Will Jon Gruden Be Successful In This Stint in Oakland??

It’s a question that begs to be asked seeing Gruden has been away from an NFL sideline since the end of the 2008 season. Most people amid the hoopla of his rehiring in Oakland forget he was let go after a 4 game losing streak knocked his Buccaneer team from the playoffs.

Now it has to be acknowledged Gruden was successful in his 1st tenure in Oakland. The Silver & Black posted a 40-28 record from 1998-2001 where they made the playoffs in the last two seasons. His Raiders built on the momentum of a 41-38 defeat of the Chiefs in an overtime season finale that knocked KC from the playoffs.

Over the next two years he built upon signing veterans who played in the West Coast system in RB Charlie Garner and WR Jerry Rice. Gruden and journeyman QB Rich Gannon had fashioned a short to intermediate passing game which pushed Gannon into the upper echelon of signal callers as the new decade dawned.

Although the Raiders made the postseason for the first time since 1990, then owner Al Davis struggled with Gruden over the offensive philosophy of the team. Davis still wanted the downfield passing approach he had helped pioneer with the Raiders since the 60’s. The problem was he didn’t have “The Greatest Show on Turf” Rams receivers nor Mike Martz passing attack he fancied. Davis watched as over in the NFC the Rams and Vikings 1998-2000 were setting league records throwing it deep and making it to Super Bowls.

Everyone had been telling Davis for years the game had passed him by and his system of football was dead. Yet he kept seeing Tory Holt, Isaac Bruce, and Randy Moss and kept envisioning Cliff Branch going deep and wanted it. So the inner struggle within the organization began.

Another struggle that started to surface in the 2001 season was tension between Gruden and some of his veteran players. His “Chucky” act was seeming to wear thin in a veteran laden locker room. That pushy constant grimmacing play to the camera demeanor and personality was coming off phony. To casual fans it wasn’t but long time football observers knew what they were watching. Go back and check the press clippings as the ’01 Raiders limped to the finish with a 3 game losing streak and lost the chance at homefield advantage as they had in 2000. Their reward?? You guessed it… a fateful trip to snowy Foxboro, Massachusetts. “The Tuck Rule” a playoff loss and Gruden became the first coach in modern history to be traded.

All of this was masked when the Buccaneers went on to win Super Bowl XXXVII. Gruden inherited a defense that turned in one of history’s finest performances allowing just 196 points and scoring 9 defensive touchdowns. With all that accidental scoring Gruden’s 2002 Bucs (346 points) barely outscored Tony Dungy’s 2001 Bucs with 324. They did have better play calls in the playoffs but Tampa had grown up and matured and it was just their time.

Ironically for Gruden’s ego and “Chucky” persona he has struggled with strong personalities over extended periods of time. Once the euphoria of the Super Bowl in Tampa  faded they were a struggling 4-6 team the following season when this happened.

Remember a few other run ins with DE Simeon Rice along with finally deactivating Johnson? Now we fast forward with a Gruden 15 years older and he is going to get along with and manage millenials who have their own voice through social media?? Yeah right. Ask middle management America how that is going all across the country. Its the only reason we saw Gruden release P Marquette King when all accounts considered it a surprising release in the middle of June. Has he met outspoken DE/LB Bruce Irvin yet?? He was the first Seattle defender who openly questioned Pete Carroll’s goal line decision after Super Bowl XLIX.

For all his QB guru persona while on ESPN what is lost is how poorly his quarterbacks performed after Rich Gannon. Brian Griese, Tim Rattay, Chris Simms, Bruce Gradkowski, Luke McCown, then a retread Jeff Garcia and Brad Johnson. Yes he won the Super Bowl with a steady but unspectacular performance not turning the ball over. Yet Johnson was gone within 3 years. Somehow he is thought of as this great QB whisperer. He has one in Derek Carr and hopefully he can help him reach his full potential. Gruden doesn’t do well with young signal callers. Check his record.

Raider fans are praying this is going to work but we’ll see how long this “Chucky” scenario will last. Retread coaches rarely see success in their second tenures to the level of their first stop. Time will tell but The Chancellor of Football doesn’t see it happening.

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The NFL’s New Anthem Policy Is Bullshit

So let me get this straight…. if a player takes a knee during the national anthem his team is assessed a 15 yard penalty before the game even starts?? That is easily the dumbest rule ever passed in the NFL and the owners should be ashamed of themselves.

