Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New Look Raiders May Be Continuing to Re-Shape the Front Office

On one hand, I can't help but think the Raiders are completely stuck in the same gear heading into Spring '13  with the draft, OTAs, mini-camp and even into next season.  On the other hand, the draft, potential trades and free agency always offers an opportunity to help change that perception.

My nagging doubts about improvement next season are based on what I saw this past season. It was a step back even from the Tom Cable era and the mockery Lance Kiffin made of things as well. On top of the Knapp catastrophe phase 2, I was not impressed with Dennis Allen at all.  Even taking into account the lack of roster talent to work with, the guy just showed nothing and he says nothing either.  He's just a very limited individual.  He's not a leader and that is what bugs me.

Then again, Hue was too much of a loose canon and clearly had no concept of trade value.  As a result of  Hue Jackson, the Raiders do not have a second round draft pick in '13.  Instead, we have Carson Palmer carrying 20 million in salary over the next two years (unless he retires).

So we have weak coaching, an erratic QB that is damaged goods, a star running back that just wants to leave after next season and sparse talent on defense.  Yea, there is upside like Marcel Reece at FB, Lamarr Houston at DT,  and Phillip Wheeler at LB.  It's just not enough to carry the team.

It's a tough job for Reggie McKenzie to get more out of less as a GM.  Maybe one year is not fair to judge his progress but in the business of pro sports, patience from fans wears thin quickly.

The front office is saddled with salary cap problems due to bad payroll decisions by Al Davis.  His efforts to win at all costs has really cost the Raiders the ability to bring in talent for the future.  How ironic.

The bottom line is Reggie has not improved the personnel very much since taking over as GM.What we have seen brought in for the most part are dollar store/bargain bin guys who we really don't need except on special teams.

What we do need is talent and the only way to get more talent is to give up underperforming talent and sacrificing some talent that is a bit painful to part with (like Jano and Shane Lechler for example).  Maybe Reggie's  logic with not seeking to trade Darren McFadden is because McF is probably the team's best caliber athlete. One more year of McFadden (before he hits free agency) may be worth hanging onto instead of trying to backfill with an unknown quantity at RB. With so many other needs to fill, that thinking makes sense.

RB Taiwan Jones has not fit into the plans much. Mike Goodsen is a nice change of pace back. See, if we had a second round pick we could go after a guy like Eddie Lacy to potentially take over for a departed McFadden.

I would have to think they will go defense in the first round.  There really isn't a top 5 CB in the draft so maybe a DT or LB.

Wishful thinking is Carson Palmer retires. The problem is, who would replace him?  Unless they draft or trade for a QB, Terrelle Pryor is the logical choice to take the job. I can't see them replacing Palmer with a retread like Matt Leinart.

Of course, we know Dennis Allen (and perhaps Reggie as well) is not a fan of Pryor's abilities. He has seen very little action and was not even suited up most game days.  Not developing Pryor at all is a mistake. No need to look further than across the bay to see what a dual threat guy with a big arm can do for you.

We need a mobile QB.  In my fantasy GM role, Dennis Allen is forced to play Pryor so we can develop his talent.  Bring in a guy like Vince Young in on the cheap to mentor him.  Yes, that Vince Young,  At this point a humbled and hopefully more mature Vince Young will do a lot more good for Terrelle than a washed up Carson Palmer.  Heck, bring in Michael Vick too if he is available as a backup on the cheap.

I have read where Mark Davis is possibly seeking an executive for McKenzie to report to instead of Davis directly.  This would help offset Mark's need for oversight.  Mark has already said judging football talent is not his strength.  With McKenzie firing blanks thus far, a football executive, like a VP or something to be Mark's eyes and ears would be a benefit - if Mark found the right person to fill that niche. That is a wait and see item but I like it as far as Mark Davis making strategic moves to build an infrastructure where none previously existed in the front office except Al's yes men.

Right now, I sense McKenzie and Allen are on thin ice and can be considered lame ducks if the team starts slow next season.  A losing record all but assures them an exit pass.

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