime this upcoming season) they will have to switch their whole scheme.

If they are going to stick to the current scheme, why not just give the interim the full time position and allow him to coach. This hiring really makes me mad. What the man allowed to happen and even encouraged in an NFL locker room is unacceptable. But apparently the Titans are willing to give up ethics for a guy that has shown improvement in defenses in the past. I hope the Titans made this a conditional contract and it is not as binding as others!


NFL Championship Round

NFL Championship Round: Previews and Predictions


Picks for TFT Crew:
Nat: 49ers and Ravens
Ron: 49ers and Patriots
Kyle: 49ers and Ravens
Marshal: 49ers and Patriots

*Original Story*

+San Francisco 49ers vs. +Atlanta Falcons- 3:00pm ET Sunday, January 20

In a match-up of the #1 and #2 seed of the NFC, these heavyweights will slug it out and find out who is going to the Super Bowl, and who is beginning their offseason. In the 49ers case, this is the game that they went out last year in a few fluke plays. For Atlanta, this is the first championship game for most of the players on the team.

Atlanta is the home team, and I think that may be their only advantage in this game. The Falcons are short on experienced players in playoff situations, and they are also coming off a less than impressive performance against the +Seattle Seahawks last weekend. In a game that Atlanta dominated in the first half, their second half nearly undid the early lead. They won on a last second field goal that put them up 30-28. Seattle basically gave the game away, and that is why I have little confidence in Atlanta.

San Francisco is coming off a game they would be hard pressed to match. Kaepernick was nothing short of Maddenesque in his first playoff performance. I don't think he'll be able to match the performance against a better Atlanta defense, but he and Frank Gore should be able to do enough to get them to the Super Bowl.

The Niners need to have a better showing on defense, else this game could get out of hand. The Falcons have as potent a passing game as any in the league. They sport Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez who are all very difficult to cover up. Luckily for San Francisco, they have a very athletic linebacking core that can help in coverage and get to the quarterback to take some pressure off of the secondary.

I look for Frank Gore to have a heyday against this Falcons defense. He should take pressure off of Kaepernick and allow him to do what he does best behind center. Atlanta will  keep this game close, but in the end, run out of firepower.

Prediction: San Francisco 35- Atlanta 31
Player of the Game: Frank Gore

+Baltimore Ravens vs. +New England Patriots- 6:00pm ET

Baltimore is coming into this game fresh off of an impressive win against Denver to face a very talented New England team. This will be a rematch of last years AFC title game that saw Baltimore fall short on a missed field goal that would have sent the game into overtime. With Billy Cundiff safely out of Baltimore and what seems to be a more impressive Joe Flacco, this game could be every bit as interesting as it was last year.

New England is also coming off of an impressive win, in which they dismantled the Houston defense. The final score looked a lot closer than the game actually was, and it still didn't look good for Houston. Houston did have the talent to compete in that game, and did early on. But the offense stalled on far too many drives to keep the defense off the field and fresh against a very high powered offense. This could be the case in this game as well for Baltimore. Tom Brady will have a challenge against this stout Ravens defense, and it will be another case of great Offense vs. a great Defense. Lately these matchups have favored the offenses, but I expect things to change.

Fortunately for Baltimore, Joe Flacco has never looked as good as he did last game. Granted it was against a weak defense in Denver, but New England's defense is very suspect as well. I still do not buy into the Patriots defense being "that much better" than the squad they sent out last year. They have just been lucky enough to play while ahead and only have to defend against the pass for the most part. This Ravens defense will play inspired to try to get Ray Lewis one more ring in his last hurrah, and keep Tom Brady and the multiple offensive threats off of the field. Can this Ravens offense do the job though? I think they can, Ray Rice is as dynamic a player as the league has, and he can do many things for the offense. If he can keep the pressure off of Flacco enough for him to hit Jacoby Jones, Torrey Smith, and company this game could very easily go in Baltimore's favor. Inclement weather should not be seen, and I believe the Ravens get the upper hand in this game.


Prediction: Ravens 31- Patriots 27 

Player of the Game: Joe Flacco