This guy excites me to no end. He never fails to say the right things, cool and collected at the podium developing a rapport with reporters addressing them directly and acknowledging they will see much of each other in the coming weeks and months as the season and this Raider team progresses. Of course, like any good coach, and especially one who is wise to the code under Al Davis, he spoke and said a lot while saying not really anything at all; but, we can decipher from a few things said what they might mean and draw our own conclusions based on that. Here are a few that I have drawn based on a few thing Hue said:
First, he said, and I know it's one of many cliches, but it's how coaches talk, so gimme a break here, m'kay? ... the game is won in the trenches. He said we have a veteran qb, we have a veteran defense, and we have a talented young offense. We have heard the Bully construction project and it's pretty safe to assume at this juncture we have a rock solid opportunity to bolster the offensive line and will attempt to in the draft.
He said Al Davis gets input on the draft, but the picks are all Mr. Davis. He also said, that's how it should be, because he's the owner.
Hit the jump to read on...
Coach Jackson spoke of personnel changes and putting his mark on this team. Last year we saw a glimpse into the vision of the bully that leaves opposing rosters depleted and limping into their following week match-ups a shadow of their former selves. While it will begin in the trenches, it's evolution into something else involving the kinds of personnel packages like the jumbo that essentially lines up an extra lineman at the made eligible TE position that sprung some massive holes for Darren McFadden and Mike Bush running and worked in play action making Khalif Barnes think he had Gates' skills.
So what can we expect these personnel changes to look like going forward? Who currently wearing a silver and black jersey won't fit into Hue's vision for the future? Who will be added via draft and ultimately when free agency is, again free?
I'm expecting Hue to take it a step further, and we'll finally see that possession receiver we're currently lacking become that integral piece to this puzzle, a guy like the speedy tweener TE Housler who can come in wide in some three receiver sets essentially providing another TE out in the flanks for both special run plays, on end arounds in the hands of the speedy Ford and Heyward-Bey, and providing some explosive YAC bullying secondaries catching balls in the seams and on crossing patterns. Expect the type of guys that help you exert your will by providing big, sure targets and can use their body to shield from defenders and help a qb protect the ball.
We know what we need on the defensive side, but I expect this theme to emerge on the offensive side of Hue's personnel, and it will begin in the draft. I am now more sure than ever that we'll come away with at least two offensive lineman in the first five picks, and possibly a late round selection as well.
We have argued that bigger guys fit the mold of Jackson's power blocking scheme we're implementing, but I believe Hue is more conscious of who will fit into this puzzle on this Raider team, and that Wisniewski is one guy that fits like a glove, and one that Hue knows he can make an integral part of the physical team he needs to bully opponents.
I've also become a bit more convinced a Hynoski type full back might just be on our horizons too since Ka1Z3r's latest mock; it's always on Al's radar, and what running team that lines up in as much I-formation as we do doesn't need one? especially if you expect to be dominant. If I had to guess, I'd say this guy would eventually take the place of Marcel Reece, whose hands and athleticism I love, but whose skill set is not a part of Hue's vision for the future. A bully offense isn't marked by TE's and FB's that outcatch your wide receivers.
I also have some key free agents in mind that I hope are already on coaches' radars, but we'll save that discussion for a time when their status is a little less up in the air...
So, it will be primarily offensive lineman who must be big and physical, but I believe not necessarily the biggest guys out there. ESPN'S Bill Williamson interpreted Hue's saying we don't need a lot to mean we could trade up and target fewer guys, but I believe we stand pat with the picks we have, unless offered something we can't refuse, which I don't see happening since trades only involve picks and free agency remains uncertain. I won't be surprised to see a Center, Guard, and Tackle taken, and will be quite pleased with that outcome.
Some of our guys up front are serviceable, but we need to keep Hue's vision for the future in mind, and a couple of these guys just don't fit into it. I also don't see guys who can't keep the qb off his back saying "bully," much. A bully should be able to humble the league's premier pass rushing units, like our great ones did.
It will contain an X factor type receiver like Rob Housler, and one of his key roles will be, surprisingly, to block most of the time. In drafting for my Madden teams, the receiver's blocking skills are always one of the key things I look for, and those guys go on to posterize many defenders springing runs on the perimeter to the house regularly.
What say you, Nation? Will a theme emerge amongst the 2011 draftees to begin the Jackson era? or will we truly have the luxury of taking the truly best player available with each pick? Is there any possibility we're all way off, and we completely skip the O line with our first few picks?