Monday, August 13, 2007

Oakland Raiders Offense Getting Rave Reviews Already

Last year at almost this time, I called for then-Oakland Raiders Offensive Coordinator Tom Walsh to be fired. The problems with the offense were simple: terrible and outdated blocking schemes, passing plays that contained the 70s style of deep patterns, lack of formation variation, and inflexibility.

Many Raiders fans wanted my head, but I stuck to my point.

The result with new Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin is not just an up-to-date offense, but many of the problems I identified -- ok, all of them -- are gone. What's in place is the kind of offense that I have wanted the Raiders to install for years. It's only the first game of preseason, and yet the Raiders offense is getting rave reviews and deservedly so.

Let's review why.

1) Blocking.

It's simplictic to write "the blocking is better." What's better is that the linemen aren't being asked to hold blocks for a long time. What's better is that the timing of the pass patterns are matched with the kind of block the linemen are asked to make. And what's better is that the Raiders are using a variety of pass patterns, including one of my favorites where the receiver just turns to the quarterback and waits for the pass, because the cornerback's about 10 yards off of him.


2) Formations.

Last year, the Raiders didn't seem to understand that there were a ton of different ways to line up and create mismatches. Not so this year. The Raiders employed about 45 formation for the first game of preseason this year. Many of the sets were simple, and use of the shotgun was intelligent. What I'm getting at is the Silver and Black's going to present more complex approaches as the year goes on.

What's the point of all this? The defense can't zero in and stop the attack based on one concept -- there's too much to deal with for a defensive coordinator.

3) Pass Patterns.

As I stated before, pass patterns are more varied by far. It means more ways to get the receivers and backs opens. It means more ways to move the ball through the air.

In closing, the Raiders offense is not just better, it's much better. This is a credit to Coach Kiffin and Coach Knapp as well as The Raiders organization for making a bold step when it was needed.

Flush With Cash, Karl Rove To Resign - Wash Post

Now, I'm guessing about the cash matter, but it reads he's not going to take another job. Plus, he's going to write a book (!) which means - drum roll, please -- a large book advance! Personally, as one who's worked in politics, I admire Karl Rove's work and the reputation he crafted as a top-flight political strategist.

Karl Rove, Adviser to President Bush, to Resign
By Peter Baker and Debbi Wilgoren
Washington Post Staff Writers

Monday, August 13, 2007; 7:34 AM

Karl Rove, the architect of President Bush's two national campaigns and his most prominent adviser through 6-1/2 tumultuous years in the White House, will resign at month's end and leave politics, a White House spokeswoman said this morning.

Bush plans to make a statement with Rove on the South Lawn this morning before the president departs for his ranch near Crawford, Tex. Rove, who holds the titles of deputy chief of staff and senior adviser, has been talking about finding the right time to depart for a year, colleagues said, and decided he had to either leave now or remain through the end of the presidency.

"Obviously it's a big loss to us," White House spokeswoman Dana M. Perino said this morning. "He's a great colleague, a good friend, and a brilliant mind. He will be greatly missed. But we know he wouldn't be going if he wasn't sure this was the right time to be giving more to his family, his wife Darby and their son. He will continue to be one of the president's greatest friends."

Rove, 56, who escaped indictment in the CIA leak case, has been under scrutiny by the new Democratic Congress for his role in the firings of U.S. attorneys and in a series of political briefings provided to various agencies across government. Citing executive privilege, he defied a subpoena and refused to show up for a congressional hearing just two weeks ago on the allegedly improper use by White House aides of Republican National Committee email accounts. Fellow Bush advisers have said they believe the congressional probes have been aimed in part at driving Rove out.

The White House said his departure was unrelated to the investigations. In an interview published this morning, Rove told Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul A. Gigot that he had been interested in leaving last year but did not want to go immediately after the Democrats took over Congress, nor did he want to abandon Bush as he fought for his troop buildup in Iraq and an immigration overhaul.

"I just think it's time," Rove told Gigot in comments confirmed by the White House. The Journal said White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten told Rove and other senior aides that if they stay past Labor Day, they would be expected to remain through the end of the second term, Jan. 20, 2009.

"There's always something that can keep you here," Rove said, "and as much as I'd like to be here, I've got to do this for the sake of my family."

Rove said he was finished with political consulting and plans to spend much of his time at his house in Ingram, Tex., with his wife, Darby, and near their son, who attends college in San Antonio. He said he plans to write a book about Bush's years in office, a project encouraged by the president, and would like to teach at some point, but has no job lined up for now. He does not plan to work on a presidential campaign nor would he endorse a candidate.

Rove is the latest of a string of high-profile presidential aides to head for the door as the Bush administration enters its final stages. In recent months, presidential counselor Dan Bartlett, budget director Rob Portman, deputy national security advisers J.D. Crouch and Meghan O'Sullivan, political director Sara M. Taylor, strategic initiatives director Peter H. Wehner and a string of other longtime aides have resigned one after the other.

None came close to Rove's stature or influence, however. His departure is the end of an era in modern GOP politics, the conclusion of 14 years that began with advising the son of the last Republican to hold the White House, then guiding that son first to the Texas governor's mansion and, ultimately, to the White House. Along the way, Rove became the most prominent political strategist of his generation and a bete noire for liberals and even a number of conservative critics.

Along with Karen Hughes and Joe Allbaugh, Rove was part of a group known as the "Iron Triangle" who were central to Bush's early political success in Texas, but he was the most enduring of the three. Bush termed him "The Architect" for his role in capturing the White House in 2000 and Rove was similarly credited with midterm Congressional election victories in 2002 and Bush's reelection over Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) in 2004. The ouster of the Republican Congress in 2006, punctured Rove's long winning streak and empowered his enemies.

Rove's influence extended far beyond the politics of electioneering, deep into policymaking. He helped craft the first-term Bush agenda of tax cuts, which succeeded, and the second-term agenda of Social Security private accounts, which did not. More broadly, he provided the intellectual and historic framework for the Bush presidency and hoped to use it to open a new era of Republican political dominance, a project that today looks potentially crippled by the unpopularity of both the president and the Iraq war.

Rove was investigated for his role in leaking the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative whose husband publicly criticized the administration's handling of prewar intelligence. Although White House spokesman Scott McClellan initially spoke with Rove and publicly denied that Rove had anything to do with the leak, the investigation later determined that he had in fact divulged or confirmed Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak and Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper.

Special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald brought Rove before the grand jury multiple times and considered charging him in the case but ultimately decided not to. Fitzgerald did indict I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying to investigators, although Bush later commuted his sentence. Libby's attorney asserted at his trial that he was being sacrificed to protect Rove.

Rove told Gigot that he remains confident Bush will recover politically despite his low approval ratings. "He will move back up in the polls," Rove said. And he said Republicans could still retain the White House next year. The Democrats are likely to nominate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), "a tough, tenacious, fatally flawed candidate," he said, but Republicans have "a very good chance" of beating her.

Rove laughed off his own reputation as the svengali of the Bush presidency. "I'm a myth," he said. "There's the Mark of Rove. I read about some of the things I'm supposed to have done and I have to try not to laugh."

Staff writer Howard Schneider contributed to this report.