Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

September 28, 2006

Question: Robert Gallery has been moved from right guard, to right tackle to left tackle in three years. The footwork alone for each of those positions is different, much less the assignments. Shouldn't he be given the benifit of the doubt until he has at least had a couple of seasons at one position? Also, with teams zone blitzing so much, why aren't we seeing screens to the backs and passes to the tight ends? During Tom Walsh's first tenure, we saw huge plays from the tight end position.
- Robert Harris, Vacaville

Answer: Gallery should be given time to play left tackle after playing on the right side for two years. But as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2004 draft, the pressure for Gallery to produce immediately is immense. And no one wants to hear about waiting a couple of seasons since that would put him in year four or five, a long time for a top pick to become the Pro Bowl player Art Shell said Gallery needs to be.

Tom Walsh promised the tight end would be a big part of the offense and the tight ends have five catches for 70 yards - not exactly overwhelming. He would probably attribute that to needing to keep the tight ends in to help with pass protection.

As for why the Raiders don’t try more screen passes, that’s anyone’s guess. It would make sense considering the offensive line’s problems to try some screens, but I haven’t spoken to Walsh since training camp. If the offense keeps embarrassing itself, chances are Walsh won’t be speaking to anyone publicly about football.
- Jason Jones

Question: Man, man, man, what's up with the Raiders? I can't believe what I'm seeing this season. Do you think Art Shell will be fired in the middle of the season again? I've always said that it's the parents' (Art) fault when kids (Raiders) act up, if you know what i mean. Not that the offensive line is getting bad calls, but the head coach is a Pro- Bowl tackle. What's going on?
- Jose Gutierrez, Sacramento

Answer: Art Shell will not get fired midseason unless there was a full mutiny against him. And even that probably wouldn’t be enough. If Bill Callahan survived until the end of his last season, Shell is safe. But if the offensive line that Shell, Jackie Slater and Irv Eatman are trying to fix doesn’t play better, the quarterbacks will continue to be unsafe in the pocket.
-Jason Jones

Question: Through two games this season, it seems that they are once again throwing the committment to the run philosophy out the window. Is it just me, or does it seem like the coaching staff tries to run the ball for one series, and when it doesn't work they are right back to dropping back for the deep bomb? How can they expect to keep defenses off-balance if they won't commit to attempting to run the ball on a regular basis? Even if they only get 3 yards per carry, wouldn't that put them in a better position than third and 13?
- Chris Ross, Sacramento

Answer: That’s the way it looks. The offense has not done a good job of mixing up the run and the pass. When LaMont Jordan is running hard (the few chances he has had), the Raiders need to take advantage of that and follow with more downhill running that they promised to set up play-action passes. Just dropping back to pass will force them to bring Jeff George back because none of the quarterbacks will survive the season.
- Jason Jones

Question: I'm confused about the commitment to excellence motto. I mean there were a number of dumb decisions in the preseason -- trading Doug Gabriel, releasing Danny Clark and benching Jerry Porter are just a few to name. Who really is making these stupid decisions and do you think there is any chance that someone will slap Art shell and tell him he's and idiot for not at least letting Jerry Porter get the fourth WR job or even putting him in the fourth quarter? His attitude sucks, I know. But so did Randy Moss' before he came to Oakland. Benching Porter is one reason we don't have a touchdown yet heading into the third-fourth week.
- Anthony Persaud, Landover, Md.

Answer: No one is sure why the Raiders traded Gabriel after developing him into a starter. With the new defensive emphasis on speed, Clark wasn’t going to play much except on special teams, so it was probably best for him to have a chance to move on. Luckily for him, he hooked up with New Orleans, which is 3-0, one victory short of how many games the Raiders won last season.