A sport that has been nearly 70% black since the 1970 merger doesn’t care of the plight of it’s players or what they see in their communities. Nor what they experience. What started out with Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality is growing into a watershed moment that hasn’t come to a head yet. He and his teammate S Eric Reid are both unsigned and taking the NFL to court on collusion charges.

Everyday on social media is another post of law enforcement beating, tasing, killing and outright harassing my people at an alarming rate. These racist gestapo tactics have been known in the black community for years, it’s just being recorded for all of America to see. Yet many in white America want to turn a blind eye and make (the protest) seem disrespectful to our military or to our country and defend law enforcement while hiding behind a veil of white privilege.

Why do they kneel?? Go ask a black friend of their experiences with law enforcement.

When it comes to the law enforcement community it has been overtly racist for years in the difference between how blacks are treated vs white. Ironically every one of the altercations you see daily on Facebook and Twitter are unarmed black men being assaulted by 4 or 5 cops every time. Over a tail light… or leaves on their car window or golfing too slow. Yet not one white armed mass shooter has been taken into custody roughed up. Why not?? You’re judge jury and executioner whenever someone black has a tail light out.

When the officer who shot and killed Philando Castille was acquitted Kaepernick was in the spotlight again on police reform when he tweeted:

harkening back to a not to distant past how law enforcement tactics in the U.S. and their treatment of blacks was borne of the old slave patrols. Yet through the years many law enforcement agents were in the KKK. How do we know this?? Fifty years ago J.B. Stoner, Grand Wizard of the KKK, told Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad cryptically ““In the future we would not wear the white robe, or the white hooded sheets, but we will be in the police department, we will be in politics, we will be in the courts”

In the documentary “OJ Made In America” during the 1st part they offered:

 

In 2006 PBS had a special on the FBI as they warned white supremacists had infiltrated all of local law enforcement. Its purpose is to disrupt investigations against their members and to recruit new members. With all of this going on people still want to turn a blind eye to all these racist tactics that go against the freedom we profess to have in the United States. Well unless if you’re black and want to exercise your 1st amendment right and peacefully protest at the beginning of a football game.

In the future when we look back at these tumultuous times we will remember Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid as heroes. They are having to sacrifice the same as Tommie Smith and John Carlos did after their 1968 Olympic protests. In 1964 when the AFL’s black all stars decided to boycott the game in New Orleans and caused the game to be moved to Jeppeson Stadium in Houston. Forgotten is the fact KC Chief RB Abner Haynes & RB Cookie Gilchrist were blackballed after being traded from their teams in the aftermath. In 50 years….nothing has changed.

Malcolm X once opined “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” Not here at Taylor Blitz Times… never in a million years. All these owners took a weak way out and got Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins to sell out his brothers to try to quell the protest. Its why Reid and several prominent players walked away from the coalition.

The owners decided to offer money to several charities black players cared about as more hush money than anything else. Now they should have stood by their players causes and they didn’t. Just as nefarious as the concussion settlement of $865 million dollars, its a p.r. move as families of former players have had to fight tooth and nail with their claims. Where the owners could have shed their privilege and used their power to influence societal change. They chose to uphold the status quo.

The best thing all black NFL players should do is all protest and take a knee together at the beginning of this next season. To be forced to stand at the National Anthem seems patriotic until you look up and vendors are still selling concessions while it’s being played. Fans are still walking around the mezzanine so it’s never been about patriotism. Its just a white privilege pivot to not pay attention to these racial atrocities taking place on American streets. If this is the land of the free we’ll find that out when Reid and Kaepernick have their day in court.

Until then lets all take a knee in solidarity.

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The 2017 Taylor Blitz Times Offensive MVP: Carson Wentz

As we near the end of another NFL season, it’s time to hand out the accolades for those players who made the season. For the second straight season the best offensive player didn’t finish the regular stanza. Yet Carson Wentz is deserving of this award as he guided the Philadelphia Eagles to the best record and homefield advantage throughout the 2017 NFC playoffs.

The fact the Eagles are in Super Bowl LII with replacement Nick Foles at QB is a testament to Coach Pederson adjusting the gameplan to their strengths.

Keep in mind Wentz had an All Pro season completing 265 of 440 throws for 3,296 yards 33 TDs to just 7 interceptions while losing a star Tackle in Jason Peters and RB Darren Sproles. He breathed confidence in his offense and during his 11-2 record before his injury, the Eagles had scored 404 points or averaging 31.7 ppg. He finished 2nd in the NFL in touchdown passes to Russell Wilson (34-33) even though he missed the last 3 games. Carson was on pace for 40 TDs and had the Iggles doing the “Electric Slide” at the 2 minute warning with games well in hand.

