Just Win Baby!

Raiders need to do lots of soul searching

January 2, 2012

By JOE D'AMODIO

THE WEB SCRIBE

In the end, you knew the Oakland Raiders were going to break your heart. They always do.

That's the way it's been the past decade -- dating all the way back to when Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stomped on the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII and left Raider Nation with a huge hangover that still lingers today.

So there were the Raiders on Sunday -- the first day of the New Year -- within six points of the catching the San Diego Chargers and claiming the AFC West crown. They were put in that position as a result of the Kansas City Chiefs' win over the suddenly inept Denver Broncos.

Now, it was up to the Raiders to do their part and get back to the postseason dance for the first time since that Super Bowl loss.

That when the Raider defense, the main culprit in the organization's demise for most of the past 10 years, showed up and spoiled things for Raider Nation, allowing the Chargers to drive 99.5 yards. in a handful of plays to go up 38-26. That defensive series in a key spot during the game resembled many others which have haunted this defense through the years -- lack of a pass rush, no run defense and some sorry-ass tackling.

When it comes to the sport of football, I'm cut from the old mold and believe that defenses win championships. And the Raiders have no defense and therefore won't win a championship until they start getting nasty.

Prior to the season and through the first few games of the campaign, Raider coach Hue Jackson talked about building a bully on defense. Well, I'm still waiting for that bully to show up.

The one thing Jackson forget is that you can't build a bully unless you have some playmakers on defense.

And the Raiders have none. The closest person they have is Richard Seymour, who is about seven years past his prime.

Late Raider owner Al Davis thought he drafted a defensive playmaker in linebacker Rolando McClain two drafts ago, but McClain has been average at best. The feeling is he won't get any better because he's too slow to roam the field -- as say a Ray Lewis does.

The first thing Jackson must decide is if a new defensive coordinator is needed. Certainly, current D.C. Chuck Bresnahan is at fault, but he can't take all the blame. The players have to fess up to that. And on Monday, at least Seymour stuck his neck out.

"“Obviously, it’s disappointing, for sure,” Seymour told the San Jose Mercury. “We didn’t accomplish our goals, so, it’s disappointing, to say the least. But we never make any excuses. We were inconsistent and that ended up being our Achilles heel at the end of the day.”

The inconsistencies extended to the rest of the team, except maybe the special teams, where the Raiders were more than up to snuff.

The Raiders also established set the single-season mark for penalties and penalty yardage. Head coaches from Gruden to now vowed to fix the problem, but haven't.

And until someone does, penalties will continue to cost the Raiders and their chances to make the playoffs. And in turn, the Raiders will keep breaking our hearts.




Raider wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey catches a 53-yard pass to set up Sebastion Janikowski's game-winning field goal in overtime.
Raider wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey catches a 53-yard pass to set up Sebastion Janikowski's game-winning field goal in overtime. | Source

Raiders' playoff hopes are alive

Dec. 24, 2011

By JOE D'AMODIO

THE WEB SCRIBE

Yes! That was the collective voice of Raider Nation last night as they went to bed waiting for Santa Claus to come.

Little did they know, the big man in the red suit had delivered their best gift just hours before. It came in the form of a 16-13 overtime victory against the Kansas City in hostile Arrowhead Stadium.

"Merry Christmas to everybody. Merry Christmas to Raider Nation," said subdued Raider coach Hue Jackson afterwards. "It was a great win for our entire organization."

It will be an even greater win if the Raiders follow it up with a victory next week in the regular-season finale at home against the San Diego Chargers.

The Raiders don't control their playoff destiny, but yesterday's win puts them in better position to make the postseason dance.There are two scenarios in which the Raiders can make the postseason. In either case, they must win their game against the Chargers.

To simplify things, a Raider win next week and a loss by the Denver Broncos gives the Raiders the AFC West crown, meaning they get to host a first-round playoff contest.

If both the Broncos and Raiders win, the Silver and Black can make the playoffs as the second wild-card team in the AFC if the Baltimore Ravens beat the Cincinnati Bengals and the Titans lose to the Texans OR the Bengals lose and the New York Jets win.

Confused? Don't worry it will all play out. Just be thankful the Raiders are right in the middle of it all on the last day of season -- something Raider Nation hasn't had the luxury of saying the past decade.

That's why I wasn't expecting much from the Raiders heading into the Chiefs game, especially after losing three straight games to fall to 7-7. The Raiders still made it difficult for themselves yesterday like on that fake field goal that went for a Raider touchdown, but was negated due to a delay-of-game penalty. It was a great call by Jackson, no doubt, but the delay following a Raider timeout left us all scratching our heads.

That delay was also one of 15 -- count 'em -- Raider penalties that seem to haunt this club and something that Jackson and his staff can't seem to fix.

But, hey, the Raiders won and live for another day.

Merry Christmas, Raider Nation. Enjoy the holiday.





Chiefs will end Raiders' playoff hopes

December 24, 2011


By JOE D'AMODIO

THE WEB SCRIBE

It's Christmas Eve and Raider Nation is expecting a nice gift in the form of a victory when the Raiders play the Kansas City Chiefs this afternoon in the hostile confines of Arrowhead Stadium.

But don't be surprised if Raiders fans are handed a stocking full of coal, delivered to them by the team in red.

Why should we expect anything but that? Truth is, the Raiders packed it in last week when they allowed the Detroit Lions to march 98 yards for the winning score with less than two minutes left in the game.

It could have been a mile and the Lions would have scored on the Raiders' sorry-ass defense, headed by Chuck Bresnahan.

The Raider defensive coordinator has taken most of the blame this week around Raider headquarters, but I'm beginning to think we need to look no further than the Raider defenders.

Yes, our front four is good, and Aaron Curry has been an upgrade at outside linebacker, but our linebacking corp in general has been terrible stopping the run and covering backs out of the backfield.

Our secondary is college-like at best. It consists of plenty of athletes and speed-burners but no one can tackle, including Michael Mitchell, who was supposed to be the next Jack Tatum. Yeah right, and I can sell you the Brooklyn Bridge if you want to buy it.

