I Haven’t Died

So sorry to all my loyal followers (all 3 of you). I’ve been a bad host this season. Partially because my college courses have been getting increasingly difficult starting this semester, and partially because the Raiders could have suck-started a fucking 747 this season. I’m going to have some very intelligent shit to say regarding personnel and off-season antics during the break between semesters, so stay tuned. Oh and FUCK GREGG KNAPP!
suck it

Welcome Back!


It’s that time of year again. That time of year that all of the anticipation of the regular football season culminates into a frothing stew of aggression, excitement, and insanity. Less than 1 week until the 2012 season kicks off and I, for one, can’t wait. I’ve followed all the draft moves, the free-agency pick-ups, the unexpected signings and even more shocking roster cuts, my fantasy team is ready to rock and roll, and I’ve been playing Madden almost daily since I picked it up (thanks to my brother-in-law Joe for the early b-day gift). All of this and I still just can’t get enough. Nothing compares to the real thing. With that said, let’s take a brief but real look at our beloved Raiders’ roster situation as we prepare to enter the gauntlet.

  • Cornerback:
    This position has been in question throughout the entire offseason. Very early on we signed to veterans, both whom we knew had talent, but also had a little baggage. Shawntae Spencer is an 8 year vet who has proven himself in the 49’ers outstanding defensive scheme and has not disappointed during camp or preseason. Ron Bartell had a 6 year tenure with the Rams before he had a horrific neck injury which ended his season in 2011. Reggie McKensie wisely took a gamble on signing Bartell and I think we will see dividends on this investment. Both of these men have something to prove, and while they really aren’t #1 material at 30 years old each, I think we will definitely get some good mileage out of them.

    The part that scares me at this position, however, is the #3 and #4 spots. Just over the past few days we have released both Chimdi Chekwa and DeMarcus Van Dyke, our supposed diamonds in the rough who were both drafted just one year ago. I was awoken this morning with an alert on my phone that we signed Joselio Hanson, who was just recently cut by the Eagles. Hanson comes with a fairly good track record as far as game play, but has a big question mark in the character category due to a failed substance abuse test back in ’09. Sounds like a Raider to me. ūüėČ
  • Linebacker:
    Another trouble spot for our struggling defense. I’m really not certain what, if anything, is ever going to come of Rolando “If I feel Like It” McClain’s conviction regarding the shooting incident late last season. As far as I know he still may end up doing time and leaving us with a huge gaping hole in the middle of our linebacking corps. Well, even when he’s present there’s still a gaping hole half the time anyway so it shouldn’t be too hard to fill. The bigger issue is at WSLB. It doesn’t sound to me like Aaron Curry is going to be healthy an time soon, and if that’s indeed the case then rookie Miles Burris will be getting the nod to start with the first team D. Talk about trial by fire. This kid has a motor like I’ve never seen, but he’s not yet got it all together upstairs. He is simply lacking experience, but experience he will get if he remains our #1 option going into the regular season. I expect some growing pains here, definitely. Phillip Wheeler seems to be doing OK at SSLB, rushing the passer and stuffing runs, but he seems to be a pretty big liability in coverage. Hopefully he zips it up quickly once things get rolling. One thing I like about Wheeler is his ability to follow through and make open filed tackles.
  • Defensive Line:
    I have absolutely no concerns here. When it comes to defensive tackles, there is probably no other duo that is more feared in the NFL than the pairing of Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly. Those are two of the biggest, angriest black men I have ever seen, and they play that way. I love it. Our primary backup is Desmond Bryant, who needs no introduction. This guy attended Harvard for fuck sake. What more do you need to know? He’s big, athletic, and smart as shit. At right DE we have Matt Shaughnessy, who I’m thrilled is looking great after missing a good chunk of games last season due to injury, and on the left we have Lamarr Houston, who has great presence and provides great pressure on the outside. Our defensive line looks officially “stout as fuck”.
  • Safety:
    Branch and Huff are back. Can’t say I’m too thrilled to see Huff returning, but given all the other personel issues we have I can’t say I’m disappointed. Huff is pretty good, but makes some really bad coverage decisions sometimes. I can’t speak highly enough about what Tyvon Branch has contributed to this team over recent years. He is fantastic at stuffing runs, great at deep containment and open field tackling, and he’s one hell of a special teams gunner. The boy hits as hard as a freight train. Glad we slapped a tag on him. I can’t forget Matt Giordano here. He is sloppy as fuck at coverage but he constantly redeems himself with the most amazing picks and is the closest thing to a ball hawk that the Raiders have seen on their roster in years. He’s a solid backup.
  • Wide Receiver:
    What a circus this position has become. Our most vested WR at this point is 3 year vet Darrius Heyward-Bey, whom the verdict is still out on at this point. If DHB can reel in catches like I’ve seen him make this preseason, we may be in for quite a shock. He has made some really spectacular grabs and I really have to give him props for obviously putting in work over the offseason. He still catches with his chest though. Moore and Ford are both being plagued by the injury bug. Unless they get healthy real soon we may be stretched pretty thin at WR come kickoff time. Good thing we have camp standouts Rod Streater and Juron Criner to fall back on. While Criner was the talk of camp, it has been Streater getting all the looks and all the catches during the preseason. The man has glue hands. He’s a big-bodied, sticky-handed receiver. He isn’t the prototypical speed demon that Al Davis used to look for, but what good is speed when you can’t catch? I love this guy. Criner is very similar, but hasn’t shown the concentration to bring the ball in that Streater has. Both are very solid receivers though.
  • Halfback:
    Do I really need to break this down? OK I’ll touch on the backup battle. Forget Goodson. I don’t trust him. He has butterfingers. Turnovers lose games, period. Taiwan Jones has the speed and agility to terrorize the defense after McFadden has had his way with them and worn them down. Could you just imagine trying to chase down Darren McFadden all day and then they bring this kid in? Holy shit. While Jones will never ever be successful running between the tackles, strictly due to his lack of size, he is going to prove to be a terrorist on the outside, similar to Chris Johnson or Jamaal Charles. Those of you who know me know I’ve said this before. I’m on the Jones bandwagon for sure. If he was just maybe 10 pounds heavier he’d be lethal.

