Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

May 27, 2008
Backup plan

"What's wrong with the Raiders?"

You have no idea how many time I'm asked that.

For those that don't believe me when I say the problem starts up top with player personnel decisions, I finally have a public ally not a part of the media.

I caught part of a radio interview with former Raiders receivers coach and Hall of Fame player Fred Biletnikoff on KHTK 1140 (Sacramento) in the car while on the way back from the store.

Biletnikoff said the Raiders simply have played with too many "backups" in the starting lineup.

He should know after having to coach the likes of Alvis Whitted as a starter.

Raiders owner Al Davis has stated the Raiders have the talent to win. But the 19-61 record since the Super Bowl season of 2002 indicates otherwise.

it's not as if teams were fighting to get a hold of former Raiders in recent years. Charles Woodson is doing well. Langston Walker (from what I hear) had a decent season in Buffalo.

But teams weren't lining up to sign Johnnie Morant.

Freddie B is also "sick" of hearing what a great athlete someone is.

That's another flaw of the Raiders personnel department.

The Raiders draft numbers (height, weight, 40 time). The good teams in the NFL (New England, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New York Giants) draft football players.

When asked about former player personnel employee Mike Lombardi, Biletnikoff was blunt:

"If you're not good at what you do you ask other people about players," he said.

Lombardi feuded with Art Shell before being fired last year. Some in the organization felt he received way too much credit for good decisions and not enough blame for bad decisions.

Biletnikoff said the team has made strides to purge the backups from starting roles.

(That means the so-called scholarship players are being removed).

Biletnikoff said the danger is when talent level is low, an organization can "accept mediocrity" based on what it sees good in offseason workouts.

That's definitely happened lately.

So the next time someone brags about all the "talent" the Raiders have had, ask yourself, we're they talented players or just talented backups?

--Jason Jones

About Comments

Reader comments on are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

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.

Raiders stories on

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31