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.

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It’s Oh So Quiet….

It might be very very quiet in Oaktown right now but don’t think nothing is happening behind the scenes. The Raiders are still preparing, improving and building, even if alot of these improvements are mental (and not physical). The shackles of yesteryear are easing and the fight is returning. Players like Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Khalil Mack, Austin Howard, MJD, Matt Schaub, Tarell Brown and James Jones give us a more professional edge.

It is on the lines, both offensively and defensively, that I think the greatest improvements will be seen, and these will spread (like rapid-fire) across the team. Not only will MJD and Darren McFadden find running lanes, and hence put up greater numbers, but so too this will lessen the pressure on the QB and the WR’s, improving their own performances by default.

Then onto defence the DL looks formidable, with young and old talent making for a strong rotation. This coupled with our already excellent LB-corps, which with the addition of Mack and a fit again Burris and Maiave just got even better, will prove very hard to run upon. A good run defence makes the pass defence’s job easier, and with talent like Brown and Rogers coming in to support Charles woodson and Tyron Branch (and hopefully a fully fit DJ Hayden) I expect big things from the Raiders, or at least my usual pessimism is now finally on the wane.

….I for one was simply pleased to read that Jeron Mastrud had signed with the Chicago Bears and so wouldn’t be polluting my eyes any more in silver’n black.

Talk of Carr Starting Overdone

Reports of Derek Carr potentially starting over Matt Schaub http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000356437/article/derek-carr-to-push-matt-schaub-for-raiders-starting-job are more than a little overdone at this point, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong I like this kid, I really do (great arm and terrific athletic potential as a QB), but he needs time to learn.

Schaub still has the tools to be a successful nfl-QB, he’s just had a couple of off seasons, give Matt Schaub a chance behind a decent OL (like our’s will be this season) and you’ll see the old Schaub.

Derek Carr will be a much better QB in a year, or two, if he is given proper time to adjust. I seriously think in 2016 h could be one of the nfl’s top-10 QB’s if we give him time. who knows he may still become that anyway, but I think he’ll be a whole lot better if given time to adjust.

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.

Seconds Out, Round 4

So there we have it, on paper the Oakland Raiders already have one of the best drafts in living memory, so what/who is next? We have two fourth round picks and three seventh rounders, and I’d say we definitely need to pick up a free safety and a DE in those five picks, I’d also be keen for us to acquire another DT, possibly a NT, then maybe an OT, or a CB or a WR, depending upon who’s there when we draft. As a wildcard I also wouldn’t mind us getting another QB in the seventh if any real gems are available late.

Players we should go for:-

* Ahmad Dixon – FS, Baylor – this kid has got a bit of the Charles Woodson swagger about him, and would be an ideal candidate to sit and learn for a season from CW24. Dixon helped Justin Gilbert immensely this past year. He hits like an aggressive Ram that hasn’t had its morning coffee and has woken in a bad mood, this kid looks like an awesome typical Raiders DB to me.

* Dion Bailey – FS, USC – another big big hitter, this kid just wraps people up and has great balls skills. Again we could bring this kid through slowly, as he learns from the best CW.

* Keith McGill – CB, Utah – 4.5 40 time, this 6’2″ coverage CB is a blanket for receivers, looks like he could easily convert to FS also if the need requires. How this kid slipped out of the first three rounds I will never be able to comprehend – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6qv3hVhKzA

* Cameron Fleming – OT, Stanford – looks like a ready to roll RT option, with him in the mix we could slide Watson over to LT, where his superior foot speed would actually probably work better. Cameron is big and powerful, possessing excellent technique for such a young kid  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4MfBjCRCM8

* DeQuan Jones – DT, Penn State – at 6’3″ and 320 lbs, with great gap-discipline, Jones is a force against the run. His excellent power and impressive snap anticipation show Jones to be a natural for the DT/NT role and would help solidify the position for years. If we don’t go for someone like Jones, Anthony Johnson or Brent Urban (and seeing as we avoided drafting Louis Nix III yesterday) then, to me, it strongly suggests forgotten man Torell Troup (the 330 lb unit the Bills drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft) is fit and ready to go….in which case we’re good at DT anyway

