To NFL brass fans are simply wallets with feet

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To NFL brass fans are simply wallets with feet

The low-hanging fruit that is the NFL replacement official class is now its own meme, and as is usually the case, it obscures the actual story.

With each new failure, each new bungle, each new overturned, underturned or just plain missed call, they have become greater and greater figures of national fun.

Face it. At this, they stink.

But they should stink. Let me say that again. THEY. SHOULD. STINK. They have undergone minimal training for a skill that takes years to master, and even the best have a noticeable failure rate, because the game is too fast and the players too big and skilled in the arts of rule-bending.

It is plainly unreasonable to expect the replacements not to stink, which is why the argument needs to be turned on its head, namely so:

If the NFL and its 32 owners, including Jed York and Mark Davis, want to brag ceaselessly about having the best of everything for your ridiculously overpriced entertainment dollar, why are they so willing to replace the best of the best, players and officials alike, at the drop of a dollar bill? If its so hard to reach the NFL why is it so easy to be exchanged for day-workers, fan boys, railyard hobos and accordionists?

Why do the owners, including Jed York and Mark Davis, insist on replacing the irreplaceable and calling the new ones just as good?

Because they essentially hold you in contempt. To them, you are a wallet with feet, and nothing more.

They take your money, they give you garbage when they need to and try to pass it off as quality, and they get annoyed when you question their motives or training skills.

Any why are we going to keep mentioning Jed York and Mark Davis? Because they signed off on this, too. Roger Goodell can huff and puff all he likes that is, after all, the real reason he gets paid but 32 men gathered to use this strategy, defend it as business, and let the one thing they sell deteriorate.

While, of course, watching the ratings hold steady, or in some cases rise.

In which case, maybe theyre on to something. Maybe you ARE just wallets with feet sheepskin wallets, to match the level of slack-jawed tolerance it takes to accept such substandard work from the organization that claims it brings the best in entertainment each and every week.

And maybe all you really want here is a reason to bitch about something else in your week, and bitching about replacement officials doesnt get you called into HR for one of their little talks.

If that is so, and the ratings and turnstiles continue to bear this out, then maybe the NFL should be replacing the replacements with people who are even worse than the ones already employed. Maybe they should do what they did with the line judge from the Saints game give a fan a spot in every crew. Maybe use B-list celebrities like the ones the networks pass off as real stars . . . And now lets wait for the call from referee Kat Dennings, appearing this week on Broadway in a one-woman adaptation of Twelve Angry Men.

Maybe a classy slogan with ads plastered throughout the broadcast day on the NFL Network: Hey, You Dont Care, So Why Should We? Or, We Put As Much Time And Interest Into Our Product As You Want Us To, So Screw It. Go Buy A Car. Or, to dovetail into their youth program, Stink 60.

And maybe let the coaches and players and broadcasters let fly with all the criticisms they want, only couched as admiration: That was the single worst call I have ever seen on any playing field ever, and for having no clue at all about even the most rudimentary rules of the game, well done to you Milt DeVries, unemployed dock worker from Dundalk, Maryland, and todays umpire.

As for the men thrown into the cauldron for now, they are doing the best they can, which is awful. But it is not unlike taking a carpenter and asking him to figure out M-theory. With the right amount of non-training, he can fail just as monumentally.

And thank you for this, Jed and Mark, and your 30 playmates. You have shown us the darkness and called it light. You voted for this. You own it. And remember the old car slogan, Quality Is Job Six, Because Our Customers Deserve Only The Worst.

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

It’s officially NFL draft week. Marshawn Lynch still isn’t a Raider.

A contract impasse remained as of Sunday morning, a few days before general manager Reggie McKenzie’s desire for a by-Thursday resolution.

Deadlines, even soft ones, prompt deals. But Marshawn is unique, adding a level of uncertainty to procedings. 

The Raiders would prefer Lynch agree to terms on a new contract so they can acquire his rights from Seattle -- that’s the easier part – and know where they stand heading into the NFL Draft.

McKenzie left several doors cracked during a Friday pre-draft presser, saying Lynch’s presence wouldn’t stop him from drafting a rusher, not having the Oakland native wouldn’t guarantee it, and that there’s always a chance Lynch could come later no matter what happens during amateur selection.

Those things could be true. Or, you know, not. McKenzie prefers mystery this time of year.