Stay tuned. I plan to cover the 2 most questionable and controversial portions of the roster in my next post. That would be QB and the O-line. Fucking Raiders.

Raiders Slap Branch With Franchise Tag

According to Asher Matthews over at TFDS.com and confirmed at FoxNews, the Raiders have chosen to apply the franchise tag to strong safety Tyvon Branch.  Although tentative until the Monday, March 5 deadline, this really comes as no surprise as the Raiders are well over the salary cap, speculated to be to the tune of almost $25 mil. Franchising Branch will only cost them in the neighborhood of $6-$7 million vs. other, higher paid positions.

Branch has been one of the few consistently productive forces on the Raiders defense since he was drafted in 2008, racking up 109 tackles last season alone

I fully expect to see Kamerion Wimbley and even Michael Huff placed on the trading block.  Wimbley has reportedly refused to take  a pay cut in order to restructure his contract.  The folks at Rotoworld have this to say about Huff:

Raiders FS Michael Huff’s 2012 base salary of $4 million is fully guaranteed. He also has a $4 million roster bonus due on March 16. While the Raiders are in cap-clearance mode, they’d have to eat a large chunk of money to get out of Huff’s deal. Huff played well when healthy last year, so it remains to be seen whether he’s even on GM Reggie McKenzie’s chopping block. Over the past three seasons, Huff has caused 11 turnovers with 4.5 sacks and 25 pass breakups.

They also mention that Huff may be retained but moved to cornerback. This would be a smart move because the salary would then fit the position while simultaneously freeing up a spot at free safety.

And regarding Michael Bush, another high dollar liability:

Free agent RB Michael Bush is set to hit the open market with the Raiders placing the franchise tag on SS Tyvon Branch. “Michael Bush, Come on down?” tweeted Bengals beat writer Joe Reedy following news that Branch had been tagged. The Raiders are over the salary cap by $16 million more than the next-closest team, so it’s hard to believe they’d make a run at re-signing Bush. We agree that the Bengals, now employing former Raiders coach Hue Jackson, are a likely landing spot.

