For the Raiders, this is the time of year that other teams seem to take a breather on. Within Al's shrine, the Raiders start to look at pending free agents from around the league, take phone calls on prospective coaches, or even invite a kid or two down for a closer look.
Welcome to the Oakland Raiders offseason.
For the Raiders, the primary problems are pretty simple. In the last several years, Oakland has been stuck at double-digit losses. While the team has finally shed the veterans of 2002's glory days, they still are trying to find the right pieces to fill in mediocre players.
They also have had mixed success with the draft, sometimes hitting well, like Michael Bush and Zach Miller, but other times, finding guys like Darrius Heyward-Bey or JaMarcus Russell.
Sometimes solutions are not easy to come by, or players once thought highly of, turn out to be blunders. Randy Moss gave us a good look, but then decided to degrade himself to a 3-year-old. Javon Walker was brought in as a top-line WR, only to fall apart his first year, and see minimum time his second season. For the Raiders, coming into this offseason, are not completely horrible. Pieces do exist, that the team can build off of.
Two of the primary free agents to speak of, Richard Seymour and Sebastian Janikowski both played well, despite the record. Of course, Nnamdi Asomugha shone on, while opposing teams had to challenge Chris Johnson. Our offensive line, when healthy, performed well. Sadly, when Robert Gallery was lost, twice the team seems woefully upprepared for other clubs.
So, what does Oakland look forward to?
Oakland needs to focus on dropping the carryover dead-weight. Granted Al Davis hates to get rid of his favorites, but a sign was noted, that should give the Raiders pause. John Bowie is gone.
This was a player, that several felt was overdue, as Al hung onto this often-injured player, mostly out of spite. He was the only connection to the trade that shipped out Randy Moss.
Al Davis needs to learn that no matter how much he loves a player, it does not mean they will play any better. You could give a million dollars to a high school player, and all you do is make him rich. With the coaches he has hired, these coaches should be able to give Al a good look at modern football...if he can listen to them.
As it goes, I wouldn't mind seeing something new in Oakland...how about a winning season in 2010?