When the NFL players and owners first started bickering about money, I thought the season was going to be shortened at best. Then as thing went along, I thought their would be football ball the hold up and canceled OTA's would hurt the Raiders' momentum after finally improving to 8-8 in 2010.
After a closer look, I see this labor dispute will help the Raiders more than any other team in the league.
Turn the page to see how.
Zone blocking is now out!
The Raiders are now getting ready to come off the ball and maul people in the running game. It's mano y mano, lets see what ya got type of football that doesn't require synchronized zone steps with timing.
Off of that running game, the Raiders will challenge defenses deep down the field with the pass. There won't be the three to five step drops and throw the ball to where the receiver is supposed to be.
Raider quarterbacks will take a seven step drop, pat the ball a few times, and riffle it down the field.
There's no timing involved there.
I'm not saying the Raider offense won't suffer but not as much as offenses that depend on timing.
Rod Woodson is going to have to wait a year before he mixes coverages up too much. That's no problem for the Raiders because they were ranked No. 2 in pass defense with a simple man to man scheme.
This is the way the Raiders have done things for years this is the type of personnel they have. They tell their corners to simply follow the opposing receivers to the bathroom or concession stand if that's where they go.
The Raiders won't have to worry too much about practicing exotic blitzes because the Raiders don't do that either. The Raiders depend on their dominant defensive line to just beat their guys to get to the quarterback.
Raider defense is about physicality, not scheme.
Rookies going into the NFL will obviously suffer the most because of the lockout. The first two draft picks of an NFL team are the ones expected to help the most so lets look at the first two Raider picks.
Second round pick Stephen Wisniewski comes to the NFL as the nephew of a former Raider legend. (Steve Wisniewski) Therefore, Wisniewski has heard plenty of stories and knows what to expect upon his arrival. The "no contact rule" under the lockout won't affect him either with he and his uncle being able to talk to his father.
Being a 3.9-4.0 student at Penn.State will help him become a quick study in NFL.
Third round pick Demarcus Van Dyke will either be able to cover NFL receivers or not right away. Sure he can improve his technique but he won't have to adapt to the Xs and Os of the NFL as much as other rookies.
"Just follow your man Demarcus!"
The last word on the the C.B.A is that the players will get a 50-50 split on the revenue. This means that the salary cap will be set at $140 million for the 2011 season.
The owners are also agianst the "dead money" counting toward the cap as the NBA owners are at battle over it. The Raiders would then be at $103.5 so they will have room to re-sign Nnamdi Asomugha, Zach Miller, and Michael Huff.
There are also players like Chris Johnson, Hiram Eugene, and Cooper Carlisle that can be cut to make additional room. Re-signing franchise tag holder Kamerion Wimbley long term can also help make room.
That could put the Raiders at around $93.5 million.
With all the cap room the Raiders should have, they would be able to help themselves more with free agents from outside. But the problem NFL teams will have is getting these players acclimated to their systems.
That will be pretty hard to do with no OTA's and camp being less than a month away. That won't be a problem for the Raiders in addressing the team's two biggest needs.
Kirk Morrison is a former Raider that once played very well at outside linebacker for the Raiders. He should be brought back because he was a popular teammate and knows the Raiders' ways on defense. Morrison also plays the run well from the outside linebacker position and has excellent coverage skills.
Jared Gaither is a franchise type of left tackle that would help lift the Raider offense to new heights. He would have no problem transitioning because the last offense he played in was coordinated by Al Saunders and Hue Jackson in Baltimore.
With Saunders and Jackson now in Raider Nation, Gaither will know the offense better than any current Raider.
Raider quarterback Jason Campbell played for the Raiders last season not knowing anyone on the team except special teams star Rock Cartright. It's one thing to not have timing with receivers but having the respect and trust of the team around you is the most important thing for a quarterback.
Campbell seemed to get that by the end of the season with a strong finish.
Instead of stopping there, Campbell saw another chance to take his leadership role even further with the lockout. He and defensive tackle Richard Seymour hosted a minicamp to get his teammates together this offseason and he seems to have gotten through to his teammates.
Receiver Nick Miller said of Campbell, "Last year was Jason's first year and he came in and wasn't about a lot of things and then he got benched. But he finished up strong and this year, he is the guy. He's reaching out to people, taking charge of situations and people are looking to him. You can feel it. The whole vibe has changed... the quarterback is the leader of the team and he's definitely the guy now."
Enough said, right?
There you have it.
There is a multitude of ways that it looks like the Raiders got some help by the C.B.A. madness. The Raiders are going back to a style of play that depends more on speed and physicality than scheme.
The owners wanting a new agreement that doesn't include "dead money" toward the salary cap helps the most. That will help tremendously toward keeping the important free agents at home under the cap.
The two main rookies coming in are a great student and a 4.25 40 guy that just needs to cover. The two outside free agents that can help the Raiders the most either is a former Raider or knows the offensive playbook better than any existing member of the team.
Are the stars aligned for the Raiders' return to greatness?