Defense Confirmed As New Focus For Raiders

According to the guys over at TFDS.com, Dennis Allen has confirmed that the Raiders will be focusing on defensive positions throughout the draft and free agency. This is what they had to say:

“He also confirmed something we had talked here on TFDS – that the Raiders will be looking toward defense in the draft and free agency – specifically, the question was about the Raiders looking at LBs and DTs – two positions on our top 5 needs for the team. Allen said, “I think obviously, defensively that is going to be a priority for us. I think I was really pleased with what the Raiders were able to do last year offensively. I know from having to defend against them, they were a real challenge to defend. Defensively, if you look at the defensive rankings, not too different than what the situation I came into last year with Denver. So it’s obviously a high priority for us and we’ve got to get better in that area.”

Read the entire post here: Allen Speaks at Combine

I suggest reading the entire post, as it has some interesting points, especially regarding Kamerion Wimbley and Michael Huff’s future with the Raiders.

If you follow the link in the quote above you’ll find Asher Matthews has this to say regarding the team’s needs at DT:

“Defensive tackle is the next biggest area of need. Yes, the Raiders chose to keep Richard Seymour for the season, guaranteeing his $15 million contract for the year. But he isn’t expected to stay around past this season and the Raiders need a replacement. Plus, he’s a streaky player and he’s only getting older – he’s not able to play at a high level for sustained drives. Tommy Kelly’s performance has not been anywhere close to his contract and he’s a one man penalty machine. If Allen is serious about cutting down penalties, he’s got to be able to bench Kelly if he continues to jump offsides. John Henderson is going to be cut. Desmond Byant is a bright spot as a backup but he’s probably better as a defensive end, not a tackle. Earlier this offseason, the Raiders signed a reserve/futures contract with Travis Ivey who is a true Nose Tackle. He’s 6-4, 325 so he has the right size for a NT but it’s anyone’s guess if he has the ability. I expect the Raiders to address DT needs in both free agency and the draft, as well.”

Well that pretty much confirms my thoughts as to whether or not Allen is considering a 3-4 scheme. Read the entire post here: Looking at the Raiders’ top 5 positions of need

Stay tuned!

Neil Underwood

Advertisements

Massacre in Miami

Oh boy.  That was embarrassing.  This game was crucial for several reasons.  First, to make it to 4 wins in a row, which we haven’t done since 2002.  Second, because it’s Miami and they’re 3-8 (well, 4-8 now).  Third, it’s Miami.  Every time we play these guys they screw our season up.  No matter how good we’re doing any given year when we play Miami they are always a pain in the ass for us.  It would have also been an added bonus to have a little confidence booster heading into our toughest game of the season next week.  To lose is one thing, but to get humiliated has a whole different effect on morale.  These guys are going to be dragging their dicks in the dirt all week long while thinking ahead to the impending ass-whooping the Cheese Heads are gonna lay on them.  In addition to McClain’s current sideshow and everything else that has led up to this point it seems as if there is someone, somewhere, that is intent on the Raiders not having a winning season.  If we manage to salvage a playoff berth I will know for certain that Al Davis is still hanging around somewhere pushing people around and pulling strings.  We don’t stand a chance to make it as a wildcard really at this point so we have to win out or die trying.

Hue Jackson and Carson Palmer post-game interviews:

Unfortunately our destiny is no longer in our hands now that Denver has caught us in the rankings.  We’ve already split the series 1-1 with them so it will depend completely on the rest of their opponents to salvage our post-season hopes.  The rest of their season is no cake-walk either.  Week 14 they face Chicago, who will probably pose their toughest challenge yet because the Bears LOVE to stuff the run.  Week 15 is vs. New England, week 16 vs. the Bills, and week 17 vs. the Chiefs.  Not an easy home stretch but the Bears, Pats, and Chiefs games are all at home so that’s a big advantage.

The Raiders don’t have a nice home stretch either.  Next week we have the Packers @GB, followed by the Lions @home, then the Chiefs @Arrowhead, and finally the Chargers @home.  I fully expect us to win the Chiefs and Chargers matchups.  The Lions are trending downward right now so I’m hopeful there, and I know anything can happen, so I haven’t TOTALLY counted us out next week against the Packers (I think I might need my head checked).

As it stands right now the Raiders are 7-5 overall and 2-2 in the division.

Denver is 7-5 overall and 3-2 in the division.  This divisional record is the first of many in a line of tiebreakers should that ever occur.  This means we are not “tied” for first place, we are in second.  I don’t know about you but that’s not satisfying enough for me.   We are the most talented team in the AFC West.  We just need to get out of our own way.

Ultimately I only see Denver winning 1 out of the next 3 games.  I think that they will beat the Chiefs but their losing streak will start next week against Chicago.  Chicago has the right defense to stop them.  Once they stop the Tebow express every other team is gonna watch that tape over, and over, and over.  I think that we will end up winning 2 of the next four games.  I’m playing conservative here and calling Detroit a loss.  I’m 90% certain we will beat the Chiefs and the Chargers.  Detroit will depend upon which Matt Stafford shows up…. the ultra sharp and accurate Matt Stafford or the one that’s been afraid to take a shot further than 15 yards since he got a boo-boo on his finger (his relationship with Calvin Johnson has suffered because of it and has proved very costly in my fantasy league).

