Hi guys, firstly it's great to be back. My computer's been away for a few weeks getting a heart transplant (hard drive replacement) so I haven't been able to comment much on the happenings in Raider Nation, particularly the big one of Hue Jackson becoming head coach. I wasn't fully comfortable with the pick due to my distrust of hotshot coordinators as HCs, but this is Hue's team now and I'm 110% behind him.
Like everyone else, I loved his promise to "build a bully" of a team. The first place we gotta start is the offensive line.
As a quarterback, I like to think I know a bit about line play. OK, I know nothing about blocking schemes or calls - but I do know that when I'm running for my life from a massive defensive end who has me in his sights cause my LT missed a block something's gone wrong. (Which, to be fair to my boys on the line, doesn't often happen).
This scene has been all-to-frequent in Raider Nation over the past few seasons. Tom Cable, the supposed offensive line expert, managed to patch up the line but couldn't fix it fully and it's still our biggest Achilles heel on offense (along with our lack of a #1 receiver). However, we have some good building blocks to work from. So where do we go from here?
Firstly, I think we have got to give Bruce Campbell a real shot at RT. I am a firm believer that you gotta play your most athletic O-Linemen against the pass rushers and Campbell is possibly the most athletic lineman in the league. I know he struggled with pass protection at times when he was at Maryland, but it's also worth remembering that he was injured for a lot of his time there. I've also heard about the learning disability and possible character issues - I don't care. You've got to give your guys a shot where they can use their talents effectively and Campbell is wasted at guard. (On that note, I'd also like to see him used as a fullback and possibly even a tight end (if he can catch) in short yardage situations.
As for LT, Jared Veldheer did pretty well there last year (especially for a rookie from a D-II school) so I'd stick with him and have Wylie and Wiz work with him on cutting the silly penalties out of his game. Once he improves in that regard he could become a very good left tackle in the NFL.
I do believe that eventually Campbell will become our LT and Veldheer will move right, but at this point I'm happy to keep the status quo in that regard.
Regarding the draft, there's no one who really inspires me other than Gabe Carimi and he'll go in the first.
I don't expect either of our starting guards to be in the silver and black next season, so it's time to look at alternatives. Even though Gallery has been excellent since we moved him from left tackle, I get the feeling that he's been unhappy since Cable got fired and that he wants to go link up with him in Seattle. While I'd hope he changes his mind and I'd like to keep him, I certainly wouldn't offer overs for him to stay. As for Carlisle, he's a bum.
I can't help but wonder whether it's worth giving Not-So-Super-Mario Henderson a shot at RG. He did pretty well at RT to end the season, but I'd rather see Campbell there this year - however if Mario can run block better than he pass blocks, why not give him a run at guard?
I'd also like to see us draft either Marcus Cannon from TCU or DeMarcus Love from Arkansas for the guard spots. Both have played OT in college but probably can't do so in the NFL - Love's really struggled at the Senior Bowl, which should push his draft stock down a bit. I reckon he'll be there in the third round for sure, possibly even the fourth. Cannon should be around in the later rounds, or we could try trading down for him.
Samson Satele is a good center and not a bad guy to keep as a backup - however if Hue wants to move to a power blocking scheme, he isn't the guy. He's just not big or strong enough to assert himself against truck-sized NTs.In short, we need a change.
I know a lot of you guys love Baby Wiz - but I don't. He's a good player, but again he's not enough of a mauler for a power blocking scheme. He's a natural ZBS center though.
I'd rather see us go after Kris O'Dowd from USC - he's a 2nd round talent who's had some really bad luck with injuries, so he'll be around in the 5th or 6th rounds.
Of course this is just one part of building a bully. However, if we have an O-Line that smashes every motherf***er into submission while Run-DMC (hopefully still ft. Michael Bush) runs all over the opposition, crushes their souls and steals their girlfriends in the process. Soon as they get tired, JC's tossing bombs to Murphy and DHB (who learnt to catch in the off-season) and checking down to Ford in the slot who's ripping off mad YAC.
I don't know if it's the heat talking (five straight 40 degree Celsius days in Sydney - that's 110 farenheit to youse) but I love that future.