The Oakland Raiders are no where near as bad as all of the media reports right now as they get healthy. But I think that there are some moves that the Raiders can make that will take the team even further in 2011.
This is a very talented and fast team with all the play making ability in the world at the skill positions on offense. But this "bully" that the Raiders are trying to build is lacking the bully type in a few positions.
The Raiders are getting healthy in the secondary so the unit isn't as bad as it looked in the preseason. A move there could help the Raider defense become a top unit in the NFL.
Some schematic additions to take advantage of some of the versatility and athleticism up front would also help. Overall, some of the moves within the team but bringing in help from outside can really spice things up a bit.
Turn the page to see it all.
I really want Michael Bush stay a Raider but we have to be look at the situation for what it is. He is a free agent in 2012 that can be a great player so he will want to realize that potential and get the big bucks for it.
The Raiders can lose him just like Zach Miller, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Robert Gallery, with nothing in return. Taiwan Jones looks good so far and that will make the loss of Bush much more manageable.
The best case scenario would be the Raiders sending Bush with some more players to another team for an early pick. It would actually be nice to get a solid offensive lineman that fits in the "bully" Jackson is trying to build.
Plus the Raiders can control where Bush goes. (out of the AFC West)
I would re-sign Bush at the right price if that's even possible though.
Terrell Pryor was taken in the third round of the supplemental draft a couple of weeks ago as a quarterback. I like Pryor down the line as a quarterback but Campbell appears ready to take the next step now.
The Raiders shouldn't be in a hurry to play Pryor at quarterback as learning the quarterback position is a long process anyway. But at 6'5", 233 pounds, and running a 4.3 40, Pryor has talent to help the Raiders in other ways so that talent shouldn't be wasted on the bench.
The Pittsburgh Steelers showed the way a young quarterback with those types of talents should be used in the '90s. Kordell Stewart took and ran with the slash role as Pryor is more gifted as an athlete than Stewart and has already caught some footballs as a receiver in college.
So it's a natural fit for Pryor to take a slash role until he is ready to be an NFL quarterback. If Bush remains a Raider, he was a high school quarterback and Darren McFadden was a wildcat quarterback in college.
With Terrell Pryor in the wildcat with them, you wouldn't know what they were going to do. One thing I would especially like to see the Raiders do is put a package in for Pryor at quarterback to get Pryor some experience and keep the defense off balance.
I can't wait to see what they do with him.
I thought that Trevor Scott played well against the run from outside linebacker last year before tearing his ACL. Now he's back and looks good at defensive end rushing the passer but I want to see him at outside linebacker.
I like the way Quentin Groves has looked this preseason at outside linebacker but it's nothing to give him the position over. Scott should be there and the two should have a competition for the outside linebacker job.
Scott could always put his hand in the dirt on third down just like Kamerion Wimbley. I also liked the occasions that the Raiders ran the elephant scheme with Wimbley and Scott standing up on the same side.
The offense was left to wonder which one is coming.
I say the Raider defense should give the league something else to study in their scouting reports. The Raiders are a base 4-3 team, may continue to run some elephant, and could really cross a defense up with the 3-4.
They have the personnel for it.
Tommy Kelly, Richard Seymour, and Lamarr Houston could play interchangeably on the line with John Henderson on the nose at times. The 6'3", 265 pound Groves can easily move to inside linebacker next to natural inside linebacker Rolando McClain.
Then you'd have the Raiders' two best pass rushers in Wimbley and Scott coming off the edges.
The Raiders could really have something there.
Opposing offensive coordinators will have to take that much longer to prepare.
Right now, David Ausberry is No. 3 on the depth chart and that needs to change fast. Ausberry is a potential superstar tight end that's already better than anyone on the roster not named Kevin Boss.
The Raiders are expecting to have Boss back for Week 1 but if he isn't back, Ausberry is your best option. I've seen enough of Brandon Meyers and sixth round pick Richard Gordon has only shown up once this preseason.
Ausberry has 4.4 speed and he's a converted wide receiver like fullback Marcell Reece. That gives the Raiders another speed matchup advantage that defensive coordinators will wake up in a cold sweat over.
I do hope Boss makes it back for the opener but Ausberry should be No. 2. I'm really trying to figure out why Ausberry hasn't had much of an opportunity to make plays since his touchdown catch against the Cardinals.
Is Jacklson hiding Ausberry for the regular season or is Ausberry not in this year's plans for the Raiders?
Denarius Moore has been mighty impressive in camp and in preseason games. The quickness, hands, route running, and running after the catch he has shown make him the perfect slot, Wes Welker type of receiver.
I thought the Nick Miller was going to be that guy at one time but Moore has clearly shown more in that department. He can just come in on third down, line up in the slot, make a play, and move the chains.
He can make a huge impact without being a starter on this team.
They say home is where the heart is.
Gallery and Miller are home in Seattle with zone blocking guru and former Raider head coach Tom Cable. Samson Satele and Cooper Carlisle were a part of Cable's zone blocking baby in Raider Nation so I'm sure they would be home in Seattle too.
Cable can really use them because the state of Seattle's offensive line is atrocious at this time. Satele and Carlisle are undersized and get pushed back too much to fit in Jackson's power blocking scheme.
"Build a bully" with Carlisle and Satele starting on your offensive line is an oxymoron so Jackson needs to do something. Sending Carlisle and Satele home would really help the two and the Seahawks tremendously.
The question is what could the Raiders get in return from the Seahawks to help them?
Can they add Bush and/or Louis Murphy (don't want to see him go either) get a high draft pick?
The kind of pick they can get would be telling of how much value Satele has.
I believe it's time for Tyvon Branch to sit down.