If my predictions stand then we will narrowly squeak into first place by one win at 9-7 while the Broncos fall to 8-8.  I had high hopes for double digit wins this season but I’ve come back down to earth lately.  It’s still possible.  If the Raiders who like playing football show up in Green Bay next week then I think we can hang in there and even possibly beat them.  This team has been very much the epitome of Jekyll and Hyde over the past few weeks and I just can’t understand it.  Don’t these guys get paid enough money that they should be so excited to be on the field that it looks like they all just had an eight-ball?  If we can just stop rocking our own boat we could do this!

Raiders vs Dolphins: Preview

image

We’re getting ready to enter the home stretch on the road to the post-season as we head into week 13.  The Raiders have several winnable matchups on the way but none of them will be easy.  Today we’ll discuss the Miami Dolphins.

Coming into this game Miami has the 7th ranked run defense in the league. This shouldn’t be a problem though based on the way Bush has been performing lately. He’s already ripped off over 100 yards from scrimmage in 4 of the last 5 games and damn near 100 last Sunday against Chicago. He put up close to 200 yards total vs the Chargers. These are elite numbers and should put to bed any doubt about his effectiveness against Miami.

Miami’s pass defense is ranked a lowly 24th. This is where the Raiders need to turn it on. Jacoby Ford is still looking unlikely to return this week, as is Darren McFadden. Fortunately Denarius Moore was practicing Wednesday. Although his participation was limited I fully expect him to play. This kid is a fighter and he’ll do anything he can to get back out there. Assuming the Raiders have him back in the lineup they’ll be doing great. If not, oh well. The caliber of play we saw from the rest of the receiving corps last week, to include Marcel Reece, was astounding. Hue Jackson’s “next man up” philosophy seems to be working for him.

What the Raiders need to do on defense:
CONTAIN THE QB!
QB scrambles for 20+ yards are becoming all too common for this defense. While I like blaming this solely on Bresnahan, there has been some real WTF moments from our linebackers this season.

The Raiders key to success through the next 5 games is linebacker play. No more half-assing from McClain and Curry needs to stay focused. I’m not too worried about Wimbley, he’s pure beast. If our secondary can stay healthy we’ll be great there as well. Chris Johnson actually practiced Wednesday which is exciting. Chekwa and Van Dyke are not on the injury report which is good news but there are still a few player listed that concern me. Rolando McClain did not practice Wednesday, but this could just be precautionary to give his ankle some extra healing time. My major concern is at right defensive end. With Shaughnessy out for the season, Jarvis Moss was filling in nicely until he went out. He was then replaced by Lamarr Houston, who is now also on the injury report. Moss did not practice but Houston was a light participant. This is kind of good but there is little to no depth now at that side of the line. With Richard Seymour listed as did not play as well Hue better come up with a backup plan quick. Matt Moore will post big numbers if we can’t get a decent pass rush going. Plus he’s quick on his feet, leaving our linebackers with double duty again.

Personally I think they need to run some scramble drills in practice with Pryor under center to help curb the QB scramble issue. Pryor is lightening quick and could prove to be an invaluable crash test dummy for this Raiders defense.

As far as Sunday, we need to just stay mentally focused and keep penalties to a minimum. Our win vs the Bears is testament to what the Raiders can accomplish when they play a clean game, and even though there weren’t many flags those they did get were huge and poorly timed. Play smart ball and we win. Period.

Posted from WordPress for Android

Jack Del Rio: Yes or no?

In some news that sent waves across the NFL today the Jaguars simultaneously fired head coach Jack Del Rio and sold the franchise to some billionaire middle-eastern guy.  Del Rio was currently in his 9th season with the Jaguars and is one of the longest tenured coaches in the NFL currently (only Andy Reid is longer, I think. too lazy to look it up right now).  This guy who bought the franchise is swearing he won’t relocate the team but we’ll see about that.  If he’s got the dough to just buy an NFL team outright he probably won’t be concerned with the measly $50 million fine he’ll be hit with for breaching contract and clearing house.

Why the hell does this concern us?  Because Bresnahan sucks.  Word is the Raiders are one of many teams scouting the possibility of employing the former defensive coordinator.

Really?  Mid-season?  5 games away from post-season?  This is a very valid point and a genuine point of concern here.  The Raiders have had their boat rocked one too many times this season already and I’m certain that  if they were to change personnel at this point in the season they’d be suicidal.  If he would agree to riding out this season as a defensive assistant with a guaranteed season as coordinator the following year that would be ideal.  I don’t see that happening right now because there is already too much demand for him.  If Tom Coughlin had a brain he’d be in line too right now because they need it up there in New York.

I think we’re on the right track with our defense right now, honestly.  I like how they’ve had Branch lined up in the slot a lot lately.  It’s weird but it’s been very effective.  Now with Huff back and Chekwa and Van Dyke getting healthy our secondary is coming back to life.  Our linebackers are playing at a level that we have not seen from them previously this season.  Bresnahan does have a lot of miscues but is somewhat dependable.  I really think we need to ride him while he’s hot and not rock the boat anymore than we have to.

