1st String Magazine
                  Everybody Starts @ 1st String
  • Oakland Raiders Oakland's season suffers a bad break The Raiders QB Derek Carr broke his leg during Oakland's 33-25 win over Indy improving to 12-3. Photo by Eric Taylor/1st String Magazine
  • Oakland Raiders Striaght into the Fire Oakland went into their first playoff game in 14-years with rookie Connor Cook under center making his first NFL start. It did not end well for Oakland. Photo by Eric Taylor/1st String Magazine
  • Kap still in the 49er's Picture SF looking for a new head coach The 49ers got the coach they wanted and kept the QB he wanted but it did not go well at all for Chip Kelly in Santa Clara. Photo by Eric Taylor/1st String Magazine
  • Oakland Raiders Pittsburgh wins the AFC North If you were a Steelers fan it took your breath away. The wild finish in Pittsburgh's 31-27 win over Baltimore proves football is a game of inches. Photo by Eric Taylor/1st String Magazine
  • Photo by Eric Taylor John Madden honors the Snake One of the NFL finest, John Madden was on hand to honor his old QB Kenny "The Snake" Stabler's Hall of Fame induction during halftime of Oakland's game vs Atlanta. Photo by Eric Taylor


Oakland Raider's | San Francisco 49ers | NFL


Oakland suffers a tough loss in win over the Colts

Photo by Eric Taylor

Photo by Eric Taylor/1st String Magazine

It was going so well. The AFC West leading Raiders were polishing off the Indianapolis Colts early in the 4th quarter when Derek Carr, Oakland's starting QB, went back to pass when Trent Cole fell on his legs in an awkward fashion and breaking Carr's right Fibula.

His season is most likely over and the Raiders season took a turn for the worse right when it was starting to get good.

The Raiders offense had not looked this good for a long time. The defense was balling out of control as well before Carr got hurt. After his injury the team had a understandable letdown.

Injuries are a part of the game and the Colts tried to take full advantage of Oakland's trouble, scoring 11pts in a hurry to make it a 8-point game with just over four minutes left in the game.

Oakland was on their way to over 500-yards of offense when Carr got hurt. The running game was having it's best game of the season with DeAndre Washington, Jalen Richard and starting tailback Latavius Murray combined for 205-yards rushing and two TD's.

Richard added a touchdown receiving for Oakland. Carr had 228-yards passing when he got hurt. That is the kind of offensive balance every team wants to have.

It will be up to new starting QB Matt McGloin to show he can throw the ball down the field in order to give the running game some room. The running game needs to grind out yards to give the passing game some room.

The two work hand in hand and without one the other will suffer.

Oakland and it's fans will now settle down after a Chrismas dinner and do something they are not used to. Root for the Denver Bronco's. A Denver win against Kansas City and the Raiders clinch the AFC West title.

That will allow them to play a stress free game next week when they close out their regular season in Denver.

A KC win in Denver on X-Mas and the Raiders will be forced to play at Denver with the possibility of losing the division lead and having to play in a wild card game the next week. More click here


The Raiders closing in on a playoff spot

Photo by Eric Taylor

Photo by Eric Taylor/1st String Magazine

Oakland has control of it's own destiny. At 10-3 they are still chasing the 10-3 Kansas City Chiefs after losing both games to them this year.

It is the biggest game of the year in a season filled with big games.

Three of the Raiders last four games will be on the road and if they beat San Diego Sunday Oakland will be back in the playoffs.

A Raiders win and Miami loss Sunday puts Oakland in the post season for the first time since 2002. Last Sunday's comeback victory over Buffalo saw the Raiders score 29pts in a row during a second half blitz that wiped out a 24-9 Bills 3rd quarter lead.

Oakland is tied with New England for the best record in the AFC but a loss to 9-3 KC would put Oakland in need of some help to win the division with three games left to play.

A trip to San Diego, a home game against Indy and a plane ride to the mile high city await Oakland after they are threw in KC.

Derek Carr has played his way into the MVP conversation with his play this season. It has been one 4th quarter comeback after another for Oakland.

Khalil Mack is closing out games with a sack, fumble, fumble recovery on defense. He is gaining steam in the defensive player of the year race. Mack is a player that comes on big late in the season when the stage is the brightest.

Take his five sacks in a late season Raiders win at Denver last year. Here we go again but the games are more important for the Raiders now. With an offense ranked 3rd in the NFL and a rapidly improving defense Oakland will be hard to beat the rest of the season.

More click here



Oakland at home for big match up v Denver

The Raiders are sitting pretty in the AFC halfway thru the 2016 season. There is this funny thing in the NFL called the second half of the season. And in that second half of the season a promising start can fade faster than a sunset.

Both Denver and Oakland come into the Sunday night match up with 6-2 records and tied atop the AFC West. Oakland is 1-1 against teams in the AFC West and beating Denver would be a great way top start the second half.

Oakland, fresh off David Carr's team record 513-yards passing (4-TD's with zero picks) in the OT win at Tampa Bay, will be facing the best defense it has seen all season.

The last time it played a playoff type D Kansas City smothered Oakland 26-10 at home. That is another thing. The Raiders are 5-0 on the road but just 1-2 at home.

One good thing about that is Oakland plays most of their games at home in the second half of the season (the Raiders play in Mexico City against Houston) so the ball is in their court.

An up and coming team the Raiders want this year to be the one that ends a 14-yaer playoff drought. Winning on the road is key to making the playoff, but you have to add in some wins at home to make those road wins count.

The Raiders are not sneaking up on anybody. Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper are working perfectly off each other at times. The running game with the return of LaTavious Murray is looking better.

Linebacker Khalil Mack has gotten into a sack groove in the last few weeks and that could lead to the Raiders defense rounding into some sort of playoff form.

Oakland has given up some 3rd and 4th quarter leads this year and the defense has been a constant issue but somehow, someway the Raiders manage to win. As the season goes on the games get bigger and bigger.

