Defeated hotel tax further complicates matters for Chargers, Raiders

Defeated hotel tax further complicates matters for Chargers, Raiders

Editor's Note: The above video is from Oct. 17, 2016.

On a night of potentially epochal change in American political society and culture, it seems odd to rest one’s gaze on such a reductive issue as a hotel tax and its effect on the map of the National Football League, but there you go. It still beats being a pollster.

But in San Diego, the electorate came out aggressively and demonstrably against a hotel tax that would have funded a football stadium for the Chargers and their owner, Dean Spanos. On an issue that required 66.7 percent approval, the pro-stadium supporters couldn’t manage even 40, a repudiation so stinging that Spanos now must understand that his dream of a modern stadium is almost diametrically opposed to the wishes of his customers.

And why should you care about what happens to the Chargers? Because of the possibility that Spanos, rejected in San Diego and facing an objectionable future in Los Angeles at the knee of Rams owner Stan Kroenke, may cast his eyes and that of his team to the place that Mark Davis has already staked out – Las Vegas.

He hasn’t said so, to be sure, and even came out wishing Davis the best in his attempt to move the Raiders from Oakland to The Strip. But as we have learned over the last year, what NFL owners say and what they mean are very often two different things, and Las Vegas provides a solution to Spanos’ problem that his fellow owners might find more appealing than Davis.

Indeed, some people have whispered that Spanos would be keen on relocation to Las Vegas to get out from under the twin thumbs of Kroenke to the north and an electorate that doesn’t want to give him a billion dollars for his own use.

And the result of such a shift in his attention would leave Davis with two choices: Picking up the option to Los Angeles that Spanos likely would reject even though he is no more excited about being Kroenke’s pseudo-tenant than Spanos, or staying in Oakland with next to no chance for a new stadium in the foreseeable future.

This is a restatement of the basic equation of Las Vegas, complicated only by the hesitance of casino owner Sheldon Adelson to fulfill his promise to contribute $650 million to a new stadium, presumably in exchange for a piece of the team that moves in.

But there had been a level of hope among Chargers people that Tuesday’s vote would be much closer, at least close enough to make negotiations on a modified stadium plan possible. Now that seems gone, although some people think Spanos might go to the owners and ask for an extension on the Los Angeles option, and paying Davis for the privilege of doing so.

In other words, what happened in San Diego Tuesday did remarkably little to clear up the Raiders’ future, and may not have done much to clear up the Chargers’ future either. It was a clear protest vote against giving a billionaire a billion dollars, and there is something inspiring about that in any case, but understanding the future of Oakland’s football tam is no clearer – or for that matter, no more opaque – than it was on Monday night.

In short, as some might feel about the country in general today, we have gained no greater understanding of the Raiders’ future, except maybe that it has become more, not less complicated.

NFL picks: Raiders vs. Dolphins Week 3 score predictions

NFL picks: Raiders vs. Dolphins Week 3 score predictions

The Raiders (0-2) make the long trip to South Beach to take on the Dolphins (2-0) Sunday in Week 3 of the 2018 NFL season.

Oakland had a chance to pick up their first win last week against the Broncos, but squandered a fourth-quarter lead and lost on late Denver kicker Brandon McManus field goal. Head coach Jon Gruden is looking for more out of his pass rush and hoping linebacker Bruce Irvin can step up.

The Dolphins are coming off a 20-12 win over the Jets in New York last weekend. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw two touchdown passes while running back Kenyan Drake ran for 53 yards and one touchdown.

Paul Gutierrez, Raiders 24, Dolphins 23

Cameron Wolfe, Dolphins 26, Raiders 20

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Dolphins 23, Raiders 16

Elliot Harrison, Dolphins 26, Raiders 20

Brad Weiss, Just Blog Baby: Dolphins 28, Raiders 24

Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Dolphins 24, Raiders 20

Four Raiders to watch in Sunday's game vs. Dolphins

Four Raiders to watch in Sunday's game vs. Dolphins

MIAMI -- The Raiders have held second-half leads twice in as many games, without a victory to show for it. Jon Gruden’s consequently off to an 0-2 start running a team that can’t seem to finish well enough.

