With Dennis Allen getting comfortable in his new head coach position, the Oakland Raiders are just a couple chosen-coaches away from starting work towards a fierce 2012 season.
Between Allen’s vision of “a new day” and GM Reggie McKenzie’s want for an “era of change,” the push has started for a revamped Oakland Raiders team.
But Allen’s commitment to “intensity” isn’t going to magically morph the Silver and Black on its own. In fact, there are a couple areas that will need a little tweaking for Oakland to display that “play-off level” potential that Allen seeks to bring out of this team.
And adjusting to Allen’s extreme focus on “discipline” is only going to be part of the battle.
Here’s a look at the adjustments the Raiders need to make this offseason:
If any part of these players’ offseason regime needs to be adjusted, it’s what they all do to keep themselves healthy and injury-free.
A focus on keeping the whole team healthy on both sides of the ball should do wonders for the Raiders. Having 11 players benched during a single practice—like the Tuesday practice before Week 10—will never make for a winning team.
And as beastly as players like Richard Seymour and Jacoby Ford can be, they won’t do the team any good if they’re perpetually injured.
Speaking of staying healthy...Will it ever be possible for Darren McFadden to dodge the injury bullet?
In 2011, former head coach Hugh Jackson remained cryptic when answering questions about a foot sprain in Week 7 that ended up keeping the star running back out for the remainder of the season.
And while backup Michael Bush didn’t lead the league in rushing yards—977 yards in nine starts—he has shown a better work ethic and displayed that he can improve on his game.
And as hard as it is to watch a familiar player get traded, the Silver and Black will have to decide whether or not it’s worth it to continue indulging the perpetually-pained McFadden.
Another vital area that needs adjusting: the team’s faith in their starting quarterback. (And no, getting lost in talk that the Raiders might try to pick up Peyton Manning isn’t the way to go about showing faith.)
Sure, Carson Palmer didn’t have an upstanding year, throwing 16 interceptions and having only a 60.7 completion percentage. But Palmer has displayed a desire to play better in 2012 and even got a little endorsement from both Allen and McKenzie after Monday’s press conference.
And for a team that has seen six different starting quarterbacks since the start of the 2009 season, maybe it would be better to invest in a player who already has some experience with the O-line—as opposed to trying to break in another new guy.
There is, of course, going to be work done on the defensive side of the ball.
With a defense-savvy coach in the driver’s seat, this is the season for Richard Seymour and the rest of the Raiders D-line to kick it into high gear.
Being ranked 27th in the league for 2011 isn’t pretty and being ranked 15th in sacks just won’t do. Oakland’s defense will have to get tougher and start putting more pressure on those opposing quarterbacks.
Allen said in his first presser that he would be implementing a defense with “more blitzes mixed in,” which could be a quintessential first step towards having a beefier D-line.
Whether it’s a conspiracy run by the refs or not, the Raiders are going to have to adjust to Allen’s military-like style of discipline if they want to shed their label as "The Leagues Most Penalty-Prone Team."
And while Allen boasts a 2012 Raider team that “is going to play with passion” and “emotion,” he’s also looking for a “...smart, disciplined, committed football team.”
Call it a hunch, but 163 penalties for 1,358 penalty yards probably isn’t going to be tolerated on Allen’s watch.