10 Corrections the Oakland Raiders Must Make During the Bye Week
The Raiders didn't appear to be ready to play in a football game on offense last Sunday. A great portion of that is due to losing starting quarterback Jason Campbell but that isn't all of it.
There are so many things the Raiders need to do if they're going to come out of the bye-week swinging.
Turn the page to see what they are.
The most important thing the Raiders have to do during this bye-week is get healthy. I don't care what kind of adjustments they make, nothing they do will work if they don't get healthy.
(DB) Chris Johnson, (DB) Chimdi Chekwa, (K) Sebastien Janikowski, (FB) Marcel Reece and (WR) Chaz Schilens were all out with injuries. (RB) Darren McFadden, (TE) Kevin Boss and (MLB) Rolando McClain had to exit the game early due to injuries.
The good news is everyone except for Johnson is on pace to be ready to play after the bye. The fact that the Raiders are thin at corner and Chekwa was playing well before his injury makes him a big piece coming back.
Janikowski has obvious value to this Raiders team, as he's good for touchbacks and field goals from long distance. Boss is a beast of a blocker and challenges defenses up the seam while Schilens has the best hands on the team.
McFadden is the obvious MVP of the Raiders while Reece's presence makes a bigger difference than you think. Not only does he block for McFadden, but he runs a 4.4 40-yard dash and can't be covered by linebackers.
Opposing pass defenses have to account for him—taking attention away from the other Raiders weapons. If he isn't accounted for, it's a guaranteed completion for the quarterback, and he can get open deep himself.
Palmer will love this toy.
Get Carson Palmer Ready
Carson Palmer is coming off of the most embarrassing performance of his entire career. You can't really blame Palmer for it because he didn't have the timing with his receivers and he just plain wasn't ready to play.
During this bye-week, the Raiders need to do all they can do to get the Palmer ready to play after the bye. The Raiders will only go as far as Palmer takes them because opposing teams will dare Palmer to beat them—especially after he played the way he did last Sunday.
Opposing teams have already had success with that formula with Campbell as the starter. The good news there is Palmer will be working with his receivers during their days off with the bye.
He has to play well against the Broncos to gain Raider Nation's faith.
Get Louis Murphy Ready
Yes, he dropped a pass last Sunday, but I'm giving him a pass because he's missed a lot of time because of groin/hamstring issues. While Darrius Heyward-Bey is now the Raiders No. 1 receiver, no one has stepped up to claim the No. 2 receiver spot.
Murphy has actually been ahead of Heyward-Bey since they were both drafted in 2009 until this year. He was on pace to have over 1,000 yards receiving last year before he was injured but still led all Raiders receivers in receiving yards.
Murphy and Heyward-Bey are the best blocking receivers the Raiders have too. That will help superstar running back Darren McFadden turn 20-yard runs into 80-yard runs even more frequently.
Therefore, it would be a good move to put Murphy together with Heyward-Bey going forward. Murphy is also faster than you think, as he ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the combine with an ankle injury.
But on the football field, he is among the fastest receivers in the league, as he consistently blows by corners. That, along with his height and ability to adjust to the football, makes him the best deep threat with the Raiders.
Murphy has had the most receptions over 20 yards every year he's played for the Raiders. What I like the most about Murphy is his ability to make clutch plays, as he showed in his rookie year against the Chargers, Bengals and Steelers.
You can't value a receiver with a clutch gene enough.
Get Bruce Campbell Ready
The Raiders obviously value running the ball and do so very well going to the left. Going into the Chiefs game, the Raiders averaged over eight yards per carry going around left end.
They averaged over five yards per carry over left tackle and a little over three yards per carry up the middle. The Raiders aren't as good to the right either, as they averaged a little over four yards over right tackle and around right end.
That's because Barnes doesn't get the push on the line of scrimmage that left tackle Jared Veldheer does on the left side. Jackson, at a post-practice press conference a couple of days ago on CSN, announced that Bruce Campbell is going to play tackle going forward.
Campbell was moved to guard shortly upon his arrival in Raider Nation last year after playing left tackle in college. His experience at guard should have taught him all he needed to know about run-blocking.
That's important for a right tackle because most teams and running backs like to run right. But for the Raiders, running right is important so opposing teams can't simply set the defense to stop the Raiders from running left.
Campbell is a physical freak and now has Bob Wylie and Steve Wisniewski to teach him, so it's time to get him ready to play. It's time to get something out of all of this athletic talent and stop playing games with his position.
It's time to run the ball to the right just as well as they do to the left.
Move Stefen Wisniewski to Center
There is but one stretch of football for the Raiders that they were able to run the ball well up the middle. That was when Samson Satele went out with and injury and Stefen Wisniewski slid over to play center in his stead.
Seeing Satele miss when he dives at people's legs, or get stood up, bent back, or pancaked is getting old. Watching the show "Raiders Unplugged," I saw why why Satele struggles so much against nose tackles.
He's too small!