Losers of three straight, the Raiders' season is on the brink today in Kansas City. Had you listened to Raider coach Hue Jackson during the week, you would have thought he was coaching the Green Bay Packers.

He's still talking up his team like they are headed for the Super Bowl instead of playoff elimination. Maybe, he believes it or likes hearing himself talk, but the reality of it is I'm getting tired of listening to Hue's empty promises.

Take this team to the playoffs, Hue, and then I'll start believing.

PREDICTION: Chiefs 17, Raiders 13.


Raiders suffer gut-wrenching defeat

December 18, 2011

By JOE D'AMODIO

THE WEB SCRIBE

Heart-breaking? Gut-wrenching? Call the latest Raiders loss what you want, but it's not going to make Raider Nation feel any better.

Instead, the 28-27 last-second-loss has left Raider fans all over speechless -- long after the Oakland defense looked clueless during a 98-yard-drive that allowed the Detroit Lions to take the lead for good. And the Lions' top receiver Calvin Johnson inexplicably got behind the defensive secondary on a first-and-10 play from the Lions' 35-yard line and 48 yards later he was inside the Raider 15-yard line. Moments later, Johnson hauled in the game-winning catch, much to the dismay of the Raider defensive backs.

I guess everyone in the world knew the ball was going to Johnson, except the Raider defense.

It's a combination of poor coaching and then poor execution on the defenders' part.

Afterwards, Raider coach Hue Jackson, whose job has to be in jeopardy after his team suffered a third straight defeat to fall to 7-7 and stay a game back in the AFC West standings to Denver which lost to New England 41-23, said it was about his team not making plays that cost them the game.

He was talking about some offensive plays that the Raiders would like to have back, but in the end, he was referring to the Raider defense which failed miserably after moving ahead 27-14 with 7:47 left to play in the game.

When a team throws for 367 yards and runs for another 130-plus, you're supposed to win those games.

But with a Raider defense that has resembled Swiss cheese, that offensive effort wasn't good enough.

Now, the Raiders still have a shot to back into the playoffs, but after three straight losses and a defense that hasn't stopped anyone the second-half of the season, do you think anything is going to change on the road next week at Kansas City, a team that demolished the Raiders 28-0 earlier this year and ended Green Bay's perfect season yesterday? Or the following week at home against the suddenly rejuvenated San Diego Chargers, who lit up the great Baltimore Ravens defense like a Christmas tree Sunday night?

My answer: Let's just put it this way: You have a better chance of seeing Santa Clause coming down the chimney early Sunday morning.




What's the play, coach?

The season is starting to get away from Raider quarterback Carson Palmer and head coach Hue Jackson.
The season is starting to get away from Raider quarterback Carson Palmer and head coach Hue Jackson.

Raiders ready to fall apart

DECEMBER 16, 2011

By JOE D'AMODIO

WEB SCRIBE

This is where the Raiders' season gets ugly.

This is where it will all fall apart, just like it did a year ago.

Coming off consecutive blowout losses to Miami and then Green Bay -- in which the opposition could have put up 50 points against the Raiders helpless defense -- Oakland gets set to play host to the Detroit Lions Sunday.

Yes, I'm a Raider fan, but I'm a realist and know the Raiders don't stand a chance in this game, not with their Swiss cheese defense.

The Raider 'D' will somehow make Matthew Stafford look like Joe Montana and turn their backup running back into Eric Dickerson for a day.

That's what you get when you have a bunch of selflish players on defense.

And, if by some miracle, the Raiders do beat the Lions, they'll blow any chances they have of making the playoffs against the Kansas City Chiefs the following week.

Prediction: Lions 31, Raiders 13.

******

WHERE'S THE BULLY

Hey, whatever happened to that bully Raider head coach Hue Jackson was talking about building this year? I guess that will have to wait until next season.

*******

FEELING A DRAFT

I'm dreading the NFL Draft in April. As is stands now, the Raiders won't pick until the fifth round, although they will surely get some supplemental picks for the departure of Nmandi Asomugha, Robert Gallery and Zach Miller.

If I'm Hue Jackson or whoever the G.M. will be, I'd be looking to get some additional picks via trades. The first player I would send packing would be Richard Seymour (worth a fourth-rounder), an overpaid, undisciplined player whose best years were in New England. I'd send one or two of the receivers Chaz Schilens and Darrius Heyward-Bey packing, too. The Raiders can probably get a seventh-rounder for Schillens and a fifth-rounder for Heyward-Bey.

Also, I'd look to trade punter Shane Lechler. The Raiders can get a second or third-rounder for Lechler, no doubt, the best punter in the game. I'd hate to part ways with him, but the truth is if you want to get good players you have to trade away good players. Plus, there are a handful of exceptional punters coming out of college this year that the Raiders could select late in the draft.


Jets gets sucked into Black Hole

The Black Hole was loud and nasty in the Raiders' win against the Jets. This blogger hopes that will continue Sunday against the Patriots.
The Black Hole was loud and nasty in the Raiders' win against the Jets. This blogger hopes that will continue Sunday against the Patriots.

Raiders make believer out of this blogger

SEPTEMBER 26, 2011

By JOE D'AMODIO

THE WEB SCRIBE

I have to admit, I thought my beloved Oakland Raiders were left for dead as I traveled down the Garden State Parkway Sunday afternoon and listened on the radio that the New York Jets had taken a 17-7 lead at the Oakland Coliseum.

I was fuming. Yeah, I thought all that "being a bully" talk from new Raider coach Hue Jackson was bunch of, well, ... BULL-shit.

Then, Darren McFadden ignited the Raiders with one of his patented runs that helped Jackson's troops knot the score at 17-17 all at the half.

The Coliseum rocked. The Black Hole, well, was the Black Hole again. It was finally hip to be a Raider fan.

"A whole half left to self-destruct," I thought at the time.

Bu the Silver & Black and Coach Jackson came up with the perfect game plan in the second half.

