Archive for August, 2019

NFL 2019 Preseason: Week 2 Raiders Recap

Monday, August 19th, 2019

NFL 2019 Preseason: Week 2 Raiders Recap

After winning their preseason opener over the Rams 14-3, the Raiders traveled to face the Arizona Cardinals. Last week Jon Gruden gave his offensive starters the night off. This game saw the first action for Derek Carr and rookie Josh Jacobs. Antonio Brown again did not play, and the organization’s patience with his behavior was wearing thin. 

 Three straight handoffs to Josh Jacobs went for 6, 8 and 6 yards. Jon Gruden has his bell cow to pound the rock. Derek Carr then floated a perfect sideline pass to Ty Williams for a 27 yard gain. A defensive penalty for lowering the head to initiate contact had the Raiders quickly at the Arizona 14. Two plays later, a swing pass in the flat to Ryan Grant went for a 13 yard touchdown. 6 plays were all it took for the Raiders to go 75 yards in 3 minutes. The Raiders led 7-0, and Carr and Jacobs were done for the night.

During the NFL Draft, Gruden resisted the urge to trade up and draft Kyler Murray. The Cardinals stayed pat at the top spot, took Murray first, and shipped Josh Rosen off to Miami. Murray looked good in his debut last week. This week he started at his own 10 yard line due to a penalty on the kickoff return. On the first play from scrimmage there was a penalty against rookie defender Clelin Ferrell. Yet the Raiders got the ball back at their own 43, and the offense kept rolling.

Mike Glennon was in at quarterback, and a pass to a wide open DeAndre Washington in the flat went for a 35 yard gain. A completion to Darren Waller set up 1st and goal at the 10. On 3rd and goal from the 6, Glennon overthrew a wide open Waller in the end zone incomplete. Daniel Carlson hit the 25 yard field goal. The Raiders led 10-0, but it was a missed opportunity. Glennon would not make that mistake again. Al Davis was smiling in football heaven as Glennon went bombs away to Rico Gafford for a 53 yard touchdown. 

Meanwhile, Gruden’s celebration quickly turned to anger due to a penalty on the extra point try. It was good anyway, and the Raiders led 17-0 in the first quarter. Gruden was still fired up on the sideline. The Raiders were doing everything right on both sides of the ball. Kyler Murray did convert a 3rd and 13, but an offensive penalty nullified it. On the other sideline, Glennon was on fire. In the second quarter he led a 12 play, 67 yard drive that ate up 7 minutes of clock. Jalen Richard got some tough yards on the ground. Glennon capped the drive with a perfectly thrown fade to the corner to Derek Carrier for a 2 yard touchdown. The Raiders were blasting the Cardinals to pieces. The Raiders led 24-0 after only 21 minutes of football. Both of these teams were awful last year, but the Raiders seemed vastly improved. 

Things got worse for the Cardinals when Murray made a rookie mistake. On 3rd and 11 from his own 10, Murray got sacked for a safety. Had Murray just taken the hit, the ball would have been on the one yard line. His voluntarily moving backward without being touched led to the safety. Midway through the second quarter, the Raiders led 26-0. After a completely miserable outing, Murray was done for the night. The Arizona defense finally got a stop, and Brett Hundley came in at quarterback. 

An incomplete deep ball led to a gift defensive pass interference call at the Oakland 30. After an offensive holding call, Hundley under heavy pressure and a collapsing pocket threw a 40 yard touchdown pass to get the Cardinals on the board with 3:45 left in the half. The Cardinals got the ball back with 1:45 left in the half and Hundley moved them easily again. Yet at the 5 yard line, Paul Guenther’s defense stiffened up. The Cardinals settled for a field goal to trail 26-10 at halftime.

Hundley continued to move the ball well in the third quarter. The Raiders recovered a fumble, but it was reversed too down by contact. A well thrown ball on third down would have meant another first down, but it was dropped. Zane Gonzalez nailed another field goal from 45 yards out as the Cardinals got within 26-13. With 5 minutes left in the third quarter, Glennon was done for the night and third strong quarterback Nathan Peterman came in. Glennon finished 11 of 14 for 175 yards and 2 touchdowns. Murray was 3 for 8 for 12 yards and a safety given up. 

