Boller, Lechler headline Raiders' QB competition


Boller, Lechler headline Raiders' QB competition

Credit goes to Oakland punter Shane Lechler for not doing what every kid from time immemorial has done when having a moment of unexpected success -- going to his coach and saying, I can do more, I can I can I can gimmeachance pleasepleasepleaseplease pleeeeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzzz.After all, his hand had barely cooled from his 35-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Boss -- the one that essentially won Sundays game for the Raiders, 24-17, over the Cleveland Browns. It was a play for which he had been agitating for, by his estimation, 11 years and six games, and it worked brilliantly.And now with Jason Campbell gone for what looks like the season with a bifurcated collarbone, the result of Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita landing on him at the end of a seven-yard scramble in the second quarter, and the trade deadline 39 hours from games end -- well, this was the best time ever for Lechler to make his case.He didnt. Hes a veteran. He knows what hes good at, even if it took him 182 weeks of active duty to convince anyone else that he was good to go this first time.

So basically, the Raiders will carry on with the uberveteran Kyle Boller, and the undertested Terrelle Pryor as his backup, and if youre getting your hopes up about a third party, youre probably barking up the wrong eternal flame.Oh, there may be a rogue journeyman out there -- yes, David Garrard comes to mind -- but one wonders if the Raiders had any love for him, wouldnt it have manifested it before now? And no, dont get your goolies in a knot for Carson Palmer, or even less likely, Kyle Orton.No, due to circumstances beyond anyones control, this is the worst possible time for the Raiders to be (a) on the cusp of playoff contention and (b) without a football man in charge.There have been rumors that Ron Wolf will come in on an interim basis just to make sure nobody trades Darren McFadden for a soda dispenser, but so far, they have been only that.But a trade of that breadth takes a lot more time than head coach Hue Jackson has. It requires the work of a number of people, none of whom are really in charge. And it has to happen in a day and a half, with owners who have no reason to wish well for the Raiders.And while anything is possible when there is no apparent structure, it would seem far more likely to assume that the Raiders havent the people or the time to make a high-profile change to their quarterback situation. Seem, that is. If Wolf, just to pick the best and most seasoned candidate, is going to be the guiding hand in the short term, theres no time like the real short term to make the one move that could make what seems like the teams greatest vulnerability into a potential strength.Boller, one must assume, will be on a crash course and a short leash at the same time. With Kansas City here Sunday and then a fortuitously timed bye the following week, the former Cal Bear, Baltimore Raven and St. Louis Ram will have 18 days between now and the real postseason run to find the timing he clearly lacked Sunday. He was 8 of 14 for 100 yards Sunday, and missed some receivers by remarkable lengths.And Pryor needs even more work than that. Having just served his five-week suspension for running afoul of Ohio State, the NFLs de facto 33rd franchise, he said Sunday he was confident -- Ive never been not confident in my life -- but would need to start with a shrunken play list and build his comfort level with the playbook from there.I mean, Lechler cant throw touchdown passes to wide open targets like Kevin Boss every week, and Sebastian Janikowskis expertise with the offense has been merely with running the football. There is no indication that he has either Lechlers arm or the desire to show it.Thus, on a day that the Raiders should otherwise have enjoyed, they confront the worst fear of any team, at a time when they are the least-run franchise in the NFL. The magic of making new quarterbacks appear out of nowhere takes more wherewithal than the Raiders seem to have on the surface (although they did trade for Seattle discard Aaron Curry, whose price tag of less than 400K was right up Oaklands street).In short, these next two days are going to test the New Raiders mettle for crisis management far more than PG&Es ability to keep the Al Davis flame lit in right field, or the City of Oaklands ability keep their payments to PG&E up to date. It may be too much for even a fully manned staff to handle, so if the Raiders cant get something done, it isnt necessarily an act of shame or sloth.In the meantime, Shane Lechler sits back with his perfect quarterback rating in the NFL stats, and almost certainly with ESPNs hilariously more complicated one, ready and waiting to see if Hue Jackson, in a quarterback bind, will call on him again, and a lot sooner than 2023.

Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal


Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal

In what can be considered your standard bolt out of the blue, California head football coach Sonny Dykes has reportedly been fired.

In what can be considered your standard spur-of-the-Internet-moment-connect-the-dots inspiration, the Internet went immediately to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal rumors.

The logic, of course, is impeccable. Dykes never really snapped the Cal program around, taking a bad program and making it, well, mediocre, and he has spent much of the past two years aggressively seeking out other jobs, so one can assume there was at least some trouble in paradise, even if you want to make the case that Cal football and paradise are somehow connected.

And Kelly just got canned by the 49ers as part of Jed York’s latest I-will-not-be-made-to-look-ridiculous twitch, so he could sign a properly modest contract at Berkeley and still get his full $6 million with the offset from the three years left on his Jed deal.

So it makes perfect sense . . . which is why it should be judged with considerable skepticism.

For one, Kelly can almost surely do better in the college job diaspora. Cal is a big name with modest ambitions due in part to constant budget constraints, and there are better jobs out there even if he sits for a year.

For two, Cal and Kelly are an odd fit, given the persistent tensions between academia and athletica at Berkeley.

For three, the job comes with massive roadblocks, including Stanford, USC, Washington and (potentially) a resuscitation of the Oregon he left behind. Success will not come easy, if it does at all.

For four, Cal just finished four years of gimmick offense and overburdened defense, and Kelly would provide a more successful version of the same.

And for five, this is too easy, too simple, too convenient. Something about this scenario must be wrong somewhere. When people hit the Internet with photoshopped Kelly-in-Cal-costumes within minutes of the Dykes announcement, you know this is too obvious to actually come to fruition.