It helped that the Raiders finally had some calls go their way and McFadden and Co. kept on running and running on that supposedly tough Jet defense.

Now, the Raiders stand at 2-1 with the great Tom Brady and the always-tough New England Patriots coming to town this Sunday.

Can the Raiders win? Yes. They'll be able to put up some points on that ragged Patriot defense.

I'm thinking they'll have to light up the scoreboard with 40 points because the Raider defense is still a work in progress and Brady will find a way to exploit it -- which he does to every defense.

In the end, though, the Black Hole may provide the difference again for the Raiders like it did against the Jets.



Bills trample Raider defense

The Bills' David Nelson (86) catches the game-winning touchdown ahead of Raider safety Matt Giordano (27).
The Bills' David Nelson (86) catches the game-winning touchdown ahead of Raider safety Matt Giordano (27). | Source

Defense lets Raiders down in Buffalo loss

SEPTEMBER 18, 2011

By JOE D'AMODIO

THE WEB SCRIBE

This one -- a 38-35 loss to the Buffalo Bills this afternoon -- is squarely on the shoulders of Oakland's defense.

The Raider defense, which played so admirably last week against the Denver Broncos, reverted to 2010 form as the Bills scored on all five of their second-half drives to score 35 points and erase a 21-3 halftime deficit.

The 35 points surrendered in the second half were the most allowed by any Raider defensive unit in the team's storied history.

In that second half, the Bills ran and passed at will on the Oakland defense, compiling more than 350 yards during those 30 minutes.

Perhaps, Raider defensive tackle Richard Seymour said it best to the Associated Press: “Not a whole lot to say other than that effort isn’t going to be good enough.We didn’t seem to give the offense any help in the second half. That’s on us. It isn’t good enough.”

No, it wasn't Mr. Seymour and the season won't be good enough if we keep letting the offense down.

When your offense puts up 35 points you're supposed to win.

When was the last time the Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens offense scored 35 points and lost? You'll have to search long and hard to find it.

I always say that defense wins championships and the Raiders look like they don't have a good one, which means it's going to be a long season in Oaktown.




Steelers were lucky to be in Super Bowl

FEBRUARY 7, 2011


By JOE D'AMODIO

THE WEB SCRIBE

Forget the fact that my Super Bowl prediction was almost a perfect bulls-eye (read the story below).

Fact of the matter is the Green Bay Packers should have beaten the Steelers much more easily if it wasn't for two dropped touchdown passes by Green Bay Packer receivers.

Overall, Packer receivers dropped six catchable balls and if they were caught, Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers would have completed 30 of 39 passes and thrown for over 450 yards instead of the 304 he actually got.

But that's what you come to expect from the Steeler defense, which hasn't been able to defend the pass since the 2002 season.

Fact of the matter is the Steelers shouldn't have even been in the big game on Sunday.

Firstly, Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger should have been suspended the entire season instead of the four-game suspension he was given for allegedly touching an underage girl in a bathroom at a night club long before the season started. Not to mention it wasn't the first time Big Ben has gotten into trouble with folks of the opposite sex.

Secondly, the Steelers were lucky to get by the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs a few weeks back -- only being saved by a phantom holding call on a punt return by the Ravens that negated a touchdown, which eventually led to the Ravens settling for a field goal.

Then the Steelers managed to hold off the Jets after blowing almost all of a 24-point lead.

But the Steelers and their fans have been whining the whole season about penalties and how the refs were going against them with some crazy calls.

All I have to say is welcome to my world. Crazy and crappy calls have been happening to the Raiders for 30 years now.

Learn to live with it, Pittsburgh. Those are the breaks.

Better luck next year.

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Super Bowl prediction: Packers 31, Steelers 24

FEBRUARY 5, 2011

Packers will win Super Bowl, 31-24

By JOE D'AMODIO

THE WEB SCRIBE


This will go down as one of the great Super Bowls, but in the end the Packers will prevail -- just barely.

My reasons are this: Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers will win the MVP by tossing a handful of TD passes and throwing for over 300 yards against a very suspect Steeler secondary.

My second reason is Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger does not play well in the big game, even though he has two Super Bowl wins to his credit. I'm predicting Big Ben will throw at least two INTs and have another poor showing.

The game will be close and Big Ben will have a chance at the end, but the Steelers don't have that go-to guy at receiver (it used to be Hines Ward, but he is much too old) and it will show.

In the end, the Vince Lombardi Trophy will be heading back from where it came -- Green Bay -- and I'll walk away a lot richer, too much for me to say here in print.

Go Cheeseheads!

PREDICTION: Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 24

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Silver and Black need Greene as defensive coordinator

Raider owner Al Davis would make his team much improved next season by hiring Green Bay outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene as Oakland's defensive coordinator.
Raider owner Al Davis would make his team much improved next season by hiring Green Bay outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene as Oakland's defensive coordinator.

Time for Raiders to go Greene on defense

FEBRUARY 3, 2011

By JOE D'AMODIO

THE WEB SCRIBE

All right so Raider owner Al Davis decided on another offensive-minded coach (Hue Jackson) to lead his football team next season.

Doesn't Mr. Davis know that defense wins championships? (He should know because he's been around the game for about 100 years now.)

Well, if the Raiders can't hire a defensive-minded head coach the next best thing he could do is bring in a rising defensive-minded coach to lead the defense.

That's why it's imperative for Mr. Davis to hire Green Bay outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene. Greene, who made his niche playing linebacker for the powerful Pittsburgh Steelers in the late 1990s and early 2000s is the perfect man for the job.

He has helped the Packers build one of the better defenses in the league, and he seems to be just as fiery as a coach as he was while playing with the Steelers and later the Carolina Panthers.

If anything, the Raiders need to start emulating the Super-Bowl bound Steelers on defense by bringing in great linebackers and a run-stuffing line. (Stealing some of Pittsburgh's defensive players in the offseason wouldn't be a bad idea, either). The Raiders have a great secondary, as long as Nnamdi Asomugha stays in Oakland, but they need to strenghthen their linebacking and defensive line corps.

