Thank the Lord this long, dreadful season is now, finally over. There were struggles, miscommunications and negative energy shown throughout the year. This season there were games played we should have won, rich players that were caught underperforming and a plan of attack implemented that NO one bought into from day 1 (just to names a few issues).
I'll be happy to forget this season as quickly as I remembered killing small, innocent Jedi!
Time and time again, I mentioned that Greg Knapp was not the answer. It was apparent after seeing his Zone blocking scheme fail for so many games. You would think after a few games, the team would give up the running philosophy with so many negative comments but no, the coaching staff had to be stubborn.
Thankfully, someone upstairs finally listened. Coach Knapp was let go only hours after Sunday's game. Execute Order 66, indeed! The only issue with the firing is knowing that the team will have to adjust to a new Offense in a short time. Al Saunders seems to be capable and has a %50 percent chance of being put back in his old position, but I fear that players might not respond properly if they don't like what they see quickly. The players seem to lose patience very quickly these days. Time will only tell if we pick the right guy for the job. I just hope he doesn't bark the "Z" word around these part after he is hired.
After the coaching vacancies are addressed, it is then time to let go of the players that are overpaid, readjust salaries and finally, target in on key players needed to fill spots out of the 2013 NFL Draft. We seem to need a few players in several areas, but I will simply mention the NFL draft prospects that are recently getting noticed by writers throughout the Nation:
Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M Joeckel has demonstrated the combination of size and athleticism in starting the past three seasons at the all-important left tackle position that he could ultimately be a No. 1 overall selection in the NFL Draft. Joeckel (pronounced JOKE-ell) was a highly regarded prep prospect who signed with the Aggies over the likes of Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma and many others. The Arlington, Texas native as a consensus All-American as a high school senior. He won the starting left tackle position as a true freshman and has started ever since, earning a spot on the Big 12's All-Freshman team in 2010 and First Team honors by the Associated Press in 2011 (coaches voted him to the second team). He continued his rapid development as a junior, becoming the fourth SEC player in the past six years to win the Outland Trophy. He also earned the prestigious Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which is given annually to the top blocker in the SEC, as well as the Atlantic Coast Conference, the South Atlantic Conference and the South Conference. Joeckel's ironclad blocking on the blind side was instrumental in quarterback Johnny Manziel winning the Heisman Trophy as a freshman.
Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame 2012 FBS ALL-INDEPENDENT FIRST TEAM: LB Manti Te'o (Sr.), Notre Dame, has been selected First Team All-Independent for the 2012 college football season by members of a nationwide media panel, which includes equal representation from each of the independent institutions' coverage markets. Te'o, a Notre Dame team captain, has been the leader of an Irish defense that ranks first nationally in scoring defense, only allowing 10.3 points per game. The senior has 103 tackles and seven interceptions. Te'o has registered three-straight 100-plus tackle seasons and ranks third in Notre Dame history for career tackles at 427. His seven interceptions are tied for third in the Football Bowl Subdivision and leads all FBS linebackers.
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah Rarely does a player come along who so thoroughly dominates his competition that he generates buzz across the entire nation despite posting only average statistics and playing in a relatively small media market. That is precisely what 6-3, 318-pound defensive tackle Star Lotulelei accomplished for Utah. Recognized by Pac-12 offensive linemen as the best defensive lineman in the conference with the Morris Trophy in 2011, Lotulelei posted 44 tackles, nine tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks despite facing consistent double- and even occasional triple-team blocks in 2011. He battled through the same level of attention from defensive coordinators in 2012, and still earned his second selection to the All-Pac-12 first team. He finished the regular season with a team-high 11 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks to go along with four pass breakups, four fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles. Lotulelei, who was born in Tonga, is married with a daughter. He prepped at Bingham High School in South Jordan, where he was part of a state championship team. He then spent two years at Snow College, racking up 52 tackles, 14 for losses, three sacks and a forced fumble in 2008. He attended Snow again in 2009, but did not play football before transferring to Utah.
I'm sure there will be many more names thrown into the hat in the near future, but I thought I'd list the cream of the crop first before others had a crack. I can't wait to see what lies ahead in the 2013 NFL combine!
From NFL.com game summary:
The Raiders finished 4-12. Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor made his first career start, in place of injured Carson Palmer. Pryor threw his first career touchdown pass, a 9-yarder toDarrius Heyward-Bey early in the second quarter, and scored on a 3-yard run midway through the fourth quarter to pull the Raiders to 24-14. The Chargers almost blew this one. The Raiders blocked a punt by Mike Scifres, setting up Pryor's 5-yard TD pass to Denarius Moore with 1:52 left. The Raiders tried an onside kick but Spurlock recovered. "Just when I saw that punt blocked I was like, 'Geez, we're going to win this game. As ugly as it was on offense, we're going to win this game,' " Pryor said. "It didn't turn out that way. I just commend everybody for not stopping. Just keep going." Coach Dennis Allen said the TD pass to Moore "was a heck of a football play. With Terrelle, like any young quarterback, you take a little bit of the good with the bad but overall I thought, not bad." Spurlock took the opening kickoff and ran up the middle of the field before cutting over to the right sideline to give the Chargers a lead they wouldn't give up. He became the first Chargers player to have a kickoff and punt return for touchdowns in consecutive weeks. He returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown a week earlier in a victory against the New York Jets. Pryor's TD pass came two plays after Spikes and Goodson were ejected. Spikes and Goodson were flagged for personal fouls and ejected. Spikes had to be restrained by field judge Scott Edwards from going after referee John Parry.Goodson was blocking Spikes when the two locked up on a pass play in the second quarter. They remained locked up after the play ended and a larger scrum broke out. As he was leaving the field, Spikes took off his helmet and flung it. Teammate Melvin Ingram caught it. Backup tight end Randy McMichael walked Spikes off the field and the two hugged before Spikes disappeared up the tunnel. Parry said the two players were ejected because they kept pulling at each other's facemasks after the referees tried to separate them. After Oakland scored, San Diego took the ensuing kickoff and went on a long drive that resulted in Rivers' 11-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates for a 17-7 lead with 2:48 left before halftime. Pryor made some big mistakes. With Sebastian Janikowski warming up on the sideline for a possible field goal attempt in the final seconds of the first half, Pryor scrambled but didn't get out of bounds and the clock ran out. Early in the third quarter, Pryor got too much air under a pass and was picked off in the end zone by Quentin Jammer. Rivers also threw a 34-yard scoring pass to Danario Alexander. Rivers completed 13 of 17 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns. Pryor was 13 of 28 for 150 yards, with two TDs and one interception. Raiders DE Lamarr Houston had nine tackles and four assists, plus 1.5 sacks and two QB hits. He also was whistled twice for offsides. ... The Chargers had 210 yards in offense. The Raiders had 265.
To read the entire game Summary, click here: http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2012123013/2012/REG17/raiders@chargers#menu=highlights&tab=recap&analyze=boxscore&recap=fullstory
Alright Raider Nation! It's been a difficult, tough and long year with a Rookie Owner, Rookie GM and Rookie Coach, but everything happens for a damn good reason! If we have to build starting with a high draft pick? So be it! Never underestimate the Force! I'm sure all of the powers that be will make good decisions, better judgements and bring in improved players in the days that lie ahead. I was a pleasure to writing for all of you this year! I'll see all of you next year on "The Dark Side"! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! RAIDERS FIOR LIFE!!!!!!!!!! -DARTH RAIDER