Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

March 30, 2007
Lamont Jordan on the run

ALAMEDA - Back from the NFL owners meeting in time to catch a bit of the Raiders voluntary workout today and noticed running back LaMont Jordan on the field.

Could this competition thing be working?

Jordan, who tore the medial collateral ligament in his left knee in November, was on the field. He wasn't somewhere milking the injury, delaying getting on the field until training camp.

New Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said he'd heard Jordan wasn't one to show up and at these sessions, but maybe the presence of Dominic Rhodes has inspired Jordan to be in town.

Kiffin hasn't named a starter and didn't speak of divvying up carries (obviously, it's March), but he does want competition at every position. With Rhodes, the free agent acquisition from Indianapolis, also on the field, Kiffin could be in the early stages of the competition he wants at running back.

Kiffin expects Jordan will be healthy for training camp.

Before, Jordan spoke of wanting to establish himself as one of the NFL's elite backs, which isn't easy in the AFC West which already has league MVP LaDainian Tomlinson of San Diego, Kansas City workhorse Larry Johnson and whatever back Denver has piling up yards.

Jordan is a competitor and certainly doesn't want to go back to his backup days in New York, where he watched behind Curtis Martin, getting his carries where he could.

It should be fun to see how Rhodes and Jordan work together.

- Jason Jones

March 28, 2007
NFL owners wrap it up

PHOENIX - Musings as the NFL owners meetings wrap up today.

These statistics led to the notion of moving kickoff in overtime from the 30-yard line to the 35 in overtime:

Seven of 11 overtime games (63.6 percent) were won by the winner of the coin toss last season. More than half the teams winning the coin toss win the game since the kickoff was moved to the 35 from to the 30 in 1994.

So what? You don't want a game decided by heads or tails, you do have an option: win in regulation. Heck, you could even stop the team with the ball and score in overtime. How about go for a two-point conversion to avoid overtime?

If I want to see "fair" overtime, I'll watch college football.

• The NFL won't baby quarterbacks as much. If a defender is trying to get to the quarterback and happens to push him down immediately after he throws, it will no longer be a personal foul for roughing the passer.

Defenders can't level the quarterback with their shoulder or helmet, but they won't be penalized if their arms are extended upon contact.

I can't wait to see who can use his arms to push a quarterback farthest.

• Sorry Raiders fans. The NFL won't be doing anything about the forward pass rule that allowed San Diego receiver Vincent Jackson to "pass" the ball after a first down in their win over the Raiders in San Diego last November.

The Raiders didn't recover a fumble as they thought and the Chargers eventually came back to win the game.

I suggested to NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira there be a rule about a player surrendering the ball, as Jackson did on that play.

That's not happening either. That's a rule that won't change anytime soon so keep the conspiracy theories alive and running.

- Jason Jones

March 28, 2007
No justice

Sorry Raiders fans. The NFL won't be doing anything about the forward pass rule that allowed San Diego receiver Vincent Jackson to "pass" the ball after a first down in the Chargers' win over the Raiders in San Diego last November.

The Raiders didn't recover a fumble as they thought, and the Chargers eventually came back to win the game.

I suggested to NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira that there be a rule about a player surrendering the ball, as Jackson did on that play.

That's not happening either. That's a rule that won't change anytime soon, so keep the conspiracy theories alive and kicking.

March 28, 2007
Toughen up

The NFL won't baby quarterbacks as much. If a defender is trying to get to the quarterback and happens to push him down immediately after he throws, it will no longer be a personal foul for roughing the passer.

Defenders can't level the quarterback with their shoulder or helmet, but they won't be penalized if their arms are extended upon contact.

I can't wait to see who can push a quarterback farthest.

March 28, 2007
Forget fair; just win the game

PHOENIX - Musings as the NFL owners meetings wrap up.

These statistics led to the notion of moving kickoff during overtime from the 30-yard line to the 35: Seven of 11 overtime games (63.6 percent) were won by the winner of the coin toss last season; and more than half the teams winning the coin toss have won overtime games since the kickoff was moved to the 30 from to the 35 in 1994.

So you don't want a game decided by heads or tails? You do have an option: Win in regulation. Heck, you could even stop the team with the ball and score in overtime. How about going for a two-point conversion to avoid overtime?

If I want to see "fair" overtime, I'll watch college football.

March 27, 2007
Kiffin the Counselor

Raiders coach Lane Kiffin was funny and insightful during his time with the media Tuesday morning at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix.
What isn't funny is the emotional train wreck he inherited on offense.
Kiffin seems to understand that and has listened and encouraged everyone to move on from the 2006 season.
There's Jerry Porter, still angry about last season's unexplained banishment.
Robert Gallery has shifted from left to right tackle and been coached so much, he doesn't know what anyone wants from him. With that comes the whispers he is almost officially this generation's Tony Mandarich.
Barry Sims said Art Shell moved him to guard last season and for no reason at all.
And let's not start with Randy Moss.
If anything, Kiffin has to spend a lot of time this offseason massaging egos. In the end, that could be more important than any play he draws on the whiteboard.

