Thoughts From the Dark Side celebrates 3rd anniversary

Back in March of 2005, back before MVN even covered all sports, I began writing Thoughts from the Dark Side about the Oakland Raiders for MVN. How time has flown. Since MVN started, the Raiders have had three Head Coaches, seven quarterbacks, and only 10 wins. OUCH. When I started writing this site, the Nation was abuzz with the notion that Kerry Collins throwing to Randy Moss, Jerry Porter, and Ronald Curry with LaMont Jordan toting the rock was going to lead the Raiders back to glory. OOPS! The unheralded acquisition that year was Derrick Burgess who would go on to two Pro Bowls and become a leader of the defense.

 

Since then, Thoughts from the Dark Side has grown to be one of the most popular pages on MVN. I would like to thank each and every one of you who read and comment on this site for your support. I would like to thank Raider X and L Dizzle who make great contributions to the site. As we enter the third year, I would like to welcome our newest addition Rob Calonge.

To commemorate our third anniversary, I am going to share some highlights (and lowlights) from Thoughts from the Dark Side past. (If no link to the original is provided, I got it from archive.org.)

 

2005

9 March 2005

Hi all, I am excited to have this forum with which I can share my thoughts and ideas on my beloved Oakland Raiders. I’ll start my first entry here with a little bit about me.

I am a lifelong Raider fan, growing up in the shadow of the Oakland Colosseum. My dad took me to games back in the day seeing guys like Branch, Upshaw, Plunkett etc. I will admit there was a period of a few seasons after my raiders went on their sojourn to LA that I turned away from the Nation in a temper tantrum, but like the prodigal son, I returned. There is no team as steeped in mystique as the Raiders. Several years after I returned to the fold, my Raiders returned home. I was a happy camper.

I will tell you that being a Raider fan has its own internal trials. The good always some, the bad, happens too often, and the ugly, and well that’s been the story of late. Suffering though the 4-12 and 5-11 disasters that the last two seasons is what separates the wheat from the chaff, the true fans from the bandwagon pretenders that piled up during the “Chuckie” regime. Those who stand with me in still wearing the silver and black with the pride and poise it deserves. I wear my Nap Kauffman jersey that I got at the end of the 98 season with that very pride and poise. Granted, the numbers are faded and I feel like a poseur wearing the gear of a guy that I outweigh by at least a buck and a quarter, but it shows the commitment that I have to my team. One of these days when I get some extra cash, I am gonna get a Gallery jersey. Thats my type a guy, big and scruffy looking.

OK, enough of those random me ruminations, and back to the point. I will be writing my thoughts on the Raiders thought the off season which will go on way too long, cuz I wanna see what #18 (that would be Randy Moss, folks) is going to do on the field, and then on into the season. Neither MVN, nor anyone but me are responsible for my opinions that I will be opining. Feel free to write me, disagree with me, send me hate mail, whatever. I will read it and get back to you, as long as it shows that you expended a smattering of gray matter to create it. If “Raiders suck” or “you are a moron” are the best you can do, save it, because I will just delete them without comment.

OK, now that I have introduced myself, my next post to be posted within a day or two will be on the off season to date. (And we did do a lot more than just acquire Randy Moss.)

YIKES! I sure hope my writing has improved since then. That was my first entry and I sure was excited about that wide receiver who shall now remain nameless. I was also very good at typos back then.

20 December 2005

The time has come to say good bye to the grand failure known as Norv Turner as Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders. The team has fallen to a state beyond abysmal. LaMont Jordan runs for over 130 yards against the BROWNS and we can only manage 7 points. The defense holds the opposition to a grand total of three field goals and we lose. Enough is enough.

Let me say that I am a late comer to the “Fire Norv” bandwagon. For the first half of the season I could see a lot of improvement in the team from last year despite the mounting losses, but I have watched this team disintegrate. I know that it is not all Norv’s fault, there have been a lot of injuries and the offensive line can’t protect a quarterback from a pass rush of Larry Curly and Moe, but enough is enough. Norv lost any support from me with his decision to bench Tui after one game, despite his promise to give him the remaining four games. This is a joke.

