Jon Gruden-Not Antonio Brown-is the Raiders Problem

Yes, another post or comment about Antonio Brown and the saga that has just become stranger, stranger, and stranger. Ever since the last week of the 2018 season when Brown was suspended from his former team the Steelers, it has been a whirlwind of silliness honestly. People blamed the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger for Brown’s actions. He then gets traded to Oakland for a 3rd and 5th round pick. Things were semi-subdued to start as there wasn’t much drama. But when the football helmet issue came to play, that’s when everything began.

Needless to say, Antonio Brown is probably done as a Raider before Week 1 ever gets here.

Or is he?

The one guy that has been front & center of the whole thing aside from Antonio Brown has been Jon Gruden. When word passed on Thursday that Brown was going to be suspended by GM Mike Mayock after “conduct detrimental to the team” (let’s just say that to avoid any major details), Gruden did not come out and really support the idea that Brown was going to be suspended.

For me, at that minute, I figured Brown would not be suspended or at least get it overturned.

Friday arrives and the “breaking” came up on my phone: “Jon Gruden says Antonio Brown will play Week 1.”

Brown apologized to his team “with tears in his eyes” and then apologized in front of cameras. Okay, fine. The team captains said they “would back whatever Gruden wants to do with Brown.”

Then the video of Brown talking to Gruden on the phone on what felt was like his own Nike ad. Gruden found it amusing and loved it. Okay…..(personal note: if I was being secretly recorded on a phone about a matter like this, it’s probably not something I’d find amusing.)

Wake up this morning and now Brown wants his release and that is “no way he will play for the Raiders” after Oakland voided his guarantees. Now the rumor is already going around that Gruden still expects Brown to play and still planning it like Brown will play.

Now, I want to hit on a few things here, notably about the team captains. Nobody has really come out in public and defended the embattled wide receiver and if the message was “whatever you think is best, coach” towards Gruden, that to me is a tell-tale message that the players don’t want Brown to be back there. But Gruden is already insistent of keeping Brown in Oakland, no matter what the issues are with the Raiders.

And that’s the problem.

Brown apologists and Gruden apologists alike will say that Gruden is giving Brown a second chance. Fine. But he’s blown that already when he bucked up to the boss. He blew that when he did a holdout for his helmet. So now we are on the 4th or 5th chance at it. Another thing has been somebody erroneously said how Gruden won a Super Bowl with another diva prima donna receiver in Keyshawn Johnson and having Warren Sapp. To those arguments, Gruden and Johnson hated each other and by the second season Gruden was with the Bucs he suspended Johnson for the second half of the season. And Sapp was not an issue. PS-Gruden won a Super Bowl with Dungy guys on defense. Just saying. After that, he was just an “average” head coach with the Bucs as the Dungy guys started to leave or retire.

Secondly Gruden has already undermined his GM Mike Mayock for all of this. From the moment when Mayock told Brown you’re “all in or all out” to even now, Gruden has been what from the outside has been the opposite of Mayock. It looks bad from that perspective that the head coach (who has an insane deal to stay) and the new GM there are not on the same page. That is a key issue.

We have already seen Gruden have his issues with the Raiders since he came back, notably with his prior GM Reggie McKenzie. The trades of Khalil Mack (which is the most dumbfounding of all of the moves until Brown arrived) and Amari Cooper are just unexplainable. If anything they came to work and did their jobs. But if Gruden has total control of the team over the GM, then why does Oakland have a GM at all when he keeps undermining the decisions Mayock makes?

Again, we know Antonio Brown has baggage. We saw that in full force last year in Pittsburgh. But what Jon Gruden is doing is enabling his behavior time after time to the point that it may just plague the team in what looks to be the Raiders final season in Oakland. It doesn’t set a good precedent for the other players and it is very harming if you are a teammate that is watching this on the side going “how many chances will Brown get from this guy?” or “if it was me, I’m out of a job!” or “well, Khalil Mack was pretty much kicked out of here because he wanted a new contract though he’s a stand-up guy and wants to play here.” Just because somebody may be very talented and have a strong practice regiment does not necessarily mean it off-sets all the issues. Gruden fails to see it right now that it is killing his team.

Maybe the guy that needs to miss the first week of the regular season and the entire season is Jon Gruden. All he’s doing is taking the Raiders into a black hole of futility. And trying to fight to keep Antonio Brown on the team is just another example. And the question is, what is the next example for Gruden and the Raiders? Or better yet how many examples will it take before the Raiders figure out Gruden is not any answer at all? Maybe Gruden is the one that has the issues destroying the team, not Brown.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Steelers Trade Antonio Brown to Raiders

The Antonio Brown saga is at an end.