Why? Because we don’t live that well, that’s why.

The beauty of a triumphant Kelly at Cal glowering down at the charred ruin in Santa Clara seems more appealing than it actually is, because try as they might, Cal fans will never be backing the more popular horse here, and Kelly won’t win that battle unless he takes Cal to the Rose Bowl while the 49ers are still grappling over draft positions.

In that way, reality sucks. The idea that Jed York could be mocked in collegial absentia by his two biggest coaching hires is delicious but almost surely illusory.

But until we get more on why Dykes got canned 43 days after the team’s last game – recruiting, academic issues, legal issues, photocopier problems from him sending his resume out so often – all we have is the Chip Kelly rumor-ette to keep us intrigued.

Okay, to keep us amused.

Okay, to keep us from falling over in a coma. Cal should matter more than it does, but it’s been 13 years since the Holiday Bowl zenith of the Jeff Tedford Era, and 25 since Bruce Snyder took the Ursines to the Citrus Bowl. The evidence since 1990 is of a team with bigger dreams than means that is slightly below .500 (160-164). Sonny Dykes leaving means one more coach who didn’t make an impact unless his departure leads to either reassessment of the program’s standards, internal or external sanctions . . .

. . . or what the hell, Chip Kelly. Let’s face it – in these dismal days for wacked-out rumormongering, this is pretty intoxicating stuff.

Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports


Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports

The Philadelphia/San Francisco/Golden State Warriors have always had a casual attitude about their home court, even by the once-flexible standards of the National Basketball Association.

Thus, it should be only slightly amusing but not actually surprising that Warriors chief arenologist Rick Welts is now waffling a bit (courtesy Comrade Poole) on whether the team will change its name to San Francisco Warriors when it moves across the pond in 2019-20, or retain its current geographic association with Narnia.

I mean Golden State. I often confuse utterly fictional locales – when I can be bothered to give a toss either way.

But the Warriors, whether they play in Oakland, San Francisco, Pier 30, Pier 32, Westeros, Hobbiton, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, Curryvania, the Klingon Empire, the Death Star or Planet Nine, are relocating, and once they break the seal on the earth in 12 days, Welts and his fellow elves will almost surely play the team’s future name as a mildly tedious cliffhanger.

Hey, fun is where you find it.

The matter of the team’s relocation will be a sore subject among lifelong East Bay residents, who have put up with the Warriors for 45 years in various stages of development, including the current “We Almost Never Lose” stage. They regard the Warriors’ transplantation to San Francisco to be an unspeakable crime given the high level of fan allegiance afforded them in Oakland.

And yes, they regard Oakland and San Francisco as very real places, as opposed to Golden State, Freedonia, Vulgaria or the Nexus of All Realities.

It is not yet fully known what San Franciscans think of this development, but that’s the nature of the gamble here. They may embrace the Warriors as the new toy in town and then lose interest, and frankly, neither Welts nor anyone else knows the answer to that.

Either way, their die is cast, and Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are now future former Oakland fixtures. Yes, they are quite fond of the exciting new real estate values and their exciting new unobstructed view of the bay, but it has long been assumed that the move would also entail changing the name back to “San Francisco” for the snob appeal.

Now Welts, who has overseen both arena projects (including the one at Piers 30 and 32 which ended up with the piers beating the Warriors in a rout), tells Comrade Poole that the San Francisco Warriors might not end up as the San Francisco Warriors after all.

“Four years ago, I think the conventional wisdom in our building here in Oakland was that yes, we should attach a city name to the team, then it becomes a more global franchise,” Welts marketing-gobbledy-gooked. “There was a lot of head-scratching four years ago about where the Golden State Warriors even played, in other parts of the world. What’s happened with the team over the course of the ensuing years, until today, has made the Warriors if not the preeminent, at least among the three best-known NBA franchises around the world. And everybody who didn’t know where the Golden State Warriors were four years ago, if you’re a fan today, anywhere in the world, you know where the Golden State Warriors are.”

In Oakland.

Now, the mic drop.

“The team’s success has caused us to really rethink whether or not that’s something we should or want to do,” he added. “I guess it’s fair to say there’s been no final decision made. But if you were a betting man, I think you would probably want to wager that the name might remain the same.”

Of course. Why not stay fictional when specificity might move fewer hoodies?

Then again, this is a team that in its 70 years has played home games in Philadelphia (the Arena, the Civic Center, Lincoln High School and Convention Hall), Hershey and Bethlehem PA, Atlantic City, Trenton, Collingswood and Camden NJ, and Saratoga Springs NY . . .

(a moment’s rest here to catch our breaths)

. . . and then after moving west in 1962, the Cow Palace, San Francisco Civic Auditorium and USF’s Memorial Gym, the Oakland Auditorium, San Jose Civic Auditorium, San Jose Arena, Richmond Auditorium, then Sacramento, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Diego, Eugene, Seattle, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

In fact, and you can swindle the gullible at your neighborhood tavern with this one, the Warriors’ first game in San Francisco occurred almost three years before the team left Philadelphia. The Warriors played the visitors to the Minneapolis Lakers, who moved to Los Angeles a year later and had already played a regular season game at the Cow Palace earlier in the year, so this game, January 31, 1960, could have been considered a civic scouting trip for both teams as they sought new homes.

In other words, the Warriors are almost surely the most geographically vague team in the history of North American sports. Moreover, they are about to become the first team in sports history to go home for the third time under three different city names – Philadelphia, San Francisco and Krypton, or whatever the hell they want to call themselves this time.