Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Carson Palmer Dilemma

The reason Carson Palmer is a member of the Oakland Raiders at this time is because he was fed up with losing in Cincinnati so he held out. It wasn't about getting a big new contract.  He was a number one draft pick. He had his share of paydays with the Bengals and had he stayed a Bengal he would have continued to be paid very well. He held out because he did not like the franchise ownership and the way they went about building a team. It's not a new story.  The Bengals organization has that type of reputation.

Palmer was looking to play for a contender. He came to Oakland because Hue Jackson recruited him to replace the injured Jason Campbell. Hue broke the bank to make Palmer a Raider.  Overall on the field, Hue did ok as a head coach and Palmer did pretty well at QB.  Together as a unit, this may have been a solid long term solutions for the Raiders.

The death of Al Davis changed that course of events from ever happening.

New Raiders owner Mark Davis has had ample time to reflect on the chain of events. By his own admission, Mark was not the football mind the franchise needed. He relied on old timers John Madden and Ron Wolf to guide his decision what to do next after Al passed away. Reggie McKenzie was hired as GM. Over a year later, Mark Davis  realizes he needs more direct help than just a GM.   His next maneuver will be the hiring of an executive to oversee football operations. A year too late but better late than never.

McKenzie, though a capable GM, ousted Hue and then proceeded to make the wrong head coaching hire in Dennis Allen who in turn has made questionable assistant coaching hires. This entire combination has not been effective to get the most out of Carson Palmer, star running back Darren McFadden, the receiving game or even the defense which has suffered even more than it typically has in years past.

Oh but there's a bright spot. Penalties are down. Don't everyone applaud at once.

The big picture now is the Raiders want to be as competitive as possible obviously and they don't have a more capable QB than Palmer on the roster.  However, Palmer is neither medically sound nor was his 2012 play indicative of what a winning team needs. He tallies big stats but the team still loses and it's not all because of a soft defense.  Palmer knows it and has owned up to it.  Logic dictates they unload him and his massive salary.

Palmer must have changed his tune by now as far as career aspirations.  He knows the Raiders won't win a Super Bowl in his time with the team. He's in a much worse situation than he ever was at Cincy.  It's all about the money for him now.  He is hoping his body will at least last him a few games so he can claim his 13 million in 2013.  That's what it's all about for him.

Making Palmer's ambition seem likely to come to fruition is Terrelle Pryor  may not yet ready to be a big time NFL QB.  Maybe he is not the mobile QB prodigy that other teams have in the form of RGIII, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson or even an injury addled Michael Vick  Still, Pryor deserves a chance to develop as the starter.  That's why Al drafted him. The logic continues to dictate he gets the playing time but if he does it's going to come at a risk even if he lights it up and outright wins the job in preseason.

It's damned if they do, damned if they don't. Palmer or Pryor may bring the same results.  It is conceivable that both start games in 2013.

Despite the problems outside his control, I see Dennis Allen as a lame duck. He won't last another season if the teams ends up 4-11 or 5-12.  Well, he shouldn't last but he is under contract for another 3 years.  It will be up to Mark Davis or his executive in charge of football operations to make that call if/when.

It's not all Allen's fault.  His predecessor, Hue, made a disastrous trade decision, using that booming voice to convince Mark Davis they needed to make the Palmer deal with Cincy.  Now we are all regretting carrying Palmer's dead financial weight, his questionably effective play and battered body, not to mention the lost draft picks. What do we have from Carson Palmer other than stats?  = zero.  Maybe inching along development of a few receivers at best.

Barring an unexpected division championship and playoff run, Mark Davis or the football executive he hires will have to make a call on cleaning house (again) in 2014. The big question is what will McKenzie do right now to salvage the 2013 season?  If Palmer refuses to restructure then how much further damage would there be if they cut him and went with Terrelle Pryor or a free agent or a draft pick?  Probably not much.  We are still looking at a 4 or 5 win season. Mayyyyybe 6 wins but doubtful.

Either direction is (still) rebuilding.  It's just a matter of choosing personnel and players wisely.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

After I fire Reggie and Dennis Allen, this is what I'll do

Whether he is ready or not, Terrelle Pryor must inherit the QB role for the Raiders in 2013. Barring a trade or free agent signing for a different QB, there is no better time for Pryor to start. Pick Six Palmer needs to go.

The question is, who will help develop Pryor?  New Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson does not have a notable track record in developing QBs.  Olson has been a QB coach in the NFL for several teams.  He has also been an Offensive Coordinator with several NFL teams.  Here's the thing. Nothing stands out with the guy.  As one example, Josh Freeman struggled with the Buccaneers under Olson.  Then Freeman really came alive when Olson was replaced by Ron Turner as QB coach.  That's just one example.  If a QB is successful only after his coach is fired, what does that tell us?  Why do we need another unsuccessful retread leading the offense and coaching the QBs?

Regarding why Olson was hired, I will credit Levi Damien (prolific Raiders blogger) for catching this statement made by Dennis Allen via Paul Gutierrez of Comcast Sports Bay Area.

"I like his demeanor, I like his philosophy I like the way he wants a tough, physical and yet explosive-type offense. And I liked the fact that the fact that he talked about, we've got to fit the scheme to the personnel, to the guys that we have and try to do the things that they do really well. And really limit the times that we ask them to do things that maybe they aren't as good at."

Well, once again, I will preface this by saying I am not a professional football guy.  BUT, I do know incompetence when I see it and that my friends is evidence that Dennis Allen is the wrong man for the job. He's not even qualified to hire at Burger King. If the guy cannot or will not evaluate talent, instead, go by his convictions and generic nonsense, then there is no hope at all he will succeed as a head coach.  