Makes sense. We don’t need two all-star HB’s, especially at the premium salaries they both command. Reggie McKenzie definitely has some juggling to do this offseason. Lets hope it all gels.

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My Oakland Raiders Draft Prospects: Round 5

OK so we don’t have a 1st round pick this year. Or a 2nd round pick. Or a 3rd or 4th. No 7th either? WTF? So what? Lots of great players come out of the 5th, and 6th rounds. In all seriousness, we will probably be getting 3 compensatory picks, with one of those falling in the 3rd or 4th round. These prospects I’ve put together don’t really take that pick into account as it’s pure speculation at this point. I’m basing this off of a 5th round start.

With the 145th pick in the 2012 draft, the Oakland Raiders take DT Josh Chapman.

Chapman is the only true Nose Tackle that will still be on the board at this point and it would make sense for us to grab him. He’s just had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). According to The Sports Exchange and found at cbssports.com:

“Chapman sustained his injury in a game against Florida on Oct. 1. A few days later, an MRI revealed he had torn the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee. “Dr. (Lyle) Cain said he’s never seen a guy that can have a torn ACL and still stay that stable,” Chapman told the Birmingham News. Chapman decided to delay surgery and finish out the season. He missed one game, but played in the eight others that followed the injury. Chapman played a total of 12 games this past season, sitting out Alabama’s 45-21 win over Georgia Southern on Nov. 19. Georgia Southern rolled up 302 rushing yards against the Crimson Tide. Chapman finished the season with 23 tackles, one sack and two pass breakups.”

It’s a bit of a gamble with a torn ACL like that, but our backs are to the wall right now. Plus, he played almost the entire season through the pain of a torn ACL. That’s pure grit. It’s worth a shot. He’s a powerful, pure nose tackle and a vicious run stuffer. Exactly what we need if we’re gonna even think about a 3-4. The other possible scenario here is to wait and hopefully due to the injury no one else will want to touch him. This way we have a shot at nabbing him as an undrafted FA. In which case I would say we take OLB Kyle Wilbur. Wilbur started out as a DE and made a switch to OLB when Wake Forest switched to a 3-4 scheme. He’s a strong side back and good at stopping the run as well. Unfortunately the Browns seem to be courting him right now. Could take Wimbley’s place should we cut/trade him to make room in the budget. Come to think of it…. Wimbley may have decent trade value in him.

Yet another possibility, as it seems several teams are eyeballing this kid even with the injury, is we use our compensatory pick in the 3rd or 4th round (whichever we end up with) to secure him early. This will have to be an impulse decision based on the climate surrounding him on draft day.

Stay tuned for my Round 6 prediction.

Neil Underwood

State of the Black Hole Address Part 2


Now that I have your undivided attention:

So I left you hanging on the last post regarding a 3-4 defense. Well, all signs point to 3-4 so far with the way the restructuring of this organization is going. Let’s take a look at the key factors playing a role in this prediction:

  1. Head Coach Dennis Allen:
    This guy has coached both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes. Ultimately I think he’s going to do what he thinks will fit the team best and give us the greatest chance of success. Either way he’s comfortable with a 3-4.
  2. Defensive Coordinator Jason Tarver:

    What I’ve read about this guy makes me feel confident. According to the SFGate Chronicle:
    “Here’s all you need to know about his skills as a coach: He was hired by Mariucci, then retained by Dennis Erickson, Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary. Counting Jim Tomsula, who coached the 2010 finale after Singletary was fired, he worked for five head coaches in one organization.

    Jim Harbaugh would have kept him, too, but David Shaw offered him a key position at Stanford.”

    Read the entire articel here: SFGate Chronicle

  3. Linebackers Coach Johnny Holland:

    Don’t know a whole lot about this guy other than his bio at: raiders.com

    Anyone has info and wants to share do it in the comments.