The Raider defense was lit up six times for 30 or more points last season -- all losses -- which led to the dismissal of defensive coordinator John Marshall.

The Raiders last week brought back Chuck Bresnahan to be an assistant on defense., If the Raiders can't bring in Greene or someone else the DC job will go to Bresnahan.

In his first go-around with the Raiders when Jon Gruden was head coach, Bresnahan's defenses were good, but they weren't great. And a great defense is what NFL teams need to be successful.

I think the person that can get them to greatness is Greene. Once the Super Bowl ends Sunday night, I say Mr. Davis calls Greene and offers him the job.

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Clock ticking on Hue Jackson's tenure

New Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson smiles at a news conference at Raiders headquarters in Alameda, Calif.
New Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson smiles at a news conference at Raiders headquarters in Alameda, Calif. | Source

Picking the winners

Which team will win the NFC championship game?

  • Bears
  • Packers
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Picking the winners

Which team will win Sunday's AFC championship?

  • Steelers
  • Jets
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Raiders tab new coach -- again

JANUARY 19, 2011


By JOE D'AMODIO

WEB SCRIBE


So everything is just fine in Raiderland now that Raider owner Al Davis has tapped a new coach, Hue Jackson, to lead his team back to greatness.

Jackson, who replaces Tom Cable whose contract was not extended, was the team's offensive coordinator last season and helped Oakland double its scoring output from the season before. The team also went from 31st to 10th in total offense.

And Jackson and Davis said all the right things yesterday about each other.

The same things were said when Davis elevated Cable 2 3/4 seasons ago. And it was more of the same when Davis hired whiz kid Lane Kiffin a year before that, after hiring and saying the same nice things about Norv Turner a couple of seasons before that.

In other words, if your Hue Jackson you shouldn't be making any long-range plans to stay in Oakland. In other words, don't buy a house. Rent.

Because the same thing that happened to your predecessors is going to happen to you -- sooner or later.

That's just the way it is coaching in Oakland for Al Davis.

The more you win, the longer you stay. Lose more than you win and Davis will send you on your merry way.

And that's when the madness will start all over again.

Which means Art Shell Part III can't be too far off -- perhaps as close as two Januarys from now?

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Al Davis has lost it

JANUARY 17, 2011

By JOE D'AMODIO

THE WEB SCRIBE

Al Davis has once again set the Raiders franchise back.

How long this time is anyone's guess. Two years? Five years? Ten years?

What difference does it make?

Every time it appears the Raiders are about to do something good, Mr. Davis goes and pulls the rug out from under his once proud franchise's feet.

Like this past season when the Raiders posted an 8-8 record, the team's first non-losing season in eight years, behind head coach Tom Cable and his dedicated staff.

It was the first time in a while the Raiders competed or resembled a team. The players played hard for Cable, a far cry from how things were under his predecessors. In Cable, the players had someone they trusted.

Even more so, the future, with Cable at the helm, looked bright. Following the team's season-ending 31-10 victory over playoff-bound Kansas City -- which gave the Raiders a perfect 6-0 mark against AFC West opponents -- the Raider were looking forward to building on that success next season.

Things in Raiderland were finally looking up.

Then Al Davis decides not to pick up the two-year extension on Cable's contract, which in essence means Cable got fired.

Upon hearing the news, most of the players were upset, with punter Shane Lechtler lambasting Davis in the media, saying no free agents in their right mind would want to play in Oakland and that the Raider free agents -- 21 of them to be exact -- would be looking for employment elsewhere instead of at the three-ring circus Oakland has become.

Yes, just when the Raiders became relevant again in the NFL, Davis decides to pull the plug on all the good fortune the Raiders experienced last season.

Now, the idiotic owner is looking for his seventh coach in nine seasons this offseason.

Word is he's looking to elevate offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who did wonders with the team's offense last season.

If not Cable, Jackson should no doubt get the job, but Cable didn't do anything to deserve to get canned. Plus, we're finding out now that Cable worked the entire season at a reduced salary as Davis docked him $20,000 a paycheck for a total of $120,000.

Way to treat your employees, Al. Way to treat a guy, who grew up rooting for the Raiders and bled Silver & Black all along.

Way to burn bridges, Al.

But he's done it before with Marcus Allen, one of the most prominent Raiders of all time, basically running the man out of town.

Then there was the Jon Gruden mess.

Most importantly, Davis alienated some key front-office people like Mike Lombardi and a host of others.

He's alienated anyone and everyone that has meant something to this organization.

To boot, he has surrounded himself with a bunch of yes-people and morons like John Herrera, the team's public relations person, who has a tad bit more of a personality than a rock in El Segundo.

As a result, the fan base is old and declining. The youngsters today associate the Raiders with losing. We are the Detroit Lions of the last two decades to them. In other words, we are the laughing stock of the league. At home, the team has played to mostly half-filled stadiums for almost every game the past two seasons. Blackouts have become the norm for these Raiders.

Cable and Co. helped us see the light at the end of the tunnel this past season.

But that wasn't good enough for Davis. I guess he has a better idea or game plan.

Maybe he doesn't want to win anymore. Maybe, his legacy will be running this franchise into the ground.

Maybe the league should step in and declare Davis unfit to run an NFL franchise. The league probably would, but doesn't want to tussle with Davis' hot-shot lawyers, who have done nothing but take his money.

Davis thinks he can do whatever he pleases. He thinks it's the 1970s and '80s again.

Yes, he has lost his mind -- once and for all.

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Raiders lose grip on Jags, season

December 13, 2010

By JOE D'AMODIO

WEB SCRIBE

I knew yesterday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars was going to be a tough one for the Oakland Raiders to win, but when they had a 24-14 lead midway through the third quarter, I felt real good about their chances.

Then disaster struck. In the blink of an eye, the Silver & Black were on the wrong side of a 28-24 affair.

First, the Jags' Rashad Jennings ripped off a 75-yard TD run on third-and-2, eluding two Raider defenders behind the line of scrimmage before turning the corner and heading up the sideline untouched.

