Sunday, September 03, 2006

Up The Middle... With a Right Hook

As noted here by the brilliant mathematician, Statisticus Indulgencles, the key to the Raiders opening day success or failure lies in stopping one thing: LaDainian Tomlinson.

Yes, there is the nubile QB, Phillip Rivers, to consider. The Dischargers are the only team in the league who's roster boasts exactly ZERO QBs with an NFL start. Rumor is the Dischargers even were interested in signing KFC before the Flaming Thumbtacks made that mistake. 'nuff said.

There is the fact the Dischargers are down to rookie Marcus McNeil at Left Tackle (who slipped in the draft because of his rather sloppy footwork and chronic spinal stenosis) to protect Rivers' blind side. But also consider Rivers can always hand off or check down to Tomlinson or All-Pro TE Antonio Gates when the Raiders get in his grill. Worked for young Big Ben and the Squeelers, no?

The truth is, allow LT the second (Lawrence Taylor was the first "LT") to run free as The Autumn Wind - and you lose. Stop LT II the way a van, a bottle, and a tree stopped Dave Dalby - and you win.


Moreover, the ability to stop the run is the lynchpin to winning the West. Give Schottenheimer, Shanahan, and Edwards enough rope, and they will hang the Raiders... again. But tighten the noose on LT II, Larry Johnson, and the Donco flavor-of-the-month RB (about all we know is it won't be Maurice Clarett and probably will be some guy named "Bell") and the West will be ours. Believe it.

As this graphic shows, the Dischargers had the best run defense in the NFL last season, as measured by average rushing yards per game given up (84.3). Who was #2 in the NFL? You guessed it, the Doncos at 85.2 yds/game. Even the Condiment Chefs of KC, with their woeful "D" came in at #7 in the league at stopping the run (98.1).

Where were the Raiders you ask? Try scanning down the list till you reach #25 and 128.1 ypg given up. The words dreadful, awful, and embarssing come to mind.

Rushing yards are very related to a team's W-L record. When a team gets ahead on the scoreboard, it typically plays conservatively and runs the ball down the other team's throat in the second half playing "kill the clock".

When a team gets behind (see Norv Turner as Exhibit A), the running game is abandoned as the ball flies through the air in the second half in an effort to make up the scoring deficit quickly.

This tells us that for all the hype about WRs and QBs, for all the talk Norv did about passing first to set up the run, verily, if you rush the ball successfully and stop the run successfully, everything else is possible. Fail to do so and, well... we are unfortunately familiar with those results.

Question is, what has been done in the offseason to shore up the Raider run defense, which gave up far to many yards past the line of scrimmage last season?

Where have you gone Matt Millen? The Nation turns it's lonely eyes to you:

Where are you to give the *Patsies Cheesewhiz owner, Bob Kraft, a right hook to the noggin for the Snow Job? Where are you to bring the presence of fear to the middle?

You say you currently are in Detroit cutting your first round draft pick WR, Charles Rogers? Never mind, Mr. Millen. We'll have to go with plan B.

Throughout the years, Mr. Allen Davis has looked at the LB spot as plan B. Plan A is focus on collecting the best bump'n'run Corners in the game and find some demon Ends like Howie or Burgess to put the fear into 'em.

But whither the MLB/ILB spot... it seems less of a priority in Oakland than having a Punter who can hit the SuperDome gondola with a ballistic punting exhibition.

Yes, we have memories or Rod Martin taking three picks from Ron Jaworski's pocket and dooming 'em to a life as a broadcaster with a shattered ego. Yes, we have Kick'em In the Head Ted Hendricks in the HOF... but these memories are of OLBs.

Where is our Dick Butkus to slam the ball carrier to the grass like a broken Barbie doll from the Island of Misfit Toys?

Where is our Mike Singletary, his eyes bugging out like Marty Feldman smoking crystal meth, to lead this "D" to dominance?

Where indeed is the MLB - the QB of the "D" - in our Radier history? At the back of the bus.

Danny "Hammerhead" Clark had been leading the team out of the tunnel during the preseason. Alas, like Greg Biekert before 'em, Clark's heart was big enough, but his body just not fast enough to get him there. We remember Clark and wish him well. The Turk got'em. Perhaps the Raiders will resign him after week one to a new contract...