Olson played QB in college (then again, so did Greg Knapp).  John De Filippo is the QB coach on staff for the 2013 season.  De Filippo is as underwhelming as Dennis Allen is.  Coach Flip is a young guy and capable of running drills. That's about it. The problem is you need some achievements to go along with your resume. Just having NFL experience does not add up to what we need which is to develop Terrelle Pryor or any draft pick brought in to win and win now.

The real shame of it all is the Raiders could have done a lot better than Olson.

Offhand, I can think of five available coaches with better qualifications, actual accomplishments in leading teams, being both a mentor and a leader of players.  Who knows if these guys would be interested but here's who they could have at least interviewed:

Jeff Tedford
Chris Ault
Terry Shea
Mark Mangino
Jim Tressel

Tressel, Shea, Tedford and Ault are top notch QB coaches with the credentials to also lead an NFL offense. These are the types of guys you want analyzing your QBs strengths and weaknesses, prepping him for the system you want to run and teaching the guy along the way.

Here are my fantasy candidates as GM after I fire Dennis Allen and Reggie.

Jeff Tedford:  He had a good run of success at Cal but eventually washed out because he did not recruit a good enough QB to succeed Aaron Rodgers. He never matched his success after Rodgers left. However, Tedford is a gifted QB coach as well as offensive strategist. He knows how to groom players.  Numerous Tedford players have moved on to the NFL with success. I get the sense if he was handed a pro offense,  he would get it done.

Chris Ault:  Arguably, an even more gifted offensive strategist than Tedford who won games with far less talent and resources at UNevada.  And yes, Ault won even without Colin Kaepernick. Ault was the man at Nevada for several decades.  He did it all as player, AD and head coach.  His pistol offense is now used all over the U.S. at every level.  This guy would step in and make a difference in Oakland. He has the all around skills set you want. He can relate to players with his knowledge and affable personality, coach to the talent on board and design game plans around strengths.

Terry Shea - A dynamic coach who has been around a long time (like Ault has).  Shea coached Jeff Garcia at San Jose State and also later in the CFL. Shea's forte is developing QBs but he is an offensive mastermind as well.  There is no doubt Shea has seen it all and can therefore prepare an offense as well as anyone in the NFL.  Shea would be the senior level hire the Raiders need to instill a sense of structure (which is obvious they do not have under Dennis Allen).

Mark Mangino:  I admit he is the longshot of the bunch but the guy has a great track record of building winners. He deserves a closer look.  He got the most out of his players at UKansas. Mangino raised the Jayhawks from dormancy by instilling a program of hard work and discipline.  He just wasn't disciplined enough with his own behavior to keep it going. It would be interesting to see what he could do with a pro level offense with players expected to behave like professionals. Mangino is big on character. He might have a problem identifying with the aloof mentality of many pro athletes. Still, it would be a pretty intriguing experiment.

Mangino was Offensive Coordinator with Oklahoma when they won the 2000 National Championship with Josh Heupel as QB.  That has to count for something. I am getting the impression Mangino has been humbled by his dismissal from Kansas. I could be wrong and he could very well return to his blustery firestorm ways when he returns to coaching but I like him.

And the guy I would probably hire in my fantasy GM role:

Jim Tressel:  Is there a better candidate to mentor Terrelle Pryor?  Hardly. My bet is Tressel never even showed up on Reggie or Dennis Allen's radar to fill the Offensive Coordinator position and that is a shame. Tressel is a guy who has consistently won everywhere he has been.  He was considered among the best of the best college head coaches at Ohio State for a long time.  It all came crumbling down due to what?  His players exchanged jerseys for tattoos?  Who cares?  Anyone who thinks that's a crime or breach of ethical rules needs to seriously get a life. No seriously, check your own past mistakes and see if any of them are less flagrant than not peering down so deep into players' lives to see if they gave jerseys away for tattoos.

Sadly, Tressel has not caught on elsewhere as a viable coaching candidate since that undeserved fall from grace. In a perfect world, he would be installed to run the Raiders offense. I would even put him as head coach.

Mark Davis said "I know what I don't know".  Let me offer what I do know: The Dennis Allen experiment has not worked out.  Another 4-12, 5-11 or even 6-10 season won't get it done.  Meanwhile, plenty of experienced, winning head coaches are available to replace the mistake. Jim Tressel is more than qualified to take that challenge on.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Loose Women, Guys with Money and Bad Decisions Part II

Say it isn't so Dan Marino.  C'mon, you have to be kidding. One of the greatest QBs in NFL history, a guy with about as intense a determination you can ever find to play the game gets outed for siring a love child.

Why on earth would you bang a woman who is not your wife without wearing a bag?   What's that you used to say on behalf of Isotoner?  "Take care of the hands that take care of you."

Life is tough sometimes.  We get bored, perhaps frustrated with our regular partner. Maybe even get turned away (for any number of reasons).  It's only natural to seek relief with someone you have no emotional attachment to, just to get it over with.  It's human and it is hardly unique. The big deal is to not lose sight of the big picture. It's really, really important to protect your assets.

Child support is no joke, especially when you are loaded.  That means you are open game.

Now Dan Marino is in the same class as doofs like Terrell Owens, Vince Young, all the guys mentioned in Part I of Loose Women, Guys with Money and Bad Decisions and every other pro athlete, former pro athlete that shanked themselves by boning a woman interested in their money first and foremost.

Why can't guys just get their head straight before indulging?  It's not about satisfying yourself.  The game is about the woman playing you.  Yea, they really are faking it so they can get pregnant and screw you over.

I was a Jets fan in an era with Dan Marino's most epic battles with Ken O' Brien - sometimes Ken won, sometimes Dan won but it was impossible to not concede to Dan Marino's incredible talent. Sad to see the man's image take a tumble.