"OK," I was thinking, "we still have a 24-21 lead. We just have to score on our next possession."

That's when Raider kickoff returner Jacoby Ford, who is up for rookie-of-the-year honors, fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the Jags the ball deep in Raider territory.

A few moments later, the Jags took a four-point lead, and the Raiders' season was in trouble.

Prior to all that, the Raiders had a 17-7 lead and for some reason lined up in their all-safety defense on a second-and-18 situation on the Jags first possession of the second half.

The Raiders' all-safety defense is when their cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Stanford Routt leave the field and safeties Hiram Eugene, Tyvon Branch, Stevie Brown, Mike Mitchell and Michael Huff are all on the field at same time.

The Jags exposed that alignment when quarteback David Gerrard completed a 48-yard TD pass to Jason Hill, who had gotten past Huff, who was playing cornerback in that alignment, pulling Jacksonville within 17-14.

Now, I'm no football genius, but why in the world would you send your cornerbacks, especially Asomugha, the best cover man in the NFL, to the sidelines in an obvious passing situation, unless one or the other or both were hurt?

In a game where one play may have decided the outcome, I think this may have cost the Raiders the game because it gave Jacksonsville momentum, and most of all hope. Up until that point, the Raider defense was playing stellar.

After that it was all downhill --- much like where this season is heading after a 5-4 start.


Raiders blew it in the draft

December 1, 2010

By JOE D'AMODIO

WEB SCIRIBE

The more I think about it the more angry I get that the Raiders didn't try to draft a quarterback in last April's NFL Draft, instead of bringing in Jason Campbell.

I would have been happy heading into the season with Bruce Gradkowski or Kyle Boller as the starter.

Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen was there for the taking for the Raiders in the second round of the draft, and he would have fit in nicely with the Raiders.

He could have learned under Gradkowski and Boller the next two seasons. Of course, he would have taken some snaps in some real games, but he wouldn't have had to be ready until the 2012 season.

Now, the Raiders are back to ground zero heading into the upcoming draft, still needing a quarterback of the future.

Clearly, the inconsistent Campbell isn't the answer not to mention the coaching staff has no confidence in him. Gradkowski is a good stop-gap option, but he's too erratic and gets hurt much to much.

Boller is the unknown factor in this equation, but he can't be all that good if the then offensively-challenged Baltimore Ravens sent him packing two seasons ago.

I'm not saying Clausen is going to be great, but he would have given Raider Nation some hope for the future.

And with this once-promising season heading quickly down the drain, it would have been something for Raider fans to hang their hats on.

Now we have nothing to look forward to. Heck, we don't even have a first-round pick in next year's draft. Bill Belichick and the Patriots have that in exchange for sending us Richard Seymour.

Tom Brady would have been a better option, don't you think?

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The fish that got away

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Marlon Moore (14) runs away from Oakland Raiders cornerback Walter McFadden (22) on a 57-yard touchdown-reception in the third quarter that put Miami ahead to stay.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Marlon Moore (14) runs away from Oakland Raiders cornerback Walter McFadden (22) on a 57-yard touchdown-reception in the third quarter that put Miami ahead to stay. | Source

Raiders pull disappearing act

November 30, 2010

By JOE D'AMODIO

WEB SCRIBE

Just kiss the season goodbye, baby!

That's what the Oakland Raiders did Sunday afternoon after the Miami Dolphins, resembling a Big Mack truck, flattened the Raiders, 33-17, and left them for dead.

For the second straight week, the Raiders were totally dominated by an opponent and were literally pushed around the field both on offense and defense.

And those two games -- with the first coming against Pittsburgh -- came after the Raiders' bye week, which this year will stand for bye-bye Raiders.

And with the red-hot San Diego Chargers next on the Silver & Black schedule, it looks like the Raiders' mid-season collapse will continue.

As a matter of fact, I see the Raiders winning just one more time the rest of the season -- Dec. 19th against the Broncos, and even that game will be a tough one to win.

The Raiders are currently banged up and still have no answers at the quarterback position, which is the way it's been since Rich Gannon got hurt and never returned.

To boot, the defense, all of a sudden, looks like it did the past seven seasons and teams playing the Raiders always leave with a smile on their face.

The Raiders' once-potent running attack wouldn't scare a pee wee football team, let alone the Steeler or Dolphin defense.

Even head coach Tom Cable, who just a few weeks ago was being mentioned as Coach of the Year, suddenly looks like he'll have to fight to keep his job come January.

Yes, it's the same-old Raiders, folks, unless they prove me wrong over the next five weeks.

But I'm not going to hold my breath.

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Raiders flop in Pittsburgh; season on brink

November 22, 2010

By JOE D'AMODIO

WEB SCRIBE

Certainly, I didn't expect the Oakland Raiders to win yesterday's game in the unfriendly confines of Pittsburgh, but I certainly didn't expect Al Davis' boys to get whipped the way they did.

The Steelers literally manhandled the Raiders from start to finish, showing them that they are not ready to compete with the elite teams.

What's mind-boggling is that the Raiders were coming off the bye-week and were healthy, while the banged-up Steelers were still reeling from last week's loss to New England. To me, that means head coach Tom Cable and the rest of his staff are to blame for not getting the team ready.

The Raiders are now an incredible 0-8 after the bye-week, which means they must examine what the heck they are doing during that week off.  Maybe, two-a-days are in order for next season during the bye-week?

And to think, the Cable sent some of his players home with tapes of the Steelers to study them and the Raiders had the chance to watch Pittsburgh on prime-time TV the past two weeks to get a gauge of how good they are.

If it wasn't for that, the Raiders may have lost 75-3.

To boot, the Raiders, most notably Richard Seymour, the team's leader lost his cool by slugging Steeler QB Ben Roethlisburger, who no doubt deserved the hit after all he's allegedly done to girls under the age of 21, but I didn't want it to be during a football game against the Raiders.

After Seymour departed, whatever little hope the Raiders had of pulling out a win like last season against the Steelers was gone.