After rumors abound everyday since really the Steelers season ended and a near rumored trade with the Buffalo Bills happened Friday, Antonio Brown is an Oakland Raider.

To break down the trade, the Steelers send their prolific, yet controversial wide receiver to Oakland for a third round pick and a fifth round pick in this year’s NFL Draft.

Wait, what? Antonio Brown, probably the top receiver in football over the past 5 years gets a net return of a 3rd and 5th round draft pick. So let’s look at this for both sides

FOR THE RAIDERS: Remember how everybody ripped the Raiders for trading Khalil Mack? Well, they may have neutralized it with this move given how at least Oakland netted two first round picks from Chicago. Then the Raiders give Brown a new contract with $30 million in guaranteed money (as opposed to zero guaranteed money from Pittsburgh). It really speeds up the rebuilding process in Oakland now and Derek Carr has no excuses of having a solid weapon to throw at down the field. So now, it sets up the Raiders future pretty well with this as well as having two extra first rounders to help out this year. Does that make Oakland a contender in 2019? No, but the pieces are now set, perhaps for a run when they move to Las Vegas.

FOR THE STEELERS: Many say the Steelers got fleeced. But here’s how I look at it: money is an issue and attitude is an issue. Pittsburgh obviously wants to rid themselves of all aspects of a media circus, because well, let’s face it, Pittsburgh is not one to play the media circus bit. With Brown and Bell gone now from the Steel City, many should feel like it is an addition by subtraction bit. That’s fine. However, a third and fifth round return is a bit surprising. It really means that the Steelers were just ready to move on. It also sounded like Pittsburgh had no other options left on the table after the Buffalo deal fell through. So if this is the best that the Steelers got, okay.

Antonio Brown is a great receiver, but much like a large chunk of receivers we’ve seen over the past decade and even before, there seems to be that swag that if not unchecked, can really be more of an issue for that team than an asset. We’ve seen it with Owens, Bryant, Chad Ochocinco and others. None of those guys are wearing a Super Bowl ring. So Oakland while it is a good move for them, will have to find a way to keep Brown “in check” to get where they need to go. Pittsburgh on the other side, will have to get back to their roots a bit. We always remember when the Steelers were atop the NFL or near the top of it was nobody “elite” like Brown or Bell that did it for them, but guys who were very good and gelled as a cohesive unit. So again, and hate to be redundant, but this for Pittsburgh was an “addition-by-subtraction” thing for them. Now they can start over and return to what got them as a legit threat in the NFL.

MY OBSTRUCTED GRADES:

RAIDERS: A-. Getting an elite receiver for a 3rd and 5th rounder is excellent. If Brown can get along with his teammates in Oakland, then this is an A+. If he doesn’t, then this will smell of a Randy Moss move where we won’t hear from him again until whenever the Raiders trade him to New England.

STEELERS: B-. The Steelers needed to get rid of him. Too much drama on a franchise that is more about business as usual than as the local sports radio station I listen to call it “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” They don’t work like that and whenever they do, it never pans out well for them. But for a third and fifth round pick? That’s where I think many people feel like they got fleeced.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Looking at the Three Major NFL Trades This Week

The NFL Trade Deadline is approaching and we are actually getting something happening that we’ve never really seen before at the Trade Deadline in the NFL: Trades.

This week we saw three moves being made that really impacted teams who are hoping to play some January football.  We will look at all of them and figure out the impact of the trades for the teams involved.

