Oakland Raiders Legend George Blanda has passed. The son of a Czech-born Pittsburgh-area coal miner, Blanda was a true Raider who epitomized the blue-collar Oakland teams of his era. As a diehard Raider fan and former kicker, he holds a special place in my early Silver and Black memories. This amazing and goosebump inducing call from Bill King (reprinted courtesy of Jerry Mcdonald, Ibabuzz.com) says it all perfectly…
“Waiting for the snap . . . fourth down . . . here it is . . .snap! spotted down! It’s kicked. That’s got a chance. That is — good! It’s good — Holy Toledo! Holy Toledo! This place has gone wild. I don’t believe it! I do not believe it! There are three seconds left in the game. If you can hear me, this place has gone wild . . . the Oakland Raiders 23! . . . the Cleveland Browns 20!
“George Blanda has just been elected king of the world! I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it! Holy Toledo! It went 53 . . . no 52 yards! George Blanda has just been elected king of the world!”
George Blanda Bio: George Frederick Blanda (“The Grand Old Man”) (September 17, 1927 – September 27, 2010) was a collegiate and professional football quarterback and placekicker. The son of a Czech-born Pittsburgh-area coal miner, Blanda has the distinction of having played 26 seasons of professional football, the most in the sport’s history, and had scored more points than anyone in history at the time of his retirement. Blanda retired from pro football in 1976. He was only one of two players to play in four different decades, and he holds the record for most extra points kicked. He was married from December 17, 1949 until his death to Betty Harris and had 2 children. Blanda died on September 27, 2010
Rest in peace George, your place in Raiders history is assured.
So the well respected Jeff Fisher chose to put the Titans in white jerseys for tomorrow game against the black attired Raiders. The temps say 80 degrees with stifling humidity, I say Fisher fucked up. A small gain in “gamesmanhip” will come at the expense of attitude. White is the color you retreat with… black is the color used to pillage and plunder.
September 2nd, 2010
The biggest change I see in the 2010 Raiders… the DRAMATIC increase in football intelligence. From the ground floor all the way up to Al Davis’s office, the Raiders have gotten much smarter as a football team.
In the miserable years since our beloved Silver & Black were felled by the Tijuana Meltdown of 2002, an Oakland Raiders offseason would be not complete without some variation of the following offseason events…
a) a head coaching search is embarked upon
b) a “Javon Walker/DeAngelo Hall” type signing
c) we draft the fastest guys on Indy turf
d) we hope Jamarcus shows up in shape
Oakland Raiders & football smarts? …not used in the same sentence often in these last 7 dark years of Raiders football.
The 2010 Raiders offseason “got smart” Right off the Bat
Cable’s mettle was briefly tested with some typical “best for the team” pseudo-searching comments, then Davis unequivocally gave him the reigns. Big splash free agents were spurned for specific need fills: e.g. Kamerion Wimbley rushes the passer, and John Henderson swallows running backs. Hue Jackson was brought in to give an attitiude to the offense with his “in your face” style and creativity. Rolando “little Saban” McClain was drafted (I was standing on my couch screaming “McClain, McClain” as Goodell walked to the podium) along with football gym rat and camp pugilist Lamarr Houston.
Oh, and did I mention that little bit about Jamarcus Russell being dumped for consummate pro (and 13-0 at Auburn) Jason Campbell? To say the Raiders have jumped a few football IQ points higher on that move alone would be a dramatic understatement.
Here then is a top-to-bottom breakdown of the 2010 Oakland Raiders Football intelligence, on an “Einstein” to ”cheat off of Vince Young on the Wonderlic” sliding scale. Graded as an overall assessment of Oakland’s football smarts currently (compared to an avg. of the rest of the NFL at that position), and contrasted with the 2009 Raiders.
- 2010 Oakland Raiders Football IQ Grades -
Raiders Front Office:
Owner and defacto GM Al Davis (didn’t he “have a guy in mind” for GM not too long ago?) will lose more football knowledge with every chunk of passing corn than the rest of the NFL owners combined will ever know. Sure he misses, and often in streaks, but it’s usually in an attempt to swing for the fences. With apologies to John McCain, Al Davis is the true maverick. The same guy that said “Jamarcus will be a great player in this league” also reclaimed Jim Plunkett, leading to 2 Lombardis. Player, Coach, Owner, Commissioner… you can doubt Al Davis’s marketing and public relations (Hererra vs. Gannon, DHB press release, overhead projector) style all day, and often with reason, but you simply cannot challenge his football smarts as an owner. Keeping “team guy” Cable, passing on high priced turds, and drafting smart football players has made this Raiders offseason a welcome contrast from 2009.