They say he's extremely physical but in the Saint game, he hit the tight end on a pass over the middle and fell back. In the same game, he hit a guy on the sidelines right after a catch and the player was left standing.
Did you notice I said after a catch because that happens a lot with Branch.
Everyone wants to talk about his tackling stats but Branch gets extra tackles after so many balls are caught on him. He gave up completions on over 70 percent of the passes thrown his way and eight touchdowns.
You can say that was last year but Branch's struggles in coverage have continued this preseason.
Sam Boyd was a collegiate linebacker that would be a major upgrade in physicality over Branch. I give it to Branch for sticking his nose in there and trying but he just isn't that guy that lays people out.
Boyd has that thunder in his hits but it would be a lateral move in terms of the coverage weaknesses. This is why Mike Mitchell, who hits harder that both of them put together, and covers better, should start when he's healthy.
The Raiders haven't had a safety that's feared the way Mitchell would be in years.
It is a "bully" the Raiders are trying to build right?
The main thing the media has pointed out at the conclusion of last season is the Raiders' need to get younger and more athletic at tackle. They had to be talking about right tackle because Jared Veldheer is a second year player that is very athletic.
More importantly, Veldheer has really shown up this preseason.
Bruce Campbell is an athletic freak in his second year so the Raiders can't get much younger or any more athletic than that. This preseason, he has shown the ability to get push off the line of scrimmage as a run blocker at guard.
Campbell finishes his blocks too and does so with a large nasty streak. I don't know if that's just who he is or if he's angry for not being able to crack the starting line up under Tom Cable last year but I like it.
That's a good thing for a right tackle have.
His experience as a left tackle in college and long arms should also help make him an elite right tackle.
Darius Heyward-Bey started to look good early in the preseason but showed who he against the Saints. He still doesn't adjust well to deep balls, doesn't have reliable hands, and doesn't get separation running routes.
That means he's not the No. 1 receiver as he is posted on the depth chart as.
In fact, the Raiders have tremendous depth at receiver now and Heyward-Bey is the seventh best receiver on the team. That will get you cut most of the time but Heyward-Bey is a former first round pick.
The Raiders knew they were drafting a project in the first round when they got him so they should continue to treat him like one. They should keep working with him while he stays on the bench until he's ready.
There are six others on the team that are more ready for action now.
Chaz Schilens is expected to be back for the season opener and he is the best receiver on the team. So to me, it's a no-brainer that he should start on the other side of Jacoby Ford at receiver.
He is a No. 1 receiver waiting to happen with the same type of talent that both Calvin and Andre Johnson have. Sure he has gone through his share of injuries but when he plays, he gets the job done.
If anything, the Raiders should use him while he's healthy and bring the next man up if he gets hurt again. I like that he's never been injured during the regular season as his problems usually come in camp or the preseason.
Schilens has been pronounced healthy as of now so the Raiders should start him now.
Hue Jackson is looking to build his "bully."
How do you build a "bully" with undersized players that get no push off the line of scrimmage up the middle?
In order to build a collective "bully", the Raiders are going to have to go out and get "bullies." At 6'8", 365 pounds, and strong as a bull, Langston Walker is one of those players that fits the bill.
Daniel Loper, who played well in Gallery's stead last year, was not the same this preseason so he was cut. Langston Walker didn't work out at tackle last year but really did well in Gallery's stead at guard in 2009.
The Raiders were already $5 million under the cap and are now an extra $2 million under with Loper gone. This move may take until after Week 1 because no guaranteed contracts can be signed at that point.
I would just do it now because Walker should have played guard for the Raiders last year..
Signing Leonard Davis would all but complete Jackson's "bully' movement on the offensive line. Davis is 6'6", 375 pounds, and an absolute mauler in the running game.
The 2009 Pro Bowler became a salary cap casualty this offseason as the Cowboys got rid of a lot of good football players. The reason he isn't on a team now is probably the aforementioned guaranteed contract situation.
This would be what he doctor ordered for the Raiders at this time.
The Raiders' offensive line would average 6'6", 340 pounds!
That matches the old Raider philosophy!
This team is not going to contend for a Super Bowl if the offensive line stays the way it is. I believe they'll get by the Broncos but I will rescind my 11-5, AFC West title predictions if something isn't done at some point.
It starts at center.
Stefen Wisniewski was drafted to play center for the Raiders so he should be allowed to do just that. At 6'3", 320 pounds, he has ideal NFL center size, he's a superb technician, and he's a nasty boy.
Wisniewski finishes blocks and often plays a beat past the whistle, leading to skirmishes with opposing defensive lineman. That is also a quality Satele lacks as the Raiders haven't had a center like that in years.
I'll also give an example of how much more technically advanced Wisniewski is than Satele. On an off tackle play with Satele in at center, Satele was driven back and into the gap the play was designed to run in.
Satele's man hit the ball carrier (Bush) but Bush was able to spin out of it for a seven yard gain. Later in the game, the Raiders ran the same play with Wisniewski at center and the result was different.
He engaged the nose tackle, stayed low and shuffled his feet to turn his back the side the ball was being run to. The result was Wisniewski walling the defender off so the nose tackle never got near the play.
That's a rookie that knows how to play football.
The Raiders want to build a "bully."
To do that, they have to be more physical.
There are players already on the team that need to start and free agents to be signed to in order to build it. There are also some players at skill positions that could be shuffled around to improve the Raiders.
If the Raiders were to add some scheme tweaks to their defense, they will be an even harder team to beat. I like the direction the Raiders going in now but these are a few things the Raiders should do to complete the journey.
How about this for spicing things up?
David Garrard was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday.
Should he be brought in to be Raiders' No. 2 quarterback?