With all eyes on Wentz he came through in big wins against Carolina and a 51 point outburst on Denver and the “No Fly Zone.” He saved the best for last with the grit he showed against the Rams in the showcase game of the season.

On a late season road trip where many NFL observers still questioned the Eagles legitimacy. Rumblings continued after a 24-10 prime time Sunday night loss in Seattle. The high flying offense which scored over 30 points in 6 of their last 7 games looked overwhelmed that night. Now at 10-2 they had to travel to Los Angeles (9-3) to play another rising team in the Rams. The winner of this game would have to be taken serious with homefield advantage looming.

After spotting the Rams an early 7-0 lead, Wentz took control tossing 3 TDs on 3 straight possessions taking a 24-10 halftime lead.  Wentz injured his knee late in the 3rd quarter when he was sandwiched near the goal line trying to score. Although he tore ligaments in his knee he stayed on the field to throw his 4th TD before giving way to Nick Foles. Carson would finish 23 of 41 for 291 yards 4 TDs out-dueling fellow 2nd year QB Jared Goff in a 43-35 win.

That win helped cement the Eagles belief they could finish off the Rams who rallied furiously in that game. That inspired belief carried the team through the doubters now circling to say the team would lose in the postseason without him. This is what makes an MVP in our eyes and now this team is playing in Super Bowl LII.

Tomorrow the Eagles would have a better chance to win with Wentz on the field, however they wouldn’t have made it there without him. Fly Eagles Fly!

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2017 NFC Predictions

Well its that time of year again where we have to gaze into the crystal ball and see who will make it to this year’s Super Bowl in Minneapolis. A big swing to the NFC pendulum has to do with the pending suspension of Ezekiel Elliott. Will it happen?? When will it begin??

One of the biggest issues with the free agency era in the NFL are how flawed all the teams are. Even at the top every team has a hole they need to fill. Several teams have defenses and running games and struggle at the QB position. Others are centered on $100 million quarterbacks with a good set of receivers, yet have a send in the clowns defense and can’t run for 50 yards as a team on a consistent basis.

This leads to the b.s. misnomer “its a quarterback driven league.” No it is not… the model that has proven to get to the Super Bowl in the last 10 years has been to have a young QB on his 1st contract, a solid running game and above average defense. Even the Super Bowl L champion Broncos won it with running and defense and carried a fading Peyton Manning. I know… wrong conference but you get the gist…. yet I digress

2017 NFC Predictions:

NFC East Champs: New York Giants 12-4*

NFC South Champs: Tampa Bay Bucs 11-5

NFC North Champs: Green Bay Packers 10-6

NFC West Champs: Seattle Seahawks 10-6

Wildcards: Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings

NFC Champions: New York Giants

Most are going to bristle at the choice of the New York Giants but you watched them lose to Dallas with no Odell Beckham. The Giants know they have to work Brandon Marshall into the game and find a running back. New York has two things working for them. They have time and they may field the NFL’s #1 defense.

New York will field the best defense in 2017 barring injuries.

As The Chancellor foretold in the 2017 NFC East Preview: Do you realize the Giants are returning with last year’s 10th ranked defense, which held Dallas to 26 combined points, sweeping them in 2016?? Even though the Giants were 29th in offensive time of possession they were the NFL’s #3 defense against the run. Then they nabbed DT Dalvin Tomlinson in the 2nd round out of Alabama. This was a Giants strength not a statistic manipulated by scheme.

A lot of new energy will come from the NFC South with Cam Newton and the Panthers finding their 2015 rhythm on offense with super rookie Christian McCaffrey providing mismatches against defenses. Tampa Bay will make a move with Jameis Winston, a bounce back year from Doug Martin, and a boost from the NFL’s best 1-2 punch at linebacker with Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David. Tampa might be a year away but each team will overtake the defending NFC Champion Falcons who will stagger through 2017.

Atlanta will be a case study as they decompress from the greatest collapse in Super Bowl history. Their battle in 2017 will be psychological.

The same can be said of the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers. As 2016 ended, we knew the weaknesses of both teams and neither addressed them in the offseason. Trying to recreate Marshawn Lynch with overweight Eddie Lacy is a complete mirage. The Seahawks still have a suspect offensive line that suffered a season ending injury to LT George Fant. They are right back to where they were… running by committee, Russell Wilson running for his life and depending upon a good no longer great defense. They’ll win 10 and lose early in the playoffs.

