Hit the Reset Button on Player Expectations

It’s natural for fans to get excited about football players . The fan DNA is encoded to cheer and root for athletes we could only dream of being.

It can be dangerous when fans get carried away and before we know it a rookie receiver becomes a savior.

It’s not negative to point out what players are having unrealistic expectations placed on them. This list isn’t to say the player is not good or to thrash on them. Rather it is like hitting the reset button because you have been playing Madden on rookie for too long.

The coaching staff is also having to work with a short training camp and no mini-camp. It wouldn’t be surprising to see many young players have their professional growth stunted by the abbreviated offseason.

So what players are overrated?

 

Nnamdi Asomugha

He isn’t likely to be a Raider in 2011, but this might be the last opportunity to point out the fans that the Raiders will not be significantly worse in the secondary without Asomugha. Even the best corner in the league can be overrated.

If you have been following this blog for a while, you are prepared mentally to lose Asomugha in free agency. Don’t make it worse than it is. Asomugha is 30 and Al Davis is smart to turn to younger players. Asomugha is the type of player who will go on to be successful elsewhere, but likely not be worth the huge amount of money that will be committed to him.

It would be tough to make a case that Asomugha has been worth what the Raiders paid him the last few years. A corner just doesn’t impact the game enough one their own to earn money like a quarterback.

The fact that Asomugha was rarely tested didn’t magically make Raiders secondary amazing. Asomugha also only plays one side of the field. He’s not shadowing the oppositions top receiver. He’s great, probably the best, but even the best corner isn’t impacting the game enough to be worth $14 million per year.

 

Jacoby Ford

Ford was a lightning rod for the offense and he quickly became a fan favorite. He is blazing fast and almost single-handedly defeated the Chiefs at the coliseum last fall.

The risk here is that the fans and maybe even the organization are viewing him as a number one receiver. That’s a lofty expectation to be placed on a sophomore receiver. Ford is a more natural fit as a number two receiver.

He’s being pushed into the number one role largely because of the Raiders lack of top end talent. He’s good, he’s fast and he’s dynamic. He’s also got a lot to learn about route running and blocking.

That doesn’t mean Jacoby Ford will not be successful, but temper your expectations and enjoy a handful of electric plays Ford will inevitably make. You can be sure defensive coordinators will know where Ford is lined up and with an entire offseason to study they will be ready for him.

Hue Jackson and Al Saunders will need to create new ways to get Ford the ball. With a short training camp, that may be more difficult than you might expect.

 

Jared Veldheer

He’s firmly the Raiders left tackle. There is no denying Jared helped solidify the line last season with his versatility and generally solid play. He still made mistakes and had trouble with speed rushers around the edge. He’ll play without Robert Gallery to his right in 2011.

Don’t expect Veldheer to be Jonathan Ogden. If you watched Veldheer closely, you know he still has learning to do. You have to like how Veldheer competes. He’s such a gym rat he opened his own. If the Raiders are lucky Veldheer continues to improve over the next couple seasons into what is considered a franchise left tackle. Until then, expect growing pains.

He could have really benefitted from more time with the new offensive line coaches. A short training camp means less time to work on his footwork.

 

Marcel Reece

A relative unknown headed into the 2010 season, Reece became a versatile weapon for the Raiders offense. He’s an ex-receiver and really showed how dangerous he can be out of the backfield.

For as much as we all love Reece, he’s still got work to do on his blocking. Picking up the blitzing linebacker or helping out on defensive lineman can mean the difference between a sack and a big play.

He’s a fullback and although the NFL is going away from the fullback as lead blocker, it’s still nice to have one who can do it.

Offenses will start to focus more attention on Reece if the Raiders fail to develop another weapon on offense. It’s easy to love Reece, but he can still grow as a player.

 

The players on this list are among my favorites on the team. I want them to be successful, but success in the eyes of fans can often be unrealistic. Hit the reset button and  reevaluate what made these players a success in 2010 to avoid disappointment in 2011.

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