Tag Archives: oakland raiders

Raiders Go Defensive

After about 1,000 names were linked to the Raiders head coaching job since they let go of Hue Jackson, they decided to go with Dennis Allen, the former Broncos defensive coordinator. Was he on the so-called “short list” that Reggie Mackenzie had going into the process? Maybe, but based on all the people he talked to for the coaching vacancy, his list wasn’t that short to begin with. I can’t say I was getting very excited during the search since two or three names seemed to come out each day, and some were good names and some were Mike Tice that made me question whether our new GM knew what he was doing. This hiring does make sense on a few levels though, and I can see the now youngest coach in the NFL being successful if he can change a few things.

It’s tough for me to get overly excited about Allen, but taking a strength away from the division champion Broncos isn’t ever a bad thing. I don’t know too much about Allen, but I was a huge fan of the way the Broncos defense played last season, and they deserved as much or more credit than Tebow for thier team’s success. Allen worked under some solid coaches in Sean Payton, Jim Mora, and John Fox, so I feel like he’s going to know what he’s doing in his new role.

The hire also addresses their two biggest weaknesses from last season which were defense and discipline. It was their first defensive minded coaching hire since before I was alive. Reading that Broncos players Champ Bailey and Von Miller were very sad to him see go only makes me like the hire more. Players don’t react unless they actually have good things to say, and when they don’t, you’ll either hear crickets or comments like when Bob Geren was fired as the A’s manager. Champ Bailey even went as far as to say he’s one of the most intense coach’s he’s ever had over his long career also adding the Raiders will now be intense, hard nosed, and tough. Even without a defensive coordinator on the staff yet, the defense will improve by the subtraction of Chuck Bresnahan who never really deserved the DC job to begin with.

The Raiders were the most penalized team in NFL history that had no discipline on defense, and at times, on offense. They needed to hire a no nonsense type of guy to get this team caring about those game killing penalties that seemed to happen every drive. It’s also good they get the HC hired sooner than later so they can focus on the other coaching vacancies before all the good coordinators get snatched up. I’d love to see Del Rio as the DC, so let’s hope that’s the next announcement out of Oakland.

Mark Davis Puts His Plan In Motion

So far, Mark Davis’s tenure as the Raiders owner has been a quite one. Many, including myself wondered how he’d run the Raiders once his father passed away. Today was really the first time he’d spoken publicly about the teams plans for the interim and the future. All in all I was impressed how he handled himself while answering questions about their future as well as the reasons he hired Reggie Mackenzie as the Raiders first ever GM even if he’s the only guy he interviewed for the job. Here’s the whole interview of the two new top dogs in the Raiders organization if you care.

One thing they left on the table which was never actually answering during the interview was why the decision was made to fire Hue Jackson. Yes they said it was Reggie Mackenzie’s choice and he wanted to start from stratch, but that wasn’t nearly as firm as when Al Davis would do his semi-annual firing (just ask Lane Kiffin or any ex-Raiders coach for that matter). Raiders fans may never know why he was fired for sure, but you have to bet that some of it had to do with the empty promises he consistently made throughout the season in a Rex Ryan like fashion including the whole building a bully angle, we’ll make the playoffs, less penalties, stopping the run, and the best trade of all-time quotes come to mind as well. The most troubling part about the firing was that he did seem to be liked by the players, and that’s something that’s hard to replace, but at the same time if you have the ears of the players why did they completely forget to show up in a few games!?! I always wondered why he didn’t request more help while handling personnel choices as the head coach/GM this year. I’m sure they would’ve gotten him someone to help out if he asked for it. Hue’s demise was for more than a few reasons. He never put Jason Campbell on the IR opening a spot for perhaps another linebacker or corner back not named Lito Sheppard that we desperately needed. Then there was the whole finishing the season losing four out of five, which could’ve easily been five of five since they played like crap in KC, but one team had to win that game.

Another thing I think that Mark Davis must’ve seen that I even noticed is that they changed a lot of their defensive and offensive philosophies once Al passed away. Would that piss his son off in a season supposedly dedicated to his father? Possibly, and the glaring change in philosophy was letting the defense play zone a lot for the last 12 games, and ultimately killed them in the Lions game when they have always been a man to man type team in the secondary. Should Jackson have been fired? There’s reasons for keeping him and letting him go. Keeping him would basically blame this past season of failures on injuries (justifiable), the defense, and spreading himself too thin playing GM and coach. The firing however shows that they are re-setting the franchise in Mark Davis’ vision of the franchise opposed to his fathers, which is something all Raiders fans might like to see after nearly a decade of losing somewhat like the Warriors tenure change. Although I don’t know a Raiders fan who honestly hated Al even in his bad years.

