The Oakland Raiders' speed and athleticism is unmatched by nearly every other team. Any one person that touches the ball or is in coverage can run with anyone.
However, injuries have decimated a team that looked promising early.
If the Raiders want to be successful, they must first be able to utilize a number of guys more effectively.
Let's take a look at who they are.
Marcel Reece is one of those guys who missed a few games due to that never-so-pleasant injury bug. When he's on the field, however, he changes the offense for the better.
The problem is, his touches are limited on a week-to-week basis. The Raiders should utilize this guy's speed, agility and catching ability more.
If/when Oakland lines Reece up at wide receiver, he creates huge mismatches. He is either being covered by a cornerback (meaning a wide receiver is lined up on a safety or linebacker) o,r he is lined up on that same safety or linebacker, a battle that he will usually win.
He's averaging 7.7 yards per carry and is fifth on the team in receptions.
I think increasing Reece's touches will make this offense a bit more versatile and help take the pressure off the wide receivers.
Why Mike Mitchell isn't on the field is beyond me.
Mitchell is arguably the best tackler on the defense and adds a "big stick" presence to the secondary. Anyone see his latest hit in the Detroit game?
As for coverage, he is obviously worse than Huff but (in my opinion) better than Tyvon Branch and Boyd. If the Raiders secondary wants to become one of the leagues best, they should add this guy to the line up.
He is obviously seeing more grass time as the year has progressed and with him being on the field, he adds another run stopper. Also, his tackling ability helps limit big plays, a thing this defense has struggled with at times this year.
Louis Murphy may be a questionable one to some of you, but this guy can flat out play.
Since returning from injury, Murphy has been getting more and more playing time throughout the course of the game. The thing is, he is rarely targeted throughout the course of a contest.
Murphy showed as a rookie he can step up when the game is on the line and he's even showed it this year in just a few games.
Murphy has the speed and athleticism to beat any defender. If they would do more than just run Murphy deep (on which seems to be every pass play), he could turn out a key factor in the offense.
He is averaging nearly 17 yards per reception on only 10 catches.
With Ford, Moore and Heyward-Bey primarily outside receivers, stick Murphy in the slot and let him run by some line backers and safeties.
Another guy that his been limited to injury but still under-used in my opinion is rookie Taiwan Jones.
Since McFadden has been out, the Raiders have stuck primarily to Michael Bush. Seeing how Bush plays it is understandable, but they could've used Jones more before his injury.
In just a few carries, Jones is averaging over 4.5 yards per carry and adds speed and explosiveness to the backfield that Bush lacks.
Jones also has a couple catches out of the backfield showing his versatility.
With a healthy Jones, the Raiders have the ability to have a "thunder and lightning" effect in the backfield, taking pressure off both Palmer and Bush.
Jones is still green, but I think he can be a significant player in years to come.
John Henderson may have a bit of you confused as well but not me.
Henderson has 36 tackles and, better yet, four passes deflected at the line of scrimmage.
I know Henderson is up in age and doesn't have the ability he once did; but he is still the best on the team in stopping the run. Henderson fills gaps and takes on all blockers and his size allows him to play the pass as well, sticking those tree-like arms in the air.
On guaranteed passing downs I do not want him on the field; but on first, second and third-and-short downs, I'd have his big body out there.
He can definitely wear down some interior lineman.
Obviously, some of these things would change if the injury situation was less serious, but it is what it is and you can't do anything about it.
If the Raiders can really use these guys more effectively, pressure would be taken off the other guys on their respective units and put more pressure on the opposition.
I know what Hue Jackson "wants" for a team. But problem is this is what he has. Reality has to overstep your ego and you must alter things to stay competitive throughout the course of a game.
In the mean time I'll have my fingers crossed and hope Tebow-mania comes to a screeching halt and the Raiders fire on all cylinders for the final two weeks.
GO SILVER AND BLACK!