The Autumn wind is a pirate
Blustering in from sea
With a rollicking song he sweeps along
His face is weatherbeaten
He wears a hooded sash
With a silver hat about his head
And a bristling black mustache
He growls as he storms the country
A villain big and bold
And the trees all shake and quiver and quake
As he robs them of their gold.
The Autumn wind is a Raider
Pillaging just for fun
He'll knock you 'round and upside down
And laugh when he's conquered and won.
This poem, written by NFL films now-President Steve Sabol in 1974 became the unofficial anthem of the Raiders after Raiders impresario Al Davis heard it. As the story goes, then-President of NFL Films Ed Sabol (Steve's father) played it for Al Davis before using it on an NFL Films soundtrack. Davis was silent after hearing the recitation before finally telling Sabol that "it epitomized everything that the Raiders stood for." The poem has since become synonymous with the Raiders.
No more synonymous than Davis, however, who first started coaching the Raiders as an offensive end coach in 1960, became the head coach and general manager by 1963, minority stake owner in 1966 and managing general partner in 1972. From 1972 to mid last season Davis was the top and sometimes only authority for the Raiders. He was involved with every major decision and was one of the most involved owners in the history of the NFL and almost certainly it's most accomplished having achieved the trifecta of coach, League Commissioner (of the AFL) and owner.
However, with Davis' passing on October 8th, many things were about to change with the team. To be sure, everything didn't change overnight. The next week, there was still his stamp all over the team - with a strong-armed quarterback throwing deep balls to some of the fastest players in the league. The defense still lined up in Davis' preferred man coverage and jammed opposing receivers off the line. There was still predominately 4 man pressure from the defensive line. However, change was coming to Oakland after having been rebuffed for many years.
The Autumn wind is a pirate
Raiders camp begins today with weigh-ins, meetings and new head coach Allen setting the tone for his first training camp. The team is fully present, it's believed, with the announcement this morning that Raiders 5th round pick Juron Criner has signed his contract. As recently as last night there was a reported discrepancy of $14,000.00 on the signing bonus but it was widely believed that Criner's position was unsupportable with the CBA agreement. In the end Criner and his agent must've decided it wasn't worth holding out of an important camp for the rookie receiver and he apparently caved instead of holding out.
With two signings yesterday, ILB Chad Kilgore of Northwest Missouri State and WR DeAundre (Dre) Muhammad of Indiana University, the Raiders enter camp with 89 of the possible 90 roster spots filled. They have no players on injured reserve, currently, nor any serious injuries at this time.
There was a report earlier today that the Raiders two unsigned draft picks, Tony Bergstrom and Juron Criner, had reached a stalemate with the Raiders organization. Criner's agent, specifically, spoke to beat writer Paul Gutierrez and gave some cryptic statements that indicated his client may not be in camp at the start.
However, per a source that spoke to TFDS and is familiar with the situation, this is not the case with Bergstrom.
The source stated that Bergstrom's contract is verbally agreed and ready and Bergstrom will be arriving in Napa tonight or tomorrow and will sign the contract when he gets there.
Camp starts on Sunday, with the players reporting tomorrow. The first practice is Monday.
For more Raiders news and analysis, follow me on Twitter @AsherMathews
TFDS recently covered the offense in preparation of next week's training camp. Now, we will look at the defense.
Dennis Allen will certainly be hands on with this defense, trying to tweak it to fix the issues that have plagued the unit for years. It may not happen instantly, but with the help of first-time DC Jason Tarver they'll have this defense ready for the season.
Strong-side Linebacker: Philip Wheeler vs Miles Burris
Philip Wheeler was brought in as FA after spending his first four years with the Indianapolis Colts, playing in the cover-2 defense that has been there since Tony Dungy was head coach. Built more like a safety then a linebacker, Wheeler has quick feet and a good ability to back pedal to keep plays in front of him. These skills make him a good LB in zone coverage which the Raiders are expected to run much more prevalently this season.
Wheeler was a DE in college so he does have some pass rush skills. Due to his slighter build he sometimes struggles shedding blocks, but he takes good angles to make the tackle and shows more in run game then passing game even so.
