Posts Tagged ‘Raiders’

AFC West Update 10-19-11

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in the AFC West. I may be overly optimistic, but I still think the Chiefs have a chance to make a run for the division title. I want to touch on all four teams for a moment.

Carson PalmerBut first, how about the Raiders going out and trading for Carson Palmer? A very interesting move. Palmer is a decent quarterback who probably has a couple years left in him. And news reports are suggesting that Palmer is likely to start against the Chiefs this weekend. Wow.

My take? Quarterbacks, even veteran quarterbacks, seldom excel in their first season with a new team. And that’s when they have an entire off-season and preseason to prepare. In 1993, Joe Montana took the Chiefs to the AFC Championship Game, but did so mostly on the back of an outstanding defense. And in 2009, Brett Favre took the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game and posted a quarterback rating of 107.2. A very impressive season late in his career. But do you want to know what’s more common? Last year the Washington Redskins traded for Donovan McNabb who struggled and finished with a quarterback rating of 77.1. The only season he had with a worse rating? His rookie year in 1999 where he posted a rating of 60.1. Carson Palmer isn’t Brett Favre. Heck, he isn’t even Donovan McNabb. He’s a mediocre quarterback who enjoyed his best seasons in 2005 and 2006. The Raiders made a bold move, but probably not a smart move. If they end up winning the division and making a run in the playoffs, then it was a great move. If not, they’ve given up two very high draft picks and have hurt the long-term development of their team.

Now let’s look around the standings in the AFC West.

San Diego Chargers (4-1): The Chargers have beaten Minnesota (1-5), Kansas City (2-3), Miami (0-5) and Denver (1-4). They’ve lost to New England (5-1).

Reasons for optimism: The Chargers have managed to start fast, but that’s been more the result of the teams they’ve played, than how they’ve played. They still have a lot of talent. Ryan Matthews appears to be a legitimate starting running back.

Reasons for pessimism: Antonio Gates has played little this season. Their schedule is going to get much tougher. And Norv Turner is still their coach.

Prediction: Their schedule is going to get much tougher. And they’re going to need to play much better. I have a difficult time finding more than 5 wins on their remaining schedule. I think they end up 9-7, which is right around the record most of Norv Turner’s teams end up.

Oakland Raiders (4-2): The Raiders have beaten Denver (1-4), New York Jets (3-3), Houston (3-3) and Cleveland (2-3). They’ve lost to Buffalo (4-2) and New England (5-1).

Reasons for optimism: Darren McFadden is a stud, and the Raiders are second in the league in rushing. They’ve been the most impressive team in the division so far, and are a legitimate playoff contender.

Reasons for pessimism: The Raiders are ranked #28 in the league in total defense, and are particularly vulnerable against the pass where they’re ranked #30 in the league. Quarterback Jason Campbell was having a decent season before breaking his collarbone last week. It will be a big question as to how Carson Palmer will respond to his new surroundings. I don’t see any reason to think that the team will be better with Palmer than they were with Campbell. And it’s likely that they’ll be worse.

Prediction: The Raiders have a clear shot to win this division, but difficult to see six wins on their remaining schedule. I’m guessing they end up 9-7 as well.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-3): The Chiefs have beaten Minnesota (1-5) and Indianapolis (0-6). And they’ve lost to Buffalo (4-2), Detroit (5-1) and San Diego (4-1).

Reasons for optimism: After two historically bad losses, the Chiefs appear to have righted the ship. And if they can pull off a win in Oakland this weekend, they’re sitting at 3-3, which is exactly where I had them (though I had them beating Buffalo and losing to Oakland to reach 3-3). If Jackie Battle can provide the Chiefs with a consistent ground attack, they’re going to be OK.

Reasons for pessimism: They’re still missing Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki for the season. And they’ve got a tough schedule ahead.

Prediction: Believe it or not, a win this weekend would put the Chiefs in a good position to win the AFC West. They would have their two toughest divisional games behind them with a 1-1 record. That leaves them two games against Denver, and home games against San Diego and Oakland. I think they’ve got 5 or 6 more wins in them this season, which puts them at 7-9 or 8-8. My original prediction of 9-7 looks very difficult.