Peterman led a 15 play, 80 yard drive that ate 8:40 off the clock. Peterman completed all 7 of his passes on the drive. Mack Brown ran it in up the gut from 3 yards out. With 11 minutes left in regulation, the Raiders led 33-13. The 3 Raiders quarterbacks combined went 21 of 24 for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns. All 3 quarterbacks led a touchdown drive. 

For the first 56 minutes, the game was a laugher. The Raiders got very lazy closing out the game. The Cardinals punted on 4th and 2 from inside their own 10 yard line. A running into the kicker penalty gave the Cardinals an automatic first down. This allowed the Cardinals third string quarterback to throw a 59 yard touchdown bomb that was helped along when the defender completely mistimes the jump. The Cardinals were within 33-20 with 2:50 left, but Cliff Kingsbury was not going to risk a preseason injury on an onside kick. He opted to kick it deep as the Raiders tried to run out the clock. 

The Cardinals got it back at their own 19 with 1:43 left. Now it was their fourth string quarterback Drew Anderson. On 4th and 10 from the Oakland 34 with 14 seconds left, Anderson escaped and raced to the Oakland 12 and got out of bounds with 3 seconds left. Anderson threw the 12 yard touchdown on the last play of the game as Gruden shook his head. In a regular season game, league rules would require trying an extra point. in preseason, the game was over without the attempt. Although the score only showed a 7 point game, the Raiders thrashed the Cardinals when it counted. Even Gruden had to be pleased with how his starters looked. A 26-0 lead will give fans for optimism, rather than the closer final score. The Raiders are improved. 33-26 Raiders

Jew-haters angry at Jewish state for resisting congressional Jew-haters

Monday, August 19th, 2019

NFL 2019 Preseason: Week 1 Raiders Recap

Sunday, August 11th, 2019

NFL 2019 Preseason: Week 1 Raiders Recap

The 100th season of the NFL and the 60th season of the Raiders are a reality, at least in preseason form. Cotton Davidson lit the Al Davis torch to start the team’s final season in Oakland before moving to Las Vegas in 2020. 

Sean McVay gave his starters the night off. Jared Goff held a clipboard as Blake Bortles got the starting nod. Jon Gruden had his 1st round rookies starting on defense. Both Clelin Ferrell and John Abraham were in the game. Both of them successfully defended a deep bomb incomplete. Yet on 3rd and 8 from their own 18, Bortles found the seam in Paul Guenther’s defense for a 12 yard gain and a first down. The Raiders had a pathetic 13 sacks last year. The second worst team had 30 sacks. After a run up the gut gained 8 yards, Bortles rolled out and ran for another first down. An offensive holding penalty killed the drive. Now it would be time to check out the Raiders on offense. 

The Rams meanwhile we’re a penalty machine early on. They committed a false start receiving the opening kickoff. They had an illegal motion penalty and an offensive holding penalty on their opening drive. They then picked up another special teams penalty when the punt returner got decked before the ball arrived. This allowed the Raiders to take over at their own 30 yard line. 

Gruden gave his offensive starters the night off. Derek Carr held the clipboard. The plan was for Mike Glennon to play the first half and Nathan Peterman the second half. On 3rd and 3, Glennon dumped it off to Deandre Washington for a 13 yard gain. Then Glennon went bombs away to JJ Nelson for a 38 yard gain to the Rams 12 yard line. The Raiders finished the drive when Washington took it up the middle for an 8 yard touchdown. The backup offensive line gave him a big hole as the Raiders took the 7-0 lead. Josh Jacobs did not play, and Washington is a strong candidate to back him up on the depth chart. Meanwhile, the Rams committed a personal foul on the ensuing kickoff, their 5th penalty of the first quarter. Toe plays later came an offensive holding penalty, number 6. The defense held again.

