Let me start off by saying I am a huge Hue Jackson fan, and (even though I disagree with the firing of Cable) I think that Coach Jackson will make a decent head coach... in time. As of now, with the way everything is looking, I dont trust Hue as far as I can throw him. For a man who in nearly every media session makes a statement along the lines of "Trust me we are going to be ready and we are going to be a bully" Jackson has done next to nothing to earn my trust. I am ok with going 0-4 in the preseason. I don't care how embarrassing the loss is. As long as I can go back to the tape and say that the starters played well, I am great; however, minus the performance of the first string O in the Saints game, that is not something I can say. (To be honest though I am not in the least bit concerned about our offence, it's the D that is going to make or break this season)
Now, I know that this off-season has been crazy and the Raiders have been banged up worse than Darren Sproles when he takes on McClain, but that is no excuse for the embarrassing performances that the Raiders have given on defense. Jackson in his latest interview mentioned how we have yet to see all 11 starters actually play together, and that he is optimistic about how they will play together.... Umm... Coach Jackson.... Excuse me... Coach Jackson... Yea... WELCOME TO THE NFL! In the average season a team is lucky to have all 11 starters on either side of the ball start 80% of the games, so I find anything but optimism in that statement. Now DVD is currently playing like a Betamax, and with CJ back I'm sure the pass D wont be so pathetic, but how long is it going to last? Now, I know Jackson isn't to blame for the poor choices made in the offseason, but blaming Davis is like beating a horse that just wont die, and my arm is tired. The point is we have the talent and no matter how much I want to, I simply can't blame Davis for Jackson believing he is making the right moves with the D when he is clearly missing a step. What should he do? Well I will tell you.
Step 1) Move Huff to CB. Now I know a lot of you are going crazy like that is the dumbest thing you have heard, but hear me out. We are THIN beyond belief at corner there is CJ, Rout and.... my point exactly. Huff has skill at corner and has done well playing it in the past. He is also a liability when it comes to tackling and will see much less of it at corner (thankfully). With this move I wont have to pull out my hair every time he misses a tackle he should have made or when he takes a bad angle in pursuit. This leave us with having to fill his position at S which could go to one of the young guys they are looking to develop (Checkwa, Boyd). I think with practice and game time @ CB Huff could push CJ for his starting spot by mid season (I would say Routt as well, but with the amount he is making he better be playing like a #1 corner). With the level of skill it takes to play man I prefer to have a good CB over S any day!
Step 2) Replace Groves. I'm sorry for anyone who is a fan of this guy, but on most other teams he would be 2nd string at best! Now I know that LB is one of the thinnest positions on the team, but I have a solution that will fix the issue. Move Trevor Scott to LB. I know he has played well at DE, but Shaunessy and Huston are clear starters (and Moss is a decent backup). Scott, McClain, and Wimbley is a linebacker core I can stand behind, and I think will give us the best chance for success. Simply put, keeping Scott in a reserve role at DE while Groves is starting at LB is a horrible idea. If needed I can see him playing some DE, but He should definitely be starting a LB.
Step 3) Pray to whoever it is you pray to that the 11 Defensive starters stay healthy because the 2011 season will be won and lost on D and, aside from our D-line reserves, I have little faith in our second string.
Predictions: If D Steps up and has a better season than last year Raiders Go 11-5 Sweep AFC west again and go to the playoffs, but if they don't and every game has to be a shootout the Raiders go 7-9 and I go back to beating the horse until it dies.
Comment below and let me know if you think there are any other steps you think Jackson needs to take to turn our D around or your thoughts on the team as a whole going into the 2011 season... will Jackson bring back the Raiders to the top?