Denver Broncos (1-4): Denver has beaten Cincinnati (4-2). They’ve lost to Oakland (4-2), Tennessee (3-2), Green Bay (6-0) and San Diego (4-1).

Reasons for optimism: John Fox is in his first year with the team, and he’s a good coach. He just didn’t have a lot to work with. Their schedule does get a bit easier.

Reasons for pessimism: Lots of them, including that they just traded away their best wide receiver. I’m not a Tim Tebow hater, and I have no clue if he’s going to be a good quarterback or not. History has shown us that quarterbacks with bad mechanics seldom have sustained success in the league. But Tebow is an interesting young man and an incredible athlete. He will make it interesting to say the least.

Prediction: Hard to see more than a couple wins left on their schedule. I’m guessing 4-12.

NOTE: You can read my  original predictions for the AFC West here.

Chiefs Thoughts — 01-17-2011

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Kansas City ChiefsOffensive Coordinator
It’s been pretty quiet in Kansas City concerning the search for a new offensive coordinator to replace Charlie Weis. ESPN has speculated that the Chiefs have been interested in Denver’s offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, but with McCoy’s history with newly hired head coach John Fox, it appears likely that McCoy will remain in Denver.

Was watching the playoffs yesterday, and a thought crossed my mind. Maybe the Chiefs are waiting to interview an assistant from one of the teams still in the playoffs? And who are the offensive assistant coaches for the New England Patriots?

Did you know that the Patriots don’t list anybody as their offensive coordinator or defensive coordinator? (See Pat’s coaching staff here.)

Bill O’Brien is listed as the quarterbacks coach, and he is the primary play caller for the Patriots. Teams are typically allowed to interview assistant coaches from other staffs so long as the position they’re interviewing for would be a promotion from their current position. And becoming offensive coordinator for the Chiefs would qualify as a promotion for O’Brien.

Though they stumbled against the Jets yesterday in the playoffs, the Patriots had an excellent season offensively. They released WR Randy Moss and traded RB Laurence Maroney early in the season. People assumed that the Patriots were in rebuilding mode. Rebuilding didn’t take long. They ended the season as the highest scoring offense in the league averaging 32.4 points per game.

Now the Patriots can always promote O’Brien and keep teams from interviewing him. And I haven’t seen this speculated anywhere else. It just makes a lot of sense to me. He was on the coaching staff in New England the year Matt Cassel filled in for Tom Brady. The Pats run a similar offense to the Chiefs. And he has experience calling plays in both the NFL and in college. (See O’Brien’s bio here.)

The Raiders are the Raiders
Well the mystery has been solved. I had wondered how Al Davis could be so stupid as to fire the best head coach the Raiders have had since Jon Gruden. (Technically he wasn’t fired, but Davis did not pick up the option on Cable’s contract.) And now the story is out. Davis has been unhappy with Cable about something, and has deducted $120,000 from his paychecks over the last several weeks. Cable has filed a grievance with the NFL against Davis. Sound familiar? According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, “The NFL has had to help settle financial disputes with four of Davis’ past five head coaches.” (See the ESPN story here.) Too funny!

It’s Raiders Week

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

So who would have predicted that the Chiefs would be atop the AFC West at 5-2, and that the Raiders would be in second place at 4-4? Who would have thought that the Chiefs would be leading the league in rushing at 190.4 yards per game, and that the Raiders would be in second place at 168.5 yards per game? It’s great to see these two teams ascending so that the old rivalry means something again. I love Raiders Week!

Oakland Raiders Darren McFaddenThe old adage is that to win in the NFL, you have to be able to run the ball, and you have to be able to stop the run. Both of these teams can run the ball. Jamaal Charles and Darren McFadden are among the league’s top running backs. Despite the fact that Charles shares the load with Thomas Jones, and McFadden has missed a couple games due to injury, both backs are among the top ten in the league. In the last two weeks since returning from his injury, McFadden has rushed for 276 yards and 3 TDs.

But which team can successfully stop the run? I don’t think it’s a stretch to believe that the team that stops the run will win this game. The Chiefs are ranked seventh in the league allowing only 96.4 yards per game. The Raiders are ranked 26th allowing 127.4 yards per game. This would appear to favor the Chiefs.