It's not the biggest game of the year, that will come down the road. It is the biggest game to date for the Raiders in the 2016 NFL season. A win and the Raiders will hold a lead over Denver and Kansas City who is just a game back at 5-2.



Oakland Raiders lay an egg in loss to KC

Derek Carr

Photo by Eric Taylor/1st String Magazine

Once again the Raiders proved that they are having a hard time winning football games at home.

On a day when the skies opened up Oakland missed out on a chance to take early control of the AFC West by losing 26-10 to the Chiefs.

The Raiders took the opening kick off and scored right away. QB Derek Carr hit Andre Holmes from three yards out and Oakland was up 7-0 three minutes into the game.

A 46-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal at the end of the half would be the only points the Raiders scored the rest of the game.

That made it 13-10 KC who promptly took the second half kick off and extended their lead to 20-10 courtesy of Dontari Poe's 1-yard TD plunge.

It took KC just over three minutes to march 75-yards for Poe's score and Oakland would not be heard from again.

The Raiders manages just 65-yards rushing against Kansas City and Carr threw for only 225-yards with a touchdown and a pick. Carr had just one more yard passing then the Chief's Alex Smith ut it took Carr 12-more pass attempts to get that yard.

Amari Cooper had a good game catching ten passes for 129-yards, but he could never get behind the defense. Michael Crabtree was taken out of the game altogether finishing with two receptions good for only 10-yards.

KC had a lot of success running the football, picking up 183-yards in the win. Spencer Ware led the way with 133-yards and a touchdown.

The Raiders are 4-2 tied with Denver for 1st in the ACF West. A win would have put Oakland at 2-0 in the division but The Raiders will have to shake this one off get ready for back to back trips to Florida to play Jacksonville and Tampa Bay.

Head coach Jack Del Rio will be back in his old stomping grounds were he coached the Jags for a few years. With games at the Jags and Tampa Bay up next Oakland might not lose a road game until Dec.

The Raiders will have will have four home games in a row around a bye week after the Florida games. One of the home games is a date with Houston in Mexico City Nov. 11th.

Oakland would want to be 6-2 when the first home game of the four in a row hit. That is when Denver and their Super Bowl defense come into town.


The Raider's get past the Ravens 28-27

Photo by Eric Taylor

NFL FOOTBALL. Oakland Raiders Charles Woodson Photo by Eric Taylor

The now 3-1 Oakland Raider's are fresh off a comeback win at Baltimore that featured Michael Crabtree's three touchdown catches, including the game winner with just over two minutes left in the game.

Oakland jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the first half and led 14-6 at the half. Derek Carr (25 of 35 - 199yards, 4 TD's) not pass for a lot of yards, but he did not throw any interceptions either.

The Raiders were looking real good early in the 4th quarter, up 21-12 after Carr hooked up with Crabtree from 13-yards out.

The Ravens (3-1) fought back like a team that had not lost yet and scored two touchdowns to take a 27-21 lead with 3:41 left in the game.

That TD was set up when Oakland running back DeAndre Washington fumbled with the Ravens recovering at the Raiders 17.

That did not faze Oakland's offense who quickly scored back. Crabtree's winning score ended a 66-yard drive in just 1-minute 20-seconds.

Another gut checking win on the road. Carr looked smooth directing Oakland to the winning points. HIs pass to Crabtree in the back of the end zone was a perfect pitch and catch.

It is Crabtree, the vet with the great hands and route running ability that is making the offense tick. With all the attention paid to Amari Cooper Crabtree has been able to take advantage and become a top receiver in the NFL right now.

More click here



Oakland's D raising red flags in 35-28 loss to Atlanta

Photo by Eric Taylor

NFL FOOTBALL. Oakland Raiders Charles Woodson Photo by Eric Taylor

It was not the home opener Oakland had in mind. The Atlanta Falcons came thru and gained over 500-yards of offense in their win.

Time after time the Falcons drove down the field after the Raiders offense had scored.

It was the second game in a row that Oakland's defense gave up over 500-yards of offense.

1,035-yards in two games.

Sure New orleans and Atlanta put the ball in the air, but come on.

This is bad.

It has put some doubt in Oakland's playoff chances early in the season. Yes it can be fixed, but the right players have to be put in the right positions.

Case in pont. Oakland has turned it's best defensive player into a one dimensional pass rusher who lines up in the same spot almost every play. That would be line backer Khalil Mack.

Instead of putting him in the middle of the defense at the linebacker spot where he could make plays all over the field, Mack has his hand stuck in the ground coming off the right side of the line.

It is making it easy to block him which is making Mack work that much harder for less results.

Rookie safety Karl Joseph will get his chance Sunday when Oakland plays at Tennessee. The Raiders gave up 396-yards passing to Matt Ryan who was not on top of his game by any standards.

180 of those yards went to the Falcons tight ends. Middle linebacker Ben Heeny has been a non factor in Oakland's defense in one of the most important spots in the defense.

He has been replaced by another rookie, Cory James (6th round out of Colorado St.) when the Raiders take the field against the Titans.

The Raiders had their chances to win this game, but a penalty took away a long touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Amari Cooper that would have tied the score in the 4th quarter.

Oakland's passing game failed to really take any shots down the field. That play was on a broken play with Carr scrambling around trying to find somebody open. Derek was 34 of 45 passing. three touchdowns and a pick.

Not bad, but when you only get 299-yards on 34-completions you are not throwing the ball far enough down the field.

Tennessee is a beatable team. They have a good running game and a young quarterback and can't be taken lightly at all by Oakland.


The season is upon us and the injuries are starting to add up

Photo by Eric Taylor

NFL FOOTBALL. Oakland Raiders Charles Woodson Photo by Eric Taylor

The Minnesota Viking made progress last season with their young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Nothing fancy, but it seemed like Teddy was starting to get up to speed as an NFL QB.

Fast forward to the training camp before the 2016 season. A non contact drill cost the Vikes their starting QB when Bridgewater tore his ACL running. The team will have few options put there to replace Teddy.