The Porter situation is one players don’t like to talk about and one that Shell seems intent on not changing his mind on. That’s obvious if Shell would rather have a receiver the coaching staff has said needs to improve his route running and grasp of the offense (Johnnie Morant) active instead of Porter. Porter’s attitude hasn’t been a big problem since the start of training camp. He practices hard and hasn’t said anything publicly about the team since July. But it appears the damage is already done.
- Jason Jones

September 21, 2006

Question: The coaching staff and players have been quoted as saying, we just need to execute. But it seems to me that the coaches are the ones not executing. One definition of crazy is when you keep doing the same thing expecting somethine different will happen. I don't call it crazy, just imcompetent. What do you think?
-- Dale Stemple, Weaverville

Answer: Incompetent is one way to put it. That’s the label pointed at offensive coordinator Tom Walsh after two games, not unexpected after two games and six points scored.

To be fair, an incompetent offensive line has handicapped Walsh, but it is his job to come up with something to accommodate that. Why Aaron Brooks wasn’t rolling out against San Diego made no sense. Also running sweeps at the Baltimore Ravens, who are possibly the fastest defense in the NFL, made little sense.

The Raiders have two weeks to come up with something different or be labeled crazy. If fans come to the Cleveland game and see that sweep that hasn’t worked or the offense that can’t score, they’d be crazy to stick around expecting a win.
-- Jason


Question: Hi Jason, what do you think about Andrew Walter? From what I have seen so far he seems to have the poise and confidence. If we have to sacrifice the season, let him start for the rest of the year to learn and gain that experience. Thanks.
-- Rick, Roseville

Answer: I like Andrew’s game. I’ve liked it since he was at Arizona State. He’s big, has a strong arm and while not extremely athletic, he can move around enough to buy himself time in the pocket, provided there is blocking up front.

The problem with giving him this year to learn is the Raiders don’t believe in sacrificing a season for a young quarterback, because they believe they are contenders every season. Coach Art Shell has said Aaron Brooks will start once he’s healthy, but I don’t think it would be an easy decision if Walter is playing well.

I think if Walter is going good, you have to leave him out there and let him build toward next season.
-- Jason


Question: Do you see Randy Moss and Lamont Jordan bouncing back at all after the bye week, from a statistical standpoint? Their schedule, outside of Pittsburgh and maybe 1 or 2 other games, is relatively soft. Thanks
-- David A. Spohn, Roseville

Answer: Moss and Jordan’s stats are almost entirely dependent on the offensive line, so I would say no to bouncing back statistically until the line shows major improvement.

As for the schedule being soft, that is relative when you consider how bad the Raiders have looked. An easy schedule means little if your team might be one of the worst in the NFL.

Though Cleveland isn’t good, the Browns did beat the Raiders last season and have to believe if they lose this week, next week will be a chance for a win. The 49ers look a lot better than the Raiders.

There’s also Seattle, Denver twice (you know Mike Shanahan loves beating the Raiders), Kansas City twice, Cincinnati and San Diego again.

Based on early results, Cleveland, Houston and the Jets are “winnable” games, though all three have shown more this season than Oakland.
-- Jason


Question:Dear Sir, I have been a Raiders fan for many years. The last 3 years, the Raiders have sucked!! I was hoping that finally this year we would win some games, but here we go again!! I am ready to change teams. Is it Al Davis' fault that they are losers? Thank you.
-- Ron Curtis, Woodbridge

Answer: A lot of the fault for this has to go to Davis, because he does oversee so much of the operations. If the Raiders were 2-0 and scoring 30 points per game, he’d deserve credit for the success.
--Jason


September 19, 2006

Question: Why has Tui not been given a fair chance to start in a game, with the exception of the one start last year? Has his performance in practice not been up to par or what?
-- Jason Cole, Bloomfield, Iowa

Answer: Marques Tuiasosopo’s chances of ever being a starter ended the day Jon Gruden left for Tampa Bay. Tui was Gruden’s draft choice, and when Bill Callahan was fired two seasons later, there went Tuiasosopo’s playing time.

The offense Al Davis loves isn’t the kind Tuiasosopo should be in, so he won’t get on the field. That’s why the Raiders have brought in Kerry Collins, Aaron Brooks and drafted Andrew Walter with Tuiasosopo still on the roster.
Tuiasosopo should be playing in the West Coast offense Gruden, not in the Raiders system that wants to go deep with passes.