The Raiders are ranked much better than the Chiefs against the pass (#5 vs #23) and total defense (#9 vs #16). But I think more importantly, the Chiefs hold an advantage in points allowed, where Kansas City is ranked #5 in the league giving up only 17.4 points per game, and Oakland is ranked #15 giving up 21 points per game.

But ultimately, this game will come down to coaching. Marty Schottenheimer always said that if you play smart against the Raiders, that eventually they would make the mistake that costs them the game. And Marty won a lot of games against the Raiders. These Raiders still make mistakes. The Chiefs are among the best coached teams in the league. They make few mistakes. They commit few penalties. They don’t turn the ball over. They don’t make negative plays. They don’t take sacks. And they don’t give up many points.

Prediction: Chiefs 24, Raiders 21

Picking the Colts and Saints, More NFL Notes

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

It’s a good thing I’m not a gambling man. Last weekend my teams went 2-2. But I went against my gut picking teams coached by Norv Turner and Wade Phillips. I won’t do that again.

Jets at Colts: The Jets showed some real grit against the Chargers. Great defense and a great running attack. Brian Schottenheimer has really developed into a fine offensive coordinator. But the Jets probably don’t beat the Chargers if kicker Nate Kaeding doesn’t puke all over the field and miss three field goals. The Colts on the other hand bottled up the Ravens running attack and controlled their game from start to finish. Look for another Colts win, and another trip for Peyton Manning to the Super Bowl. Prediction: Colts 24, Jets 13

New Orleans Saints Drew BreesVikings at Saints: A much tougher game to pick as both teams played very well last weekend. The Vikings defensive front four manhandled the Cowboys, and Brett Favre continues to make plays in the passing game. Yet the Saints have looked like the team of destiny most of the year. They put 45 points in the Cardinals, while holding Arizona to only 14 points. It appears that the Saints defense is getting healthy at the right time. And Drew Brees is maybe the best quarterback in the NFL not named Peyton Manning. Brees is uncanny in his accuracy. And he’s certainly the heart and soul of the Saints. I’m not jumping ship now. Prediction: Saints 27, Vikings 24

Dallas Cowboys: I thought it was interesting that the pre-game story on the Cowboys was all about how Dallas had gotten rid of all of the problems in the locker room, and that they were now a “team”. Yet immediately following the game wide receiver Roy Williams was pissed off because of how few passes have gone his way this season. Sounds like team first to me.

Pro Bowl: As a kid I looked forward to watching the Pro Bowl every year. It was a blast to see all the great players on the field at the same time. Only a couple of games were televised every week, and there was little opportunity to see many of the players throughout the season. But the Pro Bowl has lost its luster over the years. And I think primarily because now you get to see NFL coverage of every game in such great detail. This year the NFL is playing the Pro Bowl the week before the Super Bowl, which means the players who have been nominated to the Pro Bowl but our bound for the Super Bowl won’t be playing. The Vikings have nine players slotted to play in the Pro Bowl, which means if they make the Super Bowl, that’s a lot of star power missing from the Pro Bowl. I’m not sure this is a very good idea. We’ll see what it does for the ratings.

Bills Hire Chan Gailey: Where did this come from? I like Chan Gailey as a coordinator, but he’s had little success as a head coach. I don’t see the Bills getting better any time soon.

Broncos Part Ways with Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan: I don’t understand this move at all. Denver’s defense has been bad for years. Mike Nolan converted the defense to a 3-4 and really made them competitive this year. And after one year, Nolan’s gone. Can only assume that Noland and head coach Josh McDaniels didn’t get along.

Chargers and LaDanian Tomlinson: I’ve enjoyed watching LT run the ball for years. He’s a class act on and off the field. But he’s no longer an every down back. And as explosive as Darren Sproles can be, he can’t carry the load either. Tomlinson has likely played his last game for San Diego. Look for the Chargers to draft a running back early this year.

