General manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen went to painstaking lengths to transform the Oakland Raiders' 2013 roster from the mess it had been a year earlier. Despite a new offense and 10 new starters on defense, however, the results were strikingly familiar in another lost season for this once-proud franchise.
For the second straight season, the Raiders got off to an encouraging start before wilting over the second half of the schedule. The collapse assuredly cost some players their spots on the roster, and Allen’s own job security has come under question in recent weeks.
It all sets up for what should be a very intriguing offseason in Oakland.
Here is a quick look at each of the Raiders’ primary starters from the 2013 regular season, along with letter grades for each player reviewed.
A pure athlete with excellent physical skills who broke the team record for rushing yards by a quarterback, Pryor struggled in every aspect of the passing game. He lost his confidence and poise following an early loss to Kansas City and was never the same after that. He also lost his starting job for six games to undrafted rookie Matt McGloin. Grade: C-
Whatever hopes the former first-round pick had of earning another hefty payday were squashed by yet another disappointing, injury-filled season. Even when healthy, McFadden was ineffective. If the Raiders even think about re-signing him, it would be a mistake at this point. Grade: D
Oakland’s only rep at the Pro Bowl, Oakland’s versatile fullback somehow stood out despite being poorly utilized by offensive coordinator Greg Olson. Known primarily as a blocker and consistent receiver out of the backfield, Reece showed he can handle the rock pretty well against the New York Jets, as he rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Grade: B+
Projected to be Oakland’s top receiver, Moore once again proved to be an average No. 2 or No. 3 receiver at best. He continued to have problems holding onto the ball, particularly early in the season, and only showed occasional glimpses of being the stretch-the-field receiver the team needs him to be. Grade: C
The second-year receiver out of Temple formed a solid rhythm with Terrelle Pryor early in the season and had no problem doing the same with Matt McGloin after the change was made. Streater was solid coming across the middle and used his body much more to his leverage than he did as a rookie. Grade: C+
Jeron Mastrud was technically the starter primarily because of his blocking ability, but it was the rookie Rivera who really stood out. Like Rod Streater, Rivera had no problem finding a good comfort zone and rhythm with both starting quarterbacks. He caught at least one pass in every game but one, the majority of his receptions coming on seam routes up the field. Grade: C+
Made the move from right tackle to left tackle after Jared Veldheer was injured in training camp, then spent the last three weeks at left guard. Still a liability against speed-rushers coming off the edge but makes up for it with tenacity. Grade: C
Was consistently Oakland’s lowest-graded offensive lineman and was bounced from the lineup to make room for Barnes. Grade: F
Oakland’s center played pretty well for the most part until a pair of botched shotgun snaps late in the season took some of the luster off his season. Wisniewski still had a solid year and is a player the Raiders finally feel they can build around. Grade: B-
Signed by the team last year because of his experience in the zone-blocking schemes, Brisiel played as well, if not better, in the power system. Penalties weren’t too much of an issue, either. The next step is more consistency in pass protection. Grade: C
Signed shortly after the preseason ended, Pashos stepped in and was Oakland’s most consistent lineman. Like Barnes, he had a few issues with quicker defensive linemen, but over the course of the season, Pashos held his own and stood out. Grade: C+
Oakland’s veteran defensive end had the best statistical season of his career, leading the team with six sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. Houston also improved his run defense, though his pass rush seemed to tail off in December. Grade: B-
Had very little impact through the first two months of the regular season and was only marginally effective after that. Hunter didn’t generate much of a pass rush at all and went long stretches of games without making a play. Grade: C-
The Raiders made dramatic improvements to their run defense in 2013, and Sims was the primary reason. When he wasn’t being double-teamed, Sims was a destructive force in the middle of the line who was at his best over the final month. He also showed some surprising push up the middle on passing downs, something that had been previously missing from his arsenal. Grade: B
Signed to anchor the interior defensive line, Walker wound up splitting his time at defensive end in order to make up for the ineffectiveness of Hunter. He still managed to reach career highs for tackles (40) and sacks (three), but it felt like he had more to offer, especially on passing downs. Grade: C+
Oakland’s rookie defender got off to a slow start to the season and was coming off the bench until an injury sidelined Kaluka Maiava. Moore ran with the opportunity and emerged as a potential big-time defender. He needs to get better at shedding blockers and could use some help in coverage, but his ability to blitz caused a lot of problems. Grade: C
The one-time backup to Brian Urlacher when both men were in Chicago, Roach had one of the best seasons by an Oakland middle linebacker since Greg Biekert was chased out of town in 2001. He led the squad in tackles and forced fumbles, had a good grasp of Jason Tarver’s system and kept the glaring mistakes to a minimum. Still needs to improve his tackling and wasn’t as effective blitzing as he should have been. Grade: B
Another reason why Oakland’s run defense was so improved in 2013, Burnett was difficult to miss on the field. He flew to the ball on most every play and made nearly a dozen tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage. Burnett wasn’t as effective in coverage and tends to struggle when paired against opposing running backs. Grade: B-
Jenkins made a handful of plays early in the season, which seemed to bode well for him, but with each passing week, he became more of a liability. He struggled with some nagging injuries through the year, and he was guilty of multiple foolish after-the-play penalties that wound up being pivotal plays for the opponents. Grade: D+
Although he spent a good deal of the season lined up in the slot, Porter was fairly solid for most of the season. He set personal records for tackles, sacks and passes defensed. Jenkins’ problems made it easier for Porter to stand out, as well. Grade: C+
The Old Man showed he still has plenty left in the tank, even though he had a subpar season in many ways. Woodson made up for his deteriorating skills by using his smarts to get in the right position to make plays. Along the way, he tied the NFL record for most career returns for touchdowns and was one of the few bright spots for the defense. Grade: B-
Forced into the lineup after Tyvon Branch’s ankle injury early in the year, Ross was one of the easiest targets for opposing quarterbacks to go after when facing the Raiders. He made a handful of positive plays, but the inconsistencies in pass coverage have to be a main focus. Grade: C-
Replacing one of the best punters in the NFL can’t be easy, but King looked very relaxed while filling in after Shane Lechler joined the Houston Texans as a free agent in the offseason. Though there were some reported issues with his holding on field goals, King’s primary focus was on bailing out a struggling offense, which he did while carrying the NFL’s best gross punting average this season. Grade: B
The veteran place-kicker missed nine field goals while using a different holder for the first time in his career. Whether that was the issue or not doesn’t even matter. The bottom line is that at a time when Oakland needed whatever scoring help it could find, Janikowski failed to provide it when given the chance. Grade: D+