RAIDERS TRADE AMARI COOPER TO COWBOYS FOR 2019 FIRST ROUND PICK

For Dallas:  The Cowboys needed a WR as the passing offense is a disaster, so it makes sense on that issue.  Adding on, Tavon Austin (whom Jerry Jones compared him to Michael Irvin-not kidding on that either) has been injured while the tandem of Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson, and Michael Gallup won’t resemble that of the Falcons, Steelers, and Saints receivers that’s for sure.  It’s been said that Jerry Jones was REALLY involved on getting Cooper there and when Jerry REALLY wants a certain player, he will get that certain player.  But is Cooper worth a first round pick?  He has the ability to be a #1 receiver and an elite one at that.  His first two seasons were excellent and considered elite (155 rec, 2,223 total yards, 11 TD), but the last two years, as he’s been dinged up, he has struggled tremendously (especially this year in the Raiders lost season).  He has only 22 catches for 280 yards and 1 TD.  Now Dallas hopes that a better atmosphere instead of the toxic one out in Oakland right now will do the trick.  But though it is one pick, that is a first rounder.  If Cooper produces like he did in 2015 and 2016 then yes, a pick well spent.  But Dallas was burned before 10 years ago when they traded a first rounder to Detroit for Roy Williams, who pretty much did nothing after joining the Cowboys.  So in other words, high-risk, high-reward for Dallas with this move.  That said, they probably could have made a better offer than that for Cooper.  GRADE: C+

For Oakland:  The nightmare for Raiders fans continue as Gruden now shipped off his offensive star.  While I get the idea that the Raiders weren’t Super Bowl material, they were at the very least competitive with those guys.  Unless Gruden is trying to pull like an Atlanta Braves where they sell off their top stars and pile up the picks to have a great future in their new home in Las Vegas, this is just a head-scratcher in what they have been trying to do since the Khalil Mack trade.  That being said, getting a #1 for Cooper right now is not too bad.  Of course while they do have three first round picks, it doesn’t seem like aside from their own pick (which could be the first overall), Oakland won’t be seeing those picks near the front of the draft.  I guess because they got the first round pick from Dallas, that is fine, but the team is in disarray because of Gruden.  GRADE: B

Apple

GIANTS TRADE ELI APPLE TO THE SAINTS FOR A FOURTH AND SEVENTH ROUND PICKS:  

For New Orleans:  The Saints need help at corner and Apple, who had played decent this year despite the Giants woes, fits that need.  Is it a risk?  Yes, but giving up a 4th and 7th rounder isn’t a massive risk.  Apple has gotten a new attitude this year which has been considered a positive by Giants personnel so this may be a great move for New Orleans if he plays well and is up to snuff.  Given New Orleans is Ohio State Pro, he may fit in perfectly.  And if the Saints are able to take down the Rams (New Orleans and Los Angeles are probably the favorites to win the NFC right now), it is because they have to slow down the Los Angeles offense which is top notch in both the run and the pass.  He fits the bill.  GRADE: A-

For New York Giants:  Many felt like Apple turned the corner with the Giants this year so it was a bit surprising.  The defense isn’t the problem nor was Apple.  We can figure out what the issue is with the Giants of why the struggles are there.  Getting a 4th and 7th rounder I felt is a little bit of selling low on him unless Pat Shurmur was just fed up with him and we don’t know it.  I really don’t get this move for the Giants besides the whole “we are going to rebuild a la Oakland.”  GRADE: D

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GIANTS TRADE DAMON HARRISON TO LIONS FOR 5TH ROUND PICK:

For the Lions:  Detroit needs depth on the line as well as finding guys who can stop the run (Detroit is ranked 30th against the run in 2018).  Adding to the fact that Ezekiel Ansah has been injured for most of the season, the Lions desperately needed help as Matthew Stafford is in the midst of his prime years and probably the Lions best chance to be a legit threat in the NFL.  Harrison fits this bill.  Now Detroit owes him a lot of money but partly because they had some left over after Haloti Ngata left the Lions for the Eagles for LESS money, they could afford it.  Harrison will be with tackles Da’Shawn Hand and A’Shawn Robinson and could be a huge veteran presence on a young line.  To me, this could be a trade for Detroit that could change their season in a good way.  GRADE: A

For the Giants:  Yep, rebuild.  Moving contracts out, getting picks (though late round picks), etc.   But a 5th for Harrison?  I guess because Detroit is eating the contract that it was either pay the contract or pay for a pick.  But honestly, a guy like Harrison’s caliber doesn’t necessitate a 5th round pick.  I honestly don’t know what the Giants are doing really at this point.  At least the Raiders are getting picks near the top of the Draft.  GRADE: D

That’s it for this time.  Let’s see what the deadline holds later this week.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Obstructed Thoughts on the Khalil Mack Trade

Woke up yesterday morning to hear the Bears acquired Khalil Mack for two first rounders and later signed him to a 6-year, $141 million contract.

Wow.

Have to admit Chicago had the gall to do it as the Bears have been irrelevant to the NFL for the past 5 seasons and being in the NFC North cellar by a wide margin from Minnesota, Detroit, and Green Bay.  Of course, this move will make Chicago a threat in the division and make the NFC North go back to having that old NFC Norris feel of being the Black & Blue division as all four teams have high expectations in 2018.