The Raiders fumbled the punt, retained possession, and picked up their first penalty on that play. The Raiders were backed up to their own 9 yard line. On 3rd and 3, Glennong fired a quick pass over the middle to Ryan Grant for a first down. Preseason allows coaches to take risks they would never take in the regular season. Jon Gruden gambled with the Raiders facing 4th and 1 at their own 35. Washington got the yard up the gut. After that the drive died around midfield, but overall Glennon was looking good. 

Meanwhile, Bortles was done for the night after playing most of the first quarter. Bortles had a couple solid completions, but it was penalties that killed their offense. The first quarter ended with the rams committing their 7th penalty, another offensive holding call. Momentum changed at the start of the second quarter when a pass over the middle by Glennon was intercepted around turned to Oakland’s 30. however, the 8th penalty on the Rams for an illegal block on the return moved the ball back to midfield. On 2nd and 3 the Rams picked up their 9th penalty for illegal formation. On 3rd and 8, a quarterback draw appeared destined for success until Ferrell ran down the quarterback after a 2 yard gain.

A 10th penalty for delay of game before the punt was mainly to give the punter more room. Glennong continued to look impressive in three straight relatively deep balls to three different receivers for 18, 28 and 20 yards. Glennon started 15 of 19 for 184 yards and one touchdown. Yet the drive was killed when Glennon was intercepted at the goal line. Lazy attempts at tackling allowed the interception to be returned to the Rams 40 yard line. Despite moving the ball well, the Raiders only led 7-0. A defensive pass interference call on a deep ball gave the Rams 1st and goal at the Oakland 19 yard line. On 3rd and 4, Arden Key came around the edge and got the sack at the 2 minute warning. Greg Zuerlein hit the 36 yard field goal to get on the board. 

An 18 yard completion from Glennon to Kiyon Hatcher had the Raiders on the move during the 2 minute drill. A penalty in the offense for illegal use of hands to the face had the Raiders facing 2nd and 20 with 48 seconds left in the half just shy of midfield. On 3rd and 20, a safe dump off ended the drive. Despite moving up and down the field, Glennon could not get the Raiders back on the scoreboard after their only touchdown. A solid punt pinned the Rams at their own 10 yard line with 26 seconds left. 

Judging the Raiders offense is impossible without Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs, and if he ever takes the field, Antonio Brown. It is also possible judging them against a Rams defense where Aaron Donald had the night off. Putting aside all the caveats about preseason football, the Raiders took a 7-3 lead to the locker rooms.

Nathan Peterman started the second half. Gruden loves Peterman, who a couple years ago threw 5 interceptions in one half of football. A conservative run, a short pass, and a 3rd and 1 run up the middle that got the tough yard gave peterman his first NFL first down pickup in Silver and Black. On 3rd and 5, peterman avoided the pressure and scrambled for a 51 yard gain down to the 8 yard line. Gruden went smash mouth, and a run got the ball to the 3. With everyone expecting another run, Peterman fired to Keelan Doss for the touchdown and the 14-3 Raiders lead. 

While Glennon was allowed to open it up, Gruden had the shackles on Peterman. It was pure West Coast Offense dink and dunk game management. On 3rd and 8 Peterman ran again, but was caught a couple yards short of the sticks. After three quarters, the Raiders had over 365 total yards of offense to only 113 yards for the Rams. In the fourth quarter, all Gruden wanted to do was pound the rock and eat up the clock. However, penalties made that tough. While the Rams had 10 penalties for 80 yards at that point, the Raiders had caught up and passed them with 11 penalties for 127 yards. This was with a good chunk of the fourth quarter still to play. On 3rd and 17 from his own 30, Gruden had peterman go with the safe dumpoff followed by a punt.

Over the last 20 years, a familiar refrain from the Raiders has been inspired defense with little help from the offense. Then in the fourth quarter the defense would get tired. Comfortable wins would become tight wins, and tight wins would become losses. Yet with Todd Gurley and Cooper Kupp taking the night off, the Raiders had zero excuses for turning out the lights. Needing 2 scores, the Rams moved with little urgency. Third string quarterback John Wolford moved the Rams inside the Raiders 30 with just over 3 minutes left. However, another offensive holding penalty left the Rams facing 4th and 11. Wolford scrambled up the middle and was headed for a first down when two defenders met him just before the sticks. The whistle was blown a little prematurely, and Wolford came up one foot short with 2:09 to play. 

