Thursday, January 13, 2011

Will 2011 be the year that Tim Brown gets a call from the Hall

The NFL released the finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2011 on January 10 2011. The 44-member selection committee will meet on February 5, 2011 in North Texas. Tim Brown must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent.

Tim Brown won the Heisman trophy and Walter Camp award in 1987. Brown was the first wide receiver to win the Heisman. The Notre Dame Graduate drafted sixth overall by the Los Angeles Raiders in 1988. Brown was the first wide receiver off the board.

The multi talented wide receiver/returner came into the league and made an immediate impact. Brown led the league in kickoff returns, return yards, average yards per return in addition to making 43 catches for 725 yards and scoring five touchdowns.

The Dallas, Texas native was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection. Brown played in 255 games finished his career with 1,094 receptions, 14, 934 receiving yards and 100 touchdowns.

It is a known fact that Tim Brown was one of the best wide receivers in College Football and NFL history. Brown was a member of the NFL 1990's All-Decade team. Brown posted an NFL record 75 receptions in 10 straight seasons. There are currently three members of the 12-round 1988 draft in the Hall of Fame; Tim Brown is attempting to take his rightful place as the fourth.

Although denied in year one Brown became eligible for enshrinement in 2010. Understandable when you consider the traffic jam of accomplished receiver candidates awaiting entry such as Jerry Rice, Andre Reed and Chris Carter.

The College Football Hall of Fame inducted “Touchdown Timmy” in 2010. This is the second year of eligibility for Tim Brown, the man known simply as, Mr. Raider. Brown spent 15 of his 16 years in the NFL proudly wearing silver and black in Los Angeles and Oakland.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Oakland Raiders: On to the Next One

The Oakland Raiders went into the season with lofty expectations of winning the division and making the playoffs. For the first time since the merger in 1970, the Raiders are the first team to go undefeated in their division and not make the playoffs.

However, if you win every game in your division, emphatically beat down and provide the eventual division winner with a 'never forget who we are' moment at home, you should be crowned as the true champions of the AFC West.

While Oakland convincingly won the last game of the season, the Raiders still came up short in reaching their season-long goals. But 2010 was a year of resurgence for the Silver and Black.

Despite not achieving their desired goals, the Silver and Black took Raider Nation on a memorable ride back to respectability. Going into the season, it was felt that Tom Cable received a reprieve to turn the Raiders around. It was a collective effort, but that is exactly what he did.

Despite the players wanting to play hard for him, it was well known that he was thin ice. A playoff run was the only thing that was going to ensure a 2011 return. Like it or not, it was the right decision. The timing was curious, but the writing was on the wall.

Hue Jackson was hired as the offensive coordinator and tasked with turning the offense into a productive unit. Mission accomplished as the Raiders improved from the 31st-ranked offense in 2009 to 10th overall in 2010.

The road to respectability is filled with several potholes. As with any season, 2010 was filled with the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

Oakland snapped a seven-year streak of losing 11-plus games a season, while going 6-0 in the division. Jackson proved to be a leader of men and a solid offensive mind. Under his watch, the offense improved dramatically. The running game, fueled by the dynamic tandem of Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, became the strength of the team.

The improvement on offense wouldn’t have been possible without the offensive line, who stepped their game up in run blocking.

The 2010 draft class was one of the best in recent memory by making an immediate impact which bodes well for the future. The defense improved as both the defensive line and linebacker group became strengths of the team. Moving Richard Seymour to defensive tackle was huge. Tommy Kelly had his best season.

John Henderson and Desmond Bryant were solid in the defensive tackle rotation. The versatile Lamar Houston had a great rookie campaign and made an immediate impact. Matt Shaughnessy was solid, providing the Raiders with two tremendous young talents at the two defensive end positions for the foreseeable future.

The linebacker group, the team's deepest in years, was huge. Rookie Rolando McClain solidified the middle, while Kamerion Wimbley and Trevor Scott made their presence felt on the strong side and weak side positions. Nnamdi Asomugha had another stellar season at right cornerback.