So, what are my thoughts of the trade for both teams and such?

For the Bears

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders

It makes them an instant threat in the NFC North and hopes for a division championship.  Chicago hopes the Bears defense is returning to the old Monsters of the Midway mentality or even when the Bears had Urlacher, Briggs, etc. And yep.  Adding Mack with top draft pick Roquan Smith should help.  Chicago has to hope the secondary (which was great) can get turnovers (ranked 29th last year in INT’s).  And they are hoping Mack’s pressuring and terrorizing quarterbacks will help spike that turnover rate.  You have to think Chicago’s defense propels them as the best in the division and if not in the top 5 in the NFL, very close to it.

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions

Mitch Trubisky will have to take a major leap in his 2nd year if the Bears want to be a Super Bowl contender.  I’ve been harsh on Trubisky since his days at North Carolina and don’t see how he is considered a franchise quarterback.  In wins at UNC he looked sharp, but in losses, a different story, especially to Virginia Tech and Stanford, where they both had stout defenses.  Last year, nothing screamed out of him being a “QB for the future” in Chicago.  And watching him play last year it didn’t have any vibe that he would be a guy that could get Chicago to the promised land.  Even his lone 300+ game was marred with 3 INT’s against Detroit.  “But, but he has better weapons now!  They signed Robinson, Gabriel, and Burton!  And they still have Cohen and Howard!”  To the Cohen and Howard part, agreed.  Those guys can be one of the best 1-2 backfield tandems in the NFL.  And they gave him a bevvy of weapons, which I think was solid.  But to play devil’s advocate: one is coming off a torn ACL (Robinson), another going from the slot to a bigger role of secondary receiver (Gabriel) and the other one hasn’t played many snaps and wasn’t a starter at any point not to mention mostly being a special teams guy.  “If that’s the case, he can be a game manager!”  IF Chicago becomes a running team big time (which they can) then he most certainly could be a game manager, but he needs to be accurate and at times to which he really wasn’t.  I mean if Mark Sanchez can get to a conference championship in back-to-back seasons then Trubisky most definitely can.  But if you are trying to rely on Trubisky’s arm, that’s where things may head south for Chicago.  “But he’s a great team leader!”  Good for a game manager, yes.  But Bucs players have said the same thing on Jameis Winston too.  So I think if the Bears are to get where the fans hope they can get, Trubisky will have to be a QB with a 65% accuracy rate and have a good TD/INT ratio and that means anything less than 14 INT would suffice.  Anything more, and that’s a problem.  But either way Trubisky has to step up big time this year if the Bears are to really be a threat.

The Bears didn’t overpay but overpaid for Mack.  Let me explain what I mean.  I think the two first rounders are fine and overall they got a couple picks coming back (late rounders) so I think they fleeced Oakland in that regard.  But 6 years, $141 for a defensive player…that’s a lot and it sometimes backfires (think Suh for Miami).  Somebody made a comment on Twitter saying if you are going to get key players, get them when your franchise QB is still on his rookie deal.  Chicago did the right thing there.  However, that may really be sticky points when the likes of Floyd, Howard, and others come up on their contract deals and are looking to get more money from the Bears.  With all of that said, Mack is a top 5 defensive player in this league without question and already snagged a Defensive Player of the Year trophy just 2 years ago.  And he is a franchise guy.  So the overpaying of him may be worth it.

For the Raiders

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Jon Gruden is running things and maybe running the Raiders into the ground already. Reggie McKenzie would have probably done more I think to keep Khalil Mack and McKenzie’s comments may have shown he really isn’t the guy that has the final say on moves.  Gruden’s comments of saying “well, we weren’t very good with him on defense last year” was pretty much a sign that Gruden didn’t want Mack around.  Gruden is a good coach, don’t get me wrong, but that Tampa Bay Super Bowl run was won by Tony Dungy players on defense (Brooks, Sapp, Rice, Lynch, Barber, etc.).  Gruden was more inclined to put a Bucs having a pretty little offense, even over a championship defense like they had in 2002.  And after those players started to age and/or leave, Tampa Bay was a middle-of-the-road team with Gruden.  Bottom line is, you don’t trade away a top 5 defensive player even for two first round picks like that.  Ever.

