Raiders vs. Broncos: Matchups to watch


Raiders vs. Broncos: Matchups to watch

Sept. 9, 2011


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Paul Gutierrez

ALAMEDA -- Bittersweet does not begin to describe the Raiders' lot in 2010. They went unbeaten at 6-0 in the AFC West, yet just 2-8 outside of the division and did not qualify for the playoffs.

Heading into 2011, Oakland returns to the site of its greatest and most satisfying triumph, and on the biggest regular season stage in the game. Memories of the Raiders' 59-14 blowout of the Broncos last Oct. 24 in Denver still fresh in everyone's minds, the two play the final game of opening weekend on Monday Night Football.

In the wake of the NFL lockout -- both teams have new head coaches -- questions abound. A look, then, at some key matchups to watch Monday night:
Matchup to watch
Raiders right tackle Khalif Barnes (69) vs. Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil (92)

Barnes: 6-5, 325, Washington, seventh season
Dumervil: 5-11, 260, Louisville, fifth season

Two years ago, Dumervil led the NFL with 17 sacks. But he missed all of last season after tearing a pectoral muscle in training camp.

Barnes beat out rookie Joe Barksdale to win the right tackle position but had a rough go of it in the preseason with four false start penalties, three in the exhibition opener against Arizona.

So while Dumervill might actually line up more often across from Raiders left tackle Jared Veldheer, Barnes will see more than his fair share of Dumervil in the Broncos' hybrid scheme, especially with sack-happy rookie linebacker Von Miller poised to create chaos from different parts of the field. And what makes the matchup all the more intriguing is combined experience and the size differential between the two.

Barnes may have a six-inch height advantage and weigh 65 pounds more, but Dumervil is much sleeker and faster. Plus, his lower center of gravity is an inherent advantage.

"He has natural leverage, good leverage to the ground already because of his size," Barnes said. "Good anchor and he plays (the) pass very well. And the rookie Von Miller, he has a little juice off the edge, too. So they've got two good pass rushers and me and Jared are going to have to be on our game that night.

"We have to bend to get down there. Those guys are already out-leveraging us naturally. So we're going to have to work to get up under their pads."

Broncos' first-year coach John Fox was asked to compare Dumervil to other players.

"(Dwight) Freeney coming out was looked at as undersized," Fox said. "Looking back, Jevon Kearse, when they first started in the 4-3 (defense was) a little bit smaller end. You used to have to be 6-5, 280 to play end in the National Football League. Just like your inside 'backers used to be real big guys. The game has gotten faster and with that speed, has become a little bit smaller.

"The thing that Elvis has is very long arms, which I think kind of off-sets his height."

Other matchups worth watching:

Hue Jackson vs. John Fox - A relatively young rookie coach who's never been a head coach at any level but is known for his offensive acumen in Jackson makes his debut on the Monday Night Football stage. Against a veteran, defensive-minded first-year coach who once worked for the Raiders in Fox, under those same primetime lights.

Opposites attract, and then some.

Jackson joined Mike Shanahan this preseason as the only Raiders coaches to go 0-4 in exhibitions but he was hamstrung by injuries. Now?

"I'm even more confident," Jackson said. "I have all my toys back, all my players are back. We're ready to play."

Fox, the Raiders' defensive coordinator in 1994 and 1995, was Carolina's head coach from 2002 through 2010.

"I hired John Fox," Raiders owner Al Davis reminded the gathering at Jackson's introductory media conference in January. "He was two years the coordinator here andafter failing in Carolina, he's the head coach in Denver."

Who blinks first in their respective debut?

Raiders vs. overconfidence - It's human nature, right? After all, the last time the Raiders visited Denver, they dropped a record 59 points on the Broncos. In three quarters, before taking the foot off the gas.

Darren McFadden had a career day with a career-high 165 yards rushing and four touchdowns, including three on the ground, while Sebastian Janikowski had eight touchbacks.

And then in the second meeting of the season, in Oakland, the Raiders won again, 39-23, to sweep the season series, 98-37, the largest single-season home-and-home differential in division play since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.

So surely it must be in the back of the Raiders' heads that this will be another walk in the Mile High air, no?

