Another Sunday, another loss. I feel like I am taking part in that Opus Dei religion. You know what I am talking about if you have seen the Da Vinci Code. I digress. Obviously, changes need to be made. I am going to do my best in breaking down each position. It's up to you guys to say whether you agree or disagree.
Head Coach- DA seems like a great guy; however, you cannot retain someone who loses control of his players, hires crap assistant coaches, and refuses to change anything from a week to week basis. We have the seen the same Raider crap thrown on our television screen for the past five weeks. Even though the score has fluctuated, the product looks terribly similar. This team continues to mess up fundamental plays, fails to convert in critical situations, and roll over and die when they go down by more than a score. It also pisses me off how he says the same crap about "executing" and "getting better" in each post-game press conference. Did I forget to mention he is 3-9? We can't keep him as our HC just because he is a rookie that was thrown in a bad situation. Good coaches like Jon Harbaugh can turn the ship around even in their rookie year. Jeff Fisher was given a pile of crap to work with in St. Louis, and he has them 4-0-1 against one of the tougher divisions in the NFL. Even though we probably won't get him, we need Jon Gruden!
Assistant coaches- Greg Knapp, Jason Tarver... I don't know enough about the positional coaches to evaluate them. However, I do know that our offensive playcalling, defensive scheme, and special teams are way below average. Knapp has not been as bad as people claim, but our offense would still be much better with Al Saunders or even HUE JACKSON as OC. Knapp's playcalling is too ordinary and he tends to forget that he has a running back in Marcel Reece who is averaging 6 yards per touch this season. Tarver has had little to work with considering all of the injuries on defense. With that having been said, he still fails to draw up blitzes to get to the QB effectively. Brandon Weeden should not be able to throw for over 300 yards against anyone. The fact that we allowed 20 points today is misleading. The Browns shredded us all day.
Quarterback- Personally, I feel as if Carson has done very well this season. His receivers are young and inconsistent, while his offensive line seems to collapse way too often. The only thing I have against retaining Carson is the major cap hit we would take. If we want to truly rebuild, maybe we should let him go. But at the same time, having a veteran presence and a leader to coach and help the rookies and youngsters would do wonders. Carson seems to be getting a lot out of our talent at receiver. Putting in TP as a starter would stunt this franchise's growth and probably make me vomit in my mouth before every game. I think we can work with TP in the wildcat.
Running Back (and FB)- McFadden, Goodson, Reece, Stewart, TJ, Schmitt... I realize it is a limited sample size, but Jeremy Stewart looks legit. He could bring the thunder, while a guy like Goodson or McFadden bring the lightning. Basically, this comes to whether we can get a high pick for McFadden. If we cannot, we should keep DMC and let Goodson go. They are both speed backs, so no reason to hold both. I would love to see a combo of McFadden and Reece with a little bit of Stewart sprinkled in on short yardage. Unless TJ can turn into a special teams phenom, it may be time to cut ties with him. I like McFadden/Goodson and Stewart to share the starter spot. Kind of like a Charles and Jones thing for the Chiefs when they made the playoffs. Reece will still be involved a lot at FB. Fill the final spot with Taiwan or an UFA. We do not need to waste a pick on RBs when we are loaded already.
Wide Receiver- Moore, Heyward-Bey, Streater, Hagan, Criner, and Ford... Based on the contract, Heyward-Bey may need to be the odd-man out. Moore has shown us that he has too high of a ceiling to forget about. Streater and Criner are still developing. Ford may not be what he was his rookie year, but he will undoubtedly add a factor in the kick return game. I actually like Hagan a lot. He can move the chains productively and is a cheap option to play in the slot when someone gets hurt.
Tight End- Myers, Gordon, Ausberry... I have zero problem with our tight end situation. Not one. Myers is a pass catching machine, Richard Gordon can block better than our RTs, and Ausberry is a solid special teamer and can snag some balls. It may not be ideal considering we don't have a Gronk who is a beast at both blocking and receiving. Bottom line, this is not a position that we need to change. Brandon Myers is turning into a machine in his first year of extended action.
Offensive Tackle- Veldheer has held down the fort pretty well. He may not be Jake Long or Joe Thomas, but there are certainly more dire issues to address. For example, we would be better off putting a Venus Fly Trap at right tackle. Willie Smith and Khalif Barnes have both been abysmal this season. Tony Bergstrom was pretty bad in limited action. However, you cannot judge a rookie based on such a limited number of snaps.
Offensive Guard- I can't complain too much about Cooper Carlisle. He has played fairly solid compared to our expectations. I just question how he will hold up. He is currently in his 13th season in the NFL. That's a lot of snaps. Brisiel has been so bad, I wouldn't mind cutting him and taking a cap hit. I can't attest much for Parsons or Lucas Nix, but I say we keep them as backups since they are both very young.
Center- Stefen Wisniewski was much better at guard last season than he is at center this season. However, next to QB and left tackle, you can argue that center is the most important position on offense. If we can pull off signing a veteran guard, Wisniewski can stay at center and keep up his chemistry with Palmer. From what I have read, Wisniewski is a bright, intellegent kid. This is nice to hear because centers needed to be intelligent.
Interior Defensive Line- Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour need to go. They both seem to have given up on this team. Not to mention they have absurd contracts. Desmond Bryant may not be an all-pro DT, but I really think he can get the job done. Drafting a nose tackle is the real concern. For the sake of argument, I will say we spend a 3rd round pick on our starting NT. Christo Bilukidi can backup Bryant, while a cheap veteran can back up our 3rd round pick.