Reggie McKenzie is a lame duck.  As I said, I feel like McKenzie would have done more to keep Mack in the fold had it not been for Gruden, but given how Gruden has a “Raider for life” contract now, it makes McKenzie somewhat inept.  It’s what Gruden says that will go, not McKenzie.  They may get two very good picks pending on where Chicago finishes in the season especially if they still don’t see a playoff spot, but will there be a franchise guy at pick 18?  It’s possible, but not probable.

The Raiders may be worse on defense than last year.  Khalil Mack played every game in his career and has been healthy.  His reputation with the Raiders was stellar and nobody has a bad thing to say on the guy.  And even though his numbers fell a little bit, he still had double-digits in sacks (10.5, just .5 off from his season in 2016) through double teams.  The moves they made on defense isn’t appealing at all and Oakland could end up with having the worst defense in the NFL.

Overall I think Chicago fleeced Oakland badly in this trade.  It propels the Bears out of the NFC doldrums and into the thick of it, though I still think there is a piece missing or two, but overall it is what the Bears needed.  The Raiders, why?  From all accounts it seems like Gruden never wanted Mack around in the first place and that to me is very dumbfounding.  But hey, time will tell what happens with this trade.  But right now, gah.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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The Obstructed AFC West Preview: 2018

The AFC West is always a heated division with rivalries across the board.  However, it just seems like there is a gap between the top two teams in the division and the bottom teams of the division every year.  And it just has that vibe.  But I think at least three teams have a great shot to win the division, but those same three teams have gaping holes that keep them from being relatively considered a lock.  The Chargers have high hopes and rightfully so as they are probably the most balanced squad in the AFC West, but with injuries on defense already there is some depth issues.  The Raiders bring back their coach from almost 20 years ago in Jon Gruden and hope to get the offense rolling, but questions are abound on the defense especially if they don’t have Khalil Mack around via holdout.  The Chiefs will put their dynamic offense into a young gun in Patrick Mahomes, but like the Raiders, there are major questions abound that really hasn’t been answered in the off-season and questions are all over the place with one of the more consistent squads in the league in Denver, where the Broncos may have a very rare off-year (though this would be the 2nd straight off-year for them) and it just doesn’t look like there are a lot of bright spots with them.

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(1) LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

LAST SEASON: 9-7 (2ND PLACE)

KEY ADDITIONS: QB-Geno Smith (FA-New York Giants), TE-Virgil Green (FA-Denver), C-Mike Pouncey (FA-Miami), K-Roberto Aguayo (FA-Carolina), K-Caleb Sturgis (FA-Philadelphia), S-Derwin James (Draft-Florida State), LB-Uchenna Nwosu (Draft-USC), DT-Justin Jones (Draft-NC State)

KEY LOSSES: TE-Hunter Henry (Injury), S-Jaylen Watkins (Injury), CB-Jason Verrett (Injury), TE-Antonio Gates (FA), RB-Branden Oliver (FA-Indianapolis), K-Nick Novak (FA), C-Matt Slauson (FA-Indianapolis), G-Kenny Wiggins (FA-Detroit), DT-Tenny Palepoi (FA), LB-Chris McCain (FA-Indianapolis), LB-Korey Toomer (FA-San Francisco), S-Tre Boston (FA-Arizona)

Similar to my feel on the 49ers I really am buying into the Chargers this year.  I think their defense despite some injuries and dings, is a championship, top 5 defense.  And the scary part is when you add a healthy Keenan Allen into the mix, you have a top 10 receiver in him with a quarterback like Philip Rivers.  Rivers has been one of those mid-tier guys who you are just waiting on to bust out and have an MVP caliber year.  The numbers are there, but the wins aren’t, which has led a good friend of mine to say “some of those numbers are empty calorie numbers” and only have them when the team is behind.  However, the Chargers have a good balance of a passing game, a running game, and a defense.  Those are all formulas for a great team.  It can be if can Rivers take them to that next level and can the special teams can step up, which really has been the team’s ultimate albatross since Drew Brees still wore the bolt.  The Chargers have Joey Bosa, who has proven me wrong time and time again since joining the NFL and could be in line for the defensive player of the year.  And on the other side is Melvin Ingram.  Sick.  The key question will be past the defensive line, notably at linebacker which does raise some concerns and a little surprised they let Korey Toomer go.  But the secondary should be on the upswing with Kasey Hayward and draft pick Derwin James.  But they cannot afford any other hits in the secondary as it is relatively thin.  KEY QUESTION:  Assuming everyone is healthy, is it somewhat of a do-or-die bit for Rivers to get them to that next level?  Honestly, yes.  He’s 36, almost 37.  He has to get the Chargers in the playoffs and deep.  I think they have to consider getting a quarterback in the NFL Draft next season.  MY PREDICTION: 11-5 they’re going to be good enough to win a lot of games and they may be the one team that can really scare the Patriots in the AFC.  

