Oakland Raiders: Hue Jackson Has Lifted No Fly Zone for Free Agents and Coaches
For the last eight years, Raider Nation has had a no fly zone in place for top free agents and coaches. Since being hired as the Raiders' head coach, Hue Jackson has lifted the no fly zone for free agents and coaches alike.
The Raiders had talent for a time with guys like Randy Moss, but the talent was entrusted to a bed 'n breakfast owner (Al Davis). Then Davis handed the keys to a kid (Lane Kiffin), and later an offensive line coach (Tom Cable) that had never even been a coordinator.
The talent might have been there at that but it amounted to nothing as a bust of a left tackle (Robert Gallery) and quarterback (JaMarcus Russell) still held the franchise back. Aside from the busts, the coaching was stellar as the kid couldn't get the respect of the players and the offensive line coach played favorites, making the offensive line worse.
The rest of the league looked at the dysfunction of the Raiders and must have thought, "can't go to Oakland until my last big contract in the league. I gotta try to win me a Super Bowl before I can go to a place like that."
But that is no longer the case.
Jackson was well respected around the league before entering Raider Nation so he was able to lift the no fly zone flag. Now, there are plenty of free agents on the Raiders' radar and there are many possibilities for the Raiders this offseason.
Turn the page to see how this came to be and who these players on the radar are.
Bob Wylie is an offensive line coach that's been in the game at the professional level for 18 years. He has had stints with the Jets, Bengals, Buccaneers, Bears and Jets, to go along with his CFL experience.
The job he did with the Denver Broncos especially interests me because he went in to convert the Broncos to a power blocking team from a zone blocking team. Jackson said, "Wylie is a spectacular teacher, motivator, and drill sergeant."
Wylie's approach must be how he led seven of the men he's coached in the NFL to spots on the Pro Bowl roster. The Raiders' young group of offensive lineman will need that approach in its conversion to power blocking.
It will be interesting to see how much the pass blocking improves under Wylie.
How about a former Raider great to coach a current Raider great in the making?
Greg Biekert is the man that has plenty of knowledge and experience in Raider Nation, hired by Jackson to show youngster Rolando McClain the way. McClain did make strides later in the 2010 season adjusting to the 4-3 defense from the 3-4 he ran in college.
Put that together with McClain's physicality and we have a deadly combination.
Mike Wauffle is going into his second year in Raider Nation but he must be mentioned because of his impact in 2010. The Raiders went from 37 sacks in 2009 to 47 sacks in 2010, moving from No. 11 to No. 2 in that category.
The Raiders do need to play the run better but that's not all on the defensive line. Overall, the Raider defense improved to No. 11 in 2010 from No. 26 in 2009. Wauffle and Richard Seymour were able to get something out of the overpaid Tommy Kelly and the rest of the defensive line for that to happen.
Another year under Wauffle, and with McClain at linebacker, should have the Raider defense stout against the run in 2011.
Remember what he did with the Giant defense in 2007.
What defensive lineman wouldn't want to play for him.
Former Raider legend Steve Wisniewski is back in Raider Nation to help Wylie with the offensive line. Now the Raider offensive line has an experienced position coach along with a Raider legend to help them turn things around.
Many believe that to be the precursor to the Raiders drafting his nephew, Stefen Wisniewski as a center in the second round. Who knows what Davis and Jackson will decide on, but the Raider legend will help develop whoever comes to Raider Nation in the near future.
Young players will always give it up for a legend at a given position.
Chuck Bresnahan is back to coordinate the Raider defense again.
The move was long awaited by Raider fans, but it wasn't a move they especially liked. That is understandable as Bresnahan doesn't have a big time resume to make Raider fans believe he is the guy.
But he was with the Raiders before and did something no Raider defensive coordinator has done since. He led the Raiders to a top five run defense in two of his four years with the Raiders.
The Raiders are already coming off of a No. 2 pass defense ranking in 2010.
If that is kept in place, along with a run defense finishing in the top 10, the 11 angry men on defense are back!
The media has consistently said, "the Raiders will never get a top coordinator of any sort because Al Davis meddles too much and won't allow the coordinator to bring his scheme to the team."
