Black Hole Son Two weeks ago, I watched a game that captivated me like few have this season. It was a match between the then 7-3 Kansas City Chiefs (who are riding what I believe will be a massive tailspin) and the 0-10 Oakland Raiders. The Raiders had nothing to play for but their fans. As usual, said fans showed up in droves to support the team they love. The result was a team with nothing to play for willing a win over a team that had everything to play for, in prime time, no less.
When asked about the win after the game, quarterback David Carr said simply, “ I just can’t wait to get back [to the locker room] and see my teammates smile.” Veteran safety, champion, leader and future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson said in his postgame interview, “I needed this win like I needed to breathe.” Losing sucks. But one thing’s for damn sure: Habitually losing really sucks.
This week, it was back to normal for the Raiders, getting fucking LEVELED by the St. Louis rams 52-0. Seriously, how do you lose 52-0? That means literally you lost every play in the game. Also, it’s not like they got blown out by Green Bay or New England. It was the Rams. Jesus Christ, Raiders.
In order to get some perspective, I spoke to Early Graves guitarist -- and diehard Raiders fan -- Chris Brock about his take on the current Raiders, as well as what it is like to Raid in the US of A. It seems like forever ago, but the Raiders had a great team in the early 2000s, and then seemingly overnight, that teamed vanished. Brock recalls the moment of the sea change:
“The Tuck Rule Game changed everything [2001 AFC Division playoff game, New England Patriots/Oakland Raiders]. It dismantled the team and left Al Davis with little time left to live and [accomplish] the goal of winning another Super Bowl. He was a penny rich and dollar short with every draft pick and free agent signing from then on."
Al Davis passed away in 2011, and his son Mark Davis took over as owner. I think it’s pretty easy to see that Mark isn’t as accepted as his father was by the Oakland fan base. Brock agrees, and thinks a change in ownership might put the team back on track:
“His son isn’t a great owner. He doesn’t know the game of football like Al did. They need to sell the team to an owner who doesn’t have a bowl cut, hire a GM that knows what he is doing, and hope they get lucky.”
I LOVE first round draft pick Khalil Mack. I think he will be the face of the Raiders D for many years. However, besides Mack, I can’t see anything the Raiders have to offer but a bunch of question marks. Starting with rookie QB David Carr. I’m not sold on Carr, and neither is Brock, but I think we both agree that it may be out of context to analysis his skill set on this current team.
“I think he is going to be a solid player, but how can you possibly judge a quarterback when there is no running game to speak of? MJD and McFadden are so abysmal that Carr has to throw the ball way more than he should. They are always playing from behind. The other teams they play know that a throw is coming. He has proven to be a very tough player and resilient, but I guess I still am left wondering what season two will have in store for him. I think it’s too early be sold on or to give up.”
Now as far as next season for the Raiders, they frankly don’t know who the hell is going to be leading their team on the field. Coach Dennis Allen was fired four games into the season this year. He was replaced by assistant coach Tony Sparano. Even if he’s able to get a few more wins this season, I think everyone will collectively agree that Sparano's done with the team after this season. Brock argues that his coaching style is not NFL-caliber, and it’s time to get a fresh guy in the mix who might be on the outs with his team at season's end, as well. Then there’s the Jim Harbaugh rumblings. In four weeks, when the San Francisco 49ers don’t make the playoffs, the Niners organization will turn on their acclaimed coach, and he them. They will take a first-round draft pick for their head coach. The Raiders, a team that lacks direction in all aspects, would be a legit landing spot for Harbaugh. The Raiders would give him the keys to the low-rider, without hesitation. Brock would approve.
“I don't trust anyone who runs a gimmick offense -- the wild cat, the read option -- like Sparano does. I would love to see Jim Harbaugh end up in Oakland. I don’t really remember anything about his tenure here in Oakland when he was a QB coach or assistant or whatever he was, but seeing how he turned around the 49ers is crazy.”
A new coach can turn a team on and off like a light switch. I look at the mess that was the Arizona Cardinals a few years ago before Bruce Arians came in to the mix and made them a juggernaut.
I love Early Graves. Best Bay Area band to come out California since Ugly Kid Joe (who actually were from Isla Vista, but wore backwards caps). Check them out here!
