After getting waxed by the Ravens, it seems as if all hope is lost for this season. Even in a weak AFC, a 3-6 start may be too much to overcome. With that in mind, it is important we show patience, not anger. Dennis Allen is a rookie head coach. It’s hard enough to have success as a rookie head coach. The task becomes even more difficult when you are given a virtually talentless squad. I know the words “rebuilding year” is tough to hear for Raider Nation. We have waited far too long to get something going and hit the metaphorical restart button (firing Hue, cleaning house). Nevertheless, we must role with the punches and play with the cards we were dealt. Asking for Dennis Allen’s head on a silver platter is irrational. This man is not Jesus, you cannot ask him to turn water into wine. As a fan base, we should sit back, take the positives from this season, and look forward to next year. If you continually evaluate a coach based on half of a season, you will rarely be satisfied with the results. Even if the Raiders finish 5-11, we should still be willing to give Dennis Allen another year to prove himself. Before I dig into potential changes I would like to see, I am going to point out some positives.
I know many of you disagree with me, but I believe Carson Palmer has been a bright spot for us. Yes, his stats seem to be compiled in garbage time. That doesn’t mean he is a bad quarterback. Truth is, he may be the best quarterback we have had since Gannon’s MVP year. It says a lot that Carson is able to consistently put up such stats with no running game, receivers that consistently drop passes, a below average offensive line, a poor offensive coordinator, and a defense which always seems to force the offense to play from behind. There are very, very few quarterbacks who would excel given these circumstances.
Another positive would be our offensive playmakers. Even though our wide outs have had cases of “the drops” lately, I’m confident with what we have. Moore and Heyward-Bey have rare explosiveness, while Streater, Hagan, and Criner have shown the ability to make plays, albeit inconsistently. Our tight end situation is better than I thought it would be. Brett Myers has one of the best catch-to-target ratios in the NFL, while Ausberry and Gordon fill their respective roles quite nicely. Our running game has been awful. However, I attribute this to a poor scheme and bad blocking. Our line seems to be getting pushed backwards on every running play. A switch to PBS and the acquisition of a true power runner would do our running game wonders. In summation, we do not need to change much on offense in regards to our skill positions.
Unfortunately, the positives end there. Our offensive line, special teams, and the entire defense can be labeled as a negative. Starting with our O-line, we need to upgrade this unit through free agency. Mike Briesel was a swing and miss, but that shouldn’t discourage Reggie from signing another guard. Bottom line, there are many linemen available through free agency every year. We shouldn’t have too much trouble finding solid PBS blockers and a right tackle that doesn’t shit his pants every time there is a pass rush, cough Willie Smith cough.
Our special teams woes scare me because that is normally a strength for us. During the Jamarcus era, we would often be in games because Justin Miller or Johnnie Lee Higgins would regularly take kickoffs for TDs. Now, I find myself expecting a fumble as opposed to expecting a solid return. The return game issues can be solved with good scouting. There are always solid options available if the front office is willing to do their research. Trindon Holliday is a perfect example. Others on this blog have been clamoring to cut Shane Lechler because of his hefty contract. He and Seabass are completely worth it. Seabass is still automatic, and Lechler is still booting punts in the top five of the NFL (average distance).
Now, the defense. I still do not understand why we continually use the same 4-3 defense we have for the past ten years. To win in this league you have to be able to stop the run, and limit the opposing teams quarterback. Take a look around the league and tell me what defense is working. Five out of the top seven run defenses use a 3-4 scheme. Eight out of the top ten pass defenses use a 3-4 scheme. I realize asking for a mid-season change to a 3-4 is both unlikely and unreasonable. However, we should definitely switch in the offseason. Desmond Bryant, Lamarr Houston, and Richard Seymour would be great DTs in the 3-4 scheme. Wheeler and Burris are both tackling machines, which would make them perfect ILBs. All we would need to do to complete the switch is draft/sign a formidable nose tackle and a few outside rushers to complete our front seven switch. Cutting Tommy Kelly and his absurd contract will open up cap space to sign some secondary help. Not to mention, we do not know what the tandem of Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer is capable of. Yes, it is not Revis and Cromartie, or Carr and Claibourne. If they can both get healthy soon, Huff will move back to free safety which will definitely help a struggling defense.
To finish my fanpost, I would like to provide you, the reader, with some “food for thought”. The NFL is both unpredictable and unique. It is truly the only league where anything can happen, hence the term “any given Sunday”. Let’s just pull some examples from the past few weeks. The New York Giants were rolling. They were 6-2, and looked like one of the best teams in the NFL. Two weeks later, they are 6-4 and cannot seem to gather any sort of offense. The Titans on the other hand, looked like they were left for dead going into Sunday. They were sitting at 3-6, and their owner had just told the media everyone was going to be fired if their wasn’t a change. How did they respond? They went down to Miami and decimated the Dolphins 37-3. If we focus on the Raiders week-to-week rather than looking at the big picture (the future of our franchise), we will never be successful. Calling for Dennis Allen’s head following the Baltimore game would be similar to giving Jake Locker a 5 year/ 100 million dollar deal or cutting Eli Manning because of their performances in recent weeks. Bottom line, it is our duty as fans to respect the direction the team is going and keep the big picture in mind. Going 3-6 with a talentless team as a rookie head coach is not a fair reason to fire DA.
RaiderNation till I die!