Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Brett Favre's True Legacy

Well what do you know, after seeing how well it has worked for Favre and Strahan, somebody else has decided to jump on the “this might be my last season, love me” bandwagon.

Welcome to full time attention whore status Tony Gonzalez.

Here is the best part, Tony is 95% sure he will return next year, but would most likely retire if the Chiefs win the Super Bowl….HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Holy Shit, Tony no need to go attention whore to increase your visibility to better your chances of a media spot when you retire. Your future clearly is in comedy. By your estimation the Chiefs have a 5% chance of winning the Super Bowl. How many concussions have you had? Because that is pure comedy gold right there.

Tony, I know you are a football player, and math may not be your strong suite. But if all things were equal, your team would only have a 1 in 32 shot at the Super Bowl, that’s 3%. And all things aren’t equal, your team sucks, Raiders fans look at the Chiefs and go “At least we aren’t them”. Hell Lions fans have Matt Millen running the show, and they have more reason for optimism.

Nope, there is one thing that is clear here; Tony has no intention of retiring after this season. Tony has an eye on retiring in 2 or 3 years, and is trying to increase his visibility in places other than Kansas City. Tony has seen what success Strahan had with toying with retirement, Jason Taylor had as a dancer who then threatened to retire, and the permanent circus Tent erected by the number 1 retirement waffler, Brett Favre. They have all elevated their status from Pro Bowl footballer, to solid B-list celebrity by having their names constantly in the headlines.

So welcome to Attention Whore status Mr. Gonzalez, lets hope your future cries for attention are as comical as the Chiefs having a 5% shot of winning the Super Bowl this season, my sides are still hurting from that one.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Camp Reports – Opiate of the Football loving masses

The reports are starting to filter out of Raiders camp; the NFL’s slow season (the NFL is too big to truly have an Off or dead season) is truly over. As fans we have been salivating for Football since February, and Raider football since, well 2003. So every little drop of information is scrutinized and picked over in a desperate attempt to gain some insight on the status of our team. We are truly addicts looking for a fix.

Day 1 of camp gave us a laundry list of tasty nuggets. Tommy Kelly and Derrick Burgess were unblockable, at LT Harris was a turnstile, and when someone was foolish enough to throw at Nnamdi, he picked the ball for 6.

This is all well and good (except of course for Harris) but we need to remember, this is practice. Often the offense and defense knows what the other guy is going to try on them. A D-lineman often knows that the play the offense is going to run is a pass, and abandons any semblance of run responsibility. D backs look like heroes as they go against WR’s they see every day, and know inside and out. Running backs look like future hall of famers, as the D is instructed not to take them to the ground, so they can dance like Jason Taylor.

One need only think back to last year, when Warren Sapp was revitalized due to his weight loss, Donovan Darius was going to bring back the fear factor, and the offense, well we knew the offense would suck.

Every season there is some incredible hype that comes out of training camp. Randy Moss is ready for his best season ever, and Kerry Collins is the best QB he has ever played with. This is Jerry Porter’s breakout year. Kenny Shed is ready to give the Raiders a legit #2 across from Tim Brown.

So enjoy the Hype and Hyperbole, we need it, otherwise what would we read about, Baseball? Fuck that shit. But take it all in with a grain of salt. Every year there will be another great training camp story, the coaches will lavish praise on a player, and the media will eat it up and regurgitate it to the masses. And the fans will get wet with anticipation of their new star. I won’t claim to be above it all, I’m sure I’ll go overboard reading into some report or another, but hey I need my fix too.

But if you find yourself getting hyped up over a player who has reportedly put it all together this season, or some undrafted rookie who is hauling in rainbow after rainbow for huge gains, just remember 1 name:

Quentin Moses

The unblockable, unquestioned steal of the draft from last years training camp. In the end these reports mean next to nothing when the players take the field in September. Now where the hell is Jerry Mac’s next Raider blog entry, I need my fix.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Football Is Back MotherF-ers

Its here, its here, Football Season is upon us as training camps open up across the NFL. Preseason games start in a little more than a week with the Hall of Fame game. Sure the starters will barely touch the field, and I don’t even know what teams are playing this year, but its still real football, even if it is more watered down than my old man’s Vodka after my parents entrusted their teenage sons to watch the house for a weekend.

Of course the focus here will be the Raiders, and then will branch out to college football in another month. And we should finally have some real news to break down as Raiders camp opens today. No more talk of Javon Walkers inability to hit his mouth with Champagne, or get in the right car. Finally the players on the field will be the big story.