Right now veteran Shawn Hill takes over as the Vikings starting QB. That is not a long term fix. You can only hand the ball off to tailback Adrian Peterson so much.

The new LA Rams take Cal QB Jared Goff #1 overall

Story by Eric Taylor


Jared Goff
Photo by Eric Taylor

The Olympic Games - Team USA

The Rams saw enough in the tall, lanky quarterback out of Marin Catholic High to give him the keys to the car as the Rams will play in Los Angeles for the first time since the 90's.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes Goff to start a ball game for LA. Numerous all pro QB's have sat the bench for a few years and some have come right in and played well.

The Rams have a decent defense, something Jared did not have much of at Cal.

North Carolina State's Carson Wentz (QB) quickly went second to Philadelphia and the 2016 NFL Draft was on.

Oakland Raiders get a reality check in the not frozen Tundra

Photo by Eric Taylor

NFL FOOTBALL. Oakland Raiders Charles Woodson Photo by Eric Taylor

Yeah it's only the preseason, but when you think a trip to the playoffs is in your near future every game should show signs of how good you can be.

A pass play here, good downfield. Some run when you let the other team no they can't stop it and it's good for at least five yards or so.

You want to see some kind of balance on offense.

Nothing stated above happened for Oakland in their 20-12 loss at Green Bay in both teams second pre season game of the 2016 season. It was so bad that head coach Jack Del Rio kept his starting O in the game the entire first half.

Coach Del Rio needed to see something from the offense. It is the pre season and the Raiders were not throwing the entire playbook at the Pack, but any signs that Oakland could be one of the six playoff teams coming out of the AFC this year did not surface.

Oakland's first team defense got hit in the mouth early, giving up big run after big run as the Packers moved the ball right down the field on Oakland scoring the first time they had the ball.

Eddie Lacy benefited from good blocking from his offense line to run for 47-yards and a touchdown before taking a seat with much of the first quarter still to play.

The D got it together and allowed just 68-yards of offense after that first Packers drive the rest of the first half.

Look for Oakland's first team to play well into the 3rd quarter unless they come out and produce against Tennessee August 27th at 5pm.

It will be Oakland's first game in the Bay this year and their home fans want to see something from the team, pre season or not.

More click here


Bay Area teams fill needs on the first day of the 2016 NFL Draft

Story by Eric Taylor

First it was San Francisco taking Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner, a player that new 49ers head coach Chip Kelly coached in college. San Francisco took offensive lineman Joshua Garnett outta nearby Stanford.

Oakland went with Karl Joseph, a safety from West Virginia at #14. He will be counted on to help ease the loss of Hall of Famer Charles Woodson who hung up his cleats after last season.

The pick comes with a risk. Karl was tied for the NCAA lead in interceptions (5) when he tore his ACL five games into his senior season. This is a player that is just running and beginning to make cuts again and the doctors say he will be ready for training camp.

That means he will miss out on any activity in the up coming mimi camps. The 5'11" 200lb Joseph can cover as well as play on in the box and tackle. If he can stay healthy and translate his game to the NFL the Oakland will have another piece to the puzzle.

Reggie McKenzie has a pretty good history of drafting in the lower rounds and the second day of the draft will be as big if not bigger then the first.


Denver's D dominates Panthers in Super Bowl 50

Photo by Eric Taylor

NFL FOOTBALL. Oakland Raiders Charles Woodson Photo by Eric Taylor

It only took Denver six plays to make their mark on this game.

Von Miller would sack and strip Carolina QB Cam Newton near the Panthers goal line and Watson was johnny on the spot, falling on the ball in the end zone.

In fact the Bronco's were close to blowing out Carolina.

The Panthers D were under constant fire and they forced three short field goals keeping the game in range in case the Panthers O was able to wake up.

That was not happening.

The Super Bowl win was a likely swan song for Denver QB Peyton Manning. It was his second Super Bowl win and his 200 victory in the NFL. If he is to retire, what a way to go.

Manning was not spectacular and he came into the game knowing he did not have to be. Just manage the game. Do not have a spat of interception that had hampered him during the regular season and he knew he would have a good chance of winning.

Manning played that to a tee. Manning's line in the 2016 Super Bowl. 13 of 23 for 141-yards and one pick. He was sacked five times but Peyton never made that bad mistake like Newton did.

This was not Cam's finest moment. He fumbled twice near Carolina's goal line and he threw an interception in Denver's red zone.

Now, instead of celebrating a great season that ended in the Super Bowl all people are going to talk about is how sullen Newton was at the post game presser and that he walked out on the media.


Super Bowl 50 is on deck for Carolina, Denver

Super Bowl 50 is now set with the top seeded Carolina Panthers and the Denver Bronco's will meet in Santa Clara in two weeks.

They got past the Conference championship games in different fashion.

Denver had to hold on to beat New England while the Panthers blew the doors off Arizona behind a defense that forced seven turnovers.

Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer threw a whooping four interceptions helping Carolina to a quick 17-0 lead in the first quarter.

The Cardinals got it to within 17-7 but Patrick Peterson dropped a Carolina punt that the Panthers recovered and the rout was on. Arizona was never in the 49-15 thumping.

Denver, on the other hand had to sweat out a furious comeback try by New England. Down 20-12 late in the fourth, Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski hooked up on a 4-yard touchdown pass with 17-secnods left in the game.

The Pats two point try was intercepted, Denver recovered the onside kick and they are on their way to another Super Bowl.



C-Wood calls it a career

Oakland DB Charles Woodson Photo by Eric Taylor

NFL FOOTBALL. Oakland Raiders Charles Woodson Photo by Eric Taylor

Woodson came out of Michigan as the first defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy.

Woodson and former Raiders great Marcus Allen are the only two players with Heisman, AP Rookie of the year, AP Player of the year and Super Bowl trophies on his mantle.

Unlike many other Heisman winner's that came before him Woodson did not disappoint once he reached the NFL..

Charles was an All Pro from the moment he stepped onto the football field. Wooden was right in the middle of the Raiders last playoff stretch that resulted in losing to Tampa Bay in the 2002 Super Bowl.