March 20, 2007
Moss' moaning put him in doghouse

Question: Why is everyone so down on Randy Moss? The Raiders' offense was a joke last year. I would only trade him for a top-20 first round pick, and that's only if he wants off the team. I want to see JaMarcus Russell going DEEP to Moss next year!
-- John Crowley, Citrus Heights

Answer: Moss' status is the question of the Raiders' offseason (besides whether Russell, the LSU quarterback, be a Raider this coming season.)

So after a season in which the Raiders' offense was bad in terms of coaching, game plan and player execution, why do so many Raider fans want to get rid of Moss?

When the team's highest-paid player says he is dropping passes because he's not focused because he's not happy, that is going to create a backlash. That's why boos could be heard when Moss was introduced toward the end of the season. No one wants a player that is perceived not to be trying his hardest.

While I'm sure there must be a study somewhere that shows work performance suffers when morale is low in any workplace, sympathy for workers in that position isn't the same when they make millions of dollars to do their job.

Morale was low on offense most of last season. Moss wasn't the only player disillusioned by what was happening. But when you're the lone superstar on the worst offense in football and having the worst season of your career, criticism will come. Couple that with admitting you drop passes because of a lack of focus and Moss isn't going to earn sympathy.

Moss might not have marched into Al Davis' office and demanded a trade, but he said in a radio interview during the season he would welcome a trade if the Raiders thought getting rid of him helped the team. He also said he wouldn't mind being closer to the East Coast.

Moss' lawyer, Tim DiPiero, said the Raiders had control as to any potential trade.

That's a brief synopsis.

Assuming Moss is back for the 2007 season, the Raiders have hired his position coach. Adam Henry, 34, resigned Tuesday as offensive coordinator and receivers coach at McNeese State to become receivers and quality control coach, according to Internet reports.

"This is an opportunity of a lifetime," Henry was quoted in a story posted on the New Orleans Times-Picayune's Web site Monday. "It really came out of the blue but I have always wanted to coach in the NFL."

Henry coached at McNeese State for 10 seasons, where he also played wide receiver. He replaces Fred Biletnikoff, who retired after 32 years with the Raiders, including a Hall of Fame playing career as a receiver.
-- Jason Jones

March 15, 2007
What about Walter?

Question: What are your feelings about Andrew Walter being given a second chance. After all, the offensive line was a big problem and the Raiders had him as the best quarterback on their draft board when they drafted him?

- SIA, Santa Barbara

Answer: I have no problem with Walter being given a second chance unless there is a better alternative. The Raiders thought highly of Walter enough to draft him, but that doesn't mean the Raiders shouldn't consider other options.

Yes, the offensive line was bad last year, but Walter did have a tendency to hold the ball too long. And if the Raiders can acquire a more athletic quarterback, they would be wise to do so.

I don't think Walter showed enough last season to warrant the Raiders not drafting a quarterback, especially someone like JaMarcus Russell who has rare skills - especially for a quarterback his size. Not only can Russell throw, he can move and run.

Even though Walter's audition last season wasn't under ideal circumstances, he might find himself a backup next season. The Raiders likely will pick up a veteran quarterback at some point. If that's the case and a draft pick such as Russell develops quickly, Walter might even be the third quarterback.

- Jason Jones

March 15, 2007
Look for the run

Question: Atlanta (where offensive coordinator Greg Knapp was last season) and USC (head coach Lane Kiffin's last stop) ran different systems last year. What kind of system will the Raiders run?

- Jim A., Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.

Answer: I expect the Raiders to feature some aspects of the West Coast offense with the deep passing game. But they will go heavy on the run.

Kiffin has learned from the likes of Jeff Tedford, whose offenses at Cal have been heavy in the running game and a good mix of short, intermediate and deep passes. Kiffin also has learned from Jon Gruden, who runs a version of the West Coast offense. At USC, I saw an offense that relied on the run, used the tight end in the passing game and took shots down the field.

Knapp did try to bring the West Coast offense to Atlanta, which was met with mixed results from quarterback Michael Vick. What did work was the running game (Atlanta led the NFL in rushing the past three years, thanks in part to Vick's running ability).

That Kiffin hired Tom Cable, the offensive-line coach in Atlanta last year, is another indicator the Raiders plan to run a lot.

That said, I guess I can't say exactly what offense the Raiders will run. I do expect them to use two running backs regularly. I expect to see more short drops in the passing game with the ball getting out quickly. And if you're into old-school Raiders football, don't fret. The deep passing game won't be abandoned.

