As anyone who has read my articles knows, I have been on quite a hiatus. I am no longer (justifiably) a featured columnist on Bleacher Report, though I hope to return to that status in the future when time and life allow.
I wanted to touch base with my awesome Raiders community and weigh in on a few things that have happened thus far this offseason. Although we've been relatively quiet, there are a few things worth mentioning.
The Hiring of Hue Jackson
Ecstatitc. Couldn't be happier to have a play caller come in to relieve some pressure from Coach Cable, and Jackson is a no-nonsense guy that will hold Russell and the receivers accountable for their effort and performance. We needed an offensive coordinator, and with Jackson's ability to bring the best out in Joe Flacco and use the multi-pronged running attack in Baltimore, we picked the absolute perfect man for our current situation
The Releasing of Justin Fargas
Horrified. Disillusioned. Upset. Couldn't be angrier with the team for letting go our heart and soul. He may not score touchdowns, but the energy and fire he gives not only his teammates but the fans as well is worth the roster bonus he was owed. My Edmonton Oilers got rid of their heart and soul when they traded Ryan Smyth for a bag of pucks over a silly contract squabble. How did that work out for us? Since most of you are American and probably have little idea of what I'm talking about (no offense, you just don't like hockey very much on average) I'll tell you: Not well. Not well at all.
The Releasing of Javon Walker
Relieved. A little baffled as to why he was on the roster anyway. Now we can see if he really is healthy and leaves us to make the Pro Bowl somewhere else. Man, wouldn't that be a nut slap worthy of Steve-O.
The Releasing of Gerard Warren and Greg Ellis
Okay, I understand the need to clear dead weight, and I may be the only Raider fan that actually LIKES Gerard Warren, but was this really necessary? Ellis comes cheap and his leadership and experience have already paid dividends. Just witness the improvement of Trevor Scott and the emergence of Matt Shaughnessy last season.
They both credit Ellis with helping them develop. We need big bodies in the middle. Both of these releases made financial sense, and from an age-to-production ratio as well, but the intangible qualities of both players (amazing teammates from all accounts) cannot be discounted. Unless you're the Raiders and you owe the guys money.
JaMarcus Russell Being In Shape
This is a seeing is believing type thing. Russell took such a beating in the media and amongst fans last season that the team is going to say everything but he showed up out of shape again, even if it's the truth. So grab your ocean full of salt and keep it handy for anything Russell-related. Most Raider fans will have to see Russell before we believe he's in shape and working hard. I don't fully discount it, I just want concrete visual evidence. He's made it that way with his past transgressions. We simply can't trust him or team spokespeople when it comes to this kid.
Re-Signing Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye, Khalif Barnes
Love it, love it, wait and see. Barnes was supposed to be our left tackle, but big M-Hendo played pretty well over there. Rumour has it Barnes has relaxed his protests regarding playing right tackle, so if he reverts back to form and stays healthy he could really bolster the line. I love that Gradkowski wants to play right now. He was saying his knee feels so good he could roll out there tomorrow. That's terrific. Now if Russell IS in shape, we may actually have a good QB competition this offseason instead of going through the motions to appease the fans and handing the reins to Gradkowski.
It's been a busy offseason for both the Raiders and myself, and I'll be honest. I wouldn't expect much writing from me until minicamp and training camp starts. I just need a break from football for a while every season. So much media saturation (he says ironically while writing a football article).