When that team fell apart C-Wood landed in Green Bay where he was able to get that Super Bowl ring in 2010 before coming back to Oakland to finish out his career in Oakland.

C-Wood is fifth all time with 65-interceptions in the NFL. C-wood returned 11 of those to the house for touchdowns which is second all time to Rod Woodson who finished his career with 13-interception returns for scores.

Top seeds advance to Conference championships in the NFL

Larry Fitzgerald
Photo by Eric Taylor

NFL Football - Larry Fizgerald

One week after road teams swept thru the wildcard round of the 2016 NFL Playoffs home teams held it down to move one step closer to a Super Bowl.

Carolina jumped out to a 31-0 half time lead over Seattle only to hold on and win 31-24.

Nothing went wrong for the Panthers in a first half that saw them jump out to a 14-0 lead before the Seahawks gained a yard of offense.

The Panthers needed every bit of those points after recovering an onside's kick with just over a minute left in the game to finally end it.

The game of the weekend was in Phoenix where the Cardinals beat Green Bay 26-20 in overtime.

Larry Fitzgerald showed everybody why he is a Hall of Famer with eight receptions, 176 yards and a 5-yard touchdown pass that ended the game in overtime.

Father Time has not caught to the 13yr pro.



The Raiders enhance playoff outlook with win in Denver

Oakland QB David Carr Photo by Eric Taylor

NFL FOOTBALL. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. Photo by Eric Taylor

Khalil Mack made sure that Oakland's 8-game losing streak against Denver would come to an end.

Mack collected a team record tying five sacks in Oakland's 15-12 win.

That makes 8-sacks in the past three weeks for Mack who now has 12 on the year.

For the second time this season the Raiders defense kept the Bronco's out of the end zone.

That was huge today because Denver was in the Raider's end of the field the entire first half.

They came away with four field goals and that came back to haunt a Denver team that lost control of home field advantage in the AFC to New England.

The Raider's first half offense was tough to watch. Try -12 yards of offense in the first 30-minutes of the game.


It is hard to play an entire half and have negative yardage. This is the NFL. Thanks to a Raider's defense this game was still in reach of Oakland at 12-0 at half time.

The second half was the Mack Show. 5-sacks plus one that caused a safety near the end of the 3rd quarter that helped set up the winning points early in the 4th quarter.

Oakland QB David Carr tossed his second touchdown of the game, this time a 16-yarder to a wide open Mychal Rivera. Carr found Seth Roberts midway thru the 3rd quarter to get Oakland's comeback on track.

Carr was 12 of 29 for 135-yards, two TD's and he was sacked three times. Oakland improved to 6-7 are they are two games out of a playoff spot with three to play.

Next up for Oakland is a home game against the tough to beat Green Bay Packers Sunday at 1:05pm. More click here


Oakland can't maintain pace in loss to KC

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers Photo by Eric Taylor

NFL FOOTBALL. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. Photo by Eric Taylor

The Raiders headed into the 4th quarter of the pitiful home game against AFC West rivals Kansas City leading 20-14 but the offense could not get much of anything going in the 4th while the D came apart at the seems.

Oakland still had a chance to win the game late, but when a David Carr pass bounced off the hands of Amari Cooper ex Raider Tyvon Branch was Johnny on the spot and he caught the interception and returned it 38-yards for the game clinching score.

Being in control of their playoff destiny went right out the window with the loss. At 5-7 the door has not slammed shut, but it will be an uphill battle for Oakland to qualify for this years's tourney.

David Carr put the ball up 48-times against KC. That's a lot for Carr and a team that wants to run the ball. He completed 31 of them for 283-yards and two TD's, but he also threw 3-picks.

Latavius Murray was held in check for the most part. He had 83-yards on 20-carries and a touchdown.

Alex Smith was a very economical 16 of 22 passing for 162-yards and two 4th quarter touchdowns passes to wide receiver Jeremy Macklin. Smith also had a three yard rushing TD in the first half.

Oakland now finds themselves 10th in the AFC playoff pecking order while 7-5 Kansas City sits in the playoffs at the moment with four regular season games left to play.

The Raider's head out to the Mile High City and a date with Denver before returning home to host first Green Bay Dec. 18th followed by San Diego the next week.

More on the playoff picture and where the Raider's fit in click here


The Pack stun Detroit in MoTown

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers Photo by Eric Taylor

NFL FOOTBALL. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers. Photo by Eric Taylor

Aaron Rogers made the most of a second chance, throwing a hail mary. 61-yd TD pass to tight end Richard Rodgers on an extra play to beat Detroit 27-23.

The Lions built a 20-0 first half lead before the wheels slowly started to fall off their playoff chances.

After starting the season 1-7 The Lions were on the verge of becoming a player in the playoff race, but instead fell to 4-8.

The Pack overcame their longest scoreless streak since 2005.

It stretched into the 70th minute before Randall Cobb fell on a fumble in the end zone to pull Green Bay to within 20-7 of Detroit in the 3rd. The Pack would take advantage of a Lions turnover to make it 20-14 a short time later and it was game on.

The game appeared to be over when Aaron Rodgers was sacked with no time left on the clock in the 4th. A 15-ysrd face mask penalty was called giving the Pack one un timed play.

Green Bay started 6-0 and is 2-4 in their last six. The win in Detroit could have saved their season while dump trucking the Lions in one beautiful, high arching pitch and catch from Rogers to Rogers.


Oakland's playoffs chances take another hit

Oakland QB Derek Carr Photo by Eric Taylor

NFL FOOTBALL. Oakland Raiders corner back Charles Woodson. Photo by Eric Taylor

The Raider's are not down and out of the 2015 NFL playoffs as of yet, but the once promising second place standing (4-3 after beating the Jets 34-20) has found itself on a slippery slope after losing at now 3-7 Detroit 18-13 Sunday.

Things change quickly in the NFL and the Raiders are a witness.