I mentioned the Rams/Raiders game this past Sunday. I read this interesting article this week where Boomer Esiason said that he is certain that both the Raiders and Rams are headed back to L.A. Both teams’ leases are up and L.A. wants football in the new stadium they’re erecting. They want their erection to not go to waste. We know how frustrating that can be. I believe the Raiders relocating would be okay. Why the Rams, though? It seems like overkill. The Oakland fan base would travel over with the Raiders moving to Los Angeles. The St. Louis fans would not move over. Who in L.A. would jump on the Rams bandwagon after a 20-year absence?
You want to hear a statistic that you won’t believe? A Kansas City Chiefs (7-5) wide receiver has not caught a touchdown all season (13 weeks). Seriously. I’m not making this up.
Good for Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine, who yesterday announced that he will be sticking with Brian Hoyer (for now) as QB over Johnny Manziel. Here’s what sucks, though: Manziel can actually use the experience. Manziel, no doubt, will win the starting job this offseason and be the Browns starting QB next season. If Manziel got the reins now, it’d be a trial by fire that would season him for an inevitable push for a AFC North division championship next year. Regardless of what happens this week, Hoyer either pulls down the win, or he gets benched for Manziel next week. Tall order for Hoyer. But with playoff pictures already shaping up, the Indianapolis Colts seem to have less and less to play for every week. I like the Browns A LOT this week.
If You’re 555, I’m 666
I will tell you one thing about the month of December in the NFL: sixes are wild. All these teams are fighting over the last playoff spot in their conference, and it will all come down to the last week of the season to decide. Two bold predictions:
1) the Arizona Cardinals, currently positioned as the #1 seed in the NFC, will be the sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC. Their next four weeks are Chiefs, @Rams, Seahawks, and @Frisco. They will lose three of those games. The Seahawks will win the NFC West in the last week, setting up a much-needed first round bye for the Eagles, and the Cardinals going on the road to try and upset Seattle.
2) the Pistburgh Stillers will lock up the sixth seed in the AFC UNLESS Baltimore beats the Fins on the road this weekend, in which case Baltimore gets it. Pitt plays Cincinnati twice in the next four weeks, which they will split. Their two other games are @Atlanta and vs. KC. They essentially control their own destiny. I am certain the Miami Dolphins will split their last four games (Baltimore, @New England, Vikings, Jets), which will mean they will more than likely fuck off and lose a winnable game, and not deserve a playoff birth.
As far as those five seeds go, the Chargers and Lions are locks. The Chargers have an unbelievably hard last four weeks, but Philip Rivers owns December. They will at least split December, which will more than likely have them a game ahead of all six seeds, or winning tiebreakers against said six seeds. In the NFC, the Cowboys will look back to November 2, 2014 as their demise: The day they lost the (would be) tiebreaker to the Arizona Cardinals, which at the time no one would fathom to be a tiebreaker.
And finally this week, I’d like to address something that NBC is doing right now under our nose that will actually lead to something pretty revolutionary: they are slowly introducing us to their future play-by-play commentator for Sunday Night Football once Al Michaels (70) leaves. The revolutionary part: It happens to be a woman, sideline reporter Michele Tafoya. I’ve noticed them going to her for random comments approximately every eight minutes, which is a hell of a lot. If you’re not familiar with Michele, check out this clip.
The problem is every comment she has during SNF is horrible and nonsensical. It’s shit like, “Jonas Gray ate a bunch of Kix cereal this morning, hence him out of nowhere having four touchdowns in this game.” Just really bad comments that make her look like a total fool or someone who picks winners based on jersey color. I don’t blame her. I blame the producers feeding her the lines. We are subconsciously learning not to trust her opinion when, in actuality, she’s a beast when it comes to football knowledge.
This is why the NBA will be the most sexually progressive of the Big Four sports in the next decade. Not only will Spurs assistant head coach Becky Hammon eventually be the first female head coach of a major male sport, I believe that the lead voice of the NBA will eventually be female sideline commentator, and occasional color commentator, Doris Burke. If you haven’t seen Burke’s commentary work, she’s amazing. Burke and Tafoya just happen to be the same age (49). The difference between the two is that the NBA feeds Burke legit stats and topics to address when she gets mic time, not BS like the NFL feeds Tofoya. Either way, Tafoya has my stamp of approval. She’s great.
Also, I’d like to take this time to apologize to all my Facebook friends who read my post recently about me wanting to have a threesome with Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong. I was joking. I don’t even watch SNL.
Happy holidays, everyone.
Pick of the Week
Cleve +4.5 at Indy