Friday, October 22, 2021

Behind Enemy Lines: Week 3 Dolphins @ Raiders

Welcome to the next instalment of Behind Enemy Lines: Las Vegas Raiders Edition. 

Each week I talk with fans from the teams lining up against the Dolphins that week. It’s been a rough week to be a Dolphins fan, blown out by divisional rivals Buffalo, with our OLine looking as bad as it has been, and our young QB1 has fractured ribs and is out of the match up to come. However, this series enables me to speak to fans of other franchises, well entrenched in their fanbase to see what THEY think of our Dolphins, their own teams and the match up between the two. 

This has been a week where many people, myself included has passionately vented their opinions on the Miami Dolphins, lets see what the Raiders fans think… I have spoken to young, passionate, Raiders fan Adam Smith who can be found on twitter with @Deablo_SZN5 to get his take on it all. 

Afternoon mate, very greatful for you agreeing to do this, as you can appreciate, I am very keen to forget last week and talk through this week instead. But before we get onto that, let us know who you are and where your Raiders’ fandom comes from. 

Hello y’all my name is Adam aka @Deablo_SZN5. To the surprise of many I’m a Raider fan from the east coast, specifically Wheeling, West Virginia. I’ve been a Raider fan basically my whole life. I’m in a class of “New Generation Raider Fans” and I’m completely fine with that. I will say that I’ve been through losing basically my whole life but I know in my heart that those days are about over.

My father raised me to be a part of the Raider Nation, I’m thankful that he did because there is nothing like being a Raider. I love this team, the fanbase, our uniforms, our logo, our culture. It truly is a blessing to be a fan of one of the most historical, and notorious teams of all time. WIN, LOSE, OR TIE I’M A RAIDER TILL I DIE! 

Mate, I love it! Your passion flows so naturally in everything you say about your team. It’s part of the reason I targeted you to be part of this series, everything you say is so passionately put out there. I love it and I feel it. And what a time to be a Raiders fan too, like you say you have put up with a lot in your lifetime, but its been a pretty impressive start this year, how do you rate your chances over the rest of the season? 

Honestly everything feels different. Yes, we started 2-0 last season, the Wheels fell off after a 6-3 start, and we ended at 8-8. But like I just said everything feels different. Last year the we finished with the 32 Ranked Defense that allowed 31 Points Per Game, that is absolutely disgusting to even think about. We also finished with a 7th Ranked Offense. Jon Gruden finally fired Paul Gunther, thank god, and hired Gus Bradley, a significantly better coach than Paul Gunther. We got rid of the weak links on Defense, we followed it up with signing Yannick Ngakoue, Soloman Thomas, Casey Hayward, KJ Wright, and a few more solid pieces to compliment them.

For the first time in the Mike Mayock/Jon Gruden Era the Raiders finally focused on the Defense, with Free Agency, and the Draft! With the Additions of Trayvon Moehrig, Malcolm Koonce, Divine Deablo, Nate Hobbs, and Tyree Gillespie we seem to have a solid young core on Defense. Offense on the other hand was already good, Darren Waller is obviously a beast. Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edward’s will make leaps this year. Only thing that bothers me is Josh Jacobs being injured and our revamped Oline. We are banged up upfront but they are still getting the job done obviously we just beat two good teams in the Ravens and Steelers. 

Oh wow, when you summarise it like that, and in that way, it’s almost like I’m wondering how we didn’t see this coming. Those free agent defensive names that you added are incredibly impressive, and after our showing against the Bills, I winced with every new aggressive defensive player you named. So you have to be happy as a fan base yeah? After questions raised over Gruden and Mayock in the early part of their contracts, it all seems to be working out well yeah? 

Most of Raider Nation is stoked! If you are a Raider fan and you are not hyped up and confident in our boys then you might as well go like the Chiefs, Chargers, or Donkeys for all we care!!!! Also I expected us to be better than this. On paper we looked good, although every year we look decent on paper and we get disappointed. I think now the Raiders just need to keep grinding, they need to make sure not to get too high when we win right now, last time I checked there are 15 more games to go.

A Lot of ball left to play. We aren’t perfect. We have a lot of improvements to make but I am 1000% confident in this team! I think we can go far, and I genuinely think we can make a Run in the AFC! Instead of the Media talking about the Chiefs and Chargers they need to open their eyes to the Raiders. We are back baby! 