Just two weeks ago the Lions were floundering at 1-7. Comeback wins over Green Bay and Oakland has left Detroit a win short of Oakland's 4-6.

Oakland was 4-4 two weeks ago looking to play two out of their next three games against sub .500 teams. That list is down to next weeks match up at Tennessee and their dynamic rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota.

The Raiders were shut out in the first half against the Vikes. For a team that has been producing points this year the past three games has seen the O go backwards.

Oakland's running game was held to 50-yards total against Detroit.

The 3rd quarter saw Oakland take a 13-9 lead when Sebastian Janikowski booted a 56-yard field goal at the start of the 4th quarter.

That lead was short lived. Matthew Stafford scored the winning points on a five yard quarterback keeper. A holding penalty in the end zone on Raiders offensive linemen Donald Penn closed out the scoring, but not the game.

The Lions got the ball with over seven minutes left in the game and proceeded to run out the rest of the clock.

Oakland QB David Carr was held in check pretty much the whole game. Carr completed just 13 of 25 passes for 169 yards for the Raiders, who scored their only touchdown on a 1-yard run by Latavius Murray on the opening drive of the second half.

Rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper was a non factor with just one catch for 4-yards.

Since putting up 34pts on what is considered a good Jets defense Oakland has not been able to put points on the board in their 3-striaght losses.

Well they did score 35 in a loss to Pittsburgh, but the last two weeks has seen Oakland score 14pts. (a loss to Minnesota) and the 13 they pit up in Detroit.

There are two different seasons in the NFL. The first half when teams are feeling each other out and a second half when film study and game planning plus the pressure of a playoff race can sink a once promising season.

That is where Oakland is right now. 8-8 has a chance to make the playoffs this year in the AFC, but that would mean Oakland winning 4 of their last six games.

Oakland is a game behind four teams (Indy, KC, The Jets and Houston) all at 5-5 in the race for the last wildcard. If the Raiders are going to make the playoff they can not lose may more AFC games.

The Raiders hold the tie breaker over the Jets and five of their last six are against the AFC. Oakland plays Kansas City twice and a loss to them would be crucial. The Green Bay Packers are the only team left on the Raiders schedule that Oakland should lose to on paper.

Denver has a young quarterback and the Raiders beat San Diego pretty good last month. More click here



Seattle jumps back into the NFC West race

Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch Photo by Eric Taylor

NFL FOOTBALL. Oakland Raiders corner back Charles Woodson. Photo by Eric Taylor

Seattle (3-4) went into Santa Clara last Thursday looking to stay relevant in the playoff hunt in the NFC.

A loss would have put them 3-full games behind Arizona in the NFC West.

There 20-3 win over San Francisco seemed easy, the defense took advantage of the 49ers offense.

The Hawks offense was good enough to win. Marshawn Lynch had his usual good game against San Francisco's defense.

Lynch pounded the 49er's with 122-rushing yards and a TD on 27-carries.

Seattle quarterback was 18 of 25 for 235-yards and one touchdown. Wilson threw two picks inside San Francisco's twenty yard line, one was in the end zone so the score could have been worse.

San Francisco's offense sputtered all game. Tailback Carlos Hyde played on a hurt foot and was not effective at all rushing for 40-yards on 11-carries. Colin Kaepernick produced little passing the ball.

Kaep was 13 for 24 (124-yards) no picks but he was sacked six times by Seattle. For the first time in his career Colin had zero rushing yards.

You have to feel for the guy. Drafted to fit the style of his head coach (Jim Harbaugh) Kaepernick now plays for a team that wants to to be a pocket passer.

San Francisco called themselves giving Kaep help this past off season by having him train with Kurt Warner.

Warner was a great passer but Kaep needed Steve Young, Randall Cunningham or Donovan McNabb to help improve his passing skills.

San Francisco (2-5) play at St. Louis next Sunday.





Things settle down a little in week four of the 2015 NFL season

A couple of teams were humbled Sunday as we reached the quarter mark of the season. Arizona (3-1) got a taste of defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Rams (2-2) 24-22 Sunday. Turnovers and lack of execution in the red zone put the Cards in the losing column for the first time this year.

The game got off to a bad start for the Cards when Arizona rookie David Johnson fumbled away the opening kickoff. St. Louis put the ball into the end zone and the Rams led the rest of the way.

Arizona had their chances. The Cardinals offense drove the ball into the Rams red zone five times and came away with four field goals. That's not going to get it down. More click here

A few teams seem to keep rolling right along

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rogers Photo by Eric Taylor

NFL FOOTBALL. Oakland Raiders corner back Charles Woodson. Photo by Eric Taylor

New England (3-0) and Tom Brady.

Denver (4-0) with a supposedly over the hill Peyton Manning.

Along with Green Bay (4-0) and their leader Aaron Rogers are showing the league that having an elite quarterback does matter.

The players have changed from year to year for each of these QB's.

Year after year they will hit whoever gets open no matter who is running routes.

A good quarterback is a good defense in the NFL.

Tom Brady (9) and Rogers (11) have thrown 20-TD's between them without throwing a pick.

Manning chugging along with 6-TD's and five interceptions, but he has not thrown his team out of any games.

Denver has a big game against up and coming Oakland on the road next week. So it's Raider week in Colorado this week. The Bronco's would love to come out of Oakland with a win and put more distance between them and the rest of the AFC West.

Each conference has a surprise team, if you will. The Cincinnati Bengal's and Carolina Panthers have yet to lose in 2015. The Panthers have company in the NFC South with the 4-0 Atlanta Falcons.

Cincy is two full game ahead of 2-2 Pittsburgh and the Bengal's are looking like the class of the AFC North right now. The Bengal's have scored the most points in the division and have given up the fewest points of any team in the division after four games.



Oakland ends road woes with win in Cleveland

Oakland Raider's RB Latavius Murray Photo by Eric Taylor

NFL FOOTBALL. Oakland Raiders corner back Charles Woodson. Photo by Eric Taylor

Last week Oakland won a football game in Sept. for the first time since 2011. They followed that up with their first road win in years.