Following Norv’s wrongheaded decision to pull Tui after one game, in anger I called for Norv to show that he has dishonoured the Raider Nation by settling it Samurai Style right on the Shield at the 50 yard line. After calming down, I decided that calling for him to commit ritual suicide is too extreme. (A press conference where he resigns for the reason that he has dishonoured the Nation with an offer to Al to commit seppuku, which Al would reject leaving Norv to live in disgrace would be fine by me.)

I believe that the biggest impediment to Norv’s success as the coach of the Raiders other than his own gross incompetence and lack of testicular matter is having Jimmy Raye as the Offensive Coordinator. Norv can take Raye with him when the Nation is cleansed of this cancer masquerading as a Head Coach.

I think that I was a little agitated with Norv that day. OK, OK, that season. I never wanted Norv Turner as head coach of the Raiders, and to this day wonder what Al was thinking on that one. At least with Shell, Al had a reason in that Shell had coached winners in the past.

20 December 05

I feel bad for Kerry Collins, from everything I have read he is a hell of a great guy, and overall I do not think he is a bad quarterback. Collins got a raw deal in Oakland. He was signed to back up Rich Gannon who had become a Raider legend, tho by 2004 when Collins was signed that legend had been tarnished. Gannon was a perfectionist and an extremely accurate passer, something Kerry Collins is not. Collins’s one asset is his strong arm.

Collins had the misfortune of making a very bad first impression by having a horrid first couple of games as a Raider starter. (I still have nightmares about the Texan game that he singlehandedly lost for us last season. 6 turnovers in the second half) Collins did find his stride last year, but the rep as an interception machine had taken hold.

The expectations were raised coming into this year with the acquisition of Randy Moss and the retention of Jerry Porter. Everyone (myself included) had visions of Collins heaving it deep to either of those men with stunning regularity. Collins responded by having pro bowl type numbers for the first quarter of the season. Of course, because the Nation had already taken a dislike to Collins that was not enough. those numbers were not translating into wins. Three tough early losses were enough to sour the Nation on Collins and the season. Collins did not thrown a single pick until the 4th or 5th game, but since Collins could not win for losing he was derided for not having any picks because to certain citizens of the Nation that meant that he was being too Conservative.

As the season progressed, the play of the offensive line regressed taking the play of Collins with it. But by now, the Nation had developed an almost pathological hatred of Kerry Collins. In fact, I think that many citizens of the Nation were blaming for Collins not only for the dismal performance of the offense (which he does deserve a large chunk of the blame for along with the pathetic play of the O-Line and the lackluster coaching of Norv Turner and Jimmy Raye) to the trade imbalance with China and global warming.

Its too bad that it has happened like this, but it has become like a bad marriage, Kerry Collins has to leave the Raiders. At this point he could put up Marino-esque numbers and it would not be good enough. I do think that if he lands in the right situation he can be an effective quarterback, but I do not think that it could happen in Oakland at this time. Oakland needs a new direction and Collins needs a fresh start. Its time for a divorce. It should happen this off season since releasing Collins will free up 10 million in cap space.

Happy trails, Kerry!

Ummmmm….. What was I thinking? I rip Norv multiple new ones, and then play nice with Kery F*n Collins? Actually, what I said made some sense, but KFC needed to go.

2006

Jan 2006 I did a series on the Rise and Fall of the Raiders, which was later reposted.

I interrupted the Rise and Fall series for the following post:

This is a break from my regularly scheduled posting to address the Raider Nation on a growing problem. I will continue with my series shortly.

Don’t Panic is printed in big friendly letters on the cover of that most wholly remarkable book. It is a book that outsells the Encyclopedia Galactica and is considered the standard repository for all information. This book is the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This simple piece of advise needs to be taken by the Raider Nation NOW.

