FanPost

Stockholm Syndrome: Moving on from Al

Growing up a Raider fan in the 90's, this time of year was always my favorite. The Raiders have only posted 6 winning seasons during my life time, three of which (90, 91, 93) I was too young to remember much of. So the off-season, when the Raiders were 0-0, was usually the time I was most excited. Al seemed to always pull off some blockbuster acquisition or make some polarizing draft choice every year. If it wasn't getting Randy Moss or DeAngelo Hall it was drafting Janikowski or DHB. Despite the end result of all of these moves (mostly disastrous) I would always get behind them 100%. Every year I thought for sure was going to be the year we turned it around.

I've had a hard time adjusting to the new regime. Last year seemed surreal and I was too permissive to second guess any of the new front office moves. This off season, however, I caught myself wishing we would make a big splash in the free agency, or at the very least bring back Wheeler and Bryant. I kept thinking back to the veteran FA signings that we made leading up to the Superbowl (Woodson, Gannon, Romonowski). I follow this site's comment section and I've noticed that many of you, at first, felt the same. I have to keep reassuring myself that this is the right way, and what we were doing before directly correlated to our winning percentage.

In order to reassure myself I thought I'd examine just exactly how we got ourselves in to this predicament. Our new GM Reggie McKenzie came from Green Bay, where they have enjoyed 18 winning seasons during my lifetime vs. the Raider's 6. While it is completely unrealistic to give Reggie most of the credit for the Packers success, it is reasonable to compare the franchises, and hope that McKenzie learned a little during his 18 years with the club.

It is common belief that the proper way to build a team is through the draft. After reading Levi's article about how there are no players left from the 2009 draft on our roster, I wondered how many other drafts had gone sour for Al. Below is a table showing the number of draft picks that the Packers and Raiders had for each of the 18 years Reggie was in Green Bay. The first number in the fraction is the number of players who stayed with the team past their rookie contract. While it is unfair to assume that if a player did not resign after his rookie contract that the pick was a waste, it is fair to examine how many players have stayed and become polished parts of the franchise.

Year

Green Bay Packers

(players resigned/drafted)

Oakland Raiders

(players resigned/drafted)

1994

1/9

1/6

1995

3/10

2/7

1996

3/8

2/7

1997

1/8

4/6

1998

1/8

4/9

1999

5/12

4/7

2000

5/13

3/6

2001

2/6

2/7

2002

1/6

2/8

2003

1/9

4/10

2004

1/6

2/9

2005

4/11

2/7

2006

5/12

2/7

2007

3/11

0/11

2008

3/9

2/5

2009

4/8

0/6

2010

7/7

3/8

2011

8/10

5/8

TOTALS

58/163

44/134

Additionally Green Bay landed 10/19 on its first round picks vs. 10/20 for Al, which is a discardable statistic. The biggest statistic to look at is that Green Bay had 29 extra draft picks over the last 18 years and groomed 14 extra players into usable pieces moving forward. The most shocking statistic is how many players have been dumped over the period from 2009-2011: Green Bay has discarded 6 of its picks while the Raiders have shed 14. While not all resigned players are starters they do, at least, provide depth which is something the Raiders have lacked for years.

This table shows one thing, the Packers have placed more value on draft picks over the last 18 years. Davis leveraged picks to attempt to win right away. Both teams have success rate of about 35% with their picks, so keeping them, or even multiplying them is the best strategy. Al's mistake was compounded by drafting players too high and holding on to them for too long.

Free agency takes less research to draw conclusions. The quote below sums up exactly what Al failed to see in his later years.

The NFL has spent $707 million on the Top 25 free agents, of which $297 million is guaranteed. Those 25 FAs have a combined six Pro Bowls.

— Rick Gosselin (@RickGosselinDMN) March 15, 2013

There is no doubt that Al is one of the greatest figures in NFL history. Without being alive for his glory years I still appreciate what he accomplished and what he stood for. That being said it's time to break free from the Stockholm syndrome we all have towards Davis' style and start moving on. It's important as fans to take a step back, and give the process time. If we follow Green Bay's strategy we should be successful. First round picks have only yielded 50% success rate for both clubs, so trading back for more picks is the best strategy.

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