An easy victory turned into a show stopper that needed a last minute interception near the goal line by Oakland's resident Hall of famer Charles Woodson to preserve a 27-20 Raiders victory.

It was Oakland's first road win in 11-games.

Winning on the road is key to making the playoffs.

With a game at 0-3 Chicago up next the Raider's have a chance to improve to 3-1.

It is up to the Raider's coaching staff to keep the players grounded. The NFL is full of trap games if a team is full of themselves. Oakland is no sure thing, especially in the road.

The Raiders have got to learn how to close out games. C-Wood saved Oakland from giving up a 27-10 fourth quarter lead when he picked off Browns QB Josh McCown at the Raider's 12 yard line with 45-seconds left in the game.

For a second week in a row the Raider's offense staked the team to a lead. Derek Carr threw for 314-yards, two TD's with no interceptions against Cleveland. Amari Cooper had another big game with 8-catches good for 134-yards receiving.

The running game also chipped in behind Latavius Murray's 139-yards rushing (1-TD) on 26-carries. That kind of balance can win a lot of games.

The defense was fine until they started giving up conversions on 3rd down like the 41-yard pitch and catch from McCown to Brain Hartline on 3rd and 17 from Cleveland's 13-yard line.

That led to a Browns field goal after Khalil Mack got a sack on 3rd down at Oakland's 19.

Down 27-20 with 2:36 left in the game Cleveland's last drive started at their own one after Oakland punter Marquette King pinned them there with a great punt.

The Brown's moved the ball all the way to the Raider's 35 with 43-seconds left, mostly thru the air.

this game is about making plays and that is what C-Wood did when the raiders needed it the most. After Chicago Oakland returns home to host AFC West rivals Denver Oct. 11th.



The Raider's hold on to beat Baltimore at home

Oakland Raider's QB David Carr

Photo by Eric Taylor

NFL FOOTBALL. Oakland Raiders corner back Charles Woodson. Photo by Eric Taylor

Who knew.

Oakland, who just a week ago looked lost against Cincinnati, played offense and defense to get past the Ravens 37-33 at the O.Co Sunday.

There were many different story lines in this one.

A wounded Charles Woodson played the game with a separated shoulder.

David Carr made enough throws to help Oakland put 37pts. on the board.

The Raider's D produced turnovers to help get themselves on the field.

All of this added up to a win that almost wasn't. Up 30-20 heading into the 4th quarter the Raider's found themselves on the wrong end of a 33-30 score with 2:13 left in the game.

Carr finished off a 80-yard drive with a nice little dart that Seth Roberts hauled in for a 12-yard touchdown with 26-seconds left in the game.

David Carr threw for a career high 351-yards and three TD's. Michael Crabtree (109-yards 1TD) and Amari Cooper (111-yards 1TD) came thru in the passing game time after time.

Carr got away with a couple of passes he kind of floated up there, but he was on target the opening drive of the game when he hit Cooper on a perfectly thrown pass that went for a 68yrd touchdown.

Cornerback T.J. Carrie forced a fumbled the Ravens first series and that led to a Sebastian Janikowski field goal and just like that Oakland was up 10-zip.

Latavius Murray broke a 10-all tie with a 1-yard dive midway thru the second quarter. The half time score tied at 20.

This was the first win in September for Oakland since 2013. They will take all they can get. A fast start is vital in the NFL. Very few teams make the playoffs with a 0-2 start.

The Raider's can't think about the playoffs right now.

They can think about consistently playing at a winning level. Like the team bounced back when Carr threw the 4th quarter interception that led to a 33-30 Baltimore lead near the 2-minute warning.

Joe Flacco threw for 384-yards, almost half to Steve Smith Jr. who had 10-receptions for 150-yards.

Oakland (1-1) finds themselves on the road the next two weeks. After a date in Cleveland with the Browns the raider's head off to the Windy City to play the Chicago Bears.

Oakland returns home Oct. 11th to face Denver.

More click here



49er's dominate the Vikes 20-3

09/15/2015 Santa Clara, Ca. - Well, well, well, what do we have here. I am talking about the San Francisco 49er's and it looks like they have a decent football team after shutting down the Minnesota Viking's in both teams 2015 season opener.

San Francisco overcame a slow start, numerous penalties and the running of one AP. That would be Adrian Peterson and his MVP like talent.

A running back stole the show Monday night and it was the 49ers Carlos Hyde. Hyde is leading the NFL in rushing after his (26-carries) and two rushing TD's help make new head coach Jim Tomsula a winner in his coaching debut.

San Francisco's defense, the play of Aussie import Jared Hayne and quarterback Colin Kaepernick highlighted the 49er's victory.

There were so many stories lines in this one. Middle linebacker Navorro Bowman made a successful return to the line up after missing all of last year with a knee injury.

Kaepernick looks like he is developing from a running QB to more of a throwing quarterback, who can still run. Several times Kaepernick did a controlled scramble while keeping his eyes down field.

Some plays he threw the ball and some plays he ran, but only after all of his downfield options were taken away. That is what the 49ers want to see and not what defense are looking for.

When Kap threw the ball he showed good touch on some of his throws. He still has that lively arm, but it is his touch and accuracy that win win games in the NFL.

Sure Minnesota does not have much of a passing game, but San Francisco's defense looks like it can be one of the better units in the NFL. They held AP to just 31-yards on 10-carries and he was a total non factor in the second half.

People say everything looks good in black. Showing off their new black jersey's with red trim, San Francisco put that theory to the test.

More click here


Oakland gets waxed in 2015 season opener

Oakland Raider's QB David Carr

Photo by Eric Taylor

NFL FOOTBALL. Oakland Raiders corner back Charles Woodson. Photo by Eric Taylor

People say that once you hit the bottom there is no way but up from there.

You can also go straight which is where the Raiders season could be going - straight into the toilet if their 33-13 loss to Cincinnati was any indication of how there season is going to go.

Oakland had their chances, but a goal line turnover and a touchdown nulling holding penalty took away any chance Oakland had of winning.