I think the most impressive part about all this movement in the front office is that Mark Davis consulted people he was close with, and came out with a clear vision that he would get his team into a better place to succeed not so much next year but in the future. No, he’s not a talent evaluator like Al Davis was, but he does clearly have a plan for the future. It all started with getting Reggie Mackenzie on board, and putting a staff together with that talent evaluating ability. Whether or not Reggie knows what he’s doing remains to be seen, but watching the Packers work their way to winning two Super Bowls while he was working for them, isn’t going to hurt. I thought Mackenzie was well spoken, and seemed to have a clear vision of how the organization should be run, so in the end I’m not that sad Hue is gone. If we could keep him on as the OC, I would love to see that happen, but I wouldn’t blame him for turning that job down. Should be interesting to see what’s next for them, but at the same time it’s kinda sad that the A’s, Raiders, and Warriors are all in constant re-build mode, because sadly the Raiders were pretty much the only successful team I’ve had the chance to root for lately…

The Few Things I Remember From This New Year’s Weekend

My body came back yesterday, but I think my head just finally returned from Tahoe this evening. It was a blurry three days up at the cabin, but I managed to sprinkle in some sports here and there. The majority of it came on Saturday morning/afternoon, as it was do or die for not only the Oakland Raiders, but also the West Sac Narwhals (you guessed it, my fantasy team). Here’s the recap of my weekend in sports…

Boring Morning Games – The scores may look close, but the 49ers-Rams and Jets-Dolphins definitely didn’t feel as close as your average 34-27 or 19-17 games. Neither had much meaning, other than the Jets being able to make a small claim toward a playoff berth. The Niners were also able to sew up a bye in the first round. The fantasy relevance was limited, with only Steven Jackson struggling to muster up 9 points. The Rams did a good job of wiping points away from my opponent though, putting up 17 against his 49ers Defense. I’d have much rather been watching the Lions-Packers. I opted to start Matthew Stafford for just the second time this season. The only other time was during Tom Brady’s bye week, and he turned in a dismal 12 point performance. Who would’ve thought, though, that it’d be the other Matt throwing for 6 TDs. But, when you’re in Northern California, you can’t expect to see any other NFC games while the 49ers are playing. Maybe I was just bored waiting for the game of the year….

Oakland Raiders Can End 9 Year Playoff Drought – The scenarios were many, but one was simple. Beat the Chargers, and get a Denver loss at the hands of Kyle Orton and the Kansas City Chiefs, and they’re in. Beating the Chargers isn’t usually a doable task, but Oakland beat them in pretty convincing fashion in front of a national Thursday night NFL Network stage IN San Diego. Throw in Orton’s return to Denver (he HAS to light it up against his old team, right?), and I was feeling like the chances were good. The Chiefs took care of business, even if Orton didn’t light it up. A 7-3 ballgame seemed like the perfect setup for the Raiders to get in. Ultimately, though, a porous defense and untimely turnovers – both Raiders staples this season – squandered away a golden opportunity. Oakland will miss the playoffs yet again, and Denver backs into the playoffs, riding a 6-22, 60 yard, 1 interception, and a fumble lost game by Tim Tebow. Sounds to me like a perfect script for a Denver upset against Pittsburgh next weekend. Too bad I wasn’t still 10 minutes from Nevada anymore!

Demarcus Cousins Demanded Trade From Sacramento Kings – This one caught me way off guard. I read the news on my phone, and quite frankly, I was many sheets to the wind at this point. The headlines, though, were crystal clear….

“Demarcus Cousins DEMANDS Trade”

“Demarcus Cousins SENT HOME For Good”

“Demarcus Cousins Has Played His LAST GAME In Sacramento”

By the time I got caught up on all the news, it was over. I just watched the Kings lose to the Grizzlies, but Cousins was back out there as if nothing ever happened. Albeit he came off the bench and played just 22 minutes, it’s amazing enough that he saw the floor at all. He struggled offensively, just 4 points on 1-5 shooting; but he grabbed 8 rebounds, including a game-high 6 offensive boards. I’m hoping it gets more back to normal in the next few games. Here’s a BIG reason why… Tonight, I was officially SOLD on Jimmer Fredette as an effective NBA player. He CAN get his shot off. He CAN create off the dribble. He CAN shoot 3’s from NBA range. OK, I suppose no one ever doubted the last one. Well to make up for that one, I’ll add that he CAN pass. Like Tyreke Evans, no one will ever be sold on him being an NBA point guard, but he can find the open man like one. So maybe two of those guys in the backcourt can equal one point guard. They’ve got another guy who can light it up with the best of them too in Marcus Thornton. If only they had a tall, quick, athletic, passing big man to round it out. Oh wait, they DO. It appears they’re on the brink of trading him though. If they end up shipping Cousins away, we’ll know it had to have been bad, because he’s a once in a decade talent, like a second coming of Chris Webber. Unfortunately, it took Webber a trade or two to really find his groove. Cousins has lasted longer in Sac than C-Webb did in Golden State, but it feels eerily similar. Who knows, maybe Demarcus gets reunited with John Wall in Washington for a few years, then he spends his prime in Oakland for the Warriors.