It would be unfair to assess Tuiasosopo’s efforts in practice because he worked with the third team most of training camp. It’s hard to make an impression when you are throwing passes to players who are going to be cut.
And think about this. If the starting offensive line has played so poorly, imagine who blocked for Tuiasosopo.

But this is probably Tuiasosopo’s last season with the Raiders. He’s in the last year of his contract. He was told last year he would get the last four games of the year to showcase his skills but got the one start against the Jets. That probably was enough to insure Tui won’t be back in 2007.
-- Jason Jones


Question: Robert Gallery, the second pick of the draft three years ago, is finally playing the left tackle position he was drafted to play. Players drafted that high on the board, especially franchise left tackles, are supposed to have developed by the third year. Orlando Pace, Jonathan Ogden and Tony Bosselli, to name a few, excelled at their positions early on. I can't help but lose optimisim for Gallery every time I watch him play. Do you think he'll be able to turn it around and become a perennial all pro tackle int his league?
-- Andrew, Elk Grove

Answer: Robert Gallery needs to get healthy and dominate unless he wants to be labeled this generation’s Tony Mandarich. Left tackles drafted as highly as Gallery are supposed to be cornerstones, not unable to beat out Barry Sims for the job for two seasons.

With his play in the first game, Gallery is closer to Mandarich than Walter Jones. For a guy his size (6-7, 325) Gallery is overpowered too often. But I’m willing to give Gallery the time to get healthy this season to prove he was worth the hype.

I can’t see Gallery becoming a perennial Pro Bowler right now, at least not until he proves he is the best offensive lineman on his team (which might be Sims).
-- Jason Jones


Question: Jason, there is a lot of talk out there, most notably by ESPN.com's Bill Simmons, of Coach Shell's game management skills particularly his apparent indifference on the sideline during the game. Do the players sense any of this and do you think that maybe the team needs a more "fiery" tempered coach leading this team?
-- Ed Matulis, Elk Grove

Answer: There’s nothing wrong with Shell’s sideline temperament. If the Raiders were 2-0 he would be praised for being a calming influence. A more “fiery” coach would have lost his voice yelling with the Raiders offensive line. The players haven’t expressed a problem with Shell along those lines.

Shell can be as loud anyone when he needs to be. I’ve seen him tear into players during practice. It’s just not his personality to rant on the sidelines.

As for Shell’s game management skills, teams that control the clock usually have a good offense. The Raiders can’t do that right now because their quarterbacks spend more time running for their lives than finding open receivers.
-- Jason Jones


Question: Would your boss allow you to wear a T-shirt that gave everyone the finger as he walked around the office? The Raiders find no fault with it, do you?
-- Jake, Dublin

Answer: I’m positive I couldn’t wear that around the office, but I’ll ask if it would be OK.

Jerry Porter has a collection of off-color T-shirts but took a liking to his one-fingered salute T-shirt as his problems with Raiders became more public during training camp. I didn’t like Porter wearing that shirt as children stood nearby for autographs, but that’s Porter. He has his immature moments.

The question lately is has the Raiders' desire to prove who is in charge made the organization just as immature as Porter.

With the offense almost unwatchable, it would seem a player with Porter’s ability might help. Keeping him on the sidelines and inactive for games only makes him a distraction. Not that Porter was acting up in Baltimore, but the Raiders will have to deal with questions about their "Commitment to Excellence" if they continue to leave Porter on the sidelines while they clearly need all the help they can find on offense.

Sure, Porter can’t play on the offensive line. But he’s the best Raiders receiver short and underneath routes over the middle. A quick slant to Porter could save Andrew Walter some punishment against Cleveland.
-- Jason Jones

September 11, 2006

The Raiders trade a wide receiver and Jerry Porter still doesn't start? What exactly is Randy Moss' latest radio gripe about? The Raiders don't really believe they can make the playoffs, do they?

Answers to these and other questions about the Raider Nation you want to ask can be tackled. Send them to me in the form below and let's get this Q&A started. I'll be checking in after Monday night's game.

-- Jason Jones



About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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