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos

(2) OAKLAND RAIDERS

LAST SEASON: 6-10 (3RD PLACE)

KEY ADDITIONS: RB-Doug Martin (FA-Tampa Bay), FB-Keith Smith (FA-Dallas), WR-Jordy Nelson (FA-Green Bay), WR-Martavis Bryant (Trade-Pittsburgh), WR-Ryan Switzer (Trade-Dallas), TE-Derek Carrier (FA-Los Angeles Rams), T-Breno Giacomini (FA-Houston), K-Mike Nugent (FA-Chicago), DE-Tank Carradine (FA-San Francisco), DE-Frostee Rucker (FA-Arizona), LB-Tahir Whitehead (FA-Detroit), LB-Derrick Johnson (FA-Kansas City), FA-Emmanuel Lamur (FA-Minnesota), S-Marcus Gilchrist (FA-Houston), FA-Rashaan Melvin (FA-Indianapolis), CB-Darryl Worley (FA-Philadelphia), CB-Shareece Wright (FA-Buffalo), FA-Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (FA-New York Giants), P-Andrew DePaola (FA-Chicago), T-Kolton Miller (Draft-UCLA), T-Brandon Parker (Draft-NC A&T), DT-PJ Hall (Draft-Sam Houston State), DE-Arden Key (Draft-LSU)

KEY LOSSES: WR-Michael Crabtree (FA-Baltimore), K-Sebastian Janikowski (FA-Seattle), DE-Denico Autry (FA-Indianapolis), LB-Navorro Bowman (FA), CB-TJ Carrie (FA-Cleveland), P-Marquette King (FA-Denver), WR-Cordarelle Patterson (Trade-New England) T-Marshall Newhouse (Released-Buffalo), FB-Jamize Olawale (Trade-Dallas)

People are giving Oakland the benefit of the doubt that with Jon Gruden back, things will automatically giving them the Division and another option besides New England for the AFC representative in the Super Bowl.  I don’t see it at all.  Yes, Derek Carr is a solid quarterback and they supplied more weapons with Carr in Nelson, Bryant, and Doug Martin to compliment Marshawn Lynch.  So from a paper standpoint, the offense could rival some of the best in the NFL.  However, there is A LOT of turnover from the roster, notably on defense and they were horrid last year.  Adding on, nobody knows when Khalil Mack will return from the holdout and Gruden didn’t really ease tensions on his comments.  They added pieces like Tahir Whitehead and Derrick Johnson to offset Mack, but they’re not Mack.  And the secondary looks to be a giant mess, which may be problematic but not too problematic given what they have on their schedule this year.  But it will still be an issue I believe for the offensive minded Gruden.  They do have the potential to be competitive, but I don’t think the holes Oakland has on defense right now will put them over the top in the AFC.  KEY QUESTION:  When will Mack return?  I think both Donald for the Rams and Mack for the Raiders will be uniform in the opening week, but it sounds like in Oakland’s case it is very tense with them and Mack to the point I can see them not have their star defensive player for a few games assuming how the Raiders start.  MY PREDICTION: 9-7.  Raider fans may not be excited on this record as they are already thinking Super Bowl or bust, but they are just not that balanced.

Chiefs.jpg

(3) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 

LAST SEASON: 10-6 (1ST PLACE, LOST TO TENNESSEE IN WILD CARD)

KEY ADDITIONS: QB-Chad Henne (FA-Jacksonville), QB-Matt McGloin (FA-Houston), RB-Kerwyn Williams (FA-Arizona), RB-Damien Williams (FA-Miami), WR-Sammy Watkins (FA-Los Angeles Rams), DT-Xavier Williams (FA-Arizona), LB-Anthony Hitchens (FA-Dallas), CB-Kendall Fuller (Trade-Washington), CB-David Amerson (FA-Oakland), CB-Orlando Scandrick (FA-Washington), DE-Breeland Speaks (Draft-Ole Miss), DT-Derrick Nnadi (Draft-Florida State), LB-Dorian O’Daniel (Draft-Clemson)