Cutting Clark and adding The Tomases at LB ( Howard and Robert) shows us the Raiders are interested in adding speed to this "D", and rightly so. But are they nasty like Butkus? Are they smart like Singletary?

The Raider depth chart now shows Kirk Morrison as the lone MLB left on the roster. No other position on the roster has no backs up listed. See what I mean about MLB being an afterthought to Al Davis?

Even third string MLB Ryan Riddle, who looked impressive in the HOF game forcing and recovering a fumble and is a good special teamer to boot (an essential quality for a back up), es no mas.

While Capt. Kirk seemingly has inherited the leadership role from Clark and did lead all NFL rookies last year in tackles - Morrison is definitely my favorite player from that draft and an Oakland homer as well - the complete lack of depth at MLB is puzzling to say the least.

Perhaps Michael Huff is going to be the leader of this "D"? After all, Rod Woodson was the Safety who lead the league in INTs as the leader of the Raider "D" during the last SB run.

Whether we hav a Safety or MLB as our defensive QB matters little, but Morrison was just a rookie and Huff is one now. Isn't it a bit much to expect them to lead the charge against LT II, Larry Johnson, and the DumBells running behind the cutblockers?

Art Shell has laid down the law with this team. He recently said "Jerry Porter is a player. We will tell him when he is going to play." Art knows leadership. The question is, which of the players on "D" will step up to the leadership role?

Did you notice there are only four DTs now listed on the roster? Sapp, Kelly, Hawthorne, and Sands. No new bodies were added at DT from '05 and we now are missing big Ted Washington.

Methinks there will be some trouble up the middle in '06 in Oakland, for we have even less players clogging the run than last year's team, which as we all know held up like a cardboard FEMA tarp on a post-Katrina rooftop in New Orleans.

A sticky thanks to Raidinator for polishing up his bike, The Autumn Wind for us.

By the way, Dave Dalby's tragic death did form the impetus for the Silver and Black Fund. This organization's mission is to help raise funds for the medical care of former Raiders, such as Dalby and Tatum, who's significant medical bills are not met by their NFL pensions.

The link for S'n'B Fund is
here so check it out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Stufffff, Stickem. Let's hope the Raiders can stuff the run like you stuff the entertaining analysis. Whether looking for water or wielding a weapon of the pen, keep pointing that stick. Does that Raider Fund take two-party out-of-state checks?

Tenacious P

September 03, 2006 12:56 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

I'm glad that the Tenacious P prodded you into writing this piece. Well done. That bike is sick.

I do think that Kirk Morrison is a major upgrade over Clark. He is faster, is better at diagnosing the play and shedding the initial block. As far as team leaders on D, I would venture to say it will be a 3-headed monster consisting of Morrison, Sapp, and Huff.

This young, aggressive, fast D has plenty of playmakers to make a quantum leap in performance. I will be expecting big plays from Huff, Fabian, Stu, Morrison, Burgess, Johnstone, Sapp, and Howard.

With our current DT depth chart, we will need a HUGE year out of Sands and quality snaps from Hawthorne. I would suspect that the Raiders will pick up a veteran run-stuffing DT off the waiver wire too. The only way to compete in the AFC West is to have a good run defense. Otherwise it will be an uphill battle.

September 03, 2006 7:47 PM  
Blogger Stick'em said...

CJ: My main concern about the DTs is elephants in the mud need rest. Usually there is a rotation of a couple of guys to keep them somewhat fresh for the trenches.

Imagine if Sapp re-injured his shoulder... a rotator cuff tear = no rotation.

On the other hand, I am OK with there being four DEs on the roster. In a pinch, Tommy Kelly can play End, Sam Williams played End at Fresno St., and Grant Irons can play End as well.

But if a DT goes down, who will replace 'em? Hiram Eugene?

Nobody else is wide enough to be stout vs. the run on the current roster.

September 03, 2006 11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Stop LT II the way a van, a bottle, and a tree stopped Dave Dalby - and you win."

this is in pretty bad taste dude...

