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Al Davis: I See Jason Campbell Like I Saw Jim Plunkett

To say Al Davis has high hopes for his offense in the near future would be an epic understatement. If he truly believes the things he says — and we have no reason to believe Crazy Al doesn’t — then he must believe Jason Campbell and Darrius Heyward-Bey can become one of the greatest quarterback/wide receiver duos to ever play the game of football. Not long ago, Davis ordered a press release that compared Heyward-Bey to Hall of Fame receivers such as Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, and Randy Moss.

The Raiders owner also apparently thinks releasing JaMarcus Russell and acquiring Campbell could turn out to be one of the best moves in franchise history. In a recent interview with Sirius NFL Radio, Davis compared the current Raiders squad to the 1980 Super Bowl team, and made comparisons between his new quarterback and two-time Super Bowl (one MVP) winner Jim Plunkett. It would seem as though anything less than Tom Brady/Randy Moss circa 2007 would disappoint him at this point. Here’s what Davis told Sirius NFL via ESPN:

I really liken this team a great deal to the team of 1980, in which the great Jim Plunkett pulled us out of the doldrums, took us to the Super Bowl as a wild card, and we had so many great players who eventually made their way into the Hall of Fame,” Davis said in an interview with Sirius NFL Radio.

I see this young Jason Campbell as a football player like I saw Jim Plunkett. He has everything. He was 13-0 in college, at Auburn, he can throw up the field, he can run, he’s big, he’s smart,” Davis said. “I really predict great things for him. I hope he doesn’t let me down. I don’t think he will.”

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Raiders Join in the Rookie Haircut Hazing

With the new media age we live in, items that used to be private business within teams spills out to the public most often via players’ twitter accounts. As a result, we’ve seen the funny haircuts the Patriots, Jaguars, and Broncos all gave to their rookies, not to mention the Cowboys. The worst cut probably was Tim Tebow’s haircut but nothing compares to the evil nonsense the Jags were up to.

The latest team to join the fray is the Oakland Raiders. Safety Tyvon Branch posted some pictures of the haircuts the veterans gave the rookies on his twitter page. With so many teams participating in the practice, it’s hard to find anything too original these days. Regardless, the Raiders found a way to make it happen. The two face look in particular was priceless. Here are some of the others, including first-round pick Rolando McClain:

RAIDERS HAZING PICTURES

Heyward-Bey a Legend in the Making?

I’ll gladly admit that it’s a little unfair to call an NFL player a bust after only one season.  Although he had an awful year after being chosen with the 7th overall selection in the 2009 NFL draft, it remains to be seen if Oakland Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey will emerge as a top pass-catching threat. 

We’ve already told you how we feel about Heyward-Bey’s potential (or lack thereof) at the professional level.  So far, we’re right.  Al Davis, on the other hand, seems to think we’ll be wrong in the long run and he even went so far as to have a press release drawn up informing the public of how well Heyward-Bey has been performing at practice this off-season.

After rattling off a list of receivers that have played for the Raiders that includes Randy Moss, Jerry Rice, and Tim Brown among others, here’s what the Raiders press release said about their young receiver:

Now Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Raiders’ top pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, is prepping to join that select group. Heyward-Bey has enjoyed a workmanlike offseason where he has put in time and energy to prepare for his second NFL campaign, when many of those whose names mentioned blossomed in professional football competition.

The list of wide receivers should make any pundit or so-called expert think twice before putting negativity on Heyward-Bey. No one has come close to the excellence at wide receivers that have worn the Silver and Black. These performers have been the greatest players who have ever played the game.

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Raiders Set to Release Russell

After surprising the football world and putting together what appears to be a logical draft class last weekend, it seems certain that the Raiders will make another practical roster move and release quarterback JaMarcus Russell.  However, with crazy Al Davis at the helm of the Raiders organization, there is no such thing as a certainty.  ESPN is reporting that the team is ready to release Russell and has spent time figuring out ways in which they can do it without losing an incredible amount of money.  The team is now awaiting the final word from owner Al Davis before they can proceed.

I don’t expect Davis to stop this from happening, but if I’ve learned one thing about the Raiders over the years it’s to expect the unexpected from Weird Al.  JaMarcus Russell was a bad fit for the Raiders — then again it seems everyone they’ve gone after the past decade or so has been.  The last thing an Oakland organization in peril needed was a college quarterback who seemed to generate the most buzz about himself when he showed he could throw a football 60 yards from one knee.  Is Russell talented?  Absolutely.  What he accomplished at LSU — playing in the powerhouse SEC — is not to be overlooked.