One Last Thought – Were there ANY College Football Bowl Games on New Year’s Day? I thought New Year’s Day was supposed to be about Bowl Games…? I swear, when I was a kid, roughly 6 of the best 7 of all 15 bowl games were on New Year’s Day. If I remember my weekend correctly (which I certainly don’t), NONE of the 35 Bowls were played on Sunday. What the HELL?! Oh well, Sunday was for BBQing. I broke out my new smoker and probably served up the best trio of Tri-Tip, Pork Loin, and Smoked Salmon this side of the Rocky Mountains. Yeah, I said smoked Tri-Tip… It’s California. I can’t find a brisket to save my life out here. One day, smoked Tri-Tip is gonna be a nationwide phenomenon though. It’s gonna be the Tim Tebow of barbeque… no one thinks it can be that good, but all it does it WIN.

Replacing Campbell: What Would Al Do?

Now that I’ve accepted Kyle Boller as the Raiders’ starting QB in Week 7, it’s a bit easier for me to take a less hasty look at the search for a replacement for Jason Campbell. I, for one, am not sold on Kyle Boller as a long-term solution. Fortunately, the Raiders face a 2-3 Kansas City team that’s scoring just 15 points a game this season. After that, the Bye week. So, it looks like if we can just survive one “should-win” game at home with Boller, we can focus more of our attention on getting the best possible guy for the job, instead of just whoever we can get now. If I’m Al Davis, I go straight to the best guy available. Though Carson Palmer and available aren’t words that have been mentioned together all year, my gut says Al would MAKE him available. The main arguments against it are that Bengals ownership is stubbornly set on not rewarding a player’s demands, and the Raiders don’t have any attractive draft picks next year anyway. But they do still have their number one pick. Trading a first round pick is probably foolish, but the Raiders are winning now, and they’re built for the future as well. I don’t see anyone on the roster who’ll need to be replaced in the next three years. I’ve got to believe it’s worth it to get a bonafide starting NFL quarterback. Most owners wouldn’t pull the trigger merely on the prospect of the criticism they’d receive, but Al Davis never cared about that. He’d just say something like, “We wanted Carson Palmer so we GOT Carson Palmer,” and that’d be the end of it. And ultimately, if he was unable to succesfully pry Palmer from the Bengals, he’d at least leak the offer to the media so Cincinnati owner, Paul Brown, would have to face criticism from his fans for turning down a first round pick on stubborn principle.

Campbell Conundrum

It’s funny how everyone thinks that Jason Campbell was the reason for the Raiders success, and now that he’s most likely out for the season, the Raiders now don’t have a shot at going anywhere this season. Teams will stack the box and completely focus in on DMC and the run game they say. Didn’t all the teams we played this year already do that? If they didn’t, my eyes must’ve been lying to me. Sure Campbell was adequate at QB this year, but last I checked Campbell wasn’t exactly the biggest reason the Raiders have been winning. Campbell might have been playing the best football of his career, but how much is that really saying? Last year Bruce Gradkowski was just as effective as Campbell when he played, so why can’t Boller be effective in that same type of just manage the offense mold?

Let me start by saying I’m not the biggest Kyle Boller fan, but I wasn’t exactly a huge Jason Campbell fan either. Yes, Campbell brought some stability to the position, but he didn’t bring much of a wow factor to the offense, that was up to the playmakers on the outside like the emerging DHB, Moore, and Ford. Campbell defines average in the NFL at the QB position. He doesn’t really win you games, but he doesn’t do enough to lose you games most of the time. The one area he’s clearly lacked in is throwing the deep ball. In fact, he’s the 33rd ranked QB on deep pass completion percentage, which is surprising for a team that does take quite a few shots deep. This also means that most of Campbell’s long plays this season have come off of players making plays after the catch and picking up the “big play” yardage. The Raiders are currently 3rd in the NFL with 29 plays of over 20+ yards, which shows despite a ton of deep completions they still have the weapons to bust a big play at any given moment.

So what are we getting with Boller? Not entirely sure, but he looked about the same as Campbell in the second half of the game against Cleveland this weekend. Sure, people are already pointing to the two missed deep throws on wide open receivers, but that wasn’t a ton different than Campbell’s routinely missing the deep man on his throws over the season. I think after Boller gets a few more reps with the first team receivers, he can be a little bit more on target or at least get it in the right area code for them to make a play on the ball. Aside from those two throws, I actually liked what I saw from Boller when he came in this weekend.

First and foremost, he didn’t turn the ball over, which Campbell had done in every game this year except one. Second, he actually looked better than Campbell does in the moving around the pocket even with his “happy feet” syndrome. He even had two nice scrambles for decent yards, and one resulted in a first down where he evaded a rusher by ducking under his meat hook. His receivers dropped at least two very catch-able passes, so all in all it was a Jason Campbell-like performance out of the backup. If teams do “stack the box” to stop McFadden (when didn’t they), I don’t see why Kyle Boller can’t hit some of our up-and-coming receivers on short routes hoping they’ll break a tackle to get the “big play” the same way they did for Campbell. A TON of Campbell’s yards this year have come on short slants and screen plays. Do I trust Boller to make those short to medium throws? As much as I trusted Jason! Plus, Boller’s new wife is a smokeshow which has to give you some extra confidence!