The Green Bay Packers have wasted the prime of Aaron Rodgers by not drafting or acquiring a sturdy dependable back. Or are they believing the mantra about a quarterback driven league?? Here we are in a new year and displaced WR Ty Montgomery is still running the football. Relying on gimmicks and Rodgers to scramble and make plays to save this team is a recipe for playoff flame-out again. They will beat the Detroits, the Chicagos, the Washingtons and NFL bottom feeders. They will be exposed against solid defenses in big games on the road by the divisional round of the playoffs.

Here at Taylor Blitz Times its about defense 1st however you have to bring some offensive continuity. Teams will shift their secondary attention to Beckham and open up the field for Eli and newly acquired wideout Brandon Marshall. New York’s “D” will keep them in games until they figure it out. Once the Giants get Beckham back and either acquire Adrian Peterson or develop their running game, it will be the Giants representing the NFC in Super Bowl LII.

Funny thing about football is all the misnomers most national pundits push through their agendas, they completely misinform the masses. So if it’s a passing league then answer this question: Which Super Bowl winning QB had the most passing yards in the season they won it all?? Try Eli Manning with 4,933 when he won Super Bowl XLVI with the league’s 27th best defense. 

What will he do with one of the league’s best??

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2017 AFC Predictions

Well we’re off and another NFL season is under way where we have to place predictions and previews into what Taylor Blitz Times crystal ball offers. For the most part the 2017 season has shaped up based upon watching players grow into their roles and there are a few draft picks that will make an impact.

As the season concluded last February, the world was treated to the 1st overtime in Super Bowl history. However it placed salve over an open wound as the Raiders had to enter the playoffs without Derek Carr, and the Titans losing their last 3 without Marcus Mariota. It gave a feeling of inevitability to the Steelers and Patriots meeting for the right to go to Super Bowl LI.

2017 AFC Predictions:

AFC East Champs: New England Patriots 12-4**

AFC West Champs: Oakland Raiders 12-4

AFC North Champs: Pittsburgh Steelers 11-5

AFC South Champs: Houston Texans 9-7

Widcards: Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens

AFC Champions: The Oakland Raiders

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One of the biggest acquisitions this year was the signing of Marshawn Lynch to ignite the offense and bring toughness to the team. His punishing running style and spirit will merge with reigning TBT Offensive Player of the Year David Carr to carry the Raiders through the west and beyond. Last year the Raiders were 6-1 on the road with David Carr with 4th quarter comebacks in 4 of those games. Had Carr been healthy for the playoffs they could have won in New England.

 

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2017 NFC East Previews & Predictions

Last year was unprecedented in NFL annals. Never before had we witnessed a team with a rookie QB (Dak Prescott) and a rookie RB (Ezekiel Elliot) lead a team to their division title. Elliot became the 1st rookie rushing champion (1,631 yds) since Edgerrin James in 1999. The Cowboys surprised many with a 13-3 record and a 1st round bye. The question is can the Cowboys repeat that performance now they have lost 2 members off The Great Wall II??

Keep in mind last year was the second time this line paved the way for the NFL’s rushing champion in the last 3 years. The last time The Chancellor can remember that happening dates back to the late 80’s with the LA Rams with Eric Dickerson and Charles White. That was so long ago the Rams left Anaheim, spent a generation in St Louis, and now returned to LA. RT Doug Free retired and LG Ron Leary signed with Denver.

With All Pro LT Tyron Smith an immovable object teams may flip their speed rushers against the Cowboys to go against La’el Collins. He’s taking over for Doug Free and is learning on the fly how to be an NFL tackle. Look for combo blitzes to the right probing for weakness in Collins. Also to see if a strong rush in Prescott’s face will cause him to pull the ball down disrupting the rhythm of their passing game.

Unlike any other unit in football, the offensive line has to learn to play together. Hence every unit practices their timing and explosion off the ball blocking on a 7 man sled. This could be a significant blow to Dallas offensive timing.

2017 NFC East Predictions

New York Giants 12-4**

Philadelphia Eagles 10-6

Dallas Cowboys 7-9

Washington Redskins 4-12

Do you realize the Giants are returning with last year’s 10th ranked defense, which held Dallas to 26 combined points, sweeping them in 2016?? Even though the Giants were 29th in offensive time of possession they were the NFL’s #3 defense against the run. Then they nabbed DT Dalvin Tomlinson in the 2nd round out of Alabama. This was a Giants strength not a statistic manipulated by scheme.

