Raider Nation has started to panic every since Head Coach Tom Cable was let go. The panic in Raider Nation has reached an even more rapid state since All-World corner back Nnamdi Asomugha's contract was voided.
There have been rumblings out of Raider Nation that Asomugha was unhappy with the move. Then he reportedly spoke of his desire to play in New York opposite Darrell Revis or in Green Bay opposite former mentor Charles Woodson.
There have been numerous stories in the media of how Al Davis and the Raiders are dead in the water without Asomugha. Tom Cable has been tabbed as the best thing to happen to Raider Nation since 2002 and the biggest mistake in Raider history is letting him go.
"What is Davis doing?"
"He's going to ruin the Raiders again just when things are turning around!"
"He's lost it."
No he hasn't.
I know the last seven years before this one weren't pretty but Davis is on top of things now.
Turn the page to see why.
Many around the NFL and Raider Nation have been hyper-critical of Davis since the 2002 season. The Raider's record during that time leaves plenty of room for that criticism.
A closer look at the situation shows that the hand Davis was delt is what led to that record. In 2003, the Raiders suddenly lost franchise quarterback Rich Gannon with no young quarterback groomed to replace him.
In fact, guard Frank Middleton, tackle Barry Sims, and corner Charles Woodson were the only returning starters form the 2002 team in 2004. That means names like Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Lincoln Kennedy, Bill Romanowski, Anthony Dorsett, Terrance Shaw, Charlie Garner, Matt Stinchcolm, and Trace Armstrong were gone.
The 2002 team was an old team that wouldn't be around long enough to teach the younger players going in. By 2004, the Raiders lost too many cornerstones to be competitive in the league.
And yes, Davis did have his misses in the draft but every team has them. Even the Baltimore Ravens missed with quarterback Kyle Boller, who's ironically a Raider back-up now.
Ozzie Newsome's last two drafts are looking less than spectacular.
Who's to say some of those picks wouldn't have worked out if there was veteran leadership to help them.
The Raiders had an expansion team without an expansion draft.
That is what took Davis seven years to put it together.
Before you start the " Don't fire Cable because we're right there" stuff, that is why Davis fired Cable. Outside of Jamarcus Russell, the Raiders have drafted well the last four years.
The Raiders now have a talented roster with a legitimate quarterback in Jason Campbell. Cable doesn't have the offensive mind to put a system in place for the Raiders to succeed.
He proved in 2009 that he can't call plays.
The offensive line that Cable is known for has been a team weakness since 2009. The Raider offensive line led the NFL in sacks allowed in 2010.
Playing favorites led to Cable's demise as he did all he could to keep favorite Bruce Gradkowski in the starting lineup. Gradkowski's career quarterback rating isn't even a full point higher Jamarcus Russell.
Then he does the same thing with Cooper Carlisle, rookie Jared Veldheer, and Samson Satele. They led the NFL in sacks given up at their respective positions, causing the Raiders to lead the league as a team.
Of the three, the youngster Veldheer will be all right but not at left tackle. Combine beast Bruce Campbell didn't even get a chance at right guard as Carlisle was constantly run over
The media likes to slant it in the direction of the Raiders fired the coach that turned things around.
What has he done to deserve that credit when he has yet to turn his offensive line around?
For those that don't know, Davis didn't void Asomugha's contract. His contract was automatically voided because he didn't meet incentives.
It has been reported that those were terms that Asomugha wanted, knowing that he wouldn't get thrown at enough. Word around the league now is Asomugha wants to play with the Jets or Packers along side one of the other premier corners.
If that happens, all is not lost in Raider Nation.
The 17 million Asomugha is scheduled to make could be used to take the Raiders the rest of the way. Two or three great players at other, perhaps more important positions can be had at that price.
Of all the great position players, corners have the least to do with turning a franchise around. But they are a great luxury to have when you have a contending team.
Deion Sanders was a bigger impact player than Asomugha as he returned kicks and punts. But he couldn't even win his division when he was with the Atlanta Falcons.
But it was he the decided who won the NFC Championship game when playing for the Cowboys and the 49ers. You have to realize that those were two great teams before Sanders got there.
He then came back and got another ring with the Baltimore Ravens.
Was that not a great defense without him?
All this may be for nothing as Asomugha may not be going anywhere. He has to see what he is surrounded with now and know that there will be pieces put in place for the Raiders to go further.
The Jets have already informed the league that they have too many other players to resign. That leaves the Packers but their defense is doing just fine so the need is not great for such a big salary.
