EXT. OAKLAND RAIDERS SHARED HOUSE – DAY
Establishing shot and title card.
ANNOUNCER BETH MOWINS: That’s My Ravens [sic] is filmed in front of a live studio auditorium [sic].
CUT TO – INT. LIVING ROOM – DAY
SUNSHINE COWSER sits on the coach, reading Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” in its original Chinese.
GIORGIO TAVECCHIO emerges from his bedroom, rubbing his eyes.
SUNSHINE COWSER: Wow, Giorgio, you look exhausted.
GIORGIO TAVECCHIO: I haven’t been able to sleep every since Derek told me about the Axeman of New Orleans.
SUNSHINE COWSER: I told you not to let him tell you stories before bedtime! Is that why you wore your helmet to bed?
GIORGIO TAVECCHIO: Yeah, I…
The video feed is interrupted…
ANNOUNCER BETH MOWINS: The part of Giorgio Tavecchio has been recast. It will now be played by Eddy Piñata [sic]. We now rejoin our regularly scheduled programming.
EDDY PIÑEIRO: …and so I get to the drive-thru, and…
TRICKSTER GOD DOINK: DOINK!
EDDY PINEIRO: [collapses in pain] Ow, my groin!
More technical difficulties…
ANNOUNCER BETH MOWINS: The part of Eddy Polenta [sic] has been recast. It will now be played by [checks notes] Mike Nugent? He’s still alive?
MIKE NUGENT: I am Mike Nugent. You are hearing me talk.
SUNSHINE COWSER: Well it sure is nice to…
— [door flies open] —
FADOL BROWN, P.J. HALL, ARDEN KEY, and MO HURST: [swarming into the room] Hi!
SUNSHINE COWSER: Oh hey there rookies!
P.J. HALL: Is Derek here?
ARDEN KEY: We want to give him…um, a hug.
MO HURST: At the same time!
DEREK CARR: [shouts from behind closed bedroom door] GO AWAY.
SUNSHINE COWSER: Aw, come on Derek, the new pass rushing crew just wants to say hi.
DEREK CARR: [briefly opens door so he can slam it shut, cranks up stereo]
SUNSHINE COWSER: Sorry guys, Derek is a little sensitive about things at the moment. He’s concerned about having his blind side protected by first-round rookie Kolton Miller, and having veteran Donald Penn learning a new position at right tackle on the opposite side.
MO HURST: The interior line of Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson, and Gabe Jackson is solid, though. I’ve been practicing against them in training camp.
SUNSHINE COWSER: Yeah, but Derek’s a bit of a worrier. Even though he’s only missed three games in his entire career, people still seem eager to label him as injury-prone.
AMARI COOPER: Did you see that? [points towards window]
The top of a head pops briefly into view.
SUNSHINE COWSER: Wait, when did you get here?
AMARI COOPER: I’ve been here the whole time. I’ve just been kinda quiet. Especially last season.
DOUG MARTIN: [from outside] Let me in!
SUNSHINE COWSER: So many new faces!
— [door flies open] —
COACH GRUDEN: YEAH, I GUESS THAT’S THE MAJOR THEME OF THIS SEASON.
ALL: Coach Jon Gruden!
COACH GRUDEN: HELLO BOYS IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK COACHING IN THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE.
JORDY NELSON: Welcome to Oakland, Coach.
A harried-looking producer steps out onto the set.
PRODUCER: CUT! What the hell, Jordy, you’re not in this scene. That line is supposed to be spoken by new wideout Martavius Bryant, who was acquired from Pittsburgh for a 3rd round draft pick.
JORDY NELSON: Oh, yeah. He, uh, had a headache and couldn’t make it.
PRODUCER: Besides, you’ve got your own show to worry about. We’ll see you during the crossover episode.
COACH GRUDEN: THIS GUY JORDY NELSON I CALL HIM PETRA NEMCOVA BECAUSE WE ARE ALL DESPERATELY HOPING HE IS NOT WASHED UP.
