Here is something that may be hard to believe for Oakland Raider fans. Since 2006 the Raiders have slowly started winning more games each season. If the Raiders win one more game, this season will mark the highest winning total since, the Raiders went 11-5 in 2002. This offseason will be a very important one for the Raiders, it will either help us get over the hump and become a competitor or it will set us back once again. There are decisions to be made, and if I were GM for the Raiders this is what I would do.
The last half of the season has really changed my mind about Cable. The teams offense looked horrible, but was due to Jamarcus Russell's bad play, two rookie wide receivers, a bad offensive line, and a lack of running game. The play calling seemed almost too Vanilla. Run, False Start, Pass Incomplete, Run. Punt. or Run, Run, Sack. As Gm, I would ask Cable to bring in an Offensive Coordinator. I believe this would be very important, not because Cable can't do it, but because Cable should only wear so many hats. I feel that because Cable has to deal with so much, he isn't spending as much time on what made him a genius. The offensive line. If he didn't have to worry about play calling, perhaps he could do his daily coaching duties, but also work with that offensive line. We had a great running game when he did that. His players are fighting for him, and he is a Raider guy, he's earned his job for next season.
With the emergence of Vince Young and Alex Smith, it seems like getting rid of Jamarcus would be premature at this point. Reworking his contract must be a priority for the Raiders. He is due to make 9 million next season, and if he doesn't make us a playoff contender, then it isn't worth it. I know he mentioned he isn't willing to change his contract, but that is here and now. The Raiders have the Control, if he doesn't take a pay cut with Oakland he can be released, no other team will sign him to a contract worth more money even after the paycut. I'm one of the only people that still believe Russell will get better, and after this season and all the turmoil, I believe that Russell will work this offseason to be better. I like Frye and Gradkowski, they are both great leaders, and great examples for Russell. I hope Russell takes this year as a humbling experience and comes back next year with a chip on his shoulder. Remember, last year he finished the season strong, he had a better QB Rating than Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan in the final games. Had we not let Rivers drive for the game winning touchdown in the season opener, perhaps we'd be singing a different tune today. In his defense for his comment about reworking his deal, when a player wants more money and a team has him under a favorable contract, the teams decline to do so, even though they are performing. That said, something needs to be done with that contract or its time to part ways.
I really can't see us going in any other direction really. We need to stock up with offensive lineman, I believe drafting 2 of them would be a great idea. We have all the skill positions filled on offense, now we just need someone to block for them. We do not have a first round pick in 2011, so it is important for us to draft smart this year. With our first 3 or 4 picks of the draft I'd love to pick up 2 offensive lineman and 2 defensive lineman. Then pick up a Cornerback and a Running back in the late rounds. You may be wondering why we need another running back, but thats a topic for the next slide.
This may be an unpopular move, but this is a move that needs to be done. Maybe the biggest bust this year that we've had is our Three Headed Monster at Running back. Fargas is nearing 30 years old, and has taken a beating in his career. He's never finished a full season due to injuries, even when he was a back up. Mcfadden and Bush have been in the league long enough, and now its time to give them the rock. Running backs need to get in the flow of games, but its hard to do that when you are splitting up the carries with 2 other men. I know injuries can be a concern, but that is why we draft a third running back in the late rounds. Fargas' stock isn't going to get any higher, and I have faith that Michael Bush can be our work horse if he's given the opportunity. We also need to start using Mcfadden like the Saints use Reggie Bush. Mcfadden is a playmaker, we just have to use him the right way.
I'm not sure what he is doing on the team, he doesn't play, but he's getting paid. He wants out and I'm sure this is a roster move that will happen. This is one of the weirdest situations I've ever seen. He wanted to retire before the season, and Al Davis talked him out it. He's been saying he's ready to play, but Cable doesn't agree. This should be the end of Walker.
The Raiders defensive scheme is very vanilla. The defense has been the most puzzling thing to me this season. I put some of the blame on the Raiders offense because they weren't doing them any favors, but this defense is fill with so much talent. Marshall needs to find a scheme that gets the most out of this defense. There is no reason why the Raiders should not be a top ten defense. They have a stellar defensive line, their secondary is strong, and they now have three solid linebackers. Nnamdi Asomugha recently spoke up about changing things up on the defensive end, and the Raiders have been blitzing more often and you can see the difference.
Tom Cable has been saying that "We're Close." The Raiders have very impressive wins this year, but they also have some horrible losses, as well as some close calls. If we can make the right move this offseason, we will not only be close, we will be there. The Raiders are on the rise, with plenty of young talent. Next year could be the year that the Raiders aren't the joke of the league, they have an opportunity to compete within our division. Our division is getting stronger, and that is a good thing for the Raiders. The Raiders are due for a good season, and next year could be the turn around. I'm not saying super bowl, and I'm not even saying playoffs. I'm just expecting the Raiders to compete every week, and give their fans what they've been dying to get since the super bowl season. A respectable product on the field.