Game plans have been good, but the competition has been tough. The L.A. Rams surged using superior talent and force in the regular-season opener. The Broncos, though…Raiders had several opportunities to close that one out and couldn’t. There’s plenty of blame to go around for those second-half letdowns.

The pass rush is took a beating this week for failing to pressure well enough, which consequently extends the life of Khalil Mack trade talk. Penalties and a key dropped pass – nobody feels worse than fullback Keith Smith – came into play against the Broncos.

Quarterback Derek Carr said on this week’s Raiders Insider Podcast, “taking away two boneheaded plays by me,” and maybe the Rams game goes different.

Those results are etched in stone. All the Raiders can do is perform better Sunday here in Miami, where heat, humidity and a chance of thunderstorms await a team forced to wear black jerseys.

Here are four Raiders to watch as the Silver and Black try to avoid an 0-3 start.

Bruce Irvin

The Raiders’ best edge rusher hasn’t started the season particularly well. He has a strip sack and a quarterback hit and…no other pressures in two games. Those two plays made an impact, and no much else beyond it. He hurt the team’s chances against Denver with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty extending a Broncos scoring drive after the Raiders stopped it on third down.

The Raiders are looking to him to step up and not fill Mack’s shoes – few, if any, could do that – but generate steady pressure off the edge. That hasn’t happened yet but needs to here in Miami. He’ll have a tough task against Miami left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who has allowed but one quarterback pressure all year.

“We need to get more out of our captain,” Gruden said. “He’s been put in some tough spots, certainly. He’s a good player and has played some good snaps. We need more and more from him. I know he’s giving us everything he has. It’s tough on him because we have a lot of new guys around him up front, but we’re happy he’s here.”

[How to watch Raiders-Dolphins]

Jordy Nelson

Tight end Jared Cook exploded for a franchise record (for a tight end) 180 receiving yards in the opener. Amari Cooper roared after a less-than-impactful opening game, totaling 10 catches for 116 yards on as many targets against Denver.

Nelson has been relatively quiet in both games, with just five catches and 53 yards to his credit. Could this be Nelson’s first big game in Silver and Black. If the matchups dictate, as they did for Cook and Cooper in consecutive weeks. The Raiders need Nelson as a steadying presence, especially on third down. He will find a rhythm in this offense eventually. Starting Sunday could help his team get on the right track.

“There was improvement from Week 1 to Week 2 individually and as a whole,” Nelson said. “It’s all about matchups and opportunities. Jared had a great game in Week 1 and Cooper had one in Week 2, so maybe I’m next up this week. We’ll see.”

Erik Harris

The rangy safety hasn’t played much defense in his NFL career. He was labeled a special teams player before 2018 but Gruden’s staff saw more in him starting with the offseason. He failed to secure a starting spot over Reggie Nelson and/or Marcus Gilchrist to begin the year, but he played 26 defensive snaps in Denver after playing two since his Raiders tenure started in 2017.

Harris looked good working in, with a few one-on-one, open-field tackles that impressed many. He allowed just one four-yard catch on the day, and could earn more playing time as the season carries forward.

That’s especially true if Reggie Nelson struggles in coverage. Coaches love Nelson’s smarts and assistance getting the team lined up properly, but Harris provide long speed, range and sure tackling that could prove helpful against the Dolphins.

“He has been playing good,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. “He’s real smart. He understands the ins and outs of the defense. He earned his right to play. Like I’ve been saying in the past, I’m going to utilize all the personnel I have. I think you’ll see some more of that on Sunday.”

Marshawn Lynch

The Raiders don’t have a proven defensive closer now that Khalil Mack works in Chicago. They have one, however, on offense. Lynch can go full BeastMode late in games and grind out tough yards that continually move the chains. He was on a roll late in that Denver game, but Cook’s false start took them off schedule and messed up Lynch’s flow.

He had great rhythm last time the Raiders were in Miami, rumbling for 57 yards on 14 carries, notching two touchdowns and four first downs in the process.

He’s only averaging 3.7 yards per carry thus far, though penalties have negated some big runs and coaches believe he’s in great shape and has a big game on the immediate horizon.

“I know this, he’s extremely hard to tackle still,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said. “He almost popped out a big one last week again. He’s a dangerous guy to deal with. He’s a big man that does not like to touch the ground. I’ve seen him way too much it seems like.”

Gase might see him a lot on Sunday.

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