- Jason Jones

March 13, 2007
That pesky Moss-to-Packers rumor

A story in Tuesday's edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Green Bay Packers brass would meet and general manager Ted Thompson would present an outline on how to acquire Raiders wide receiver Randy Moss via trade.

It was reported, citing anonymous sources, Thompson had spoken directly with Raiders owner Al Davis and that Packers negotiator Andrew Brandt had begun preliminary talks to restructure Moss' contract.

Moss is due $9.75 million in base salary in 2007 and $11.25 million in base salary in 2008.

Could it really happen? Of course. Just don't expect a a smooth transaction.

A big reason is compensation. Davis reportedly wanted a first-round draft choice for Jerry Porter (a big reason he wasn't traded last season) and he'd probably want more in exchange for Moss, who put up Hall of Fame-level statistics (and had a respectable 2005 season with the Raiders despite injuries) before last season.

When the Raiders acquired Moss from Minnesota, they sent linebacker Napoleon Harris - who was the starting middle linebacker when the Raiders played in Super Bowl XXXVII - plus the seventh overall pick in the draft and a seventh-round draft choice.

You can bet Davis isn't going to settle for a fourth-round pick for Moss.

The Journal Sentinel reported the Packers might give up a middle-round draft choice while the Raiders would want at least a second-round choice. Citing an unnamed source, the story said defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila or defensive tackle Corey Williams would interest the Raiders if players were involved in a deal.

The Raiders, however, don't have much leverage in moving Moss.

The only other team reportedly serious about acquiring Moss, the New England Patriots, added three wide receivers in the offseason. They acquired Wes Welker in a trade from Miami and signed Kelley Washington and former Grant High School star Donté Stallworth.

Moss is 30 and a player who dominated early in his career because of his freakish athletic ability. Never a superb route runner and with his athletic skills possibly slipping with age and injuries over the past three seasons, Moss' luster has dulled. He also is coming off his worst season as a pro.

In the end, Davis might decide he doesn't want to give up Moss. If he didn't move Porter, when just about any other squad would have dealt him for something, what's the incentive to trade Moss?

Sure, he's unhappy. So was Porter. Don't be surprised if the Moss drama drags into the summer. Then again, I wouldn't be shocked if Moss were traded tomorrow. You never know with the Raiders.

- Jason Jones

March 9, 2007
Can Raiders get Atlanta backup QB?

Question: Is it possible for the Raiders to sign Atlanta backup quarterback Matt Schaub after the draft, sending future draft picks to Atlanta instead of this year's premium picks? Who better to run new offensive coordinator Gregg Knapp’s offense?

Patrick Plunkett, Burlington, Ontario

Answer: The chances of the Raiders acquiring Schaub remain slim, before or after the draft. Schaub is a restricted free agent and Atlanta has already tendered a one-year contract worth more than $2 million according to published reports. The tender includes a clause that a team signing Schaub this offseason would give the Falcons a first and third-round draft choice.

Before or after the draft, that’s a hefty price for a career backup, even if he is highly regarded.

Also, new head coach Lane Kiffin said he plans to call plays and it’s not clear exactly what the offense will look like. It probably won’t be the West Coast offense Knapp has run, so Schaub would have to learn new things just like any other quarterback coming to the Raiders.

The best chance for the Raiders to land a veteran quarterback is in free agency. Teams could still release veterans before the start of training camp.

Right now, there aren’t exactly any veteran quarterbacks available that are likely to make Raider fans happy.

Some quarterbacks available include Joey Harrington and Drew Bledsoe. Harrington has been erratic at times, and if you think Andrew Walter is immobile, you definitely wouldn’t want to see Bledsoe with the Raiders.

They could try to convince Aaron Brooks to come back at a low salary, but that’s unlikely. Also, with the Raiders expected to draft a quarterback with the first pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, quarterbacks aren’t racing to sign with the Raiders knowing by Week 4, questions about when to play the top overall pick would start.

If the Raiders want to make a trade, they could try to land Jake Plummer from Tampa Bay. But he has already said he is retiring rather than play for Tampa Bay and I can’t imagine him ending retirement to become a Raider.

Kansas City’s Trent Green could be had, but he makes a lot of money and reportedly is looking at Miami if he is traded.

In other Raider news, Taver Johnson, hired to be assistant defensive line coach by the Raiders last month, has already quit to become cornerbacks coach at Ohio State.

“There may be (problems) coming up to be honest with you,” Johnson told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Coach Kiffin understood. I won’t say he was happy about it, but he really understood. He didn’t kick me out or anything.”

Johnson, 34, is an Ohio native and obviously couldn’t pass up the chance to coach in his home state. He grew up in Cincinnati and played at college football at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio.