There’s been a lot of talk about how the Raiders need to get someone else on the team like Palmer, Garrard, Edwards, or Orton to take over the QB spot. I’m actually surprisingly fine with Boller as the starter for the moment, and at least give him a week to see what he can do with the first team. The only one of those four I’d truly like to see in Oakland is Palmer, and even with him we’d have to give up draft picks in a 2012 draft that we have no picks for anyways. Orton has been replaced on his teams by Grossman, and Tebow, so I’ll just pass on him altogether especially since we’d give up a draft pick to a team we are trying to be better than. Garrard seems like a head case, and might be in the JaMarcus category as he misses meetings from time to time. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind them bringing back Edwards, since he was with them during the pre-season and somewhat knows the playbook. We do need another QB on the roster, because there’s noway we should be putting in Tyrelle Pryor in any games this season, so I’m hoping for Edwards in the short term with Boeller as our QB on a two week tryout as we face two teams we should beat. If we lose both, I’ll surely go into panic mode.

Doin Tributes: Al Davis

AL DAVIS MADE ME A RAIDERS FAN. Unlike Chappy, who’s been a lifelong Raiders fan, I grew up a San Francisco 49ers fan. Although our family roots are in Oakland, the Raiders moved to Los Angeles the year I was born, so the 49ers were my home team. Even when the Raiders moved back to the Bay Area in the mid-90s, I was still loyal to the Niners. It was somewhere around 1999 or 2000 that I got fed up. The York family seemed poised to run the franchise into the ground, and meanwhile, across the Bay, the Raiders were trying everything they could to build a winner. Now, anyone who knows me knows I’m far from a fairweather fan. But when a front office isn’t even concerned with the team on the field, and is more focused on the financial side of things, it gets a little frustrating. Being a Northern California sports fan means rarely landing that coveted free agent. They usually go somewhere else with more money. But Al Davis made the Raiders the exception. Perhaps they were often castoffs from other teams, but Al Davis went out and got big time football players for one reason, to just win baby. He was bringing in guys like Warren Sapp and Randy Moss. (Yes, I know they didn’t really work out). He’s faced more criticism than few other sports owners have, and has come under a lot of fire lately due to a string of coaching changes. To me, though, I saw an owner who cared enough to make a move when it needed to be made. As the primary face of the Raiders over the years, he probably had more haters out there than any owner, most of whom people didn’t even know existed. It was impossible to not know who Al Davis was. Especially now that he’s passed, we all know he hired the first black head coach, the first latino head coach, and the first woman CEO in sports. It was his commitment to winning though (I wouldn’t call it ‘excellence’), that made me a fan. Owners who care about winning more than the bottom line are becoming few and far between. His brash style alienated many, and I wouldn’t even say I was a fan of Al Davis. But, Al Davis made things happen. Al Davis MADE me a Raiders fan.

Raiders Off and Running Wild

I was cautiously optimistic coming into the season about the Raiders, but looking back, I think I have been for the last three since we dumped Jamarcus. There’s something vastly different about this team this year. Even today against the Jets they improved from the previous two weeks in big ways. Penalties was one. Seven might sound like a lot, but to the Raiders that is a good sign. They are notorious for penalties, and somehow we’ve kept them under ten for two straight games. That might be the longest streak they’ve had in four years. I’ll sum up the reason why I believe they have changed, Hue Jackson has the attention of this team. He has them actually aware of what is going on compared to many past coaches that couldn’t get the players to compose themselves in the heat of the moment. Do I dare call them a cohesive team!?! Just looking at their collapse in Buffalo yesterday’s Raiders would’ve gone into a four game losing streak spiral, but not this team, they bounced back and showed the showtime Jets some real swagger.

Another big reason for my optimism this year was that they actually have some playmakers. Everyone knows, and in most cases rips on Al Davis for picking guys on two criteria, athletic ability, and speed. It took seven drafts drought to finally start picking some of the “right guys”, but it looks like Al hasn’t completely lost his touch that made the Raiders great in years past. Sure, some picks were probably easier than others like selecting McFadden (the best back in the NFL right now) in 2008 looks like a no brainier, but the last three years they took their best three receivers/playmakers in the 4th or 5th round. Guess what the pundits said about the picks at the time? Meh, Crazy Al picking the fastest guy in the draft again…

Who were those picks? 2009 4th round pick, Louis Murphy. 2010 5th round pick, Jacoby Ford. 2011 4th round pick, Denarius Moore. I had low expectations for nearly all of them, but at different points they’ve all looked like big time players. Denarius shined for a second straight week. Last week he caught 5 balls for 164 yards and a TD. Today he had an amazing reverse, and broke a few Jets arm tackles for a TD. Jacoby Ford hasn’t even taken the field yet this year, and he is our best receiver imo. I’m not saying any of these guys will be 1,000 yard recievers this year, but everytime any of them touch the ball they have a shot at breaking it into a big play. Hell, even Heyward-Bey has the speed to break a big one, if he can actually hang onto the ball. This team is a run first team, but with many weapons on the outside, it’s become the reason the Raiders are actually consistently putting up 30+ points with a less than exciting Jason Campbell leading the way. Another thing Al never gets credit for is building this offensive line paving the way for McFadden and Bush, three of those linemen were drafted in the last three years as well. This whole rant feels a little strange, because I haven’t defended Al Davis like this in a LONG time.