PRODUCER: Okay, now let’s reset at…
COACH GRUDEN: HANG ON SON, I’VE GOT A FEW WORDS I WANT TO SAY TO THE BOYS. THERE’S AN AWFUL LOT OF NEW FACES HERE, INCLUDING AN ENTIRELY NEW COACHING STAFF BROUGHT IN BY YOURS TRULY. PAUL GUENTHER HAS TAKEN OVER AS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR AND I THINK HE’S DONE A REALLY GOOD JOB MAKING SURE YOU GUYS KNOW WHERE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE…
PRODUCER: It’s true, people have been doing an excellent job of hitting their marks.
COACH GRUDEN: …AND NOW THAT WE’VE FINALLY GOT FIRST-ROUND PICK GAREON CONLEY BACK IN ACTION AFTER DOING A PRETTY GOOD IMPRESSION OF KEVIN WHITE DURING HIS ROOKIE SEASON IT’S LOOKING LIKE ALL YOU NEW GUYS ON THE DEFENSIVE LINE ARE GOING TO FEAST.
P.J. HALL: That’s the plan, coach.
MO HURST: We’re a hungry bunch!
ARDEN KEY: [looks downcast]
COACH GRUDEN: WHAT’S WRONG, SON?
ARDEN KEY: I’ve just…been looking forward to the chance to learn from Khalil Mack.
COACH GRUDEN: AW, BOYS. THIS GUY KHALIL MACK I CALL HIM WILL’S REAL FATHER FROM THAT EPISODE OF THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR CAUSE I’M NOT SURE IF YOU’RE EVER GONNA SEE HIM AGAIN.
MARQUISE LEE: But…
COACH GRUDEN: WITH THE LINEBACKING CORPS…
DERRICK JOHNSON: Hey!
COACH GRUDEN: I SAID CORPS NOT CORPSE BUT ANYWAYS WITH THE LINEBACKERS ALSO LOOKING CONSIDERABLY BETTER I THINK THE DEFENSE IS GOING TO BE VASTLY IMPROVED FROM LAST YEAR’S DISASTER UNDER KEN NORTON JR. ONE OF THE BIGGEST QUESTIONS IS WHETHER OR NOT THE OFFENSE IS GOING TO GET BACK TO WHERE IT WAS TWO YEARS AGO.
JARED COOK: [from the kitchen] I’ll do my part!
COACH GRUDEN: I KNOW YOU WILL BUDDY. JORDY NELSON IS OLD AND SLOW BUT MAYBE CAN TEACH YOU GUYS HOW TO HANG ONTO THE DAMNED BALL, AND AS LONG AS MARTAVIUS CAN KEEP HIS HEAD ON STRAIGHT CAN STRETCH THINGS VERTICALLY. AND I HAVE NO CONCERNS ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT AMARI COOPER WILL BOUNCE BACK AFTER A LOUSY SEASON LAST YEAR.
AMARI COOPER: Well thanks coach, I…
COACH GRUDEN: THE BIGGEST QUESTION MARK, AS IT HAPPENS, IS ME. SO FAR IT’S REALLY HARD FOR PEOPLE TO MAKE MANY GUESSES BECAUSE I HAVEN’T SHOWN ANY OF MY CARDS IN PRESEASON. A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK MY TIME AWAY FROM THE GAME MEANS IT HAS PASSED ME BY, BUT WE’LL SHOW THEM, WON’T WE BOYS?
COACH GRUDEN: NOW LET’S GET TO WORK. WING T PERSONNEL GROUP FRONT AND CENTER!
Rikki’s Prediction: I’m still gun shy after going all-in with my heart last year. I think Gruden’s coaching staff is going to do a much better job of keeping this team organized and functional, and I’m personally not really concerned that his time off the sidelines will matter too much – he’s too obsessive not to get caught back up very quickly. I do forecast some growing pains for the Raiders in a logjammed AFC West, resulting in a number of bright spots but an ultimately irrelevant 8-8 season.