The Bad

The Raiders were great in the division, but 2-8 against everyone else. This team needs to improve and shut teams down, make the opponent one-dimensional and get off the field on third down.

The Ugly

Penalties! Drive-killing or game-altering, he Raiders shot themselves in the foot so many times, it was a wonder that they were able to walk off the field.

Defensively stopping the run continues to be a major issue and cause for concern. The safeties were exploited on more than one occasion, the second half of the Jacksonville game comes to mind. Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch made a lot and missed a lot of tackles. There were too many breakdowns in coverage, Branch surrendered eight touchdown passes.

There is always room for improvement at various positions, but there aren’t any glaring needs heading into 2011. The improvements can be made via the draft, veteran free agency and with undrafted rookie free agents. This team needs more disciplined play and consistency.

The Raiders are in need of continuity that can only be had if Hue Jackson is promoted to head coach. Despite the fact Oakland will begin 2011 with their ninth head coach in 17 seasons since returning to the East Bay, they’re losers no more and should be considered a team on the rise.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Al Davis Chooses to cut the Cable

The Raiders chose to decline now former head coach Tom Cable’s option. Is it a good move or a bad move?

The Oakland Raiders went out, competed and played hard for Tom Cable. The players wanted to continue to play for Tom Cable, although a .500 record wasn’t enough for Al Davis.

The Raiders had a nice resurgence in 2010. That resurgence followed some solid pick ups in free agency and one of the best draft classes in years. Tom Cable was at the helm when the Raiders ended a seven-year streak of losing 11 games per season. Tom Cable was at the helm when the Raiders went out and won all six of the games in their division, beating everyone in the AFC West twice.

The Raiders had 354.6 yards per game, 198.8 passing yards, 25.6 points per game and 410 total points. All numbers were better than Kansas City's statistics.

Hue Jackson was hired as the offensive coordinator and tasked with turning the offense around. Mission accomplished the Raiders improved from 31st in the league in total offense in 2009 to 10th in 2010. The offense and defense improved, but the offense improved the most.

This isn’t a popular decision or one that all Raider fans like, but it is Al’s decision. This isn’t to say that Tom Cable was a great coach, because he wasn’t. In my opinion the decision is unpopular because the Raiders are building something solid in Oakland, and to do that you need continuity at the head coaching position, something that just doesn’t happen in Oakland.

Tom Cable was a solid offensive line coach, but I never felt he was ready to be a head coach. He was the third or fourth choice when he was hired; the fallback plan so to speak.

It is a move that really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. It is a known fact that Al Davis changes coaches frequently.

The Raiders are a good football team with a good mix of youth and veterans on both sides of the ball, with enough talent to be a playoff team. Tom Cable was essentially let go because of his 17-27 overall record, the team’s 2-8 record outside of the division, the team’s undisciplined play in leading the league 1,276 penalty yards and benching Jason Campbell for the Dolphins game to start Bruce Gradkowski.

The rumors are that Hue Jackson will be the next Raiders head coach. In terms of continuity, it would make sense. This team is only going to get better.

The Raiders have had 15 head coaches; eight since the team returned to Oakland. At least four of them can be categorized as mistakes. The longest-tenured coach was John Madden, who coached 142 games with a 103-32-7 regular season record, 9-7 in the post season with a Super Bowl win.

Art Shell coached 92 games in two stints as the head coach. The most successful coach in franchise history is Tom Flores, who has a 105-90 overall record, 8-3 in the postseason and three Super Bowl wins: two as a head coach and one as John Madden’s assistant.

Tom Flores is one of a few Raiders along with Ray Guy who should be in the NFL Hall of Fame but aren't. However, in regards to the top job, it’s not a surprise that Al Davis doesn’t hold head coaches in high regard. You have to go back more than a few years to find a coach that Al Davis saw eye to eye with. Al Davis has felt for years that he can coach the coach, and in turn coach the team.