And Raiders camp has kicked off with a bang, as Nnamdi Asomugha showed up yesterday and signed his tender. No holdout to try and force the Raiders to agree to not franchise him next year. Nnamdi showed up and proved his commitment to this team. Lets hope the team does the right thing and rewards him next off-season. Nnamdi has saved the team from a huge distraction, there will be no protracted media circus, and the last thing this team needs is another circus.

Oh, wait… never mind. The Raiders have told Lamont Jordan not to show up to camp, So much for no media circus. Al is seemingly intent on setting up a big top in Napa. Honestly, what is the point? We all know Lamont won’t be a Raider this season. We all know he has little to no trade value. And most of us remember what happened with Steve McNair in Tennessee. The Raiders cannot prevent Lamont from showing up, no matter how much they ask. If Lamont wants to force their hand, all he has to do is show up. Then the Raiders have to cut or trade him, or risk being on the hook for his salary should he injure himself during camp. And if there is one thing Lamont has proved during his time in Oakland, he can find the trainers table with his eyes closed.

Fortunately the Lamont circus should be over by the end of the weekend. He will show up, and the team will trade or cut him. Oh, who am I kidding, this thing has the potential to go weeks with Al pulling the strings.

But at least between the constant questioning of every team member and water boy about their thoughts on Lamont, some actual reports of the players on the field should start leaking out tomorrow. We’ll get to hear about every rookie mistake JaMarcus makes, every block Harris misses, every coverage Hall blows.

That’s right, Raider Football is back Baby.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Procrastination costs the Raiders

It’s a sad day for Raider Nation. We are less than 3 hours from the deadline to sign Nnamdi Asomugha to a long-term deal under the franchise tag, and there seems to be no movement on getting the deal done.

Sure Al has pulled rabbits out of his hat before, and deals have gotten done when there was no prior indication that talks were even ongoing. Snatching Warren Sapp from Cincinnati immediately comes to mind. But in this case the silence has been deafening since the tag was applied months ago.

Al has played this game before. I need remind no one of the multiple years that the tag was applied to Charles Woodson. Al doesn’t redo contracts ahead of time, players are expected to play out their deal, and then Al will take care of them. Unless of course they under perform, then Al will look for them to redo their deal or cut them. Look, I understand this is how the NFL CBA is set up, and its Al’s prerogative to deal in this manner with his players. Unfortunately Al has started to get stuck in a trend of not being able to retain his best players and overpaying to keep those that stay.

Woodson, Coleman, Barton, Jackson, the names of players who should have stayed in Silver and Black, but ultimately went elsewhere and performed continues to grow. None of these players leaving came as a surprise, as they out performed their initial deals, and Al failed to restructure them with a year remaining. All were allowed to ultimately test the free agent waters, and found that they could go somewhere that would treat them better in the short term.

Had Al taken care of Nnamdi last off-season, after his breakout year, the deal most likely could have gotten done much cheaper than what the current market is demanding for a premier corner. Nnamdi had just one outstanding season under his belt. And the market was about 2 mil less a year than it is now.

Instead Al waited to see Nnamdi do it again, know that he could always just use the franchise tag if a deal didn’t get done. He didn’t count on Nnamdi actually becoming the premier shutdown corner in the league. Teams went so far in avoiding Nnamdi that this years ProFootball Prospectus had to adjust their requirements to even rank Nnamdi.

Then the off-season hit, and the corner market got even more insane. Guys who aren’t in Nnamdi’s league (Samuels, Hall) got deals that a year before would have been up for biggest ever. The price that Nnamdi could now command entered a league previously know only to quarterbacks with names like Brady and Manning. The worst part, Al helped drive this market into the stratosphere with his overpaying of the exceedingly average Daunte Hall.

With the time expiring on the window to sign franchise players long term, the Raiders are left with two choices next season. Franchise Nnamdi for a 2nd season (at a 20% increase over this years tender, or 11.36 million) or let him test the free agent market, where chances are he will go elsewhere.

And if the Raiders do franchise Asomugha for a 2nd year in a row, they are really compounding their problems going into the following season when Howard, Morrison, Routt, and Janowkowski will also be looking at free agency.

So enjoy what may well be the last season of Asomugha in Silver and Black Raider fans. Chances are if not next season, then the following, Nnamdi will be patrolling the secondary for another NFL squad. And the Raiders will be left with the imposing tandem of Hall and Routt (well if he doesn’t leave for greener pastures) to stop the pass. But hey, at least we know that Al has nothing against spending 1st round picks on CB’s to replace his Probowl corners.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Am I a Cheap Bastard?

