Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rebuilding the Raiders - Where do you start?

Thankfully, a new sheriff has FINALLY arrived at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway, Alameda California. Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie has tapped a bright, young talent to be head coach and assemble a staff to re-shape the product we see on the field. Now the hard part. Where do you start? Just about every aspect to the roster needs tweaking and some big decisions need to be made. My guess would be resolving the defensive woes is the best place to start. The defense has been decimated by Al Davis aimless tinkering and needs an overhaul.

It should be interesting to see what kind of defense Dennis Allen will build. It is well known Reggie McKenzie likes a 3-4 defense. Last year, Allen built a 4-3 defense with the Bronocs. We have to assume the two men have reached an accord on direction they will take with the Raiders since the personnel they select will be critical to the defensive scheme they put in place.

We know that Dennis Allen likes fast, athletic guys on the defensive line. This is in contrast to what the Raiders currently have with the exception of Richard Seymour. Fortunately, Big Dick has played in the 3-4 scheme before and seems an ideal fit to build a defensive line around as far as skills. However, Seymour has shown less than stellar team play with his abundance of penalties (11/95 yards), fines, suspensions and ejections. Seymour is due $7.5 million plus a $7.5 million roster bonus so if they keep him, my guess would be this would be the place for Dennis Allen to begin his disciplinary approach. If Big Dick falls in line, chances are the rest of the defense will follow.

The rest of the defensive line is a wild card since they are neither fast nor athletic. We don't know how Matt Shaughnessy will bounce back from injury. He has shown flashes of strong play but you never know if a player can regain the same form he had prior to injury. Shaughnessy has one year left on his contract. My guess would be the Raiders will keep him.

Trevor Scott is athletic and fast but did not fully rehab from injury last season and got mimimal playing time. He used to be a monster sackmaster and could switch to linebacker. However, he is a free agent and may not be back. Other free agents on the D-line include Desmond Bryant, Jarvis Moss and John Henderson. These are all very big dudes but only Henderson is still under contract. McKenzie and Allen need to be careful here not to let all these guys go without backfilling for depth.

Tommy Kelly is still playing out his monster contract and will likely be kept. It is unknown what to make of Lamarr Houston who has been invisible after a promising preseason as a rookie.

Linebacker is a bit of wildcard as well. You have to figure they will keep first round pick of two years ago Rolando McClain, provided he does not go to jail or is suspended by the league for off the field issues. McClain has not lived up to the top billing Raider fans would have hoped but the potential is there. Maybe Dennis Allen is the right guy to straighten things out with the linebackers. The only consistency has been Kamerion Wimbley who is a beast. It is safe to say Wimbley will be kept around along with his $48 million contract with $29 million guaranteed. He is an ideal fit in the 3-4 scheme and should continue to pile up sacks.

Aaron Curry on the other hand is due almost 6 million and has not demonstrated the aptitude to play at a high level in the NFL. If anything, he has been a liability. This is a disappointment and it would be surprising if Allen and McKenzie did not seek to find a more solid replacement at weakside LB as well as backup at strongside. Quentin Groves is likely gone.

Speaking of liabilities, the entire secondary is in sorry shape with the exception of Michael Huff. It is likely Huff and his big new contract will stick around and contrary to Hue Jackson's plans to move him to CB, I would expect Huff to stay where is at FS where he has excelled. His replacement while he was injured, Matt Giordano, played well at times, leading the team with five INTS. He just might also stick around for depth.

When it comes to discipline, that means nothing to Stanford Routt who has shown a remarkable lack of team first attitude. This guy is on an Al Davis scholarship and carrying a grotesquely large contract which makes it impossible to trade him. It is doubtful any team would want such a player anyway. This is a guy who led the league in defensive holding with 8 and also led the entire league with 17 penalties for 167 yards. That is embarrassing. Naturally, Routt could care less about that. If any player deserves the axe it is Routt so it will be interesting to see if McKenzie chooses to eat Routt's contract for the good of overall team performance. We are not going to win with Routt. End of story and everyone knows that. Besides which he is only a marginal player. If the guy was a shutdown player making good penalties, I would say keep him but his penalties hurt the team and lose games, as they have for 8 seasons now.

The other veteran corners are shopworn and not really worth keeping. Chris Johnson and Lito Sheppard should be gone next season. It remains to be seen if Demarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa can raise their level of play to become solid starters. Both guys have shown good ability.

If Tyvon Branch's body holds up, he is likely to stick at strong safety. It would be surprising if Mike Mitchell stuck around. Mitchell hasn't done much and doesn't seem to have the skills set to get any better. He does have one year left on his generous Al Davis contract so that may be reason enough to try and squeeze something out of him.

I will take a look at the offense in a separate post.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Raider Defense can surely start at getting rid of Routt or challenging him to play better. Every game I watch its Stanford getting burned, giving up penalty yards. At least for most of the dark ages(post Tuck Bowl game), the offense couldn't score but the D was holding it down. We need to get back and Routt-ing the secondary is where this nobody would start