The problem with JaMarcus is he just doesn’t care.  His teammates know it.  His coaches know it.  The fans know it.  LBS knew it years ago.  Al Davis might even know it, and it takes a lot to get that guy to understand important concepts.  The only thing that would stop Davis from giving the team the go-ahead to release Russell would be a hesitancy to admit another colossal mistake for his organization — one that will have cost him $39 million in exchange some of the worst quarterback play in the NFL.  Maybe it’s being in Oakland that makes Russell not want to try.  Randy Moss can certainly relate to that feeling.

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Raiders Show Why They’re the Raiders, Select Biggest WR Bust Heyward-Bey

If there’s one player in this draft that I’m confident will wind up being a bust, it’s Darrius Heyward-Bey. Because Maryland’s quarterback was a local kid from LA, Chris Turner, I saw a good amount of their games and paid attention to what they did. Let me tell you this: I never once remember hearing or seeing Darrius Heyward-Bey, and that’s part of my biggest concern with him. How is it possible for a guy who’s supposedly a top-10 pick in the NFL draft to be so easily taken out of games in college? For an 8-4 team, does 42 catches, 609 yards and 5 touchdowns impress you? That doesn’t seem too impressive for a 12-game season. Heyward-Bey only had one game where he caught more than five passes and that also was his only 100-yard game of the season. Does that scream out game-changer to you? Me neither.

Al Davis and the Raiders are running the team the same way they did 30 years ago when Davis was a genius — playing the speed game. Heyward-Bey ran one of the fastest, if not the fastest 40 times at the combine. Darrius ran a sub-4.30 40 which was a time good enough to get Chris Johnson drafted from East Carolina in the first-round by Tennessee last year. Speed certainly is a weapon, but I’d be more concerned with taking a player who’s more of a play-maker with great route-running abilities and hands. Speed alone wouldn’t make me take a guy with the 7th pick in the draft. I feel sorry for you, Raider fans. You needed a big-time receiver and instead you got a speed demon who can be taken out of the game without much trouble. Way to rebuild the franchise, Oakland. Thanks for playing.

Worse QB Situation: Raiders or Lions?

The Raiders sure have found plenty of ways to provide us with laughs this season, centered largely around the dysfunction of the organization. At least the team was competitive under Lane Kiffin — now they’ve become an embarrassment without him. Their dysfunction has been so distracting that it’s even made many of us forget the fact that the Lions are still winless, and that the Bengals and Chiefs have fewer wins. The Bengals are in dire straights because Carson Palmer is hurt. The Chiefs are pretty horrible, but Tyler Thigpen did put together a productive game last weekend. And that’s what leaves us with the Raiders and the Lions.

Detroit entered the season with interception and yardage machine Jon Kitna as their quarterback. He has a back injury and is done for the year. Backup Dan Orlovsky, despite lacking a sense of space on the field, at least kept the team competitive the past few weeks. Unfortunately for Detroit, he’s now out with a thumb injury. They were forced to sign Daunte Culpepper earlier in the week who hasn’t played all season, and their other option is Drew Stanton — a second year player who their coach said would “embarrass” himself if he played. The Raiders are down to backups after starter JaMarcus Russell is now being deemed as doubtful because of knee tendinitis. That might not be a bad thing considering Russell threw for a paltry 31 yards last weekend. Or maybe it might be considering the backup options are Andrew Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo. So, which team has the worse QB situation, Raiders or Lions?

Nice to See the Raiders Showed Up

When I saw the 2006 Raiders play, I was convinced it was the worst offense I had ever witnessed in the NFL. While that Art Shell/Tom Walsh 2-14 squad ran out one of the worst offenses ever, the 2008 Raiders run by Tom Cable might actually be in the same category. The Raiders offense we saw on Sunday against the Falcons was in a word, pathetic. In case you missed it, the Raiders lost to the Falcons 24-0. They had -2 yards as a team at halftime. They finished with just 77 yards of total offense and only three first downs. They threw for just 10 yards and ran only 34 offensive plays, keeping the ball for fewer than 15 minutes in the game. It’s not even funny how bad they were on Sunday — and that’s coming from a Bengals fan. OK, as if the final stats weren’t bad enough, these comments from the Raiders were:

Interim head coach Tom Cable said the Raiders had their best week yet of practice and preparation. They apparently saved their worst for the game itself, losing 24-0 to the visiting Falcons on Sunday.

“During the week, we look like we’re a Super Bowl team,” strong safety Gibril Wilson said. “We come out there and we’re damn near the laughingstock of the league, and it’s ridiculous.”

“We did have a good week of practice,” cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. “Everybody was excited about the opportunities that Atlanta was showing us on film. So it did kind of come out of nowhere.”

I sure hope they were talking about the defense having a good week of practice because there’s no way I could imagine that offense ever appearing to execute like a good team. I hope Al Davis is satisfied for firing Lane Kiffin, who at least got some respectability out of the team. Davis is getting what he deserves.