Raiders: What’s up in Oakland? Are they firing head coach Tom Cable or not? Lots of rumors that Al Davis is testing the waters and talking to some potential coaches. But word has it that Al Davis wants a coach who will commit to working with quarterback JaMarcus Russell. And any coach willing to make that commitment won’t have a chance. Russell appears to be a complete bust.

Chiefs: And just because I love my Chiefs, I have to say one more time how excited I am about our new coordinators, Weis and Crennel.

Raiders Fans Protest Al Davis

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

This is an excerpt from Bill Williamson’s column on ESPN.com:

Oakland Raiders fans are a passionate, creative bunch.

They stand by their team and want their Raiders to win as much as any set of fans in sports.

Al Davis of the Oakland RaidersSo, it’s not a shock that a group has bought a billboard near the team’s stadium in Oakland imploring owner Al Davis to relinquish his decision-making power.

You can’t blame Oakland fans for being fed up with their team. Since advancing to the Super Bowl after the 2002 season, the Raiders have lost more games than any team in the NFL. Since 2003, Oakland is a paltry 27-80. If Oakland, which plays at Pittsburgh on Sunday, doesn’t win three of its final five games, it will become the only team in history to lose at least 11 games in seven straight seasons. Oakland is currently the only team in history to lose at least 11 games in six straight seasons.

Read the full article here.

AFC West News and Notes

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Now that we’re past the half way point of the season, let’s take another look around the AFC West. Here are my predictions from earlier this year.

San Diego Chargers
Prediction: 9-7
Current Record: 7-3
Momentum: have won five straight

The Chargers have the most talent in the division. And that talent is winning. I’m not a fan of head coach Norv Turner, but the Chargers are playing pretty good ball. And their remaining schedule is fairly soft with games against the Chiefs, Browns, Cowboys, Bengals, Titans and Redskins. At this point, 11-5 looks very attainable for San Diego.

Kansas City Chiefs
Prediction: 6-10
Current Record: 3-7
Momentum: have won three of their last five

The Chiefs started out by playing poorly, and dropped very winnable games against Oakland and Dallas. They do seem to be getting better. And they have a few more winnable games in front of them. Their remaining schedule includes the Chargers, Broncos, Bills, Browns, Bengals and another game against the Broncos. If they can go 3-3 over the last six they’ll end up 6-10 and have a lot to build on heading into the off season.

Denver Broncos
Prediction: 5-11
Current Record: 6-4
Momentum: have lost four straight

Do you hear that sound? That’s the sound of the wheels coming off the Broncos bandwagon. With games left againt the Giants, Chiefs, Colts, Raiders, Eagles and Chiefs again, Denver is facing several more losses. I think at this point they’ll hit 8-8. Pretty disappointing after starting the season 6-0.

Oakland Raiders
Prediction: 3-13
Current Record: 3-7
Momentum: the benching of JaMarcus Russel may create some momentum for the Raiders

The Raiders have some talent, but have been incredibly limited by the play of their quarterbacks. It doesn’t say much when you have to turn to Bruce Gradkowski to give your team a spark. I listened to Trent Green talk about JaMarcus Russel the other day. Russel’s mechanics are awful, and his attitude appears to be worse. He has not put in the effort to become even a competent quarterback. The Raiders have some tough choices ahead. And with games left against the Cowboys, Steelers, Redskins, Broncos, Browns and Ravens, it appears that Oakland will be lucky to scrape out another win or two.

Chiefs Will Beat Raiders

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

The Chiefs are 1-7, but should be sitting here at the halfway point at 3-5 with wins against the Raiders and the Cowboys. While the Chiefs have proven they’re not a very good team this year, the Raiders are brutally bad.

JaMarcus RussellOffensively Challenged
JaMarcus Russell is the 32nd ranked quarterback in the NFL. In case you need a refresher, there are only 32 teams in the NFL. The only quarterback with enough playing time to qualify to be shown on NFL.com’s stats with a lower passer rating is Derek Anderson from the Browns. Russell has a quarterback rating of 48.3, has completed only 48.4% of his passes, and has thrown 2 TDs and 9 INTs. Russell will go down as one of the biggest busts in the history of the draft. The Raiders are ranked #31 in passing, and #26 in rushing the ball, which puts them at #32 for total offense.

