Monday, May 12, 2014

The Raiders Search for an Offense in '14

Well, the Raiders 2014 draft picks are a pretty good lot.  The first three rounds at least brought in some depth.

Let's look at an area that we always return to if the team is going to truly be in a position to succeed - the offensive line. The OL is a very difficult area to build quality across the board.  Yet, the Raiders have done very minimal reconstruction to get that done over the past 10 years or so.  It seems when they get one piece in place, others slip.  Like other every other NFL team is forced to do, the Raiders have brought in retreads to fill gaps.  The latest of which is at left and right tackle.  This is a big problem.

What would have been ideal in this year's draft is picking up sure bet Jake Mathews at LT.  However, Reggie McKenzie already played his hand in bringing in an unreliable Donald Penn as a LT.  Because of this the smart move was to draft LB Khalil Mack.  Another glaring weakness of the Raiders over the years has been stopping the run. Mack should go a long way to fix that need perfectly.

However, LT Donald Penn is clearly on the downside of his career.  He was consistent early in his career but over time he has become out of shape, less of a maneuverable presence and more of dead weight.  Last year with the Buccaneers, Penn allowed 11 sacks.  That's bad news for the QB's blind side.

At right tackle, Austin Howard will never be known as an ideal run blocker.  Howard's strength is in pass protection, allowing just two sacks in 16 starts last season. Here's the problem with that - the Raiders need a RT who can run block.  Sure, they can put a TE on the end to give him some help but don't you think opponents will know this ahead of time?

These are weaknesses that will hurt the offense.  The strength of the OL is the interior with projected starters Stefen Wisniewski, Kevin Boothe and Tony Bergstrom.  Kevin Boothe started his career a Raider, left to win 2 Super Bowls with the Giants and returns to Oakland a seasoned veteran Guard.  Booth is a smart choice to play as rookie third rounder Gabe Jackson matures.

So who will the OL be protecting?  It's got to be Matt Schaub to start unless he completely sucks monkey balls in preseason and Matt McGloin steals the job.  This could very well happen.  McGloin is a serious competitor and the haters who don't like his height are just flat out wrong as to his potential.

Unfortunately, Reggie and his hire Dennis Allen have continued the Raiders tradition of not developing QBs in house. Let's not forget bringing in Matt Flynn as a band aid - only to discover he was a complete washout Reggie has tried to pass off as an answer at QB.  Then Reggie and the coaching staff also did all they could to run off Terrelle Pryor even though he performed admirably before getting injured.

The drafting of a strong armed but raw Derek Carr could end up helping the team in the long run.  Carr could end up getting some PT this season in fact if the coaching staff sticks with Schaub too long even though he is ineffective. If Schaub played as poorly early in his career as he did last season he would be out of the league, not rewarded with a new opportunity.

The running game too is suspect unless Maurice Jones-Drew shows up to win the job outright.  Darren McFadden has worn out his welcome in Oakland and ideally should have been allowed to walk after last season.  A wildcard at RB is Kory Sheets who tore it up in the CFL last year.

The TE group is solid and should be able to do their share of blocking and recieving.  The adding of James Jones at WR is a great move, one of the few Reggie has made in free agency. Jones will challenge Juron Criner,  Rod Streater and Denarius Moore for playing time.

Overall, Reggie did ok in this year's draft.  He blew it last season, selecting DJ Hayden in the first round.  This year they have some talent to work with.


Anonymous said...

Well I must say you are way off on some of your evaluations. Did you even do research. Penn and Howard were just pro bowlers recently. One bad season does not mean your career is headed downhill or over. And Austin will most likely play guard as long as Watkins is healthy. Also don't forger we have one of the best OL coaches in the nfl in sporano. To criticise unfair. He was hurt and coming off a life changing experience. Had to get his football legs back under him. Undertsandable he may be a lil timid and a step slow. Any of us would. He'll be much better this year. Schaub had one bad year. His offense which is play action based couldn't run the ball foster and Tate were both hurt. And obviously the offense was figured out as evident by the hc/ play caller was fired. Change of scenery does players good sometimes when you've done all you can do in a certain place.

Al's Wingman said...

Sorry, Penn was a pro bowler in... 2011? Not recently. He's not the same player. That's why he was cut by TB. Dude is way fat and he will not be able to stop an athletic pass rusher. Not sure Howard was a pro bowler but he is getting paid like one. 5 years $30 mil. He is the starting RT but he does not run block well which is why NYJ let him go (that and salary demands) If Menalik Watson can push to start, great.

You are right about Soprano but I don't expect either tackle to be better than what a gifted rookie like Mathews could have given the line.

You don't want to get behind Schaub too much.

William White said...

Sorry this is pretty far off. Almost as far off as calling Sporano one of the best OL coaches in the league.

Al's Wingman said...

Which parts do you disagree with? If Donald Penn comes into camp in shape and plays like a beast through preseason at least, I am all for it. I don't think that will be the case though. If you think JaMarcus could eat, wait until you see that guy. I'm happy to have Mack at LB but would rather they took Jake Mathews at 5 at LT.

Austin Howard can play, no doubts here. He's just not known for his run blocking.

As for Schaub, he'll have to play himself out of the hole he's in to win anyone's respect. Moves for Flynn and now Schaub reminds me of the same lame mentality used to acquire Aaron Brooks.

Al's Wingman said... for Sparano, what better options are there to coach the OL?