No strangers to controversy, the Oakland Raiders have created some buzz amongst fans and pundits alike with a few unexpected last minute moves that have left us guessing, after an otherwise great and uncanny off-season.
The recent cut of rookie safety Stevie Brown is the only move I've truly hated this off-season.
At the expense of true depth at tight end and fullback, the Raiders cut tight end Tony Stewart and recently cut John Owens, as well as, the very promising blocker Manase Tonga.
Instead, the Raiders have retained linebacker Sam Williams, safety Hiram Eugene, rookie cornerback Jeremy Ware and an extra wideout.
Musings and Mutterings:
Al Davis could not resist the speed of Johnnie Lee Higgins, Yamon Figurs, and Nick Miller and thus decided to axe a tight end.
Perhaps maybe, the Raiders will use a wideout as a tight end.
Marcel Reece however could see time as a third tight end after he lit up the highlight reels in preseason with some big catches. Reece has made big catches going back to his days with the Washington Huskies.
That however would mean that the Raiders will require subbing, whereas, a blocker like Tonga would have simplified the formations and substitutions.
Al Davis though, likes some fluidity to the formations, because when executed properly, it can "psych out" the defense. I know that this is "Madden-think," but I've been able to slice and dice good teams on Madden 11 with the Raiders by effectively calling audibles.
Rock Cartwright could also see time as a third tight end.
Cartwright has a rapport with Jason Campbell in picking up the blitz, so I surmise that the Raiders expect Cartwright to be more active as a blocker and want to see what he can do before committing to Tonga as a starter.
Whatever the reason may be, the Raiders need their blockers to step up in the running game to keep Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, not only healthy but also productive.
Not enamored by the depth of the o-line. A veteran like Justin Hartwig would be nice insurance at center if, heaven forbid, rookie Jared Veldheer is sidelined. Samson Satele is a backup guard, at best. Signing Hartwig would also free-up Satele as a third tight end, or other blocker.
I'm still not convinced by the starting five on the line however. The Raiders are still in need of an anchor on the line.
Without a top pick in 2011, the Raiders should consider another last minute move (like the acquisition of Richard Seymour in 2009) by adding another offensive lineman. Center Kevin Mawae is a free agent while guard Logan Mankins and tackle Jared Gaither could be acquired by trade.
I like the return of Scott to defensive end. He could wreak havoc as a utility rusher..
I thought Ware would be the odd-rookie-out. Ware has some great intangibles, such as speed (4.3 in the 40), man-coverage experience, "hunger" for the play, and tackling behind the line and in the open field. I would have kept Brown on the roster though, and relegated Ware to the practice squad.
Don't blame Mike Mitchell for the snub of Brown, because Eugene is the real reason for it.
I would have kept Brown and told him to learn cornerback (Eugene's ability to play corner is likely what saved his job). Brown just has a passion for the game and a knack for finding the ball. Nevertheless, Al Davis likely preferred Ware's speed to Brown's nose for the ball.
I really hope that the Raiders reverse this decision. If the Second Coming of Marquez Pope known as Hiram Eugene hacks it up early on, I would expect that Brown could see some pro-time this season.
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