Defensively Challenged
The Raiders are only slightly better than the Chiefs when it comes to defense, where they’re ranked #27 in yards allowed. The Raiders defense is probably a bit better than the numbers suggest. Like the Chiefs, when your offense is inept, it continues to expose your defense. The Raiders have some good players on defense with Richard Seymour and Nnamdi Asomugha.

While the Raiders are 2-6, they should be 0-8 right now. They had no business beating the Chiefs earlier this year when Kansas City dominated them in almost every category. And for the Raiders to have beaten the Eagles is virtually unexplainable. Philadelphia was certainly looking past the Raiders, and it bit them.

The Chiefs badly need this win. They need to build some confidence. They need to establish their running game with Jamaal Charles and Kolby Smith. They need to start building an identity. And it all starts this week in Oakland.

Prediction: Kansas City 13, Raiders 10

Dysfunctional Raiders Ban Gannon

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Rich GannonThe Raiders continue to make me laugh. This is from Bob Gretz’s blog:

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Raiders officials told CBS Sports they do not want Gannon to attend Saturday’s television production meetings in advance of Sunday’s Raiders-Broncos game. They cited his public criticism of the organization in recent years.

“Rich Gannon is not welcome here,” Raiders executive John Herrera told the Chronicle on Friday. “We told CBS we did not want him in our building, we did not want him to be part of our production meeting, and that’s where it sits.”

“He’s attacked us on a regular basis since becoming a member of the media,” Herrera said. “After affording him the opportunity to establish a career here, he has since gone on to attack us in a way that’s totally unacceptable.

“He seems to be a guy who can’t get over the fact that he played the worst Super Bowl game in the history of the game and he wants to blame everybody but himself. I guess it’s our fault he threw five interceptions.”

Read Bob’s full post here.

Raider Week 2009

Friday, September 18th, 2009

RaidersWell it’s Raider Week in Kansas City as our Chiefs get ready to face the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. I’ve been surprised at the amount of good pub the Raiders have received after losing to the Chargers last weekend. The close score was a clearer indication that the Chargers are not a good football team, than it was that the Raiders have improved.

In 2008, the Raiders had the 10th best rushing offense in the league. Against the Chargers last week, the Raiders ran for148 yards.

In 2008, the Raiders had the 32nd ranked passing attack. That’s dead last among all 32 NFL teams. Against the Chargers, JaMarcus Russell went 12 of 30 for 208 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs.

Ultimately the Raiders, as they always do, make just enough mistakes to lose a game. They have untimely turnovers. And stupid penalties. Same old Raiders.

There are no gimmees for the Chiefs. And the Chiefs have no reason to be overly confident. But the Chiefs are at home. Matt Cassel should return. And the Chiefs showed last week that they’ll play tough football.

Prediction: Chiefs 24, Raiders 19

Raiders Threaten Seymour

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Tom CableWhenever I think I need a little comedy, I just read the latest news from the Raiders. For those who missed it, earlier this week the Raiders traded their first round pick in the 2011 draft to the New England Patriots for standout defensive lineman Richard Seymour. Seymour is 29 and headed into the last year of his contract. One of the things the Pats have always done well is knowing when not to overpay for aging players. And Seymour will demand a significant contract next year when he becomes a free agent. Getting a future first round pick for him now, especially if the Pats have already decided that they don’t want to retain him, is a great deal for them.

So what’s the problem? Well Seymour has failed to show up in Oakland since the trade.

The Raiders have continued to tow the company line of “Richard Seymour wants to be a Raider and he’ll be here soon”. But the latest news is that the Raiders have delivered a letter to Seymour threatening him with a year’s suspension if he doesn’t report soon. Read more here.

Here’s my favorite line from the story: Raiders coach Tom Cable said he had no knowledge of a letter being sent but does not see Seymour’s absence as being a distraction for his team heading into the opener.

Really? No knowledge of a letter? Not a distraction? Here’s a comment from one of their players:

“We come in hoping to see him here and then we’re promptly disappointed,” Raiders All Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said.

It says a lot about the state of a franchise when they trade a first round draft pick for a player, and the player refuses to show up and play. Makes me laugh. Thank you Oakland.