It sure did look that what way for a while with the coaching staffs Davis assembled in recent years. Davis tried and failed to get Saunders as a head coach twice as he opted for Kansas City offensive coordinator instead.
There, he led the Chief's offense to No. 1 rankings from 2002 to 2005.
Saunders has worked with Jackson in Baltimore before and the respect between the two has led Saunders to Oakland to work with Jackson again in Oakland.
Do you see the difference here?
The man turned Davis down twice as a head coach and accepts an offensive coordinator position under Jackson with Davis' team. This mixture of Davis, Jackson and Saunders will be an effective match and bring inner peace to Raider Nation because the philosophies coincide.
They all love the vertical game and Saunders in a Don Coryell disciple.
It's even fair to say Jackson is a Coryell disciple by way of coaching under Saunders.
Rod Woodson had a job as an analyst on NFL network so he didn't really need a job. Plus, there were many teams out there that wanted his services as a defensive backs coach.
Jackson was able to lure Woodson to Raider Nation to share his knowledge with the Raider corners. Woodson said, "We're gonna do a lot of different things this year to mix things up. We're gonna give our corners a chance to face the quarterback more so they have more opportunities to make plays on the ball."
This is before the Raider even named their defensive coordinator.
Woodson will likely be in charge of coverages the Raiders run in 2011.
He's a Dick LeBeau and Dom Capers disciple so watch out.
On the Radar: Nnamdi Asomugha
The hiring of Woodson to coach the corners is a huge help toward keeping Asomugha in Raider Nation. The two are extremely close as Woodson took Asomugha under his wing in Asomugha's rookie year.
Asomugha has more than just Woodson on his mind saying, "I am optimistic about free agency but I never said I was happy about it. I am just hopeful that everything goes right. The eight years I have spent in Oakland with all the relationships I have forged and the directions we're starting to go in will make it tough to leave."
Throw in Woodson and Davis has a good chance of keeping his man.
On the Radar: Jared Gaither
Sure I've been clamouring for Jared Gaither to come to Raider Nation for a year now. But there is now more reason than ever to believe that this is something that can happen.
I actually gave up on the idea for a couple of articles because I thought the Ravens could tender him again. But that may not be the case when there's a CBA because Gaither has been in the league four years and tenders won't likely be in place for players that have completed four years.
To go with that, Gaither has said that he would love to play for Jackson and Saunders again, especially Saunders. What a fit this would be as Gaither has blocked in this vertical offense before in Baltimore with Saunders and Jackson.
Not only will he give the quarterback extra time to throw down the field, but he knows the offense better than any current Raider.
He's also just turning 25.
On the Radar: Tyson Clabo
Tyson Clabo would be a great fit for the bully the Jackson has spoken of building this offseason. He could play right guard with Langston Walker at right tackle or he could play right tackle to kick Walker inside to guard.
Either way, that's 700 pounds of human mass on the right side of the Oakland Raider offensive line. My sources have said that Richard Seymour and Stanford Routt have been on the recruiting trail after him.
Clabo has paved the way for Michael Turner and company in Atlanta for all those years in the run game. He has also been solid in protecting franchise quarterback Matt Ryan.
Remember, he was an offensive coordinator in 2007 for the Falcons with Clabo there.
On the Radar: Chad Johnson
Chad Johnson is now on Jackson's radar according to my sources.
Sorry, I can't call him Ochocinco.
His mama's name is Johnson.
I'm going to call him Johnson.
Back to the point.
There is nothing pending or in the making, but he is on the radar as Jackson wants a 70-80 catch receiver in his offense. Johnson has already expressed his desire to play for Jackson again calling him, "The best receivers coach I've ever had."
A possession receiver would be nice to go along with the speed in Raider Nation. He would be a great mentor to the young Raider receiving corps as well.
Johnson still has his wheels too.
The no fly zone sign has been lifted in Raider Nation and it could very well be turning into the place to be. The Raiders now have the best coaching staff it's had in years, thanks to the respect Jackson has around the league.
To go with that staff, there is some talent in Raider Nation that can be unleashed in 2011. That combination is leading to talent in the free agent pool wanting to wander off toward the nation.
For the first time, the possibilities are infinite because people around the league want to work with Jackson. That bully he's talked about building isn't far off from fruition as only a few key pieces are needed.
And Asomugha must stay.