Now the Raidrers must regroup with the Miami Dolphins, who nearly beat the Steelers last month, coming to town on Sunday. Then, the week after that, the Raiders head to San Diego for an always-tough game against the Chargers.

Suddenly, this rejuvinated season doesn't look so good. I have a feeling -- and I hope I'm wrong -- that we're heading for a 6-10 campaign.

If these current Raiders are any different from the ones who showed up the previous seven seasons then they will bounce back from the Steeler loss and beat the Dolphins.

If not, watch out below.

Raiders still have no clue on defense

OCTOBER 20, 2010

By JOE D'AMODIO

WEB SCRIBE

Prior to the 2010 season, the Raiders were supposed to have fixed their run defense and the holes in the passing defense.

Well, we're six games into the season, and I'm still waiting for the Raider defense to show up.

And I'm beginning to wonder if it's not the players, but rather the scheme that smells like something's fishy in the air.

And I know that Raider owner Al Davis has his fingerprints all over the defense, just like he always does. That's the reason why he never hires a defensive guru as his head coach.

His thinking is: I'll hire an offensive head coach and I'll run the defense with the defensive coordinator.

No wonder the defense is ranked near the bottom of the league in both the rushing and passing categories.

I'm no expert but I say there's not enough blitzing and far too much man-to-man coverage.

Mr. Davis, it's time to step into the new century. Mix in a little zone defense or that Tampa-2 zone we always hear about. Let the defensive coaches draw up the scheme and stick to it. I think at your age, these guys know a little more than you do.

Offensively, we're hurting because we never fixed the offensive line. But had we played a little better defensively, we could have won one or two more games and been 3-3 or 4-2 instead of 2-4 (and heading for another four or five-win season).

Doesn't Mr. Davis know that defense wins championships. Just look at the best teams in the league -- the Steelers, Jets and Ravens. They are all defensive-minded teams, who are 4-1, 5-1 and 4-2, respectively.

And one great offensive team that comes to mind is the San Diego Chargers, who are 2-4. Yes, just like us.

Case closed.

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Terrible outing

Jason Campbell is certainly no Jim Plunkett when it comes to quarterbacking the Raiders.
Jason Campbell is certainly no Jim Plunkett when it comes to quarterbacking the Raiders. | Source

Campbell is no Jim Plunkett

OCTOBER 19, 2010

By JOE D'AMODIO

THE WEB SCRIBE


Raider owner Al Davis recently suggested that quarterback Jason Campbell reminded him of former Raider great Jim Plunkett, who won two Super Bowl for the Raiders in the 1980s.

Well, after watching Mr. Campbell's performance last Sunday against the hapless San Francisco 49ers, the first-year Oakland quarterback didn't resemble Plunkett, but rather former top draft pick JaMarcus Russell, who was cut by the team prior to the start of the season.

Campbell completed just 8 of 21 passes for a whopping 83 yards and was intercepted twice. His completion percentage was 38.1 percent and his passer rating was a mere 10.7. Hardly, Plunkett-type numbers, but rather numbers that Russell put up when he played.

Campbell missed on short passes, long passes, passes to running backs out of the backfield etc. It looked like he was on some kind of foreign substance instead of JaMarcus Russell.

Things were so bad that Campbell didn't complete a pass from one minute left in the first quarter to more than midway through the fourth quarter.

As a result, he was the reason why the Raiders lost to the 49ers.

Sorry, Mr. Davis, but you better get your eyes checked. Campbell doesn't remind me -- or any Raider fan for that matter -- of Jim Plunkett.

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Starting or not?

Bruce Gradkowski's fiery play and consistent quarterback play have earned him the right to be the Raiders' starter over Jason Campbell.
Bruce Gradkowski's fiery play and consistent quarterback play have earned him the right to be the Raiders' starter over Jason Campbell.

C'mon, Al Davis, Bruce is your man

SEPTEMBER 22, 2010

By JOE D'AMODIO

WEB SCRIBE

Don't think for a moment, Raider head coach Tom Cable is thinking about who his starting quarterback is going to be Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

Deep down, Cable knows Bruce Gradkowski is his man. He never wanted Jason Campbell when Al Davis pulled the trigger on the trade to get the Redskins quarterback during the NFL Draft last April.

Cable was happy about what he saw from Gradkowski last season in big wins over Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and knew he was going to be his starter this season, even despite his season-ending injury last year.

Only problem is Mr. Davis didn't bring Campbell in and give him big bucks, including a contract extension, to sit on his big fannie. Plus, Davis went on record a couple of weeks back and likened Campbell to ex-Raider quarterback Jim Plunkett, who won two Super Bowl rings for the Silver & Black.

Where he drew that comparison from I don't know. Campbell didn't do a thing with the Redskins and when you factor in that he had his best season statistically last year with Washington and the team scored 10 points or fewer in 10 of those games, you realize that Campbell can't get the ball in the end zone. Just like Raider Nation witnessed last week in the first half against lowly St. Louis.

So we all see where this is going here. When Cable or whomever decides to let us in on who will start this Sunday at QB, I say it's going to be Campbell, unfortunately.

That's just the Raider way, or Al Davis' way for that matter, and Raider Nation and Gradkowski will have to live with that decision for now.




Raiders need to practice tackling

September 13, 2010

By JOE D'AMODIO

WEB SCRIBE

It's mind-boggling that most NFL teams don't tackle during the week.

The Oakland Raiders are one of those teams. It's quite evident the way they missed on several tackles in Sunday's 38-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans, which resulted in several big plays by Titan runners.

Too often in the last seven years, I've seen this kind of play out of the Oakland Raider defense.

According to sources, head coach Tom Cable had the Raiders hit once during preseason workouts. Once? C'mon, what is this pee-wee football camp or something?

I'm sure this is a mandate from Raider owner Al Davis. I say forget what Mr. Davis says and start tackling in practice. If anything sneak some hits in when he's not looking. After all, your job security is on the line.