  4. Defensive Line Coach Terrell Williams:

    According to raiders.com: “In two years at Texas A&M, the Aggies advanced to a pair of bowl games including a win over Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas last year. In 2010, Williams helped lead the Aggies to a share of their first Big 12 South division crown in more than a decade and a berth in the Cotton Bowl. Texas A&M allowed just 101. 9 rushing yards per game last year, ranking 12th in the nation. In his first season, A&M improved from 90th to 30th nationally in rushing defense, allowing 130.2 yards per contest.”

    Read the entire bio at: raiders.com

    Texas A&M definitely ran a 3-4 the past two seasons. I’m not certain what Purdue was running back in ’06, but if I had to guess….

Basically everyone involved with the linemen and linebackers now comes from a 3-4 background. I love the idea of running a 3-4. But just exactly how would we do it with the current personnel? Who do we have to start at nose tackle in a 3-4?

Not Seymour. That man moved from defensive end to tackle and has thrived, yes, but he is no nose tackle. He would get slaughtered.

John Henderson is well suited but is not an every down player. That’s it. We would have to draft one or hit the free agency and I really don’t see that happening.

We have nothing left to trade other than Michael Bush, yeah, I said it. And you might just end up seeing that happen. I think giving up Bush for a solid nose tackle would be a great deal. Either that or a second round pick. That’s the only way I see a 3-4 scheme being even a remote reality. Let’s face it, Michael Bush is handy to have in the back pocket, but we don’t need him AND McFadden, and RunDMC isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Sorry Bush, time to let go.

Of course this all purely speculation at this point. I’m very curious to see what kinds of moves we make in the draft. We’re without a pick until the 5th round this year thanks to some questionable trades **cough** Terrell Pryor **cough**, including the infamous “Best Trade In the History of Football” for Carson Palmer.

Either way, it seems to me there is going to be a huge emphasis on stopping the run. I really hope so because our run defense has been shitty for a long time now and I’m sick of it.

What are your thoughts?

State of the Black Hole Address Part 1


Hey there, folks. I’ve been quite busy and, well, how should I say, a little depressed about the way the Raiders finished the season. They just sorta fizzled out like an old bag of Pop-Rocks. Since the lackluster ending to a season that began with so much promise, I’ve just had a bad taste in my mouth for football in general. Fortunately I’ve been staying abreast of all the offseason happenings and I think I’m finally back in a place where I feel like sharing it all with you. So without further ado, here’s the lowdown:

Stanford Routt: GONE.

Thank God that happened. When I initially caught the news last year that we had signed him to a 3 year, $31.5 million contract I almost killed my children. What has that man ever done to deserve a contract like that? NOTHING. Which is exactly why his pass-interference prone ass just got traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. That man didn’t have a whole lot of penalties, but the ones he did have were so key I found myself wishing I was Marcellus Wallace in that infamous scene from Pulp Fiction. You know the one. It just seemed like a more comfortable place to be at the time. Now although I’m glad that this transpired, it does leave us in a bit of a precarious situation at the cornerback position. With Routt gone, that leaves us with Lito Sheppard, DeMarcus Van Dyke, and Chimdi Chekwa. Van Dyke showed us some real promise during the 2011 season. If he can stay healthy this year I think we’ll see him do some amazing things. Chekwa still has yet to prove himself. He shows promise but he needs a vet to show him the ropes, and Lito Sheppard is not that guy. Sheppard had some good moments last season but overall pretty much stunk. He was a good stop-gap, but don’t expect him back for 2012. Ol’ Reg’ and Dennis better get hot in the Free Agency on at least one CB.