There is one main concern on defense for the Raiders, and it’s the secondary. I think Mceezy and I have both agreed that the Raiders front four might be the best in all of football. They pretty much hit the QB on nearly every passing play, and do well bottling up RB’s not named Fred Jackson without much help from blitz schemes. They already have 10 sacks on the year. Their glaring weakness is the young Asomugha-less secondary. They seem to account for half the teams penalties called on them for holding or pass interference. They just need to learn to keep their head up, because the front four are putting plenty of pressure on QB’s, so they don’t really need to hold the recievers.

Why I Hate the NFL

This weekend I was treated to an amazingly competitive game Sunday morning between my Raiders and the Bills. I was proud to see the Raiders show some life after playing late Monday and flying across the country. I was at home watching the battle, and don’t own the NFL package because I’ve refused to give them any of my hard earned money when it could be better spent at a bar on a couple beers when my team isn’t on. Anyways, with the game on the line with :27 seconds left and the Bills facing a 3rd and 10 from the 15 yard line down by 4, what does CBS do? Oh lets switch to our contract obligation and show the SD-NE game instead of showing the last :27 seconds of this one. In hindsight, maybe I’m somewhat glad I didn’t see the winning score, but it pretty much ruined my Sunday either way. I had to go online and hit refresh 200 times to find out they scored, pathetic I know…

First off, when they switched from the game, the viewers were given three full minutes of straight commercials. What followed you may ask? Oh, just some player intros and some lame commentary about Phillip Rivers and Tom Brady. About five minutes of rambling about the two teams went on before they actually got to kickoff. How much longer did the Raider game last? Less than that first commercial break would be the correct answer. Is this the NFL I was so sad to see go?  The money hungry idiots pulling the plug on the game right before the most meaningful two plays of the game must be one of the biggest blunders I’ve seen in awhile. It’s a known fact that LA is Raiders country even with the team not playing here since 94′, and to switch from the game to a commercial is almost as bad as switching to Heidi in the middle of a game (Oh wait they already pulled that one on us Raiders fans). I was mildly surprised there weren’t some riots. How about this time instead of Heidi, we switch you viewers to watch your hated rival the San Diego Chargers instead? Either the guy on the switchboard hates Raiders fans, or he/she didn’t understand the magnitude of the moment, and actually followed the contractual agreement. At least give us the end of the third down play for Christ sake! It felt like I watched a movie for three hours, and the movie theatre all of a sudden decided that the next movie should start instead of finishing the action thriller I was watching. Maybe I will hit up a Raiders game this year, so I can actually see the ending…


One Pissed Fan

Knee Jerk Reactions To Knee Jerk Reactions

Man, were there a lot of knee jerk reactions this weekend. I had my share of knee jerk reactions to those knee jerk reactions. I had no other choice since I spent the majority of the weekend off the grid in spectacular Yosemite National Park. I had some spotty reception, and there was a TV in the tavern, but for the most part, I spent the weekend oblivious to what was going on in the world. The 20 minutes of sports I did catch was the SF Giants getting beat by the Astros, 5-0. I had no idea, until Sunday afternoon, once I touched back down in the California Central Valley, where there was reception again, that the 49ers – Raiders game was riddled with brawls and shootings. Well, you can’t say the Niners didn’t overreact to the incidents. So here’s my feelings on that, along with some other things….

49ers – Raiders Violence:  Why wouldn’t these two fan bases wanna brawl? Both their teams sucks donkey balls, despite plenty of means to be a contender. They’ve both been deep in the postseason numerous times, but these times are hard for Bay Area football teams. It’s no surprise that fans would want to distract themselves from the garbage going on the field. But it doesn’t take a CSI cast member to see that the fights in the stand weren’t merely Raiders vs. 49ers fans. It was one group of dudes against another group of dudes. There was plenty of red on gold violence, and silver and black evil (which we call crime). For the 49ers to subliminally claim that Raider fans were to blame is ridiculous – much like their management of the franchise over the last decade. I’m the #1 apologist for Raider fans… I won’t claim responsibility for any of them, but it’s not that serious. The incidents that occurred at Candlestick Point this past weekend had very little to do with football. Yet, the 49ers’ brass wants to suspend all future preseason games against the Raiders. Alright man, if you’d rather fork over the cash for a charter flight and 50 hotel rooms in San Diego, go right ahead. I’m pretty sure a few extra security guards would be cheaper.

