NFL 2011: The Road Now Ahead For The Oakland Raiders

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NFL 2011: The Road Now Ahead For The Oakland Raiders
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Al Davis

I thought I would write an article on what could be in store for the Oakland Raiders this off-season.

Before I begin, I thought I'd ruminate on a few things. 

I have nothing but respect for what Tom Cable did in changing the culture during his time as head-coach, but all in all, he made too many mistakes with personnel.  Had Cable made better decisions with personnel, the Raiders could have easily finished 12-4 in 2010.

I know I defended Cable, because I thought he needed a mere rebuke for the mistakes, but at the end of the day, I understand the decision to can him.  Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson called all the plays anyway, which led the Raiders offense to a significant turnaround from 2009.

Jackson did just as much to change the culture as Cable did.

Yet, anytime that Al Davis fires a coach, we hear murmurs about Mike Shanahan.  If you ask me, that "curse" has been reversed.  It ended when the Broncos fired Shanahan and hired Josh McDaniels.  Now, the Broncos are one of the few organizations, these days, where people are not interested in a job interview.

 

Free agency and Personnel

As I understand it, the current list of free agents is daunting. 

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Richard Seymour

The list includes, Nnamdi Asomugha, Richard Seymour, Kamerion Wimbley, John Henderson, Stanford Routt, Thomas Howard, Zach Miller, Robert Gallery, Michael Bush, Marcel Reece, Samson Satele, and Langston Walker amongst others.

On top of that, the Raiders also need to add talent.  A veteran wideout is on top of my wish list.  Malcom Floyd of the Chargers would be a perfect fit for the Raiders.  The Raiders should also add another blocker, so that Marcel Reece is able to be more active in the running and passing game.

Some mock drafts have the Raiders taking an offensive tackle with their first pick, which is ridiculous.  I would say that the biggest need is center. 

And how can any Raider fan resist the notion of the Raiders selecting Stefan Wisniewski from Penn State to play center?  He is the nephew of Raiders great, Steve Wisniewski.

Depth at defensive tackle, linebacker, and offensive line would be good.

Assuming that the Raiders resign most or all of their free agents, I would not be overly concerned with other positions, because I like the potential of the current 1st and 2nd year players.

On other topics, I think I need to clarify the situation with Asomugha.  The Raiders have been roundly trashed, because Asomugha's contract was automatically voided for failure to meet performance requirements.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

This will surely surprise many, but Asomugha was overpaid.

The Raiders need that money to resign other players.

The reason that the criticism is BS is because until now, the same people trashed the Raiders for over-paying Asomugha and skewing the market.  Now, they trash the Raiders because the contract was voided because Asomugha did not meet the performance requirements.

Right....

In 2010, Asomugha did not allow a touchdown, but at the same time, the Raiders defense allowed 29 touchdown passes. 

His side of the field may have been "not available" but that has not had an overall impact.

The Raiders defense has definitely improved, but at the same time, why pass when you can run?  And why even bother to throw towards Asomugha, when the other defensive-backs can be beaten?

 

The Coaches

Who will be the next head coach and what will his staff look like?

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Hue Jackson

All signs point to offensive-coordinator Hue Jackson being promoted to head coach.

With Jackson at head-coach, it seems possible that Chad Ochocinco could be wearing the Silver & Black in 2011, as Jackon was the wide receiver coach for the Bengals when Ochocinco was developing.

But again, I think Malcom Floyd would be the better choice, simply because drama follows Ochocinco.

One report has it that Jackson is interested in re-hiring Rob Ryan as the defensive coordinator.  Not sure I would like that move, because the current personnel for the Raiders is better suited for the 4-3.

A big difference in the Raiders defense in 2010 was more blitzing and zone coverage, which until 2010, was seldom utilized by the Raiders.  The lack of blitzing made it easy for the opposing quarterback to simply stand in the pocket and challenge the defensive back.

I know that the Raiders defense in 2010 was the opposite of bend but don't break.  In that, the Raiders wouldn't bend but they would break.  Most of the damage done by opponents would be from big plays, after being otherwise shut out.

According to Sportsline.com, the Raiders had the fifth overall defense.  Clearly, the defense as a whole is not broken.  So, what do you fix?

Rob Ryan primarily uses the 3-4 base defense, whereas, the Raiders used the 4-3 base defense in 2010.  Nevertheless, Ryan has experience with the 4-3, when he was the defensive coordinator for the Raiders between 2004 and 2008.

Maybe this should be the new theme song for the Raiders

Hiring Ryan could mean that free agent linebacker Mike Vrabel could sign with the Raiders.  But again, I would hope that Ryan, if named defensive coordinator, will stick with the 4-3 scheme.

With growth from the young nucleus of defensive players, the gaffes seem fixable.  Thus, if Ryan does become the next defensive coordinator, I would hope that he realizes that the personnel is better suited for the 4-3 and that any 3-4 packages should only be mixed in but not relied on.

The final question is, who will be the offensive coordinator?

I would like the choice of New Orleans quarterback coach, Joe Lombardi.

I would like to hear what Raider Nation thinks on that question.

 

Conclusion

I realize that many Raider fans seem down because Al Davis canned Tom Cable. 

I didn't want the drama that would follow his termination, simply because, I thought most of the drama would be cacophonous chatter goaded by the sports media that thrives on conflict, and thus loves to create drama with what is, historically, the most hated team in the NFL.

Sometimes, I think many of those "Raider Haters" in the sports media secretly love the Raiders.  It's just good for business when everybody hates the Raiders.

To borrow from Rex Ryan, we don't hate other teams.  You're just the enemy, that's all.

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