Right End- Matt Shaughnessy has been a let down. After 7 sacks during his second year in the league (2010) we expected big things. He is on pace to have about 5.5 this year. That is not acceptable considering he is rushing the QBs blind side. If we want to be relevant, we need a guy who can get double digit sacks year in and year out from the blind side. Andre Carter will not be a Raider simply because he is old and has arthritic knees. I say we spend our first round pick getting a legit pass rusher like Damontre Moore out of Texas A&M.
Left End- You can't help but love Lamarr Houston. His motor is incredible despite the fact he is playing on a 3-9 squad. He is not a typical 4-3 DE. He makes a commitment to stopping the run in addition to getting to the passer. That one handed tackle today against Trent Richardson on third down is proof of that. David Tollefson and Jack Crawford can stay on board because they provide nice depth. Crawford was a beast at Penn St. He may be a hidden gem in 3-4 years.
Weak Side Linebacker- Miles Burris has been up and down this year. I guess you can expect this from a fourth round rookie out of San Diego State. With Burris it is important to have perspective. At some points his bright spots have been overshadowed by ineptitude. I have no problem with him starting as our WLB next year. This is not a position in dire need of an upgrade. Keenan Clayton kind of sucks though. Let's sign a cheap free agent veteran who can mentor Burris along the way. Scott Shanle?
Middle Linebacker- Rolando McClain could go play in the CFL for all I care. I just do not want him on this team. That Facebook status he posted says it all. If he doesn't want to be a Raider, we should promptly show him the door. Finding a middle linebacker in the middle of the draft should not be too difficult. This is an appropriate spot to spend our 4th round pick. Omar Gaither can stay as back-up. He did pretty well today.
Strong Side Linebacker- We need to give Wheeler a contract extension. I realize many people have complained that Wheeler and Burris cannot cover. Part of that is attributed to the fact that we have no pass rush. Outside linebackers are not meant to stay in coverage for 10+ seconds. Wheeler is a tackling machine and we can get him cheap. Kaelin Burnett can stay as back-up for all I care.
Cornerback- I think we can all agree this is the weakest part of the team. Huff has been phenomenal filling in, but this unit needs a big time upgrade. If we made all the other additions I purposed, we should still have enough cap to sign a true number one corner. I'm thinking a guy like Chris Carr. He's progressed a lot since his beginning days in Oakland and can fit in as a valuable member of our secondary. Plus, he won't be that expensive. Bartell is injury prone and aging. Pat Lee looked decent and the jury is still out for Shawntae Spencer. Joselio Hanson can play the nickel well. Our second 7th round pick can round out our squad.
Free Safety- Matt Giordano is a dumpster fire at free safety. He gets burned constantly. Last year he was actually a bright spot. I guess now that teams have film on him, they know how to attack him. I think Huff can go back to his ball hawking ways at free safety. Defensive backs in general tend to be a very deep position in each draft. Guys like Stevie Brown tend to slip under the radar. I think we can find a competent free safety after the draft and sign him as a UFA.
Strong Safety- I realize that Tyvon Branch sometimes has lapses in coverage. He makes up for coverage deficiencies with great tackling. He seems to lead this team in tackles every year. When the Raiders throw 8 in the box it always seems as if Branch is the one making the play. Even if you are not a Tyvon Branch fan, we have other positions in greater need. Mitchell has proven he is a solid backup.
Special Teams- No need to talk about our kicker. Jano's leg seems to be holding up just fine this year. His only two FG misses this year have been from 61+. As much as this pains me to say, we may need to part ways with Lechler. He is making way too much money. Marquette King, our practice squad punter, was bombing punts in the preseason. There is no need to pay Lechler all that money. Cutting Lechler will allow us to sign the aforementioned free agents. Our return game has also killed us this year. Whether it is Adams dropping punts, or Francies returning kicks to the 15 every time, we need to fix this. Many teams are not too worried about returners. Therefore, solid guys like Trindon Holliday and Marcus Thigpen tend to fall to the late rounds. It is worth spending a roster spot on someone who just returns kicks and punts. Jacoby Ford can also provide depth in this area.
2013 Depth Chart Recap:
Fullback: Marcel Reece
Tight End: Brandon Myers, Richard Gordon, David Ausberry
Left Tackle: Jared Velheer, Tony Bergstrom
Center: Stefen Wisniewski
Right Guard: Cooper Carlisle, Lucas Nix
Right Tackle: *Andre Smith*, 7th round pick
Defensive Tackle: Desmond Bryant, Christo Bilukidi
Nose Tackle: 3rd round pick, Cheap free-agent
Right End: 1st round pick, Matt Shaughnessy
Left End: Lamarr Houston, Jack Crawford, David Tollefson
Weak Side Linebacker: Miles Burris, *Scott Shanle*
Middle Linebacker: 4th round pick, Omar Gaither
Strong Side Linebacker: Phillip Wheeler, Kaelin Burnett
Cornerback: *Chris Carr*, Shawntae Spencer, Joselio Hanson, Pat Lee, 7th round pick
Free Safety: Michael Huff, UFA
Strong Safety: Tyvon Branch, Mike Mitchell
Kicker- Sebastian Janikowski
Punter- Marquette King
Punt/Kick Return- 6th round pick