Thursday, September 17, 2009

3rd Year Rookie QB

Dear Raider Nation,

It has become apparent to me that I have been too harsh on JaMarcus Russell, I have erred in my judgment and become a hater. But I am here to pass my new found knowledge to my loyal reader:

I have learned over the last couple days that since JaMarcus came out as a Junior we should expect less progress than with other QB’s(- 1 year).

We all already knew, that even though he was on the team his rookie year didn't count thanks to the holdout (- 1 year).

Last season had the whole Kiffen fiasco until week 4, then he had to relearn everything with Cable so lets be fair to JR and call it half a season lost (- 1/2 year).

So if you do the math, JR isn't actually a 3rd year player with 2 seasons of experience, you have to subtract 2.5 years from his experience due to circumstances both in and out of his control.

So when you do the Math, Russell is now in week 7 of his senior season of college. You have to understand that there is a huge jump from college to the NFL. You wouldn't expect a College senior to jump right into the NFL and produce.

That is why he is making the same mistakes and problems we saw in his 1st games in the NFL, the same mistakes and problems some of us who watched more than the ND game pointed out prior to the draft.

Anyone who expects progress at this point is clearly just trying to spin this incredible story of a College senior competing (albeit poorly) at the NFL level in a negative light. Which makes them a hater.

Please don’t be a hater Raider Nation, remember this is only Russell’s 3rd rookie season, if he is still not showing progress after about half way through his sophomore season as an NFL QB, then it would be ok to be critical.

So if you do the math, criticism of Russell can fairly begin after at least 2 seasons following this one (~2012), because this year is obviously a wash due to having rookie WR’s starting (- 1 year).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Brick's NFL Season Preview

Football is back, thank God. Tonight kicks off the NFL season with the Titans visiting Pittsburgh. I’ll be avoiding heading downtown despite the fact that Tim McGraw and the Black Eyed Peas (Isn’t that the punchline to “What happens in Tila Tequila’s bathroom?”) will be performing. I know, hard to resist shitty pop music.

So with the return of the NFL season, it is time for the 2nd annual Brickinthebox NFL season preview. Where I tell you next seasons draft order, because, how else would you want to look at the NFL season, then by who will suck the most to the least.

Enough preamble, on with the show.

#1 – Detroit Lions (2-14)

A huge step forward for Detroit, as I have them pegged for 2 wins this season, OK, not a huge step, but they have a killer schedule, tough luck Detroit, maybe next year you can pick a Franchise QB, instead of settling for the top rated one.

#2 – Denver Broncos (3-13)

You know, if you look back in the archives, I said that I didn’t think that losing Cutler and adding Orton would kill this team. Fortunately bad draft picks, free agent acquisitions and Brandon Marshall will. And hey, look at that, they have already traded out of the top 10.

#3 – New York Jets (3-13)

I honestly don’t think the Jets are that bad. I like their defense; I like their run game. But they have a brutal stretch to kick off the season, and I just don’t think a rookie QB is ready, and the bad early season momentum could kill this team.

#4 – St. Louis Rams (4-12)

Their left tackle of the future is playing right tackle, there are no weapons for Bulger to throw to, and I don’t think Bulger will be upright long. Hey, at least next year’s draft is deep in QB’s.

#5 – Kansas City Chiefs (4-12)

Matt Cassell is about to get a rude awakening. The offensive line is in shambles, Dwane Bowe isn’t bad, but isn’t Randy Moss, and there is no Wes Welker on the squad. The Defense won’t be horrid, but this team should have just finished the job and traded Larry Johnson, so they could complete the gutting.

#6 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)

Thanks for being interm coach Mr. Morris, now the Glazers can continue their obsession with big name coaches and try to lure Shanahan and settle for Shotenheimer.

#7 – Cleveland Browns (5-11)

Brady Quinn is going to be the staring QB, I though new coaches and GM’s didn’t have to live with the previous regimes mistakes.

#8 – San Francisco 49’ers(6-10)

If the 49’ers had a QB I would be projecting them much higher, hell they would be a playoff contender. But Joe Montana is not walking through that door.

#9 – Buffalo Bills (6-10)

The recent firing of the offensive coordinator leaves me with no confidence in this team starting strong with some tough early games. Early losses should lead to the return of the T.O. show.

#10 – Chicago Bears (7-9)

The 1st big surprise on my list, I have huge questions about the defense. With Tommy Harris looking like he is done, the middle is open. And I other than at TE and RB, Cutler just doesn’t have the weapons, oh and he is very overrated.

#11 – Dallas Cowboys (7-9)

The Cowboys are going to get Wade fired this season, Jerry isn’t going to put up with empty seats in his shrine to his own ego.

#12 – Houston Texans (7-9)

I keep hearing how this will be the season that Houston gets their shit together and produces a winning season. To me this looks just like the 8-8 team from last season, with a worse back-up QB, which is important when the starter is made of glass.