Raiders Grab Terrelle Pryor: Of course they did. Everyone knew the Raiders would go after Pryor, but it almost seemed too obvious. Now the naysayers are bantering about how soon he’ll be moved to wide receiver. Yet Pryor, along with agent Drew Rosenhaus, and according to them, Raiders management, all insist that Terrelle will remain a quarterback. Whether or not that comes to fruition, it’s a low risk – high reward move for Oakland. Because let me put it this way… IF TERRELLE PRYOR PLAYED NEXT YEAR AT OHIO STATE, WOULD YOU SAY THAT HE WOULD GO LOWER THAN THE SECOND ROUND?! ….DIDN’T THINK SO. So to give up a third round pick next year for a flier on Pryor, I’m with it. Especially when I think about how they would burn the pick next year. The Raiders have become a team that takes who they want, when they want. They reached on guys like Mike Mitchell and Demarcus Van Dyke, but that’s who they wanted, so it didn’t matter what pick it was.

Earthquakes Give A’s Home Field Advantage In Yankee Stadium: A 5.9 earthquake struck the East Coast yesterday, and so did the Oakland Athletics. Two violent aftershocks were reported, but were later discovered to be Brandon Allen home runs. The first baseman, acquired from Arizona for Brad Ziegler at the trade deadline, has immediately stepped into the starting first baseman role. Though he was expected to hold down the corner until Conor Jackson came back, Allen has remained at first – while Jackson has found his playing time in the outfield. The A’s have played as good of baseball as any team since the all-star break – unfortunately they’ve been too far out of the race – but a few newcomers have of all 90 of us fans excited for the future. There’s not a lot left to play for… but a sweep, or even just a series win, in the Bronx would do wonders for this team. The Yanks were clearly shaken by the earthquake earlier in the day, but that’s just business as usual for the Northern California A’s squad.

Matt Holliday Gets Earf*cked By A Moth: I had a giant moth land on my forehead today at the office, so I can relate. This story would have never caught my attention if I didn’t have a moth run in this morning. But my moth was way bigger than Matt Holliday’s. He had one burrow into his year. That’s some horror movie type stuff. I caught the interview with Holliday on ESPN radio this afternoon. He sad he felt a bug going crazy inside his ear. The doctors couldn’t see anything, but finally they broke out the light and were able to see something moving around in there. They tried to pull it out with tweezers, but kept only getting pieces of the wings. Holliday described the wings as basically flaking off. After some time, the doctor was able to grab the insect by the body and pull him out of Holliday’s ear. Nucking futs.

Going Backwards In The Bay

It’s been a disappointing offseason out here in Northern California for the two storied, but recently troubled Bay Area football teams. While many teams are out making aggressive moves, taking advantage of the unusually wide open free agent pool, the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders have not only stood pat, but they’ve both seemed content to lose their players.

I’ll start with the Niners, since I care less, and they seemed poised to be bigger players in the free agent market. Their lone acquisition is a guy who doesn’t even exist according to ESPN. I tried to see what this Madieu Williams guy is all about, but he doesn’t even have a player profile on espn.com. Word on the street is they’ve also signed David Akers, but I don’t know if kickers count, so I won’t bother to confirm that. On the other side of the coin, the 49ers have seemed to lose another player each day. Granted, for the most part, they were considered expendable, though I’m not sure why in many cases. They let Nate Clements walk – he went to Cincinnati. Takeo Spikes’ run in SF was widely considered to be over, so he headed south to San Diego. However, Manny Lawson, David Baas, and particularly Aubrayo Franklin, seemed to still have a place on this roster. Instead, they sat on their thumbs while those three departed for the Bengals, Giants, and Saints, respectively. The one guy they bothered to re-sign, and thus give a seventh chance, is quarterback Alex Smith. Jim Harbaugh is the savior, so surely he can be the one to tap Alex Smith’s unharnessed potential, right? The sole consolation on the West side of the Bay is that the Niners haven’t let go of any of their core players. Frank Gore, Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis, and Michael Crabtree are all still there. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about the team across the water in the biggity-biggity O (that’s Rappin 4-Tay in Playas Club for anyone who missed it)

Over on the warmer side of the Bay, the Raiders have also stood on the sidelines while other teams took their players. They actually voided the contract of possibly their best player, Nnamdi Asomugha, so that at least softened the blow when he ultimately signed with Philadelphia. At least we knew he wasn’t coming back. After that, at least the losses of Bruce Gradkowski and Thomas Howard to Cincinnati and Robert Gallery to Seattle won’t be crippling the team necessarily. They did re-sign Michael Huff and Sam Williams, among others, as well as throwing about $50 million at Kamerion Wimbley to keep him in Oakland. But, all of that can’t overcome the loss of tight end Zach Miller. I wasn’t the hugest fan of the guy, but there were more than a few games when he was the only guy producing on the entire team. Obviously a few other guys have to deliver in order for the team to move the chains, but more often than not, the guy with the ball when it crossed the first down marker was Miller. With the unestablished receiving corps that consists of Louis Murphy, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Jacoby Ford, the nimble tight end was almost always the guy to find some open space for whatever quarterback the Raiders have in dodging uncontested pass rushers. Part of me wants to find solace in the fact that Al Davis isn’t out there throwing money at whoever the best players on paper are, but the majority of me wonders if they can overcome the loss of such an integral part of their offense (if you can call it that).