The Raider's must get better on defense if they are going to give themselves a chance to win.

The Bengal's scored there first TD on a 4th and goal from the 3 midway thru the first quarter.

Two players missed tackles before Jeremy Hill sprinted the rest of the way into the end zone. It was 10-0 Cincy shortly after that.

Cincy tight end tyler Eifert took over from there. 104-receiving yards and two touchdowns from Eifert later it was 24-0 Bengal's at the half.

Oakland QB David Carr knocked himself out of the game when he forgot that he was a quarterback and thought he was a wide receiver and tried to stiff arm a Bengal's DB was came up to tackle Carr after a nice QB scramble.

Carr caught his hand on the DB's face mask and now Derek is out with an injury to his throwing hand. Carr was 7 of 12 at that point but for just 61-yards.

The running game was even worse. The one play when the running game paid off something happened. Jamize Olawale brooke loose for a 61-yard touchdown run in the second quarter only to have it called back on a holding call.

Marcell Reece saved them from getting shut out by catching two TD's from the now starting Matt McGloin who came in for Carr after he was hurt.

Next up for Oakland is a home game against Baltimore Sunday at 1pm.

More click here

The New England Patriots could be in deep water

Photo by Eric Taylor/1st String Magazine

Photo by Eric Taylor

The ends to which New England has gone to win Super Bowl games seems to have no bounds.

There have been new reports of the Pat's stealing parts of teams play books before they would play somebody.

Could a team have a network of people going around covertly stealing plays.

Who would order it. If they used them you know head coach Bill Belichick had to know about it.

He put the game plan in. Could he hide that kind of information from his assistant coaches.

Maybe, but most likely some of his coaches knew what was going on.

Of course the party line is that the Pats did noting wrong. Who knows. This little piece is no proof of any guilt, but it does seem odd that New England keeps getting involved in situations like this.

It seems like business as usual for teams that play New England. In the Pat's season opening 28-21 win over Pittsburgh the Steelers radio system had some radio broadcast piped in during the game.

More click here



Raider great gets his due

Photo by Eric Taylor/1st String Magazine

NFL FOOTBALL. Oakland Raiders corner back Charles Woodson. Photo by Eric Taylor

Tim Brown knows something about waiting. When he got to the NFL Brown began waiting for a Raider's quarterback to throw him the ball.

Brown would get open so fast it took time for the QB to realize he was open.

Tim waited six long years before the NFL Hall of Fame came calling, inducting Tim Brown into the Hall as a part of the class of 2015.

He retired after one final season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004 as the third all-time leading receiver with 1,094 receptions for 14,934 yards, and 100 touchdowns.

At the time Brown also ranked fifth in career combined net yardage with 19,682 yards.

People forget about his punt returning skills. He was one of the best in the NFL for years at returning punts.

It was his play at wide receiver on some pretty bad teams with even worse quarterbacks throwing him the ball (20 quarterbacks started during the 17-seasons Brown played in Oakland and LA.) that got Brown his hall pass.

The complete 2015 NFL Hall of Fame Class click here




Jack Del Rio ready to take charge of the Raiders

Oakland Raider's QB David Carr

Photo by Gerome Wright

NFL FOOTBALL. Oakland Raiders corner back Charles Woodson. Photo by Eric Taylor

We are just days away from players reporting to training camp and the new Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio will try and restore the luster to the Silver and Black.

A young quarterback (Derek Carr) , top flight rookie wide receiver for Carr to throw to (Amari Cooper).

An improving defense led by middle linebacker Kahlil Mack have given reporters something to write about.

After 13-years of missing the playoffs Raiders fans want more then just hype.

The hardest job Coach Del Rio has to do is to help the Raiders put points on the board.

The NFL's worst running game was dump trucked by a passing game that lacked any sort of deep threat in 2014.

Carr averaged a NFL worst 5.5 yards per pass attempt in his rookie season.

The Raider's also picked up Michael Crabtree from the San Francisco 49ers. Crabtree claims to be one of the best receiver's in the game.

If he can provide an open target for Carr while teaching Cooper a thing or two he might know what he is talking about. Crabtree has also been one of the most injured players in the NFL since he got drafted.

Oakland's offensive line has got to play better for the team to score points. Yes it is true that defense wins championships, but you have to have an offensive to make teams pay.

Latavius Murray, former Alabama star Trent Richardson over from Kansas City and bay area native Roy Helu Jr. will be counted one to move the football on the ground for Oakland.

Murray showed signs he could be the man to get the bulk of the carries, but he still young with just 82-carries and 424-yards rushing worth of experience.

That's not very much.

Fullback Marcel Reece can also put points on the board if the Raiders can use him right. Un drafted rookie Michael Dyer has made an early splash in camp.

The running back out of Louisville is making the most of a situation in Oakland where there is a crowded backfield. Trent Richardson has opened the door for a guy like Dyer by miss practice time with a injury.

A 39-year old Charles woodson is back for another go around. He will try to impart as much information as he can to help prepare young players like Kahlil Mack to becoming a winner in the NFL.

T.J. Carrie out of De La Salle High in Concord is doing his best to become a every down cornerback for the Raider's.

Free agent Dan Williams and Justin Tuck will try an provide an anchor for an otherwise young defensive line. The Raiders selected defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. in the second round (No. 35 overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft.

They have high hopes for the young man out of Florida St. The Raiders will need a strong push from their defensive line to take heat away from a very young secondary.

Of course nobody will know much of anything about the raider's until they face off against another team. Even pre season is important for this squad.

Oakland's first test will come August 14th when the St. Louis Rams come calling.

For more on the upcoming Oakland Raiders season click here





Photo by Eric Taylor/1st String Magazine

NFL FOOTBALL. Oakland Raiders corner back Charles Woodson. Photo by Eric Taylor

From out of nowhere San Francisco drafted Patrick Willis in the 2007 NFL draft with the 11th pick.

Then rest as they say is history. Willis helped transform the woeful 49ers into one of the best teams in the league.