Haha, buddy, your energy is infectious I can’t lie to you. I feel like even if we weren’t playing you this weekend, I’d want to check in on your score! I won’t lie, I hope we put a stop on this momentum on Sunday, but I am certainly feeling that famous Raider fire. Talking of which, the QB who has become Mr Raider, despite the doubters over the years, is this finally Derek Carr’s shot? He been around and taken some beatings flashing inconsistently good and bad, is this him finally arriving at an elite level do you think? 

I honestly believe Derek Carr is the most underrated QB in the League. I’ve been high on Derek since his first snap as a Raider. I don’t understand the narrative for people to hate on him. He has always been good, especially these last 4 years. He’s thrown for over 4k yards each year with Gruden. He’s smart with the Ball and makes good decisions.

It’s the team around him that’s held us back, the DEFENSE MAINLY!!!! Let’s not forget he led us to the playoffs in 2016 under Jack Del Rio, unfortunately Derek broke his leg two games before the playoffs. Us Raider fans had to suffer and watch Matt Mcgloin, and Conner Cook lay an egg against a Brock Osweiler led Texans team that we beat in Mexico City earlier in the year. I now see Derek is getting the respect and admiration he deserves! 

Hey I get you. You have the stats and the evidence to back up your views, but I am feeling similar about Tua so I get you. Everyone has their opinion, but just like there were things holding Derek back in the early days, I feel like we have our own versions of those surrounding Tua. But when looking in through Redzone and other media snapshots, maybe other fanbases don’t see those excuses. Eventually, its down to each QB to prove the doubters wrong, Tua has yet to do that, whereas Carr looks like this may be the season he does it. 

But from two current QBs… to an ex Dolphin QB… Ryan Fitzpatrick. Sorry man, I HAVE to ask about last year’s match up. It went HAYWIRE. The game was pitiful for three quarters, and then just exploded and finished with that famous no look pass to set up the field goal. How did that game go down in Raider land? 

I’m not going to talk much about this because this destroyed me and Raider Nation. It’s awful to be on the losing side of games like that. But I have to say, our defense was complete garbage, Arden Key grabbed Fitz’s face mask as well on that play! It wouldn’t be a no-look pass without that grab, and it wouldn’t have been in field goal range either! But I’ll give credit where credit is due and say it was a great throw by Ryan. We will get revenge on y’all though on Sunday mark my words, we remember, and we’re coming. 

Oh christ, I appear to have touched a nerve and woken a sleeping giant here. I have to hope that your revenge mission gets the better of you and we can find a way to come out alive yet again, we have a strong recent record over the you guys and I hope we continue that on Sunday. However… I feel less confident after last week’s car crash game against the Bills. Did that game change your fanbase view on us or alter the perspective of Dolphin football from a Raider’s view? 

I feel like the Dolphins are an underrated team, y’all have a talented Defense, and some good weapons on Offense. Can’t sleep on y’all at all. I do think that Tua was a bad pick, I haven’t been high on him at all, yet. Mayne if Watson’s legal issue can be solved y’all will have a Franchise guy for the first time in a long time. I bet y’all are glad that Brady is out of the AFC East right? That Division is wide open In my opinion, although I think the Bills are the best in the Division now. The Dolphins time is coming soon though, have faith y’all! 

Haha, I mean, I didn’t shed a tear when Brady left I can’t lie. In fact I may have raised a glass or two actually haha. This Watson talk is becoming toxic for us though, any time Tua does anything slightly negative, the Watson links re-surface. It’s like a cloud over everything we do at the moment. But if Sunday proved anything, it is that we have other issues than Tua. With our OLine being the main one. That said, our defense showed up well and if we can find ways to salvage some of our protection plays and give Tua a chance to prove himself, then you never know, you may be right and our time could be coming. 

But right now we have you in a couple of days, who SHOULD we be talking about? Run some names off for me real quick, who are we as Dolphins fans, but also all NFL fans sleeping on?  

Oh I have a few players that I can mention here, no hesitation: Bryan Edwards, Henry Ruggs, Hunter Renfrow, Foster Moreau, Kenyan Drake especially with this being a revenge game. With Josh Jacobs unlikely to play, and Drake having a point to prove in Miami, I see him getting yards on yards. 

And as always Derek Carr. It is actually possible for him to hit 1000+ yards in 3 games, THATS HUGE! 