Goodluck Nnamdi

The NFL lockout is over which I’m sure you heard. Here’s an Icky Shuffle video to celebrate. Although I wanted to see them miss some regular season games, losing them money and fans, I guess I don’t mind the NFL’s coming back now. It would’ve been tragic to be without the NFL and NBA this winter. I mean, actually having conversations with the family on Thanksgiving instead of watching football sounds completely ridiculous. It’s no secret, the top free agent in the ocean sized free agent pool seems to be Nnamdi Asomugha as they’ve been talking about him a lot the past week. I pretty much know for a fact he won’t be back with the Raiders, or he and Al would’ve worked out a deal or Al would’ve honored the rest of his contract instead of terminating it last season. It’s sad to see the Cal star turned Raider heading out of the Bay Area, but sometimes you need a change in your life. I will continue to root for him to succeed wherever he goes (as long as it’s not the Patriots).

Nnamdi was an interesting Raider. Since we drafted him in 2003, he was pretty much the lone bright spot on teams that sucked year in and year out, which you can point to a number of reasons, but none were his fault. Normally the Raiders have the dysfunctional head cases or cast offs playing for them, but he was a different breed of Raider. He liked community work even going back to his days at Cal. If you met him you’d probably think he’s some slick businessmen instead of a football player. I’d actually elect him as the NFLPA rep as soon as he retires. He continues to do talks to college kids about the importance of education on his own time. He even fly’s around the country to help recruits understand what they are getting into, and takes the time to debate with our former president showing everyone his expertise isn’t only football. He’s pretty much everything you’d want in a star player. Humble enough to work hard. Smart enough to put the film time in, and just like on Sunday, he’s never in trouble aka bringing bad PR.

Is he worth $20M+ per year? That’s a double edged sword right there as a few of our readers don’t think he’s worth it from what I remember. I didn’t feel like the Raiders overspent when we signed him to the contract making him the richest CB in the league, and most deemed the contract ridiculous at the time, but he produced. Hell, our Deangelo Hall signing was 100 times worse. I would say Nnamdi as the whole package is worth the $20M+ per year. You get a shut down corner that opposing teams don’t throw at. Of the 474 passing plays ran the last two seasons against Oakland, only 7% of those plays targeted Nnamdi. A combination of blanket coverage and respect of his talent forced opposing QB’s to look the other way. He’s also out of the Charles Woodson mold when it comes to tackling, which I feel is one of his most underrated attributes. Cornerback might be the hardest position to evaluate, and while I understand why some argue that getting a ball-hawking corner like Antonio Cromartie for a third of the price makes some sense. On the other hand, a guy like Cromartie is a huge liability, and can’t even remember his kids names. Also, how much did Cromartie benefit from having Revis across the way from him. If Nnamdi had someone half as good as him on the other side, I would be willing to bet you he’d have more picks. Anyways, wherever he lands, be happy you got him. He’s well worth the money. My prediction: Baltimore….

Silver and Black Attack!

No explanation needed…..

Raider Re-Up on Seymour; President Honors Russell

The Oakland Raiders today re-signed DT Richard Seymour to solidify the return of their solid defensive tackle tandem that features him and Tommy Kelly. The deal is reportedly for 2 years, $30 million. Late last season, Seymour went as far as to say he saw himself retiring as a Raider – quite the 180 from the guy who seemed hesitant to report to Oakland after being traded 2 seasons ago. Nonetheless, Seymour emerged as a leader in the clubhouse and a force to reckon with on the field. Though I had plenty of doubts when he was first acquired, it was apparent, last season especially, that the improvement shown by the Raiders all stemmed from the dominance of the front four. It’s a lot of money, but if he produces at the same level as last year, I’m on board with this deal.

In other news…… Another thing I’m on board with is Bill Russell being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom today. Most know him for winning 11 titles with the Boston Celtics, along with back to back NCAA titles at USF. Most forget about all the work he put in off the basketball court in the civil rights arena.

Below is the official White House transcript of Obama’s remarks about Russell:

When Bill Russell was in junior high, he was cut from his basketball team. (Laughter.) He got better after that. (Laughter.) He led the University of San Francisco to two championships. In 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics, he won 11 championships — a record unmatched in any sport. Won two while also serving as the team’s coach. And so happens, he also was the first African American ever to hold such a position as a coach in a Major League sports team of any sort. More than any athlete of his era, Bill Russell came to define the word “winner.”

And yet, whenever someone looks up at all 6 feet 9 inches of Bill Russell — I just did — (laughter) — I always feel small next to him — and asks, “Are you a basketball player?” — surprisingly, he gets this more than you think, this question — (laughter) — he says, “No.” He says, “That’s what I do, that’s not what I am. I’m not a basketball player. I am a man who plays basketball.”

Bill Russell, the man, is someone who stood up for the rights and dignity of all men. He marched with King; he stood by Ali. When a restaurant refused to serve the black Celtics, he refused to play in the scheduled game. He endured insults and vandalism, but he kept on focusing on making the teammates who he loved better players, and made possible the success of so many who would follow. And I hope that one day, in the streets of Boston, children will look up at a statue built not only to Bill Russell the player, but Bill Russell the man.