The main thing in a  preseason game is to escape without suffering any serious injuries. So between that and the final score, the first preaseason game for the Raider Nation was a success. 14-3 Raiders

NFL 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Saturday, August 10th, 2019

From Canton, Ohio, the Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted 8 new men into football immortality.

Sadness preceded the ceremony that weekend. Oakland Raiders wide receiver Cliff Branch died at age 71. Longtime football sportswriter Don Banks died at age 56.

There was happiness as well. The Pro Football Hall of Fame saw the Denver Broncos defeat the Atlanta Falcons 14-10 with the winning touchdown with 17 seconds left in the game.

Then came Chris Berman and the induction ceremony.

Pro Football Hall of Fame 2019 Induction Ceremony

Gil Brandt — The former Dallas Cowboys scout was the contributor enshrinee. In an odd irony, he was presented by 2018 enshrinee Jerry Jones, who fired him 30 years earlier. Brandt joked that he was not a scout for the Canton Bulldogs. While NFL fans everywhere laud Tex Schramm, Tom Landry, and even Jerry Jones, Brandt took time to praise the original Cowboys owner Clint Murchison. Brandt was one of the leaders in recruiting players from historically black colleges. Brandt scouted more than players, including coaches Bill Parcells and Mike Shanahan. He even scouted outside of football, discovering basketball coaching talent Bobby Knight. 

Johnny Robinson — The Kansas City Chiefs safety star was the senior nominee. He had an interception in Super Bowl IV and played in the NFL’s longest game, the 1971 playoff loss against the Dolphins. He now runs a boys home that aims to keep youths on the straight and narrow. 

Kevin Mawae — The center for the Seahawks, Jets and Titans played 16 seasons, making 8 Pro Bowls. 6 of those Pro Bowls came during 8 seasons with the Jets. He is the first Hawaiian enshrinee. He learned from three of the greatest centers in Dwight Stephenson, Mike Webster and Jim Otto and one of game’s greatest left tackles in Anthony Munoz. His mom played tackle football with her kids in the backyard, and she hit hard. He cried as he expressed his love for his mother and his four children. Mawae let the tears flow, as did his mother, father, and two brothers. Another brother’s untimely death was one of three seminal moments, the others being the birth of his two children. He thanked Tom Flores, who he expects to be in the Hall of Fame soon. He also thanked Bill Parcells, Herm Edwards, Jeff Fisher and Mike Munchak. He noted that the most important person in a football player’s life is the equipment manager. A deeply devout Christian, he thanked the team chaplains. He even praised opponents for challenging him to be better. That included, Bill Belichick, who he lost 13 of 17 games against, and Zach Thomas, who Mawae insists should get inducted. 

Pat Bowlen — Alzheimer’s robbed the late Broncos owner of the chance to give his induction speech. He passed away in June of 2019, only two months before he was inducted. Rather than have John Elway, Mike Shanahan, or some famous alum present him, the honor was given to longtime team trainer Steve Antonoupolos. “This one’s for Pat” after the team’s third Super Bowl win remains one of the most beautiful moments in all of sports.

Ty Law — Tony Dorsett’s nephew joined his Uncle in Canton. He had an interception for a touchdown in the Super Bowl, three interceptions in an AFC Title Game against Peyton Manning, and interceptions for touchdowns against Manning and former teammate Tom Brady. He came out strutting, dancing and laughing, but quickly began crying as he kissed his Hall of Fame bust. His mother talked trash with the best of them. He will always be his mom’s little boy. Two empty chairs with roses on them were there for his late grandmother and grandfather. He found out after the fact that his grandfather took out a mortgage on the house so his grandson could have a car. Bill Parcells threatened to make him the very first pick in the first round to get cut before training camp if he didn’t get better. Bill Belichick let Law play the way Law wanted, but that if he messed up, that freedom would be quickly taken away. As for the Patriot Way that has won six Super Bowls, Law reminded his teammates and the football world that the 2001 team started this winning culture. He thanked the Bowlen family for taking a chance on him late in his career. He had very warm words for Patriots owner Robert Kraft. In praising his five kids, he said that the most important title in his life is that of father. He implored people everywhere to believe in themselves.   