Rolando McClain was earmarked a starter from day one, period. Nnamdi Asomugha had to earn his spot, learning the ropes as a ”total reach” (good call Mel, nice hair…) on the island that is a Raiders cornerback. Playing straight up man defense, jamming at the line, and receiving little to no safety help, makes you learn your craft quickly. Get the mental part down pronto, or suffer a “Philip giveth, and Philip taketh away” fate as a Raiders corner. Well Nnam got it, and is the very articulate and intelligent Berkeley grad battling with Darrel Revis to be the games best corner. If “Nnamaste” Asomugha can take the free reign and direct the raw potential of Chris Johnson, Stanford Routt, Michael Huff, future star Tyvon Branch (stat you may not know: Branch led all DB’s in tackles in 2009 with 124), and Mayock favorite Michael Mitchell, this unit could truly become fearsome. The lights came on for Safety Michael Huff last season , forcing me to dispense with his “puff” moniker, which bodes well paired with young and smart Tyvon Branch. Not much change here from the 2009 squad. Branch is entering his 3rd season, a good time to make that leap into legit playmaker status. If you subscribe to the theory that each group needs “one guy” to be their leader, then having Nnamdi alone ranks this unit as very football savvy. Asomugha has recently articulated ”captain like” comments, and has now earned the freedom to shadow opposing #1 receivers or play centerfield.
Rolando McClain meet another Raiders MLB who took the position to the pigskin equivalent of MENSA, Greg Biekert. “Biek” reached his cerebral height against Payton Manning, and is surely passing those crib notes along to the sponge-like McClain. It is virtually unheard of to anoint a draft pick a starter on the day you draft him, and even more so when there is not one whisper of dissent. Rolando McClain by virtue of his play and reputation for being “little Saban” on the field, garnered such respect. Already in possession of the “green dot” helmet, McClain will be a defensive version of Manning, making critical last second adjustments and alignments to the Raiders entire defense. You can already see it now. Raiders fans still stung by the lax Jamarcus Russell work ethic, can finally stop wincing when watching tape of Ray Lewis watching tape. With the study habits of Ray Lewis, and a football intellect capable of knowing the entirety of the defense, the Raiders will truly have a coach on the field in McClain. Though I will greatly miss Kirk Morrison and wish him well, the Raiders linebackers football smarts took a huuuuuuge step forward from 2009. Rarely does Al Davis draft a linebacker in the first round…. but McClain is that rarity, a 260-lb coach in the huddle.
Raiders Defensive Line:
Richard Seymour was the first guy to step off the bus in camp this year, the bus with the rookies and free agents in a notable and symbolic gesture. Paired with rookie Lamar Houston (read more about our surprise pick for NFL Rookie of The Year … Lamarr Houston: Mel Kiper eats dogshit for breakast) and the emerging Matt Shaugnessy, the Raiders D-line benefits from much more than just Seymour’s run stopping abilities. Seymour gives the Raiders both football smarts, and leadership not seen in Oakland since Howie Long roamed the Donkeys backfield. The impact of Rookie Rolando McClain bears mention here as well, as McClain has the football intellect to know the entire defense, and can make crucial last second adjustments to the Raiders D-line. Putting Tommy Kelly and Seymour into favorable positions to use their 3-technique strengths at either tackle spot, bodes well for the Raiders entire front seven. Al Davis paid Richard Seymour franchise dough to lead and to teach in 2009, and in 2010 Seymour appears ready for that challenge. The raw mold of fire clay he has to work with in Lamarr Houston, might return us to that “frenzied” pass rush feeling we haven’t felt in Oakland since Regan Upshaw and friends pummeled QB’s.
Grade:Confucius & the Kids
Raiders Coaching Staff:
Tom Cable endured a brief twist in the offseason wind, but was soon given the go ahead, keeping needed continuity for the players. Relieving Cable of playcalling is former Raven Hue Jackson. Jackson brings attitude and passion in abundance to the Raiders offensive unit. Jackson allows Cable to focus on the Offensive Line, his guys, and that should boost the play of that very uneven unit. Mike Waufle as the Defensive Line Coach, the man bringing the heat with the Giants in their recent Superbowl win, worked with Cable for 6 years at Cal. Greg Biekert was brought in to help Rolando McClain ease into the “instant starter” MLB role. Biekert is famous in Raider circles for breaking Peyton Manning’s “enigma code” offense down and stealing playcalls in a wild 38-31 Raiders win at Indy. Cable focused on the O-line and Jackson’s creative playcalling and passion, bring new life to an offense shuddered under the immense weight of Jamarcus Russell in 2009. Vast improvement here.
