On a rainy Friday night in the Big Apple, the Raiders staged a ten-point comeback in the fourth quarter to beat the New York Titans, 28-27, before 10,000 spectators at the Polo Grounds. The Raiders entered the game coming off their worst loss ever, a 38-9 beating at the hands of the Bills. At 3-4, they had fallen back to the pack after challenging the Broncos for the Western Division lead just a week ago. They did come into the game mostly healthy, though. Larry Barnes, Tom Flores, and Charley Powell had all been suffering from various forms of mild illness in recent days but would be ready to go at game time. Read more “October 28, 1960”
Head coach Eddie Erdelatz called it “far and away our worst performance” and he wasn’t kidding. On a damp, blustery day in Buffalo, the Bills hit on big play after big play and thumped the Raiders 38-9. The lowering, gray skies and steady light rain kept attendance down to a paltry 8,876, but those who did show up saw their team at peak performance.
The Raiders, at 3-3, came into the game as one of the hottest teams in the AFL and a win, coupled with a Boston win over the Broncos, would move them to the top spot in the league’s Western Division. The Bills, at 1-4, entered the game with the league’s top defense, but with an offense that hadn’t found much success. They had made a change at quarterback just a week ago, picking up Johnny Green, a Steelers castoff, and started him in place of Tommy O’Connell, an old Browns hand. In that game the Bills lost a tight one to the Titans, but head coach Buster Ramsey was encouraged by his play and planned to keep him in there against Oakland. Read more “October 23, 1960”
It started out slowly enough but got wild in the second half. The Texans got on the board first with a long drive in the second period, but Oakland head coach Eddie Erdelatz gave his team an ass-chewing at halftime that spurred them on to a 20-19 nail-biting victory over the Texans in Dallas.Read more “October 9, 1960”
Travel day for the Raiders. Their destination was Grand Prairie, Texas, about 15 miles west of the Cotton Bowl, where they would play the Dallas Texans next Sunday. The team’s training staff reported that most of the players made it through the Denver game without serious mishap, except for receiver Charlie Hardy, who left the game with a “slight” concussion. He was expected to be ready to go again by game day.
Eddie Erdelatz named his starting offense today. As mentioned a couple of days ago, Tom Flores would start at quarterback. Joining him in the backfield would be Jack Larscheid, Billy Lott, and Tony Teresa, who would man the flanker spot. On the ends would be Charlie Hardy and Gene Prebola. Ron Sabal and Dalton Truax were to start at the tackles, with Don Manoukian and Wayne Hawkins at guard, and Jim Otto in the middle.
On the practice field, the team ran through their last workout before the game and the next time they put on pads they would be facing the Houston Oilers to get the whole shooting match underway.
Hayward Daily Review
San Mateo Times
As the roster deadline approached the Raiders continued to move pieces, dropping four and adding one. The four players let go were end Dan Edgington, halfbacks John Harris and Brad Myers, and center Mac Starnes. Edgington was perhaps a bit of a surprise as he had been penciled in as a starter opposite Charlie Hardy as recently as the last week of August, but he hadn’t caught a pass in the preseason and with Alan Goldstein and Tony Teresa being considered for the spot, Edgington was apparently expendable. Harris was another who seemed to have a spot on the team, but he had been battling knee problems and the Raiders were comparatively deep in the defensive backfield. Myers was still another who held promise, but he couldn’t get past Teresa, Billy Lott, and Jack Larscheid. Starnes’ release was simple: Jim Otto was already on the roster.
The new player was 6’1″, 220-pound fullback JD “Jetstream” Smith1, out of Compton Junior College. Smith, claimed off waivers from the Chargers, had played against the Raiders on August 19, but hadn’t made the stat sheet. With his combination of speed and power, he could be expected to challenge Lott for the starting fullback spot.
These moves left the Raiders with the mandated 33 players in time for the September 6 deadline.
Hayward Daily Review
San Mateo Times
1Smith has been identified in several different ways by the press and other sources. Most of the papers at the time referred to him at Jetstream or Jet. Others used the name Jim, while still others called him JD. To confuse matters further, Pro Football Reference lists a total of three JD Smith’s playing in the pros at this time. In addition to Jetstream, there was a HB-FB JD Smith who played in the NFL from 1956-66, mostly with the 49ers, but also with the Bears and Cowboys, and an offensive tackle JD Smith who played with the Eagles and Lions from 1959-66. With no definitive answer and no idea which name Smith himself prefers, the Logbook will refer to him as JD to maintain consistency with Pro Football Reference. If anyone knows different, please let me know.
After three games, with a 1-2 record, the Raiders were a definitively middling team. All three games were close and the team’s point totals on both sides of the ball were near the league median. The Raiders had significantly outscored their opponents in the first and fourth quarters, but the reverse was true in the middle two periods and they had yet to score at all in the third. Yes, it was the preseason and this was all meaningless, but the Raiders were thought to be under a real handicap because of their late start and to see them play competitive ball was both a relief and encouraging.
Overall, the Raider play calling on offense was balanced, with a 98 to 104 run/pass ratio, but the running game was lagging behind at this point, with the team averaging less than 3.5 yards per carry. Only Jack Larscheid, with his 6.3 yard average, was anything more than workmanlike in the run game. Billy Lott and Buddy Allen were given the lion’s share of the work in the backfield, but Lott’s pass catching ability gave him the advantage when it came to competing for a starting spot. Tony Teresa was the only other runner getting a serious look, but he, too, was more effective catching the ball and, in fact, was going to get his reps in at the flanker spot going forward, at least until tight end Gene Prebola returned from injury.
