Unconventional Preview: The Raiders Are Terrible, And Yet Still Easy To Loathe

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Welcome to Season 3, Episode 3 of the Unconventional Preview, a serious-but-lighthearted, nostalgia-tinted look at the Patriots’ weekly matchup that runs right here every Friday afternoon. The Patriots make their 2014 home debut Sunday against the lowly Oakland Raiders, and it will be a surprise if this is as competitive as, oh, the joint practices with the Redskins during training camp. Kick it off, Gostkowski, and let’s get this started already …

THREE PLAYERS OTHER THAN TOM BRADY I’LL BE WATCHING:
1. Logan Ryan: I’m presuming you still recall last week’s designated hot-take topic: Should the Patriots have drafted Cordarrrele Patterson in the first round, or did they do the right thing in trading the 29th overall pick for four choices, which they turned into Ryan, Jamie Collins, Josh Boyce, and eventually, LeGarrette Blount.

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Don’t know about you, but I feel like I got my answer last Sunday, when Ryan had a pick in the Patriots’ 30-7 win while helping turn Patterson into a flashy non-factor: It would not surprise me whatsoever if the second-year cornerback ends up being a better player at his position than Patterson is at his. May already be the case, actually.

2. Danny Amendola: I know there’s a perception that he struggles to get open. But there have also been times when he was open and Brady looks elsewhere. I don’t get this. He’s been an effective receiver in his career, had his moments last year, and played through a serious injury. And yet you get the sense Amendola makes Brady long for the days of Donald Hayes. Doesn’t make much sense on the surface. Sunday would seem a great opportunity to build some chemistry with Brady.

3. Derek Carr: He’s probably better than the two most hyped Houston Texans quarterbacks of all-time — his perennially under-siege brother, David, and his backup, Matt Schaub. But facing Bill Belichick, Darrelle Revis, and Chandler Jones in his third NFL start doesn’t bode well.

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COMMITMENT TO EMBARRASSMENT:
Sure, there are plenty of reasons to be amused by the Raiders. A very abbreviated list:

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Mark Davis, their thanks-Ed Grimley owner, looks like a Dr. Moreau-style collaboration between Al Davis and Jon Gruden during the three days they got along.

They haven’t had a quarterback start for a full 16-game season since Rich Gannon in 2002. But they’ve had six different quarterbacks start one game in a season: Marques Tuiasosopo (2003 and ’05), JaMarcus Russell (’07), Andrew Walter (’08), Kyle Boller (’11), Terrelle Pryor (’12), Matt Flynn (’13). How in the world has Brady Quinn not played a game for this team?

They drafted kicker Sebastian Janikowski in the first round, 17th overall, in 2000, or 182 picks before the Patriots chose Tom Brady, who probably would have played more than one game. At least Janikowski is still on the roster.

Howie Long and Matt Millen hit New England general manager Patrick Sullivan after the 1986 divisional round game more than they hit quarterback Tony Eason during the Patriots’ win.

The last time the Raiders were in a Super Bowl, they failed to change up much of their terminology on offense, which was installed by a former coach who was now on the opposing sideline. Surprisingly, they lost by only 27 points.

They’re still sniveling about the Snow Bowl, which was not settled but merely extended by the correct interpretation of a stupid rule.

And that is one of many reasons why I have no sympathy for this franchise. But it’s a small reason. Bigger reason? Ben Dreith. You’d think Raiders fans would appreciate the gift, and perhaps recognize one was due the other way. Biggest reason: Jack Tatum. Scum of the earth.

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If the Patriots win 500-3 Sunday — such a rout that Brady even looks Amendola’s way once or twice — I’ll complain about the Janikowski field goal. No margin is large enough.

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COMPLETELY RANDOM FOOTBALL CARD:
There was a time when the Raiders got it right, when their mode of operation included bringing in talent at any cost. In 1983, their gain was the Patriots’ misfortune when they acquired holdout Mike Haynes, a Pro Bowl cornerback in six of his seven seasons here, for a pair of draft picks. Darrelle Revis is superb, and no one blanketed a receiver like Deion Sanders in his prime. But the best cornerback I’ve ever seen is Haynes, who teamed with Lester Hayes to give the Raiders arguably the best tandem at the position of all time.

TASTES GREAT. LESS FILLING.

Theory: Chris Farley’s entire persona was based on John Madden.

Those Miller Lite commercial shoots in the late ’70s and early ’80s must have had the all-time booze-soaked after-parties. It’s too bad so many people in this particular commercial (Billy Martin, Rodney Dangerfield, Bubba Smith) have passed away, because an oral history of this shoot alone would be a must-read.

PREDICTION, OR WILL JIMMY GAROPPOLO MAKE HIS DEBUT IN THE THIRD QUARTER OR THE FOURTH?
I am a total believer in the theory that when Bill Belichick goes on one of his must-listen history-of-football soliloquies on a Friday, that means he’s confident — certain, actually — that the Patriots’ plan is flawless and victory is a matter of the margin. Well, this week, the soliloquy, on the Wing-T offense, came on a Wednesday. The home opener is the first time we will see the full version of what we expected the Patriots to be — a versatile, efficient offense, and a dynamic defense. The slogan belongs here now, and it will be fulfilled: Just win, baby.
Patriots 42, Raiders 10

Season record: About to be 2-1.

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