It's June and we find ourselves in the middle of the OTA's for the Raiders as well as for the rest of the NFL teams.This is a rather slow period leading up to training camp later in July and then finally the NFL regular season.
While there is not much going on these days, it is interesting to look at how different this offseason is compared to the last one with all of the commotion and distractions from the Kiffin issues. To be sure, the Raiders did have some talented players during the Kiffin era, but a good part of the reason for the poor play was not just the fore stated distractions, but also the inexperience of the coaching staff. The rebuilding 2007, 2008 and going into 2009 Raiders are a young team that needed experienced NFL coaches to tutor the young players in an experienced NFL way, not the NCAA way.
One of the reasons why I have liked this offseason so much has been the coaching staff upgrade of experienced, proven and credentialed coaches brought in to guide these young, to-be core players of the Raiders.
This weeks poll is not about head coach Tom Cable and his impact on the team, but rather his assistants and position coaches that will have an impact on their specific units.The Raiders are young and very talented team in 2009. Managing and coaching that young talent is in the hands of these experienced assistants that will need to tap into that experience and put these players in the best position to succeed. The assistants have the ability to have major impacts on their respective units and elevate the Raiders out of the doldrums and into the winning ways.
The new assistants to the Raiders staff that are in position to have the biggest impact on this years team are:
- Paul Hackett, QB Coach: replacing the college level, very inexperienced John DeFilippi. Hackett is in position to teach JaMarcus Russell to be the elite QB that al of us expect him to be.
- Sanjay Lal, Wide receivers: replacing James Lofton, Lal is in the position of coaching the most under productive group from last years team. With only one veteran player in Javon Walker, Lal inherits a unit of very talanted and young players with limited experience. Lal's ability to bring this group up to the next level will clearly be on display this year.
- Jim Michalczik, Offensive Line: replacing in essence Tom Cable, Michalczik will keep the same ZBS philosopy with the added element of some power blocking. This group is young, already improving and has talent. It will be up to Michalczik to this group from regressing and to become a team strength.
- John Marshall, Defensive Coordinator: replacing the much criticized Rob Ryan, Marshall brings vast experience from coaching young inexperienced teams to playoff and Super bowl teams. We will certainly find out this season if the reason for the poor play of the Raiders defense these last few years was Ryan or lack of talent.
- Mike Haluchak, Linebackers: replacing Don Martindale, Haluchak brings 23 years of experience in the NFL to the Raiders and has coached some of the better linebacker units in the league. The Raiders linebackers, while talented, have been out of position often and have had a propensity to miss far too many tackles. These are issues of fundamentals and Haluchak should be able to provide that to this unit.
- Others worth mentioning are: Kelly Skipper, John Fassell, Brad Roll and Dwaine Board.
The Raiders improved play for 2009 will begin with the coaches. Who do you think will have the biggest impact?