With the season over, now is the time for evaluation of the team over the course of the year. There were ups and downs, and obviously the Raiders did not acheive what was desired, by the players, staff, front office, or fans. That is not necessarily a reason to clean house, but it does leave the door open for change, whether whole-sale or not. Here is the first of three evaluations, one for staff, offense, and defense. For what its worth...
Dennis Allen - I think that Allen definitely showed that he was young, he didn't have much experience even as a coordinator, and that he relied on at least a few people that were underwhelming. That said, he was also having to deal with a 'perfect storm' of issues that don't usually come up together: injuries out the ying-yang; a team with no depth, questionable talent at some positions, and no real cap flexibility to deal with any of the three; a changing of the guard from the only owner/GM the team has ever had; a fan base excited by a mediocre record in a weak conference after years of futility. It looks like he has promise, but he will have to make some staff moves in the offseason to keep his job, and convince McKenzie that he can and will make changes when they are necessary. You have to trust your staff, but ultimately, you have to trust results more.
Greg Knapp - I can't see how he will stay; even though the offense did become more effective at running the ball late in the season, it wasn't enough to make it particularly efficient. It didn't help to have such an underachieving WR corps, but the play-calling was herky-jerky, not building a foundation to work from. Maybe there is a concept that he is trying to follow, but I can't figure it out. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, and did, but I cannot see his returning after this year.
Jason Tarver - Another young gun that showed promise, but also showed inexperience. Even though the defense went through a historically bad stretch, in large part due to injury, it was pretty good to begin the season and improved over the last quarter of the season, ending the season ranked higher than it has been in years. While I would have liked to see better adjustments early, there is a learning curve for coaches, and it looked to me as though the defense improved enough to warrant his staying.
John DeFillipo - QB coach - He is talking to San Jose State, I believe, about the HC position there. I'll be sorry to see him go; it looks like he has done a fine job in getting Pryor up to speed, and we may need to find a good replacement to continue that work.
Ted Gilmore - WR coach - This is hard for me to evaluate, because there is talent, but it seems as if the same thing is happening as before: players do well as rookies, then regress and forget how to run routes, or how to catch the damn ball. Maybe it's a conbination of young talent working harder to prove themselves the first year and not necessarily fitting into the roles tht they are put into later, I don't know. I do know that the WR corps definitely hurt the offense as a whole this year, and if there isn't a shakeup with the coaching, it will need to be with the players.
Steve Hoffman - ST coordinator - Another problem area for the team over the course of the year. Yes, this one also improved by the end of the season, but even so was just average at best. It wasn't that long ago that the Raiders had some outstanding special teams play; the perception, however, is that we've been bad for a long time. Not exactly an endorsement.
Frank Pollack - OL coach - The OL struggled to pick up the ZBS, even though every one of them had experience in it before. That was a bit strange, although I chalked it up to their not having played as a unit until the season began. It took longer than expected for the running game to come to life (in part because we have a back not particularly well suited for it), and for the pass protection as well, again in part due to injury (are we beginning to sense a theme here?). By the last quarter of the season, the OL was playing fairly well, opening holes and giving more time in the passing game than before, although that still needs improvement.
Terrell Williams - DL coach - Given the lack of depth and injuries, the defensive line certainly struggled at times, but did improve over the course of the season. It looks as if the players understand the scheme and are doing more by doing less; by staying with their assignments, they are allowing the defensive players behind them to do their jobs in the scheme. That is something that I personally have been waiting years for.
Kelly Skipper - RB coach - McFadden may not be suited for the ZBS, but every other RB trotted out onto the field, other than Jones, looked ready to go, and was productive. Even McFadden, at the end of the season, was starting to make the moves that are necessary to succeed in the scheme; it has to be hard for both coach and player to change the instincts of a player.
Johnny Holland - LB coach - There was some turnover during the year, but by and large, while I thought this unit would be the weakest part of the defense, it was not. As it turned out, this position turned in some of the best work overall. Certainly there were mistakes, and there were growing pains, but nice improvement through the year.
Clayton Lopez, Johnny Lynn - DB coaches - This is harder to evaluate, because this unit was hit harder by injury than any other. Still, considering what they had to work with, literally street FA's starting after a week or two and players starting out of position, overall the unit was not as bad as one might assume. I'd really like to see what these guys can do without the turmoil.
Mark Hutson - TE coach - Myers had a solid season, although he became much more one-dimesional than he has been in the past while doing so. I don't know why Ausberry and Gordon weren't used more, other than the offense not calling for it, but there seemed to be times when they could have been worked into the mix. I was disappointed that the blocking from this unit seemed to deteriorate from last year, but on the other hand, production as receivers was up. I suppose that it will depend on what the team wants more.
Al Miller, John Grieco - Strength and conditioning - Looked like a lot less of the hamstring injuries that have plagued this team for years, although I'd like to see more power in the OL. Even in the worst stretch of the season, the defense only really seemed to get gassed in one game, despite being on the field for extended periods; that's better than some of what has been seen recently.
Al Saunders - Senior offensive assistant - I really don't know what Saunders does. I know that many have called for him to be a de facto OC, but does he even have input into the game plan? Does he work with the QB's? Design plays? I honestly don't know, but I would like to see more from a reputed offensive whiz.
My bottom line:
Stay: Allen, Tarver, Pollack, Williams, Skipper, Lopez, Lynn, DeFillipo (if he doesn't take SJS), MIller, Grieco
On the bubble: Gilmore, Hutson
Go: Knapp, Hoffman