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.

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

Patriots win one for the ages, but where does it rank?

The price of watching Roger Goodell being booed back to the Bronze Age is a subtle but real one, and one that people will feel very dearly soon enough.

The last great cathartic Super Bowl is now done, with the New England Patriots winning the brilliant and decisive battle to be sports’ new evil empire. In doing so, it rendered Goodell a permanent and risible punch line in National Football League history, the mall cop who wanted the death penalty for littering, and in the words of the song “got what he wanted but he lost what he had.”

True, $40 million a year can make the dissolution of your public persona a reasonably decent tradeoff, but we lost the argument about who won his windmill tilt with the Patriots. It’s done, and he is now permanently and irrevocably a figure of ridicule.

But that’s not the only debating point America lost Sunday night, and while you wouldn’t think it given how much time we are willing to shouting at each other, quality arguments are not easily replaced.

We have almost surely lost the mindless debate about the best quarterback ever, because there is nothing anyone can bring up that the words “Tom Brady” cannot rebut except calling his own plays, and since that is no longer allowed in football, it is a silly asterisk to apply.

We have almost surely lost the equally silly shouter about the best coach ever. Bill Belichick is defiantly not fun, but he has built, improved and bronzed an organizational model that is slowly swallowing the rest of the sport. That and five trophies makes him the equal if not better of the short list of Paul Brown, George Halas, Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh and Tom Landry.

Plus, Belichick locked up the most absurd response to a question in coaching history Monday when he said, “As great as today feels . . . we're five weeks behind the other teams for the 2017 season.” Even allowing for Gregg Popovich in-game interviews, the so-grim-he-could-make-a-robot-cry worship-the-process response has now become a cliché. If 2017 prep was so important, he should have skipped yesterday’s game, and he definitely should have chosen not to waste so much time on the trophy stand after the game when training camp drills needed to be scheduled.

Oh, and DeflateGate died. Dead. No zombie possibilities here.

We do have a meatheaded argument ahead of us about which championship in the last year is the best, which can be settled here.

1. Leicester City, because 5,000-1 is 5,000-1, and the whole world understands that. Plus, there was invaluable three-month buildup that engaged non-soccer fans.

2. Chicago Cubs, because 108 years is 108 years.

3. New England Patriots, because . . . well, I don’t have to explain it unless you have no useful memory span. “Down 25 In The Third Quarter” is the new “Down 3-1.”

4. Cleveland Cavaliers, because they slayed the first unbeatable Warrior team by coming from 3-1 down, and even as a silver medalist, it will always be an internet meme, which is what passes for memorable in our decrepit culture.

5. (tie) Villanova basketball and Clemson football in a tie, because they were essentially the same great game.

7. The Pittsburgh Penguins, because the Stanley Cup Final was devoid of drama or high moments, and only 14:53 of overtime. Feh.

But everything else is settled, and this Super Bowl will not be topped for a long time. Our current cycle of absurd championships is almost surely going to end soon, because “Down 3-1” has happened twice in eight months (three times, if you count Warriors over Thunder), and the bar has now been placed well beyond reasonable clearing.

Indeed, the only thing left is for a championship team to spontaneously combust on the award stand. But if they do so and ignite Roger Goodell along the way, that would be an ending America would cheerfully endorse.

But that also isn’t an argument any more, and yes, that includes Gary Bettman.

Raiders, 49ers can return to their normal madness after Fried Festivus 51

Raiders, 49ers can return to their normal madness after Fried Festivus 51

The Super Bowl is today, which means the best day of the year is fast approaching.

Namely, the day after the Super Bowl.

At that point, we as a nation can complete the inventory of gastric damage we did to ourselves on what shall be known to future generations as Fried Festivus.

At that point, the people who bombard us daily with news of the game – the least important part of the week-long trade show, as we have come to learn it – will all be on planes and too tired to re-explain what we already saw 37 times on game day.

At that point, nobody will care that Terrell Owens was apparently one of the first of the 15 Hall of Fame finalists to be rejected for induction because of crimes against the NFL state. The Hall of Fame is one of the sneaky ways in which the NFL never lets us escape its obnoxiously shouty profile, and the fact that Owens is right about the flawed process doesn’t change the fact that he’ll be just fine with the process when it allows him passage.

At that point, we’ll know whether Tom Brady is to be deemed a god, or merely maintain his demigod status. At least we’ll hear more about it, because it is easily the most tiresome debate in the football diaspora, engaged in by idiots with no better idea about how to kill time. A note: If you think Tom Brady is a greater quarterback because his team won a fifth ring, or a lesser one because he didn’t, your head is now officially empty enough to be reclassified a dance hall, and you are of no more value to normal society than a papier-mache goose.

And at that point, we can return to the two things we in these parts care to know – where the Raiders are going, and how the 49ers are going to present their new football brain trust.

We needn’t explain the Raiders again to you, first because you’ve heard it all if you’re paying any attention at all. Mark Davis has been trying to cobble deals at a frantic pace in hopes that one will stick, and his 31 fellow owners still have to decide how much longer they want to endure him, while faced with the painful fact that the East Bay is getting out of the exploitative license-to-be-stolen-from stadium business. They also get to know as they go to the meeting in Houston that will ostensibly decide Davis’ fate that they have ruined California as a market by their excessive greed-laced stupidity and deserve every lousy market the state can give them.

Which brings us to the 49ers, and the latest round of Judge Them By Their Press Conferences.

If there is anything worse than this team’s on-field profile, which is why Jed York hired Kyle Shanahan, it is the way it explains itself to the outside world, which is why Jed York hired John Lynch. Both Shanahan and Lynch will be paraded before a braying mobs, probably Tuesday, and York will be there as well for the cheesy photo array and a few unconvincing words of praise about each of them (as a note, Paraag Marathe will be present but only in hologrammatic form).

They will then promise – well, something or other – and Lynch will be hailed as the face of the glorious future because the man he replaced, Trent Baalke, had the public persona of a meth-tweaked hyena. Hard to find, and not worth it when you did.

Then we’ll all remember that the job Shanalynch (or Lynchahan, depending on what part of Ireland you’re from) are being asked to do is a three-year reclamation at the very least, and that the only useful question either can be asked is “Can you fix this before Jed gets embarrassed and angry and cans you both?”

And on Wednesday, there’s the start of pre-draft prep (in order words, The Eighty-Day Slave Market), and the hamster wheel to hell gears up again toward Super Bowl LII.

Only next year, the chances of relocation hysteria and a front office upheaval are that much less, and we haven’t sufficient distractions to make the year go faster.

But enjoy Fried Festivus. We can always look forward to that, even if we change the name back in December to the more traditional "Christmas."