Roger Goodell and Bill Daly are trying to kill their P.R. people. Theres no other way to put it.Goodell is calling the job his replacement officials have done through two weeks admirable, which speaks loudly and clearly to the following things: One, that he is trying to make the case that monkeys on bicycles could be NFL officials. Thats hes stopped even trying to lie convincingly. Three, that his bosses are fine with the concept of charging people more money for poorer services. Four, that this is really why he makes so much money because he must defend the patently indefensible so his bosses dont have to.Daly, the second-in-command to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, has the same problem, only he got caught saying that the 2005 CBA his bosses now want changed was actually a good deal that needs only a massive pay cut to players to work better. This, in its way, speaks loudly to the following things: One, that he is trying to make the case that in a growth industry the people who make the money should be the ones who dont actually do the work people pay to see. Two, that hes lying in such a way that makes Goodell look like George Washington. Three, that his bosses are fine with the concept of never being open for business just to teach the players a lesson. Four, See NFL Item Four, with this addendum: He is defending the indefensible so his boss and his boss bosses dont have to.What Goodell and Daly are saying are plainly idiocies, they know they are idiocies, they dont care that everyone else knows them, and they are going to repeat them because they rely on fan and media fatigue to make their case for them by no longer listening.Its an insidious and cynical form of argument, the automatic repetition of a debating point so that the debate becomes too tiresome to listen to. It makes the arguer look like a dunce, or worse, a tool, but thats really why they make the big money. So that their superiors dont have to.Goodell could say, The officials arent what we hoped for, but you keep watching, so we have no reason to care. When you stop, thats when we will. It would be politician-level condescending, but it would at least be true, and it would have the added benefit of being an argument he does believe.But Goodell is of the new school of debate right or wrong, truth and falsehood are just two sides of the same coin. The point is to defend a position already given you, whether it can be defended or not, because the real point isnt to be right, its to be might.Dalys problem is worse, because he knows having been in the owners meetings that the 2005 system hasnt worked for two-thirds of the membership. Not just the incompetent and underfunded, for whom no system would make them truly profitable, but for the leagues middle class of owners either. This is a league in which the top third makes much more money than the bottom two-thirds lose, and that is not in any way a sustainable system. Therefore the 2005 deal wasnt good except for the top third.But the top third is the commissioners office power base, so the leagues offer to the bottom two-thirds is to have the players pay for their losses, or enhance what money they do make. It is a temporary fix, as the 2005 deal was, because it isnt meant to fix the game but to buy time for the league office until the next CBA.Buy time, because the leagues power brokers cant afford to pay six teams to fold, and dont want to move four teams to places where their own interests might be impinged. That leaves only revenue sharing and squeezing the players, and the second is only a temporary fix until the top ten owners start circumventing the new CBA as they have done all the past ones.Daly knows all this, he knows he cant say it and keep his job, so he goes with option C The 2005 deal was great, except that the players got too much of it. It is a laughable fiction but he says it because that is his job. How Goodell hasnt farmed out his defense of the officials to an underling is, given the NHL example, rather amazing.But the effect is still the same. Something indefensible and even lard-headed is defended with full throat and relentless repetition because its more important to make strident noise than sensible policy. And because nobody who follows sports seems to mind condescension any more in fact, they rather expect it the bar is exceedingly low.Except to the P.R. people, who just hold their heads to keep the migraines from leaking out their eyes. Hey, they have to get paid, too.
ALAMEDA – Edge rushers Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack were given a rest day on Wednesday, which raised a few eyebrows.
Mack hadn’t missed practice in months. Irvin hadn’t been sidelined since the start of training camp. Both guys stretched and then left the field during individual drills a day after defensive coordinator Ken Norton was fired. Mack and Irvin were extremely loyal to Norton. An easy parallel could be drawn between the firing and Mack and Irvin’s rare, non-injury related missed practice.
Head coach Jack Del Rio said Friday there was no connection.
“Not even in the slightest really,” Del Rio said. “…We’re in good shape. The guys understand. It wasn’t anything personal.”
Del Rio insisted the rest was designed and scheduled.
“It’s something we do. It’s kind of a ‘Woodson Wednesday,’” Del Rio said. “We did it a lot with Charles toward the end of his career. We’ve had good success with guys that have taken a heavy load, being smart with them on that Wednesday. So, it’s just a rest day.”
Irvin and Mack have declined to comment on Norton’s firing and the missed Wednesday practice.
Johnny Holton concussion watch: Raiders receiver Johnny Holton is in the NFL’s concussion protocol, though he should be cleared out of it before Sunday’s clash against the Denver Broncos.
He ended up there in a roundabout way. The Raiders announced he was being evaluated for a concussion early in a 33-8 loss to New England, but returned later in the first half.