Does that change my opinion as to whether or not I think we need to pick him up?  Absolutely not.  I think the Raiders would be in for a large upgrade in a move from Bresnahan to Del Rio.  Bresnahan was in Oakland once before.  There’s a reason he went away the first time.  Del Rio comes with an impressive resume.  The man knows linebackers, he was the linebacker coach for the 1999 Baltimore Ravens, coaching Ray Lewis in his 3rd season.  He turned the Carolina Panthers around from 1-15 in 2000 to 7-9 in 2001 because he brought with him the #2 defense in the NFL.  The man has served under Mike Ditka, Brian Billick, and John Fox.  All three of those men run football teams with hard-nosed defenses.  Let’s not forget Del Rio also has an 11 year career as a linebacker in the NFL as well.

He is almost too perfect for the Raiders, which is why I don’t see it happening.  Just imagine what our defense could be without Fatty McGee slobbering all over it.  I say Del Rio, if brought in at the proper time, could give us what we need to go deep into the playoffs.  Maybe not this season, but next year.  If he’s still available.

I’m interested in opinions on this.  My answer is yes, just not right now.  What’s your thoughts?

Raiders vs Bears: Preview

The Raiders take on a tough opponent this Sunday in the Chicago Bears. Just a quick breakdown of some strengths and weaknesses on both sides as well as some predictions.

RAIDERS:
Darrius Heyward-Bey should be playing tomorrow. Denarius Moore has been upgraded to questionable. If we can even get just a couple series with these two in it would be a huge help.

The Raiders biggest strength coming into this game right now is the run. Bush has been pounding it down the throat of every defense he meets for the last 4 weeks. With McFadden likely sidelined for several more weeks Bush will continue his gore-fest on the gridiron.

Our biggest weakness has got to be the run right now. I know that with Caleb Hanie in for Cutler we are going to see near lethal doses of Matt Forte. That is worrisome.

Prediction:
I see a lot of Bush and play-action with an occasional screen. Carson will let a few fly deep just to keep the defense honest. No big passing going on for us this week. Charles Tillman is dangerous.

BEARS:
Chicago’s biggest strength is their terrific linebacker corps. Julius Peppers is a beast on the pass rush. Should be a good matchup for Veldheer. The defense feels like they have to carry this team right now with Cutler out. Expect top notch play from them tomorrow.

Biggest weakness has got to be the mediocre receiving corps led by an even more mediocre quarterback. I don’t see Caleb Hanie holding up to the pass rush the Raiders are bringing.

Prediction:
To win this game the Bears just need to be smart and patient. Run, run, run and let Forte control the game, effectively removing it from Hanie’s responsibility. Eventually we will shoot ourselves in the foot so all they need to to is hang in there.

OVERALL: Raiders win, narrowly: 20-17

Long Road Ahead, But Smooth

 So we’re coming off of a red hot week 10 that was full of upsets, including our 3rd straight win over the Chargers, and barelling right into week 11. What have we learned so far? Lets have a small recap:
The season starts out rocky as we’re 2-2 after week 4, undoubtedly due to a lack of training camp & OTA’s in the off-season. Next we win back to back games vs. the Texans and, narrowly, the Browns. During the game vs. the Browns the worst possible thing that could happen happened. Jason Campbell incurs a season ending injury while trying to dive for a first down after a scramble. (Watch it here: http://youtu.be/0PoOvFCPVI8, followed by a good interview with him)
Let me first be clear how I view Jason Campbell. I believe Jason Campbell is a good quarterback. He’s not “great”, nor is he going to be showing up in any record books, but he’s smart (well, some may debate this), hard-working, resilient, and shows good leadership skills. That’s what you need at the core of any quarterback if he is worth his weight. Stuff like arm strength and accuracy are secondary to these traits.

Jason was on his way to having a career high season when this happened and it’s a shame. That’s when all hell seemed to break loose. Suddenly all eyes throughout the entire National Football League were upon the Silver & Black, wondering what the next move would be. Rumors were abound of acquiring many different QB’s such as Troy Davis, Bret Favre (could you imagine..), Kyle Orton via trade with Denver, sticking with Boller (yikes), David Garrard, and of course Palmer. When news of the trade came through we suddenly became the scrutiny of every football analyst and armchair quarterback, criticizing us for making such a hasty decision and pissing the organization’s future away on a washed up quarterback with no real value. Fortunately for Palmer and the gang the next 4 weeks feature defenses all ranked 25th or below. We have Minnesota, who at the time I wrote this is ranked 30th vs. the pass.  Then we have Chicago who is ranked 29th, followed by Miami at 25th, and Green Bay at 31st. Now that he’s gotten somewhat acclimated and found a security blanket in Moore it’s time for him to prove his critics wrong and vindicate Hue Jackson’s unorthodox yet necessary decision to make this trade. The road ahead is possibly as easy as it gets. Let’s hope it goes as smooth as it looks on paper.