Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The New Look Raiders Offense - What Do We Really Know?

Just about everything involving the Oakland Raiders is brand new in the 2012 season. Even elements that have been slightly refurbished are still looking new. The only thing missing are revamped uniforms. Is it possible?  The way Mark Davis, Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen have re-shaped the look and feel of everything Raiders, a helmet, logo or a uniform change down the line would not be all that surprising, as radical as that sounds.

The way things stand right now is we have some consistency from last year's core group of productive players and a whole lot of new faces. Some of the coaching staff is refurbished,  Some of the coaching changes are promising.  Some are suspect.

But what do we really know at this point prior to training camp?  What don't we know?

Let's start with the QB situation since we are not doing anything without a solid QB.

What we do we know is that Carson Palmer is healthy and dedicated to excelling in the role of leading the offense, learning Greg Knapp's system inside and out, backwards and forwards.

What we don't know is if Carson is not able to go at any point, what sort of depth we have. Matt Leinart, a QB with some upside has some positives in terms of NFL experience.  Overall, however, he is a wild card how he would do as a leader of the offense if called upon.

Who knows if we'll see Terrelle Pryor or not. He is still a raw talent.

How effective is Greg Knapp as an Offensive Coordinator?  Well, put it this way.  He has never excelled in the role of OC.  He was a flop in Atlanta.  Yet because he is a nice guy who demonstrates competence in coaches meetings, forges strong connections with his coaching peers, his failures have been brushed off as due to player performance.  Greg Knapp has done nothing of note as an OC in the NFL.  He was a solid QB as a player at Sacramento State and that qualifies him to coach QBs.  However, if anyone has anything in the way of proof Knapp is a worthwhile NFL OC then let's hear it.

With the running game what do we know is that Darren McFadden has arrived.  The guy has finally shown some breakthrough ability.  He's not so easy to tackle anymore and is essentially, a pro bowl caliber RB.

We also know that McFadden is injury-prone and has yet to last a full season as a pro. If McFadden can maintain the momentum of his breakout games last year without injury deflating that momentum, the running game is in good shape.

Likewise, if Taiwan Jones is healthy and he gets into open space, the running game is in even better shape.

If Marcel Reece is used effectively, the running game will truly be versatile. Reece is a quality pass catching threat out of the backfield and can make plays.  There are some other RBs on the roster which could also provide some good depth but basically, we need our speed, elusive and versatile backfield talent to keep the pressure off the passing game.

A number one TE needs to emerge.  We have some guys with potential but are thus far unproven.  David Ausberry and Richard Gordon have done zilch thus far.  The "veteran" of the group, Brandon Myers has been a disappointment in his NFL career..

The receivers are much more polished. DHB is no longer a bust.  Jacoby Ford has made some plays and needs to continue improving,  Denarius Moore and Juron Criner provide big play ability.  Not sure what happened to Louis Murphy but he's no lock to make the team this year.  Some other new guys could step up and win spots.

The biggest question is the Offensive Line.  This has been the biggest issue with the Raiders for several years.  Basically, it was crap or close to crap due to mismanaged Al Davis personnel decisions.  The OL has gotten better now but how much better remains vital to the team's success.  If chaos reigns, doom will follow.

If the OL manages to come together consistently, our QB will be spared and the running as well as passing game will actually excel.  This is no sure thing.  How well the new regime implements their blocking scheme and the players execute will dictate whether all of the talent mentioned above can get it done.

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