Coming down off of my silver-and-black-lined cloud, the view is clearer an evening after Oakland's somewhat improbable win over Tampa Bay. Though the upset and two-game winning streak left many feeling a bit more optimistic regarding the Raiders future, the consensus prognosis for the organization seems to be something like: showing signs of improvement but not out of the woods yet.
What will it take for Al Davis and Co. to get out of those woods if not make a full recovery in 2009? Here are a few potential remedies for the many maladies that afflict the once proud franchise.
1. Take two tackles in the upcoming draft and call me in morning. One mammoth earth-mover for each unit. Giant 6'5", 300-plus pound OT Eugene Monroe of Virginia should be available when the Raiders pick at No. 7. With luck, a player like Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh may slip into the second round.
2. Address receiving core deficiencies. This unit was anemic in 2008. Clean out Walker's locker and find a free agent who will show up for the majority of the games.
3. Implant a strong GM. It's time for Al to shore up the organization with another great football mind; someone like Bill Parcells might prove to be just what the doctor ordered.
4. It's time for a transfusion. Out with ineffective coaches and in with fresh blood. Look at the team's stats on D for 2008. It's hard to recover when your opponents are putting up 24 bloody points per game.
5. Don't fix what ain't broke. Hang on to Nnamdi Asomugha and other vital parts like Shane Lechler. Make sure budding star Johnny Lee Higgins remains a happy and healthy.
6. Transplant a linebacker with a nasty attitude. Trade one of the three promising running backs (preferably oft-injured Fargas) for a draft pick or proven player. While I love Howard's and Morrison's work ethics and attitudes, these guys could use a menacing the presence that rattles the opposing quarterback's knees, teeth, and composure.
7. Heal, rather than rub more salt, in old wounds. Hang onto Coach Cable and his strong player relationships. Give the team a chance to coalesce around a staff and provide some continuity.
8. Wheel Walter out of town on the waiver gurney. His quarterback rating as backup to JaMarcus Russell is a sickly 31.3. Michael Bush has a higher QB rating for goodness sake. (Hey, maybe Mike would like calling the signals better than clearing holes for DMac or Fargas.)
9. Don't look for another free agent casualty from any team in the AFC West. This seems to consistently backfire, burning the Raiders in the process. Maybe Oakland could salve its scorched free agent record by sending a few wounded warriors Kansas City's, Denver's, or San Diego's way.
10. How about a little good, old-fashioned bed rest? DMac and others need find a way to get and stay healthy in 2009. There were too many injuries in key positions this season, and it certainly slowed the Raiders' recuperation.
Just a few weeks ago, many had given the silver and black up for dead; the team was on life-support by most accounts. But a promising finish to the 2008 campaign has proven that there are signs of life. Here's to making moves during the offseason that lead to a speedy recovery in 2009 and a healthy organization for years to come. Salud!
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