September 04, 2006 9:12 AM  
Blogger Stick'em said...

Dear Anon 9:12 a.m. ~

If you read the entire article, there is mention of the Silver'n'Black Fund, which helps former players like Dave Dalby who find themselves in financial straits before they reach the tragic end.

Mentioning Dave's name and his unfortunate way out is meant to draw attention to this charity organization, formed by his fellow Raiders.

It is in bad taste to promote a way out for retired players who find themselves in situations similar to Dave Dalby's?

If you say so.

But given the fact Dalby was just given props as the Center of the Greatest Offensive Line in NFL history in the previous stick on this site, Al Davis to Have the Last Laugh , you may want to rethink the knee-jerk response.

Just a suggestion.

Best wishes,

September 04, 2006 4:02 PM  
Blogger Stick'em said...

Faithful reader Jnova asked about the photo of Matt Millen swinging on *Patsies GM Patrick Sullivan.

Here are the details as best I can remember (if you can recall other memories of this event, please feel free to add them in a comment):

On January 3rd, 1986, the *Patriots beat the Raiders 27-20 in a playoff game in LA.

Howie Long - who is from Boston - had said something about the *Patsies during the week leading up to the game. All during the game, the *Pasties owner's son, 33-year-old Patrick, was talking $h!+ to Howie about it in retaliation. Patrick was the *Pats GM at the time, 'cause daddy said so.

Anyways, after the *Pats' "W", the bozo ran up to Howie and kept talking smack as the players were leaving the field...

Matt Millen, tired of hearing from a little punk who could run his mouth only because his daddy owned the team, clocked little Patrick with his helmet.

Some *Pats PR guy named James Greenridge jumped in the middle of it and saved Sullivan from being beat down further.

The incident is famous 'cause it happened in the playoffs so someone filmed it and the NFL reviewed it.

Patrick's dad, owner Billy Sullivan, made 'em sit in the stands (not on the field) from then on, so Pat was like any other spectator as far as his credentials and ability to get on the field. Kinda like making your brat son go sit in the corner, no?

Far as I can remember, Sullivan needed 12 stitches above his eye and wore a bandage at the *Pats next game. I think the NFL came up with a rule in that offseason explicitly stating something about it being illegal to use your helmet as a weapon, but my sticky neurons are a little fuzzy on rules and such.

The *Patsies were demolished in the SB 46-10 by Da Bears.

This is why I say, "Where have you gone, Matt Millen?"

IMO, the current team is devoid of characters in the Matt Millen / Lyle Alzado / Ben Davidson, crazy-as-bat-guano and take-no-cr@p department!

Unfortunately, the Dischargers have such a player in LB Shawne Merriman. The man plays like he is p!$$ed off on every play.

We know where our Joey Porter is...the question is, "Where is our Merriman?"

September 08, 2006 3:39 PM  
Blogger Blaquewraith said...

The disgusting, sick comment about Dave Dalby, 14 yr center for the Raiders, NEVER MISSED ONE GAME!
3 SUPER BOWLS, 1 PRO BOWL, UCLA TOP 100 OF ALL TIME!! This is disgusting and sick, I knew Dave, and the many concussions he endured had everything to do with his death, and aXXholes like you didnt help, may his soul rest in peace, YOU ARE A COWARD!

May 06, 2010 11:20 PM  
Blogger Blaquewraith said...

Stop LT II the way a van, a bottle, and a tree stopped Dave Dalby - and you win."

this is in pretty bad taste dude...

Thats just sickening, take this garbage down and of this alleged fan forum? I know the Dalbys from years before any Raiders games were played, He has kids and family and deserves better than a gross cowardly cheap shot by some never was !YOU SICKEN ME paint it any way you want worm ,if I ever saw you in person Id teach you a lesson in manners!

January 02, 2011 6:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please remove that depraved statement about the ultimate Raider
Dave Dalby, Dave was a ironman!
He was on the line 14 yrs in 3 Super bowls!
UCLA HOF and All American!

It is an injustice he is not in the NFL HOF!
Please remove that terribly cruel statement about our Double D!
\RIP Dave Dalby.

September 01, 2013 7:20 AM  

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