Of course the rest of the league will be in the running but Asomugha is a hub in the Oakland community. Al Davis is known to open his check book for his great corners.
That may be what this is all about anyway.
Davis is the king of the pause button so the league will wait to see who the next head coach will be for the Raiders. But it only makes sense to me that Hue Jackson is the next Raider head coach.
First off, there were rumblings out of Raider Nation that Hue was unhappy about Cable under-minding him. There where then rumors of Jackson being a candidate for the University of Miami job.
Rumors then came out about the Cincinnati Bengals before he interviewed for the San Francisco 49ers. Davis then fired Cable and Jackson now looks to be the leading candidate for the Raider job.
Many are up in arms about why Davis is moving so slow to Jackson him the head coach. But Davis has Jackson under contract so there's really no hurry to tell the world that Jackson is the next Raider head coach.
On the football side of things, Jackson looks to be that guy that Davis is looking for. He was brought over to relieve Cable of play calling duties and possibly replace him if things went well for him.
Cable isn't the offensive mind Davis likes so he might have been a stop gap guy until Davis finds his guy. It appears that guy is Jackson because he took the Raider offense into the top 10 in the league from No. 31.
The vertical offense that Jackson brought over from Baltimore is right in line with Davis' philosophy. It's just icing on the cake that Jackson made such improvements with a new quarterback and an offensive line that led the NFL in sacks allowed.
So how is it that a head coach gets credit for a team getting to .500 when and offensive coordinator comes in and improves the offense so dramatically?
Rob Ryan has his detractors in Raider Nation but it might not be such a bad idea bringing him back. Rumors have been circulating in the nation that Jackson was seeking Ryan out after his whole staff was fired in Cleveland.
Why is it not a bad idea?
Ryan had this unit ranked No. 3 in the league with far less talent than it has now. The Raider offense was worse than it ever was in history that year and the Ryan led defense continued to play hard.
The Raider offense finished No. 10 in offense this past year and there is more talent on the defense now.
What could Ryan do with this unit under these circumstances?
Could that influence Asomugha's decision?
The Raiders don't have a first round pick this year but can be made into a contender before the draft. Jared Gaither is an elite caliber left tackle that will be free and he's Al Davis' type of guy at 6'9, 340 pounds.
Remember Bob Brown?
He's also Hue Jackson's type of guy as he gave Joe Flacco extra time to throw the ball down the field in Baltimore. Jason Campbell will need that to that type of protection to throw vertical in 2011.
Jared Veldheer could then move to center with Bruce Campbell at right guard and the offensive line becomes a strong unit. Logan Mankins is another free agent lineman that could improve the offensive line and bring a different combination because he can play center too.
Champ Bailey would be a good addition to play opposite or temporarily replace Asomugha. The Raider won't be able to get everyone so priority one is to protect the quarterback with Gaither.
The Raiders might be able to get two of them because there won't be a first round pick for them this year.
There are guys other than Asomugha that the Raiders need to keep. Asomugha is a great corner but corners don't impact the game the way quarterbacks do so they shouldn't get a quarterback's salary.
So let's move on to other positions.
Zach Miller should definitely be kept as it won't take 17 million dollars to do so. Robert Gallery should also be kept as he is at least someone to build the offensive line around.
Michael Huff looks to finally be getting it as he has made plays this year. Kamerion Wimbley has reclaimed his career in Raider Nation as he lead the Raiders in sack with 9.5.
He did a good job against the run and in coverage too.
And I'm sure revolutionary fullback Marcel Reece will be on the Raider roster in 2011. Reece was a Davis idea that came into fruition in 2010.
All these guys have to stay for the Raiders to add to whoever the Raiders bring in for 2011.
Jackson's offense is the most important thing to be kept in Raider Nation. It's the most dramatically changed unit of the Raiders and caused the Raiders .500 record this past year.
Davis did the right thing by firing Cable to keep Jackson in the fold. Asomugha's contract void may be the best thing to happen to the Raiders because Asomugha is just as overpaid as he is great.
As much as I would love to see Asomugha stay, 17 million is too much for a corner as three solid players could be had for that. I won't count him out because Al could pay less than that and still outbid the league.
Gaither is the guy that can set the Raider offense off by solidifying the offensive line. Huff, Miller, Reece, and Wimbley are more important pieces than many think and must stay for the Raiders to progress.
With no first rounder this year, the Raiders will have to land a solid free agent to have an offseason like last year. Rounds 2-7 are rounds that Davis has generally done well in so that will complete things.
Then Davis' detractors can get off him because he has put it together again.