Miles Burris was drafted in the 4th round in this years draft. He is a versatile, all round linebacker with no particular elite skills but no glaring flaws, either. His skills allow him to play in multiple linebacker positions but he'll start his NFL career at Outside Linebacker.
Burris is a "hustle player" and is all over the field. He's an above average athlete that can rush the passer, stuff the run and be a factor in coverage. He has a tendency to overpursue run plays at time but has the hustle to make up for it. His transition to coverage assignments in the NFL will be a challenge that that's true of most college LBs.
Winner: Philip Wheeler will have starting spot but don't be surprised when Burris is rotated in, consistently.
Jamal Black is a co-host of the Two Tone Crew podcast and has been playing fantasy football for more than a decade. Jamal uses statistics heavily in projecting players' future success and attempts to look at football from many different angles to come to the best conclusions.
For more thoughts on the NFL and Fantasy Football, follow him on Twitter @Jamalisms
Read any Fantasy Football For Beginners article, and you will see the standard suggestion of drafting a running back with each of your first two picks. In large part this is because many leagues prefer starting two running backs on each team, and only one quarterback. This means running backs are a precious commodity in fantasy circles. As the NFL continues its transition to high-powered passing offenses, however, the RB/RB strategy faces increasing scrutiny. The yellow brick road we've been on for the last 5-10 years is leading to an emerald city where too few running backs can be trusted to dominate, while too many quarterbacks can. (I'll spare you the 'horse of a different color' reference) Precious commodity or not, predictability is a big issue.
Depending on your scoring system (and the intelligence of your competition), I can imagine as many as four quarterbacks being taken in the first round. Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Matthew Stafford each passed for more than 5,000 yards last year. Aaron Rodgers, meanwhile, won the league MVP and would almost certainly have exceeded the 5,000 yard mark if he had played in the final week of the season.
Any combination of these guys in round one shouldn't surprise you, though the first few picks are still more likely than not to be running backs. If these guys last through the first set of picks, expect a run on quarterbacks in round two and don't be afraid to start the run if it hasn't happened by the time your pick comes around.
Despite the changing landscape, I still feel the earliest few picks (at least) should be spent on a work-horse running back. The question is, which one do you want?
In this article, I'll zero in on last year's champion – Maurice Jones-Drew. We'll take a look at the last ten years to try and spot trends and glean understanding from the combined fates of former league leading rushers. Is Jones-Drew likely to repeat as the rushing champion? Should you take him with your first pick? Let's see what recent history has to say on those matters.
Updated: Per Bill Williamson of ESPN, a source has said that Wisniewski has resigned to spend more time with his family, finding the coaching life too difficult. Jerry McDonald of the Contra Costa Times believes it's unlikely that it is any deeper than that story.
Per Pat Kirwan of CBS, former Raiders player and coach Steve Wisniewski may no longer be employed by the organization. Wisniewski was the assistant O line coach, a position he also held last season with the previous administration. He was one of only a few coaches to keep his job during the coaching changes.
Kirwan tweeted this morning, "I was told Raider line coach Steve Wisniewski has cleared out his office and left the Raiders, Frank Pollack on own as o- linecoach."
There is no other information as of yet but we will update you when we learn more.
The season is nearly here and the Raider-Nation can surely feel it! First, however, the Raiders head to their Napa Training facility for training camp. Camp is where the men are separated from the boys when the 2012 team really practices with pads and contact for the first time. I'll be giving you a look at camp battles, dark horses to start or make the squad and my thoughts on the team going forward.
Backup QB- Matt Leinart vs Terrelle Pryor.
I'll start off by admitting it; yes, I am a Ohio State fan and I'm rooting for Pryor.
However, it's not solely because of that reason (while it might help). I'm rooting for him because of the work he is putting in to be better. This off-season he was to meet up with Rich Gannon and he's shown great work ethic, being the first to show and last to leave the facility each day.
I don't think he beats out Leinhart, however much I'm rooting for him, though. Matt has more experience as a starter and played in a similar offense in Houston. Also, this isessentially Pryor's rookie year with him missing training camp and not being able to practice with the team for 6 weeks last season, so for now he'll be a "Project" at QB3.
Winner: Matt Leinart