Casillas should be even better in his 2nd year in New York.

If they can get a stronger push inside, Olivier Vernon (8.5 sacks) and Jason Pierre Paul (7 sacks) should thrive crashing the pass pocket. This plays hand in hand with the Giants ability to cover with CBs Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple, and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie. New York could field a lethal defense in 2017.

Did you know the Illadelphia Iggles were in every game last year?? Of their 9 losses, 7 of those were decided by a touchdown or less.. including two 1 point losses. What about their 6-2 home record and 1-7 record on the road?? With so much attention on the Cowboys and Giants last year, this is a team waiting to surprise with a little improvement.

The Eagles gambled in letting go of DE Conner Barwin and selecting Derek Barnett out of Tennessee in the 1st round. They needed to make a move to add pop to the defense instead of just a steady unspectacular roster.What they lose in experience they gain in explosion. In fact the Iggles spent the 1st 3 draft picks to improve a defense that ranked 13th last year. Although they have to hold their breath that both rookie CBs Sidney Jones (2nd / Washington) and Rasul Douglas (3rd / West Virginia) have to fill the void of last year’s starters being let go.

Wentz looks like the real deal and will have a breakout 2017.

If Carson Wentz can develop into the QB this pundit believes he can, he will take a step up here in year 2. The signing of wideout Alshon Jeffrey gives him the big intermediate target to move the chains. Lagarrette Blount was supposed to come in and lend power between the tackles. However he may lose out to Wendell Smallwood as the starting RB and Darren Sproles is still a weapon on 3rd downs. The Eagles are steady and will win very boring grind it out games this season… TBT thinks 10 boring games at the most.

Which brings us back to Dallas where the unfair suspension of Elliott still stands at 6 games. What many Cowboy fans are forgetting is if this suspension stands he cannot be at practice or attend any meetings for over a month and a half. That is a bad combination when you’re missing 40% of last year’s line and your touches are limited in the preseason. He may not get in synch with the OLine until the last few games of the season.

Dallas is still rebuilding a defense which ranked in the middle of the pack at 14th and rookie DE Taco Charlton has flashed brilliantly this preseason. LB Jaylon Smith looks like he has fully healed from his gruesome knee injury. We’ve only seen Smith sparingly but he looks as explosive as he was with the Fighting Irish.

Right now Dallas just needs progress out of a completely revamped secondary. Too many questions to bank on this year. Coupled with the Elliot suspension and the additional pressure on being “the hunted” the Cowboys will lose more than double the games they did last year. It will be interesting to see how Dak Prescott fares now that defensive coordinators have a year of game film on him. What happens if he doesn’t have the NFL’s best running game to lean on this year?? It’s 2018 where this Super Bowl plan will have to manifest itself.

Right now the Washington Redskins are in disarray. How do you have Kirk Cousins complete 68% of his passes for 9,083 yards and 54 touchdowns in the last 2 seasons and let all his receivers go?? Not signing him to a long term deal then allowing 2 – 1,000 yd receivers in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon go. By setting him up to prove himself again after jettisoning off his weapons, you set yourself up to fail and i cant see where Washington is going.

Which brings us back to the Giants from Gotham City. They are easily the most intact and proven defense in the division and Eli Manning is due for a bounce back year. The acquisition of veteran wideout Brandon Marshall, a veteran starving for a title in the twilight of his career, could be the grounding that diva Odell Beckham needs as the playoffs near. With 101 receptions 1367 yards and 10 TDs, Beckham is still the dynamic playmaker for this team, he needs to grow up and make the game the focus come January and not his antics.

Aside from veterans in Beckham’s ear  what is forgotten is Eli Manning is now the grizzled veteran QB in the NFC East. He has weapons and a defense that will keep him in close games all year where Eli can win them in the end. Keep in mind Manning has thrown for the most yards (4,933 yards) and had the lowest ranked defense (27th) when he won his last Super Bowl. This year he might have the NFL’s best defense and if he improves on his 4,027 yards 26Tds and 16 interceptions of a year ago, a Super Bowl trip to Minnesota could be in the making. Now many writers and pundits have come to this blog for years and we have told you several times about Eli. Just remember…The Chancellor kept telling you he would get a 3rd Super Bowl and this looks like the year.

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