Pondering an alternative

With Derek Carr out nursing a finger injury, Christian Ponder and Matt McGloin have been sharing first team reps at Oakland Raider’s OTAs and the one clear take-away that I could gather was that former first round draft pick Christian Ponder looked really good.

Ponder has always has a nice rhythm to his passing, his down fall in his early nfl career with the Minnesota Vikings being his tendency to fluster under pressure, but maybe (and its a big maybe) the change of scenery, lack of pressure and time to develop will allow him to iron out this very important flaw. Christian Ponder has always had good feet and a nice west-coast short-passing game but he has often suffered from a lack of zip on his longer balls and somewhat panicked-style. At OTA’s however he has looked smooth and very impressive.

Yes the pressure is not there, at OTA’s, but maybe (just maybe) this young man just needed some time to mature. As long as we mainly want to run the ball, just playing west-coast offence at QB, Christian Ponder should/could be fine. Yes, I’d much rather see Derek Carr developing, but if he’s carrying an injury lets not push it, no need to risk Carr long term future, instead lets give the keys of the juggernaut to Christian Ponder and see where he can take us.


Raider’s Tame Lions

So there we have it, we still do actually know how to win, it wasn’t easy though and not everybody excelled. Very simply the 27-26 victory over the Detroit Lions came about thanks to a 2Q Darren McFadden run, a 3Q Jake Murphy catch (from Derek Carr) and then a sweet 19-yard pass from tough-as-nails third stringer Matt McGloin to the increasingly impressive Brice Butler.

Onto Brice Butler, this kid was the key positive take-away from the Lions game, in fact much of camp to date, as has been young CB T.J.Carrie (who by the way put up an excellent punt return today). Butler has great hands, is really really fast and simply looks like he should be starting alongside Rod Streater and James Jones.

Recent displays from our receivers have, however, given me less reasons to be impressed with Andre Holmes and Greg Little recently, and really want to see Juron Criner push them. My WR’s to make the 53 at present are James Jones, Rod Streater, Brice Butler, Darius Moore (as he offers something different) and then whoever impresses most out of Holmes/Criner/Little going forward (who drops the least at this rate!!).

I actually thought Matt Schaub looked good in this game, his passing is crisp (something we haven’t seen here for a long time – I don’t miss Terrelle Pryors one little bit) and he remained calm despite some slightly lackluster line play. The performance of the starting OL definitely worried me, although the Lions at times were blitzing on mass, bringing 7 players straight up on Shaub at times….despite this he looked good.

Other big plus, TE Mychal Rivera – what great moves he showed on that pass from Schaub, I see them putting up great numbers together this year….there is one for the fantasy sleeper picks for 2014, Mychal Rivera, getable for $1 in auction drafts or often on the waivers after the draft (as long as no Raiders fans are in your auction).

Roll on Oakland, we beat a team many sages have challenging for the superbowl this year.

Nice QB Situation

The Oakland Raiders, after many years of trying, finally go into a season with a nice QB situation. OK, wipe your mind clean. Loose your preconceptions and let me explain: the Oakland Raiders have the former pro-bowler, in his early 30’s, starting; a young, best-arm-in-the-draft, rookie to learn from the number-one; and a determined battler back-up, who will do whatever is necessary to help the team. Wow, that’s a nice combination, I don’t think we’ve ever had that before.

I don’t love Matt McGloin, but you have to like his fire and determination, and I can’t argue with him as this year’s number-2, the long-term number-3.

Derek Carr has everythign I want in a starting QB, post-2015/16, a huge arm, strength, a great work ethic and speed (his 4.6 second 40 time shocked me). In the past I’d have wanted Carr to start right away, but I’ve learned my lessons, and he’s not quite ready for that now. A year or two learning will make him a much better player.

Then you’ve got the pick-6 machine Matt Schaub ready to come back and show the nfl they were wrong to write him off. Matt Schaub is a good QB, man he might even be a great QB, I certainly think he”s the best we’ve had since Gannon. Remember last year when we were beating his team pretty convincingly, it wasn’t until Schaub came on there was any danger of us really losing, then he sarted pinging the ball around I was worried. Schaub, with a decent OL (which we now have), will be good….I think potentially very very good.

Got a Strange Feeling we can Beat the Titans

I’ve got a quick feeling ahead of the weekend that the Oakland Raiders are going to beat the Titans this Sunday. If we win, I don’t imagine it will be by much, certainly less than 10 points, but there is a new confidence floating around the place, and that brings a better team spirit which ignites a winnins spirit.

