An Article On Us...

Angry Pope

All Raider
Feb 2, 2006
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As usual, not very optimistic...

Raiders: That ol' Silver and Black magic?

Vinnie Iyer

June 26, 2006

Unfortunately for fans of Mila Kunis and Laura Prepon, That 70s Show's run is done. But I get the feeling the Raiders are trying to create their own version.

Whenever times are tough for Silver and Black, when there's a sudden Commitment to Mediocrity, it's just throw it back, baby. A few years ago, it was moving the team back to Oakland. A few years later, when coach Jon Gruden seemed to have too much power and spotlight, Al Davis traded him away to retain it.

Now the team has hired former franchise offensive line standout Art Shell as head coach for the second time. This is the first time he's coached a team, since, well, the Raiders, a dozen years ago.

As long as Davis owns this team, well, it will be Davis' team. Like him or dislike him, an owner of his personality is good for the league, because it leads to some flash and bravado on the field from his team -- think Mark Cuban and the Mavericks.

While the results aren't always there, there always will be something to entertain us. This team is nicknamed the Raiders for a reason -- they're meant to be rebels, showing a certain swagger with what they do.

I am still hoping for big things from Randy Moss in Oakland, streaking like a track star and making big catch after big catch. With him healthier and the team likely to get back to chucking the ball deep, I think he can have a big second season with the Raiders to complement LaMont Jordan, who has become a fine all-around running back.

Funning and gunning will be a welcome sight. The line still remains shaky, but new starting QB Aaron Brooks has the mobility to buy time to make some big plays. There will great risk of giveaways to go with the rewards the Raiders reap offensively, but it should be more productive with Shell and Davis back on a page they've shared before.

As for the defense, well, for now, the Black Hole and the rogues gallery that sit there are more intimidating to opponents. The physicality and pure speed aren't nearly at the levels to make this competitive in the standings, especially considering the offensive strengths of division foes Denver, Kansas City and San Diego.

Veteran Derrick Burgess is a bright spot, but the secondary is the future, something firm now that troubled corner Charles Woodson is in the team's past. Rookie safety Michael Huff brings plenty of that lacking physicality, and second-year corner Fabian Washington has the needed pure speed.

Expect some undisciplined play and overaggressive mistakes while the defense learns, with the occasional big plays and takeaways -- similar to what the offense will experience.

Even if the team's personnel isn't yet collected enough to forge any consistency, reestablishing a team identity that had been ambiguous since Gruden's departure was the right -- bold -- move.
Well, it's not totally pessimistic!! :)
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