Well, the players are saying al the right things. That last year was last year, and it doesn't matter what happened then, and this is a new year and yada, yada, yada.

We'll see how much they truly believe it.

Dolphins owner explains why he voted against Raiders' move to Vegas

Dolphins owner explains why he voted against Raiders' move to Vegas

PHOENIX – An overwhelming majority approved the Raiders’ relocation application Monday morning. They were given permission to move from Oakland to Las Vegas by a 31-1 vote at the league owners meetings, a massive show of support for the Silver and Black.

While the stadium and finance committees recommended Raiders relocation and the final meeting went smooth leading up to a vote, there was one voice of dissent.

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross didn’t let his vote do the talking. He explained his rationale to reporters on Monday afternoon.

“I just don’t think everything was done to try and stay in Oakland,” Ross told reporters, via a video posted on San Diego-based 1090-AM’s website. “I was more or less interested in the thought that Oakland deserved…that a deal could’ve been done there.”

Ross said Raiders owner Mark Davis should’ve engaged with Oakland more in trying to find a long-term stadium solution in the East Bay.

“You can only make a deal when the owner wants to make a deal,” Ross said. “Who are you going to negotiate with? How’s it going to happen? The owner has to be a driving force.”

After some difficult negotiations with Oakland, Davis focused his efforts on Las Vegas, where he received $750 million in public funds for stadium construction, with an additional chunk earmarked for infrastructure improvements around a stadium site just off the Las Vegas Strip.

While Ross spent roughly $500 million in private funds to renovate Hard Rock Stadium, his dissent was rooted in part on ideological grounds. He believes stadiums should be largely financed privately.

“I think so,” Ross said. “You get a look around, and there’s very little public money available for teams today. I think owners have to have, when you own a team, you should have the deep pockets to deliver. Now, you need some public money for infrastructure and things like that but, with the cost of stadiums today, our country can’t afford to put all that money in that kind of place.”

Ross said he didn’t vote no to grandstand.

“That doesn’t do me any good. I didn’t do it for that,” Ross said. “I voted how I voted and I voted what I believed. You talk about the fans, and that’s what the National Football League is all about.”


Raiders to Vegas: So much disingenuous, silly or just plain idiotic rhetoric

Raiders to Vegas: So much disingenuous, silly or just plain idiotic rhetoric

The torrential nonsense that was emitted with the announcement of the NFL owners’ vote on the fate of the Mark Davis Raiders was as embarrassing as it was predictable. It’s as though everyone involved and watching had forgotten what this was about from the start, and became a chase for rabbits that didn’t exist.

But that’s what you get when the National Football League and politics commingle – a cavalcade of lies, half-truths, shaded half-facts and nitwit hysteria that . . . well, that explains everything we need to know about what passes for entertainment in America in 2017.

So let’s do a random tour on everything that was said Monday, so that we can see that nobody cornered the market in disingenuous, silly or just plain idiotic.

[RATTO: Raiders fans got remarkably little bang for their bucks, or for their hearts]

- Mark Davis, thanking Sheldon Adelson for his “vision.” What he meant to do was thank Adelson for shaking down three quarters of a billion dollars from the State of Nevada. Adelson didn’t thank him back for finding out that his power play to get a potentially controlling chunk of the franchise was dead on arrival in the league offices after he’d gotten the money committed, and that he’d been used, no doubt the way he’s used plenty of others.

- Roger Goodell: “We’re all disappointed for Oakland and their fans.” No he isn’t. He’s mad that they elected someone who wouldn’t cave in to the league the way those good citizens in other cities and states do. 

- City councilman Larry Reid, in full snittery, said he not only would never wear any form of Raider gear again (and who cares?) but would talk to the Oakland city attorney about forcing the Raiders out of their two years of lease options and make them play in Santa Clara. Fine, except that any lawyer will tell him that would probably die in court for 2017 and 2018, and would be at best a coin flip to 2019, and not only that, the 49ers don’t want the Raiders any more than the Raiders have wanted them. Dead issue, Lar’. Political posturing. Don’t bring it up again.

- Davis, saying his father would be proud of him for taking the team to “the entertainment capital of the world.” He would have been much prouder of the fact that his son showed a single-minded devotion to getting out of Oakland to the point of being embarrassed several times before he got what he wanted. The old man almost surely didn’t think the boy had it in him.  