KSK is one of my favorite web sites to visit during the day, and waste my company’s valuable time. Of the outstanding posters there, IMO, Big Daddy Drew is the best, hands down. Yesterday he posted a rant about group dinners (linked of course), which summed up my feelings on the whole experience very well. When there is a post I particularly enjoy, I usually scan the comments, and sometimes even through in my 2 cents. But yesterday scanning the comments, I learned something about myself. I am a cheap bastard, or am I?

Somehow the commentators turned the discussion to that of tipping at a restaurant. My feelings on tipping have always been, you start at 15%. Do a good job and the percentage goes up. Hell, go above and beyond, which usually just means making sure my wife is happy, no easy feet, and I’ll really bump it up. But if you suck, I’ll leave something insulting. Disappear for long periods of time (don’t even come back smelling like smoke), let my drink go empty, completely fuck up the order, I’ll give you a buck on a $100 dollar tab.

Look, I’m not saying that I pull out the insulting tip card often. I worked in restaurants; I understand that dealing with customers, when 80% are assholes, sucks. So save me the sob story. I expect not to wait a half hour between sitting down and you taking a drink order, I expect you to stop by early and often to make sure that we have our drinks, our food is right, and I don’t want to wait another half hour from the time I complete my meal to when you show up with the check. This really isn’t asking too much. Honestly, I’m a pretty good customer, I order straight off the menu, I rarely complain about anything, and I get out when I’m done, freeing up the table for your next tipping customer.

Well reading through the comments, it seems that the general consensus is that you should be leaving a 20% tip, minimum. When did this happen? Look, I’m not sweating the extra Lincoln on a $100 meal; it’s not going to break me. But now I’m left to wonder if I have been perceived as a cheap bastard, when I thought I was giving a good tip.

Then I got to thinking about it. At the average place, your server is going to be handling 3-5 tables at a time. Depending on how many people are at the table, and how many drinks they have we’ll call the average tab 100 dollars. And most dinners take an hour. So the server should be pulling down 45-75 dollars an hour in tips. 45 dollars an hour, that’s not a bad wage for a job that requires no education and minimal skill.

Now I know its not actually 45 dollars an hour, most places the wait staff is suppose to tip out the bussers, hosts, and bartenders. But from my experience most of the wait staff are complete bastards when it comes to tipping out. In the restaurants I worked in there was some place where there were envelopes for each person who needed to be tipped out. The wait staff was on the honor system when it came to putting cash into those envelopes. Most of the time you were lucky to have $5 bucks per server put into your envelope.

So lets say you worked the prime dinner shift, 6-10, and pulled in $45 an hour over that period, then you tip out the 2 bussers, the hostest and give an extra Lincoln to each of the 3 bartenders. You still pulled in $145 dollars in tips for 4 hours of work, and you only have to claim 10% for taxes. That’s $130 dollars, or $32.50 an hour, of tax free money. Oh and that’s all at the low end. Chances are the server makes much more if they are at all competent. Hell, when I worked in an upscale restaurant I knew servers who were taking home $500 on a Friday or Saturday night, and the meals there cost half of what they do now.

Now at 20% the server would be looking at more like $46 dollars an hour. Like I said, the five bones ain’t going to break me, but what the fuck makes you think you deserve a $14 dollar an hour raise. You are a middleman between the people who do the actual work and me. You walk back and forth between the computer where you enter my order, the bar and the kitchen, sometimes carrying stuff. That’s it shit for brains. You want a raise get a real job. You’re in school, good I was in school once too, and worked some pretty shitty jobs. Things cost more now, well so does my dinner, meaning that the tab the tip is based on has gone up as well. You have a kid; well you should have used some of that tip money to buy some condoms until you could afford to have a kid.

So no, I’m not a cheap bastard, servers who expect 20% are morons, take the 15% and like it. The tip percentage shouldn’t go up do to the rising cost of living, the higher price of food and drink already took care of that. You want to make more money, get a real job, one that will pay you to write stupid shit on a blog for hours a day. That’s what I did.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Unrealistic Expectations; at least I'm not a Chargers Fan

Well it’s time for part 3 of the incredibly popular series, “At least I’m not a fan of (insert AFC West team here).” And the time has come to dissect the San Diego Chargers and why it’s just not worth it to root for this team.