Doin Cali Storylines

Jim Harbaugh is going to be the 49ers new coach for the next five years. Great signing for a guy who is forever embedded in California going all the way back to High School, to coaching Stanford, and now his newest job as the 49ers head coach. Solid move by the coach for choosing the Niners over the Dolphins. It was a great move to stay where his family is, and even more so because he decided to go with the NFC West over the AFC East. I think he liked beating Pete Carroll so much in college in Pete’s last year at USC, he wanted the chance to do it twice a year in the pros. I’m not a big Niners or NFC fan, so that’s all I have to say about that, maybe By will have a post on it sometime later breaking it down, because it is the biggest thing they’ve done since they beat the Giants in the playoffs.

The Raiders fired Cable a couple of days ago as Mceezy already told us. I’ve let the feelings I had on the firing set in a little more over the last couple of days, because originally, I was pretty mad since the Raiders players seemed to respect Cable so much. Now, I’m not quite as mad as the initial shock of the announcement. I’m thinking that Al hired on Hue Jackson as the OC last year, because he wanted to groom him into the next HC. Hue improved the offense by leaps and bounds this year by actually getting them into the endzone last season. I remember last year, we went through a three game stretch where all we managed were field goals, and watching the offense was painful more times than not. They might have scored a TD in that three game stretch, but it was a defensive one.

Anyways, my theory goes like this. Al was going to roll with Cable this year, and see how Hue did with getting the offense functioning like a real offense again. Both were reasonably successful, so no changes were made for the first half of the season. Al probably would’ve kicked Cable to the curb if had a crappy record at the bye week, but that wasn’t the case. Since they were still in the hunt, Al decided to let the year play out and waited through December to see if Cable could get them to the playoffs. He didn’t, and when Cable emphatically said after the season finale win over the Chiefs “we aren’t losers anymore”, that probably pissed Al off more than anything, and was the final straw in a tenure that had him switching QB’s, punching assistants, and receiving battery charges from ex-girlfriends. If they don’t hire/promote Hue Jackson who has the players respect already, then it will be another one of Al’s crazy decisions that I will never understand. The players overall were outspoken against the firing, but I think having a familiar face leading them next year would negate some of that negative energy. So the moral of this rant, if Al hires Hue then I’ll believe he really had a plan. If Al hires someone else, he’s should be checked back into the insane asylum.

The A’s new ballpark. The Oakland City Council approved spending  ¾ of a million dollars into looking at a site in downtown Oakland for a new baseball only park for the A’s. I’m not really sure what this means, but I know there isn’t going to be a stadium anytime soon. I think this was a counter to San Jose trying to find a place to put the A’s, which Lew Wolff has longed for. It’s sad that the MLB still hasn’t concluded their research to decide where is the best fit for the A’s new park if there is one, after only two years of research. If they put me on that committee, I bet I could figure it out faster than two damn years!

Speaking of San Jose, how does the San Jose Hornets sound? It wouldn’t be possible till 2014 (when CP3 is gone), but Larry Ellison easily has the funds to buy the Hornets from the league and the wherewithal to make that move happen. He might do it just because he got punked when he was trying to buy the Warriors. It would be a pretty bold move to try to steal them away to San Jose, especially since the Warriors have as strong a fanbase as any in the league. I wonder if he’d just do it to take money and value away from Lacob and Gruber who bought the Warriors? Probably, because I think this guy HATES losing at anything, and I’m sure losing out on buying the Warriors is still eating at him. Five NBA teams in California seems like a little much, especially when three are in Northern California. I guess we will see how it all plays out, but I thought it was an interesting rumor nonetheless. The Kings are the most likely to move of the current teams here, so maybe there would still only be four teams in Cali if Ellison bought the Hornets.

The Lakers shenanigans leading to losing. I always love when Lakers fans start panicking after a few loses. I’m sure if I was a fan of theirs I’d be a little worried, but seriously, they still have the third best record in the west, so stop bitching Laker Nation. Even though their players are missing practices because of their IPhones, Ron doesn’t like the way Phil yells at him, and Odom is convincing teammates to sign waivers to be on his reality show, they shouldn’t be worried. They’ve gone through much worse with Kobe and Shaq, so they will right the ship. Last year just before the playoffs started, they played some of their worst ball of the season, and that sure didn’t seem to stop them from winning a championship. December and January isn’t the time to worry about the Lakers. This is a team that has been to the finals three years in a row. Sometimes you probably get bored during the season. I think that’s what is happening here more than anything…

Tom Cable Out in Oakland

ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted that the Raiders have informed Tom Cable they won’t be picking up his option. Don’t worry everyone, I don’t follow Schefter, or anyone for that matter, on Twitter. I just happened to catch it on their tweetfeed…..

Does that mean Hue Jackson will be taking over or are the Raiders going in a completely nonsensical different direction? Nothing would surprise me at this point….