How to Fix the Raiders
For years now, heck close to a decade the Raiders have been a shear misery to watch and the laughing stock of the NFL. However for once, I have a glimpse of hope that times could be changing. No Al Davis is not dying, the Raiders are getting back to the basics and playing hard nosed football and going out there and leaving everything on the field. Last week against Denver was a perfect example. Great defense, great running game, and a combination of luck and determination equaled a win for the Raiders against ark rivals. The problem is we need to see this kind of football on a week-to-week basis not once every other game. I can’t complain, however it was a great start and something the Raiders can build off of. As a result here is my plan for the Raiders during the off-season.
Get Back to the Basics
The personal for the Raiders now fits perfectly into hard nose, smash mouth football. Just look at Tom Cable himself, most likely the most intimidating coach in the NFL he shows passion like no other and his energy has helped revive what was a dormant franchise.
How to Fix The Offense?
Run the Ball!!! Run the Ball!!! Run the Ball!! The Raiders need to get away from this gun slinging mentality that they need a franchise quarterback who can throw for 300 yards+ a game. No what the Raiders need to do is run the heck out of the ball, tire down that defense, and control the clock. The thing is the Raiders offensive personal fits this game plan perfectly. This is what needs to be done in a glance at each offensive position:
Quarterback should not be the Raiders main concern, I would like to see JaMarcus play one more game, but the likely hood of that is about as slim as the Raiders playoff chances. What the Raiders need is a Bruce Gradkowski, or at least a more talented version. The Raiders need a solid accurate quarterback who can manage the game properly and has mobility when the line breaks down. This kind of QB will fit perfect into this system. He needs to be willing to hand the ball off 30+ times a game and willing to accept a role of throwing between 15-20 passes. Mobility is a key as he needs to be able to sell the play action and roll out and dump it off to Zach Miller, the Raiders best receiver. His arm needs to be accurate so he can make all the sure throws to Schilens and Murphy, yet still be able to throw the deep ball to speedsters Heyward-Bey and Johnnie Lee. When looking at a current NFL comparison I look a lot at a more mobile version of Kyle Orton. That’s what the Raiders need, a QB who can avoid the mistakes and control the game. He needs to realize the running game is the center point of the offense. The free agent quarterback options are zero to none and I want to avoid drafting a QB in the first 2 rounds. As a result, start Bruce Gradkowski he has been a resurgence to the team leading them to two big wins against both Cincinnati and Pittsburg and has the accuracy/athletic prowess to be successful in Tom Cables system. As for JaMarcus, bring him back as a #2 option. It’s the last year in his deal and we only owe him $3 million, never know he still could turn around and develop. Then in the 4th to 5th rounds I would like to see the Raiders draft a solid quarterback option. My two favorite options would be either Texas Colt McCoy or BYU’s Max Hall. Don’t be surprised however if Al Davis falls in love with Ryan Mallet, Quarterback from Arkansas, and drafts him in the first round. This kid has all the tools to make every throw in the NFL but is labeled as a project. I hope we avoid this option but with Al running the show you never know what’s coming.
Fargas, well lets just see I would be surprised to see him around next year, his time is done and frankly there just aren’t enough touches for him and the rest of the crew. Instead the Raiders need to focus on their two emerging star tailbacks Michael Bush and Darren McFadden. The two complement each other in so many ways. Bush the hard nosed tumbling back who will run straight up the middle and play smash mouth football, whereas McFadden the speedster cutting to the outside and deceiving linebackers with his star studded moves. Both can catch out of the backfield and block very well. If they can just work on their ball-handling they would be the perfect two. We need to run these two non-stop next year giving Bush 20 carries a game and McFadden 15. McFadden can become something special, putting him in the slot or anywhere on the field where he can be a homerun threat. Next I would like to see the Raiders bring in a hard-nosed fullback, a Jon Ritchie mold. Someone who is willing to take a hit and give it back even if it causes gashes on his face with blood pouring down. For me Gary Russell and the steroid using Lawton don’t cut it.
I like the core nucleus of young wide outs we are building in Oakland. Chaz Schilens and Louis Murphy are building into a solid 1-2 punch and reliable targets for the Raider QBs. Hopefully Darrius Heyward-Bey too can pick it up and step up as a big playmaker in the slot for the Raiders similar to Jerry Porter of old. Then finally Jonnie Lee Higgins I feel can be a solid 4th option, who can rotate in and make plays for the Raiders using his quick legs. You could consider bringing in a veteran though I don’t feel its necessary. At the start of this season, these four had less than 10 combined starts. Give them time and they will deliver.
Nothing to do here at all in my opinion. Zach Miller is everything you want in an NFL Tight-End. He is an amazing asset to the Raiders as he is slowly becoming one of the top tight ends in the NFL. I see a young Tony Gonzalez when I watch him play. Lets hope he can continue to put up strong numbers year after year.
The Raiders are building a solid offensive line under Tom Cable’s system. What they are lacking is depth. Gallery has emerged into a pro-bowl caliber guard when healthy. Mario Henderson has impressed coaches with his progress in his first season, as a starter and the rest have played pretty solid as of late. However, I would still like the Raiders to upgrade this position to continue to allow them to play smash mouth football. I think we should strongly look at Logan Mankins of the Patriots to fill the Right Guard spot. He is a consistent, durable player who would be an asset to this line. Moving on I think in either the 2nd or 3rd round the Raiders need to address one of these positions by drafting a young star.
I feel this offensive style will fit the Raiders perfectly and help control the clock, hence controlling the game. With an top-tier D playing behind them the offense will not have the pressure to carry the load and instead can stick to the basics. The key is to be physical and wear down other teams to the point they have to give up. Back to old Raider smash mouth football.
Tune in next week for a breakdown of the Raiders Defense and what positions need to be addressed in the off season and follow Bay Area Sport Blog @ http://www.bayareasportblog.com/ for more up to date Raiders news.