I figure since the season has died, been gutted, flushed down the drain, then eaten by a sewer gator, i may as well get into speculation as to what the 2010 offseason should be for the Raiders.
Three plans come to mind for what Oakland should do and could realistically do:
- Start from the ground up again. Bring in a new rookie QB and trade away a lot of the talent for as many draft picks as possible. Sort of like how KC, Cincy, and Denver have rebuilt.
- Build the team to accommodate Russell's ineptitude to possibly salvage him. The most likely scenario though the least preferred by me. Receiver can't be drafted with so many young guys trying to develop, so look for the lines to be rebuilt. This is only a bad scenario because Russell still starts.
- A combination of one and two. Trade some guys for draft picks but not all of our talent. New QB and attempts at rebuilding the lines.
Ahead is what I think should be done with in realistic boundaries for Al Davis.
WARNING: IF YOU DON'T LIKE "RUSSELL BASHING" THIS IS NOT THE POST FOR YOU
First off, Russell needs to either get a LOT better or be released. Too inaccurate, holds onto the ball way too long, doesn't know how to checkdown, doesn't care to try, doesn't care about the fans or the team, doesn't work on his faults, fumbles far too often, can't evade pressure.
But he can heave it deep so he's clearly a miracle and the rest of the team is the problem (sarcasm)
I know you'll say Davis will never release Russell, but he just might. Davis hates to be proven wrong, but he hates losing a lot more. Plus, with no cap next year, there'd be no penalty for releasing him. So if you're gonna do it, next season is the time.
Now we all know I want either Colt McCoy in the first or Ricky Stanzi in the second, but the possibility of Jason Campbell in Oakland, though unlikely; is very intriguing.
I'll get back to Colt and Ricky in a minute, but let's look at Jason Campbell.
Campbell may very well not be returning to Washington following this year. He's been inconsistent at times and has definitely struggled. Plus, with this extremely stacked QB class coming, Washington may be chomping at the bit for one of these physical specimens. So then why get Campbell is he was so inconsistent in Washington?
Because he's a free agent and not a draft pick. Getting Campbell allows for our picks to be focused on the O-Line, D-Line, and linebackers. And though he's been inconsistent, he's been a lot better than Russell. He has a strong arm, but actually has some accuracy. Campbell has played behind banged up and bad O-Lines but he always manages to evade pressure and make a decent throw. Oh yeah, he also cares and works unlike Russell.
I won't say he'd do much better than Russell in these circumstances, but Campbell has proven a much more solid QB than Russell has at any point in his career.
With Campbell, this team could in theory recreate an 07 type Redskins playoff team. Strong running game, a decent enough O-Line, great defense (when motivated), and playmakers at receiver (assuming they develop somewhat). There's even the great tight end underneath in Miller who's much like Cooley. Of players would need to be added and whatnot, but we'll get to that later.
Now let's look at a McCoy/Stanzi team.
Over time, I've actually decided I'd like to have Stanzi more than McCoy. Mainly because he's projected to be in the second round, allowing us to draft Suh or a great OT in the first. Also, Stanzi is used to be playing with a below par receiving corps and has managed to be successful despite it.
Anywho, both quarterbacks have proven hard workers in college and can clearly lead a football team. Both have the speed to avoid pressure, or make plays with their feet. Both have very strong arms, though both are also pinpoint accurate unlike Russell. Fast, strong armed, sounds like Al Davis quarterback to me. Except these two make sense.
There might be some problems integrating McCoy to a pro-style offense, though Texas runs pro-style a lot of the time with spread mixed in as well. Stanzi plays in a pure pro-style set so no problem there. These guys are adept at making very smart throws and adjust to defenses very calmly and fluidly.
If you're to draft either of these guys, you must build up the offensive line. Defensive draft picks will fall by the wayside as picks toward the right side of the O-Line become top priority. Nothing worse than a rookie used to having a lot of time to throw in college, getting a lot less time in the pros.
From there you do whatever it takes to get the run game back to what it once was. This follows the pattern of the Ravens as we have a McGahee type power back (Bush) and a Rice type scat back (McFadden), and if all goes to plan the line should be great in the run game and at least decent in the passing game. Run the ball whilst McCoy and Stanzi make the occasional play in the passing game to keep the defense honest. Just a 5 or 7 yard scramble by these guys is enough to make the defense back off a bit.
Receiver development is still the make-or-break thing here. Needs on the defense at linebacker and NT would have to be free agent issues as you need to do whatever it takes to get the offensive line built up for the young guns.
But if Davis does what I fear and tries again with Russell, the plan shouldn't be much different. Build the O-Line, but use that first round pick on Suh, that one Alabama linebacker, or Brandon Spikes. Then build the O-Line accordingly. Defense will once again be the focus of free agency.
You still face receiver development problems, and the major problem of Russell not getting any better at all.
In all of these, talent must be retained and not traded away. Just keep building up the team and trade only guys like Fargas, Warren, Huff (yes Huff), Routt, Green, Carlisle, and even Satele. If you start from ground up, everyone should be up for grabs except Schilens, Murphy, Henderson, Gallery, Bush, McFadden, Howard, Miller, and Nnamdi.
No matter what QB situation you go with, the defense does not need the amount of work the offense does. A big 320 or 330 pound NT beside Kelly, and either an OLB or MLB (depending on where you put Morrison) are the only major needs. Yes cornerback depth is an issue, but not as big as the aforementioned. Stopping the run is still the key, from there the pass defense should come along.
The big thing is blitzing though. It seems as if blitzing dropped off the map versus NY. Blitzing works, and this team needs a D-coordinator with the stones to keep blitzing no matter what Davis says. i thought this was Marshall but it appears I was wrong.
This defense plays great ball when it's got good morale (early on in games, all of Philly and SD games). But you have to get an offense together that can keep this team's heads held high. With the malcontent of Warren most likely out the door next year, morale might be easier to come by.
The keys to success with the team next year:
- Get the O-Line built up on the right side where consistency is an issue.
- Use more power running than speed running. Pound the ball and grind it out, then worry about the big sweeps and pitches.
- Play-action. No matter who's quarterback, the receivers won't develop into superstars. At best they should be just about average next year, so play-action Miller and the fullbacks will be key.
- Manage the game with the passing game, don't rely on it. As previously stated, the receiver development is questionable. Only when running fails or when a big play is needed to make the defense back off the run should you pass.
- Blitz on defense more frequently.
All this depends on Al Davis so all of the above might end up a pipe-dream, but in a murky 2009, all we have are dreams and aspirations of a brighter 2010.