* Aaron Lynch – DE, USF – explosive QB-killer, looks like a leader on the field which I particularly like. He’s big (6’5″), explosive, like an albatross in terms of wing-span and emotional on the field, if anything I’d say he looks a little to lean, but that’s nothing LaMarr Woodley and Justin Tuck can’t teach him to improve upon in the weight room. Another good DE option , although this time more of a run-stuffer in Ed Stinson from Alabama.

….thought I’d slip this last one in – and sorry to all my fellow Raiders who are sick to the back teeth of Terrelle Pryor talk – but an even more promising quasi-QB option is Logan Thomas. Along with Derek Carr, Logan Thomas has in my opinion the best arm in this year’s draft class. Unlike Carr, however (and more like Pryor), 6’6″Logan Thomas lacks accuracy (actually Derek Carr needs work here too, hence sitting and learning under Matt Schaub would suit Carr and Thomas). Check out his highlights, they’re impressive, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfooRmEF8AE maybe we draft this kid as a TE?

Running-by-Committee

With free agency making sure that the big boys are coming onto the Oakland Raiders offensive line in 2014, one thing you can be sure about is a much improved running game. Austin Howard, Kevin Boothe and Donald Penn specialise in making running lanes, and with Darren McFadden now having the very able Maurice Jones-Drew alongside him, it looks really good for the year ahead.

McFadden is only 26 – his prime – whereas MJD is 29, why 29 is being written off as old I don’t know. What I do know is that a shared workload could benefit them both: (a) keeping DMC healthy; (b) keeping the tread on MJD. Back them up with an explosive Kory Sheets and a powerful but yet untested Latavius Murray and there is some real potential here.

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/Raiders-Eager-to-See-Latavius-Murray-in-Action-248378391.html

Also whoever is moving the chains for us in 2014, the addition of Matt Schaub means that defences can no longer load up quite so heavily against the running game, creating more space and by default yards! 

The Free Agency Pool Runs Dry…Almost

So we didn’t get Desean Jackson, and most of the big name free agents that were out there seem to have signed up with other teams now. So who’s left?

The simple answer is not much, but as we didn’t spend that Desean Jackson money and we still have a few holes on the roster, at least from a depth perspective, the following could be options:-

DE Anthoney Spencer – a little old, and a little injury prone, but Spencer is an excellent run-stuffing DE, not entirely unlike our own former player Lamar Houston. Let’s face it after Tuck and Woodley we have very little at DE, and with age being a bit of an issue on the new Raida-D rotation will be the key to success in 2014.

LB Pat Angerer – excellent depth, indeed a very capable, not too old, starter. Will come cheap, so would be a great addition.

OG – Wade Smith – this former probowl selection was terrible as a tackle, early in his career for the skins, but has hung around and improved enough to garner probowl recognition at guard, not a long term option but very decent depth.

OC – Alex Mack. I know, but he is one of the league’s best, and his acquisition would allow us to swing Wiz over to guard, a position in fairness he has previously looked a lot more comfortable in. We are one of the few teams with the money to go after Mack, but he’s worth it, he is one of the best players in this league. Imagine a line of Penn/Watson – Wiz – Mack – Boothe – Howard….awesome.

Regarding the non-acquisition of Desean Jackson, to be honest I wasn’t completely sad about that (ignoring any off-the-field issues), I think we’ve got a good young WR pool and didn’t want to see us have to cut Juron Criner of Brice Butler too early. Both Butler and Criner have the tools, or at least some of the tools, required to be an nfl starting WR. The key question at this point is can they develop, and I’m hoping to see this training camp that they can. Criner looks like an ideal red-zone target for Schaub, while Butler has the potential to be a deep-play WR, stretching the field for the benefit of everyone…2014 looks like being REAL interesting.