On the show, he was talking to right tackle Khalif Barnes in the locker room and looked like a kid standing next to him. Barnes is listed at 325 pounds and if that's true, Satele is 280 soaking wet with change in his pocket.
I can really appreciate the way he battles the bigger men in the NFL but this isn't "Rudy." The Raiders have a running back (McFadden) that can run for 2,000 yards with better blocking from the center position so the Raiders can run the ball up the middle.
That's where the 6'3", 320 pound Wisniewski comes in.
Promote Joseph Barksdale
Joseph Barksdale was the one that took Wisniewski's place at left guard when "Wiz" went to center. That should be a permanent move, as the 6'4", 330 pound Barksdale did a good job opening holes up the middle.
He actually gets a good amount of playing time, as he goes in on jumbo and goal line packages. He also gets time subbing in at both guards and right tackle.
There's nothing left for the young Barksdale to do but be moved into the starting lineup at left guard at this point. From where I'm sitting, it looks like Barksdale can be trusted at the left guard position.
Now the Raiders have a bit more size inside.
Bring in Langston Walker
I think I've watched Cooper Carlisle, who's also undersized, get pancaked by a defensive lineman on time too many. Carlisle is listed at 295 pounds, which is even lighter than the undersized Satele.
Like Satele, Carlilse was the zone-blocking type of lineman Tom Cable likes. But Cable is now in Seattle and the zone-blocking is no longer the Raiders bread and butter, as Jackson prefers power-blocking.
Therefore, it's time for all the little guys on the offensive line to be replaced, as Jackson has promised to build his bully. The No. 1 guy on my list is 6'8", 365 pound Langston Walker, and you have to hear me out.
Walker was pretty bad as a tackle in 2010, but he did a great job at guard in 2009 in Robert Gallery's stead. He did so after being on the street for a large portion of the season, just as he is now, and he knows the playbook.
That would give the Raiders an even easier time running up the middle with all that beef on the offensive line. Jackson can't call his Raiders a bully when they haven't run it well up the middle all season.
That goal line stand the Chiefs made shouldn't have been a surprise.
Cut Derek Hagan
The Raiders have six receivers and they're very thin on the offensive line, so something has to give here. Derek Hagan should be let go to get a chance to go somewhere that he can be a bigger help (St. Louis).
Hagan created quite a fanbase for himself from his play during the preseason. He then played pretty well in the first couple of games of the season, but after that, I haven't seen him do too much.
He was brought here to be the veteran, reliable receiver in case the youngsters weren't up to it. But Heyward-Bey has arrived as a receiver and the rest of these talented receivers will get on track soon.
No need to wast this man's time while the Raiders don't have enough offensive lineman.
Re-Arrange Receiver Corps
With Murphy starting alongside Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford should settle into the slot, as he's the best runner after the catch the Raiders have. I really don't want to see him start as a receiver because it could affect his return prowess like it did Devin Hester's.
Denarius Moore came out swinging and hitting at the start of the season, but now he's missing. He should now take his place further down in the rotation until he proves he can be consistent.
Since Chaz Schilens is injured so often, the Raiders shouldn't use him too much. But Schilens should definitely be in the game when the Raiders reach the red-zone to take advantage of his height, hands and vertical leap.
As I said before, Hagan isn't really necessary, and his roster spot should go to an offensive lineman.
Put Jason Campbell on Injured Reserve
Jackson needs to put Jason Campbell on injured reserve—shutting him down for the season. Once put on injured reserve, they need to not allow Campbell on the property of the Raiders facility henceforth.
That's the only way that Jackson can move forward with Palmer without Campbell splitting the locker room. Campbell has already been on CSN telling a reporter, " I'm a starter in this league, definitely."
Campbell went further, sounding like a boxer that was knocked down three times, didn't knock his opponent down, and still believes he won the fight. He said, "I look around the league and I play at a higher level than most guys. I'm definitely a starter. I'm not ready to accept being in a backup role."
Campbell is No. 23 in passing yards, No. 15 in quarterback rating and No. 25 in touchdown passes. Saying you should still start for the Raiders is one thing, but "I play at a higher than most guys" is another.
You're basically saying you're a great quarterback while your stats say you're the epitome of average. I guess that's what happens when the team you're on wins a few games with you at quarterback.
Let's be real Raiders fans, having Campbell stay would be nothing but a distraction at this point. When the collarbone heals, there will be atrophy so he won't have the same zip on the ball right away.
By the time he comes back, Terrelle Pryor will be ready to back Palmer up anyway.
The most important thing for the Raiders right now is the bye-week followed by Bronco week. There are few things the Raiders need to do at this time that can really set the team up for success going forward.
The good thing is a few of these things are already in progress.
I've seen a lot of doom and gloom articles after the blowout loss at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs. I really wouldn't put too much into them because everything that went wrong Sunday is fixable.
In case you haven't noticed, everything in this article is about the Raiders offense. The defense needs to be left alone because the unit is really coming together—giving the Chiefs only 14 points despite the offense turning the ball over six times.
If everything on my to-do list is taken care of, the Raiders will go to the playoffs or beyond because the table is set otherwise.