The 49ers and Raiders were tied for the worst record in a three-year span after last season, but that tie will be broken this season because the 49ers have a plan to move forward. The Raiders have a plan, too. It’s the same one that produced that 13-35 record in that period.
Niners coach Mike Nolan has been systematically clearing his roster of Terry Donahue’s mistakes, the trade of Mike Rumph being the most recent. He still has Kwame Harris, but hopefully, not as a starter.
Nolan doesn’t have to try to justify past mistakes because he’s not the one who made them. The Raiders can’t do that because the man who made the mistakes of the past remains the man making the decisions today.
Al Davis, who hasn’t made a good decision on a quarterback since Jim Plunkett, made another stinker this offseason by bringing in Aaron Brooks, who had washed out with the New Orleans Saints.Brooks has looked terrible in two exhibition games, which he blames on not being in synch with the offense. I hadn’t been aware that the Raiders were reinventing the wheel with their offense.
Because they had Brooks, the Raiders passed on Matt Leinart, the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft. They’ve got a potential star in second-year quarterback Andrew Walter, but Davis wouldn’t think of letting a young quarterback play and make mistakes. Instead, he’s brought in veterans to do that, first Kerry Collins, now Brooks.
Raiders fans can only hope for an injury that will knock Brooks out for a time, giving Walter a chance to play, just as an injury to Dan Pastorini made room for Plunkett.
Meanwhile, it’s still the same old Raiders on the penalty front, as they piled up 10 for 64 yards in their lackluster win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Nothing more clearly shows the lack of discipline on this team than those penalties. At least players are starting to take responsibility for them, with several players speaking up this week about their frustration. That’s a start, and coach Art Shell has put great emphasis in practice on cutting down on penalties. I’m sure it’s maddening to Shell because the Raiders teams for whom he starred played with great discipline.
Shell was brought in to instill discipline in this team, but he’s already had some rocky moments. On the first day of training camp, receiver Jerry Porter openly challenged Shell’s methods. That was the time for Davis to call Porter into his office and tell him to shut up. What he did, though, was to say that Porter was a good guy and his comments
didn’t mean anything.
Way to stand up for your coach, Al.
There will be more incidents. Randy Moss complained because he was taken out of the game — a normal procedure at this point of the exhibition season — before he could really show his stuff in his returnto Minnesota. The me-first attitude is still there.
On the other side of the Bay, Nolan has been able to get rid of that type of player, and the team seems to be making steady progress. By the 2007 season, I expect the Niners to be serious contenders.
The Raiders? By the 2007 season, they’ll be on their way to another