As for the quarterback spot, there was no competition. Eddie Erdelatz had to all intents anointed Tom Flores the starter and, despite his recent injury, he would presumably get his job back as soon as he returned. In the meantime, Babe Parilli and Paul Larson would fight over the scraps.
The biggest area of uncertainty, though, was at wide receiver. Prebola was the tight end, by default, and Charlie Hardy seemed to be taking the split end spot as his own, but the other side was still up for grabs. Teresa was working there for now, but the team’s long-term plans for him were still unclear. He had thrown a few halfback passes and was adequate catching passes coming out of the backfield, but he was woeful in the running game, averaging just a couple of yards per carry and was often stuffed behind the line.
On the offensive line, only 5’9″ Don Manoukian was mentioned with any regularity in press dispatches, so it was hard to tell what was going on there. It was clear, however, that the offense was still very much a work in progress.
The Raider defense was in the same boat. They were good at getting the ball from their opponents—eight turnovers in three games—but they were giving up a lot of yards otherwise. Opponents were averaging nearly a yard more per run and better than six yards a clip through the air, and the Oakland rush had sacked opponent quarterbacks only once for a paltry five yards.
On the defensive line, end Carmen Cavalli was getting the most attention, but it was clear that the unit wasn’t getting it done. Among the linebackers, Bob Dougherty and Tom Louderback seemed to be doing a fair job, but still needed to get stouter against the run. And in the secondary, cornerback Joe Cannavino was rising above the crowd in pass coverage and was showing a nose for loose balls.
Erdelatz appeared to have settled on linebacker Larry Barnes to do the placekicking. He was true on extra points and was okay so far on field goals as well. Halfback Wayne Crow had laid claim to the punting job with his 45-yard average. The return and coverage teams were performing within expected norms.
The consensus among observers was that the Raiders had beaten expectations so far. They held their own in preseason losses against the Texans and the Chargers, teams that were thought to be title contenders and, above all, they hadn’t embarrassed themselves. And it was clear that many people thought they would. They were about to face a pretty stern test of two games in five days, but they were also in a position to get a good feel for the players who, to this point, hadn’t played all that much. After that, they would have two full weeks to get ready for the Oilers in the regular season opener.
After having watched films of the Titans game, Raider head coach Eddie Erdelatz said he was making some changes to the offense. The team would now use a split end and a tight end instead of the two tight end formation they had previously been using. Along with that change, Erdelatz announced a shuffling of the depth chart at the ball-handling positions. To wit:
Split end: Charlie Hardy, Alan Goldstein, John Brown
Tight end: Gene Prebola, Charles Moore
Flanker: Dan Edgington, Irv Nikolai, Brad Myers
Halfback: Tony Teresa, Jack Larscheid, Ron Drzewiecki
Fullback: Billy Lott, Buddy Allen, Dean Philpott
Despite the changes, the Raider coach had nothing but good things to say about his team’s performance, praising the interior of the offensive line — Jim Otto, Wayne Hawkins, and Ron Sabal — in particular.
“We played well as a team against the Titans,” he said, “It appears as though the way we practice is paying off. The kids could have gone another half had they needed to. This gang has great spirit. I’ve seen such hustle work wonders before and it looks like it’s happening again.”
Hayward Daily Review
San Mateo Times
Raider quarterbacks Tom Flores and Paul Larson were under heightened pressure in practice today as the coaching staff had the defense work on a set of “red dogging” (linebacker blitz) drills. Both passers found their effectiveness seriously diminished under the heavy rush and clearly needed more work in this area.
Two players who didn’t take part in the now once-daily drills were defensive back Alex Bravo and receiver Charlie Hardy, both of whom were held out because of muscle pulls. The team expected them to be back to full health within a couple of days.
Hayward Daily Review
Fully a week into training camp, the Raiders held their first scrimmage and head coach Eddie Erdelatz was cautiously pleased. “For the first time out it wasn’t too bad,” he said. At quarterback, Paul Larson looked a sharper than Tom Flores, completing 11 of 21 passes with many of the incompletions coming from receiver drops. Flores had a rougher time, connecting on just 5 of 14, throwing three interceptions. Third-stringer Bob Webb got off to a good start, connecting on the longest play of the day, an 18-yard pass to Charlie Hardy, but disaster struck when he went down with a knee injury. Trainer George Anderson said he may have torn cartilage and could need surgery, which would shut him down for the year. At other positions, tight end Gene Prebola, defensive end Carmen Cavalli, and cornerback Eddie Macon looked particularly good. Observers thought the defensive line played well as a group, but Erdelatz downplayed it, saying, “The defense is always ahead of the offense at this stage of the game.”
Once the scrimmage was over, it was time for another round of cuts, reducing the number of players in camp to 56. On their way out were tackle Cloyd Boyette, halfback Purcell Daniels, halfback Wes Fry, Jr., son of Raider player personnel director Wes Fry, Sr., tackle Willie Hudson, a former honorable mention AP Little All-American for Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, who was in camp without a contract after getting cut by the Chargers, and Hudson’s former college teammate, tackle Rich Max.
Long Beach Press Telegram