Friday, February 10, 2006

The "Jokeland" Raiders and Fantasy Baseball's 3rd Baseman

The next installment of this series, Fantasy Baseball's 3rd Baseman, will post by Saturday evening. As you can see by the first article, much research and time go into my reviews... I want them to be both complete and as accurate as possible.

If the articles aren't good... you have no reason to return to my Blog. So, see where I'm going with this? So, please check back for what's shaping up to be a very good piece!

As for the Raiders... poor Uncle Al Davis. Gazing at a hostile Football world from behind his circa '70s "Librarian Glasses," what DOES Davis see? The longtime Football owner has always been known for his fickle nature and quick trigger finger. Over his reign of mediocrity, how many coaches have stepped into Davis's office only to find a plastic tarp beneath their feet? The interesting thing is that the Raider team is not without talent, and Davis is a more moderate version of Redskin owner Daniel Snyder- he'll throw big bucks at free agents in order to secure their services. Many times, however, those free agents are well over the hill, and the mix of youngsters and veteran players has been a volatile one.
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer DT Warren Sapp may be the posterboy for everything that is wrong with "Jokeland." Lured to Cali' in '04 by the smell of big bucks, an already aging and slow Sapp was immediately annointed "savior of the pass rush" and inserted into the Raider line. But here's the rub; the staff expected Sapp to play a 3-4 scheme, one in which he'd be expected to beat double-teams on an every play basis. The veteran Tackle who'd both thrived and become accustomed to a 4-3 alignment floundered, recording a career low 2 1/2 Sacks with 30 tackles. Frustrated by the team's inability or refusal to recognize the ill-fit, Sapp became very vocal in his criticism. Ultimately the team made the move to the 4-3 and Sapp was on his way to his best season since '02, where he notched 40 tackles, 7 Sacks, and 2 INTs. The 7-time Pro Bowl and '99 "Defensive Player of the Year" Tackle was unable to shed blockers and play effectively with a torn rotator cuff, and was on IR by Week 11.

And encapsulated within Sapp's Raider career lies the reasoning for Oakland's wrack and ruin; slow to change, reluctant to evolve, and quick to pay HUGE money to players who are eager to collect, disinterested in performing for one reason or another and are past their primes... the Oakland Raiders are a mess. What coach in his right mind would want to try and exert authority over the NFL's answer to the "Island of Misfit Toys?" For cryin' out loud, reports are that University of Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino turned down a 3 year MULTI-million bean' deal, and SuperBowl winning Steeler Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt also demurred. Oh yes, for the 3rd time! Can you imagine, this guy's been offered the Raider gig 3 times... and has preferred to remain a coordinator?

It's my humble but somewhat informed opinion that Al Davis and the Raiders will return to a well they drunk from once before; to a coach Davis has long regretted firing.
Look for Art Shell to again pace the Raider sidelines next season. A proven coaching commodity and "player's coach," it would also prove to be a P.R coup to hire a minority coach.
If Uncle Al is as smart as he thinks he is... then this would be a master-stroke hiring.

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