Coaching Staff: This one is interesting. Just about everyone on the defensive side of the ball has come up from the college circuit. The overall feeling I get from the entire staff on both sides of the ball is one of youth, energy, and excitement. Excitement is exactly what this organization needs. There hasn’t been a reason for Oakland fans to get excited for quite some time, and the current changing of the guard brings fresh, eager young minds, hopefully ready to kick some ass. Check out the latest on the staff at my favorite Raiders blog: Thoughts From the Dark Side

Hue Jackson:

Maybe if Hue hadn’t been so concerned with the state of his fucking toenails then he could have focused the team a little better. Oh, and how’s that for karma? He makes “The greatest trade in all of football” and pisses away the next few seasons for us, then gets hired by the team he helped out by making the trade! According to the laws of karma something unfortunate is going to happen to that man…. wait, it already has. He’s been hired as a special teams ASSISTANT! HAHA. There’s a new bitch boy in Cincinnati, and his name is Hue. Maybe instead of a pedi he should go for the Brazilian wax. It just might help him get ahead over there.

State of the Black Hole Address Part 2 teaser: Do I smell a 3-4?
To be continued…

Big Week for the Raiders and Your’s Truly

Packers vs Raiders. ¬†These teams have had some epic battles in the past, probably none of them more memorable than Superbowl 2 featuring the original #3, Daryle ¬†“The Mad Bomber” LaMonica . ¬†Although the Raiders lost that game they put up a hell of a fight. ¬†Let’s hope the current #3 brings it tomorrow like LaMonica brought it back in ’68. ¬†Of course it would be nice to have Biletnikoff and a jar of stick’em handy too…… ¬†Just for fun here’s a short synopsis film from that game: Raiders vs Packers Super Bowl II. ¬†Hopefully things turn out a little better this time around.

Sorry I’ve been so quiet as of late. It’s finals week and I’ve been busy stressing about school. That being said, I’ll make this post brief. The Raiders face their biggest challenge of the season Sunday in Green Bay vs a Packers team that seems unstoppable heading into week 14. Not only is the play execution of their offense nearly flawless, they can play in the cold. The Raiders have a horrible track record in cold-weather games. Tuck rule, anybody? I am just about the most devoted Raiders fan in existence but even my faith is being tested this week. All of the off-field problems that the Raiders have been having this season are not helping anything right now. It started with Jason Campbell, then Al Davis dies. How could things get any worse? Then last week it was McClain being a thug and this week it’s Chris Johnson’s sister getting murdered and his mom being shot but living to tell about it. It seems we just can’t catch a break this year. The game related issues are starting to pile up as well, with 14 Raiders listed on the injury report. The list includes key playmakers such as:

DID NOT PRACTICE:
Chris Johnson (not injury related)
Jacoby Ford
Taiwan Jones
Darren McFadden
Denarius Moore
John Henderson

LIMITED PARTICIPANT:
Tommy Kelly
Jarvis Moss
Chaz Schilens
Trevor Scott (this is actually an upgrade, good sign)
Richard Seymour

Kevin Boss and Michael Huff participated fully in Friday’s practice. (Thank God because I’m starting Boss in my fantasy league for the first round of our playoffs this week)

With Schilens listed as probable and Moore and Ford listed as out the Raiders are down to 3, count ’em, 3 wide receivers that they can count on to start. I thought to myself when the season began that it was just silly for us to roll with only one fullback and 7 wide receivers (Nick Miller was the seventh), but it seems like someone knew what they were doing. If we hadn’t been that deep at WR things could be a lot uglier than they are right now. Having Murphy, Housh, and Heyward-Bey as our starting receivers with absolutely zero depth behind them is scary. The coaching staff better be on it this week. I know a lot of fans were very upset that Marcel Reece was hardly utilized against the Dolphins last week. Hopefully that’s not the case this week because the guy creates horrible mismatches and Green Bay has the absolute worst pass defense in the NFL right now (well, almost, it’s ranked 31st). Utilizing Reece at the right moments could be key to winning this game but let’s not forget about Boss too. He has been heavily underutilized this season as well. Although we have only 3 receivers we have Reece who can easily fill in as a fourth, and Boss, who can provide a big body and sure hands on the check-downs. We need to air it out. If any of you watched the Packers vs Giants game then you already know the blueprint for beating the Cheese Heads. Pass, Pass, Pass. We just have to be smart about it. Fuck Green Bay and their perfect season. GO RAIDERS!