If ever there was a case of addition by subtraction, it is in the football smarts of Raiders Quarterbacks. Jettisoning work ethic and study challenged Jamarcus Russell, for consummate pro Jason Campbell was done in the offseason, all while keeping the smart and gutty Bruce Gradkowski. Grad earned his roster spot with smart decision making and ball security in 2009, whereas Russell often seemed confused by the basics, such as where players should line up. Russell displayed little to no pocket presence or leadership skills to a sagging Raiders offense. Can you imagine hearing Jamarcus point out John Candy in the stands at a crucial moment in the 4th quarter? ”Jamarcus like candy” maybe. Hue Jackson brings attitude to this position, and Campbell and Grad both command a good huddle. Kyle Boller learned his QB smarts from Jeff Tedford and Charlie Frye is a gym rat. Playmaking, smarts, leadership, and passion from the Raiders QB spot should bring new life to this offense… and open up the other 1/2 of the playbook used to coddle Jamarcus Russell in 2009. Impossible to overstate the improvement here. from 2009.
Grade:The Professor (Gilligans Island)
Raiders Wide Receivers and Tight Ends:
Huge question marks when discussing the relative football smarts of the Raiders Wide Receivers and Tight ends, that is once you get past Zach Miller and Louis Murphy. Miller is a budding Pro Bowler with the brainpower to exploit seams and zones, and use his slightly undersized body as an effective blocker through great technique. Murphy, a 2nd year receiver from Florida is simply a leader. Murphy plays with passion, and will probably be a key player in the development of speedy Darrius Heyward-Bey. Without an established veteran on the squad at receiver, one could argue that this is an area of weakness for the Raiders. Chaz Schillens could help here, a savvy pass-catcher himself, but needs to be on the field to really contribute. Somebody needs to step up and lead this unit, and teach them the things that Tim Brown and Jerry Rice learned. Javon Walker’s presence hurt this unit last season, as opposed to being the steady veteran influence this group needed him to be. I predict that man will eventually be Louis Murphy, but who fills that role now is the question?
Raiders Running Backs:
Michael Bush, one of my all-time favorite Raiders draft picks ( limitless upside potential) is the key here. His blitz pickup ability is improving, but his football smarts are uncertain. Darren Mcfadden factors here of course, but hasn’t shown any signs of taking the job. Holding onto the rock can be a mental thing and Mcfadden has yet to do it consistently. Ask Tiki or Tom Coughlin about the “rugby grip” Darren, please. 9th year player Rock Cartwright is the veteran of the group, along with ex Viking Michael Bennet. Both would not be in this league still were it not for their football smarts. Most certainly not Cartwright, who appears to go about 5″8″ on his tiptoes. Considering that nobody has stepped in to fill Justin Fargas’s shoes yet as this groups leader, underscores the uncertainty at the position. The “tasty waves and tasty babes” Spicoli ranking is not an indictment of current Raiders running backs smarts. It is a realization that most NFL teams have an established veteran leader who teaches the intricacies of smart running back play to the kids. One Marcus Allen would give an Aristotle grade to this young group.
Grade: Jeff Spicoli
Raiders Offensive Line:
Ahh the Raiders Offensive line. Tom Cable gets to focus on this group in 2010, a line that hasn’t had a true leader since Steve Wisnewski and Lincoln Kennedy were road grading defenders. Robert Gallery has come into his own at left guard, playing at a near Pro Bowl level, but he hasn’t taken ownership of the group. Admittedly this group frustrates me the most; with Cable at the helm I expect them to perform consistently. Dumb pre-snap penalties and missed assignment have been the norm. The heady Langston Walker (Cal Berkeley) returns from Buffalo at Right Tackle, but he needs to perform at a higher level to ever hope to lead this group. The fact is, it might be rookie Jared Veldheer who takes the reigns of the Raiders Offensive Line. In a surprise move, Cable asked Veldheer to make the line calls against the Forty Niners last Saturday at Center, though he had been practicing at Tackle. Art Shell or Gene Upshaw we summon you, please send someone to lead this group.
Grade: Cheat off of Vince Young on the Wonderlic
While the rankings are arbitrary to some extent, the point remains…. the Raiders have gotten a whole lot smarter in 2010. Somewhere Bill Callahan is nodding in approval…
Bill Callahan: “The Raiders are the Dumbest team in America”