One could look at the Raiders offense and decide to scrap the entire thing. If you take a deep look at each element there is some hope, but as a group, you might as well throw it away and start new.
The Ford Pinto of a quarterback? Already melted into a block of metal. The aging big-rig of an offensive line? Most of them were picked up off the side of the road to begin with. The receivers? Salvage quality Ferrari. The backs? Salvage quality Lamborghini.
So what is one to do with a couple broken down sports cars, old trucks, and a melted block of metal that used to Pinto?
Fix the sports cars, replace the trucks and attempt to mold that block of metal into a Buggati.
Well, if you know anything about cars, fixing a Ferrari or a Lamborghini can be expensive. Big-rigs last a long time, but buying them isn’t cheap.
We all know it would take considerable time and effort to mold the block of metal into a Buggati, or even the frame of one, but maybe attempting to mold it into a Toyota would be a little easier. The Toyota could be useful with a few Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s around, even if the manufacturer has to recall a few parts.
This extended metaphor is to highlight the extreme challenges ahead for Hue Jackson and Tom Cable. They have one offseason and while they aren’t going to be able to address everything, they need to try.
As with most things, the Raiders need to start with the offensive line. A couple new bodies, and roll with the rest.
Gallery is the anchor and Tom Cable seemed happy with Satelle towards the end of the year. The rest of this group: Henderson, Carlisle, Green, Walker, Barnes, etc are either not worth keeping or need a ton of work.
The Raiders won’t give up on Henderson, because he did start relatively strong only to fade late. Carlisle has seen regression from season-to-season. While the Raiders like Cornell Green’s run blocking skills, one has to wonder how much longer they are willing to give up so much in pass blocking. Barnes likely will not be back and Walker could make it as a backup depending on who else the Raiders bring in.
The best shot for this group is to find a couple veterans as they did when they first brought in Carlisle and Green. Draft picks would be nice, but with the zone blocking system still in place, they can be had in the later rounds. It can also take rookie lineman a while to grasp the scheme. The easiest way to grasp it is playing in a game and few rookie lineman will be afforded the opportunity to learn on the fly.
The Raiders have a ton of speed, but it seems that they haven’t done a great job of using it in the past few years.
McFadden off the edge would be much more effective than pounding him inside, let Fargas and Bush run it between the tackles. This should also reduce the injury risk to McFadden. I am not talking about becoming predictable, but get McFadden’s feet moving before you give him the ball. Mcfadden has proven he loves contact and the more you force backs to tackle him, the less they will want to.
Bush is an enigma to me. Some games, the guy looks like a force. He looks quick and he hits hard. Other games, he looks like his feet are stuck in mud and he plays soft. The Raiders need to light a fire under him. It sounds strange after what I just said, but making Bush the “starter” might just light that fire.
Fargas should be a true spell back. Why he isn’t more loved in Raider Nation I do not understand. You can’t ask for more than what Fargas does for the team. That said, he will need to take a more passive role and be ready to bring the wood against the defense should Bush run like cold molasses.
The Raiders need to figure out what to do at Fullback. Is Oren O’Neal ever going to stay healthy? Is Gary Russell learning enough to be a true fullback? Good blocking fullbacks can usually be had in about the 5th round of the draft and their demand couldn’t be lower these days.
Murphy is well on his way, but Schilens was a relative disappointment and DHB struggled mightily. Using DHB on WR screens to use his speed would be wise. A healthy Schilens could be more productive. I think DHB is going to turn it around, he has a great work ethic, he cares, and he has the speed to kill. His hands may never be great, but neither are TO’s. Getting these guys on track will be important for the passing game.
The last and most important issue for the Raiders is of-course the quarterback. JaMarcus Russell isn’t going anywhere, but one has to wonder if the team can get his work ethic to an acceptable level. That is a big “if.”
Hue Jackson might be the type of guy that can get through to JaMarcus. Paul Hackett and Ted Tollner are two old white guys, 62 and 69 respectively. They might not be able to relate to JaMarcus. Jackson on the other hand, is 44, and also an African American.
This is not meant to be racist in anyway, it is just that people tend to relate to people more like themselves. That could be age, ethnicity, race, economic status, politics, marital status, etc.
That all said, I’d think Gradkowski’s status rests with Paul Hackett. If Hackett stays, so might Gradkowski, if not, Gradkowski will not likely be back. Frye on the other hand has a better shot of staying, he isn’t a Hackett guy and he is your typical backup quarterback.
Will the Raiders attempt to find another quarterback to be a safety net? Potential Free Agents: J.P. Losman, Kyle Orton*, Brodie Croyle, Tavaris Jackson, Kellen Clemens, Charlie Frye, Charlie Whitehurst, Jason Campbell*, Gibran Hamdan
*Restricted free agents if 2010 season is uncapped.
There is just nothing of quality available to the Raiders so they will stick with who they are paying and the best you can hope for is the Raiders taking a stab at a project later in the draft.
If you manage to field a team with a couple running Ferrari and Lamborghini and you can get a few big rigs running in the right direction, this offense could really thrive. It all hinges on the block of metal formally known as a Ford Pinto. If you can mold it into a flawed, but useful Toyota, it could be dangerous to drive.
Dangerous to opposing defenses.
How and what?
Draft: OL, FB
Free Agents: OL, QB
Coaching: QB, RB, WR