Bottom line: The Raiders need a bigger back to pair with smaller, yet elusive runners DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.

The Raiders want Lynch to fill the void. Ditto for Raider Nation, especially the Oakland state. A few free-agent options remain, including LaGarrette Blount. Or the Raiders could draft a back, something the Raiders have done well in later rounds.

They got Latavius Murray in the sixth round four years back, and he provided quality before changing uniforms this offseason. They got Washington in the fifth last time and pulled Richard from undrafted free agency. They could mine talent again this year. Waiting seems more likely if Lynch is around. 

Quality abounds in this draft class, with several worthy of early selections and talent easily found late. Let’s inspect McKenzie’s draft options at running back, should he need one:

Good fits: It’s hard to see the Raiders looking at a rusher in the first round, considering the draft’s depth at the position and major defensive needs. A first-round talent might be considered in the second. If controversial former Oklahoma rusher Joe Mixon is available following a free fall due to off-field issues described in detail here, a running back might come early.

Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara could be another Day 2 option, an explosive talent who analysts say has wiggle and power to create coveted yards after contact. He could be a three-down back thanks to quality as a receiver.

Odds are, however, the Raiders will look deeper into the draft. Wyoming’s Brian Hill was an excellent college producer who runs strong and might fit well into the Raiders rotation. Round projections vary, but he should be available on Day 3.

Pittsburgh’s James Conner offers great power at 233 pounds. He could run through tacklers and wear down defenses for the Raiders’ shift backs. He's also well known for drive and work ethic. He is projected as a fifth or sixth round pick.

Brigham Young’s Jamaal Williams might offer value and power rushing later in the draft. Clemson’s Wayne Gallman has tackle-breaking ability, but analysts say he isn’t a strong pass protector.

 

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

The Raiders had an NFL-worst 25 sacks last season, and that’s with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin in their employ. That duo had 18 sacks (and 11 forced fumbles) between them. That left only seven for everyone else. Stacy McGee and Denico Autry had 2.5 each, and McGee isn’t here anymore.

Mario Edwards Jr. was certainly missed last season, when he missed 14 games with a preseason hip injury. The versatile defensive lineman is a solid edge run defender and internal pass rusher in the sub package.

If he’s healthy, Edwards Jr. could pose a real threat rushing the passer next to Irvin or Mack.

“Having Mario healthy will make us a better defense, and that’s not just as a pass rusher,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said in March. “He’s a solid run player. We’ve just got to have him healthy.

“But we’ll continue to add there, too.”

McKenzie subtracted one Tuesday, releasing Dan Williams to free salary cap space. He hasn’t yet added a defensive tackle in free agency, but could certainly do so in next week’s NFL draft.

There’s some quality interior pass rushers in this class. Let’s take a look at some options the Raiders could select and when:

Good fits: The Raiders select 24th overall in this draft, far lower than years past. Some quality defensive tackles might be a proper fit there, especially with depth at positions of need.

They could use some versatility, players like Edwards Jr. who can play multiple techniques. Michigan State’s Malik McDowell is an strong, athletic freak who analysts believe needs to improve his effort and technique. McDowell could develop into a top talent and be viewed as a steal at No. 24, or not realize full potential.

Michigan’s Chris Wormley is a versatile player in the Edwards Jr. mold, a player who seems to fit Raiders needs. Analysts says inconsistency is troubling but has the leadership quality and character the Raiders love. He can be a base end and move inside when required. He also has the size at 6-foot-5, 298 pounds and could develop well at the NFL level while making an immediate impact.

Florida’s Caleb Brantley is also an intriguing prospect adept at reaching the offensive backfield. Analysts say he’s a powerful player with quickness and an ability to work through blocks despite being slightly undersized. Brantley is potential to be a quality NFL pass rusher, and is confident in his ability. He didn’t play a high snap count at Florida, but the Raiders might use him in sub packages as a rookie and fill an important role right away. He’s viewed as a second round pick, and the Silver and Black might cross fingers he’s available at No. 56.

Auburn’s Montravius Adams could help if the Raiders are looking for more of a run stuffer. Clemson’s Carlos Watkins could also play multiple spots and could be available later in the middle rounds. Old Dominion’s Rashaad Coward also fits that mold and would be available in later rounds, though he hasn’t had much pass-rush production.