Then he missed Wednesday’s practice with concussion-like symptoms. That raised a red flag. Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio explained the sequence of events in greater detail on Friday.
“I’m at the mercy of those that are the experts in that field. He got a scratch on his eye. That was what occurred there (against New England),” Del Rio said. “(He) came in this week and had some symptoms, so we put him into the protocol and he went through the protocol. I believe he’s in the final steps now of clearing. We’ll get that final clearance he’ll play. If we don’t, he’ll be down.
“That’s a question mark going in that hasn’t yet been fully resolved, but since he came in and had the symptoms he had, those have gone away and everything else is checking out. We anticipate having him.”
Horton is formally considered questionable on the team’s official injury report. As a note, all head injuries are evaluated and diagnosed by independent medical personnel not directly affiliated with the team.
Amerson out again: Cornerback David Amerson will miss a fourth straight game with a foot injury that has kept him from practicing the last few weeks.
It just can’t get right, leaving the Raiders with the same beleaguered cornerback corps from recent weeks, with Sean Smith and TJ Carrie expected to play significant snaps. Dexter McDonald remains in a mix joined by career safety Obi Melifonwu, who played cornerback Sunday against New England.
"There can be injuries, there can be anything,” new defensive play caller John Pagano said. “He’s got to take advantage of next time when he’s called upon in those certain roles to be able to go out there and do the things that we need to do. there’s always going to be growing pains with young players. He’s got to grow up real quick and understand that we cannot let the ball go over our heads on those deep balls.”
ALAMEDA – Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing is running a system Bill Musgrave installed in 2015.
Downing has put his stamp on it since being promoted from quarterbacks coach last winter and certainly has a different play calling style, but he didn’t burn it to the ground and start fresh.
“Honestly tweak-wise, there’s not a lot of tweaks,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “Game plan wise and things, we do things a little different. We call things differently now obviously because he’s in the division. But route concept-wise and things like that, we do a lot of the same similar stuff. Any time there’s a change, a coach is always going to have their tweaks.”
Even so, Musgrave might feel like he’s looking into a mirror Sunday afternoon when the Raiders play Denver at Oakland Coliseum. He’ll watch his offense work from the other sideline, calling plays from Mike McCoy’s selections.
This odd arrangement stems from Jack Del Rio’s decision to let Musgrave’s contract expire after two years as Raiders offensive coordinator. He promoted the in-demand Downing to that post, which left Musgrave to gain employment as Denver’s quarterbacks coach. He was promoted to OC on Monday, when McCoy got fired after Denver lost its sixth straight.
Fans didn't love Musgrave when he was in Oakland. They long for him now. The Raiders ranked sixth in total offense and seventh in scoring last year. Now they're 21st and 20th, respectively, in those categories.
Having Musgrave calling plays for the enemy adds some intrigue to the matchup, though this isn’t a mentor-protégé matchup. Count Scott Linehan and Mike Tice as Downing’s primary professors. Those influences stand out most in Downing’s style, but Musgrave’s influence as a play caller exists in a small dose.
“I think there are elements of it. I won’t say personality traits, but maybe nuances of the game that you naturally talk to through as a coordinator and quarterback coach,” Downing said. “So, those experiences are kind of lived through the other coordinator. We were together for two years. I have some other influences that probably shape my play calling more than that.”
There’s a high level of respect between the two men, and Downing certainly appreciates his time working under Musgrave.
“He’s a very detailed guy. He likes to simplify and let the guys go execute. That was certainly something that I respected about the way he went through a game plan process. If there was something that wasn’t working itself out through the course of the practice week, we’d eliminate it or not run it on Sunday. Definitely picked that up.
“He has a broad scope understanding of offense. Being a quarterback as he is, or a former quarterback as he is, he’s not just a pass game guy. He has a good understanding of the run game and a good respect for the guys upfront being able to move the line of scrimmage. Definitely something that I admire and wanted to emulate.”
Downing and Musgrave won’t face each other directly. That’ll be new Raiders play caller John Pagano.
He took over Tuesday after Ken Norton’s firing, but doesn’t mean he’s new to the matchup. Pagano was the Chargers' defensive coordinator from 2012-16, and faced Musgrave twice a year the past two seasons. Musgrave won every matchup.
Pagano might look at Denver’s scheme and Musgrave’s tendencies when trying to silence the Broncos on Sunday.
“You always have to understand what he’s about and what little things pop into my head from seeing him, but you still have to go based off of what you’re seeing right now, the film that you’re seeing, the plays you’re going off of,” Pagano said. “You have to be prepared for everything. He does a great job and he always has those guys ready to play and there is always going to be something new.”