Ed Reed — He is the only player in NFL history to score a touchdown on an interception return, a punt return, a blocked punt, and a fumble recovery. He made 9 Pro Bowls in his 12 seasons. He came onstage with a scraggly graying beard, a cigar in his mouth, and a bright yellow hat to match the HOF jacket. He started with tears and a prayer. He thanked the Houston Texans for letting him stay for a couple months. He pointed out that there is no “GOAT” in this game because it takes an entire team to win. He may or may not have been joking when he said that he wrote his speech while sitting on the stage on front of everyone. 

Without getting political, he very briefly mentioned recent mass shootings and said we must address mental illness. He then pivoted to life. The company you keep matters. Accountability matters. Parents, raise your kids to leave the house, not to stay. 30 & 40 year olds should not stay at home. If you can’t feed the baby, don’t have the baby. In praising his son, he had both of them crying. He said that there are good and bad police officers. A police officer took him home, and he asked the officer to take him to jail so he wouldn’t have to face his mom. The officer kept him on the right path. Don’t push an officer to do something they don’t want to do. Reed refused to hang around kids who sold drugs or cut school. 

He joked about being booed in Baltimore for showing up as a rookie with a Jim Brown jersey. He turned very serious again when mentioning OJ Brigante, who has ALS. Brigante was in the audience. 

He kept alternating between serious and lighthearted. He thanked his barbers, mentioning that despite his appearance, he does get haircuts. Stay encouraged and help others. 

Champ Bailey — He made 12 Pro Bowls. He joked that he removed his sunglasses so everyone could see his joy, and because his wife said so. He thanked the Hall of Fame voters for getting it right the very first time. Whether spades, Taboo or checkers, his mother gave Champ his competitive streak. He referenced friends with nicknames from Cheese to Peanut to Taterhead. He thanked coordinator Terry Robiskie for letting the defensive star score his first touchdown on offense. He thinks Robiskie should be a head coach. He had the privilege of learning from Darrell Green and Deion Sanders. Deion Sanders asked him if he ever saw a cheetah stretch before chasing his prey. For better or worse, Bailey did not stretch before games. Bailey had very warm words for the departed Pat Bowlen. Bailey then got political. He said that when people see him, the first thing they see is not a Hall of Famer or a husband or father, but a black man. He asked his white friends to please listen when black men express fears. Do not get caught up in how the message is delivered. He also told his black friends that if they have nothing positive to say about social challenges, keep your mouths shut. 

Tony Gonzalez — He missed only 2 games in 17 seasons, making 14 Pro Bowls. He began in classy fashion by thanking the 4,200 volunteers needed to make the Hall of Fame Weekend come together. He learned from Shannon Sharpe and was grateful to Marcus Allen for encouragement during a tough rookie year. He thanked the little bald guy Jay Glazer for stories that cannot be told publicly. He thanked his agent Tom Condon for getting him a lot of money. He remembered Berkeley, where people ran around naked. His college coach Steve Mariucci said he was not ready for the NFL. A nervous Gonzalez thanked the late Marty Schottenheimer before quickly correcting himself and telling the audience that Schottenheimer is very much alive. Chiefs fans cheered him even when he was on the opposing team. He spoke about quitting Pop Warner football. He hid from a bully in junior high school for 5 months. He finally overcame his fears and vowed that it is better to lose a fight than hide. In his second season, he led the NFL with 16 dropped passes. He was benched twice in one game. He overcame that by reading a Vince Lombardi book, the first book he read since a 7th grade book about Bo Jackson. 

The 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony is now in the books. The 2019 NFL preseason is just beginning. The Oakland Raiders play the Los Angeles Rams in a rematch of the 2018 preseason and regular season openers for both teams.

eric @ Tygrrrr Express

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