Unrealistic Expectations

You may think that I’m stepping out on a Limb here labeling the Chargers as the holders of false hope for their fans. They are the defending AFC West Champions, and many feel if not for LT pulling up lame in their playoff game vs. New England they could have won that match-up. Hell if you listen to the pundits in both print and broadcast, the Chargers are a prohibitive favorite to compete with New England and Indianapolis for the AFC Super Bowl berth this season. Charger fans should have high expectations, right…Wrong.

There are several factors working against this team in their quest to finally bring a Lombardi to San Diego. Here they are in no particular order:

Norv Turner – Turner is an outstanding offensive coordinator, but he is a lousy head coach. Ask any Redskins or Raiders fan about Norv’s ability to run a team, and you may have to wait a few minutes for the laughing to subside before you get your answer. Last season he took a team with arguably the best talent in the AFC to the Conference Championship game. Sorry San Diego, you have just seen what will be the high point of the Turner regime.

Turner has a rep of being a RB’s dream, his teams consistently churn out running backs in the top 5 yardage wise in the NFL, well early on his watch anyway. What most fail to recognize is that he runs these backs into the ground, and they rarely reproduce these grand numbers ever again. FootballOutsiders.com has done a great study of the effects of getting too many touches in the run game on running backs. Norv obviously has not read this research.

Turner has no control over the squads he coaches, and that is magnified in San Diego where A.J. Smith is the uncontested boss following his ousting of Marty Schottenheimer. The players have no reason to listen to Norv, and on this team the potential for this to blow up is huge, as other than LT, there are few perceived character guys on the squad.

Ladainian Tomlinson – How the hell can I list LT as a reason that this team will fail? He is considered to be the NFL’s best back and one of the top players in the league. This one is easy for me. NFL backs are not a long-term investment. LT is nearing the end of his run as an elite back, and we may have already seen the wheels fall off last season.

Take a look at the top backs in NFL history, how many of them put up gaudy numbers for more than 5 years? Emmitt Smith and Curtis Martin come to mind, but they were both grinders, they were not likely to get you more than 15 yards a clip. Now maybe LT can evolve into this dependable role, but the home run threat is about to disappear. And due to that, the Charger’s offense is about to get neutered.
Philip Rivers – So with LT breaking down, whom does the pressure of carrying the offense fall to? If your answer is Philip Rivers, than you may be in trouble. I’m not going to lie to you and say that Philip doesn’t have a good supporting cast around him. But it is not the kind of excellent support a player like Philip needs to overcome his shortcomings.

The pending breakdown of LT is going to free up defenses to cover the HB 1 on 1 with a LB. This will force Philip to focus on Gates, who while a great TE can’t carry the offense on his own, and with defenses free to go man on the RB, his production will drop. At WR, the Chargers have a great group of #2’s. But one need only ask Donovan McNabb, a far superior QB to Rivers, how far you can get with only #2 receivers on the field.

In the end, Philip’s crybaby act does not lend him to being a leader of men. If Philip is going to lead this team, he needs to pull a complete 180 and change his attitude. Unfortunately for Charger fans, he needs a strong coach to pull him through this change, and A.J. fired the strong coach who could have done this in favor of a sock-puppet.

Shawn Merriman – Merriman came back from his steroid suspension no longer looking like a potential hall-of-famer. I have always questioned the love that Shawn gets from the media. He is a one-dimensional player; he can pass rush, that’s it. He is a liability in coverage, and not much help in the run game. These holes in his game have only grown worse since his suspension.

IMO, Shawn does not recognize these weaknesses in his game. To me Shawn seems to be the kind of player who buys into his own hype. He has shown no improvement in his game in his time in the league, and the fact that endorsements continue to role in despite his drug issues and the holes in his game, leave him with little motivation to improve. Once again San Diego, you have already seen this player at his best, expecting more is unrealistic.

Jamal Williams – Despite all the accolades that get handed out to other members of the Charger’s D, the lynchpin is Jamal Williams. The last 3 seasons Jamal has been arguably the best NT in the NFL, and it is no coincidence that the Chargers D has been at the top of the league over that time.

Unfortunately Jamal is nearing the end of the line. Jamal struggled with ankle problems at the end of last season, and for a 350+ lb’er, that is a huge red flag. If Jamal cannot return to 2006 form, the middle of the D will be open for business for opposing RB’s. Those LB’s who looked so good when he was eating double team will quickly look average.

There it is, if you are a Chargers fan, you may be looking at this season as the one where the Lombardi finally comes to San Diego, you may look at the relatively young age of your roster, and the fact that most of these players are signed long term and feel that multiple Super Bowls are in your immediate future.