The never-say-die attitude that Matt McGloin brings to this team should be enough to help us beat a very good Titans team. I know its early days for McGloin, but this kid has a huge chip on his shoulder and it generates hard work from the rest of the team, plus he delivers a nice crisp DB-splitting pass, the kind of which I can’t remember form a Raiders QB for some time.

At least it will be a good contest between two very good defences on Sunday, that is for sure. Our DB’s, LB’s and to a lesser-extent DL are looking much improved and I’m finally starting to get confidence in them winning us a few games.

I’m really looking forward to the game, and quietly confident of a result….mind you, I have thought that before and been proved wrong many times before, we can only hope!!

Matt McGloin Deserves an Extended Run in the Side

Following Matt McGloin’s winning performance in Sunday’s Texans game, and given the state of Terrelle Pryor’s knee, I think McGloin should be given an extended run in the side.

Lets see how McGloin does in a 3 or 4 game spell. If he swims then let him keep him in the starting job through to the end of the season, whereas if he fails then we can hand the keys back to a fit again Pryor, giving him another chance to show that his recent failures were not down to lack of QB-talent. Either way, we get to see if we have a QB on the roster worthy of the starting spot next season. I think we do – possibly two – but the next couple of weeks could be crucial in proving that one way or the other.

Raiders Defence Wins Close Game With Houston

I know all the headlines will be about Matt McGloin, and in patches I was impressed with him, but for me this game was won by the Raider’s D. We stopped Houston at key times, limiting them to FG’s at the end proving absolutely vital to the victory.

Initially when the Texans took Case Kennum out of the line up – after a good game – I thought it was a sign of them waiving their proverbial “white-flag”, but then Matt Schaub looked like a real danger, bringing first down after first down….or maybe our D was getting tired. Plus Matt McGloin seemed to loose his abaility to make first downs in the 4th quarter. All in all I was real worried – lets admit it, we all were, and there were times in the 4th quarter a fit Terrelle Pryor would have definitely not had so many three-and-outs, but we made it, we won the game, and Matt McGloin’s ability to keep hold of the ball (Note: no, yes ZERO, interceptions by a Raider QB!!!)

This game, however, was really won by the D, with the Raider’s pass defence in particular impressing me. All the DB’s looked good at points, I particularly like their strut. With Porter crossing his arms ever time he made a play, inspiring a DB-field that can really hold their own…..If only we had a pass rush to bring some pressure we’d look really good back there, hence my desire that we do NOT draft a QB early this year – I like McGloin and Pryor and would be happy for them both to be goven the chance to lead us forward – plus the OL, once the injuries clear up will be a lot better. I know a lot of fans, including myself, thing we are weak at WR, but the group is young and still has excellent potential, so I’d invest draft picks in DE’s and OLB’s this off-season.

Anyway, enough about off-seasons, lets focus on this year. We have a 4-6 record now and can’t be written off as a potential playyoff team now, particularly as McGloin builds a chemistry with his WR’s. Looking forward to seeing it develop.

Time to Back Pryor

I’ve must admit I’ve found it hard to post this week, following the shock of the loss to the Eagles, but finally I’m back. What’s got me posting again, my desire to complain about how bad the DB’s were or just my general desire to whine? No, my disappointment concerning the amount of negativity that has surrounded Terrelle Pryor this past couple of days. Yes Terrelle had a bad game, and yes Matt McGloin looked quite useful (in junk-time) at the end of the Eagles game, but Terrelle this season has also shown enough flashes of brilliance for me to know that we have to back this kid 100%.

A lot of bloggers/media are back on the “we need to draft a QB-of-the-future” this offseason. I say, resolutely “NO” to this. Terrelle Pryor has shown me enough, so far this season, for me to know he CAN be the guy. We need to build an offense around Terrelle, not keep jumping from QB to QB.

What I have learnt this season is that we still have weaknesses at OL, WR and TE. Yes I have my concerns that Terrelle isn’t yet the QB that will lead us to the playoffs, but given the correct support he can be that guy.

Terrelle has the athleticism and pace to be a constant menace to the opposition defense, and he has shown the commitment to improve his arm. His passing is already so much better, compared to last year, but he needs to learn a more nuanced offence and improve on his passing range – definitely things that can and will happen, if we back him, which I feel we will.

In fact I’d say Reggie needs to seize this temporary moment of doubt as an opportunity to tie Terrelle Pryor up to a multi-year deal. At least that way he don’t cost us the house when all the improvements have already been made.

(Also of note, really impressed with Matt McGloin as the backup – very pleased with his development too http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1835803-matt-mcgloins-instant-fantasy-value-after-terrelle-pryors-injury )