I hope you’re wrong about Drake man, that would be SUCH a Dolphins way to lose as well. Hope you’re wrong, I keep telling myself there was a reason he didn’t fit. I hope I’m reminded of that reason at weekend. What about current Dolphins? Who poses the greatest threat to your Raiders team do you think? 

Well there’s a few that come to mind straight up, first Will Fuller is back he’s a Stud, The Rookie Waddle is going to be good no doubts, just hopefully not on Sunday. 

I’m excited to see Lynn Bowden Jr, I know he hates the Raiders for trading him, so he’ll be out for revenge. Xaiven Howard is a beast, Devante Parker is always a threat, Byron Jones is good, damn, y’all got a good squad, Definitely going to be a good one! 

Hate to break it to you man, you’ll be waiting a while for the Bowden revenge game. He was put on IR with a hamstring injury as we cut the roster down to 53. There is no chance we see him this weekend, and actually the only way we can see him this YEAR is if we pay him an injury settlement and then resign him to new terms. Something to do with the timing of when we put him on IR, so he’s essentially done for the year. 

But I have to ask about another player, you have alluded to him already and we now know that he won’t play this coming weekend. Tua Tagovailoa, I am asking all fans for their opinion on him. From inside our bubble it looks like he is being shot at from all angles. Even though he won’t play, what is the Raiders view on our QB1. 

I kind of answered this a few questions ago, I’m not high on him. 

When we first talked I said it seems like he’s going to be injury prone, and here we are sat talking with him confirmed out of Sundays game with a new injury. I genuinely believe if DeShaun Watson gets his issues resolved that y’all will be the ones to trade for him, it makes too much sense. And for us, better y’all then the Broncos I guess! 

Seems to be the opinion of many. Like I have said, I will continue to give him time this year. Coming off his hip injury, to go 6-3 from 9 games in a rookie year for me wasn’t enough to evaluate him. He had a strong record, but still questions remain. This year he beat the Patriots in their own yard and then was flattened in 8 snaps by the Bills.

Things are happening, but the questions still remain and its hard to argue with them. The only person who can provide answers is Tua, and he must do that with his play. My personal opinion is that 10 games plus 8 snaps vs the Bills is not enough time to make a reasonable judgement on if he can answer those questions. Come back to me at the end of the year when he has 20 games under his belt and then we will see where he is at. 

But back to the game. How do you see it going, what is your prediction? 

The Raiders are obviously rolling after beating two good teams. I’m worried that this may be a trap game and could be a slice of humble pie for us. But on the other hand I think we are going to be extremely hard to beat at home this year. Remember we had ZERO fans last year. This year we have 65,000 loud Raiders! 

As for you guys after being beaten 35-0… there is no way y’all get shutout again. I can’t see it happening, but I do think y’all get shut down. Brissett is not good enough in my opinion, but on the bright side for y’all our OLine is banged up just like yours, and Josh Jacobs is most likely not playing again. 

But I am feeling confident and I say the Raiders win 31-14. Sorry Dolphins fans. But no matter what happens after Sunday I wish y’all the best for the rest of the Season. My parting words as always are RAIDER NATION!!!

Honestly, and for the first time this year, I am sat on the fence. I have no idea what version of the Dolphins will show up. I agree man, we are not getting shut out again, no way. That said, our most experienced Lineman was labelled “The Matador” due to the amount of Bull Rushes he waved on through. 

So I expect an improvement, I think having Will Fuller on the field makes us better and more dynamic, and Brissett has said all summer that he doesn’t count himself as a back up… well now he has a shot to prove that. So I don’t know, we have the ability to hurt you if we show up to our potential, we have the defensive pieces to stop you, but we also have the ability to self implode and give you perfect chances to dominate. Will be an interesting game for sure, I just hope its more enjoyable than last week! 

And that brings our Raiders edition to an end. I loved it this week, what a guy Adam is, his Raider passion has been all I have talked about in Aqua Thirteen circles. Thoroughly enjoyed working on this with him and while I hope he is beaten this weekend, I’d like to see them do well and pay back such a passionate fan base. 

As for us, where the hell do we start. I have no idea how this is going but I am clinging to the fact that so many of these guys have the BIGGEST point to prove. If they come out hungry, determined and ready to prove that point then we could have a completely different vibe and outcome this week. 

However if they can’t handle the pressure, this could be another rough week. As I alluded to above it depends which Miami Dolphins turn up. Will we get Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde? Whichever turns up, finishing the weekend 2-1 would make the Dolphins world a whole lot brighter. 

Fins Up! 

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