It's that time again. I got together with Silver And Black Pride's Levi Damien. I asked him some questions. He answered them.
"Wish" is probably not the word I would use. However, they should probably all still be Raiders. Palmer should have been given at least one more season in Oakland with an attempt to restructure at that point and draft his eventual replacement. Instead they replaced him with Matt Flynn, who between his salary and the dead money left from Palmer actually cost about the same as keeping Palmer for another season. Flynn played one terrible game and was cut. The Raiders went 4-12.
Kelly is still productive and is a great locker room personality. He was a cap casualty more than anything. Veldheer should have been re-signed long term but Reggie McKenzie botched the negotiations and the Cardinals swooped in to get him (probably McKenzie's biggest mistake, especially combined with his failed attempt at throwing big money at the injury prone Rodger Saffold only to have it fall through because he was... wait for it... injured).
Shaughnessy would have provided more pass rush and run support than the invisible Jason Hunter last season, and more than Lamarr Woodley is providing right now with his total of 2 solo tackles in 5 games. Even your recently signed practice squad guy, Kaelin Burnett, should still be in Oakland. He had a great preseason and the Raiders at one point were considerably desperate at linebacker. Kaelin would have been the ideal fill-in but they didn't even give him a look. But it's clearly far more important to hold onto the new regime's first ever draft choice, Tony Bergstrom, despite his being inactive every week.
The Cardinals have been the lucky recipients of the fallout of the past few years of bad decisions in Oakland, both by the current and former regimes.
Thus far this season, who have been the most important players to the team in terms of performance? Who have been the ones who have fizzled in terms of performance vs. expectations? What were expectations coming into this season?
That's quite a question or three. I could probably write three entire articles answering this one. But I'll try to keep it short. On offense I'd say James Jones. He has been an extremely reliable target for Derek Carr and arguably their best free agent acquisition. Lamarr Woodley has not looked good. While Justin Tuck has not been a world beater, Woodley has been completely ineffective both in pass rush and run support. Free agency and the draft focused on the offensive line and pass rush and the linebacking corps was to be the deepest position on the team. Those three areas have easily been the most disappointing. The offensive line has protected Derek Carr reasonably well but the emphasis this off-season was bulking up the line for the run game. They showed a little improvement last week under new interim head coach Tony Sparano so we'll see if that can continue. As far as positives in the expectations arena, the quarterback position was looking like a repeat of last season with Matt Schaub's elbow soreness just as Matt Flynn had. The difference is the Raiders have a rookie quarterback who can actually be a quarterback. Last year they had Terrelle Pryor who took some teams off guard early with his athleticism but by midseason was taken apart by defenses.
How do the Raiders and their fans view the Arizona Cardinals and this game coming up?
As a top defensive team that now has a great offensive mind in charge at head coach. As a team that has taken down two of the best teams in the league in the Chargers and 49ers - two games most Raiders fans became Cardinals fans for a couple hours.
What matchup on Sunday have you most excited? What matchup do you most dread?
I don't ‘dread' any match-ups, though Andre Ellington looks like he could do some damage, especially with the Raiders deploying Miles Burris at middle linebacker. The match-up of Derek Carr vs Patrick Peterson seems pretty exciting to me. He completed several passes to receivers who were covered by Richard Sherman in the preseason, Darrelle Revis in the opener, and Brandon Flowers last week. Peterson would round out the list of the best corners in the league. And I guess all the match-ups of former Raiders against current Raiders. It will be interesting to see how the former Raiders perform against their old team - three of whom were original Raiders (Veldheer, Shaughnessy, Kelly).
If you could have any one player from the Cardinals, who would it be and why, and from what you know about Arizona, which Raiders player would be the best fit and biggest help for the Cardinals?
Oh, that's easy, Larry Fitzgerald. I say that's easy because he is one of those players who the Raiders could have drafted but they went with a player who ended up being a bust instead. They chose ‘can't miss' left tackle Robert Gallery at number two overall and Fitzgerald went to the Cardinals with the next pick. They did the same thing a few years later when they drafted Jamarcus Russell and Calvin Johnson was the next pick. Although, the Raiders did finally draft a receiver high in the first round in 2009... when they chose stonehands speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey at 7 overall. The last great receiver the Raiders drafted was Tim Brown in 1988. So, yeah, it's been a rough stretch.
Give us your prediction for the game and why
Cardinals win because they are one of the best teams in the league right now on both sides of the ball. Up until last week the Raiders were dead last on offense in points and scoring. Even a breakout on offense last week couldn't get a win because their defense blew it as they had in all but one of their games this season.