KEY LOSSES: QB-Alex Smith (Trade-Washington), CB-Marcus Peters (Trade-Los Angeles Rams), WR-Albert Wilson (FA-Miami), C-Zach Fulton (FA-Houston), DT-Bennie Logan (FA-Tennessee), LB-Derrick Johnson (FA-Oakland), LB-Kevin Pierre-Louis (FA-New York Jets), CB-Terrance Mitchell (FA-Cleveland), Ron Parker (FA-Atlanta)

Of all the teams I’ve looked at, Kansas City is the hardest to figure out especially with Andy Reid as the head coach.  I don’t really doubt what Reid does in the regular season but of course January comes and then I doubt him.  Alex Smith is gone but gun-slinger Patrick Mahomes is in.  And I’m not fully sold on the guy.  Yes, he’s been fine during the preseason, but it has been preseason.  While I think they got a good trade in Kendall Fuller, I don’t know if he’s as better as Peters.  And I see major defensive flaws to the Chiefs that make me think they really aren’t a viable threat to the Patriots and the rest of the AFC.  But somehow, notably to Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs are always in the mix.  It may be a similar year like that in 2018, but I don’t see them being as better as what they’ve been the last few years.  KEY QUESTION: Will Patrick Mahomes be that guy to get the Chiefs over the hump?  Something about him doesn’t sit right with me.  He has an arm and is relatively mobile, but I don’t see him being like one of the elite quarterbacks and not really a guy that fits into Reid’s system.  We’ll see though.  MY PREDICTION: 9-7.  They’ll be competitive, but I don’t know if they will beat the better squads, especially on the road.

Denver.jpg

(4) DENVER BRONCOS

LAST SEASON: 5-11 (4TH PLACE)

KEY ADDITIONS: QB-Case Keenum (FA-Minnesota), T-Jared Veldheer (Trade-Arizona), DT-Clinton McDonald (FA-Tampa Bay), CB-Tramaine Brock (FA-Minnesota), S-S’ua Cravens (Trade-Washington), P-Marquette King (FA-Oakland), DE-Bradley Chubb (FA-NC State), WR-Courtland Sutton (FA-SMU), CB-Isaac Yiadom (Draft-Boston College), RB-Royce Freeman (Draft-Oregon)

KEY LOSSES: QB-Brock Osweiler (FA-Miami), RB-CJ Anderson (Released-Carolina), RB-Jamaal Charles (FA), WR-Bennie Fowler (FA-Chicago), WR-Cody Latimer (FA-New York Giants), TE-Virgil Green (FA-Los Angeles Chargers), T-Donald Stephenson (FA-Cleveland), CB-Aquib Talib (Trade-Los Angeles Rams), QB-Trevor Siemian (Trade-Minnesota)

I think right now, Denver is somewhat in a position they rarely are in: a mess.  And I blame John Elway for the mess.  The moves they made, the inability to keep Wade Phillips around and having a top tier defense, etc. it just doesn’t look great.  Case Keenum had a surprising year in Minnesota, helping to get the Vikings to the NFC Championship, but he’s not a guy I think that can be relied on for a lengthy period of time and instead of trying to get a young quarterback that is a franchise guy, he went with a veteran that has ups and downs.  Adding on, CJ Anderson is gone, replaced by Royce Freeman, who can be a steal, but it has always been a back-by-committee in Denver.  And the mishandling I think of the head coach with Vance Joseph (where Elway was indecisive on either keeping him or firing him) also stings as Joseph looks lost right now.  And even with Von Miller on defense, the Broncos defense has fallen back badly, looking old and underperforming.  And I honesty think Denver made no steps to improve their team this year.  KEY QUESTION: Would Denver actually ask Elway to step down as GM if they have another porous year?  Yes.  Elway is the executive VP so it isn’t like he’d be completely out of the Broncos organization, and I know he orchestrated a Super Bowl with the Broncos in 2015, but many feel it was because of Manning, Gary Kubiak, and Wade Phillips with the defensive play.  Right now, it could get very ugly with Denver.  At least that’s how I see it.  And it is really on his watch with the moves.   MY PREDICTION: 3-13.  Denver messed up I think with the moves they made this off-season.  Were they going to be at the forefront in the AFC?  No, but being competitive was still considered.  And I don’t see them being that too much.

That’s all the look-ins.  Next week will be my picks for the Super Bowl (which honestly I have zero clue who I am going to pick), MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, etc.).

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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