The Winning Edge

Oh look, the Cheatriots got caught doing what they do. Quick, act surprised!

Okay, so maybe the drama over “Spygate” and now “Deflategate” are a bit, pardon the pun, overblown. Could 2 psi of air in a football account for a 38-point blowout? Probably not.

But it’s fair to assume that at least some advantage was provided. How do we know? Because they’re not supposed to do it, they know that, and they went ahead and did it anyway.

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Tuck Rule Burn

Ray Lewis is right, whether people like it or not — if not for that fateful call in a midnight snowstorm in old Foxboro Stadium, Tom Brady would have been the quarterback who fumbled away a home playoff game. Bill Belichick would essentially have been forced to at least see if Drew Bledsoe could come back the following season.

Brady can say what he wants; there’s no doubt he earned everything that came afterward. But there’s a good chance that he might not have even gotten the opportunity, or that Belichick would have blown up the team, similar to what we’re about to see with the Broncos this off-season. It’s not just 3-13 teams that get changed over after the season, frequently 12-4 teams who get a first-round bye and drop their first playoff game get changed as well.

The Tuck Rule Game will always be an example of a terrible call altering the outcome of a season and the future — for both teams.

Jack Del Rio New Raiders Head Coach

The Raiders are said to be preparing to officially announce the hiring of Jack Del Rio as their 21st head coach. While Del Rio’s career coaching record of 68-71 and two playoff appearances in nine seasons isn’t going to make John Madden or Bill Belichick jealous, it’s still a solid record.

And Terrance Knighton’s reaction is certainly a positive indicator of how Del Rio is appreciated by his players, as Sparano appeared to be as well. Knighton is one of several Denver players who are about to hit free agency, and will be targeted by the Raiders.

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The Harder They Fall

You may have caught the subtle impression in the season finale that I don’t like the Denver Broncos, or Peyton Manning for that matter. Obviously, they’re a good team, and Manning is one of the all-time great QBs, a first-ballot Hall of Fame pick. But like with Brady and the Pats, it just gets old, and it felt like Denver was piling it on, flandersrunning up the score for no good reason, in that final game.

So the past few days in Donkeyland have been great fun, watching a division rival fall flat on their faces, go one-and-done in the playoffs after a 12-4 regular season run. After four consecutive division titles, and just a year after their disastrous Super Bowl appearance, Denver’s coaching staff is gone, Manning may retire, and several key players in their prime, such as Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas, become free agents (and you can bet that the Raiders will make an offer to one or both of them).

And Jack Del Rio may very likely wind up coaching the Raiders; we’ll probably know one way or the other within a day or so. Regardless, it’s a lesson in how quickly fortunes change in the NFL, where a team can be riding high one day, and rebuilding  the very next day.

Del Rio 2nd Interview Today

Now that the Broncos have been unceremoniously knocked out of the playoffs (yay!) by the Colts (who will probably get the stuffing knocked out of them this weekend in Foxborough), the Raiders are free to pursue current Donks DC Jack Del Rio more diligently.

This is probably bad news for Tony Sparano, as well as Greg Olson and Jason Tarver, but Del Rio has a solid (if unspectacular) career as a head coach with the Jaguars, going to the playoffs with journeyman QBs such as David Garrard and Byron Leftwich. If he can pull in a good OC (Marc Trestman would be a good fit, as would Bill Musgrave) to continue Derek Carr’s development, with their draft picks and tons of money to spend in free agency, Del Rio could get the Raiders back on the road to respectability.

Coaching Search Continues On….

This week has not been all that great, as far as clarifying the coaching situation for the Raiders, or in giving fans an outcome they desire.

For one, Mark Davis apparently interviewed Mike Shanahan earlier in the week, during which it was supposedly discussed that Kyle Shanahan would also be part of a “package” of Mike as HC and Kyle as OC. Despite Shanahan’s rock-bottom status with the Raider Nation, I think most of us are at a point where if we thought Mobutu Sese Seko would give the team the best chance to win, we’d offer to help dig him up.

But here’s the thing — neither Mike nor Kyle Shanahan has done anything to distinguish themselves as being especially astute, or a great pickup as far as coaching hires go. They took a highly regarded QB that Washington had traded dearly to get, got him decent running backs and receivers, and still fielded a mediocre offense. So it’s not the 25-year grudge between Mike Shanahan and the ghost of Al Davis, so much as why anyone needs to talk to Mike Shanahan in the first place. His best work was 15 years ago with a Hall of Fame quarterback; the Raiders can get an average head coach just about anywhere. Even his ability to turn unsung runners into single-season superstars with the Broncos was mostly due to the zone-blocking system, which the Raiders tried with Greg Knapp and have since backed far away from.

Continue reading Coaching Search Continues On….

Coaching Search Continues

Here’s the latest and greatest on the Raiders’ search for a head coach, courtesy of Jerry McDonald at the Bay Area News Group. Tony Sparano is still the odds-on favorite, in the name of continuity of player approval. And an argument can be made that Sparano, as well as OC Greg Olson and DC Jason Tarver, did the best they could with what they had to work with.

Continue reading Coaching Search Continues