Think about it: Whatever the Raider coaching staff has been doing the last seven seasons hasn't worked so why not try something different? I'm sure the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, two of the toughest teams around, hit during their workouts.

To me, not hitting in practice is a sign of a soft team. And the results for the Raiders are obvious: 7 straight losing seasons and another one on the way if they don't change their practice habits.

"You play like you practice," said one NFL scout. "And the Raiders don't hit in practice and they obviously are missing a lot of tackles in games."

One of those players was Raider safety Tyvon Branch, who whiffed on several occasions, including Chris Johnson's 74-yard TD run. If Branch wraps up Johnson, it's only a 5-yard gainer. Instead, Johnson sidestepped Branch and went all the way.

Branch also apologized to Raider Nation on Twitter following the game.

I'm tired of the apologies.

Stop apologizing and start tackling and maybe you'll start winning some games.

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Titans trample Raiders

The Raiders saw a lot of the back of Titan runner Chris Johnson's jersey Sunday during a 38-13 loss in Tennessee. Johnson had a 142 yards rushing, including two touchdowns.
The Raiders saw a lot of the back of Titan runner Chris Johnson's jersey Sunday during a 38-13 loss in Tennessee. Johnson had a 142 yards rushing, including two touchdowns.

It looks like same-old Raiders

September 12, 2010

By JOE D'AMODIO

WEB SCRIBE

Sunday's 38-13 clobbering the Oakland Raiders suffered to the Tennessee Titans was exactly the way I saw when I made my prediction (Titans 34, Raiders 17) last week.

It was the same-old Raiders again. The ones that have been showing up for the past seven seasons now, and ready to take over again for an eighth.

The Raiders new-and-improved defense was shredded by Chris Johnson (142 yards on 27 rushes for a 5.3 average) and it made Vince Young look like Steve Young.

Offensively, the Raiders picked up where they left off a year ago and failed to protect the quarterback (new signal-caller Jason Campbell was sacked four times and hurried a thousand others). To boot, rookie center Jared Veldhee couldn't get Campbell the ball in the shotgun or under center.

And when the Raiders did manage to get into the Red Zone, they failed to score a touchdown and had to settle for a field goal.

Same old Raiders, right?

This is not good news for Raider fans. Raider Nation could be looking at another 3-13 or 4-12 campaign if they don't wake up from their seven-year slumber.


“You can’t sit around and feel bad about it or be shocked by it,” Oakland coach Tom Cable told the Associated Press. Cable's club had a 3-0 lead before the Titans put up 24 straight points in the first half to all but seal the game. “You really have to deal with it. This was unexpected, but we’ll fix it and get it right pretty quick.”

They better because with St. Louis' (the Raiders opponent next week) and its talented running back Steven Jackson's strong showing against Arizona yesterday, the Raiders could be staring at an 0-2 start after next Sunday, which would spell disaster for Cable, his staff and his players.

Most importantly, a loss to the lowly Rams and rookie quarterback Sam Bradford will crush the Raiders' early-season confidence.

The only bright spot for the Silver & Black was the effort turned in by running back Darren McFadden, who ran for 95 yards and had another 55 out of the backfield, including a touchdown late in the game.

But in the end, it was the same old Raiders.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



Al Davis pisses off coaching staff

September, 5, 2010

By JOE D'AMODIO

WEB SCRIBE

When it came time to making the final cut Saturday, the Oakland Raider coaching staff thought safety Mike Mitchell, a f ormer Top 50 pick, should go and safety Stevie Brown, a seventh-round pick in last April's draft, should stay.

The only problem was Mitchell was a second round pick in the 2009 draft and was a personal pick of Raider owner Al Davis.

Davis, meanwhile, still reeling from the fallout surrounding the departure of JaMarcus Russell, another personal selection by the Raider owner, probably wanted to save face and ruled against letting Mitchell go.

Instead, the Raiders tried to trade Mitchell, but when there were no takers, the Raiders had to let one of the players go.

An intense meeting with Davis and the coaches reportedly took place and in the end, you guessed it, Mr. Davis had won.

I'm sure most of the defensive staff is still boiling about this decision, and it's very unlikely Mitchell will ever see the field this season.

Brown, on the other hand, may still wind up with the Raiders' practice squad and may be, elevated to the team if and when another safety gets hurt.

Once again Al Davis comes off like the egotistical owner he is, and it gives the media more reasons to say bad things about him and the team.

In the end, it's just not a very good way to start the 2010 season.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On second thought, Raider offense looked good

August 31, 2010

By JOE D'AMODIO

WEB SCRIBE

I had a chance to watch a second replay of last Saturday's 28-24 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on the NFL Network and I must say I came away feeling better about the Raider offense.

While the running game is still non-existent, the passing game looked crisp and the blocking up front was better than originally thought.

Actually, new Raider quarterback Jason Campbell did well and hit on passes that JaMarcus Russell could only dream of making the last two seasons.

Hue Jackson's offense looks a lot like the one Jon Gruden brought to town in the late 1990s and the short-passing, timing offense is just what the doctor ordered for this porous offensive line.

I thought Oakland looked better when Bruce Gradkowski replaced the injured Campbell late in the second quarter.

I didn't think the Raiders needed to traded for Campbell in the offseason based on what I saw from Gradkowski last season, And deep down inside, I think Raider coach Tom Cable wanted Gradkowski to be his starter.

But, hey, it's always good to have two capable starting quarterbacks on the roster.

I like Campbell's headiness for the game and his ability to get the ball downfield when he has to, but there is just something about Gradkowski, the eternal underdog, who brings a whole lot of passion and excitement to the game.

And his teammates feed off that and that will only make this team better if Campbell gets hurt and can't go.


Another long season ahead

August 30, 2010

By JOE D'AMODIO

WEB SCRIBE

Forget that the Raiders had the lead late in the game in Saturday night's exhibition game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Forget that the Raiders lost by only four points (28-24) to the 49ers.

Forget that Raider backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski looked impressive in his first game since going down with an injury last season.

When all was said and done Saturday night, this was the same Raider team that has stunk up the Coliseum the last seven years, which means you can FORGET ABOUT THE SEASON.