But I am here to douse you with a cold glass of reality. Your best players on offense and defense are at the end of the line, at least as far as being premier players. The emerging faces of your team are hardly the kind of guys to build around, and are just as likely to cost you victory, as win you championships. And the man who will lead you is Norv Turner, a man who inspires confidence from no one.

Unrealistic expectations, which is what you have been blown up with San Diego. That is why I wouldn’t want to be a fan of your team. Because when you look at it you are destined to always fall short of the prize, and become a footnote of a great team that never could get it done in the end. Welcome to the Eagle fan’s nightmare of earlier this decade, the Bills fan’s nightmare of the 90’s, and… well your nightmare of the early ‘80’s. I guess you have been here before, sucks to be you. At least as a Raider’s fan I don’t have to worry about unrealistic expectations.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Brett Favre, Adam Schein & Solomon Wilcots

We take a break from laughing at the fans of other AFC west franchises to add our thoughts on the whole Brett Favre circus.

I didn’t write a Brett Favre eulogy when he retired this season. I was tied up with other things, and if there is one thing we have learned in the past 5 years about Favre is that he never really makes up his mind.

If you can get passed the media’s constant ball-washing you have to admit that Favre is a hell of a player. Detractors love to point out the high number of interceptions, but when you are forced to pass as often as the Packers have been in the past few years, you are bound to have some passes go awry.

But even if he is a hell of a player, you have to admit that this whole clusterfuck of a retirement is a joke. He has played this game with the team and the Packer fans every off-season for the past 5 years. It is long past time for Favre to step up to the plate and make a decision. Sure it is hard to walk off into the sunset, but he owes that much to the team and the fans that have supported him all these years.

At this time Favre, IMO, is simply being selfish and putting himself before the team. But with the way he has been treated by the media for the last 15 years, what else would you expect. This guy is used to being treated as a God. He is used to being held to a different set of standards from everyone else. It is no wonder he can’t quietly step away from the limelight, or do right by others.

OK, enough of the Favre centric stuff, I can no longer put off ripping Adam Schein and Solomon Wilcots and their show on Sirius NFL radio.

These two windbags are the worst pairing that NFL radio puts on the air. As I type this Schein is ripping Favre for not having the guts to come out and say what is on his mind. That he wants to play football in 2008, just not for the Packers.

This is something that Schien and Wilcots have presented as fact for most of the broadcast today. All of the sudden they have some insight on the inner workings of Brett Favre’s mind. It must be nice to be so clarvoient.

What is particulary disturbing is this pair loves to rip their callers when they don’t come with facts, despite the FACT that they rarely get theirs right.

Earlier this broadcast Wilcots was claiming that the Packers would have to cut multiple players in order to bring Favre back onto the roster. I sent an email in asking him to back this up with Facts earlier, but he has now dropped that argument when callers bring up Farve returning to Green Bay. Why, because he was talking out his ass once again. The Packers are near the top of the league when it comes to cap space, and bringing Farve back would only result in one of the young QB’s they drafted this year to hit the streets.

Schien’s FACT that Favre wants to come back, but not to the Packers, is hardly a FACT, no matter how loud he yells it. It is merely his opinion, and as usual Wilcots agrees whole-heartedly, since he rarely has a coherent thought of his own.

You have to love the way these two treat a rumor from Chris Mortenson as FACT on their program. These two yell FACT at the top of their lungs so often, but cannot distinguish fact from rumor. As long as it gets printed somewhere it is fact in their minds. It doesn’t matter that Mort had nobody willing to comment on the record, or that Favre laughed the report off as rumor.

You have to love how the two of them yell how this is the worst thing that could happen to the Packers and is a huge distraction, but quickly retreat from this point when Al Harris comes on and reminds them that they are professionals and that it isn’t a distraction. (Of course after the fact Schein claims that a “healthy argument” was had with Harris, when he actually scrambled until he could find a point that he and Harris could agree on, only after Harris was off the line could Schein find the balls to out and out disagree with Harris on the distraction issue.)

Schein’s yelling he doesn’t have the guts over and over is particularly humorous coming from the gutless wonder. Schein’s specialty is to rip players then insert their balls into his mouth when they come on the air. Scheins only experience with Balls/guts comes from sucking them, not having them.

This is hardly a one-day thing with these two; I enjoy NFL radio for the most part. I am about 50/50 between listening to NFL radio and Stern in the morning, and I listen to NFL radio almost daily from 3pm on. But I cringe when I hear Shein’s gravely voice introduce himself and Wilcots. Schein isn’t as bad when he has an intelligent partner to work with (Jim Miller for example), but even then he tends to lose it on callers who don’t agree with him. Often taking exception with part of an argument so far off the point that you forget what the call was about. (But don’t worry; after he hangs up with you, he will refer to your call outstanding as they head to break.) But when you pair Schein with Wilcots it quickly turns into a contest to see who can compliment the other more, and yell louder when someone disagrees with their opinion.