#13 – New England Patriots (7-9)

Well Holy Shit, I shocked myself when I totaled up the wins and losses at the end of my predicting exercise. Here is what it came down to, I don’t have a lot of faith in the Pat’s offensive line, and the linebackers and secondary are extremely shaky. If a team can rush the passer and throw the rock, I kept finding myself giving them the edge over the Pats. I’m most likely wrong, but would love to be right.

#14 – Arizona Cardinals (7-9)

Face it, the Cardinals got hot at the right time last season, and had some great luck with injuries to get to the Super Bowl. I don’t see Warner staying healthy all season, and I don’t see a return trip to the playoffs for the Cardinals.

#15 – Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)

The 1st of the two teams I completely whiffed on last season. Injuries were the excuse last season, but I think there was also a huge character void, as some key vets were jettisoned, and turds like Jerry Porter were brought in. They should return to respectability this season, but I don’t see playoffs.

#16 – Oakland Raiders (8-8)

Hey, it’s not a losing record. Raiders fan’s rejoice. There is some good young talent on this team, but the lines need major upgrades. This team is a year away and another reasonable off-season from contending for the division.

This is a long post, take a Random Hottie break

#17 – Carolina Panthers (8-8)

Those who don’t improve themselves will watch everyone else pass them by. That will be the story of the 2009 Carolina Panthers, as they have watched Atlanta and New Orleans improve while they have stood pat.

#18 – Washington Redskins (9-7)

The 1st of the 9-7 teams, and the 1st of those to miss the playoffs on a tie-breaker. I like the D with the exception of (D)aGello Hall and I think Campbell takes the next step, but they will still come up just short.

#19 – Atlanta Falcons (9-7)

If this prediction is right, I may have to admit that I was wrong about Matt Ryan. So pretty much I can’t win here. At least I can break even.

#20 – Minnesota Vikings (9-7)

But Lord Favre is in Minnesota; they have to be better than last year. Sorry, but Favre is just as likely to cost a team a game in the crunch at this point in his career, and the temptation will be too great to put things into his hands when things get tough early, instead of sticking to the run game as in the past two seasons. Still I have them sneaking into the playoffs.

#21 – Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)

The injury bug is already biting this team, and the loss of Jim Johnson will be felt all season long. Playoffs – yes, Vick in a Super Bowl – NO.

#22 – Miami Dolphins (9-7)

The last of the 9-7 teams, and the only Division Winner, Last season wasn’t a fluke, the Dolphins have put together a slightly better than .500 team. Which, in a down year for the AFC East, is enough to get into the playoffs.

#23 – Tennessee Titans (10-6)

You know, I look at this record, and wonder what I was thinking making the picks. The loss of Haynesworth means nobody to dictate protections for the opponent, and that there will be more blitzing from the Titans, which to me will be too much for this team to overcome. So no playoffs this season, but still a damn good team.

#24 – Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)

Hold on, hear me out. The Defense is much improved, and could be middle of the pack, and I like what I am seeing from Coles and Henry meaning if Palmer is healthy, I see playoff for the Bengals.

#25 – Seattle Seahawks (10-6)

The other team to really screw me last season, the Seahawks were also decimated by injuries. I think this is a bounce back year, with a weak NFC West helping the cause, the lack of a real running game kills them in the playoffs.

#26 – Indianapolis Colts (11-5)

Eleven wins, that sounds about right for the Colts. Moore and Mudd are still with the team as consultants, so the offense should continue to click under Payton. The Defense will have some growing pains as they transition to a more traditional 4-3, but it will be the health of the team that determines how far they go.

#27 – New York Giants (12-4)

This team is built the way that I would build a team, from the front lines out, with a power running component. So it is no wonder I like them to do well. But the lack of a #1 WR leaves them a game short of home field advantage.

#28 – San Diego Chargers (12-4)

This is perhaps the most talented team in the NFL, but they do have a hole on the offensive line, and at the helm. San Diego fans will be treated to yet another season of winning, followed by a post season of disappointment.

#29 – New Orleans Saints (12-4)

If Greg Williams has the right pieces to run his defense (which I think he does) this team will be tough to compete with. Drew Brees and his WR’s are just on another level right now. This will be a fun team to watch, unless your team is playing them.

#30 – Green Bay Packers (12-4)

They were close last season, but a few key loses both of players and games kept them from being a great team. This squad takes the next step this season, and with the right personnel to run the 3-4 they are switching to, they will be a force in the NFC.

#31 – Baltimore Ravens (13-3)

I actually got phone calls last season when I predicted that the Ravens would make the playoffs. But great defenses, good running games, and managing the game passing is a winning formula. As long as the defense stays great, I see this team being dangerous, and I like what I am hearing about Flacco’s development.