It has been three weeks since the firing of Norv Turner, and there has not been a head coach hired. This is NOT a case for panic. First off, its not like any of the ones who have been hired are earth shaking prospects that we just had to have. There is not one of the recent hirings that have made me step back thinking, damn we really should have hired him. In fact, its been more like damn, I am glad we did not hire him. I don’t think that even the staunchest of cheesehead was ready to jump for joy at the hiring of the architect of the worst offense in the league last year. With the exception of Herm Edwards and Dick Juron (KC and Buffalo respectively), none of the new head coaches this year have any head coaching experience. Some would say that no experience is a positive calling an experienced head coach a retread, but I believe that lessons learned from past experience are often building blocks to a better performance.

The second thing that seems to have everyone panicking is this message that seems to be playing in the media that no one wants to coach under Al Davis. I do not believe this for a moment. There was a big thing about Cam Cameron choosing not to interview for the Raiders job. First off, Cameron likely knew that he had less than a snowball’s chance in hell of being hired, and secondly he is an underling to Marty Shottenheimer who has a pathological hatred of Al and the Raiders. The news of Cameron’s non interview should have elicited no more than a “cool” among Raider fans.

People have been up in arms over Al’s resigning of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, saying that the new head coach should pick his assistants. That may be true, but the defense has made strides under Ryan and the players were rallying around him asking for continuity. That is something that is quite important as well. I am sure that the new head coach will bring several assistants with him, and will appreciate that he has a defensive coordinator who is in the process of improving the defense.

It seems that Ken Whisenhunt is the one that Al is coveting. This would be a very good choice, in my opinion. There seems to be this general fear that somehow the media reports or the long standing rivalry between the Raiders and the Steelers would somehow prevent Whisenhunt from taking the job. This seems to be a panic bordering on extreme paranoia. The story is that Sean Payton turned down the Raider job two years ago, but he was never in fact even offered the job. Mike Martz removed himself from consideration the other day citing that the situation did not feel right to him. I am guessing that the situation didn’t feel right because he knew that Al had someone else in mind.

If Whisenhunt wants to get into the head coaching ranks, he would be a dammed fool to turn this job down to wait for other offers as some seem to be suggesting. Coaching the Raiders is not the kiss of death that some seem to think it is. Madden and Flores had significant success as head coaches of the Oakland Raiders. Mike Shanahan was unceremoniously fired after a season and a half, and it sure did not seem to hurt his career any. Mike White and Joe Bugal are still highly regarded assistant coaches in the league. Norv Turner was hired to be the offensive coordinator of the Forty Niners. The tenure of Jon Gruden in Oakland led to his job at Tampa Bay. I don’t see a pattern here of careers ruined by being a Raider head coach.

There are only 32 head coaching jobs in the NFL, so it is a rather difficult to get job. There were 10 openings this year, and I don’t see nearly that many in the foreseeable future. The ten coaches hired this year will not be fired after one season. That leaves 22 head coaching positions, several of those are entrenched more than a member of the House of Representatives. In fact, lets look at the coaching situation around the league:

The newcomers:

  • Buffalo Bills-Dick Juron
  • New York Jets-Eric Mangini
  • Detroit Lions-Rod Miranelli
  • Minnesota Vikings-Brad Childress
  • Kansas City Chiefs-Herm Edwards
  • Dallas Texans-Gary Kubiak
  • New Orleans Saints-Sean Payton
  • St Louis Rams-Scott Linehan
  • Green Bay Packers-Mike McCarthy
  • Oakland Raiders-??????

The entrenched: (These guys may as well be on the Supreme Court.)

  • Pittsburgh Steelers: Bill Cowher
  • Seattle Seahawks: Mike Holmgren
  • New England Patriots: Bill Bellichek
  • Tennessee Titans: Jeff Fisher (Their dedication to him after last year’s rebuilding year puts him on this list.)
  • Denver Broncos: Mike Shanahan
  • Washington Redskins: Joe Gibbs (unless he retires, he’s there)
  • Philadelphia Eagles: Andy Reid
  • Indianapolis Colts: Tony Dungy
  • Carolina Panthers: John Fox
  • Dallas Cowboys: Bill Parcells (unless he retires, he is there)

Moving up: (These guys will be around after next year barring a MAJOR catastrophe.)

  • Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis
  • Chicago Bears: Lovie Smith
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jon Gruden
  • Atlanta Falcons: Jim Mora, Jr
  • Jacksonville Jaguars: Jack Del Rio
  • New York Giants: Tom Coughlin

Turning it around: (these guys are not untouchable, but are off to very strong starts)

  • San Francisco 49ers: Mike Nolan (his record didn’t show it, but he is getting the players to respond)
  • Miami Dolphins: Nick Saban
  • Cleveland Browns: Romeo Crennel

On the hot seat: (these coaches may be under pressure)

  • San Diego Chargers: Marty Shottenheimer (There were many unhappy with him for missing the playoffs, but I don’t see him getting canned.)
  • Baltimore Ravens: Brian Billick (There have been rumblings about him for a couple of years. IF things don’t turn around this will be a likely opening.)
  • Arizona Cardinals: Dennis Green (There have been rumblings about him this year, but he is trying to turn the Cardinals around and thats not an easy prospect. I see him getting another year with any sign of life.)

Assuming Parcells and Gibbs don’t retire at the end of next year, that leaves one or two likely openings in the coaching department. Neither of those openings look to be friendlier than the Raiders opening. Yes, there is a lot of talk of Davis’s interference, but the Raiders do have a culture of winning and show a desire to get the best players available.

Come on Ken, if Emperor Al calls, feel the power of the Dark Side.

A story on a coaching search? Those have been happening way too often. As we all know, Whizenhunt didn’t get offered the job and Art Shell was brought on board. That didn’t work out so well. Interesting how the coaching carousel works in the NFL.

16 November 2005

Randy Moss of the “I play when I want to play” fame should be ashamed of himself after falling to a new low. when asked about his propensity for dropping easy passes this season Moss said, “Maybe because I’m unhappy, and I’m not too much excited about what’s going on, so my concentration and focus level tends to go down when I’m in a bad mood. So all I can say is, if you put me in a good situation and make me happy, man, you get good results.”

Well, Randy I work at Target and in a year I make less than one tenth of what you make for one game, and I am not allowed to perform below standard just because I am unhappy. With my job I make people happy when I can help them get a hold of the latest Tickle Me Elmo X or Play Station 3, but with your performance you carry the hearts of millions of Raider fans around the world with your every play.

Randy, stop and think of all of those people in the stands who were once proud to wear a black #18 jersey with your name emblazoned on the back. I guarantee that you will not see me in a Moss jersey under any circumstances. I do not rep players who let their team down on a regular basis as you have done to the team that I love.

You are the team captain, which makes you the leader. The best way for one to be a leader is to lead by example. The example that you are setting for your teammates is one of playing half-assed, except when the mood strikes you. As much as I have ripped Tom Walsh on this site, your leadership is bringing the offense down.

Randy, the Raider Nation was ecstatic when you were brought on board. We opened our arms and embraced you as a Raider. You repaid us by lying to us when you said “I am committed to excellence.” You are not. If you were committed to excellence you would be holding onto the damn ball. Your coaches, Art Shell and Freddie Belitnikoff know what it means to be committed to excellence and have the Super Bowl rings to prove it. You are committed to Randy Moss and nothing more. Be glad that you are not playing with the likes of Jack Tatum, Ted Hendricks or Howie Long because they would let their displeasure known at having a primadona masquerading as a Raider.

I understand that the situation is not the best, the Raiders are in a rebuilding mode and have an offensive coordinator in need of recto-cranial separation surgery, but had you put forth more effort and made the easy catches the win loss record would be better. You should take a lesson in commitment to excellence from the guys who are on the other side of the ball. They are going all out every single play and it shows in their rankings despite having very little help from your unit.

Randy, I have defended you in this space and in my postings on www.raiderfans.net, but no more. You mooned your own fans. You gave the Raider Nation the bird by saying that you aren’t “focused” because you are “unhappy.” You are a Raider, I would have given anything to be able to play football for the Raiders for the league minimum, but I don’t have any talent. So I root for the Raiders and invest my heart in whether the Raiders win or lose, and sadly it does not seem that you can say the same.

