The Oakland Raiders are heading into year two of the Reggie McKenzie regime after a very disappointing 2012 season in which they finished 4-12. As the young off-season gets underway, it is important for every general manager in the NFL to have a game plan for how they will improve their team.
While much has changed in the Raider organization, one thing that has not changed is the silence that emanates from the team facilities in Alameda when it comes to roster decisions. However, while we may never know what McKenzie's game plan for this off-season is, there is nothing stopping us from identifying what the Raiders' game plan should be. This is the first post in a series detailing the steps that the Raiders must take in order to make the turn around everyone wants to see.
In 2012, the Oakland Raiders had one of the worst offenses in the entire NFL. While that is not surprising for the third worst team in the league, it is surprising considering they boasted a top ten offense just one year earlier and were returning nearly all of their starters on that side of the ball.
Normally, it would be difficult to put your finger on just one thing to explain such a precipitous fall from glory. This, however, is not the case with the 2012 Oakland Raiders. Here, the problem was simple; offensive coordinator Greg Knapp. Now that the Raiders have dismissed the failed play caller, they have an opportunity to return the offense to the power house it once was, but only if they make a wise decision in hiring a new offensive coordinator.
In determining who to hire as offensive coordinator, the Raiders should be looking for two primary attributes. First and foremost, the Raiders need a coordinator who knows how to fit an offense to the players they have, and not vice versa.
The single biggest problem with Knapp was attempting to shove a square peg in a round hole when he tried to overhaul the Raiders into a zone blocking scheme. If the Raiders did not have talent on offense then switching schemes would not have been a big deal. But trying to force players into the wrong scheme for no other reason than a stubborn loyalty to that scheme is simply illogical.
Like it or not, the Raiders offense was built with speed in mind and in order to get the most out of it, the Raiders need an offensive coordinator who understands and accepts that fact. Whoever the next offensive coordinator is, they must be able to get the most out of players like Darren McFadden, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford and Marcel Reece.
Second, the Raiders need to find an offensive coordinator who is creative in his play calling. The drastic changes implemented by Greg Knapp were bad enough, but when you look at how predictable his play calling was, you can see that he only made things worse on game day. In fact, his play calling was so bad, a drastic change was seen every time the Raiders went into the no-huddle with Carson Palmer calling the plays.
Getting the right scheme is clearly step one, but even with the right scheme, poor play calling can completely de-rail an offense. That means if the Raiders want to swing for the fences with their offensive coordinator, they need to find a guy in the NFL who has experience calling plays so they can evaluate how that person would perform on the Raiders sideline.
This season, more than almost any other, the Raiders are lucky in that they will have a ton of options from which to choose when it comes to the offensive coordinator position. With the talent that the Raiders have on the offensive side of the ball, they will likely be a contender for many of the big name offensive coordinators, but general manager Reggie McKenzie will still need to weigh his choices carefully before selecting the right candidate.