Silver and Black Pride editor Levi Damien is one of funniest and sharpest writers on SB Nation, and his site is outstanding. He's a credentialed member of the local media, and he was, in fact, the writer who broke the news of free agent defensive back Charles Woodson signing with the Raiders this offseason.
1. It seems you broke the story about Charles Woodson signing with the Raiders. The reaction was overwhelming. How did you get that story, and what do you feel was the general opinion on the move?
Well, the rally for him to return to the Raiders originated from Silver & Black Pride. Long story, really, but I was at the rally at Raiders headquarters when he arrived and after a few hours at headquarters, he had signed with the team. He credited the overwhelming fan support for his return as a big reason for his re-signing. The fan support also suggested to Reggie McKenzie that bringing back Woodson would help his standing with them as well as put butts in the seats on game day.
2. Woodson aside, though, this isn't a defense with stars, but one that's more than the sum of its parts. They fly to the ball and seem well coached. Am I wrong in suggesting this defense isn't far away from being one of the best units in the league?
They are already ranked as one of the better defenses in the league, especially in run defense. That has a lot to do with some great young players like Lamarr Houston along with very solid play from linebackers Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett. Defensive coordinator, Jason Tarver, has them playing very disciplined football. That's the key, really. Charles Woodson helps a lot as well. This great play could easily fall off if he retires after this season.
3. Terrelle Pryor's a Pittsburgh native, something I'm sure you're aware of and have heard plenty about this week. Can you assess his performance to this point in his career?
For the first two years of his NFL career he showed very little that would suggest he could be a successful NFL quarterback. Then this off-season he put in the work and has really turned some heads. First and foremost, he realized what his issues were. That can be difficult for a player who has relied on his raw physical talents for so long and none of his coaches in high school and college demanded more of him. He has said that he was way behind in his development because of it. What he has done the past couple months with his mechanics is nothing short of incredible. He still has a long way to go with his blitz recognition and passing out of the blitz as well as maintaining his poise under pressure. His first instinct is always to flee the pocket and improvise. Sometimes that works in his favor. Other times it does not. If he can find that balance, watch out.
4. Does Oakland's offense have an identity? If it's 4th-and-goal from the Steelers' 3-yard line with a second left in the game down four points, what's Oakland going to do?
Right now, it's let Pryor improvise. The initial play would either be a designed pass or Pryor dropping back for an instant before tucking it and running through a gap up the middle. If it's a pass, he makes two reads, if no one is open initially, leave the pocket to the right and set up again for the pass. The receivers then break off their routes and try to find an open area. If the defense stays back in coverage, run it in. If they leave coverage to stop Pryor from running, pass it to the open receiver.
5. Who was the better quarterback, Marc Wilson or Jay Schroeder?
Shroeder. He led the Raiders to the AFC Championship game in 1990. Unfortunately it was marred by the terrible by the ugly loss to the Bills in that game. He had also led the Redskins to the conference championship a few years earlier while throwing for over 4,000 yards. In Wilson's three seasons with the Raiders as the starter for at least half the season, he threw more interceptions than touchdowns in every one of those seasons.
Check out Silver and Black Pride for all the latest Raiders news heading into this game. You can follow the site on Twitter @SilverandBlackP and Levi @LeviDamien