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. Here is the first of three evaluations, one each for staff, offense, and defense. For what it's worth...
QB - Carson Palmer has done a fairly effective job. There has been criticism that too much of his stats have come in garbage time, but considering how the offense has sputtered, and the defense has struggled, what else was he going to do, give up when the tream fell behind? That he was able to accomplish what he did with no real WR corps, a decent TE, no running game to speak of, and questionable pass protection for much of the season should be reason for congratualtions, not for haters to slam him. He may not be the long-term future in Oakland, but we should appreciate what he has done for us so far. Leinart looks done, which is a pity; I had high hopes for him coming out of college. Pryor looks ready for the #2 spot. I will admit that I was not high on Pryor when he was drafted, but he showed something on Sunday. He lofts his longer passes, and makes some mistakes, but he is showing well.
RB - I don't know if McFadden will ever really 'get' the ZBS, but he looked better in the last few games than he did in the first few. I suppose the question is where the offense goes from here, with Knapp gone. If it continues with the ZBS, it may be worth looking into what McFadden is worth, because generally speaking, the ZBS does not require a RB picked high in the draft. Goodson, Reece, and Stewart all looked pretty effective in the scheme with realtively few reps; the question is where to go from here.
FB - While Schmitt seemed to be more of less a wasted roster spot, considering how rarely he was used, Reece played his butt off, in multiple positions. He is definitely a weapon, one that should not be as ignored as he was for much of the season.
TE - Myeres looked pretty good as a receiver, leading the team in receptions and yards, which is generally not a good thing coming from a TE. His blocking suffered during the year, but neither Gordon nor Ausberry was able to make enough of an impact to be seen on the field much, although they have been talked up on the boards. I'd like to see more from the backups, and better blocking from Myers, but it is hard to argue with the most reliable receiver on the team.
WR - Yet another year that this position has hurt the offense. DHB has improved, but disappears in games, and still has questionable hands; Moore has been inconsistent with routes and his hands; Ford was hurt pretty much the entire year; Streater showed promise; Criner showed some ability; Hagan is who he is. There is currently not a WR1 on the roster; that needs to be remedied on the offseason, and there needs to be more production from this unit, rather than potential.
OT - Barnes is probably not a starter on most teams, and Veldheer regressed, especially in his pass protection. Bergstrom may not be ready for prime time at this position, but Smith is definitely a liability. A new player is definitely called for, from either FA or the draft.
OG - Carlisle is at the end of his career, and Brisiel was a disappointment. As backups, Nix and/or Bergstrom look ready to make releasing Carlisle an option, possibly putting Brisiel on the block as well, or at least changing the depth chart.
C - Wisniewski played well enough here, although Parsons showed enough to warrant consideration, which would enable Wiz to move to G. If so, another backup will be needed...
Palmer is the starter for the next year or two, with Pryor having earned more reps and consideration. McFadden will likely return, but the RB position seems to be in good hands even if he does not. The OL needs a shakeup, in my opinion with a new OT that will force Veldheer into a competition for LT, with the loser going to RT. I'm all for moving Wiz to LG, and bringing in Parsons or a FA as C, with Bergstrom challenging Brisiel for the starting RG spot.
The biggest area of concern other than the OL is the WR corps, where potential has not resulted in production. A shakeup is in order, with at least one or two guys hitting the bricks and being replaced by someone that may have less athletic abilty, but is able to use what they have more effectively. I haven't seen anything this season that would make anyone untouchable.
A new OC can only help this unit, but there is plenty of work that still needs to be done, at pretty much every position...