He’d been the defensive coordinator at Miami of Ohio when he accepted the Raiders job.

- Jason Jones


March 7, 2007
Newberry's deal

Don't call Jeremy Newberry a thief.

Newberry's one-year contract with the Raiders, which he signed Tuesday, is for $1.5 million in base salary and comes with no bonus money.

That's the way Newberry said he wanted it.

Having missed all of last season following knee surgery, playing in 10 games in 2005 and just one in 2004, Newberry said he wants to earn his salary.

He said he asked his agent to structure the deal around playing time. The more the two-time Pro Bowl center plays, the more he earns.

"I'm in this thing because I feel I can play," Newberry said. "I didn't want to steal money."

The idea of stealing money is one tossed around locker rooms to insult teammates. It's usually aimed at high draft picks living fat off guaranteed money but doing little on the field.

It's also something said to players who have big contracts with large amounts of guaranteed money but don't deliver, or spend more time in the training room than on the field.

Yes, Raiders fans, Larry Brown won a Super Bowl MVP and then robbed the Raiders blind in the '90s.

While Newberry is to be commended for actually wanting to earn his pay, the contract is also a smart one for the Raiders. Should Newberry hold up and regain his Pro Bowl form, he probably will start at center and be paid like a starter with a Pro Bowl pedigree. At his best, Newberry is a punishing blocker who plays with a tenacity that was absent at times among the Raiders' offensive linemen.

Should Newberry end up a backup, he'll be paid like one.

Regardless of his playing time, Newberry could serve as a valuable mentor. The Raiders finished last season having given up an embarrassing 72 sacks. They also were starting two rookies - Paul McQuistan and Kevin Boothe - at left and right guard, respectively.

There's also Robert Gallery, the second overall pick in the 2004 draft who is far from being a franchise left tackle. Gallery and could find himself back at right tackle in favor of Barry Sims, who was moved to left guard afford Gallery the chance to play left tackle.

The Raiders have a hole at right tackle since the Buffalo Bills were in the mood to throw money at offensive linemen and gave former Raiders right tackle Langston Walker a deal reportedly worth $25 million - $10 million guaranteed - over five years.

But in addition to not being a thief, Newberry could prove to be a valuable help to the new coaching staff. He played for new offensive-line coach Tom Cable at Cal, so he can help Boothe and McQuistan understand Cable's goals. Newberry believes his time in the NFL (nine seasons) will help him pass knowledge to some of the Raiders' young linemen.

Aside from maturity, the Raiders also suffered from embarrassing communication problems the offensive line. There were instances of one side of the line blocking a play one way while the other side blocked it another. It's bad enough not knowing which defender to block. Blocking for a play that wasn't even called is inexcusable. Newberry said what Cable and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp - who was the 49ers' offensive coordinator when Newberry was going to Pro Bowls - plan to do should alleviate confusion up front.

"That (confusion) won't happen under this system," Newberry said. "It's a simple system. It's not a whole lot of communication where there's going to be a lot of people talking."

- Jason Jones

March 6, 2007
Moss for Rodgers? Doubt it

Question: Since the Raiders weren't able to pick up Jeff Garcia, should they pursue the rumored deal of Randy Moss for Aaron Rodgers I mean the guy spent a couple seasons under Brett Favre, and picking up Rodgers would allow us to possibly trade down a couple spots in the draft and pick up Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson or Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson.
-- Ron Tolentino, Vacaville

Answer: The Moss for Rodgers deal is nothing more than rumor at this point. The Packers wouldn’t be eager to deal their quarterback of the future. Rodgers is still young (he won’t turn 24 until December of this year) and Favre won’t play forever. Giving him up for Moss, whose best years are behind him, wouldn’t make sense for Green Bay. The Raiders could pursue it, but I doubt they find a taker in Green Bay for such a deal.

There are also rumors the New England Patriots would be interested in Moss. He is due $9.75 million in base salary, so if the Pats were willing to pay that sum or get Moss to agree to a restructured contract, it could happen. But I expect Moss back with the Raiders.

And the problem with trading down in the draft for the Raiders is teams below them can get players they want without making a trade.

Now that running back LaMont Jordan has agreed to take a cut in his signing bonus to stay with the Raiders, it’s clear they won’t be drafting Adrian Peterson. So a team like Cleveland wouldn’t feel the need to trade picks with the Raiders to get Peterson because the Raiders will almost certainly draft a quarterback.

The same would go for a team trading up for Johnson. The Raiders aren’t likely to pick him, so why give up extra draft choices when chances are Johnson will be available at No. 3 or No. 4.

Because Moss isn’t likely to be traded and Jerry Porter and Ronald Curry will be back, drafting a wide receiver wouldn’t make since for the Raiders.
-- 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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