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    • Levi Damien

       
       
       

      So, what's up? How ya livin'?

       
    • David Wyatt

       
       
       

      Hey Levi, good to speak to you! Not too bad, excited for the season and to finally have some football back! How you getting on? Confident ahead of the new season?

       
    • Levi Damien

       
       
       

      I wouldn't use the word "confident". At least not with regard to the Raiders. Starting a rookie quarterback on a rebuilt team doesn't offer much confidence.


      Speaking of rookie quarterbacks, Geno Smith was in the same boat last year as Carr with regard to his draft position. They both thought to be possible high draft picks and then fell into the top of the second round. So, I'm sure you understand the uncertainty part.

       
    • David Wyatt

       
       
       

      Oh absolutely, Geno is still very much an unknown and it was the same last year. So lets talk about Carr, the one knock on him coming out of college was the fact he wilted under pressure. With the Jets notorious for exotic blitzes and throwing a lot of odd looks at the QB, I can't imagine a Rex Ryan defense is the one you'd choose for your rookies first game? or is it a case of being a good baptism by fire? 

       
    • Levi Damien

       
       
       
      Baptism by fire is not preferable for a young guy like Derek Carr. He watched his brother go through that his entire tenure with the Texans and never recover. If he gets lit up a few times, he could start to get happy feet and instead of planting and finding his receivers. He already got lit up this preseason and was out for a game with a rib injury. Call that his baptism.

      Carr has been lauded by his teammates and coaches for knowing his protections very early on which speaks to his decade of ingratiation into what an NFL quarterback sees. In that regard, he isn't your typical rookie quarterback. What the worry here is not what Carr sees but what his offensive linemen see. The left side of the Raiders line is suspect. Donald Penn gave up the second most sacks (12) in the NFL last season and next to him is a third round rookie. They have to recognize those blitzes and pick them up to give Carr time to throw. They did well against the Seahawks in the finale but I doubt the defending champs were giving too many of their blitz packages away in a fourth preseason game.
       
    • Levi Damien

       
       
       

      I had noted the success undrafted rookie Matt McGloin had against the Jets defense late last season and that I think Carr is capable of doing similar. That second half of their game last season, McGloin drove for a score every drive. How did that happen? What was going on with that defense that they were not able to disrupt the Raiders offense in the second half?

       
    • David Wyatt

       
       
       

      Very true and if your offensive line is suspect I imagine they won't want to see what many consider to be one of the finest defensive lines in the whole of football. Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison of the Jets. We know what it's like for our QB's to start getting happy feet, Sanchez was notorious for not planting and one reading his receivers, Geno had a few problems last year but he's largely avoided the large scale meltdown.


      Saying that he will be facing a very poor cornerback tandem in Darrin Walls and converted safety Antonio Allen, at least they are largely poor on paper, they may turn into something special but it's definitely an area of the team Jets fans are worried about. 


      Are there any real weaknesses you see other than the offensive line that the Jets may be able to exploit?

       
    • David Wyatt

       
       
       

      Honestly, that game was a lucky escape for us. I'm not sure what happened in the second half but Antonio Cromartie had a big problem that day, he got beat off the line and when he played in off-coverage he looked tentative. I remember him taking a PI call that extended one of your drives and you seemed to target a corner who didn't look interested. I think you're always going to have success when you do that. 

       
    • Levi Damien

       
       
       

      Nope. No weaknesses. This team is rock solid. Move along, nothing to see here.


      Seriously doh...


      With a rebuilt team like this, there are question marks everywhere. As I mentioned, the left side of the line is suspect. Gabe Jackson has done quite well in run blocking but has had some issues in pass protection and recognizing blitzes (big red flag there for this game).


      The cornerbacks are cast-offs from the 49ers. Tarell Brown is the number one corner and he has been burnt a few times this preseason. Carlos Rogers is 33-years old, D.J. Hayden is on the PUP list, and the nickel is seventh round rookie, T.J. Carrie. Carrie has looked quite good so far but things are about to turn up.


      What about those J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets? Other than their obvious cornerback concerns (which seem to eclipse the Raiders CB issues), what are their vulnerable spots? I'm, uh, asking for a friend.

       
    • David Wyatt

       
       
       

      This is a Rex Ryan team, there are no weaknesses and anyone who even hints at any weaknesses will be dealt with....probably, actually he's calmed down a little recently unfortunately.