At the height of his career Willis was perhaps the best linebacker in the game.

It took a few years for San Francisco to start winning and going to the playoffs,.

Willis was right in the middle of it all, making tackles and living up to the high standards that his draft position suggested.

Willis instantly made the 49ers defense respectable.

Turning them into one of the best units in the league. Fast forward to the Jim Harbaugh era and the playoffs and Super Bowl that followed.

Willis, still one of the best in the league took a back seat to newcomer Navarro Bowman, a great player in his own right, to fit into the new coaches system and the team took off.

You can go on and on about how professional Willis was on and off the field. He is perhaps the best linebacker the 49ers have ever had and he trails only the great Ronnie Lott (in my book) as the greatest defensive player San Francisco has ever had.

In the end it was not a big bad running back or offensive scheme that did Patrick in. In what a turf toe injury that would not go away.

Seeing the writing on the wall and knowing father time has won every battle with athlete's Willis gracefully stepped away from the game he loved.

Willis retirement was the center piece of an off season that has seen a Super Bowl type squad from just a year ago almost fall to pieces.

Gone is longtime running back and San Francisco's career leading rusher Frank Gore (signed with Indy), head coach Jim Harbaugh (hired at the University of Michigan) and possibly wide receiver Michael Crabtree and defensive end Justin Smith.

This is about Willis and what he meant not only to the 49ers but to the NFL as a whole.





Oakland Raiders doing what they can to get kids back at the park

Oakland's George Atkinson plays with some kids during the Raiders NFL Play 60 camp.

Photo by Eric Taylor/1st String Magazine

NFL FOOTBALL. Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden. Photo by Eric Taylor

The Raiders do not want their young fans to sit around and wait for a football game to come on TV.

Oakland has partnered up with Hall of Fame tackle Anthony Munoz and the Munoz Agency to host an NFL Play 60 Character Camp in the Bay Area.

Over 350 kids between the ages of 7 and 13 were treated to a two day camp at the Raiders practice facility.

Members of the Oakland Raiders came out to play with the kids.

Top 2014 draft pick Khalil Mack was on hand to interact with the kids.

Among the players joining him were two local high school stars now on the Raiders roster.

George Atkinson of Livermore's Granada High And Notre Dame and T.J. Carrie (De La Salle High school, Concord Ca.) took time away from their busy schedules to come out and spend a couple of hours playing with the kids.

"It was great being able to come out here today and relax playing around with all these kids. I can remember when I was young and going to football camps and you grow up so fast that is it important for players like myself to give their time back to show kids that they do not have to be a star to have fun playing sports." said Atkinson.

The mission of the Play 60 campaign is to emphasize exercise and the importance of having good character in sports as well as life.

So often kids grow up thinking that winning is the only thing that matters.

Many kids drop out of sports just because they are not a top dog and many fail to see the big picture and as a result they miss out on a lot that life has to offer. The Play 60 experience is trying to show kids that playing sports is not only about winning or making to the pro's.

Play 60 is trying to teach kids that playing sports and being active when you are young helps you have a long and healthy life and that staying active with sports also helps you learn better in the class room.

The NFL's Play 60 campaign is design to encourage youth to spend at least 60-minutes a day being active getting some kind of exercise.

Each camp participant received a football with a bilingual hang-tag that will allow them to view video's in Spanish or English teaching the basic's of football on the NFL's web site, NFLRUSH.com.

The NFL donated 40,000 football's for the program that is being run in selected NFL cities were the team has, over the years, shown a commitment to reaching out and helping the area's youth succeed in life.

Photo's click here


It's back to the drawing board for the 49er's

Photo by Gerome Wright/1st String Magazine

High school basketball - Monta Vista v Freedom

If there is one thing that San Francisco knows from their recent slump that has included two straight losses to their biggest rivals today, Oakland and Seattle, is that they have a lot of work to do.

The 49ers have fazed out tailback Frank Gore in favor of quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

It has worked. The 49ers have been one of the best teams in the NFL the last three years.

Now with their 2014 season just about over the 49ers have to learn how to put points on the board all over again.

With San Francisco's loss at Seattle Sunday the 49er's have been eliminated from the 2015 post season.

The not so sad sack Raider's have scored as many touchdowns this year as the 49ers.

The Raider's offense has been pitiful at times, but not against San Francisco where Oakland's rookie QB, Derek Carr, was the savvy one throwing three TD's in Oakland's 24-13 win.

Things change fast in sports. Just like week Carr looked like a rookie as Oakland was lambasted the week before the 49er's game in St. Louis 52-0.

I hope the 49ers practiced well because their next exam is in Seattle against the hungry as ever Seahawks. A loss and San Francisco's playoff dreams go bye, bye for real.

A win in Seattle and the 49ers might have been back on track. It is a place that the 49ers have not fared very well at all in recent games.

Of course they want to score a lot of points and win, but any kind of win this week would have been good as gold.

Even with a victory the 49er's would have needed all kind of help to jump back into a playoff spot.

The biggest assist they need is from an offense that has not put more then 20pts. on the board in six games. What is the problem.

Is Kaep running enough. San Francisco great Jerry Rice came out and said the wide receiver's need to step up and help out Kaepernick. A professed running team, San Francisco has not put fear in anybody with their ground game.

Top that with a defense that has been hurt all year and you have a 7-7 team that is trying to pick up the pieces.









Title1 Selected

Folsom High's Jordan Richard's drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by New England

NFL Football - Oakland Raiders v Kansas City Chief's

Oakland 20 KC 34

Major League Baseball. Photo by Eric Taylor

Major League Baseball. Photo by Eric Taylor

Major League Baseball. Photo by Eric Taylor

Oakland Raiders v New York Jets

Major League Baseball. Photo by Eric Taylor

Oakland 37 Baltimore 33

Major League Baseball. Photo by Eric Taylor

Oakland 13 Cincinnati 33

Major League Baseball. Photo by Eric Taylor

Oakland Raiders 2015 pre season against Arizona







1st String Magazine 2000-2015 ™