Sirius made the right 1st step by demoting this pair from their prime afternoon drive slot, it is time for them to take the next step, and get this pair off the airwaves. Their act has gotten old, and reflects poorly on what otherwise is an outstanding product.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

When you let a Rat run the show, at least I'm not a Broncos Fan

I have to admit, writing about how the Chiefs are slipping into the bottom feeder class of the NFL the other day was cathartic. I usually don’t spend much time bashing other team, I mean I do bash Patriot Fans, but their team is excellent, it’s hard to speak ill of a squad that executes that well.

But do to how much I enjoyed ripping the Chiefs; I decided to turn this into a series. Why I am happy that I’m not a fan of “insert AFC West team here”. And since there are only 3 AFC west teams other than the Raiders, and since I have already completed one of these, I like my chances to actually finish the series. (Unlike the draft series, which kind of died an early death).

So that said, lets take a look at another team in the AFC west, and today it’s the Denver Bronco’s in the crosshairs.

At first glance it’s hard as a Raider fan to write a scathing review of the Bronco’s. The teams have many similarities.

West Coast Offense
Zone Stretch Blocking Scheme
Young Unproven QB with whom the Franchises Future Rests
Non-Existent D-line
Overpays for Free Agents
Outstanding Cornerbacks

But then you look a bit deeper, and the Bronco’s problems clearly run deeper, and due to Shanahan’s untouchable status, aren’t going to get fixed anytime soon.

And you have to start at the Top, with Pat Bowlen. For all the hate Al gets for being a meddling owner, Pat deserves equal for being a dupe. And that’s about the kindest thing you can say about someone who has bought Mike Shanahan’s shit for so many years. Honestly, how long can Shanahan ride the coattails of the Elway Super Bowls, and enjoy carte blanche to run the team into the ground.

Make no mistake, Bowlen has allowed Shanahan to hijack his team and remake it in his own image. Shanahan has final say in personnel; gamelan and I suspect what color underwear Bowlen puts on in the morning.

So how has this worked out for Denver? Lets start with the vaunted offensive line:

The Bronco’s zone stretch system gave the team one of the best running games in Football for the last 10+ years. One running back after another came into the system and produced, the NFL myth became that Shanahan could make filet out of dog shit when it came to running backs. However the bloom is off this Rose in recent years, as Shanahan has lost his magic touch. This isn’t due to the failures of the backs (although moves like Maurice Clarrett are laughable) this is due to Shanahan being unable to evaluate lineman that fit the system.
There is no longer a clear direction on this offensive line. It has been rumored for a few seasons that the Bronco’s were looking to move away from the zone-stretch, but they have yet to undertake the full scale remodeling that this would entail.

At LT the Bronco’s have seemingly replaced the retiring Matt Lepsis with rookie Ryan Clady. So the change to power blocking has taken place at one position, and while Clady looks to be the real thing at LT, he sure doesn’t fit a zone-stretch scheme.

Also this off-season, the heir apparent to Tom Nalen, Chris Myers, was allowed to leave via Free Agency. Yet another questionable move on the line. Nalen is on his last legs, while, IMO, one of the best centers of the last 15-year, it is time for him to hang up the cleats. Is there a problem with Myers, not according to Alex Gibbs, as he is now a Texan running the zone-stretch there.

These two moves have thrown the Bronco’s line from strength to a potential weekness. There is no real back up to Nalen available, and the rest of the line is a bunch of mismatched parts. The failure to adequately replace aging vets in recent years will cause the Bronco’s run game to falter in the near future.

After the line, you have to look at the running backs. Shanahan changes his backs more often than he changes his socks (which is why he is known as Stinky). The latest move was to jettison Travis Henry due to his lack of dedication. A better GM would never have put any stock into Henry, who’s only dedication since entering the league has been to expanding his lineage while smoking herb. Leaving the Bronco’s to count on Selvin Young as their workhorse. I feel better already.

Then you look to Shanahan’s outstanding work with the Wide Receivers. Mike has been unable to find a long-term answer at Wide Receiver since lucking upon Rod Smith. The latest “Star” in Denver is Brandon Marshall, who is as likely to find himself behind bars as in Probowls if he keeps on his current track. And while as a Raider fan I have little room to crow about Javon Walker, at least the Raiders didn’t give up draft picks for him. But hey Denver Fans, at least you have Brandon Stokely locked up for the next 3 years.

