Raiders have ‘em right where they want ‘em

Oakland Raiders see opportunity to get back in AFC West race

“What I wanted our guys to understand is that even though we haven’t started the way we wanted to, that everything we set out at the beginning of the year is still right in front of us,’’ Allen said. “Sometimes when you start off 1-4, you feel like things are lost, and that’s not necessarily the case.’’ The Denver Broncos started 1-4 last season, with Allen as defensive coordinator, and ended up winning the AFC West on the final weekend of the season with an 8-8 record.

Strong side linebacker Philip Wheeler said: “He might have thought that we were down and saying we’re out of it, but we’re not out of it. We’re not out of anything. We can still make our own destiny.’‘

The one problem?  The Raiders don't have Tim Tebow to run the veer option, and for as good as Sebastian Janikowski has been over the years, he's no Matt Prater.   

With all due respect to Dennis Allen, the Raiders will be lucky to win seven games.

Who cares what athletes put in their bodies?

Happy endings rare in sports

Do you think anyone cares what Kobe Bryant does to get his knees ready for an 82-game NBA season? You think David Stern and the league’s television partners care? The same could be said of Peyton Manning’s neck and Ray Lewis’ triceps.

I hope Kobe plays forever (as long as he’s never perceived as a better player than Magic Johnson). Kobe is entertaining, compelling and fun to analyze. So are Manning, Lewis and A-Rod. My position on PEDs has been pretty consistent for quite some time. Athletes are entertainers, the same as musicians. I don’t much care what drugs Led Zeppelin, Guns N Roses or Marvin Gaye used to make good music. I don’t care what athletes do to take the field.

Although it's a minority position to take in American sports, I agree with Whitlock on this one.  I don't care what athletes put in their bodies as long as they know the associated risks; further, he's right to call football entertainment.  It may be more enduring than hot-oil wrestling (although I know where I'd rather be during a 4th-quarter blowout), and Roger Goodell would have you believe it's as American as the Boy Scouts, apple pie, and a Tim Tebow speaking engagement (that will be $30,000, thanks), but at the end of the day, it's just another way to occupy your leisure time--you know, like composing showtunes, masturbation, or watching reality TV.  As long as you are consuming something, you contribute to a Keynesian multiplier

Now, fire up that plasma TV and drink something that has caffeine or alcohol (preferably both)--two substances the NFL hasn't banned.   

Tebowing™ Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! We already noted yesterday that San Diego's head PR guy had waved his finger at naysaying Chargers fans, but Bill Johnston's words are so ridiculous that we must post a selection of them here:

Listening to some of you out there, you’d think Monday night was “win or go home” and the Chargers are now packing their bags.

Sometimes I think Twitter was invented to give people a chance to puff out their chests and talk big, saying things they never would say to someone’s face.

And talk radio … don’t get me started. The old adage your mom used to preach – “If you don’t have anything good say, don’t say anything” – seems to have evolved to “if you don’t have anything good to say, call sports talk radio.”

Time to take a chill pill.

If you want these players and coaches to succeed, then support them.  Don’t tear them down.  What you want and what we all want, including your team, is to know people believe in them. 

And to think, Bolts fans haven't even resorted to billboards and airplane-flown banners. Yet.

Perhaps Johnston can dial up his buddy Jim Saccomano for some advice in how to better handle criticism. Or not.

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The Ultimate Post-Game Coaching Exchange

The post-game handshake always gets a lot of attention, whether it's Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini, Josh McDaniels and Todd Haley, or more recently, Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz.  But if you'd like to see the mother of all meltdowns, check out how Wyoming coach Dave Christensen treated Air Force coach Troy Calhoun after Air Force's comeback victory last week:

The irony? It was "Military Appreciation Day" for Wyoming.   Somewhere, right now, Mitch Unrein has a sad face.

Taking up for the “game manager” Alex Smith (again)

Happy Friday, friends.  For years, even when it seemed like I was the only guy out in the wilderness, I’ve maintained that Alex Smith can play QB well enough to win a Super Bowl.

The last two seasons, as he’s had some consistency in coaching for the first time in his career, he’s looked a lot like I was right.  Now, all of a sudden, after his only bad game in two seasons last week, and one ill-advised throw last night, people are starting to say it’s time to dump him in favor of Colin Kaepernick.

It’s a bye week for the Broncos, so I just decided to run with this topic, because I think it’s absurd.  If you watched the game between Seattle and San Francisco last night, I’d question your grasp on reality if your takeaway was that Smith struggled.  If you didn’t see the game, and you just looked at the numbers- sure, they’re pretty average looking.