#32 – Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)

No, I haven’t gone soft on the Steelers since moving to the Burgh. But when you play the AFC West and get your toughest non-division games at home (Tennessee, Green Bay, Minnesota, San Diego) you get a leg up. Throw in that the Steelers are built right, and you are looking at another Division Crown for the Steelers.

Quick and Dirty Playoffs

In the AFC, Baltimore and Pittsburgh advance to the Championship, with Baltimore winning the rubber match.

In the NFC, The Giants travel to Green Bay in a rematch of two seasons ago. This time Aaron Rodgers leads the Pack to a win.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Playing Chicken with Richard

Richard Seymour is a Raider…or he could be soon…or he might not be. Depending on which side of the debate of the merits of this trade you stand on, you are either elated, or disappointed at this point, and your feelings have most likely changed 10 times in the last three days.

IMO, if the Raiders can sign Seymour to a long-term deal, it is a fair trade for both sides. And most would agree, if they can get by the intellectual dishonesty being spewed by the Boys at Bristol, more on that another time, if the trade goes through.

The thing is, I no longer believe that this is a high stakes game of chicken between Seymour and the Raiders. I think this is a game between the Patriots and Seymour, with the Raiders just willingly going along with the charade, with the hopes that they can reap the rewards should the trains collide.

The leaks of strange information the past few days are what have lead me to this conclusion. Cable’s slip that there are financial issues to deal with in New England, the reports today that Seymour though he was close to signing an extension to stay in New England. Then you take into account that Seymour is the one player who, along with his agent, Eugene Parker, has actually won a stare down with Belichick in the past, and you have the ingredients for something different.

My theory is that Seymour and the Patriots were in discussions on an extension, and things were not going as well as Seymour thought. The Pats, tired of dealing with the unreasonable demands of Parker issued a take it or leave it deal, and Parker thought they were bluffing.

The Patriots then put together a deal with Oakland to send Seymour there for the 1st round pick in 2011, they also gave the Raiders the parameters of the deal that Parker and Seymour were looking for, and the Raiders found it acceptable.

The Patriots have flipped the table and called Parker and Seymour’s bluff.

“You say if you can’t get this deal here, you’ll take it somewhere else, well take it in Oakland”.

Now it is a full-fledged game of chicken between the Patriots and Seymour. Will Seymour blink 1st and accept the deal the Pats have on the table? Will Seymour take the offer in Oakland and report?

One of these sides is going to lose; if Seymour goes to Oakland the Patriots loose a key clog in their attempt to get another ring, a 2011 pick is no help to the team this year, and the window of opportunity in the NFL is too short to count on anything that far down the line.

If Seymour returns to New England at the reduced rate, yet another player will have lost the stare down with Belichick. His last chance at a big payday will be gone, sure he will be well paid, but he could have had more.

And where does this leave Oakland, if Seymour doesn’t come, well the fans will be let down, but the team will be about where it was before, a 6 to 8 win team needing line help. If he does come, the Raiders will be a 7 to 9 win team, needing a little less line help, but with less amo down the line

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cable Makes A Rookie Mistake

I’d say it was his 1st big mistake as a rookie head coach, but I’m sure some one will bring up breaking jaws, or sticking to long with Kwame, or taking a job in Oakland. But the move that Cable made last week shows that he is new at this whole scheduling thing.

There is a reason that the vast majority of teams broke camp about a week prior to the Raiders leaving Napa. Most teams want to simulate a game week in the days leading up to their 3rd preseason game. Installation, game planning and walkthroughs, all done in the same manner as what will happen in the regular season.

Cable may have run practices, and installed a game plan the same way that he will during the season, but there was one major difference. The players didn’t go home to their wives, kids, girlfriend and strippers each night. Instead they were sequestered in Napa at the Marriott.

Then, following the final walkthrough, Cable released the inmates from the asylum. If you have ever gone through a football camp, you know the feeling of freedom you have after being under lock and key for weeks. Sure you have a couple hours a day to yourself each day, but for the most part you are little more than a prisoner, one who has to work out until you puke.

So it was not the least bit surprising Saturday that the Raiders looked and played like they had hangovers. Chances are many of them did. As noted by recent Raider addition Greg Ellis, who chastised his teammates for being unprofessional.

True it was unprofessional, and lead to being embarrassed on televisions all across the county, but it should have been far from unexpected. This is one of the youngest teams in the NFL, and has little on field leadership. Cable’s scheduling of camp set them up to fail, and fail they did, in a most embarrassing fashion.

One can only hope that Cable knew exactly what he was doing; after all he has been around football his entire adult life, as both a player and coach. Maybe, just Maybe, having the players embarrass themselves was the point. It’s better that they do so in the 3rd preseason game, than in week 1 on national TV, as they have in 3 of the last 4 years.