Yeah, this was when it became apparent that a certain receiver had mailed it in, and really really needed to be shipped out.

17 November 2005

The Raiders are like Bob Saget. No, really. At one time Saget was known as one of the most offensive comedians in the business, but he made a foray into family television with an awful show that couldn’t offend anyone. Once upon a time, the Raiders could generate an offense at will, but now they have made a foray into mediocre and can’t seem to generate a first down. Saget, has since gone back into stand-up and is back offending people. (If you don’t believe me, go rent The Aristocrats on DVD. The Raiders need to find a way to get back to generating offense.

There is enough blame in the situation to warrant a House Subcommittee on the Raiders Offense, but that will not happen. Several articles have referred to Tom Walsh as the Donald Rumsfeld of this situation, and I do not disagree. The play calling as a general rule has been suspect at best and disgusting at worst, with the play of the offense I tend towards the worst. Of course, Jerry “Million Dollar Wanna-be” Porter and his attitude did not help matter by pulling his cry baby stunts during the off-season. The move to trade Doug Gabriel to the Patriots makes even less sense in that it left Alvis Whitted as a starting wide reciever.

Here is my theory on what is wrong with the Raiders offense:

  1. Tom Walsh calls plays that often make no sense, for example playing in a monsoon in Seattle but having a young QB throw the ball like he was Rich Gannon and the year was 2k2.
  2. The offensive line cannot hold their blocks for 45 seconds whilst the play develops.
  3. Randy Moss needs some happy pills so he will hold onto the ball.
  4. “We need to call more passes to the flat and swing passes.” Oh wait, that was not my suggestion that was from Andrew Walter the QB.

Here is my solution the Raider’s offensive woes:

  1. Get Tom Walsh extremely drunk.
  2. While he is passed out put him on a bus back to Swann Valley. Music fans may recognize that I am advocating the Dave Mustane treatment.
  3. Get Randy Moss some happy pills so he can hold on to the ball.
  4. Let anyone else call the plays. Who knows, maybe Walter can do a Payton Manning and call his plays at the line. Give him the shot.

Barring the above happening, just make PLAYS.

F#$K The Aristocrats!

That would have too nice for Tom Walsh. OK, a little bad humor, but I had to kill the pain.

20November 2006 (excerpt)

Me: OK Doc, its a autumn Sunday night and I have this odd feeling. I feel completely drained and have a lingering pain like I was just hit in the family jewels with a Louisville Slugger.

Dr: Judging by your attire, I would say you are a Raider fan. They must have played the Chiefs today.

Me: Yeah, how did you know?

Dr: Easy, I have been getting this complaint from many Raider fans every time the Raiders have played the Chiefs for the last few years. In fact, I am thinking on doing a write up on it for the New England Journal of Medicine.

The above is a dramatization of my trip to the emergency room that did NOT happen.

That was about the size of it for quite some time. Fortunately, it got turned on the Chiefs since that post.

2007

For 2007 onward you can brows through the archives on the site here. I will close with a lowlight from about a year ago.

2-14. Winless in the division for the last two years. How the mighty have fallen. The truly pathetic thing is that even those numbers don’t tell the whole story. The Oakland Raiders, once the most feared and hated team in the NFL has become a complete laughingstock.

One of the most telling things is a comment I received from an Adrian Peterson fan that said that Adrian Peterson fans pray Oakland does not draft him. Fans normally want to see their guy go number one overall because that is where the fame and fortune is. That is the goal to be the number one pick in the draft. But they are saying “eh? The Raiders? no, we hope he stays on the board and goes to Cleveland at number three.” They hope he gets passed up for fame and fortune and the chance to play in front of the “Black Hole.” Why? Is it because they are all really closet Bronco fans who just hate the Raiders? I doubt it.

Just wow. I was completely misunderstood in that post.

Thank you for joining me on the walk down memory lane, and your continued support. And as a close, here is the original graphic for Thoughts from the Dark Side…

About Patrick A. Patterson, Senior Writer

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