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Are the Broncos in the market for a defensive tackle?

Seahawks, 49ers must improve pass attacks; NFL-wide thoughts

7) The Denver Broncos really needs another defensive tackle, and they seem like a team that might be aggressive near the trading deadline, possibly one willing to give away a 2013 draft pick for a player who can solidify the middle of the defense. The potential trade partner would have to be a team out of postseason contention with a free agent-to-be. Would Sedrick Ellis of the New Orleans Saints qualify? Only if the Saints keep losing. How about Glenn Dorsey of the Kansas City Chiefs? Only if the Chiefs are not planning on bringing him back. With the deadline extended this season to the Tuesday after Week 8, these potential scenarios will get interesting.

What to make of Lombardi's comments?  Lombardi is likely speculating on the actual names; it's unlikely the Broncos would allow those details to get out on the street.  But there's probalby a kernel of truth to the idea the Broncos want to get stronger up the middle.  It's not as if the idea would shock anyone.  Even the most casual of fans have been advocating this strategy for the last five drafts.  Selecting Derek Wolfe was just a drop in the bucket.  

San Diego columnist: TYJE Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Unsurprisingly, San Francisco and Seattle waged quite the defensive battle last night.

The Niners emerged from the run-heavy physical matchup with a 13-7 victory which put them atop the surprisingly strong NFCW with a 5-2 record. The division, for many recent years the worst in the league, is currently the only one sporting four teams at or above .500, and no other division has three teams with winning records.

A pair of late decisions by San Francisco raised eyebrows: first, they ran the tentative Alex Smith on a draw while facing a 3rd-and-7 at the Seattle 13-yard line, which for some evinced a lack of confidence in the QB. The play gained just three yards, and the Niners kicked a short FG to extend their lead to 13-6.

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Open Thread: TNF Week 7 - Seahawks @ 49ers

Doug FarrarBucky BrooksGordon McGuinness, Benjamin Hoffman, Joe Fortenbaugh, and Dan Arkush preview the game, plus some notes on the matchup; Bill Simmons expects Seattle to win outright despite being seven-point dogs.

Mike Tanier analyzes the pistol formations Jim Harbaugh is utilizing with Colin Kaepernick but doesn't expect the Niners to transition from Alex Smith to their second-year QB. But Jason Cole thinks they should, and soon.

Enjoy the game!

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Can we please just let Peyton be Peyton?

Denver Dips Into the Old Colts Playbook for Some Vintage Peyton

At times this season it’s been clear that Denver head coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy have been more focused on fitting Manning into their offense, with mixed results. Some of this has been because of Manning’s need to learn Denver’s terminology, while the rest of it has just been finding the right blend for the entire team. What we saw in the second half is something we’ve seen all year, namely the Broncos dipping into Manning’s old Colts playbook for plays he’s most comfortable with, and then succeeding with them.

During our in-game chats, I'm the all-caps guy pounding THROW THE BALL into my keyboard; Monday was no different. But I don't (usually) mean it literally.

Rather, run the ball when Peyton sees fit  - based upon box count - and not because Mike McCoy wants to script a three-TE set into the opening series. We've been over it again and again - left in Peyton's hands, he's going to run the ball plenty - when the situation and defensive personnel/formation dictate it.

But leave him be with his no-huddle, stay-on-the-field 11 personnel; it worked more than fine in Indy for thirteen years. Sure, McCoy and Fox probably think they have some great new-fangled scheme that combines their own playbook with that of Indy's, and maybe they're right. But the time to mess around is when you're up by twenty or thirty - not on the way to a weekly twenty-point second-half deficit.

Not to pile on Joe Mays, but…

Snapshot: Run Stop Percentage, Linebackers

Touted as a Secret Superstar before last season, Joe Mays made us look like geniuses in 2011 with his superb play in limited snaps. However, 2012 has been a little more rocky. Mays has taken on more snaps in the Broncos’ defense and with that change he has been making fewer plays in the running game. Mays was tied with Bowman for the league lead in Run Stop Percentage in 2011 and his 46 stops were third among all linebackers. This year he has six stops, the worst Run Stop Percentage among qualifying middle linebackers, and an amazingly low nine solo tackles against the run. With the success he has had in the past, one can only expect Mays’ stats to get better as the season goes on.

He's not a candidate to move into the middle, and he does have two missed tackles (which is a lot), but interesting to see Wesley Woodyard among the leaders in RSP (eighth-best, at 13.5%). Also, as much as we've been pointing out the successes of Vontaze Burfict in Cincy, we'd be remiss to ignore his presence on the list of players with the worst RSP.

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