The man who made the Oakland Raiders what they are today, Al Davis, was known for giving football players a second, or sometimes third, chance. Davis took on misfits like Ted Hendricks, John Matuszak, Jim Plunkett and many more, and he gave them a chance to redeem themselves.
When Davis died last October, we all knew the Raiders would take a new path, but hoped that the new path would include some of the old Raiders mystique. This means more than keeping Steve Wisniewski on the coaching staff as an assistant offensive line coach.
General manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen have continued the trend of giving players and coaches a second chance. Whether it is because of salary cap restraints or not, McKenzie has been signing or trading for players who their former teams decided to move on from.
McKenzie has signed defensive backs Shawntae Spencer, Ron Bartell and Pat Lee and is giving them a chance at significant playing time (Spencer and Bartell are the likely starters). Spencer was let go by the cross-bay rival 49ers, and Bartell has been injury prone with the Rams.
McKenzie also traded for running back Mike Goodson from the Panthers. Goodson was a backup to DeAngelo Williams, who found small amounts of playing time as a receiver out of the backfield, but his flaw is that he tends to fumble. This acquisition reminds me of when Davis brought Lamont Jordan to Oakland after Jordan had been backing up Curtis Martin for the Jets.
The trend of second chances continues with the coaching staff, especially on offense. Greg Knapp was brought back for another stint as offensive coordinator, and the Raiders also brought back Knapp's quarterbacks coach from the same time, John DeFilipo.
Instead of having the veteran quarterback being Daunte Culpepper and the project quarterback being JaMarcus Russell, these coaches will have Carson Palmer as the veteran and the project is Terrelle Pryor. Throw Matt Leinart in the mix to replace Josh McCown, and the depth chart for the QBs looks much better than it did in 2007.
Now, we wait and see if these reclamation projects of the new era Raiders will be successful like the projects of Ted Hendricks and Jim Plunkett or if we have another DeAngelo Hall and Javon Walker-size disaster.