Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Only One Pig Will Need To Fly: Oakland Raiders

To answer the obvious question, I have absolutely no idea what the title of this group means. Colin came up with it and sometimes he's too darn clever for his own good. I would have personally entitled the group, "Not Quite There" or "Mediocre", but again, cleverness.

Basically, this is the biggest group and is filled with the teams who are going to finish 7-9 and miss the playoffs. The NFL is loaded with these teams, it's what you get in an age of parity. Even though everything's rosy during training camp, and if you read those John Clayton/Len Pasquarelli previews one would imagine every team finishing 10-6, these teams have too many holes to compete over the long haul.

By the way, feel free to congratulate my partner on his worst written post in the history of Crushed Optimists, established yesterday. Colin had some mild heat exhaustion, and that rambling bit of nonsense was the result. It resembled Buffalo... boring and forgettable.

So anyways, Colin went for his surprise team that disappointed him and I'm going for mine... the Oakland Raiders. I seriously thought that with the addition of Lamont Jordan and Randy Moss the Raiders had the offensive firepower to at least be a .500 team (yes, I did know the defense was going to be awful). I wasn't expecting the fans to turn on Kerry Collins as they did, especially since (as we'll go over) he wasn't that bad... in fact he was a darn good #2 fantasy QB for yours truly.

Oakland Raiders
2005 Record: 4-12

Know how in baseball a lot of us track the won-loss record in one run ballgames? The Oakland Raiders were a prime example of a corollary in football. Between the type of teams they ran into and the way they lost them, the season was over by week five and a 1-4 record stared them in the face. Check this out.

at New England 20-30
Kansas City 17-23
at Philadelphia 20-23
Dallas 19-13
San Diego 14-27

In the first three weeks of the season the Raiders played both representatives of the previous year's Super Bowl, and then had Kansas City, San Diego and Dallas, all of whom were decent ballclubs, especially at the beginning of the year. Ouch. The sad part is those first four games were all winnable. The team wasn't playing too badly. The offense, especially the passing game, was clicking. Between blame and inexperience everything fell apart and the rest of the season was a disaster. Interesting how over a shorter 16 game season the skids can fall off so quickly and what easily could have been a mediocre 7-9 season ended up 4-12.

Offensively, I have never seen a team go away from something that was working than the Raiders in 2005. Let's take a quick look at Kerry Collins last year.

Overall Stats: 3759 yds, 53.9% completion, 20 TDs, 12 INTs, 77.3 RAT
Player B: 3762 yds, 51.6% completion, 24 TDs, 17 INTs, 75.9 RAT

Who was Player B? None other than Eli Manning, who is quickly reaching deification status in New York. Who would you have rather had? It is really not a big question. But for a few more tosses into the end zone, Kerry Collins was a better quarterback. Oh yeah, and don't forget his DVOA (since FO is finally back online) of 8.5%, putting him at #18 between Chris Simms and Drew Bledsoe. Mediocre, but not awful. However, the reasoning gets even worse than that.

at NE: 265 yds, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 94.5 RAT
KC: 263 yds, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 92.9 RAT
at PHI: 345 yds, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 99.8 RAT
DAL: 218 yds, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 88.7 RAT
SD: 292 yds, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 60.4 RAT
BUF: 261 yds, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 113.3 RAT
at TEN: 238 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 105.2 RAT

This is almost one full half-season, during which the Raiders were an unimpressive 3-5. Quick, name who the main culprit for this was? Most Raiders fans would say Kerry Collins. I think that's complete bullcrap. Outside of one forgettable performance against the Chargers, Collins was having a career year. That's right, a career year. Only 2 INTs (previous career low 13), an insane passer rating (previous career high of 85.4). That's nuts. I'm still struggling with how an entire fan base could be this ignorant. Especially when you are replacing him with this line:

Aaron Brooks: 2882 yds, 55.7% completion, 13 TDs, 17 INTs, 70.0 RAT, -1.2% DVOA

Oh Goody! Can I please do that over and over again while jamming razor sharp wire underneath my fingernails? I don't care how "old school" new head coach Art Shell is. He's still dealing with a significant drop-off at the most important position on the field. People, Aaron Brooks is not a good quarterback. He is never going to be a good quarterback. Especially with how bad the Raider defense is still going to be having a drag like that on the offense is not conducive to long term success, especially in the AFC West. I'm not sure where we're supposed to see the improvement offensively. By the way, even after the mad panic of the second half of the season the Raider offense basically collapsed, ending up with a team DVOA ranking of -.1%, good for 13th in the league. Earth to anyone. This wasn't the problem.

So now what do you have? Lamont Jordan, who is a darn good running back. Randy Moss, Doug Gabriel, Jerry Porter (if not traded, and Ronald Curry may be the deepest WR corps in the AFC. A decent offensive line with young talent like Robert Gallery. And the dumbest worst QB in the league. Yippee. They will score some points, but give away a ton as well. Raiders fans will wish for the glory days of Collins by week 5.

What about on defense? They (with the Bills) passed on franchise quarterback Matt Leinart to grab a pretty good SAFETY in Michael Huff (let's look at that again... if they were offered straight up for one another, do you think the Cardinals even think about it? I don't... what a stupid move).

Well, the rushing defense was pretty darn bad, with a mediocre #16 ranking in DVOA at -7.6%. They averaged 4.0 ypc, again MEANINGLESS when you see that in the AFC teams only ran against the Jets and Browns more. Now, they were fairly good at avoiding the big plays, giving up only seven 20+ gains. Huff should improve this, as well as not having Warren Sapp as a defensive end (whoever's drunken fantasy that one was). I could see this improving to a little above league average. What about against the pass?

They did boast the league sack leader in Derrick Burgess, and he should again be good/dominant in 2006. The rest was again, mediocre. 60% completion percentage and 200 ypg (even with as much as teams were rushing against them).

Editor's Note: In John Clayton's most recent preview of the Green Bay Packers, he DID mention their #1 ranking against the pass, while not acknowledging that the stat was total BS. I usually respect Clayton a lot more than that. If the Packers rest on their laurels on that they will be disabused quickly.

Overall, this is a mediocre team with little help added. Thus, they will continue to be mediocre. Their biggest offseason acquisition is a tremendous waste of time and money. While they won't be SF-awful, there is absolutely no chance the Raiders make it to the postseason and an above-average chance they self-implode again midseason and fall to another 4-12 finish.

posted by Gavin @ 1:05 PM  0 comments

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