That's right, folks. The Raiders still stink. You will all see by season's end.

Horrible protection by the offensive line and the failure to open holes for the running backs continue to haunt the Raiders. It's a wonder Darren McFadden and Michael Bush can't get going.

Also, it was no surprise to see new QB Jason Campbell get carted off the field after being sacked. There's going to be a lot of that this year. Might as well keep all the quarterbacks in camp since the Raiders will go through them all.

Also, our receivers need to hold onto to the ball. That means you Darius Heywood-Bey. The others aren't any better except for Louis Murphy, who reminds me of a younger Hines Ward of the Steelers, which means Murphy is a keeper. Tight end Zach Miller is also great.

As for the defense, it continues to be dreadful when it comes to giving up big plays. They look great for periods at a time and then a running back manages to slip past them for a 75, 80-yard gainer.

Rookie linebacker Rolando McClain looked good at times and bad at others. It's his job to contain the run and don't overpursue. I'm letting him off the hook for now, because it's still early in his career, but he must get better.

Also, it's time for Richard Seymour to get back on the field. Your summer vacation is over. Either get to work or go play someplace else.

If things don't improve soon, my 6-10 prediction for 2010 will, no doubt, come true. The oddsmakers in Las Vegas feel the same.

Two weeks until opening game against the tough and physical Tennessee Titans, which means two weeks until the Raiders get their tails handed to them.

Unless, of course, they decide to show up play.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The losing stops with Chucky's return

At least one writer and Raider fan thinks Jon Gruden belongs back in Oakland.
At least one writer and Raider fan thinks Jon Gruden belongs back in Oakland.

Here's hoping Al Davis calls on Gruden again

August 19, 2010

I can see it now. The Oakland Raiders suffer through another long season, making it eight in a row for the Silver & Black.

Then at season's end, Al Davis fires the loyal Tom Cable and takes two months to search for a new coach.

During that time, the Raider owner and former football genius, thinks of rehiring former head coach Jon Gruden, who led the team out of a similar losing funk in the late 1990s.

Put simply, the Raiders haven't been the same since Gruden's fingerprints haven't been on the organization. Gruden departed the Raiders after the 2001 season when Davis traded him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for $9 million. Gruden's Bucs wound up beating the Raiders in the Super Bowl the following season.

And the following season, then-Raider head coach Bill Callahan, an assistant under Gruden, was fired after a 4-12 season. Since then, Davis has gone through head coaches like a baby goes through diapers.

Now, I say the madness must stop -- once and for all.

If Cable can't turn things around this season, it's time for Davis to put his ego aside and hire Gruden.

All Gruden did when he was in Oakland was compile a 40-28 record and lead the team to two straight AFC West crowns, including a berth the AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens in 2000.

The Raiders haven't come close to that since then and have gone 28-82 since their Super Bowl loss to Gruden's Bucs.

The handwriting is on the wall, Mr. Davis.

Bring Gruden back and give him whatever he wants -- money and total control of the draft and team -- and tell him to go out there and "Just win, baby."

Not so good for starters

New Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell struggled in his debut for the Raiders Thursday night against the Cowboys.
New Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell struggled in his debut for the Raiders Thursday night against the Cowboys.

Same old offense for Raiders

By JOE D'AMODIO

WEB SCRIBE

I watched the Raiders' first preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys Thursday evening.

Let's just say I wasn't impressed with new quarterback Jason Campbell, who was cast away from the Washington Redskins after scoring an average of six points through the first 10 games of the season last year.

Now, I know it was just an exhibition game -- and the first one at that -- but Mr. Campbell wasn't impressive at all.

Yes, Darius Hayward-Bey dropped the first pass thrown by Campbell, but the right-handed replacement for JaMarcus Russell misfired on several passes, including two long tosses that wide receivers were open on.

He completed 7 of 13 passes for 48 yards, and average only 4.3 yards per throw, hardly anything Raider owner Al Davis was looking for when he traded for him on the second day of the NFL Draft last April.

Folks, it's going to be a long season for the Raiders if last night is any indication on the offensive side of the ball.

Defensively, the Raiders look sound, but in Davis' man-to-man scheme where the Raiders hardly blitz, it's just a matter of time before offenses start picking them apart.

Seven losing seasons and counting. And an eighth seems right around the corner.


Pulling the plug on Cable?

Another poor season and Al Davis will run Tom Cable out of town.
Another poor season and Al Davis will run Tom Cable out of town.

Six wins for Raiders this season

By JOE D'AMODIO

WEB SCRIBE

Just went through the 2010 Raider schedule and I don't see more than six wins for the Silver and Black.

After seven straight losing seasons, I know it's not what the Raider faithful, me included, want to hear, but I'm just being realistic.

Yes, the Raiders have dumped first-round bust JaMarcus Russell and added a new offensive coordinator in Hue Jackson. While new signal-caller Jason Campbell is an upgrade over Russell, he's not all that much better when you factor in the Redskins were hardpressed to score points with Campbell under center last season. And if he was so good, why did the Redskins go out and get Donovan McNabb?

Keep in mind, too, that the Raider offensive line is average at best and lacks depth so an injury here or there could have terrible consequences for Campbell and the Raider offense. The Raider receiving corp lacks a true No. 1 pass hauler and the rest of the corp is unproven except for tight end Zach Miller.

The running game has yet to be a factor, which might be more of a reflection of the offensive linemen.

Defensively, Oakland has improved, but this squad is not the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. If they were, they could win a lot of games. In the end, Al Davis' man-to-man defense will come back to haunt this bunch.

Looking at the schedule, I see the Raiders winning four games before the bye week, which comes in week No. 10. And I see Tom Cable's squad winning only two games the last seven weeks, which will mark the end of Cable's coaching tenure in Oakland.

After that, Davis will come to his senses and rehire Jon Gruden, who will rebuild the team into Super Bowl contenders again.


2010 Prediction: 6-10.


How many games do you think the Raiders will win in 2010?

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