- Miami Dolphins owner Steve Ross, the only dissenting vote, saying “My position today was that we as owners and as a League owe it to fans to do everything we can to stay in the communities that have supported us until all options have been exhausted. I want to wish Mark Davis and the Raiders organization the best in Las Vegas.” Ross voted for the Rams’ move to Los Angeles a year earlier, and he couldn’t be less interested in “the best” for Davis or the Raiders.

- Everyone who mentioned how Oakland would never help Davis build a stadium. Oakland didn’t have a spare $750M, then or now, and neither did Davis, which is why other people scared up almost all the money for the Vegas project for him. Plus, it isn’t a city’s job to help a private company scare up financing, it’s the guy who runs the private company. Davis’ problem was that getting money costs money, and the only thing he had was the team, with which he didn’t want to part. 

[RELATED: Schaaf proud Oakland did not capitulate to Raiders' unreasonable demand]

- Schaaf: “I am glad we stood firm in refusing to use public money to subsidize stadium construction and that we did not capitulate to their unreasonable and unwarranted demand that we choose between our baseball and football franchises.” The first part is what she can proud of. The second is a red herring, a merely ancillary part of what the league actually wanted – control of the stadium and land surrounding it. Schaaf decided not to do business with people she didn’t trust and came to loathe, and the league decided not to do business with a city that didn’t have money and wouldn’t knuckle under to any and all extortionate demands. 

- Schaaf continually describing the Oakland plan as “viable,” when viability depends in considerable part on another party being interested in what your definition of “viable” is. Neither the team nor the league wanted any part of the “viable” plan because they defined “viable” as “give us everything you have, and we’ll work out the rest of your stuff later.” The plan was affordable, but it was never actually viable. 

- Schaaf saying (“Our fans) deserved better.” In the world of cutthroat money-hunting, nobody “deserves” anything. It’s what you can carve from the flesh of your opponent. Oakland didn’t own the Raiders and neither did their fans. When you call a team “we,” you really mean “they,” and let this be the reminder your parents should have provided for you 35 years ago. 

- A’s president Dave Kaval saying how disappointed the baseball team was to learn that the Raiders were leaving. A baldfaced lie, this. The A’s are absolutely giddy about the prospect, and have been waiting for it to happen for nearly a decade. If they could get the permits, they’d have a parade down Broadway tomorrow.

- The NFL moving three franchises in 15 months as some sort of horrifying development that will destroy the traditions that made the league powerful. Please. These guys had no problem with moving the Rams or the Raiders, and only objected to the Chargers leaving for L.A. because they’d done their good pal Dean Spanos a favor by giving him an option to move and were floored when he took them up on it. No good deed goes without a knife in the ribs, and all that -- especially after the Rams killed L.A.’s buzz for football in less than a year. The league goes where they think money is, and woe betide the team that is looking to relocate if the league every finds out there is money on the sun.

- Vegas as the massive vice farm that will lead players down a path of perdition, but nobody mentions that a player can get into trouble in new York or Chicago or Los Angeles or San Francisco or Boston or Indianapolis. Ian Rapoport of tweeted, “Coaches are already discussing how they'll handle their travel when they're on the road in Las Vegas. Likely staying away from The Strip.” How far away? Laughlin? Henderson? Bisbee? El Paso? By that logic, coaches facing a road game in Miami ought to house their teams in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

- 49ers’ general manager John Lynch getting his swing at the piñata by saying Monday, “Raider fans, we're open for business. “Come and jump on our train.” Whispering in a graveyard is always a bad look, especially so soon after reminding us all that the Raider fan base is “too special” to ever feel comfortable tailgating at The Louvre . . . err, Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers no more want the Raiders than the Raiders want them, which is part of how this escalated even before Al Davis died.

- And finally, anyone who used the word “bittersweet” about any step in the process of taking a rich legacy’s property and taking it somewhere else. If you’re a player, you know the business requires accepting movement. If you’re a fan, you know the business requires understanding that your team is never actually yours. And if you are a media member, you got to spend a whole day passing on myths and nonsense and calling it wisdom . . . and that’s nice work if you stomach it.