Here is the kicker, for all the problems on Offense, Shanahan’s moves on Defense makes them look good.

Who can forget bringing aboard almost the entire Cleveland Browns line a couple years back, despite the fact they sucked as a unit. Now the Bronco’s pin their hopes on Dewayne Robertson regaining his, Strike that, deciding he wants to play for the 1st time in his career. Jets fans, here is your chance to join with Raider fans and point and laugh.

At linebacker, D.J. Williams is excellent when allowed to play outside, and it looks like the Broncos will allow that this year. But do you have any faith in Boss Bailey covering Gonzalez, Gates and Miller. For some reason the Rat does. And who is going to play the Mike? Niko Koutouvides, bless you, do you need a tissue?

The Corners are the only unit that is solid here, arguably the best in the league depending on how you rank Bly vs. Hall. But behind them you have 98 year old John Lynch and Hamza Abdullah. Can you say the middle is open?

Looking at this you have to wonder how Bowlen can allow Shanahan anywhere near the controls of the roster. But for some reason Shanahan is Teflon. He has been allowed to pin the defenses struggles on DC after DC, rather than being forced to accept any responsibility for the unit’s lack of talent anywhere other than CB. He has been allowed to turn the offense from a fearsome unit, to one completely lacking direction.

And that is what it comes down to with Denver. There is no accountability at the Top; every failure is someone else’s fault. Shanahan is the George Bush of the NFL. The Buck stops somewhere else, with Bowlen being the Sean Hanity believing any BS that is blown up his ass.

The fact of the matter is, as long as Shanahan is allowed free reign over the team, the Bronco’s are not getting back to the Super Bowl, and by the time that Bowlen wakes up, chances are the Damage would run so deep that it will take another 2-4 years to get back on track.

Clueless owner, a coach accountable to no one, and a roster that is on the verge of falling apart at the seems. Looking at Denver, Damn it feels good to be a Raider.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Lowered expectations, at least I'm not a Chiefs fan

Whenever I start to bemoan the plight of the Raiders and their fans, I have to remind myself, it could be worse. I could be a Lions fan or a Cardinals fan, knowing that whatever moves my team makes; ultimately it will be the wrong one and whatever fleeting success we have will quickly disappear. With the Raiders struggles in recent years many are trying to shoehorn the Raiders into this clueless losser category.

“Al Davis has lost it, the team will never win as long as Al is in charge.”

Constant variations of this theme are printed in the media, and recited by message board posters. It would be enough to drive a fan insane. Between the reported Kiffen power struggle, the obscene amount of Money paid to has-been and never were free agents, and a WR who gets rolled in Vegas, it would seem like the Raiders have not yet hit rock bottom, but are continuing to spiral downward.

Well I’m not going to lie to you and claim that all is peachy in Raider land. There are issues, and some high priced gambles have been taken. But you can’t say that the team has thrown in the Towel, they are still doing everything they can to win, and win now.

Which brings us to the team in the AFC West who truly is slipping into Lion and Cardinal territory, The Kansas City Chiefs.

I can hear it now “But Brick, the Chiefs are rebuilding, and doing it the right way through the draft, and they just had what is widely regarded as the best 1st day draft of any team.“

Sorry Chief fans, but your team is not rebuilding, they are buying time by lowering expectations. In fact that should be the slogan that the Chiefs plaster all over Arrowhead, the way the Raiders plaster “Commitment to Excellence” and “Pride and Poise” around the Coliseum.

Kansas City Chiefs “Lowering Expectations Since 2003”

The Chiefs looked to be onto something just a few years back, Dick Vermeil was at the helm and the offense was explosive. But everyone knew the weakness was on the D, and the team went years without addressing it. They lead the league in points scored in 2002, but only finished 8-8, the next year they improved on their offense and went 13-3 winning the division for only the 2nd time since 1997. But they failed to force the Colts to punt once in their home playoff game, and the writing was on the Wall.

This aging team had one, maybe two years to take advantage of their aging vets on offense and make a real Super Bowl push. How did they respond, by throwing caution to the wind and going all out to get some defensive players? Nope, they hired Gunther Cunningham (loosing Greg Williams in the process).

At this point the white flag was pulled out of the pocket and kept ready. Keen observers of the Professional game knew this was not enough to get them over the hump. This was a lateral move at best meant to show the fans they were trying, but really doing nothing to improve.