      We have a fair few question marks as well to be honest. Our offensive line is a big one, we have Breno Giacomini on the right hand side and he is a penalty machine, I've also not been 100% impressed with his pass protection! On the left hand side we have second year man Brian Winters who looks better this pre-season but we'll see how he does when the lights are on. Geno is a question mark of course and outside of Decker, we really need one of our receivers to step up. 


      We should be better this year, but the important word there is 'should'. 


      As we're talking offensive line, how is our old man Austin Howard doing in Oak-Town? In addition to that Khalil Mack was one of my favourite prospects heading into the draft, how is he doing in camp and what do you expect from him this season? 

       
    • Levi Damien

       
       
       
      You mean Austin "Danger" Howard? Does anyone actually call him that? Anyway, he has looked really good in both pass protection and run blocking. I would also think he might be able to lend the Raiders a bit of insight on the Jets' defense that would help matters.

      I expect Mack to do very well. Not to suddenly sound like a homer, but you asked about two of the better looking additions to this team this off-season. Mack was a little slow out the gate in the preseason but he came on strong in the last two. He also looked good in pass rush drills in the scrimmage against the Cowboys. He is very mature both physically and mentally. He understands his assignments and has the physical abilities to execute them. I personally have been most impressed with his discipline and talent in the screen game. He has a tackle for loss and an interception this preseason against the screen.

      Has the Jets top pick, Calvin Pryor done anything to strengthen that secondary that you've seen? Based on what you've seen, is he expected to be the impact rookie?
       
    • David Wyatt

       
       
       

      I don't think anyone called him Austin 'Danger' Powers, but I did hear revolving door a few times, well apart from his final year where he was very decent. 


      I'm happy to hear that Mack is coming along well, I wish him the best in his career, apart from this Sunday of course. I thought he was the most rounded prospect coming into the 2014 NFL draft. I watched a little tape of him last season at Buffalo and I got the impression he was a little slow off the snap but his natural speed made up for this, has this shown up at all over the pre-season?


      I've been really impressed with Pryor so far, he picked up a head injury which slowed him down this pre-season but with his style of play I expect him to pick up plenty of those throughout the season. He has that physical intimidating presence that we needed and I can guarantee that players will think twice about coming over the middle against him.


      How do you realistically expect the Raiders to get on in the AFC West this season? are the Broncos still the team to beat? 


       
    • Levi Damien

       
       
       

      I put out my season prediction article this week: http://www.silverandblackpr...


      Most would say it's pretty realistic. Well, many of the fans are hoping it isn't quite so realistic due to the fact that I have the Raiders finishing 5-11 this season.


      The Raiders are improved but their schedule is much tougher. The division is one of the toughest in the league as well. I have heard some people who think the Chiefs will come back to earth this season but I don't see that. They were a team full of Pro Bowlers even when they were the worst team in football. Last season they finally played like it. I don't think that will change. The Broncos still have Peyton Manning. And while that may be plenty, the defense has added the likes of TJ Ward and DeMarcus Ware. Tough times for the rebuilding Raiders.


      How's the old AFC East treating the Jets these days? Patriots being Patriots, I assume? Bills being Bills? The Dolphins seem like the real unknown there.

       
    • David Wyatt

       
       
       

      I see you have predicted a victory this weekend, completely agree that there are so many reasons why this game can go one way or another. It's definitely interesting and think it comes down to which defense can rattle which QB the quickest.


      I think it's going to be as you were for another season in the AFC East. The Patriots aren't quite as formidable as they once were but while they have Tom Brady behind center they are sure to be contenders. I think they'll likely win the AFC East with the Jets and Dolphins battling behind them and the Bills sitting pretty at the bottom of the division.


      I think the Dolphins will live and die with that offensive line, they had a franchise record for sacks allowed last season and had some locker room problems as everyone knows. They brought in Brandon Albert and a few rookies to try and ensure that doesn't happen again and if they keep Tannehill on his feet, he could do some damage.


      Talk to me about your RB situation, many suspect MJD is on his last legs and I can't remember the last time I saw an injury report without Darren McFadden's name on it, who will get the majority of the carries? and how important is it that you have a backfield that can take some pressure off your rookie QB?

       


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