Since that season, Kansas City has become the land of excuses and individual accomplishments. The Chiefs continually prop up their players as some of the best in the Game. Look at Gonzalez, Shields, and Johnson. They are some of the best in the game, and are putting up record performances for the Chiefs.

Hey we were only the 4th team to ever miss the postseason with a double-digit win total in 2005. (To which they responded, not by trying to improve their team, but by trying to change the playoffs).

It was after missing out on the 2006 playoffs following the 10 win 2005 season that the white flag was raised and waived furiously. How do we know that the Chiefs had given up, easy, they hired Herm.

Edwards is not so much a head coach, but rather a deflection machine. The Guy should run spin classes at Ballie’s, not press conferences. In Herm the Chiefs had the perfect figurehead to run their “rebuilding” process.

The Herm era got off to a ignominious start with Trent Green’s concussion week 1, and the season was truly an up and down affair with the players eventually overcoming Edwards inept coaching to make the postseason, where, unsurprisingly, they were eliminated in the 1st round.

So do the Chiefs try to build on the late season success that lead to an unlikely playoff berth? Nope, they jettison Trent Green, and start the Damon Huard/ Brody Croyle debacle. Essentially wasting the final seasons of Gonzalez’s, Shield’s and the prime of Johnson’s careers.

The Chiefs slogged through a brutal 2007 campaign, winning a total of 4 games, after which, the Chiefs proudly announced, “We are rebuilding”. Well if expectations are sufficiently lowered now, you are rebuilding and Herm Edwards is at the controls of your franchise, you are talking to one of those sycophant fans that believe that this year is the year, every year.

The 1st step of the Chief’s brilliant rebuilding Strategy, trading away their best player on defense, the 26-year-old Jared Allen. This is how you rebuild? Trading away your best defensive player as he enters the prime of his career? No, this is how you further lower fan expectations.

Next is the Draft, where the Chiefs select Glenn Dorsey, Branden Albert, and Brandon Flowers on the 1st day, causing Mel Kiper to cream his shorts. Sorry, but other than Branden Albert, this group does not impress me. Dorsey has no discipline; his technique sucks and showed no ability or desire to improve in his time at LSU. Flowers is physical and has good instincts, but he takes too many chances to excel at the cover 2 coverage that Herm loves.

So you give up your best defensive player, gain multiple picks, and get an offensive guard out of all your moves to rebuild. The other picks are lateral moves compared to existing players on the roster.

And how about the key player for any team looking to rebuild, the quarterback, the Chiefs stuck with Brody Croyle. With the plethora of draft picks at their disposal the Chiefs could have grabbed just about any QB in the draft other than Matt Ryan. Instead they choose to ignore arguably their biggest need. That is some rebuilding strategy.

The expectations for the Chiefs could not be much lower at this point. Going into the season you have to expect them to be among the early leaders in the 2009 #1 draft pick competition. But the Chiefs continue to deflect, with Herm complaining about players having deals in place before free agency opens (we lost Jeff Faine…WHAAAA). They ask you to look in the other direction and pay attention to standout sophomore Dwayne Bowe, while the rest of the offense falls apart.

And as a Raider fan looking in, I have to laugh, because as low as the expectations are, the Chiefs have set themselves up to lower them further. If Croyle performs as expected, the Chiefs will be looking for a QB next season. Herm’s job will be safe because everyone knew this was a rebuilding year. Next year they take their QB of the future in round 1. Which gives Herm another 2 years grace to develop his protégé.

You have now lowered expectations to the point of “We may be a playoff team in 4 years” in a league where seemingly every team has a realistic chance of making the playoffs if things fall right as the season opens, the Chiefs have set their expectations at, we could make the playoffs in 4 years if everything falls right.

Which means the Chiefs have set themselves up for three more years of Herm Edwards as coach, in a league where teams can turn things around in one or two season via free agency, the chiefs are working on a 5 year plan that won’t even start for another year.

A five year plan that will depend on the success of a top 5 pick on QB, a pick that has a 50% success rate. A plan that by the time it comes to fruition will require them to find another franchise back to replace Larry Johnson who is already falling apart. Will require them to replace Tony Gonzalez and a compliment Dwayne Bowe, oh and put together an entire defense.

So whenever I feel down about the prospects of my team as a Raider fan, I can always look in division and feel better that no matter how misguided my team may seem at time, at least the management isn’t working hard to lower our expectations of the team. The Raiders will do everything in their power to win games.

Have fun Chief fans; enjoy your lowered expectations and the Herm Edwards/Brody Croyle era.